Welcome to the May newsletter. It’s epic.
Are you overtraining? by Sue Baillie
We love our running it gives us a healthy body and mind, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Every runner needs to follow the principle of progression. If you don’t, you may find yourself unmotivated to reach your goals, overtrained, and even injured.
To prevent overtraining, avoid the three too’s: too much, too soon, too fast.
Things to look out for;
- Recovery gets neglected
- Inappropriate increase in frequency of training or extent of loading
- Demands are increased too quickly, so that adaptation cannot be consolidated
- Too rapid increase of training/loading after forced breaks (injuries, illness)
- Too high an intensity of duration of training/loading in endurance training
- Excess of competitions with maximum demands. But how do you know if you’re overtrained or running too much? Look for these signs that signal you need a break from running.
- Diminished powers of endurance, strength, speed. Needing more time to recover, e.g. Fatigued climbing stairs.
- Reduced readiness for action, fear of competition, giving-up in face of adversity
- Susceptibility to demoralising influences before and during competition
- Increasing tendency to abandon the struggle
- Increased irritability, tendency to hysteria, defiance & increased quarrelsomeness
- Over sensitivity to criticism, anxiety, depression, melancholy & insecurity
- Lack of ability to concentrateHow to fix it;
- By being aware of the above and some self reflection you can help eliminate the possibility of serious effects of over-stressing.
- Limit to two hard sessions a week when you’re back to full training.
- As soon as you notice symptoms, training/loading should be reduced and recovery pursued.
- Start by taking a week off, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy.
- All performance checks and competition pressures must be removed and active recovery put in their place.
Message from Head Coach, Liz Cooper
Due to Wednesday WSFRL races, there will be no Development or Performance sessions. 6:30pm Beginners’ & Improvers’ Sessions will take place as normal. The dates on the WSFRL race are as below
- Wednesday 5th July – Roundhill Romp
- Wednesday 12th July – Beach Run
- Wednesday 2nd August – Highdown Hike.
- Wednesday 9th August- Worthing Harriers Windlesham House 4
Summer Track Sessions
We have arranged Monday Night Summer Track Sessions for:
- Monday 15th May
- Monday 19th June
- Monday 17th July
As normal, these sessions will take place at Lewes Leisure Centre, meeting at 7:45pm for an 8:00pm start.
There are no more Wednesday night track sessions in the summer but they will resume in September.
Rotterdam Marathon– 9th Apr 2017 – (By Alice Tellett)
In April I continued my quest to complete 10 marathons before I’m 30. After a year of doing UK races I fancied heading overseas for a European marathon, so I choose the Rotterdam Marathon.
My other half and I left the UK on the Saturday and flew to Amsterdam. One tip when doing a mass marathon abroad is that airlines do hike up their prices the weekend of the event, so try to cheat the system by flying to (and staying in) a nearby city and using public transport to get to your marathon destination. On arrival in Rotterdam we headed to the expo to pick up my number and locate the start, ready for the following day. The expo itself was located right next to the start in an exhibition centre. For a marathon with 40,000 participants I have say I was a little disappointed with the expo, there were very few pop-up shops and even fewer free samples. However, it did have an excitable atmosphere to it and the classic backdrop for posing with your race number.
As many BHR runners woke on the Sunday morning to deal with a stressful journey to Brighton marathon, I rolled out of bed, jumped onto a double decker train to Rotterdam Central that arrived and left right on time, and dropped me off a two minute walk from the start. Easy peasy!
The race started at 10am, which was not ideal when temperatures were due to reach 24 degrees by mid-day. As usually for large marathons we had designated pens for the start. I did try to sneak into the pen in front of mine, but was swiftly escorted back to my assigned pen, naughty me.
I was extremely impressed by the organisation of the start. The pens themselves were roomy and not overcrowded, and each pen had its own individual start time. Each pen was split into two on a dual carriageway and individually brought to the start line, we then had to wait for 5 minutes after the last person of the previous pen had crossed the start line before our starting gun was blasted. By this time I had made my way right to the front of my pen and for a millisecond I led the race, what a great buzz. This great organisation at the start ensured there was absolutely no bottleneck and made the start of the race really stress free.
Once the race had started we quickly headed straight to the Erasmusburg Bridge to cross the river, the bridge was absolutely jam packed with spectators and had an incredible atmosphere, and looked stunning teamed with the perfect blue sky. Once over the bridge we headed south. The course is a figure of eight, with a long fat bottom that takes up the first 25km. Once over the bridge the course was pretty quiet, which gave you time to settle into a nice rhythm. The field remained split across a dual carriageway until about 8km, giving it plenty of time to spread out before you joined together. I was really impressed by the water, which was given out every 5km or so. The water was provided in cup, which had a sponge lid with a hole in, so you don’t tip too much into your mouth and once you were done you had a handy sponge to cool down your body. There were sponge stations at least every 10km and spectators providing us with regular refreshing hosepipe showers. All of these were great on a really hot day.
Just before 10km the course looped back on itself, by this time I was having the race of my life and absolutely loving it. The crowds of spectators suddenly picked up again and filled me with adrenaline. I saw my other half and gave him a smile and a wave and caught sight of the 3h45mins pacer not too far ahead of me and vowed to keep him in sight.
The course then led us to the side of the canal, which also had a slight breeze to help keep us cool. It then headed into another loop allowing me to give my other half another wave. I clocked the half marathon in 1hr 53 mins and was really pleased with my pacing so far. After half way we reached the river that we crossed at the beginning and followed its banks for several miles. Eventually we ran on the Erasmusburg Bridge to cross the river once again. The atmosphere when we crossed the bridge the second time was comparable to that I experienced when I crossed Tower Bridge in the London Marathon, overwhelming brilliant. There were even more spectators than when we passed the first time and everyone was cheering you along, I feel so lucky to be part of something so unique.
Once over the bridge we headed north towards Kralingse Park, this bit of the race did involve us running parallel, but in the opposite direction, to those heading to the finish. Even though I’ve done this in races many times before, it somehow affected my mood and I started to slump. I saw my favourite spectator again and then decided to look at my watch, and realised my pace had dropped a little, causing my mood and my pace to slump even further. In hindsight I think dehydration and heat exhaustion were finally hitting but at the time all I wanted was for the race to be over. This was a shame as I then headed into probably the most scenic part of the race around a lovely country park with a lake in the centre. My husband, who was tracking me with the reliable race app, noticed my pace had dropped and found another stop to cheer me along as I came out of the park. Once I’d seen him I gave myself a little bit of a pep talk, told myself I was about to finish my 9th marathon, my 3rd in the space of 11 months , I had been training for this for months and I would not forgive myself if I did not complete it. This did lift my mood but unfortunately not my pace.
I carried on running as the race neared the end and entered into a concrete jungle, the crowds thickened and my mood picked up further. At about 2km from the end the 4hour pacer overtook me, I pushed myself as much as I could to keep up with him but my lungs and legs fought back. The finish came into sight and despite losing my battle with the four hour pacer I had a smile on my face, it had overall been a great race and I was proud of myself for completing it. I crossed the line with my hands in the air.
Upon finishing I was handed a great piece of bling, lots of water and, for the ladies only, a rose! At this point it hit me just how dehydrated I was, I literally wanted to drink a river. I was reunited with my husband who had found a gorgeous fountain to dip my feet in to cool down and celebrate my achievement.
My official time was 4hrs00mins14secs, but I clocked a distance of 26.5 miles. Strava clocked the marathon distance as 3hrs58mins43secs! Which time you count is up to you, I know which one I will! Neither is a PB but was pretty darn close on a very hot day.
I would highly recommend Rotterdam Marathon to anybody else. It was by far the best organised marathon I have ever done and the cost of race and travel was reasonable. Although it was not the most scenic, the atmosphere created by the spectators more than made up for this. Finally it was flat and fast and would have had great PB potential on a cooler day.
I’m getting dangerously close to my 30th birthday now which means that my 10th marathon is just around the corner, so I‘ll hopefully join you again next month to tell you all about the Dorchester Marathon, which I am running at the end of May.
Clarendon Marathon – Oct 2016 (By Steve Roberts)
I completed this event last October. It caught my eye because it’s a rare running & walking marathon & given my lack of training & a little uncertainty about how my back would feel about running 26.2 miles after a long layoff. The race route is from Winchester to Salisbury along the historic Clarendon Way. It’s 90% off road with a little bit of country lane here & there. It’s a fairly level route with the odd ‘undulation’ every so often. Organised by a very enthusiastic guy named “JJ” Heath-Caldwell from the Rotary Club, it’s a long-established event that’s been running for nearly 20 years.
I quite enjoyed this race & would certainly recommend it in terms of organisation & a lovely route. The thing I didn’t like so much was that they have multiple start times for different paces of slower walker, faster walker, walker/runner & runner. There is also a half marathon event that starts from the half way mark of the course & also a team relay event. Effectively there are about 6 events in 1! A lot of the Clarendon Way is along quite narrow footpaths through woodland or enclosed paths along field edges. This means that as the race progresses you are either trying to get past slower people or getting overtaken by faster folk on narrow paths. It wasn’t a major problems but it did hamper things having to get past people or stepping aside to let others past at various narrow stretches.
I took a walk/run approach to the Clarendon, walking the up hills & jogging the flats & down hills. As said I hadn’t done a lot of training & hadn’t done any speed work so my jog pace a slow one. I hooked up with a guy called Ross from Salisbury who had walked the event a couple of times before & was trying out a bit more running. He was a friendly guy & our pace was quite similar – we got round in 5.02 (we really did push on for the last couple of miles but we couldn’t manage to get under 5!). I was happy with that though – I had jog/walked pretty evenly & fuelled well & wasn’t in a heap come the finish! Entry was £30 as I remember (£35 if you enter closer to race day), which these days isn’t too horrific in my book. I might do it again another time with more of a running approach, starting later there may be less likelihood of getting in peoples way!
I caught the complimentary bus all the way back to Winchester to my car & headed back to Sussex.
Cranleigh 21 – Mar 2017 – (By Steve Roberts)
This event in late March up in Surrey is a well-established pre-spring marathon race, giving you the opportunity to get probably your longest training run in under race conditions & to test out your pacing, fuelling & hydration strategies for your main event. I’ve done this event a few times now & this year didn’t seem so full as in other years – in the past, spring was seen as the marathon season with London & latterly Brighton being the main big distance events in the South East. As we all know there is a marathon somewhere virtually every weekend these days so Cranleigh’s relevance is perhaps not so great. That said it is a good event & I really like it – it’s a nice country lane route, not dissimilar to Barns Green, its well organised & for me I’ve always done quite well there, giving me a good indication of my marathon prep.
In addition to the 21 mile route there is also a 15 mile option. The course is made up of a 9 mile loop & either 1 or 2 6 mile loops depending on your choice of overall distance.
I went to Cranleigh in the dubious (J) company of Matt Cawthra & Ollie Dewdney. Matt also ran the 21 mile route & Ollie did the 15 mile one. We all got round well despite me finding Matt lying in a heap by the time I finished – these young dudes can’t cut it! I would always recommend this race if you are marathon training for an event in April or maybe early March – it’s a good ‘un!
Capital Challenge – 1st Apr 2017 – (By Steve Roberts)
This was a very special event for me, Helen, Nicola, Paula & Rich. We heard about it through the infamously covered ‘Strider’ magazine, the half yearly publication of the Long Distance Walking Association (LDWA). It was a brand new event, covering a self-navigated 28 mile route through & around the middle of London – walking only so we left our split shorts & running vests at home in favour of rucksacks & waterproofs. There were only 100 places available so we were really lucky to all get a place.
The event started near the Tate Modern on the side of the Thames in a trendy café/gallery space & then went up past Downing Street & Whitehall & round through St James’ Park, Hyde Park, Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, through Haringey, Hackney & finally onto Stratford. The route was amazing, there are so many green spaces in the middle of London & the views from Parliament Hill over the capital were amazing. The changing scenery from royal parks, through secluded little mews, to the old canals, crossing leafy North London through Hackney Marshes & onto the Olympic Park site was just amazing!
Walking such a long way isn’t for everyone, we were on our feet for 9 hours & we were all a bit stiff & sore come the finish but they had piles of cakes & good coffee & we had a lovely day. The train journey home was a bit of a nightmare but that’s another story!
The Wonderland Caucus Run – 22nd Apr 2017 – (By Helen Pratt)
A lovely run along the seawall at Samphire Hoe, under the White Cliffs of Dover. Dressed as a character out of Alice in Wonderland … fantastic, I thought. And to top it all the bling was enormous.
The Wonderland Caucus run is a Saxon, Norman and Vikings event. This year it was held on Saturday 22nd April, the day before London marathon.
It is a 6 hour challenge event. The distance is 3.75 miles out and back. All you had to do was run 1 lap to get the medal or decide on any other distance within the 6 hours. The last lap had to be started within the 6 hours. 7 laps = marathon, 8+ an ultra.
The event started at 08:30 so an early start was needed. The traffic was kind but not the weather. Having left sunshine at home the clouds grew darker and darker and by the time of arrival at Samphire Hoe, Dover, it was raining – that horrid ‘wet’ fine rain.
Parking and registration was easy. Having picked up my number and lap card it was time to go.
The course had a mix of undulating trail and a flat sea wall with the White Cliffs of Dover towering above. It had a sting towards the end of each lap. A shortish but sharp steep hill, a need to walk hill …and that was 7 of these for the marathon.
The event was great. The weather initially was not. Wind and rain blowing in our faces on each lap until the turn around then it felt calm and dry. This continued for about 3 laps before the weather calmed.
All you had to do was work out how many laps you wanted to do and get your head around it. Each time a lap was completed your lap card was punched to keep track on what had been done.
There was also a well-stocked aid station at the end of each lap. Cake, crisps, biscuits, sweets, drinks – vegan and non-vegan.
Once refuelled it was time to do it all again, and again and again until enough was enough or the desired distance gained.
At the finish you ring the bell, a massive medal is hung around your neck and an out of this world goody bag given to you. This year had a ‘C’ theme, cake, crisps, Cheddars, Carlsberg or coke.
The SNV events are very friendly events and the best thing about the laps is everyone cheers you on and encourages each other as the laps increase as you pass them lap after lap.
Milton Keynes Half Marathon (50th anniversary) – 1st May 2017 – (By Oli Jones)
An early start on bank holiday Monday for this one, I was up at 5am. I had a quick cup of tea and a bowl of cereal before I left home at 6am. I had booked parking for this event for a small amount so I already knew I had a place for the car.
I arrived just before 8am and parked the car, only a five minute walk from the stadium. Met a couple of the locals who guided me to the stadium from the car park, very friendly. One of the reasons I chose this event was because of the course and the stadium finish, plus the medal was pretty good.
The start neared and we all got into our timed zones just outside the stadium. A fairly hotish day and I managed to sneak into an earlier one to avoid slight congestion at the start. Off we went at 10 am or thereabouts, a slightly staggered start as they let the elite/corporate relay teams off first.
The first 2 miles is road as you follow Saxon Street towards the main town area. Lots of people out supporting as you make your way to the town. You then made your way to Saxon Gate and Midsummer Boulevard, which was 3 miles in. You had a water station to quench your thirst, as usual I was carrying my Tailwind bottle with me so I didn’t stop.
You then crossed over to Silbury Boulevard and then back along the same route till about mile 5. You then turned left along Golden Drive and headed out towards ‘Woughton on the Green’ and ‘Ouzel Valley’ park and onto the six mile mark. This is where I caught up with William Whitehead or (Bill) as he likes to be known, he was going well at that point. We had a quick chat and I wished him well and pushed on, just up ahead at about 7 miles was where it split for the Half/Full marathon course.
I headed off right onto the half marathon course and back through the lovely Ouzel Valley park. A lovely park with paths and great scenery and lots of people out cheering you on as you wound your way over the river and along the outskirts of the park. This took you all the way to mile 10, then you ran through ‘Woughton Park’, and back towards the town. On the homeward path now and you wound your way back to the stadium through some of the roads you had started on. A great finish as you go down the stadium tunnel and do one lap of the football pitch and then over the finish.
I enjoyed the event and course, loved the bling and t-shirt. I would do it again but next time I would travel up the day before I think as the two hour drive before the race was a bit draining for me.
Centurion Grand Slam 100 – Possibly my most epic race to date: Thames Path – Apr 2017 – (By Philippe Ecaille)
This was my 3rd 100-mile race since 2015 and this year I thought I should aim for the goal of running all 4 Centurion races and collect a giant buckle at the end for posterity. This is the first race and I can’t quite still believe what happened this weekend but this is going to be near impossible beating it for excitements for a long time.
Once again, I was lucky to be able to assemble my regular support crew – Neil & Nick – and the recent addition of Francesca. We’ve known each other long enough to be able to be together for a whole weekend and be bold if need be; they’re awesome too! To start the ball rolling, we met in Burgess Hill for a beer and a curry to plan the logistics. This was a quick affair and off we went away waiting for the weekend to start. It was going to be rather simple – On Saturday morning I run to Henley (51 miles) where Neil takes me through the first leg to Wallingford (77 miles) and Nick gives me the final push to Oxford on Sunday (100 miles).
How was I approaching this race personally? I was knackered and spent the week going to bed super early – it was easy since I don’t a TV anymore. I was mentally tired too with a new role at work, moving house, packing, etc. Finally, I tried a different approach with the usual carb load and didn’t stuff my face as much I used to; I liked it and I think it made a positive difference. I was not so confident with the 1,900ft of climb – I would have preferred 19,000ft instead.
Miles 1 to 22 – Richmond to Wraysbury
I have my routine for races and I don’t deviate from it. Once the kit check is done, I talked to a few familiar faces, find a little spot at the back where I can wait for the debrief followed by the sound of the klaxon.
I always use a heart rate monitor simply because it is so easy going off like it’s a 5K and regretting it soon after. This is where things started to go wrong – right from the start, I couldn’t get my heart rate down to a normal level and had to walk to bring it back all the way down. I spend 5 hours near max heart rate (160 bpm), the weather is getting hotter, it is flat and very quickly the chimp sits on my shoulder and tells me that it is not such a good idea and I may as well give up. It made sense; Neil, Nick & Francesca haven’t left Sussex so I could call them and just say don’t bother coming over as I’m catching the next train home.
If you’re not familiar with the chimp paradox, I really recommend the website or the book. Essentially, it’s a mind management model to help you understand and manage your thoughts and emotions. We all have a chimp (mine is called Louis) who thinks and acts for us without our permission using our emotions.
Anyway, with only 2 checkpoints to mile 22, I spend time sorting out my thoughts and put some music on to distract me from Louis’ constant nagging. I also sweat bucket loads and my running vest is crusted with salt. I take my salt tablet religiously every hour. I also have some food and try to convince myself that everything will be fine but I know deep down it’s going south quickly. I finally arrive at CP2, I am an hour ahead of cut-off. I am knackered and I still can’t quite believe I average 12’43 min/mile. That’s the nail in the coffin I need to realise today isn’t my day. There’s another problem, my wonderful crew is most likely on their way now – too late to cancel them and I must death walk/jog 30 more miles.
Miles 23 to 51 – Wraysbury to Henley
There are 4 checkpoints until Henley. 28 miles to plan my DNF, plenty of time to think of all the details. I will arrive at Henley, tell everyone I am sorry they came all the way here but I am going to pull out. We’ll go to Streatley first to pick up my drop bag and then onto Oxford for my finish bag. By then, I calculated that we won’t see the winner but we’ll see proper runners. I am also thinking we could go for a curry once I had a shower. Once home, I plan to drop from all 100 mile races because there’s no point. Louis is feeling a lot happier with that scenario and my average heart rate finally goes down to 135 bpm, that’s not hard since I’m averaging 16’45 min/mile. I don’t care! I now have a plan!
I can’t quite believe it but it’s about to get worse. I can’t stay awake – I am literary falling asleep as soon as I close my eyes. Something is not right and I think I know why: I need to vomit. I’ve just left CP3 at mile 30 and really regret not having a sleep so I make a promise to Louis that I will go for a 20-min sleep at CP4. It doesn’t matter anymore since I’ve got my DNF in the bag. I spend time looking at amazing houses, saying hello to swans, geese and ducks – CP4 will come eventually.
CP4 is here and I introduced myself: my number is 136 and I am going to sleep for 20 min – I don’t need anything. I end up sleeping 10 min and whilst trying to get up I get the cramp of my life in my left calf. I ask for flat coke in both my soft flasks and ignore food – nothing will go in anyway. As I leave CP4, the vomit comet is finally here – I see jelly babies, a lot of fruits, some salt tablets I just took, a copious amount of water and coke to wash it off. I look up and see 4 people on a boat having a drink looking at me. I apologise, turn 180 degrees and give them a different view this time. I apologise again and they are very understanding, they don’t have much of a choice.
It doesn’t matter much now, I plod to the next CP at mile 45, it’s getting dark and I put my head torch on. I chat to someone who’s dropping and wished it was me. I leave CP5 and within minutes I return whatever I managed to ingest. It’s time to stop now, 5 more miles and I can relax.
Miles 52 to 77 – Henley to Wallingford
I can finally see Henley in the distance, I shuffle along the Thames in the dark and enjoy the brightness of my head torch. I hear a couple walking their dogs with a flimsy torch say how they need to get a decent one like mine. I have been going on for 13 hours and its 11pm, quite surprised by the level of activities at that time of the evening.
The checkpoint is at the other end of Henley, I read that in another blog. Going through town, I see people are doing normal stuff and I wonder at what point I decided that normal stuff wasn’t enough for me. I’ve had this urge to drink a pint of soda & lime with lots of ice cubes all afternoon; I am so tempted to go into a pub and order one but more pressing things are needed right now. I am genuinely excited meeting up with my team; Louis, my chimp, has been serenading to me all day what a crap effort this has been and a DNF was the logical thing to do.
It’s been 13 hours and 4 minutes since I left Richmond and I only managed to cover 52 miles. I have arrived at CP6! Halle-bloody-lujah! I give everyone a big sweaty hug before sitting in a camping chair. I am being looked after like I just arrived in A&E with a missing limb; I get a new top to put on, my cheat sticks (walking poles), a protein shake, a cup of tea, etc. I explained that I want to quit and worry that the protein shake is going to come back up as quick as it went down; I do ask where is the best place to aim for if it happens.
Neil is all dressed up to go for a run, I don’t think he has any intention of changing into normal clothes. He tells me that he’s worked the distances, times and pace I need to go at for a buckle. I quietly laugh inside thinking “you must be joking”. I then remind myself that I cannot DNF unless there is a life-threatening reason or I haven’t made the cut-off time; so, if I can put a foot in front of the other, I shall do that. Seeing everyone has perked me up and I can’t say I feel energised but I certainly feel a lot more positive I can at least get as far as Reading (58 miles). I have less than an hour in the bank ahead of cut-off at Henley. I can’t afford sitting on my arse any longer and everyone is urging me to get on with it. I won’t DNF at Henley then and the race is back on! Let’s go to Reading!
There is something amazing running the night shift – I simply love it. Neil is getting me to run again, I can’t quite believe it but I am moving again. Louis has finally gone to bed and my head is clear of any negative thoughts; I think I can make it to Reading before cut-off. I let Neil in the driving seat and obey any orders coming my way; eat, take a salt tablet, run, walk, jump in the river – I am not questioning anything and just get on with it.
I am already thinking ahead of CP7, this can only be a good thing. I know the route from Reading to Streatley (mile 77) since I did it on the A100 in Nick’s company. I know it’s the most boring section, totally uninspiring and glad I may be able to do it in the dark.
We finally arrive at CP7 – Reading, Neil’s plan has worked wonders and I am glad to be climbing up the set of stairs. There’s a comfy sofa and nobody is using it – why? I go into the room and see people waiting for the van to be taken to the finish I guess. Seeing them looking a lot better than I am and sitting there waiting for a lift makes feel like a bionic man. I get some magic gel applied on my left calf and the pain from the cramp I got ages ago disappears. Neil is running a tight ship with precise timing and pace – he clearly knows more than I do and once again I decide to follow orders all the way to Streatley. Since Henley, I decided to just go with the flow and see how far I can go – all the issues I had in the first half could resurrect and that would be me finished but I would be happy to say that I gave it a good shot.
There is only one more CP before we get to Streatley, 13 miles to cover once again in the dark. I am still feeling good and doing exactly as I’m being told. I think I can make it there and if everything goes to Neil’s plan I can contemplate reaching Wallingford (77 miles) and pick Nick from there, relieving Neil from his awesome effort. It will be bright and less than 30 miles left to go, however, right now, I need to get these crazy dreams out of my head and move forward as it’s only mile 58.
I’ve booked a room at the Bull Inn in Streatley for Nick & Francesca. It just happens that Neil and I are going through Streatley – yes! We made it in 19h08’, I am stunned to make it as far as this but all credit to Neil, his pacing has been second to none, just perfection. It’s also daylight and I am contemplating the end of the race and even dream of the buckle. I have a drop bag here but don’t bother with it at all and just have a tea and jelly babies. Time to move on, we must meet up with Nick & Francesca in 6 miles. Slight hiccup in the plan as we make a mistake coming out of checkpoint and we’re lost for about 6 min. I think we were talking and just being excited to get as far as we did. Neil is on a mission to find the correct route and flies off into the distance, I switch on the navigation on the Suunto watch and see where we went wrong. I thought for a minute that was the end of it there.
Business as usual for me and I follow the orders excited to meet Nick & Francesca. Talking about them, we see them flying by in their little car to Wallingford. I know what I must do now and I am determined to get there. It’s only fair I try my hardest to give Nick a chance at the last 23 miles. I also know that for my previous 100 miles race I have struggled with the last 25 miles but I am feeling strong; I think the 6 days in Norway pulling a 40kg pulk through the snow has improved my general fitness and soon I’ll be able to validate this assumption.
Mile 78 to 100 – Wallingford to Oxford
I have been on this part of the Thames before when I did Trot 50 but I can’t remember much of it, however, from time to time, I recognise a few sections and roughly know where we’re going. We’re coming to Wallingford checkpoint (77 miles) and still running – can’t quite believe how but I’m not going to complain. We go through the usual admin and we’re so excited to meet up with everyone that we’re told to keep quiet as it’s only 7am.
Time to move, Nick & Francesca are just down the road and we have 23 miles to go. Before I have time to engage my legs we’re in sight of them both – these are exciting times! I simply can’t believe I made it this far. I am having a protein shake again, this has helped me I think and will make sure I try it again on the SDW100 to see if this will now become part of my routine. I also munch through pineapples – I just can’t get enough of pineapple and watermelon on races.
Now this is going to sound weird but I have little recollection of what went on for the next 20 miles. I remember more sections from Trot 50 and I must admit this is not the most scenic part of the race. I decide to carry on with following orders from Nick and whenever she says we should run to a tree or a bush, I oblige. I know it’s not quite in the bag just yet but I let myself dream going through the finish.
The terrain is quite uneven and technical. I make sure I look where I put my feet. We also take time to say hello to the animals and birds especially the ones with little ones – they are just gorgeous!
We meet the team two more times and I remember Neil giving Nick instructions at what pace I should be moving – I must admit I am blown away by the science they both apply to get me to the finish.
Arriving at Abingdon checkpoint (91 miles), I am still 45 minutes ahead of cut-off. I have been going for 24 hours and 45 minutes and I am still feeling strong; I now think the week in Norway has paid off and the end is near, just 9 miles to go, 3 parkruns! This is the last time we see Neil & Francesca as the next checkpoint is not permitted to crew. I allow myself to think it’s in the bag.
I think we spend a fair amount of time plodding to the finish, talking to fellow runners as we overtake them, I must say some of them are not looking good and I even wonder if they’ll make it to the finish. I am not sure what the finish looks like, we plod along the Thames with people going about their Sunday when we are there, it’s my last left turn before going through the blue arch! We made it! TP100, you nearly killed me but we did it!
We go through the usual pictures with Stuart and congratulate each other’s. Without any shadow of a doubt, this was the hardest one so far.
This buckle goes to my crew; they were absolute legends and got me through to the finish. You know that you will have some tough times in long distance events, it’s not a question of if but when and how often. I have never experienced anything like TP100 so far and it’s been a lesson I will take with me for the next one and how my life has unfolded over the last 2 years: I know that however tough it gets, you carry on, surround yourself with great friends and eventually everything will be all right.
parkun corner with Theresa Chalk
This month has seen Clair Park celebrate its 200th run. There were plenty of participants and cake. Not sure what there was more of. Today was the day we went backwards. We wore our tops backwards. Fortunately we were not required to eat cake backwards or it could have got quite messy. The course route was back to front, or the other way round, whichever way you want to look at it, and slightly longer than usual to prevent people going all out for a PB and the possibility of carnage on the course. Helen P made two incredible cakes with park run logo which was demolished I’m sure far quicker than it took her to bake and make. We even took a photo of us backwards just to really get into the spirit.
If they have not been mentioned before we had a few milestones reached.
Jamie Goodhead 100 runs
Jean Lyle 100 runs
Jonathon Lelliott 50 runs
Hugh Stevenage 50 runs
Gary Foley 50
Andrew Ground 50 runs
And myself 50 runs
We have some parkrun posts to peruse from our tourists. A fab PB write up from James Sorbie, a historic trip for Steve Bird and a beautiful nature reserve from Cath Beckett.
From James Sorbie
After years of waiting for a girl to make the first move, I was delighted at the end of April when my wife, Hannah asked me to attend a prom with her. Perhaps a little trepidatious about my ability to dance, I popped on my best dinner suit and got in the car at a surprisingly early time of 8am. Chatting to Hannah in the car on the way it soon became clear that we were heading to Hove Promenade for a parkrun and I began to regret my decision to wear shoes with a Cuban heel. Still, I’d heard it was a flat course and I had been having quite a purple patch in my running of late so I gave it a punt anyway.
Many club members have already been to this one so I’m sure I’ll expose nothing revelatory about this flat out and back (and back and out again) course. I’d been told several times to run it because of its flatness, but having struggled on flat courses before I’d firmly corrected anyone suggesting that flat equated to easy. But then I ran a 5k personal best and now it’s me that looks like I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Clocking 18:30 as my confirmed time, I knocked a whopping(!) three seconds off my previous 5k PB which I had set at Cannon Hill near Birmingham (shameless plug, but if you’re ever near Edgbaston, do check it out, it’s a fantastically fast and beautiful parkrun). I still maintain 5k courses with some undulations make for faster times because they are more varied and forgiving on your joints, but now I have to prove it!
Finally, I arrived home brimming with excitement about my time, which I’d already modestly plastered all over Facebook. It was shortly afterwards I ascertained that I’d run with my pyjama top on under my running top. So folks, if you cut away all the useless information I’ve provided in this review, you can at least glean some sage advice. You can do well at parkrun in your pyjamas, but imagine how much quicker you’d be if you got dressed properly.
From Steve Bird
Towards the end of April we were due down in Portsmouth for a family wedding so decided to make a long weekend of it.
When we go away for the weekend I’ve got into the habit of checking the Parkrun website before booking accommodation. We decided on an airbnb in Southsea which was a great location, just under a mile from the Historic Dockyards and Gunwharf quays and a 5 minute walk from the Esplanade.
Saturday morning arrived and I headed out along Southsea Esplanade, past Southsea Castle to the start which was at Speakers Corner by Rocksby’s Cafe.
We start just after 9, the course heads east along the esplanade, passing under the canopy of South Parade Pier, turning shortly after the Royal Marine Barracks and returning via the same route.
I love running by the sea, it’s great for my wellbeing as I find it really really easy to switch off looking out at the water. It’s a fast and flat course (as it’s an out and back route on the coast you do end up running into the wind at some point), would recommend giving it a try if you get the chance.
From Cath Beckett
We turned up at Maidenhead parkrun to a very quiet car park having followed the sat nav, and walked around a bit before finding a helpful Marshall setting up some cones to separate the out and back section of the course! Following his instructions we found our way to the meeting point on the rugby pitches. We had the usual new runner briefing and park run tourist shout out. This was Rosie’s 50th parkrun, and she got a big cheer!
The course was 2 predominantly flat laps through the pretty Braywick Nature Reserve, and up a very short, steep hill towards the end. The initial pace was fast, making it a good course for a PB! About 300 runners took part. The marshals were friendly and encouraging, and Malcolm, who had marshalled at every one of the 110 Maidenhead parkruns, even had his own corner named after him with a special sign!
Definitely a good one to do if you are in the area.
That’s it for this month. A huge thank you to everyone for taking the time to write about the experiences and to offer their advice.
Please let us have your reports for next month.
Neil and the newsletter team.