Dulwich parkrun review

A quick one this week. Dulwich parkrun is 3 laps (!!!!) of Dulwich Park. This wasn’t as bad as it could have been since the route was pretty flat and you could build up some speed.

There seemed to be a lot of people there (243 in the end) and quite a nice community feel. Some people were absolutely smashing the time – I crossed in 19:02 and came 26th, when in other races that would have got me in the top ten. Oh well!

My run went well, but because I was slow to the start line I spent the first half mile overtaking people. My GPS told me I’d done the first half mile in about 5″20/mile, which I was hoping was right (it did feel fast). Anyway, I got my head down and tried to stay sub-6min/mile. That seemed fairly easy, and as I kept up with people trying to overtake me.Photo 29-11-2015, 22 41 09

My Nike+ app told me the course was 3.18 miles and that I’d done it in 5’59 min/miles, so I was hopeful of an official sub-19 5k. Sadly, this wasn’t the case when I got the result. 19:02, so close. Still, moving in the right direction considering that’s my 3rd fastest parkrun ever.

Next year I think I’ll aim for a sub-18:50 as my main target, and try to get as many sub-19s as possible – that should help me hit my target of a sub-3h15 marathon (with an eye on sub-3h05 in the long run… no pun intended)

Main points:

  • Laps: 3
  • PB Potential: High.
  • First-time friendly: Yes
  • Downside: Crowded start, no facilities on site.

Mile End parkrun review

So, Mile End parkrun is my ‘home’ parkrun in London. Since it was just me running this week I thought I would give it a go and see if those hills really were as bad as I remembered them.

There’s a nice community feel at Mile End – they have pacer events, baking competitions, a coffee van at the start, and a few socials throughout the year. They do more than most, and it’s a very nice group.

The only downside is the course. It is two laps up Mile End park, and each lap contains two hills, a small and a fairly big hill (since part of the park is actually above the A11). Since the route is pretty much out and back per lap you run over each hill twice a lap, so four times over all. The paths are fairly wide (although with work being done on Regent’s Canal the towpath part of the route was a bit restricted), although sometimes busy, and you get to run past the Queen Mary campus where I work (and where I should probably spend more time…)

Anyway! My run went well. I wasn’t confident of a good time so I didn’t push myself too early, and saved some energy for the first big hill.  I had a guy overtake me early on who I decided to hang on to. After about .75 miles I found myself thinking ‘I could go faster’ but decided to hold on and conserve energy. Then my app announced the one mile split – I was hitting 6’06/mile, which was a lot slower than the first half mile split, so I decided to overtake him. To be honest, I think that was a good decision, because the pressure of having him behind me kept me going and took my mind off the course.

I got to the halfway point at about 9’30, so I frantically did some mental maths and thought that a sub-19’20 was probably reasonable goal. Hitting the big hill again, I didn’t feel the course take it out of me that much but my splits were getting slower – 6’21 for the second mile. At this point I just decided to hold on and push through. 2015-11-14 - Mile End

I crossed the finish line in 10th position, with a time of 19’19 – just about hit my target. Although it’s not as good as my course PB of 19’04, I think the fact that I wasn’t on top form (hungover the day before, could have done with more sleep, didn’t push at the start etc…) so didn’t try as hard is a good enough excuse. I am wondering if I had have committed early on I might have come within sub-19’10… oh well, plenty of time to give it another go!

I decided to run home too, trying to get my weekly mileage up for marathon training despite aiming for just 3 runs a week (is this madness? I guess I’ll find out in April…)

Southwark parkrun review

This week, we found ourselves at the Southwark parkrun. For once I was fresh; not tired, hungover, nor injured. I was ready. The place was easy to get to, I got off at Canada Waters and walked for about 5 minutes, but there are closer Overground stations (I’m northern, how am I meant to know these things?!). Plenty of parking around the park too, it seems.

The course comprises of 3 laps of the south side of the park. 3 laps is my idea of hell, but the route has nice wide pavements, not many people around, and flat. For such a PB-friendly course, there were few people there – not more than 100 I’d say (checked, there were 123) – and no recognisable club runners. There was a very no-pressure environment.

The best thing about Southwark is that there is a group trip to Weatherspoons(!!!!!!!!!!) after the run, for breakfast and coffee (and probably a cheeky quadvod if you fancied it).

My run went well. I’ve noticed that even though I’m getting (slightly) faster, I don’t feel it when I’m running. I’m doing a lot of exercise every day at the moment, between 3 runs a week, 2/3 gym sessions a week and 1hr+ walks on the days I’m not doing either, so my legs rarely feel ‘fresh’.2015-10-19 - Southwalk

Despite this, I pushed on and came in at a respectable 12th – you can see my result here. I felt like I could hold my pace for longer than usual, and that I still had a little bit left in the tank for the last 0.5 miles. I’d be interested to see what I can pull out when I’ve had a bit of a rest before a parkrun.

However, the only problem I had with the run was that my Nike+ came in at 3 miles, and Parker’s came in even lower (about 2.9 miles). The organisers say that GPS always comes in short, but I’m not convinced. This is really very annoying, since on such a nice flat course you could try for a PB, only to find that it doesn’t really count because the course was short. When I ran the extra .11 miles, I came in at 20:38 (which seems accurate, given I was at 10:20 the mid-way point). So, I’m taking my sub-20 result with a line of salt (and a shot of tequila), and hoping to repeat it next weekend.

Main points:

  • Laps: 3
  • PB Potential: High – flat, wide course (although not as flat as Hackney Marshes)
  • Facilities: toilets, parking, post-run Weatherspoons.
  • First-time friendly: Yes!
  • Downside: Not quite 5k.

Here’s proof of completion (or at least turning up!)

Looking fresh, as per.