Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Tour o' Pendle. 18/11/17

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I knew this one was going to hurt and it didn't disappoint...

 Which Witch?

The classic Tour of Pendle fell race is generally acknowledged to be one of the hardest on the calendar at about 17 miles and nearly 5000ft of ascent with many boggy sections, very steep climbs and descents and the infamous drop that is "Geronimo" I knew this was going to be a very, very tough race.

Recently I've been running well, the last two weeks I've done 2 fell races and my climbing is the best it's ever been; finally I can run up hill for a good distance without wanting to vomit or finding religion, but unfortunately, 2 weeks ago I started with an achy left knee. After a decade of knee pain, I hadn't had any in about 5 years since I got some excellent physio treatment that corrected my mis-tracking knees, so to start suffering again came as a surprise.
   I had done the Shepherd's Skyline race with no real issues on the Saturday and on the Sunday I popped out for 10 miles on the road. Sure, my quads were a little sore, but nothing else. But later that evening my knee started to get achy. Nothing too dramatic, but enough to be a pain. I didn't do much running during the week then I headed out for the Burley Moor fell race last Saturday and I did pretty well. However, afterwards the ache turned painful, like a toothache, so I stopped running, trying to save myself for Pendle. By Saturday it felt ok, providing I didn't want to completely bend my knee or do any deep squats. I spend a lot of time at work on my knees (Bandaging patient's legs, get your mind out of the gutter) which didn't help. I considered pulling out of Pendle, but I'm nothing if not stupid and stubborn and I really wanted to do the race to make sure I had a qualifier in for the 3 peaks. Also, I desperately need to improve my climbing over 3000ft. As soon as I hit that magical 3k foot mark in a race, I tend to deflate like a football kicked in to a garden owned by the neighbourhood grumpy old man with a hunting knife.
My moob. I know you were dying to see it
Anyways, Sophia and I arrived in Barley about 45 minutes before the race, thinking we would be very early, but in fact the cars were already parking along the road probably a mile out of the village. Pendle attracts 500 runners in a sell-out making it one of the most popular fell races of the year.

A Bit of Shopping

I made my way to the Pete Bland stall and was relieved to find that they had a healthy supply of the waterproof race map. I really didn't fancy carrying around my laminated copy of the low-resolution map printed from the website and an OS map with the check points pencilled in. If the clag came down and I got separated from other runners it could be very, very easy to go entirely the wrong way and end up in a shopping park in Burnley (a fate worse than death) I also grabbed some shot blocs as my emergency food to make sure I adhered to FRA rules along with the full body cover, hat, gloves, whistle, compass, sherpa, donkey and a helicopter.

In the village hall there was no wait to pick up my number and I went about the laborious task of getting all my kit in my bag and on my person, stuffing flap jack in to various crevices. I spotted Paul and Simon from Fellandale as well as Amanda in her valley striders vest and Mike in his Kirkstall one. Unusually, we picked up our race tshirts at this point. Again, I briefly considered going home. "No, I've no idea why I'm not on the results, I definitely did it though- look at my tshirt"

My knee was feeling decidedly average, but my aim for today was just to get around, there would be no racing involved and I figured there would be a fair amount of walking and I wasn't wrong on that front.

 Like all fell races the start was low-key. We trotted along a mile or so of tarmac, then on to a hard packed trail before hitting the hills. Paul went off a little quicker than me and as my race tactic was all about preserving energy and getting round, I let him go and didn't see him again. Patrick was up front somewhere and I never did see him.

Off we went up the first hill, I settled in somewhere in between "power-hike" and "fast plod"
And then to the first descent. I deliberately took it easy, the last thing I needed was to burn out my brakes early in the race as I would definitely regret it come the last couple of descents if I did. (By "brakes" I mean my quads) Throughout the race I kept repeating to myself, "Don't burn out your brakes! Long way to go!"

Occasionally I caught up with Simon and each time he gave me helpful tips on what was coming up. The one that stuck was "The race doesn't start until Geronimo" So I needed to get there in good shape.
This was my phone recording on strava after my Garmin died. I have been unable to resuscitate it. Sad face 
Early in the race I began to get some odd feelings of discomfort in my thighs which really didn't bode well. My knee seemed to be holding up ok though, with only a mild discomfort on the way down.
Then total disaster- my garmin watch alarmed low battery. Still- never mind, it's generally got a couple of hours before low battery becomes watch shutting down...but not this time, a few minutes later it turned off, dead to the world. Then I remembered that I had my phone on me. People looked concerned as I walked for a bit starting strava on my phone and even asked if I was ok. "If it's not on strava, it didn't happen!" I replied


Maybe because I'd heard all the horror stories but Geronimo didn't look half as bad as I'd been expecting when I stood at the top looking down. I snapped off a couple of photos before heading down.

Looking back at Geronimo. If you squint you can see the runners making their way down

I trotted down Geronimo not really going hard, but still over taking a lot of other people. It's important to point your toes downwards rather than turning your foot sideways, which was the mistake a lot of people around me were making. You have to trust the grip on your fell shoes and my mudclaws were coping well, despite the lugs being quite warn down on them.

At some point between there and the next climb I landed heavily in bog mud. My left leg disappeared straight down to the knee. I went to pull myself out and - Uh oh!- the shoes didn't want to come out with my foot. I curled my toes upwards and pulled again. On the third attempt it came out, but it had had the effect of pulling my heel out of the shoe which inevitably filled full of thick, smelly mud. I stopped to scrape the mud out, then stopped again to retie the shoe lace as dragging myself out had loosened it.

I was moving well up the next climb and then we hit a long, grippy, grassy downhill. I was feeling strong so I decided to take it a little quicker. I over took probably around 20 people, who were, admittedly moving pretty slowly as I was towards the back of the field. But then my knee started to hurt. The dull ache turned in to a stabbing pain on the outside of my knee. I tried to change my gait, the way I was landing, but to no avail. By the time I hit the bottom, I knew I was in serious trouble.
I spotted Amanda with a marshall, and she was standing still. "You ok?"
"No, hurt my foot"  Later I found out she'd had to go to A&E after her first ever DNF. No stress fracture showed up on the scans, but it's suspected. Hope it turns out to be something lesser and she gets well soon!


The quick descent meant I had caught up with Simon and we had a quick chat. "3 or 4 more hills from here" He said, "I can never remember how many"  I was really hoping it was 3 (it was) To my relief I found that I could go upwards without pain and I was actually moving fairly quickly and overtaking quite a lot of people. Simon was slowly moving away from me in front.

Going down the next hill was agonising. More than once a very sharp pain stopped me in my tracks and I came to a halt. At the next check point I seriously considering, dropping out. But like an idiot I carried on up the next hill. I began to over take all the people who had passed me coming down the hill, but now my knee was beginning to hurt even going up. How the hell was I going to finish this race?!

Queuing to go over a stile early in the race
After the last climb I had the incredible frustration of not being able to run on the last long, long downhill to the finish. I tried again and again to run but each time I was met with stabbing pain.
I was passed again and again by dozens of runners.

Lots of people asked if I was ok, most thinking that I was having a spectacular blow-up, so I just answered "Nope, knee's gone" Most annoying is I still had plenty of energy, without the pain I would have been charging along to the finish.

I managed to find a way to move a little faster- I just needed to keep my knee fairly straight as I bimbled along. The path down the reservoirs seemed absolutely endless. I ran (walked) in to Ted Mason. "Alright Ted, don't tell me you've already finished and are now walking it backwards"
"Nah, just off to find the missus. You bonked then?"
"I wish, my knee's gone"
Gone where though? Off to Painsville to the House of Agony, that's where.

The Pendle Hobble

I discovered that I could do a sort of double hop on my right, good leg as long as I landed with a straight leg on my left, so I managed to go a little faster in places. Eventually, mercifully, the finish line approached. By now my thighs and hips were beginning to cramp. I'm not sure whether this was due to the long slow trudge in the cold (I was now freezing, especially my hands in the wet gloves) or if it was invetible due to a lack of suitable training.

I was in a world of my own, hopping along, so much that I nearly ran straight past Sophia until she said "I thought you must be injured"
"Yep, knee's gone"
Then I hopped through the finish line.

In the village hall, I chatted to JP and gave him the thrill of his life when I slowly stripped off the layers of wet clothing whilst scoffing the bag of midget gems, dolly mixtures, cola bottles and milk bottles that I hadn't touched during the race.
Mike came through the finish not long after me. His ankle had held up about as well as my knee but he was just pleased to have got round.

Mmmmm, Betty

Man at C&A
Later I undressed in the shower to prevent me from dropping mud all over the place. Taking off the socks that had stuck to the mud, that was stuck to my leg hairs was an interesting experience. Then I scrubbed like a man possessed to remove the rest of the mud that was not in my socks and settled in to a long bath with a bottle of Desperado (Don't judge me)

Addit: I managed to retrieve the first part of the race from my garmin before giving it a burial!!

More parkun days

A Halloween parkrun day
07:15 Thy alarm calleth and that right soon
07:20 Stumble to bathroom. Certainly have appropriate bedhead hair style for Halloween run
07:25 Set off truly MA-HOO-SIVE pot of coffee
07:35 Put on skeleton onesie over shorts and tshirt
07:45 Infusion of life-giving substance: Coffee!
08:14 Ask Sally sat nav to take me to Brighouse. Idly wonder why it's pronounced Brigg-house instead of Brig-us which would at least be consistent with bizarre West Yorkshire dialect
08:15 Sally sat nav (Who has clearly had a stroke) pronounces it Bry-gouse
08:15 Sally sat nav says destination Bry-gouse will be reached at 08:47. Hope the car park is near!
08:17 Select "Unwell" by Matchbox 20 on stereo
08:20 Skoda DJ plays "No Alarms" by Radiohead. Cheeky little monkey
08:48 Pull up outside Wellholme park, Brighouse. Can already see parkrunners milling around. None seem to be in fancy dress. Uh oh
08:49 Get out of car to find witch and another skeleton getting out of 2 cars in front. Phew! "Least I'm not the only pillock" I remark. "Oh definitely not" says the witch. "There'll be plenty of us"
I ask where nearest toilets are as feel ominous belly rumblings. Pointed at Tescos in distance. hmmmm, bit too far!
09:00 RD urges us to take free brandy snap at end as he doesn't want to take it home!
09:03 Various witches, ghoulies, skeletons, draculas etc set off on a parkrun!
09:05 Feel like am running in treacle. Legs won't move
09:07 Legs beginning to loosen off
09:09 Keep calm belly.....keep caaaaaaaaaaalm
09:12 Am actually over taking people
09:15 Running along, not pushing myself. Listening to my breathing. Got 10k tomorrow so no racing today!
09:17 Glance down at watch. Says am doing 4:01 per k. It must have had a stroke too, although have been over taking quite a few people...
09:20 Cruise through line. Unbelievably have run 20:36 at only 70% effort!
09:21 Partake in free Wright's & Co brandy snap!!!! Made right here in Brighouse!!
09:30 Attempt to take slow-motion videos of runners in fancy dress.
11:40 Scott, your time in position 9 today at Brighouse parkrun was 20:37. Even as a skeleton you were damnably sexy

A racecourse parkrun day
Yesterday: Sophia: What time are we leaving tomorrow?
Me: No later than 10 to 8.....
Scene fades to black...
07:00 Alarm. WTF is wrong with me?? It's my day off!!
07:05 It puts the coffee in the machine
07:10 Select Yorkshire 3 peaks tshirt. YORKSHIRE!!!
07:20 Dear, sweet, coffee, my bestest friend. I love and adore thee, you're always there for me. Ahhhh
07:30 Sophia- "What time do we need to leave?"
Me: "10 to 8"
07:40 Sit on sofa sipping coffee, fully dressed with all required kit in bag. "SOPHIA, YOU HAVE 10 MINUTES!!"
No answer from upstairs...
Sophia: "Oh ooooooo, uuuuurr"
07:55 Me- "You are making us late, we need to leave, now!"
08:00 Sit in car waiting, banging head on dashboard
08:05 Eventually leave
08:10 Marvel and delighted at incredible sight of Red Kite wheeling over car, coming in really close giving spectacular view, right until last moment when it suddenly dives and clips top of car!!! No sign of injured bird on road?!? Think it's ok!?
08:07 Skoda Sat nav shows estimated arrival time at Catterick to be 08:52. Oh brill
08:30 A1M diversion... here we go.....what could possibly go worng?
08:35 Approaching Northallerton. Do we divert to the parkrun there? From memory it's all on grass, neither of us have suitable shoes. Decide to push on to Catterick to avoid comedy skiddy, muddy parkrun falls
08:40 For first time in years, may not be adhering *strictly* to speed limit...
08:53 Arrive at car park for Catterick racecourse after miles of twisty country roads to find lorry blocking entrance! Oh no!! Man directing truck stops it to lt us get through! TAAAA!!
08:55 Fast walk/jog to start whilst trying to strip
08:57 Hop on one foot taking off jogging bottoms etc and stuff in back pack. Look around for suitable storage. Marshal offers to transport bag to finish!! Gratefully accept 
09:01 Hilarious RD briefing from the very charming and exotic Atmaram Dahal.
09:02 Not a dry eye in the house as very young boy receives his 10 junior milestone tshirt
09:05 Let the parkrun commence!
09:07 Unsurprised to see 2 juniors sprint in to lead as 2 j11-14 ran under 18 minutes last week
09:10 Random thought- Is parkrun at racecourse still not a race? (Don't answer that, it's a joke!!)
09:11 Over take all but one of the juniors that set off sprinting from start
09:12-09:25ish Concentrate on staying bouncy, keeping my form and not dying
09:20 Triumphantly (not really) pass very bouncy chap who had over taken me much earlier. He is very bouncy with very large arm movements, he looks like he is sprinting
Watch has been showing less than 3:52 per/k average- On for my first time under 19 minutes at a parkun!!!!
09:22 End is nigh, just need to keep going!!! 30 seconds to cover the last straight and go under 19!!!!
09:23 Watch bleeps for 5k with probably 100m to go, bugger! That means the average speed is wrong! JUST GOOOOOOO!!
09:2?? Cross line in cloud of steam and burning rubber
Timer calls out 19!
09:23 AH F**K!
Wait... there's free cake?!!?
09:30 Do a lap with Sophia who smashes her parkrun PB too!!
09:32 Feel stone in shoe, stop to empty them out. Discover is an actual flipping blister! OH FFS!
09:25 Free cake and tea!! I LOVE parkrun 
10:00 Go for a wander around Richmond and buy extra special bottle of French sparkling white wine (Not from the champagne region) to celebrate PBs
10:37 Scott, your time in position 4 today at Catterick parkrun was 19:01.Congratulations on being awarded the nationwide "Sexiest" parkrunner award. Good luck in next week's "World's sexiest parkrunner" finals. We think you're odds on favourite!

A teenage parkrun day
07:00 Oh god, it's the alarm. Mum you are so stupid! Why did you set the alarm? God I hate you!
07:10 No Mum! I hate you! I'm not going! parkrun is stupid!
07:30 I'M NOT GOING! parkrun is so lame
08:05 DAAAAAAAAAAAAAD, tell her I'm not going!!!
08:25 From downstairs: "We're leaving!"
From upstairs, "Urrrrrgh, you WOULD leave without me too! God, I'm ringing child line. You two are abusers"
08:30 Mum, what have you done with my shorts?!!? *I* didn't put them there, what are they doing in the corner of the room?!" WHY HAVEN'T YOU WASHED ANY OF MY THINGS?!?!?
08:47 GOD! I look so fat in these shorts and they smell!
08:50 I'M NOT F£&^%*G GOING!!
08:57 Scuff shoes all the way from car to start line. Everyone looks so lame. Look at these stupid clothes
09:00 Set off like a maniac sprinting. I'm leading parkrun!
09:02 Totally knackered. I'm not finishing this, it's so stupid
09:10 Muuuuuum, I want to go home!
09:20 Dad, you'd BETTER be buying me icecream afterwards or I am NEVER doing this again!
09:35 Sprint last 200 metres. 2 minutes off my PB, I am amazing! I LOVE parkrun!
09:50 Eating ice cream with my lovely mum and Dad. They're ace, I love them. Can't wait for next week

Nostell Priory
A parkrun 15th tourist/birthday weekend/taking-it-easy-race-tomorrow day
07:30 Woken by alarm on new phone. FRIGGIN' 'ELL! Vibrate and LOOOOOUD alarm!
07:40 Put on long-sleeved top for first time in months. Sad face
07:45 KWORFEE!!!
08:15 "Sophia! Shift it or we'll be late!"
08:20 Set off for Nostell parkrun @ Nostell Priory
08:30 Skoda DJ selects "Shiney happy people" by REM. Nice one SDJ, nice one
08:35 Pass Pontefract racecourse, which is amusing, as it has it's own parkrun!
08:45 Arrive at large National Trust stately home, put spare barcode in window for free parking. Been once before for a cross country race. Probably not the same route...
08:50 Repeat slowly to myself, "I must not race, I must not race, I must not race" Tadcaster 10 tomorrow!
09:01 Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's PARKRUN!
09:02 Bit of a scrum at start, end up sprinting to get in position.
09:04 Passed by familiar sight of Terry, local cross country champ. Hard to miss with trademark mohican! Guess he'll be first finisher then!
09:05 Section of very sharp gravel+barefoot shoes= careful running!
09:05-09:10 First lap enjoying scenery and breathing in fresh air
09:10-09:21 Passed by numerous sweaty-bettys furiously chasing their PBs. Bounce gently along in all my smugness
09:25 Head back to find Sophia whilst trying to avoid electric fences down the side of paths made to keep the cows in!
09:30 Find Sophia and identify a lady in purple parkrun volunteer top to be her nemesis for today.
09:32 Sophia is overtaken by nemesis. Come on Sophia, get a wriggle on!
09:34 Nemesis says that I ought to do another lap after this one as she knows I've already finished but if I am doing it again I should do another full parkrun.
09:35 Nemesis is in front coming to final hill before finish in front of house
09:36 No amount of "motivation/abuse" will get Sophia to catch nemesis. Not sure she is taking nemesis seriously.
09:38 Inform Sophia she could be on for a PB. Motivation found!
09:40 Pat gorgeous Airdale doggy. Thanked by owner who said doggy was refusing to move until someone fussed her
09:50 Coffee and muffin demolition
10:00 Pat gorgeous dog that looks hilariously like Alsatian-corgi cross. Body of a corgi, head of an alsatian! Owners have no idea what doggy is as they are surrounded by all their lovely rescue dogs
11:51 Text message: Scott, your time in position 13 today at Nostell parkrun was 21:39. Well done on your first run here. The magnificence of our stately home pales into insignificance next to you
11:51 Text message: Sophia, your time in position 178 today at Nostell parkrun was 38:25. Well done on your first run here. You really are a very lucky girl to be going out with the best parkrunnner in the universe
36 second PB for Sophia! Jeroboam!!!!


A parkrun birthday. "The return of the prosecco dictator"
06:00 Woken by Sophia having conversation with cat
06:30 Woken again by Sophia having conversation with cat
07:00 Woken yet again by Sophia discussing philosophy, art and history with Bella the cat. Turns out Bella hates Gauguin and is really quite right-wing
07:10 Bella has hilarious cat cold- cutest tiny little sneezes and catty wheezing. Also- cat snot being sneezed on to sleeping human's faces
07:30 Woken by tinkly alarm. Immediately go tinkle
07:45 Coffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...bah....gum, lad!
07:50 Choose subtle "Rombald's stride " tshirt (22 miles of blood, toil, tears and sweat)
08:00 Take short trip around porcelain collection at the smallest room exhibition
08:01 Give Sophia first "AWOOGA" warning
08:30 Miraculously leave on time.
08:35 After some encouragement, Skoda DJ plays blinder with "Red morning light" by Kings of Leon, followed by "Given to fly" by Pearl Jam. Awesome!
08:45 Arrive to usual deserted park and select x-talon fell shoes for "firm going" grass course
08:50 Greeted by Joseph (World's most handsome whippet (TM) ) who feigns being pleased to see me whilst checking me out for treats (not got any with me this week) and soon returns to usual insouciance upon discovering truth
08:55 Survey this week's "competition" to see likelihood of finally completing collection of first 10 finish tokens with a No1. None of regular fast runners around. Some fit looking people. Hmmmm
09:03. Nope. 3rd place
09:04 First lady just in front. She becomes target for today
09:06 Catching first lady, her breathing sounds laboured. Soon pass her
09:06-22 PAIN! SWEAT! LUNGS BEING SCOURED BY BRILLO PADS! 3rd and 4th kilometre collapse!
09:22 See finish tunnel appear like an oasis to a thirsty man wandering in desert
09:22 Wonder if will vomit?
09:23........Nope. Phew!
09:25 Take off socks and shoes and head off to find Sophia for barefoot lap on her 13th parkrun!
10:15 Text message: Scott, your time in position 5 today at Wetherby parkrun was 20:02. Well done for avoiding the evilness of a sub 20 time and remaining a good person for at least another week. JEROBOAM!!

Burley Moor Fell Race 11/11/2017

For once a bright sunny day greeted us for the last event of the Burley “summer” festival; to wit- the fell race up t’moor and the runners congregated around the cordoned-off cricket pitch under the strange glow of a bright ball in the sky. A pig was quickly sacrificed to appease the Gods to make sure the ball didn’t destroy us and 14 Fellandalers (I’m including the pesky second-claimers) signed the sheet to promise not to sue anyone if they died with their leg in the air as they were fully aware that fell running is a bloody silly pastime.
The race director gave us all a chat and warned us that the gates on the lower part of the course that were usually opened for the race were this year padlocked, meaning that we would have to vault the gates or use the stiles if we didn’t get there first.
For the start, there was, of course, no to-do and off we went around the pitches for a quick right turn out of the car park, through the cars and down the track.
Paul Heely raced in to an unexpected lead followed by Patrick and myself a little way behind. We weaved down the thin farm tracks, across the fields and skidded down the final path to the road crossing before beginning the leg-burning climb up the moor.
Whereas I have traditionally been a terrible climber, I have recently seemed to have found my  hill legs and can now finally run up hills (at least for a while) and about ¾ of the way up the first climb, I over took Paul. I kept catching the odd glimpse of Patrick up in front through a curtain of sweat, but never with any hope of catching him.

This was the third time I have done this race and by far the driest conditions, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t still pretty muddy. I tried to keep moving as smoothly as I could, but despite that, I was caught by Monica from Wharfdale not long before reaching the top. She immediately became my target for the race. I went straight back past her and we hit the dry, fast track along the top that has a gentle downhill. I could hear her on my tail the whole way and each time she caught me and pulled level I put in a spurt and moved away. I put in a 3:40 kilometre to try to keep my position.
As we hit the turn at Burley gate I could see Patrick. He had already turned back and was a way up the track, probably a good minute in front. I turned the bend and tried to power up the hill but the fast downhill had taken its toll and I was struggling to keep the speed up. We passed the Mountain rescue Land Rover which is there every year and always makes me chuckle; it doesn’t really fill you full of confidence but I’m certainly glad it was there.
At the very bottom corner of the race with the last turn around point, I could see Patrick again and he was powering away up the hill, a long way in front.
Going up the hill I was now moving slowly and knew that at any time today’s nemesis (Monica) would pass me beiing much better at climbing than me and sure enough she did. I was then surprised to be over taken by another lady running for Ilkley that was powering up the hill and at a guess I would have said she was a V50.
I was doing my best to hold on knowing that the rest of the route was very up and down and that I would be able to put in a very good spurt down the steep final descent and would probably catch up some time on the technical rocky sections
To my surprise I over took the Ilkley lady not long before the descent and as soon as we started to go down, I shot past Monica and another couple of runners.
Now it was all about getting down the muddy slope and unlike last week at Shepherd’s Skyline, I seemed to have something left and was able to keep up some speed. I could hear Monica right up behind me all the time and my mind was screaming at me to slow down or give up, but I just didn’t want to give up my position.
Each time we hit the hard packed paths I knew I had to go hard as everyone else would be and I was holding my place, not catching the runners in front, but those behind didn’t seem to be gaining.
At one fence I decided that going through the kissing gate would cost me too much time so I awkwardly threw myself over the gate. At the final stile I tried to bound over it in a quick movement and I slipped badly as I went up it, then slipped again as I came down, but managed to keep my feet.
Eventually we hit the last bit of track to the cricket pitch. I was still fully expecting someone to put in a quick sprint and pass me before the end so I put in a sprint of my own down the field and was extremely relieved when I crossed the line with no one passing me. I had managed 2 final kilometres of 3:44.

I turned around after finishing expecting to see Monica right behind me, but actually it was the Ilkley lady that had been right behind me and in fact Monica didn’t finish for another couple of minutes. “I can’t run downhill to save my life” she explained afterwards.
I had finished in 53:35 (Second lady) an improvement on my previous effort by 1 minute 23 seconds which was obviously pretty pleasing, especially given the closed gates.  Patrick had finished in 51:56 and Paul came through a couple of minutes behind me in 57:07 (Times taken from strava, not the official times yet as they aren’t out!) *My official time: 53:38 for 39th place out of 222 finishers.
Jed came through about a minute after Paul with his patented “Massive sprint finish to overtake at least one person whilst wildly out of control and very nearly demolishing the finishing funnel” move
Next was Phil Steel then in no particular order, Carl, Stephen Carter, Tanya, Laura, Kat, Simon and Sarah Glover.

We stood around for some pictures for social media and a hot beverage included in the price (Bargain!) before heading home to hot baths, muscles rubs and crazy pugs (at least in Tanya’s case) no doubt contemplating Pendle hill next weekend.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Yet more parkrun days. Tweet me @scott_leach

A north east parkrun tourism day 5/8/17

07:30 Wake in premier inn that overlooks the whitewater centre at the Tees Barrage. Tourist parkrun, baby!!
07:40. Might as well have shower seeing how course is a 2 minute walk away. It'll make a change not to smell BEFORE the parkrun for once
08:00 Leisurely cup of tea
08:30 Wander down to start. No one about. Several other parkrun tourist wandering about looking confused. One asks, "Where's the start?" turns out we're all newbies
08:40 Find bloke who knows and he confirms we're in right spot. No one really knows where I can dump bag. End up letting myself in to building at finish line and leaving bag under bench in changing rooms. Managed to forcibly remove strap on garmin by sticking hand through slats on bench, cue quick repairs. Hope bag is still there when come back!
09:00 Admit to being a tourist from Leeds at the RD brief
09:01 And parkrun is go!
09:02 Up the ramp on to the first bridge. Treated to amazing view down the river!
09:03 Running just behind the front pack of 6 runners who slowly pull away, damn them!
09:10ish Up the steps to the bridge at the far end, suddenly feel knackered! Try to employ my fell racing experience down ramps. Utterly fail. At least the back half of course will have tailwind, hoping for a fast finish!
09:10-20 Struggling, not feeling it at all! Running all alone, runners in front and behind are a long way away!
09:18 Come to junction in path, not totally obvious which way to go, no marshal and no runners around, take my best guess!
09:19 Thin path surrounded by trees, no runners around to see if am going the right way...
09:20 Aaaaaaand I have gone..........the right way! Phew!
09:21. Finish with an average pace of 3:56 per k, good for a 19 and a half minute time... but wait... 20:32 on the watch and also 5.2km...and last night someone mentioned on facebook that the course start is where it is to make sure the start isn't too narrow...not suspicious at all! Good job it's a run not a race or I would demand my money back!
09:25 Backpack is still safe in the changing rooms!
09:35 Finish last k with Sophia
09:50 Stumble back to hotel for cup of tea, will find cake and or bacon later!
10:40 Text message: Scott, your time in position 7 today at Tees Barrage parkrun was 20:31. Well done on your first run here. We deliberately keep the course long to stop people becoming evil with sub 20 times. Congratulations on staying a good person this week

Prediction for this evening: Prosecco, after all, it's still a PB at Tees Barrage, right?

A parkrun-Harrogate-challenge cup semi-final-Jed's belated 40th party- day 29/7/17

07:00 Up early to travel to Harrogate for last chance for club championship. Fast course, time to try to go under 19 minutes for the first time ever. Need a 3:48 mins per k average
08:05 Leave for Harrogate full of caffeine, porridge and a head full of boyish dreams of a PB
08:10 Skoda DJ selects "July" by Ocean colour scene. Well played, SDJ, well played
08:20 SDJ selects a Shires song for Sophia. Endure 3 minutes of mind-numbingly bad music. Bad SDJ, very bad SDJ.
08:30 The Stray, Harrogate, completely deserted apart from a few marshals and the RD.
08:35 Harrogate course: 3 laps of a rectangular section of the Stray, 2 sides perfect tarmac path, 2 sides grass, completely flat. Difficult shoe choice, go for vibram five finger trek ascent
08:45 Use the *remarkably* clean park toilets. Not sarcasm!! Surprisingly few graffitied offers of sex in the toilet cubicles
08:50 Meet Jed and Fliss Dave Hickman from Fellandale and discuss Jed's lack of regulation blue Fellandale shorts. He will be punished
08:55 *POOF* 350 people appear like magic
09:05:01 Nidd valley runner goes off like a rocket, moving amazingly well for a muscular guy! Wonder if he will keep it up...
09:06 Packed mud paths turn out to be a bit slippy, run on grass at side for increased grip and so I don't "split my difference"
09:10 Must concentrate on even splits, mustn't blow up like a cheap hooker!!
09:12ish Garmin average showing 3:44 at 2k!!!! PB is on!!!
09:17 3rd k; 4 minutes, DAMNIT! Got to speed up!! Slap self in face several times for adrenaline boost
09:20ish Get back in front of young runner who had over taken me earlier. Watch showing 3:50 average, need to finish it big style!! 800 metres to go! Where's an East German coach with a syringe when you need one?
09:20summat. Finishing straight on good tarmac with wind at back. Giving it everything!! Ripon runner is in front, good going bloke!
09:20summatandabit. Look at watch and.....3:57 average!!!!!!!!


09:25 Wait a second.............time.................19:28. W.T.F?!!?!?>!?!!?! W.T.parkrunning.F??!!!

Distance...5.13km!!!! GODSDAMNIT!!!!!!!!


09:35 After 10 minutes of deep breathing and meditation, appreciate that parkrun is a run not a race and pleased to run my fastest ever average kilometre pace for a 5k. Cheer in Jed and Dave, chat to RD and thank him for an excellent event. Head off to complete last lap with Sophia.
11:41 Text message: Scott, your time in position 8 today at Harrogate parkrun was 19:29. Well done on a new PB. As per parkrun law, you must now consume several glasses of prosecco until you start to talk more gibberish than usual
12:10 Nidd valley runner turns out to be a vet 50-54 with a PB of 18:22!! DAI-YUM!
12:15 Time to set off for the mighty Hull FC in the challenge cup semi-final. It's not all about the parkrun ya know (But mostly it is)

A parkswim day 22/7/17

07:30 Wake to the sound of hammering rain
07:40 Select suitable kit for conditions: cap, rain jacket, mudclaws, canoe, bilge pump, cure for trench foot
07:45 AHHHHHHHH caffeine
07:50 Porridge. Must take run today seriously now nemesis has stopped running scared in Italy and has come back to Wetherby
08:00 Sophia dons her brand new Wetherby AC "Couch to 5k hero" vest for her "graduation run" with the other runners from the beginners' group
08:10 Set off in pounding rain. Skoda DJ selects "Wait for me" by Kings of Leon- Nice choice! Then it goes for a Travis track, but I pick a better one "Why does it always rain on me?"
08:30 Arrive in deserted car park in torrential rain. Put on serious Inov8 raceshell220 fell runner's association- approved taped-seam hooded rain jacket
08:50 Spot nemesis and offer to re-tie his shoes... He declines. Curses, my plan is foiled!
08:55 Rain nearly clears up leaving only slight drizzle. Take off serious rain jacket and walk to start with cap on to keep drizzle out of eyes
09:00 Torrential rain restarts- too late to get jacket!!!!
09:02ish Swim away from start. Rain turns biblical. Shirt and shorts immediately glued to skin. Bilge pump working over-time to bail out undercrackers
09:03 Nemesis just in front, tuck in behind
09:05 Over take nemesis and attempt to "psyche him out" "Beer and pizza diet for 2 weeks eh, Steve?"
09:10 Running in small pack with 2 other runners. Each time one slows down one others speeds up. My companions are man in 50 shirt and j15-17 lady
09:10-18 Positions swap in 3 runner pack, but make a break for it and over take both of them!
09:16 Passed by nemesis, godsdamnit!!! He opens up a 5 metre lead
09:17 10 metres
09:18 5 metres
09:18:30 Over taken by j15-17 lady (She got a PB)
09:19 20 metres. Enter final 100m. Vanquished by nemesis once again!! Even a week of beer and pizza in Italy hasn't slowed him sufficiently for me to get him! Grrrrr!
09:22 Literally wring out tshirt!
09:25 Take off shoes and go for a barefoot last lap with Sophia who breaks 40 minutes for the first time in smashing her pb by 1 minute 33 seconds! Proud boyfriend :)
09:35 Bacon butties and hot tea in sports assoc whilst drying out with the 5k beginners' group.
09:40 Rain stops!! Bloody typical
10:30 Buy 2 bottles of sparkling Italian pink wine
10:53 Text message: Scott, your time in position 6 at Wetherby parkrun today was 19:23. Thank goodness you didn't drown and we think you look amazing in a wet tshirt

A small p for parkrun, a giant P for mankind 15/7/17

07:30 Ignore alarm and hit snooze
07:35 Fall out of bed sideways, but manage to avoid killing cat
07:40 Watch drizzle slowly erm, drizzle down outside whilst filling coffee machine with Kenyan roast
07:45 Back up the dump truck at the household waste recycling centre
07:50 Don 3 Peaks race tshirt to remind myself I was quite hard once upon a time
08:10 Skoda DJ has developed sick sense of humour first playing "Waterfront" by Simple minds (Come in, come out of the rain) Then "Man don't cry" by the Christians
08:20 Arrive at Wetherby to streaming rain in a deserted park. Good job have brought mudclaws! (Didn't need them, wore vibram 5 fingers instead)
08:45 Rain stops and all sorts of very fit looking pro-runner types appear- York parkrun is cancelled this week!
08:50 Nemesis is not here this week having chosen to hide out in Italy all week to avoid the competition. He has been mainly posting gorgeous photos to social media
09:05 GO!
09:05:01 Bloke dressed in "gym gear" (bright luminous sleeveless top, leggings that end below the knee) sets off like a rocket and is leading at 50m. Instantly becomes this week's nemesis
09:06 Running in small group of people, unusual for Wetherby!
09:07 Nemesis fades in to distance. VICTORY IS MINE!! BWAAA HA HAAA!!!
09:08-10 Pack thins as runners begin to fade.
09:10 Determined to run even splits for once instead of dying away mid-run like flan in a cupboard
09:15 Chase down runner in front, settle in to 5th place.
09:15 to 09:25summat. PAIN!
09:25 Lay on floor in pool of sweat. I am dying, actually dying. Call an ambulance. No, I'm serious, I can see angels and a golden gate. No St Peter, I'M NOT READY!
09:30. Realise have run under 20 again, can feel the evil beginning to grow.
09:32 Make rude gesture at passing sea gull
11:41 Text message: Scott, your time in position 5 today at Wetherby parkrun was 19:27. You are now fully evil again, feel free to never return those library books you borrowed

It's a parkrun world 24/6/17

07:30 Alarm after actual full night's sleep!!
07:45 Drink coffee while contemplating today's run. Last chance for club championship points at Oakwell Hall. Beamsley Beacon fell race on Thursday and lots of tough training this week may not have been best idea. Ah well, time to enjoy the view instead!
08:15 Skoda DJ selects Africa by Toto for no apparent reason. Never mind, it's a great track
08:55 Thoroughly enjoy today's RD briefing as lots of tourists, a 50 run, a 150 run and a Ruby wedding anniversary! PARTY!
09:01 IT'S PAAAAAAAAAAAAAARKRUN (Shout in Noddy Holder from Slade's voice)
09:01:10 Spot fellow race photog, Philip Bland and do silly jump for photo. I may regret that
09:05 If you want to be the best, if you wanna beat the rest, oh, oh, undulation's what you need!
09:10 Resist urge to shout out "FREE SPEED!!" (TM Scott Jurek) on all the downhills when over taking people
09:15 Overtaken by very small child (JM 11-14)
09:18 Over take very small child on downhill
09:20 Over taken by very small child again
09:22 Beaten by very small child
09:23 Highly amuse young token scanners with my expert "snot rocket" (No one was injured in the execution of said rocket)
09:25 Grab camera and collapse on to floor whilst snapping away
09:50 Persuade volunteers to give up slice of anniversary cake. Nom, as you say, nom, as you correctly point out, nom
10:00 Watch incredibly cute dog playing football with boys in courtyard
10:05 Highly amused when ball bounces in to ladies toilets followed swiftly by cute dog. Boys are able to retrieve neither ball nor dog
10:10 Fight off "vicious" puppy attack from the gorgeous Poppy
10:43 Scott, your time in position 11 today at Oakwell Hall parkrun was 21:18. Well done. You're looking great today, have you been working out?

A ParkTrump (TM) day 17/6/17

07:00 Wake and do 1000 press-ups. I am the fittest man. No one is fitter than me, trust me
07:10-07-30 Sign executive orders making it illegal not to run Parkrun on a Saturday, to funnel-duck or to spell Parkrun with a small P
07:45 Put extra strong glue on head
08:00 Eat the best breakfast, really, just a tremendous breakfast
08:30 Check on building of wall around local Parkrun. Needs to be higher. More bigly even
08:45 Tweet that I will be winning Parkrun today
08:50 100,000 people turn up to run at Parkrun to support me
08:55 Have security throw out anyone who looks a bit foreign
09:00 Give short presentation on new Trump Trainers (TM) . These are really tremendous trainers, just the best, trust me. You should buy some today then you can Parkrun like me.
09:45 End of presentation. Can now start Parkrun
09:50 Stop to tweet about how I am the best parkrunner, really, believe me
09:56 Set new 5k world record of 11:59. Insist on being given time despite not having a barcode.
10:00 Tweet: My Parkrun was covfefe, truly, covfefe
10:30 Eat nearly all the cake, leave half a slice for everyone else.
11:00 News media reporting that I didn't win Parkrun. FAKE NEWS!!! #sad
18:00 Fox news special on my athletic ability, including all the olympic medals I could have won if I didn't decide to be the best TV celebrity ever

A parkrun crisis day 10/6/17

07:30 Awake to alarm, refreshed and feeling great and ready to run.
07:31 Just kidding, feel knackered as usual and hair looks like a hungover hedgehog that's been in a fight in a Wetherspoons at 3am
07:32 Look outside at curtain of rain falling from grey sky.
07:40 Sainsbury's own brand ground coffee in the machine. God, I feel so middle class
07:45 Select Oslo marathon tshirt for rare outing- have to limit its appearances as writing is starting to come off. Put rain jacket in bag
08:00 Start cajoling Sophia to ensure we leave on time
08:15 Skoda DJ, being an expert in irony chooses "Run to the Sun" by Erasure to help me drive through rain
08:35 Arrive at parkrun to find half the course covered by a surprise diveyball tournament
08:40 Crisis talks held between volunteers and I am dispatched off around the field to measure a lap.
08:50 Arrive back at start and report an 850ish metre lap. Cue frenzied counting on toes and fingers; hopefully 6 laps with the finishing funnel to be moved to try to get the right distance!
08:52 Try to find any runner that is faster than me to ensure first runner can let volunteers know where finishing funnel should be!
Spot nemesis who claims to be on for a slow time today due to having run 2 races during the week. I know him and I don't buy it ;)
08:55 Decided not to use waterproof jacket as I am wearing my special waterproof skin today and only recently had all the leaks in it blocked up
09:05 After an extended run brief, PARKRUNNNNNNNN
09:05:01 Nemesis blisters away from the start and quickly disappears in a blur of speed. I knew he was full of it ;)
09:15 After a week of being ill, lungs put up the little white flag pretty early
09:20-summat. Finish in "new PB" time. Definitely not due to a slightly short course. Oh no. definitely not. #alternativefacts
09:21 Take off shoes and go lovely and barefoot on the wet grass whilst I run with Sophia on her last 3 laps
09:40-summat. Sophia manages to keep in front of Adrian Kennedy who is pushing Iris in a buggy and encouraging Finn to run in between short trips on the front of the buggy
09:45 Castigate Adrian for having not tripped nemesis as requested. he had ONE job
10:00 Bacon and Yorkshire tea, paid for by Adrian. Suppose I will forgive him
10:28 Scott, your time in position 4 at Wetherby parkrun today was 19:16. Well done on a new PB. Thanks also for volunteering. Whilst we're at it, has anyone told you just how nice your bum looks in those shorts?
10:45 Reflect on fact that first 7 runners home got new PBs. Not suspicious at all, oh no, not suspicious at all. #morealtfacts
18:00ish. Prosecco to celebrate sophia's pb

A parkrun tourist day 13/5/17

07:00 Alarm
07:01 Very much consider staying in bed as not been able to train properly in a while
07:05 Survey injuries from major faceplant week last Tuesday: Graze and bruise to left shoulder nearly healed, shoulder still a little sore. Big toe a little tender and a little swollen. Ah well, I'll run anyway, what could possibly go wrong?
07:10 COFFEE!
07:20 Enter bathroom *CENSORED FOR PUBLIC DECENCY*
07:50 Miraculously leave house early, I say miraculously, because have Sophia with me!
07:50-08:35 Skoda DJ plays variety of entirely inappropriate songs for a parkrun day. Silly Skoda DJ. Eventually plays "What a feeling" from Flash dance as we enter Ripon. Have to do I suppose! I feel demotivated, Sophia just the opposite
08:45 Arrive at world heritage site: Fountain's Abbey and wander through stunning scenery down to start.
08:50 Warm up to check on toe. Quite sore. Might end up run/walking with Sophia.
09:00 Stand on very narrow and congested path at start. Wonder if very small child standing in front of me is fast enough to be there or really should be elsewhere to avoid being trampled.
09:03 PARKRUN.
09:04 parkshuffle as immediately blocked by slower runners and man pushing buggy, narrowly avoid tripping over. Hear large thump behind me as someone takes heavy tumble
09:06 Small child from start line still with front pack and running very well. Club team mate Patrick Wardle is up ahead and I can see him leading parkrun!!
09:06 Discover going downhill is "interesting" on toe
09:07 Feeling pretty good, go through first k in 3:40 well under 19 minute pace!
09:08 Lungs suddenly put up white flag and attempt to go sit in bunker. Persuade them to keep working which they do, just about, whilst in large sulk
09:10 Running along side man with very cute doggy
09:11 Cute doggy gets distracted by passer-by and wanders the wrong side of stake markers, owner realises at last minute and pulls dog towards him, dog slams in to stake. Man stops to check on dog which seems to be ok
09:18 Caught again by man with cute doggy, then passed by man with larger dog. Cute doggy tries to say hello to larger dog, bolts across path and disaster only avoided by man with larger dog executing very quick hurdle. Amazing reactions!
09:20 and change. Finish in a shower of sweat and gravel. Discover it's a bus ride to have your finish token scanned
09:30-45 Find Sophia and cajole/encourage her through to end for her second parkrun finish making sure to wave at volunteers not to stop watch again for me
10:00 Sit in cafe with Patrick, Laura and Sophia dissecting runs. Patrick finished 5th, Laura 99th.
11:24: Text message:Scott, your time in position 24 today at Fountains Abbey parkrun was 20:16. Better luck next week, you're still damnably sexy though
13:30 Sophia harasses the buggery-feck out of me asking questions about garmin connect and strava...beginning to regret encouraging her...
14:00 Damage report: Big toe quite tender and throbbing a little, wonder if I'll pay for this in the morning?

If Carlsberg did parkruns

10:00 Awoken gently by choir of angels softly singing
10:01 Time machine engaged, clock returns to 07:30
07:35 Arrive down in kitchen to find fresh ground coffee and bacon sandwiches on a silver platter
07:40 Breakfast on sun-bathed balcony over-looking nudist beach full of models
08:10 Long hot shower in a shower that doesn't constantly run boiling hot and freezing cold and completely fails to respond to movements of the heat controller
08:20 Put on lightest running kit ever that instantly makes me look both slim and muscular and it definitely doesn't smell of that ingrained sweat smell that's nigh-on impossible to remove
08:25 Picked up by chauffeur driving Stretch Skoda.
08:27 Skoda DJ plays brand-new never-before-heard Kings of Leon track entitled "You're the best parkrunner ever, Scott"
08:35 Arrive to find course has been changed to a 5k loop of perfectly flat, hand-manicured grass that is just slightly damp, yet warm with no turns, perfect for running barefoot
08:40 Steve Cram, Steve Ovett and Seb Coe all turn up and have a bit of a chat before lining up for the run near me
08:50 Stroke an endless supply of incredibly cute dogs
09:00 PARKRUN!
09:00 Feel amazing. Run easily with no aches, pains and definitely no tightening calves. Sprint in to lead. Nemesis fading behind me
09:12:30 Complete parkrun in new world record time
09:15 Take pictures of all 200 other runners with brand new Nikon D5
09:30 Carried aloft around course by other runners
09:50 Celebrate everyone in race beating their own PBs with sausage and egg sandwiches all round
11:00 Arrive home to find all photos have magically processed themselves and jumped on to the internet of their own accord. None are blurred or out of focus
11:10 Write funniest run report in history of run reporting
17:00 Steak dinner and..........prosecco!

I LOVE parkrun

I love that everyone is welcome. I love that at my first parkrun there was a 30+ stone man working *really* hard to improve his health. I love that Jonathan Brownlee holds the course record at York. I love that there are kids with their parents and dogs with their humans. I love that I can use it for rehab after an injury. I love that there is often cake. I love that I have an exclusive card that gives me access to hundreds of events the world over. I love that anyone who wants it can have that same access. I love that people happily volunteer to be VI guides. I love that I paced my friend to her first ever sub 30 time. I love having a profile with all my stats. I love that I can run a course of any kind: grass, tarmac, mud, hills and every combination of the above. I love that I can run them around lakes, coastlines, castles, stately homes, housing estates, sports fields, a ninja turtle shaped-park and other countries. I love the shirts that I am working to earn. I love staying with my camera until the final finisher to make sure everyone gets a photo. I love that there are people that only volunteer and don't run because they know how special it is. I love that there are so many people so dedicated to their parkruns and I love that there are people that only go tourist. I love that it's free. I love being able to race and get a time. I love that there are people as happy to break 50 minutes as 20 minutes. I love the diversity. I love that we all get to share it together. I love Saint Sinton-Hewitt for having set this all in motion and keeping it on the right path. I love that toddlers mix with teens that mix with the middle-aged that mix with the elderly, and I love that everyone of them is a parkrunner. I love that people walk and wheel and limp and sprint and smile at parkrun. I love that former olympic athletes take part. I love buying a bacon sarnie and mug of tea in the sports association after the run and chatting to everyone and I love that the money goes towards the sports association. I love the marshals that cheer me on. I love a PB. I love a milestone.
I love the parks
I love the running

I LOVE parkrun!

A non-tourist tourist parkrun day 25/3/17

07:45 Alarm goes on special day. Time to head to Bramley (Actually the closest run to my own home) because it's the last chance to do this parkrun in my running club's (Horsforth Fellandale) parkrun championship
07:47 Feel heavily hung-over. Odd, as I don't get hang overs and I didn't actually have a drink at Fellandale's awards dinner last night!
08:00 CAFFEINE!!
08:34 Admire new "parkrunner" sticker in back window of my car
08:35 Give skoda DJ at least 47 chances to choose motivational song, arrive at parkrun with skoda DJ having failed in task
08:45 Realise parkrun barcode card will not fit in regulation Fellandale blue shorts. Revert to plan B and grab laminated card and fold up to fit in tiny shorts pocket
08:50 Violate toilet in Bramley's park hut
08:55 Chat to other Fellandalers before the off, enjoying the glorious sunshine. (and no that's NOT a joke!! it was sunny!)
09:02 PARKRUN!!
09:02:05 LEAD PARKRUN!!!!!
09:02:10 Overtaken by small child
09:03 At top of "Upward flat section" small child tires badly. Resist urge to blow raspberry at child as I pass
09:04 Begin to be over taken by more bigger runners
09:03-09:21Summat- Pant, pant, PANT. GRUNT. WHEEZE. PAIN
09:12 Begin to weave in and out of back-markers. Much slower runners blocking entire path on down hill section. 10 seconds to make decision....left? right? grass?
09:12:10 Gap miraculously opens in road block accompanied by sounds of choir of small children and blinding light from heaven. Cruise through centre of runners
09:17ish Go up "upward flat section" for 4th and final time. ARRGGHH!
09:21 Try to stop self from vomiting in finish funnel. Only just manage it
09:22 Cheer in amazing small child whom I wrongly thought had tired badly and must have been miles behind me!
09:22:30 Cheer in rest of Fellandalers and thank amazing volunteers who are brilliant at shouting out encouragement!
09:30 Offer to write run report for Bramley parkrun page which is gratefully accepted
10:00 HUGE full English to celebrate another post-stress fracture PB and post PPPP to facebook

Saturday, 22 April 2017

parkrun stories

22/4/17 Wetherby parkrun 93

Thy parkrun cometh and that right soon

07:30 Alarm
07:31 Check to see if legs have reattached after snapping them off with too hard training during week. Feel ok after loosener run last night and legs seem to be hanging from my bottom well enough
07:35 Put the coffee in the coffee pot and drink it all up
07:40 Don club vest. Last chance to beat 73% WAVA as cannot do another Wetherby parkrun this month.
07:41 Realise have forgotten tracksuit bottoms. Hope it's warm!
07:45 Given order from Sophia to pick up worming tablets from vets after parkrun. Unsure if worming tablets are for Bella the cat or me
08:00 Wiggle it, just a little bit, come on and wiggle it, just a little bit. Glutes: READY!
08:30 Skoda DJ selects "You're the voice" by John Farnham for motivation. Not bad, Skoda DJ, not bad
08:35 Hit *every* high note in song and definitely sound like international pop star rather than 60-year smoker with vocal polyps who is tone-deaf
08:45 Meet Martin​ from Horsforth Fellandale​ in car park and walk to sports assoc together. Leave Tom​ setting up pushchair for Thor
08:50 Detonate small nuclear device in toilets of sports association. Sorry, footballers, but you need to toughen up anyway. *Football?!* sheesh
09:00 PARKRUN!!
09:00:01 2 runners blister away from start
09:00:30 2 runners who blistered away
now appear to be running backwards. Settle in to 2nd behind Steve Boynton​ herein known as "The Nemesis" with a PB about 40 seconds better than mine
09:07 Hear The Nemesis catching me. Trying to hold on!
09:07:30 Offer marshals bribes of money, cakes or my body to trip up The Nemesis or send him wrong way. None go for it. Especially not the body offer
09:08 Passed by Nemesis, ah well, it was good whilst it lasted! Try to tuck in behind Nemesis, but soon starts pulling away from me
09:10 Watch Nemesis slowly extend lead. Now have to concentrate on keeping pace up
09:18summat. See finish, must sprint hard, prosecco is at stake!!
09:19summat. Probably a PB but no sub 19 and no significant WAVA improvement.
09:22ish Photographising
09:30 Debrief with fellow Fellandalers
09:40 BACON!
10:05 Text message: Scott, your time in position 2 at Wetherby parkrun was 19:18. Well done on a new PB. Hot damn! You are good. Would you please be our poster-boy for parkrun?!
11:30 Ensure prosecco is in fridge because it's parkrun law
11:35 Calves deliver very long, loud, ranty lecture to me detailing my abuse of them over many years. Ignore calves because........NEW PB!!!!
parkrun. All one word, all lower case #aowalc
I LOVE parkrun

I love that everyone is welcome. I love that at my first parkrun there was a 30+ stone man working *really* hard to improve his health. I love that Jonathan Brownlee​ holds the course record at York. I love that there are kids with their parents and dogs with their humans. I love that I can use it for rehab after an injury. I love that there is often cake. I love that I have an exclusive card that gives me access to hundreds of events the world over. I love that anyone who wants it can have that same access. I love that people happily volunteer to be VI guides. I love that I paced my friend to her first ever sub 30 time. I love having a profile with all my stats. I love that I can run a course of any kind: grass, tarmac, mud, hills and every combination of the above. I love that I can run them around lakes, coastlines, castles, stately homes, housing estates, sports fields, a ninja turtle shaped-park and other countries. I love the shirts that I am working to earn. I love staying with my camera until the final finisher to make sure everyone gets a photo. I love that there are people that only volunteer and don't run because they know how special it is. I love that there are so many people so dedicated to their parkruns and I love that there are people that only go tourist. I love that it's free. I love being able to race and get a time. I love that there are people as happy to break 50 minutes as 20 minutes. I love the diversity. I love that we all get to share it together. I love Saint Sinton-Hewitt for having set this all in motion and keeping it on the right path. I love that toddlers mix with teens that mix with the middle-aged that mix with the elderly, and I love that everyone of them is a parkrunner. I love that people walk and wheel and limp and sprint and smile at parkrun. I love that former olympic athletes take part. I love buying a bacon sarnie and mug of tea in the sports association after the run and chatting to everyone and I love that the money goes towards the sports association. I love the marshals that cheer me on. I love a PB. I love a milestone.
I love the parks
I love the running

I LOVE parkrun!

Wetherby parkrun 92 15/4/17

I parkrun, therefore I am

05:30 Woken by Sophia having conversation with the cat. Cat does not respond, but like to think she's saying, "Shut up, Scott is trying to get a good rest before parkrun"
07:30 Alarm, coffee
07:35 Disaster! Realise have forgotten long sleeved top to go under club vest. Going to be a chilly one...
07:45 Give all boys in yard a flavoured milk-based beverage and throw them out before starting hip wiggling exercises
07:50 Eye up choccy egg that will be reward for today's run
08:10 Skoda DJ trying to select motivating song, but being rubbish. Eventually settle on "Don't you forget about me" by Simple minds- 80s classic, if not very motivating lyrics
08:10 HEY HEY HEY! Ooooooooooh, wooooooh!
08:40 Lots more Fellandalers turn up to run! Yay clubmates!
08:45 Recognise several very fast runners from Woodhouse Moor parkrun which has been cancelled today
08:57 Freezing mammaries off in vest and shorts! Pleased by reduction in body-weight
09:00:10 Surprised to be passed by Fellandale vest being worn by second-claimer Patrick​! My fell race times are a little quicker than his,but he soon disappears in to the distance!
09:05 Need to beat 18:55 to get WAVA of 73% and take lead in Fellandale parkrun champs
09:10 Not feeling it! Trying not to die! Patrick continues to get smaller in distance
09:18summat Final push. Glance at watch. Sub 19 is out, but PB is on. Need good sprint!
09:19:** Complete sprint and collapse through line. Garmin is inconclusive. Need to wait for text!
09:25 Photies! Cute doggy shots galore!
09:40 BACON!
10:15 Text message: Scott, your time in position 10 today at Wetherby parkrun was 19:20. Well done on a new PB.  You are the most awesomest parkrunner that ever did awesome at a parkrun. A NEW ALL-TIME PB!!!!!! BY ONE WHOLE COMPLETE...........WAIT FOR IT..........1 SECOND!
11:00 Arrive back at house and place gigantic bottle of prosecco in fridge for celebration!
11:30-13:30 Reports, editing photographs, shower etc, etc, BLAH BLAH BLAH, who cares? I GOT A PB!!!!!!!!!!!!
23:23 Mega pleased with PB as fitness still to gain and fatness still to lose!

Wetherby parkrun 91 8/4/17

My parky-warky run

05:00 Woken up for umpteenth time by Sophia sniffling/coughing/sighing. Try to summon up nurse sympathy. Unable to. Roll over and go back to sleep
07:30-40 Alarm. Set coffee machine. Put on Fellandale vest
08:00 Consciously avoid writing anything about bathroom habits to stop feeding sick addictions of parkrun discussion group regulars
08:01 And "regular" wasn't a reference to anything before you all start
08:10 Spend some time wiggling hips in suggestive fashion to appease physio gods. Go outside to find all boys in yard asking for milkshake
08:30 Arrive in Wetherby with Skoda DJ having utterly failed to select motivating song. Slap self in face to manually add adrenaline.
08:35 Fellow parkrunner: "OH! You're barefoot, no wait, they're socks, or are they? they're running shoes are they? I think?!?"
Me: "They're vibram five fingers"
Fellow parkrunner: "."
08:40 DISASTER! Have forgotten GPS watch! And if it ain't on Strava.....
08:45 Test out bare feet. Bit too bumpy and dry- feet not yet up to it. Put on vivobarefoot trainers instead
08:50 Pleased to see other Fellandale team members have turned out for the club parkrun championship. Now have to try to get highest WAVA score!
09:05 Boynton boys disappear into distance, apart from Steve Boynton​, who is just in front (He always stays there too!)
09:05-09:19ish Feeling great. Able to run much smoother and faster than I have in a long while. Baffled as thought had done too much hard training too close to parkrun to run well!
09:15 Actually have enough energy on last lap to "give it some welly" Feel like have managed to run even splits for once rather than getting progressively slower. Curse self again for forgetting watch.
09:20 Completely forget that I need to give barcode to lovely scanner volunteer who is looking at me puzzled. Manage to fish card out of back of shorts and hold well away from poor volunteer
09:20:05 Ask timer what time I did. 19:30ish she says. Hmmmm, think the timers might be wrong this week?? Clang cowbell of cloud 9 just to be safe
09:25 Start taking photos
09:40 Women working very hard to finish her run is approached by her son who is shouting "Mum, mum, I beat my Dad and brother"
Mum gasps: "That's good" as she keeps putting in huge effort to finish
"Come on Mum!"
"I AM coming!"
"Oh Mum, you're so slow"
"I know"
09:50 BACON!
10:26 Text message. Scott, your time in position 7 at Wetherby parkrun was 19:28. You are tremendous. You run parkrun so bigly. You're making parkrun great again.
11:00 Arrive back at house. Sophia: "What's it like outside?"
Me: "Just like inside, only bigger"
12:00 Shock of smashing this years PB, my post break PB, being 56 seconds faster than last week and only being 7 seconds outside my all-time PB sinks in. Pick self up off floor.

Wetherby parkrun No90 1/4/17

A 2nd anniversary parkrun day

07:30 Alarm set a little earlier to ensure campness of exercises is extra camp as per biomechanical guy's instructions
07:35 Coffee machine primed with TNT coffee
07:40 Put on club vest and regulation blue shorts as Wetherby is Fellandale's designated parkrun championship course for April,
08:20 Leave nice and early for parkrun with Sophia who has volunteered today for Wetherby's 2nd anniversary run
08:22 Skoda DJ obviously knows it's April the 1st and chooses "A Town called Malice" as I head to Wetherby. Jokes on you, Skoda DJ, it's an excellent song for raising spirits despite the lyrics!
08:30 As we walk from car park Sophia asks, "Where's the cakes?" Head back to car for lemon drizzle slices I baked to celebrate the anniversary
08:35 Arrive at parkrun and try to find area out of sight to mince through exercises
08:40 Test out barefoot running to see if can run on blister caused by hill sprints earlier in week. Test failed, put on vivobarefoot trainers
08:50 Laugh at crazy black lab pelting in and out of gathered runners
09:00 ED Dawe​ rants about the fact it's an anniversary run and she is the only one in fancy dress (as Lara croft; we were all praying the guns were fake)
09:03 PARKRUN!
09:04 Settle in to 4th place
09:05-09:22ish Try to do even splits instead of recent increasingly slower splits as run goes on
09:22 ish. Finish with "sprint. Celebrate 2017/PB PB by clanging Cowbell of cloud 9 then eat own lemon drizzle slice
09:23 Runner 1 place behind me tells me how he couldn't quite catch me but had been chasing me all the way around. Then says he got a big PB. I take full credit for this. Me, all me
09:25 Camera showing error code! Forgotten memory card! No photos today :(
09:45 Bacon sanger for me, sausage and fried egg for Sophia
09:50 Joseph the whippet sneaks up behind me and sticks nose into bacon sarnie, cheeky little monkey; and after all the doggy snacks I've given him!
10:15 Text message. Scott, your time in position 4 today at Wetherby parkrun was 20:24. All the other parkrunners agreed that you were today's sexiest runner
10:20 Celebrate a PBPB of 36 seconds and a Wetherby PBPB of 46 seconds.
10:30 Inform umpteenth person that *I* made the lemon drizzle slices *not* Sophia. #everydaysexism
11:30. Discover camera does in fact have memory card in it, error code was because lens was not correctly fitted. Whoooooops
12:00 Cuppa proper Yorkshire tea aaaaaaand relax

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Not another bl**dy Scott Leach report (Title ©Martin Gebbett​) Wetherby parkrun number 87

Not another bl**dy Scott Leach report (©Martin Gebbett​)

17:00 Realise have left fell trainers at home. Consider 1.5 hour round trip to get them. Naaah, it'll be reet
05:00-07:30 Cat doing cat things
07:45 Alarm. Really alarmed. Very alarmed
07:50 Choose Ron Hill tshirt that just says runandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrunrunandrun
08:00 Caffeine!
08:10 Drop off deposit at the porcelain bank
08:25 Let Skoda shuffle DJ select motivating track. All Fall Down by One Republic. Hmmmmm, try again
08:27 After 15th try Skoda DJ selects Glittering Prize by Simple Minds
08:35 Discover Wetherby weir has a "Salmon ladder" Mind boggles with images. Perhaps it's a euphamism?
08:40 Strip then run about a bit to see if laces are ok on inov8 roclite trainers. They're not. Lace, relace, run, repeat
08:55 ED Nykie Dawe​ goes on rant asking for people to volunteer as run director. People examine trainers closely. We are all suitably chastised. Some are slightly turned on. No one volunteers
08:56 Tourists revealed to be from city of culture 2017 Kingston Upon Hull, one is wearing Hull FC shirt. ED declines rendition of "Old Faithful" due to being a Saints supporter. Everyone who isn't a rugby league fan is baffled by exchange
09:00 PARKRUN!
09:00:30 Feel excellent, run fast and smooth
09:01 Feel knackered, have gone out too fast. Start to slow down.
09:02 7 time Wetherby first finisher Stephen Boynton decides to show off his ballet skills at the 3rd corner by doing the splits and a pirouette in front of me but miraculously keeps his feet
09:03 Roclite shoes are hopeless in mud, feel like Michael Jackson doing moonwalk
09:15 Lap runners from Hull and give them a burst of "Mark Sneyd's on fire, your defence is terrified!"
09:22:27 Cross line then struggle to pull barcode out of pocket at back of shorts. Consider how this looks to poor barcode scanner. Make sure hold out barcode to be scanned rather than hand to volunteer
09:25 Take photos
10:00 Go straight up to shower as Sophia complaining about the stink very loudly
10:45 Bacon and egg!
11:00 Settle down in front of computer to write reports and process photos with coffee

Which trainer should I choose?

Tweet me @scott_leach   

As you can see from the photo above that represents a tiny fraction of my collection, I am not a stranger to trainers.

SPOILER: Most modern trainers have numerous problems: A large toe spring, a small toe box, cushioning that wrecks proprioception and stiffness. I'm going to try to explain why all of these things are terrible for your feet.
SPOILER 2: If you have an injury and are about to try to solve it with expensive new trainers, leave this blog now and start googling sports physio in your area.
SPOILER 3: Running shoes all fit in to a scale. At one end you have good trainers that allow your feet to move naturally and don't adversely affect your running gait and at the other end you have trainers that entirely stop that natural movement. Most trainers fall towards the wrong end of that scale.

One of the most consistently repeated questions I see on internet forums is "What trainers should I choose?" Unfortunately, this is generally met with a barrage of advice that is "runners' conventional wisdom". Sadly, almost all of this "conventional runner's wisdom" is wrong with absolutely no evidence or scientific back up, unless you count anecdotal evidence, which you really, really shouldn't.

I'm a nurse, so I'm pretty used to reading medical research and studied anatomy and physiology at university. I also completed a degree in mechanical engineering with my thesis being in medical engineering that looked at stress and strain on tendons and ligaments (Institute of mechanical engineers gave me a medal for that study and I received the highest score on the mechanical degree that year and the second highest in the department) So hopefully this will give you some confidence in what I have to say.

The number one piece of conventional wisdom we as runners have been fed is "You must go to a specialist sports shop and get "gait analysed" and "properly" fitted for a shoe. I cannot emphasise enough how sports shops CANNOT carry out real gait analysis. If you want that you need a specialised physio or a biomechanical specialist, probably at a university. Even if you get that, it is unlikely they will recommend a shoe to you, although they may tell you to stop wearing a terrible control trainer.

Our feet contain lots of moving parts; bones, joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. They evolved over many millennia to be wonderfully elegant structures. They contain everything you need to run well. The problem being, is that modern lives and modern shoes wreck our feet. The muscles and structures in our feet become weak at which point most people try to compensate for that by stuffing bits of foam in to them also known as "orthotics" and "motion control trainers" Unless you have an actual medical deformity, this is usually about the worst thing you can do.
Your foot has an arch in it, it has that arch because an arch is a very strong structure. The best way to weaken an arch is to push something up in to the middle of it- exactly what motion control shoes and orthotics do. This may give you some short term relief from pain, but ultimately it means that the muscles are doing even less of the work they should be doing and will only become even weaker. A much better way to deal with problems in your feet and ankles is to see a decent sports physio or biomechanical specialist and get them to identify where your muscles are weak or turned off and where they are over-active and to give you exercises to correct this.

The perfect trainer:

I've spent the last few years reading everything I can about the way we run in an attempt to correct my own injuries (Long story; don't ask!) And here's what I believe the perfect trainer would be:

Most modern road trainers are virtually solid. If you cannot "wring" your trainer out, i.e., you are not able to twist it round, it's too stiff. Your foot is meant to move and flex when you run, a trainer with a solid sole stops the natural movement.

Foot shaped.
Most modern trainers have a pointy end. Feet are not pointy! Your toes slope down to one side meaning your toes are pulled inwards by pointy trainers. Your big toe should point forward when you run and be allowed to move, many trainers don't allow this as the shape isn't right.

No toe spring.
Most modern trainers curl upwards at the front. The "logic" in this is that it helps you spring off the floor. In fact what it does is leaves some of the tendons in your foot under constant tension. Tendons are meant to be elastic, we pull them tight then let them go gaining momentum from the elastic recoil. That's what they're meant for, you won't damage them by doing that correctly and it takes far less energy to do that than using muscles entirely for your movement.

Zero drop
There should be no difference in the height between the heel and the toes. When shoes have a huge heel drop it helps to shorten your achilles tendon. Swapping from shoes that have a big drop (let's say 12mm) to a zero or low drop shoe will be difficult for you after years of modern shoes, but it's worth it in the end.

Very little cushioning.
I know a shoe with a great wedge of foam is comfy and feels great, but chips taste great too, and you wouldn't eat them for every meal. Your foot needs to feel the floor so it can feed back to your body about how you are running and adjust accordingly. It's the number one thing you need for your body to prevent injury by itself. That feed back is called proprioception and the more cushioning there is, the more your proprioception is dulled.

To my knowledge, there is no trainer currently on the market that does all these things excepting barefoot trainers. Most people's feet are a long way from being able to run barefoot because of years of abuse in modern shoes with high heels, cushioning, arch support and inflexible soles. Trying to swap immediately from a heavily cushioned, arch-supported modern running shoes to a minimalist or barefoot shoe is very likely to result in injury. I believe there is great benefit in moving towards neutral shoes, but it's difficult to do and shouldn't be undertaken lightly. If your feet are strong and your gait is good, you can get away with some cushioning. If you've exercised since being a child and never really had a break, you're likely to be fine, but if you returned to running/exercise after many years of inactivity you'll need to be cautious. That doesn't mean not changing, it just means changing in small increments

Many people are going to disagree with what I have said, they will quote things such as "I bought a new trainer and all my problems went away" Whilst it may be true that your new trainer might have masked your issues, it's unlikely (but not impossible) that your problems went away, it does of course depend on what was causing your problems. If you were wearing a trainer that was very bad for your feet a new trainer might actually solve it, but that's not the case most times. There are more likely; reasons such as you rested because you were injured or you did exercises that a physio gave you. Either way, relying on a new trainer to solve your injury issues is a very bad way top go about things and is a real gamble.

"But I have a high/low arch"

No, you don't. Wait- stick with me. There is no reliable tool invented that can accurately measure an arch and tell you if it is "low or high" when you are told this by someone, they are basically having a guess based on their anecdotal evidence.  Besides, there is absolutely no good evidence to say that a high or low arch has any bearing whatsoever on your running. Strong muscles in your feet are the key, regardless of the height of your arch

"But I over/under pronate"

No, you don't. Once again, there is no good evidence to say this has any bearing on your running or injury rate. Our feet are meant to pronate, it's part of out natural shock absorption and there is no tool to measure this let alone tell you if it is too much or too little, once again it is personal bias based on anecdotal evidence. When you use orthotics or motion control trainers to change the pronation of your feet you are stopping the muscles working that are meant to stabilise and control the movement of your feet.

You'll notice that I have not actually recommended any trainers. That's partly because you won't be able to fulfil all the criteria but also because it's more important to just try on a lot of trainers and choose one that feels comfortable to you.

So all of that will have put the cat amongst the pigeons, but hopefully, at the very least I might have started you thinking differently about what you put on your feet, even if I haven't managed to convince you.

Some useful reading that challenges "Conventional runners' wisdom" that will hopefully get you thinking differently if you don't already:

Tweet me @Scott_Leach