Parkrun pb

Amazingly, last Saturday I managed a personal best (pb) at my home town parkrun, Lancaster. It was the 30th time I’ve run at Lancaster and my previous best was 20:15. Now it is down to 19:44.


What did I do differently? Have I increased my training?

No, the answer is that the route was altered. Instead of two laps with half paved and half on dirt, this week it was 5 laps all paved with no technical bits. There was a dangerous tree in the other half of the park.

I also finished in 6th place, only one place behind my highest finishing position. When I received the results I noticed with surprise that I was fourth in my age group (45-49). The only non vet in the top ten was the winner. Plenty of good running in these old ‘uns.

The aim now of course, is to manage Lancaster parkrun in under 20 minutes on the proper route. There is also a new fairly local parkrun in Fleetwood which is completely flat which we might have a look at next week. Under 19 minutes is possible.

After that, another ten parkruns and I will have reached 50, which along with my beautiful wife we’re hoping to do at the same time later in the year, although I will have to miss a week as Helen is one behind me at the moment. It’s taken over two years to get to 40, so full on respect to those who have done 500.


Socks or no socks

Following on from my post last month about swimming without a wetsuit (read about it here and here), I will no write about whether you should complete a triathlon wearing socks or go without. If you go without you’ll possibly save yourself up to a minute on race day, but if you’re then plagued by blisters for two weeks following the race, is it worth it?

If the race is a sprint it’s probably worth going without socks, but a half ironman or longer I would definitely put socks on. What about a standard distance race? I completed Salford Triathlon a couple of weeks ago (read about it here) and went without socks. I wasn’t sure if I should show you a picture of my feet, but this is ten days after the race.


This is the inside of my right foot, just above and behind the ball. I could hardly walk the day after the race. I’ve done many races without socks and have generally been OK. What was different this time? It was very wet, and I had never used my racing flats without socks.

There you go, rookie error. One of the golden rules of triathlons is don’t do anything new on race day. I should have gone for a couple of runs without socks, then I would have known that they rub. This is my 27th year of triathlons and I’m still making basic mistakes. Learn from my errors.

Friday was a bit hit and miss

I’d created a route, and was all set for a tile hunting foray from Penrith to Carlisle, but there was no space on any train going north for my bike, so I cycled home, dejected.

All was not lost as it gave me opportunity to do our weekly food shop and go to the tip, clearing a bit more rubbish from the garden. I did then manage a short ride in the afternoon, in the rain, but my heart wasn’t really into it.

The local athletics club were putting an a fast and flat 5k that evening, and I wasn’t sure if I should go or not. £5 entry fee, plus £2 extra as I’m not a member of English Athletics is a lot to pay for a 20 minute race, especially as there were no medals or anything as a momento. To put it into perspective, there was a charity race on the Thursday, same entry fee, but including finishers medals and a hot pot supper. Unfortunately I wasn’t home from work in time.

Back to the flat and fast 5k, and I gently ran the 2.5k to the race HQ, paid my money and waited for the start. The organisers decided to split the race into two, with sub 20 min finishers first, and then everyone else half an hour later. I thought that this was a terrible idea, but it actually worked really well, with loads of people cheering us ‘faster’ runners on, and then most of the faster runners stayed behind to cheer on the slower ones. All very good. I was in a quandary as to which race I should go in, but as I wanted sub 20 mins I went with the faster race.


Boy were they fast! I was left for standing, but gradually pulled a few places back and manged to finish in 24th place with a time of 18:59. The winner went sub 15 minutes!

My fastest ever 5k as a Vet 40, shocking, even if Strava thought it was only 4.9k.


No where near my all time pb for a 5k, currently at 16:05 which I did almost 20 years ago. Never say never, but I very much doubt that I will better that, especially as I turn 50 in 14 months. If I can keep my current speed until then, I’m hoping that I might be able to pick up a few Vet 50 trophies.

I’m not sure if I’ll do the race again, as they are putting it on each month. I think I’ll stick with parkruns, same distance but free, and I can run with Nelly (our silly old dog).

Grizedale Half Marathon

Me and my beautiful wife, Helen, had entered this off road trail race some months ago, along with almost everyone that we knew. Just look at all the COLTs, and this doesn’t include some random Cycle Bunnies or the crazies doing the full marathon, who had set off 15 minutes earlier.


I had picked up a couple of niggling little injuries in the last couple of months and hadn’t run at all in the last two weeks, so I was determined to take it easy. It was cold on the start line, and as requested by the organisers I had my space blanket, whistle, thermal top and waterproof to take round with me. I didn’t need any of it, but I suppose it covers the organisers in case something bad happens. What I didn’t take was enough water as it was cold, really cold. I had laughed at a couple of people for wearing shorts and vests, but I was far too hot, especially as the first three miles were almost constantly uphill.

At the top though, the views across Coniston Water made the up hill all worthwhile.


As I mentioned, I’ve not ran enough, so by the feed station at 8 miles I was starting to feel tired, and by the end my legs and feet were very sore. I just managed to sneak in under two hours, which considering how much climbing there was, I wasn’t too disappointed in.

My wife, on the other hand loved it, and managed her fastest ever Strava Half Marathon, finishing with a huge smile on her face.

The race was well organised by Epic Events, and as with all of their races they allow you to download photos for free, which is a very nice touch. It was also one of the few races that I have done where I’ve had my name on my number. Matthew 216 sounded very biblical. I looked up the bible verse, and all I can say is that there are some not very nice things in that book.

Enough rambling. It was a great day. Big thank you to Jim for giving us a lift there and back, and to everyone who I said hello to, far too many to mention. I feel that me and my lovely wife might well be doing a few more trail races in the future.


25th Parkrun

This Christmas Day I ran my 25th parkrun. I was a bit late to the parkrun party, so while many other runners are logging their 250th, I’m way down the list. In my defense, my local parkrun in Lancaster has only been running less than two years. The first parkrun I did was in Skipton only a couple of weeks after finishing a triple ironman (read about it here), so I was surprised how good I felt managing 30th overall.


After that first parkrun I was hooked, although I’ve not been back to Skipton as it was four laps on some narrow paths. Not great for Nelly, our unruly pointer.


She prefers to run off the lead, but them is the rules at parkrun. Starting from the back also presents a challenge. I’m often seen overtaking people with Nelly pulling me along, while other runners rib me that it’s cheating, or can they borrow her on the uphill stretches. I love running with her, but I’m definitely quicker without her. Me and my beautiful wife did parkrun at Fountains Abbey, where one week I ran with Nelly and finished 40th, and then ran without her and managed 12th, over two minutes quicker. Fountains Abbey was also the most picturesque parkrun that we’ve ever done, which is one reason why we went back.

Dalby Forest also has fond memories, as it was the last day of our honeymoon. It was also my quickest parkrun and I got pipped in a sprint finish as I didn’t realise where the finish line was. Typical parkrun tourist!


Cheltenham parkrun was the busiest with over 600 runners, but with a nice wide start. There was also a bell that you could ring if you got a pb.

Parkrun is an amazing success, going from nothing to over 100,000 runners each week, all over the world. The stats from this year’s Christmas Day were amazing on their own, with 62,000 runners. Parkrun is the sort of thing that should be encouraged everywhere, promoting a healthy lifestyle and friends to be made. I don’t want to hear any excuses, it’s too short, or I’m too slow. Everyone is welcome.

If you turn up at Lancaster say ‘hi’. I’ll be near the back if I’m with Nelly, or near the front if she’s with my wife.

Hopefully, this time next year I’ll have my 50 parkrun T-shirt, and I’ll probably blog about that as well.