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A change to the course this week, following last week's kerfuffle, to take us down through the flood channel and back up before joining the main path, avoiding the worst of the narrowed section in the process. Having started a long way back, I put in a very slow first kilometre, a modest second one, and three very fast ones to finish, pulling back enough time to finish in 20:46. Not bad given that I stood around for a good 15 seconds after the whistle went, waiting for people to start moving. Rather than waiting around at the finish, I ran to the climbing centre, got myself scanned, ran back to the finish and then headed off along the footpath on the eastern side of the canal, and round to bridge over the river. On the other side, I met up with D, who was marshalling, around the same time as the tail runner was coming through. I helped to pick up the signs and we walked back to the start — the other volunteers thought it was pretty funny that I'd finished the 5K and then run the course again — where I got the inside story on the course alteration.
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Pleasantly gentle run this morning coming in 25th and in 20:18 — not bad, considering the heat. But with the warm weather and with the path still narrowed due to the on-going flood defence work, there have been more problems than usual with contention on the shared pathway.

The section around the start is particularly problematic. Not do a large group of people start at the same time, but they funnel through a narrow section between two temporary chainlink barriers which connects the canal path to the start of the divided bike-and-pedestrian path that runs along the edge of the flood channel. The path is supposedly temporary, although it's been there for almost a year, and consequently it's made of packed but uneven unmetalled aggregate, giving it a worryingly undercertain feel under foot and tire.

Even at the best of times, the rights of way across the path are unclear — although D says it explicitly isn't part of the cycle path. It's always hard to navigate, with pedestrians walking on either side as if it were completely pedestrianised, some cyclists sticking to the left as though they were on the road, and others sticking to the side that matches the cycle part of the divided path that runs along the channel.

Usually people — both runners and cyclists — slow down and make their intentions clear when they approach, making collision avoidance easier. But every so often, as just after the start of this morning's parkrun, you get a someone — in this case a cyclist riding in north-west against the general flow — who just bowls on through.

You'd think common sense, along with the notions of self-preservation and of decency towards one's fellow path users, would suggest giving way but obviously not in some cases. And as for the person who, a few weeks ago, was trying to ride a motor scooter along a later section of what is clearly marked as a pedestrian path, the less said the better!

Granted it's annoying to have to give way to other people, but it's one of the most fundamental aspects of living a civilised existence that you cannot always do exactly what you want, when you want, and damn the consequences. As Robert Nozick says somewhere: your right to swing your fist ends where it intersects with my face.
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With the others away this week — either on-call or at Glastonbury — and with E taking it easy after picking up a minor shoulder tweak, it was down to me to run solo. Happy, I bumped into FG at the briefing and we got talking about times and conditions and I said I was sure he'd make his target time of 20 minutes. As we made it to the start, I got talking to MB who was pacing 30 minutes, and didn't really worry too much about getting to the front.

Despite being cooler than last week, the humidity felt much higher and conditions weren't exactly ideal for a super-fast time, so I started gently and sped up towards the middle. As I hit the last klick, I started to catch up with F and we pulled each other along and I finished in 20:23 after confusing the total distance field on my watch with my current pace and suddenly cranking up the speed. Still finished 19th out of a field of 235 — much smaller than last week — and managed to get to the Quay quickly enough that I was only the second person to get my barcode scanned.
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Back to Exeter this week for a warm morning run at Riverside. Having recovered from last week L was there without his canine running buddy, and, as a particularly pleasant surprise, P was there for his first run in a few months.

Despite having planned to start slow, my first kilometre came out quicker than expected and I decided, based on last week's evidence from Killerton that my normal pace is quite a long way off my fastest, to push on at more or less the same speed and to see where it got me. Rather to my surprise, it saw me finish in 19:42, enough to put me 11th out of a field of 301 people, and, when I checked my splits, I found my final kilometer had come it at around a 3:46 pace.

Despite being reasonably sure I'd done well, I didn't say much to the others except to confirm where I'd come — nobody likes a boaster! — and we adjourned round the corner for tea. Dash was very pleased to see me, especially since I'd missed her last week, and within seconds of me sitting down on the floor, she climbed all over me and generally asserted her claim of ownership. After a pleasant slice of morning, L's car parking expired and I got a lift home — carrying a punnet of home-grown raspberries! — obviating the need for my least favourite bit of parkrun: the uphill run back home.
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With D away on a pre-wedding event this morning, I hatched a plan to meet up with E and run at Killerton. And because dogs are allowed there, L decided to being Kira along for a spot of exercise. Once there, we discovered that JF was the week's run director — I subsequently discovered it was his first time and he said it was pretty stressful but got easier once everything was in motion — and lurked around at the start waiting for the off.

I didn't get going particularly cleanly: I forgot to start my watch and had to pause to unlock it before setting it off, so I decided to run the first kilometre or so with E. Once I started to feel warmed up, I began to crank the pace and started overtaking people. Unfortunately, the paths made it hard to pass people without being a total jerk about it, so I kept on varying my pace until we got to the lane at the mid-point, where I really accelerated.

I finished in a very slow 21:41 (my watch, which excluded the time I'd spent fussing about at the start, told me I'd finished in a bit over 21 minutes) but when I reviewed my lap times afterwards, I discovered that my pace over the back part of the course had been extremely fast indeed, which explains how I was able to claw quite so much time back and why I was still overtaking people right up to the finish.

Talking to L after the finish, I gathered that he'd had a tough time and his running partner hadn't been on her best behaviour. And as if to illustrate the point, she somehow managed to tear the attachment point off her harness and dash off towards another dog. L got her back under control very quickly — and the other dog-owner was very nice about it — but he decided he was too frazzled to stay.

E and I set ourselves up at one of the tables in the stable courtyard and settled down for tea. We were joined by a couple who were looking after a lovely little rescue terrier — they said she was some sort of staffie cross — for the weekend and had taken her round parkrun. They said they'd seen Kira — L said something about her growling at a terrier — but they too were very nice about the problems of having a rescue dog, especially when it's as large as a huskie.

Afterwards, we took a spin around the plant section of the NT shop to allow E to check out the dahlias — she was mainly interested in the various purple-shaded bishop cultivars, which she reckoned would suit her current planting scheme. With the weather still slightly overcast and uncertain, we called it a morning and headed home.
sawyl: (Default)
A good one this morning: despite a gentle start, I stormed home in 20:05 and finished 19th — a sure sign that the university term has finished. E ran at Killerton for the first time in a month or two and managed to come within 30 seconds of her PB — a very solid result...
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Up and out for a very humid run this morning — despite the forecast predicting a modest chance of rain this morning, we had nothing, with most of the moisture well and truly stuck in the atmosphere. Despite wearing my sleeveless top for the first time this year — I always have to aclimatise myself to the way my ponytail slaps me on the shoulders when the sleaves go — I was still so sweltering I had to take off my sunglasses partway through.

Once again, with the course more constricted and constrained than usual, I started slow and cranked up the pace to finish in an adequate 20:32. The course was slightly longer than normal — the marshals respsonsible for the field section had been extremely diligent and marked it out so that it went right into the very corners, erroring on the side of too long rather than too short; a decision I very much agree with!

Despite it being my 70th run, I can't feel too smug: there was someone there celebrating their 400th run! An amazing achievement. Looking at their recent runs, it looks like they're doing a grand tour, running at a different place every weekened, with Exeter happening to coincide with one of their big numbers. And rather charmingly, they'd brought along cake to celebrate!
sawyl: (Default)
According to my calculations, since this time last year — when I recovered from an ITB problem that had been plaguing me for a couple of months — I've only missed three parkruns: two in October 2016 when I was in Greece and one last weekend when I was in Seattle. But other that, I've run every week. Not wanting to tempt fate too badly, I reckon that puts me on course for my hundreth at around the end of December or possibly very early January 2018. Go me!

With that on the record, its time to get back to today's run. Having had a couple of weeks of heavy duty running and with yet more flood defence work limiting the width of the path, I wasn't expecting much from today's run. I started very slowly but after catching up with D at the bridge, I cranked the pace and finished in a respectable 20:23.
sawyl: (Default)
A big field this morning — well over 400 — and rather haphazard start. I was so far back I didn't even hear the countdown. It took me a good few seconds to start my watch, and even then I noticed I spent a good 6-8 seconds waiting for the group to start moving.

Despite the slow start, I managed to pull things back and finished in 20:33 and completing the last kilometre at a 3:40 pace — I was very determined I wasn't going to finish in more than 21 minutes and because I wasn't precisely sure how much time I'd lost at the start, I wanted to be sure I was well under the cut-off.
sawyl: (Default)
A slightly slower run this week, finishing in a decent enough 20:23 — in line with my predictions beforehand.

Waiting around for the start, I bumped into EB whom I hadn't seen for a while. I asked her how she was getting on and discovered that she was recovering from a stress fracture picked up during the half-marathon back in February. She said that she'd felt something go around the third mile but had pushed on anyway, and despite her injury, she'd still managed to knock ten minutes off her PB.
sawyl: (Default)
A surprisingly quick run, finishing in 19:58 after I noticed my watch ticking down towards the magic twenty minute barrier as I was approaching the end and made the decision to blitz it.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Feeling very, very tired this morning thanks to a heavy day of running and climbing yesterday. Seriously, the exhaustion had started to kick in before I'd even put my trainers on with my back muscles — OK not needed for running but still — registering a whole series of protests thanks to lots of work on a compression move on my current project. So, not exactly in ideal running form this morning.

I managed to make it down to the start on time, didn't bother pushing to front and took the start very gently indeed; I even managed to fit in time to have a chat with D while we were making our way towards the bridge on the way out. I picked up a little bit after that but kept the pace down, not wanting to run out of steam before the end. It wasn't until I was into the final kilometre that I sped up, not wanting to exceed the magical 21 minute mark. In the end I was pretty close to spot-on, finishing in 20:53 and 46th overall out of a big crowd of 376.

Despite a pause to recover with tea and puppies — she's a big pup these days, weighing in at 17kg and looking like she still has some filling out to go — I still felt the burn on the way home in a way that I haven't done in quite a while. Probably an indication that I ought to skip my usual Saturday afternoon climbing session and concentrate on rest and recovery instead...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
A misty morning down by the river, with the sun just starting to break through as we reached the finish. Following my current tactic of starting slightly more gently and cranking up the pace towards the end — something that makes the run rather more enjoyable — I finished in 20:10 and 25th out of 294 runners. A solidly satisfactory result...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Slightly unusual run this morning with a slow start and a decent finish. Started a long way back on the grid and very gently cruised the start at something like a 4:45 min/km pace. As I was gradually moving my way up the field, I heard someone telling me that it just wouldn't do and I needed to run a bit quicker: it was my colleague and fellow bus traveller RW acting an external conscience. With the threat of competition, I picked up up my speed and started pushing a bit harder, managing to complete the first kilometre in under four minutes and sticking like glue to a four minute pace for three of the remaining klicks, finishing with a decent time of 20:05.

D also managed a fast one and we stood around waiting for RW to finish. In the end, I became convinced that I'd missed him and, because D was in a hurry, we went off to get scanned. We didn't see him at the Quay and it was only when I'd got out that I saw a tall figure in a baseball cap making its way slowly along Haven Road. It turned out the his ankle had twinged as he was going round the field and he dropped his pace right back to prevent it from getting worse. Then, I think, he waited around for the other members of his running club — or, more likely, they waited around for him to hobble to the finishing tape — and they all came down in a block to get scanned.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
This morning's run didn't get off to a terribly good start, thanks to a large crane that was blocking the usual access path along by the river. Today was obviously the day they were dropping some of the boats that had been over-wintering in the yard back into the water for the sailing season, and the only place the crane could reach those on the eastern side was from the embankment.

Almost immediately after, near disaster struck as I was crossing the small pedestrian bridge over canal. The bridge is currently surrounded by netting and scaffolding which has reduced the already small walkway down to something that can just about accomodate two people walking abreast. I was fiddling with my watch as I approached. I paused because I thought I could hear people coming up behind me and didn't want to step in their way. I turned to look behind me, saw they'd stopped, and stepped out onto the left-hand side of the path.

As I did so, a runner coming the other way ran straight into my right shoulder. Being much smaller and lighter than me, half of her stopped abruptly and the other half carried on with enough momentum to spin her through 180 degrees. Miraculously she managed to straddle the metal bollard in the middle of the path — intended to separate the flow of pedestrians to prevent this sort of thing — only to land on her bum, facing the opposite direction to the one she'd been running in, looking a bit dazed and confused.

Luckily she didn't seem hurt — she checked her elbows for damage and both were intact — and we both apologised profusely. I said that I hadn't been looking ahead of me and she said that she'd though I'd stopped — which I had — and hadn't realised I'd taken a step forward. I suspect neither of us was to blame: it was just one of those things that happens when there are lots of people in a confined area and where a bridge which ought normally to be more than wide enough for such things, has been width restricted for maintenance reasons. Anyway she must've been OK because I saw her finish the 5K in well under 24 minutes.

The run itself went OK and I followed my current strategy of starting slightly slower and building up the pace later; not that I had much choice in the matter given my position on the starting grid. I finished in a respectable but not stellar 20:21 and 33rd overall — there was a big field with plenty of very fast people, so I'm not too unhappy with my result — while D cracked the 24 minute barrier for the first time since January.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Not a bad run this morning, although somewhat hampered by the remains of the week's cold and a sharp headwind on the way back. Finished in a respectable but not stellar 20:27 and 21st out of a field of 217. D finished around the 25 minute mark, despite starting after everyone else had gone. Stopped for tea afterwards and found myself used as a human climbing frame by Dasher, who seemed very keen to slurp off some of the parkrun mud!
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Feeling distinctly coldy this morning, I nonetheless decided not to skip this morning's run. Despite feeling OK on arrival L told me about a cycling event he'd done where one of the competitors had died because they had 'flu, which crystallised my decision to take it gently.

I started with the others, shamelessly chattering away for the first half-klick before deciding that I couldn't face holding the same pace over the entire run and pushing up the pace to something like my usual non-parkrun cruising speed. Pottering round the course at something less than full-on meant that I had a chance to really enjoy the run, to take in the scenery, and to feel the camaraderie of running in a big group. By the half-way point, my natural tendency to push had asserted itself and I noticed I was gradually picking up speed. I managed to hold things back to a sensible pace for the next kilometre but by the time we reached the bridge, I finally gave in and opened the throttle all the way. I eventually finished in a respectable 20:39 and, when I checked my splits, I completed my final klick in 3:40 — a solid 30 seconds faster than my first K.

The others finished in decent time and L, who'd been hoping for a fast one, came within 14 seconds of a PB. E reported that results from Killerton were initially a bit problematic with everyone showing up as 59:59 but they must have switched to their backup timer because later in the day they'd corrected the times showing that she finishing in just under 30 minutes.

Afterwards we retired to D&P's place for tea and, in their case, bacon sarnies, and quality dog time. After loafing around for most of the morning and allowing myself to be used as a puppy climbing frame, we went for a walk along the canal. Along the way we met RW, who was out with wife and collie, and saw part of the Men's Walk — an eight mile sponsored walk down to the Turf Locks and back in support of Hospice Care. At this point, I decided to head home, turning left, running up from the river and taking the long but more gradual climb back up from the river.

This week's parkrun was also the first following the retirement of the points league. Despite being at the head of Riverside's table — I'd accumulated 2220 points since last August — I'm not to sorry to see it go. Of course I'm in a privileged position: I get the warm feeling of having my achievement recognised without the embarrassing — to me, at least! — prospect of actually winning anything.

But I agree with the parkrun organisers' decision completely. The league rewarded those of us who attend the same run regularly and who consistently finish high up the order. It didn't do much for people who move around a lot, who can't make it every week, or who are squeezed out of the top hundred, and penalised people who volunteered more than four times a year.

In fact the very things I value about parkrun are antithetical to the points league.

The most important things to me are the community spirit and the sense of inclusion. I particularly like the way it encourages
people who don't think of themselves as runners to join in. Rather ironically, I considered myself a member of the latter category until M talked me into doing my first parkrun back in October 2015. Although I've long been someone who runs, I'd always been a bit reluctant to classify myself as a runner. Rather like E, when she did her first run at Killerton earlier this year, I considered "proper" runners to members of running clubs, people who took it seriously, and who went in for races. But one of things I realise, thanks to parkrun, is that it's not races or clubs that matter, it's just a case of running and anyone, regardless of how fast or slow they are or who seriously they take it, gets to call themselves a runner.

So I'm not sorry to see the league go in favour of a shift towards participation. And I think that without it, I think I'm going to go to Killerton more. And I think I'm going to volunteer more; I'd definitely like to be a pacer, because you still get run but you also get to give something back, but when they're short of marshals it often seems like an optional extra — albeit an extremely popular one.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Back at Riverside following last week's tourism and a respect 20:25 finish, despite truly terrible start which left me stationary for at least 10 seconds after the whistle waiting for the log jam ahead of me to clear. Then, once we were going, I spent the first couple of minutes pushing up the field until I found people to pace with, but the rest of the run was pretty smooth and it gave me an excuse for not pushing the pace hard over the second half.

With L away, M down with an injury, and E running at Killerton, I didn't have long to wait for D&P to cross the finishing line. Afterwards we adjourned to their place where L&S, visiting ahead of their move back to Exeter, were busy with breakfast. The others all tucked in while I sat on the floor, at which point Dasher crawled on to me and started slurping off all the mud from the playing fields. Lovely!
sawyl: (A self portrait)
To Killerton for parkrun this morning. The route was much less muddy than last time and I managed to finish in 20:47, easily peeling a minute off my previous time and qualifying myself for a new PB. It's also enough to put me well within TN's assigned time, effectively laying to rest the ghost of my first attempt where I just missed my appointed cut-off time.

But my improvement was as nothing compared to E who blitzed round and finished exactly two and a half minutes faster than last week and precisely 90 seconds ahead of her previous PB. In some ways I'm not particularly surprised: she has more determination than almost anyone I know and I'm frequently amazed by what she achieves when she tries...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
A good time this week, finishing in 19:54 — two seconds off my PB and my first sub-20 run since the summer — despite having the remnants of a cold. I'm not sure I can take full responsibility for my time: I've got a new treatment regime for what the doctor suspects may be EIB; it certainly seems to have improved my aerobic capacity while I'm running and improved my recovery afterwards.

I've still had a little bit of post-run cough — the problem I went to the doctor about — but that might be the cold or it might the be the remnants of the untreated EIB from previous weeks or it might be perfectly normal for someone who has run a sub-20 5K. But despite that, I've noticed that my chest is much clearer, breathing is much easier, and there isn't anything like the same level of tightness that I've had in recent weeks.


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