Alexandra parkrun

Continuing our streak of tourist parkruns, we headed into Manchester for the very flat and fast Alexandra parkrun. Why would we drive all that way when there are still plenty of closer parkruns to Lancaster that we haven’t done yet? To celebrate our wedding anniversary I had purchased for my lovely Helen a two hour pottery session/lesson with one of the finalists of the Pottery Throwdown. Matt Cronshaw used to be a professional cyclist from Lancaster, before taking up pottery and then specialising in porcelain, which Helen had never worked with.

I’m getting ahead of myself. We arrived outside the pottery studio without too much trouble, only one wrong turn. We had 20 minutes to run the one mile to the start of the parkrun, which we made with time to spare, marvelling at how nice Alexandra park was. Not the greatest of areas, but definitely not as bad as it would have been 20 or 30 years ago. There was quite a large field (almost 300 people) and we lined up at the back with Nelly, although once again she was keen. The route involved two large laps with one smaller lap to finish. Wide paths and no mud made a welcome change from Rothay two weeks ago and Pendle last week. At the end of the first lap one of the marshalls told us that Nelly was first dog, not bad for an old girl. We pushed on and finished in 62nd place in a time of 22:48. Happy with that as I didn’t feel as if we’d pushed it too hard.

After barcode scanning we spotted Helen starting her small third lap. I tried to get a photo of Nell with Helen in the background, but she wasn’t paying attention.

Once Helen had finished we made our way back through the park to the pottery studio, just as Matt was arriving, he even recognised me from Lancaster. Ten years ago there wasn’t too many people from the area on Strava so we all kind of got to know each other, even though he was way too fast for me to ever ride with him.

Helen quickly pulled on her pottery overalls for her lesson while me and Nelly headed off for a gentle walk to find a cafe with coffee and cake. Not only did we find coffee and cake for me, but the cafe was in a park with pigeons and squirrels for Nelly to chase. Perfect for both of us. We then wandered back, meeting a mad (in a good way) old woman who just loved Nelly.

Back at the studio and Helen was busy finishing off a large bowl, which looked amazing, while I chatted to Matt about cycling and running (he’d recently done the Manchester marathon). In the back yard I spotted one of his creations from TV, his tea cup toilet with handle.

Matt was saying that he doesn’t really know what to do with it. However my sister suggested filling it with flowers, which is probably the best idea.

Anyway, Helen was as happy as can be and was absolutely buzzing all the way home, telling me how much she’d learned and that she can’t wait to try it all out at home. The three pieces she made will be fired and glazed by Matt, and then will be sent to us. Apparently porcelain is much harder to work with than regular clay, and Helen took to it like she’d been doing it for years. She is totally amazing, and I’ve not even mentioned Archie the pufferfish that she made earlier in the week. Pottery pictures will follow soon.

1500 Strava Challenges

I’m still at it, completing as many random Strava challenges as I can. This morning saw me finish another two, taking me to the incredible 1500! Not a lot else to say really. I haven’t been completing as many cycling challenges recently due to changing jobs, but I’m enjoying my running as much now as I ever have, especially when my lovely Helen comes with me. We’re currently training for a half marathon in March in Anglesey. It will also be Helen’s birthday so we’re making a weekend of it. Really looking forward to it.

Anyway, you can find my blog about 1000 challenges here, which also includes links to my other numerical challenge blogs.

336 Metric Centuries

A few days ago I wrote about how I had run a half marathon 71 times since I’d joined Strava (read about it here). This got me thinking about various other statistics. I have completed 100 miles on 113 occasions, although the most recent 100 miler was a couple of years ago, but I was completely gobsmacked when I saw how many 100 km days I’d had. The title of this blog post is correct, on 336 days I have completed 100 km. That is on average 38 times a year. Most of those have been cycling, although on a few times I might have been out and cycled slightly less and then added in a few extra km with a walk or a run. Sadly there isn’t a single day where the 100 km target has been passed with running only, maybe one day.

As for elevation, I have climbed at least 1000 m on 350 days, and on 272 days I have completed at least 5 hours of activities. I’ve also been given Kudos 100 times on 266 occasions, although that is slightly more arbitrary because if you want more Kudos just follow thousands of people and many of them will follow you back, giving you extra Kudos.

I have to be honest and say that I’m surprised by these figures and had probably forgotten just how much training I used to do. I think the mix is a little better now a days, as I enjoy going out with Helen and our silly pooch for long walk/runs, or cycle touring with just Helen. Cafe stops is something we are definitely looking forward to once lockdown 3.0 is over, as well as exploring new areas again.

What about swimming? Last year was a terrible year as I only went for a swim 30 times, and over half of those were before the first lockdown. Looking at my stats and I’ve swam 1 mile on 316 occasions, 2km 300 times and 1 hour 177 times.

71 Half Marathons

A bit of a random statistic for a sunny Tuesday afternoon. Since joining Strava I have run 71 half marathons, or to be more precise, according to Veloviewer, there have been 71 days where I have run at least 21km. I know that a half is 21.1km but knowing what I’m like if I made it to 21km I would definitely run that extra 100m. I’ve been a member of Strava for almost 9 years, so it works out at 8 half marathons a year, which isn’t too shabby.

Veloviewer also tells me that I’ve run 11 marathons and 456 10kms. That is one and a quarter marathons every year and a 10km every week. If I continue at my current rate then I will complete my 100th Strava half marathon approximately three years time.

I have also done a number of half marathons before I joined Strava, but my statistical record keeping does not allow me to know exactly how many I’ve completed, although I have done 8 half marathon races before Strava.

Anyway, I quite like 21.1km as a distance; long enough to be a challenge, but short enough that I am not in too much pain the next day.

Strava Freebies

At the start of the UK’s lockdown I reached the milestone of completing 900 Strava Challenges. Naturally I emailed Strava to ask for some free goodies. They said ‘yes’, but that it might take a while as no one is going into the offices at the moment. Well, last week I received a small package containing a t-shirt, socks, water bottle, cap and a couple of stickers, all branded with the Strava logo.

I have to say that the socks and t-shirt fit really well and are incredibly comfortable, so a big ‘thank you’ to Strava.

Since my initial email I have now completed over 1,000 challenges, but I think I’ll wait a bit longer before begging for more freebies.

Running Report Card

One of the good things about Strava is that they like to share the data with third party apps. The most famous is obviously Veloviewer, but City Strides is another site that I like to use. An ultra-running Strava friend recently shared a link to the Running Report Card.

It’s all very easy, just follow the link and connect with Strava. You then get your own personalised report card with a whole load of interesting stats.

As you can see with all of the climbing, Lancaster is fairly hilly.

A fun filled five minutes, but if you run on Strava you should check it out.

Strava Anomaly

I upload pretty much everything to Strava, even two mile walks with my lovely wife and our silly pooch. I used to add walks as a ‘run’ but now that there is a separate walking challenge each month, walks are uploaded as a walk.

However, my Garmin 920 doesn’t have a walk function, so I use the run function, and then when it comes to uploading the walk I change the sport from run to walk. This is where the anomaly occurs. Strava thinks that as this activity is now a walk, it must remove this distance from the monthly running challenge total. As of yesterday I had run 14 miles so far in November, but when I uploaded last night’s 2 miles walk, this total dropped down to 12 miles.

Fortunately there is an easy fix. Leave the challenge and then rejoin and it will display the correct total.

1000 Strava Challenges

I’ve completed 1,000 Strava Challenges. Actually I’m at 1,016 as I hit 1,000 a couple of weeks ago. I still enjoy the challenges, although I think that there might be too many of them. September was the biggest month for ever, completing 52 challenges in one month alone. It took me almost one year to complete that many all those years ago. However, with all these new challenges there are loads that I don’t manage to complete.

I had a thought that maybe I should call it quits and not do any more challenges; leave it at 1,000, but then I completed a few more without realising it. In the end it doesn’t really mean anything, although sometimes it does push me out of the door if I know it is the last day of a challenge and I’m nearly there. I’m definitely fitter for them.

I will keep on doing them, and then I will keep on blogging as I reach ever greater mile stones. Here’s to the next 1,000.

Anyway, you can read about my 300 milestone here, 500 here, and 750 here.

Do you do the Strava Challenges?

Flagged Strava Activity

We’ve all lost a KOM and had a quick look at who the culprit was. I expect that sometimes it is an error. They’ve left their Garmin on while driving home, or logged a ride as a run. I’ve done it a couple of times, and I’ve also had to flag a couple of erroneous activities from friends. Unfortunately, it appears that Strava no longer sends notification if an activity of yours has been flagged. Fortunately, Veloviewer lists any flagged activities you might have. I only upload my Strava activities to Veloviewer once or twice a month, and I’ve had a flagged activity listed for a few years. A two mile walk where the GPS was a bit funky at the start. I couldn’t be bothered to crop the activity so I left it flagged.

However, when I uploaded Veloviewer this week there was a second flagged activity. A hilly 200km ride back in July 2013. At the time I was doing a lot of big rides, and often fairly quick. This ride my average speed was just under 18mph. I have plenty of friends who can average faster over longer distances. There wasn’t anything untoward about my ride, especially as I was wearing a heart rate monitor, so I have absolutely no idea why someone would feel the need to flag it, and I’ve had no reasoning from Strava.

Anyway, I unflagged it and hopefully it will stay that way. Here is a link to that particular ride. Can you see anything wrong with it?

https://www.strava.com/activities/70158098

Strava Local Legends Challenge

The Strava Local Legends feature has been around for a couple of months, which is plenty of time for the excitement to have settled down and for people to have ‘found’ a few segments that they can or are Local Legends. (I first blogged about Local Legends here.) Currently I’m Local Legend on 12 cycling segments and 3 running segments, but that could all change each and every day.

To try and spice up the Local Legend I have come up with a trio of segment based challenges.

1000 Athletes.

Quite simply the challenge is to become the Local Legend on a segment that has been completed by at least 1,000 different athletes in the past 90 days. A couple of the segments where I am Local Legend have over 900 athletes, but they have been over 1,000 a few weeks ago. They probably will again if we have a week or two of nice weather.

100 Efforts

Sometimes it’s not enough to be just the Local Legend, you want to destroy everyone else. Therefore, the second challenge is to complete over 100 efforts of a segment in 90 days. One segment which I cycle along most days and I though that I might be close to the top, has been completed over 80 times by the leader. Breaking it down, you need to complete a segment every day for 80 days, and then twice a day on the other 10 days. Quite a challenge.

An Iconic Segment

Some segments are definitely more iconic than others. For me, this would be any hill segment from Simon Warren’s Toughest Hills books. We’re very lucky here in that climb 76, Jubilee Tower is only a couple of miles away. I’ve climbed it 52 times in the last 8 years. The Local Legend leader has climbed it 49 times in the last 90 days. It also looks like there is a bit of a rivalry, as the second place athlete is on 48. It’s a tough climb and I can’t imagine cycling it that many times, so this is probably the hardest of my three challenges.

Will you be able to manage any of them?