Three runs in one…

Posted: 08/09/2013 in Laughingly Called Training, Running, Uncategorized

Parkrun is the hard centre in my running chocolate…

There is now one week to go until the Great North Run, and about(?) seven weeks to the Jedburgh Ultra. While other people are running speedy twelves milers and figuring out exactly how much pasta is “too much” at the GNR pre-race party, I’m thinking ahead to the chilly days at the end of October and the mud-fest that the ultra could well turn out to be.

My training seems to be coming back on-plan, I managed to run a groovy sixteen last week, which went pretty well, and this week was down for 19 miles.

And that’s where things turned peculiar.

I don’t live at the end of an isthmus*, I don’t even live by the sea any more, so in theory I have a glorious choice of four cardinal points** from which to choose. Yet I couldn’t quite figure out where to run. All the ideas were either too long or too short or too meh for words, and I’m not a person who generally likes laps. Could my Mojo have escaped again, so soon? No, there it is, in the sweet tin, in it’s wrapper, so all good there.

As a mad idea, I measured the distance to Whitley Bay – could I run there for the Parkrun – of course not, it’s 17 miles or more each way with the Parkrun in the middle – I won’t be doing that for another month or so yet***, but hang on! There are other Parkruns – Gateshead, Newcastle, Durban, well, Durban may be pushing things, what with being on another continent and all, but the other two are nearby-ish, right? So which is nearer?

Well, they’re both about 9 miles away, it turns out, which is peachy – 9 miles there, a 3 mile parkrun and a leisurely 9 miles home for a total of 21 miles, which is only just over the target this week. Only which one?

A quick tweet**** and the options were clear – Newcastle has more cows and wind (allegedly not connected) whereas Gateshead has four laps and less cows. I’m not a fan of cows, but I’m also not a fan of laps, and I know (roughly) the route I would take to Newcastle so that was it decided (though I’ll go to Gateshead in a couple of weeks).

So, after a bit more of a plan I went to bed, got up in the morning and headed off – a set of waterproofs in my OMM Classic 25 with some water, a handful of gels and a banana bar.  The weather was looking uncertain, sometimes sun, sometimes black clouds, so best be prepared. Down through Winlaton, to Blaydon and along to the Scotswood Bridge – a way along there and then cut up past the cemetery to the Town Moor – that’ll be nine miles in one sentence. It was pretty nice.

As I ran up through one set of houses, a pair of Italian chaps were leaving for their car, and offered a jaunty “Good day to you sir!” – either the nicest genuine early morning welcome, or they’ve learned English using a  language tape from 1930. Whichever, it was a lovely moment.


Wow, that’s pretty small, but the big size is HUGE, so what am I to do?

I arrived at the Parkrun with maybe 15 minutes to spare.  And needed, not to put too fine a point on it, to go to the lavatory.

There’s a cafe there, and I had brought an emergency banknote, in case of just such a dire need – in I went, the place was deserted, hello to the lady running it, ask for an espresso and rush to the loo while it’s being made. No problem, bish, bash, wallop, Bob’s your uncle. I asked if many of the runners came in, and the lady told me that lots of them do come in, but only to use the toilet, no-one buys anything. Now that’s just not right in my book, if you’re going to use the loo, buy something – if you’re genuinely caught out, then fair play, I think you should be allowed in, but it sounds like the place is being treated like one enormous toilet. I don’t think it reflects well on us as runners, nor on Parkrun as a movement. At other runs the local cafe works with the organisers, maybe with a reduced-price cuppa or maybe a bit of cake at Christmas, and it seems to work well. Clearly as a one-time tourist, I don’t know what, if anything, the back story is here, but I was a little disappointed.

Anyhow, back to the Parkrun, which headed off pretty sharply after I got back from the cafe – as I’d already put in nine miles, and as I was carrying a bag full or stuff, I didn’t expect (or try) to go fast. I wasn’t disappointed, though it was fun to notice that I was still only two minutes off my Newcastle Parkrun record, which must have been a year and a half ago when I was just starting to wheeze my way into running.


Um, I left the GPS running while I went to get my barcode scanned, which must have added a bit on to this – my official time came in at 29:28, not that it makes much odds.

OK – so, that’s 12 miles down, and I’m feeling a little tired, but 9 more to go to get back home.

I’ll be honest, I was slightly pooped, I walked a couple of bits, like the hill up to Winlaton, and the hill up to the back of the house. In fact most of the hills (well, the uphill ones, I ‘ran’ most of the downhill ones). I got home and mildly collapsed next to a cup of tea and some bread and butter – aye, we do things proper up in High Spen.


In total 21.9 miles and still alive to tell the tale. Toying with the idea of running back from the GNR next week – that’ll be 10 miles to get me to Newcastle after a 13 mile run – sounds about right.

No especially damaged joint, limb or muscle either, which is pretty welcome.

Rock on!

*A sort of elephant

**That’s the compass, rather than a game of Spot-the-Pontiff, though that does sound like a great way to pass the time if you ever visit the Vatican

***But I will get round to it at the proper time in my training schedule, as I like to call the random series of runs I …erm… run

****For my mum, and anyone else who thinks I’ve gone all Bill Oddie at this point – Twitter is sort of like Facebook only everyone can see what you’re saying… only it’s also quite different. In short, moan about work on Facebook where only your friends can see. Don’t tell the world you’re at the beach wrestling dolphins if you’re supposed to be at home sick on Twitter, the world is watching. In fact, why are you wrestling dolphins at all, you’re weird…


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