parkrunday: Town Moor #511

A nice post-GNR slow plod after a long and busy week!

Sadly, Town Moor parkrun couldn’t do the traditional GNR t-shirt group photo today for COVID security reasons, but there were lots of photos both official and unofficial so I’ll have a hunt online for those later. It was great to see everyone in their smart burgundy t-shirts (it may be my favourite Great North Weekend t-shirt yet – and I’ve got seven of them now!).

I’m still not quite used to the post-hiatus route on the Moor and it does mess with my mind a bit when doing sections that used to constitute different points along the course. For instance, the opening stretch of path from the old course is now past the halfway point on the new course… but when I’m running that bit there’s a part of my mind that still thinks ‘oh no, we’ve only just started!’.

In terms of parkrun I have very definitely settled into a pattern where it takes two ploddy miles for my legs to de-stiffen and so it’s only in the last mile that I can build up a bit of speed. This is not a problem at the moment as my focus is the marathon, but after London I really need to work on my stiff calves so that I can run parkrun properly again.

Post-parkrun
Love that burgundy shade!

I was intending to do Leazes parkrun next week but Geth is worried about it being full of students due to Freshers’ Week so I will have to have a rethink…

A month of two halves

The first half of September has been almost back to pre-pandemic levels of Being Out And About! Weddings, races, gigs… it’s been a busy time, but so joyful to be able to see people and do normal things again. I even finally got to see Duran Duran this week! They announced a couple of short-notice gigs about a fortnight ago and I jumped at the chance… especially seeing as I already had a ticket for Andy Taylor on the Wednesday and so it was set to be the best coming-out-of-the-pandemic return to gig-going week I could have hoped for!

I’ll review the gigs in depth here eventually but I’ve also written pieces on them for a couple of fansites/publications so I want to wait until those are out first.

Anyway, the second half of September, in contrast, is empty, and I plan to make the most of that. I will only be leaving the house to do parkrun and an occasional long-ish run (my short daily runs are now all being done on the treadmill to reduce my risk of injury in the lead-up to the marathon) until I leave for London, with the one exception being the day I’ll be helping Geth unpack boxes in his new office. I am guarding that time very carefully as I want as much physical and mental rest as possible over the next sixteen days!

I am also getting organised for Hallowe’en so that I’m not rushing around with that in October. Some exciting things coming in the post soon…

Gig t-shirts
T-shirt collection well stocked up this week! Love both of these 🙂

Saturday

The Wombles – ‘The Wombling Song’
Duran Duran – ‘Come Undone’

Sunday

Mika – ‘Grace Kelly’

Monday

Mark Knopfler – ‘Local Hero’
The Running Channel – ‘Run With Me’

Tuesday

Meat Loaf – ‘Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through’
Duran Duran – ‘Invisible’

Wednesday

Duran Duran – ‘Tonight United’
Andy Taylor – ‘Bringing Me Down’
Gloria Gaynor – ‘I Will Survive’
Duran Duran – ‘Friends Of Mine’

Thursday

Duran Duran – ‘What Happens Tomorrow’

Friday

Tom Jones – ‘Delilah’
Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’

Race Review: Great North Run 2021

It was so great to be back yesterday after last year’s virtual version!

It wasn’t a fully normal GNR. Due to various issues such as the Tyne and Wear Metro not wanting tens of thousands of people crowding onto the Metro in South Shields after the race, the course was changed so that instead of running to South Shields, we all turned back at the halfway point and returned to Newcastle. To avoid the usual crowding, we were also all set off in waves, with the elite wheelchair athletes setting off at 9:15am and the last of the mass runners not starting till after 1pm, so it really was a full-day event (especially for the spectators and volunteers, who all did brilliantly – the charity cheering points were still in full voice when I was going round between 11ish and 2ish!).

The expectation is that things will be fully back to normal next year. However, I am so glad that it was able to go ahead this year, even in an altered form, and in some ways there were a few advantages – due to Geth being allocated a slightly later wave than me, I was able to wave to him when he overtook me at three miles and again when I spotted him going the other way on the out-and-back at about five and a half miles, whereas we don’t see each other en route at all when it’s the normal course. It was also nice to be able to walk home from the finish on the Town Moor rather than having to queue for the Metro!

Red Arrows
It was amazing to see the Red Arrows again while waiting on the start line! They had to miss the 2019 race due to other commitments, so it’s been three years since we last saw them.

There were some tough uphills in the ‘unknown’ section (the last part of the run around central Gateshead and Newcastle), but I had expected that, knowing the area, and due to my slow plodding pace I didn’t really mind them (I’ve been doing a lot of hills in my marathon training so it was fine). I knew as soon as I saw them that Geth wouldn’t have liked them, though, which was confirmed by him complaining about them for the rest of the day!

I was about half an hour slower than my half marathon PB, but that’s just the way it is at the moment – marathon training has slowed my pace right down, and given that getting round London is my main goal for this season, it wasn’t the right time to race a half marathon properly. I’ll stick to spring marathons in the future so that I can tackle the GNR at full speed in future years! However, because of all the postponements from last year, races just had to fall where they fell this year rather than me planning out the season as I usually would. I’m just grateful to have them back at the moment.

Back to South Shields next year, which I’m sure will be just as much of a return party as yesterday was!

And in the meantime, for me, onwards to London…

parkrunday: Jesmond Dene #30

It’s the Great North Run tomorrow so I opted to volunteer at parkrun in order to save my energy. It was a busy one at Jesmond Dene, as expected, as (a) the GNR is setting up on the Town Moor for the special COVID course, meaning that Town Moor parkrun was off today; (b) there are thousands of running tourists in town for the aforementioned GNR, many of whom would be looking for a pre-GNR parkrun; and (c) lots of those tourists would be naturally drawn to Jesmond Dene as it provides a rare opportunity to collect a parkrun beginning with J (yes, alphabet-hunting is a thing in the parkrun universe).

It seemed like it all went okay though! The core team were very well prepared and marshalling at the lap split point was really fun. A few people got confused but everyone ended up on the right path for the lap they were doing at the time!

Geth was marshalling too (also saving energy) and so this morning’s run took the form of a nice slow jog to the volunteer meeting point.

parkrun volunteering
Post-marshalling.

I was also pleased that the weather was nice today, unlike the previous two occasions I’ve volunteered at Jesmond Dene since the restart!

Back to Town Moor next week, hopefully sporting a brand new GNR finisher T-shirt…

Settling into the autumn

The next week or so is quite busy with running events and gigs. I’m excited for all of it! And also for next weekend when I will return to my regularly scheduled dozing. The return to near-normality is nice but it can feel a little overwhelming to be suddenly doing All The Things.

The strange brief heatwave that made its way through the UK this week only showed its face in Newcastle on Wednesday, and that was quite enough for me. I’m done with hot weather now! Looking forward to cooler conditions for autumn running. It’s meant to be 13°C and cloudy on Sunday for the GNR and I really hope the forecast is right.

I made a decision earlier this week that I wouldn’t do the 22-mile run I’d scheduled for this week and would instead treat my 18-miler from a couple of weeks ago as my longest long run for the marathon. My body is telling me very loudly that a five-week taper is more likely to get me to the start line in one piece than a three-week taper, so I’m going to listen to it. I’ve got the GNR (13.1 miles) on Sunday, will do either eight or six miles next Thursday depending on how I’m feeling post-race, and six the week after, then a nice ten-day period of only doing mile-and-a-half streak savers and slow gentle parkruns leading up to the marathon. Fingers crossed it will all go according to plan.

This time next week I am hoping to report back on a slow but enjoyable GNR completion, two very long-awaited concerts, and the bulk of a game coded!

Black cat
Last week’s photo of next door’s cat. He sneaked in as usual while our groceries were being delivered and looked so comfy I let him stay for an hour or so!

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Republica – ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’

Sunday

The Beatles – ‘Hey Jude’
Tom Jones – ‘Delilah’

Monday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Town’

Tuesday

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Town’

Wednesday

Boston – ‘More Than A Feeling’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’

Thursday

Girls Aloud – ‘Something New’*

Friday

The Human League – ‘Being Boiled’

*RIP Sarah Harding.

Balance and burnout

Geth and I travelled back to Newcastle this morning after a family wedding yesterday. It was so lovely to be able to have a normal family celebration after everything that’s happened over the last eighteen months, and to see so many people I haven’t been able to see for so long. I really hope we can have another gathering soon.

The next couple of weeks are gathering steam and so I’ve spent a bit of time this afternoon making sure to schedule in some time to relax! The last few months have felt very non-stop and I know I won’t be able to do all the stuff I want to do over the next month if I keep barrelling along without a break.

Work is returning to a good level as well – there’s plenty to keep the business ticking over, but it’s not as hectic as it was in the summer and so I’ve got time to do other things too.

Should be a good month leading up to the marathon!

Quayside tree
A slightly ominous-looking tree on the Quayside. I’m looking forward to exploring this route further during training for future marathons.

The greatest season

Today is one of my favourite days of the year. It’s the start of meteorological autumn and the very first day of the glorious four months ending with -ber. It is officially now The Very Best Time Of The Year right up until the point when I have to take the Christmas decorations down on the 6th of January! (At which point begins The Very Worst Time Of The Year, but let’s not dwell on that just now.)

The length of the daylight is feeling more natural to me again now and I’m sleeping better. The weather has cooled down, and I hope it stays cooled down now, because it’s so much better for running.

NEXT MONTH IS HALLOWE’EN, which means I can start making decorations and watching Hallowe’en TV and horror films. It’s my favourite celebration and very much worth extending for two whole months!

I am also crossing everything that the pandemic doesn’t take another vicious turn and that we can all enjoy a normal Christmas at the end of this season. It will feel extra special doing all the things we didn’t get to do last year. I am really looking forward to an autumn that isn’t spent constantly worrying about the extent to which Christmas is going to be cancelled!

Candles and hot chocolate at the ready tonight. This autumn is going to be amazing.

Autumn 2020
Last year’s leaves. This year’s are already on the turn but I’ve not started taking pictures yet. A task for tomorrow’s long run!

Perfect August bank holiday weather…

…for me these days is the grey mizzle we have here in Newcastle today! I went out in it for a twenty-minute run and that was quite enough, thank you very much. I’m going to be spending the rest of the day on the sofa, both playing and making games 🙂

Cool, damp weather also makes me very excited for autumn. Two days to go!

Roadside bracken
Another picture from last Thursday’s run! This is the now-traditional ‘bracken at the side of the path’ picture that I take at the turning point of all my out-and-back long runs.