Wotton parkrun – half birthday celebrations

I’ve been busy lately – I have been a little involved with Wotton parkrun! Well that is a slight understatement, and although I don’t like to think parkrun has taken over my life, it has just a bit!! Last Saturday we held our half-birthday run. It’s hard to believe that a whole 6-months has passed since Wotton parkrun #1, and what a great 6-months of parkrunning and volunteering we have experienced. 

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Tetbury Dolphins Running Club supported our half birthday event. Photo:Dave Fitzjohn

We decided to celebrate this milestone run with fancy dress and many runners turned up in an amazing array of costumes. We also held a cake sale in aid of Wotton Community Parc (where we hold our parkrun). We had a great turnout of 130 runners who were very generous when buying the cakes afterwards. 

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The cake sale was very popular.

There was a fantastic atmosphere, everyone ‘enjoyed’ their run and luckily we had sunny (if a little chilly) weather. Wotton parkrun seems to be enjoyed by all who attempt it, whether local or all the way from South Africa or Australia. It has been challenging over the winter months with some very muddy days, but now it’s dry and the Community Parc is looking green and beautiful. 

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Winter running at Wotton parkrun. Great fun!!
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The Community Parc is looking fabulous

As I mentioned in a previous blog post (parkrun comes to Wotton), Wotton parkrun is an off-road course with a mixture of grass, grassy tumps, muddy puddles (in winter) and a couple of gravel tracks. It’s a very interesting course and has been referred to by some as the Wotton ‘butterfly’ due to the nature of the route. In honour of the Wotton butterfly, I made a parkrun celebration cake. 

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Wotton ‘butterfly’ – well you can see it if you squint and maybe turn it upside-down!

I volunteer almost every week at the parkrun, and a couple of weeks ago I joined the 25 volunteer club – to celebrate I ran as tail runner and made cakes for all the volunteers! My husband also reached the 25 volunteer club on the same day, so it was a double celebration. Any excuse for cake!!

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Cake!

parkrun comes to Wotton

On Saturday I volunteered as Tail Runner at the 4th Wotton parkrun. Our new parkrun started in October and has been very well supported from the beginning. This is essentially a cross-country course, mostly on grass with a couple of gravel tracks.  It is about as rustic and rural as they come! I have only ever run off-road on one previous occasion – and that was at last weeks parkrun!! I treated myself to some trail running shoes because I was conscious that I would need more traction especially in muddy and icy conditions. These trainers were definitely needed today as it was 1ºC when we got up this morning and we had both mud and ice.

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My new runners

Volunteers are the key to parkrun and a trusty band of new and regular volunteers began to turn up around 08:30. The parkrun course takes in two laps of the Wotton Community Parc and the furthest corners take quite a while for the volunteers to reach, so when setting up all hands are very welcome.

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Volunteers briefing

The air was pretty cold and the grass was covered in frost. The scene looked beautiful actually and as I happened to have my camera with me I took some rather moody photographs.

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Frosty morning at Wotton Community Parc

As 9am approached runners started to arrive. Those who had not done a parkrun before and those who were new to Wotton listened to a new runners briefing – this explains the course, the timing procedure (using barcodes) and lets people know about any problems on the run such as mud and ice (we had plenty of that this week). We also welcomed representatives from Wotton Lions Club who were presenting us with the new defibrillator that they have kindly donated. Lets hope we never have to use it – it’s great to have this piece of invaluable equipment available for all who use the Community Parc. 

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The AED donated to Wotton Community Parc by the Wotton-under-Edge Lions Club

As Tail Runner it is my job to run at the back (or walk as necessary) and keep behind or with (and chat to) the last person taking part. I enjoy this volunteer role because I still get to run but it is usually at a nice leisurely pace and I get to meet interesting people. This week I was running for a while with a dad and his 5-year old son who was really enjoying his run, and was determined to get to the end for his sausage buttie treat. Then I ran with a lovely lady who was doing her first Wotton parkrun, but not her last I suspect, as she was local to the area. Like me, she had lost a lot of weight through running and was determined to keep it off and stay fit and healthy. We finished in a very respectable 42 minutes. 

By 09:50 everything was cleared away and we were on our way back home for porridge.

I’m looking forward to next week already. 

Wotton parkrun

A pain in the piriformis!

Unfortunately my pirformis pain has got worse again over the last couple of months, so now I am reducing my running in order to try to alleviate of the problem. This has happened on and off for the last two years and it is very annoying.  I need to concentrate on my stretching and strengthening exercises.

I have visited a physiotherapist, a chiropractor and a sports massage therapist about this ‘pain in the bottom’ and have never really had a clear answer as to how I can get rid of it for good (maybe I won’t ever?). I know the stretches I have to do and how to treat the acute problem, but why do I have to suffer? I also know it is because I run – but I’m not giving that up. My doctor once told me that as I get older I will experience running induced aches and pains, however he said the benefits of running  – keeping me active and in shape – greatly outweigh the alternative of inactivity, obesity and muscle loss. So I will keep on running – with or without piriformis pain. But for a while I am taking it easy.

Over the past week or so I have been swimming and using the bike in the gym, neither of these activities give me pain, but both take a lot more effort and dedication, mainly because I have to drive 5 miles before I can start. It also takes me longer to use up the calories to allow me to eat the things I want to eat!! There is nothing like running for burning calories and the beauty of running is that I just open my front door and run. When there are other factors involved, like making a car journey, more excuses can be found…

So I’m feeling a bit sad that running is off the agenda for the time being. As I am not working this week, I can use the time to catch up with other things in my life that sometimes get neglected. Maybe a well-earned rest is something that my body will appreciate!

Oh, you may like to know that my gym isn’t such a traumatic place to visit – it’s in a hotel which is a fabulous gothic mansion and it is always a treat to drive up the long driveway to be greeted by this magnificent building in such a beautiful setting.

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Tortworth Court Hotel

They added a hill!

What a fantastic day for a run. Well that’s what I thought when I got up at 7am, blue skies and sunshine with a very faint breeze. Got the usual pre-race stuff done – a very small bowl of porridge and some water, just enough to ensure hydration. Left home with plenty of time to spare, parked up in Bristol – usual car park – guaranteed spaces, walked to Millennium square. 

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We met up with son #2 and his girlfriend who had kindly agreed to carry our warmer clothes to save us using the bag drop. Luckily it was so warm these didn’t amount to much. Then off to queue for the toilets with emergency loo roll (which was needed as they had already run out!). This was the first year that the Bristol 10K has been run by the ‘Great Run’ organisation and there were a few things that I wasn’t happy with (not going to mention them all here). One issue though, was the reduced number of toilets in Millennium Square and the queues were massive. They had dotted other loos around the site but unless you knew where they were then you didn’t know where to look! They had also done away with the large mens urinals – these are so invaluable because they reduce the queues very effectively. But hey, that’s enough toilet talk. 

Off to the start pens where the warm up guy took us through some funky moves and stretches. I just did my usual (very little) – not the time to add a new routine, just before a race. The pens filled up nicely ready for our start time of 09.46.

IMG_9166I started pretty quickly, I felt good and there was a good vibe. Almost immediately though I felt really thirsty and I knew that I had 5k to run before I got a drink. My thirst seemed to subside so the run along the Portway was pretty enjoyable, and the support was excellent, but when I did reach the water I was grateful. Some I drank and some I poured down my back! By now the sun was extremely warm. I would say these were the warmest conditions that I have run in this year. 

Just before the start we had been discussing the route, and it dawned on me that there was possibly an extra hill added due to the closure of Prince Street Bridge. This filled me with dread and I was slightly annoyed. The last thing you want when you get to the 8km mark is an extra unexpected hill. Well thats exactly what happened. The previous course flattened off at this point after the slow gradient up from 6-8km, but not this time, slight gradient turned into hill, the name of the road is actually Redcliffe Hill, so it is definitely a hill. I was cursing quite a bit by this point and was also running rather slowly. Luckily whenever you run up, there is a downhill to follow, which was greatly appreciated.  

The final km was not easy and I realised I wasn’t going to make the hour, but I ran it as fast as I could and finished with a respectable 1 hour 5 mins and 23 seconds.  I can’t really compare times to my previous Bristol 10k efforts because of the added HILL but I suppose I have now laid down a new course PB which is there to be broken (unless they change the course back next year – in which case I will be challenging for the hour again)

It was a fantastic day with an amazing atmosphere and loads of supportive people. The run was extremely hard and very hot but it’s always a great feeling when you cross the finish line whatever time you’ve done it in. A great reason to go off and enjoy a two-course slap up brunch, which of course, we did!

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parkrun PB

This morning I ran my parkrun personal best. I was completely surprised by this as I had not looked at my watch for the whole run. It was a cold start – about 5°C but the sun was out so I had decided to dispense with my jacket, woolly hat and gloves – maybe this played a part in my great speed. I beat my previous PB by 36 seconds which amazed me!! Getting under the 30′ has always been my aim and now I have done it (29 mins 47 secs). Onwards and upwards!

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This was taken at parkrun du Bois de Boulogne, Paris. April 2nd 2016.