Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

George Ogle Memorial Race 2018

A new route this year – and a few new faces at the race start! C for some reason had believed only the ‘flat bit’ of my race description (the last mile or so) but has disregarded my comments about hills and steps as apparently it’s more likely I am winding her up than that anyone could POSSIBLY put flights of steps in a race event. The Nile is not only a river in Egypt… It can’t be that bad if we all keep going back year after year 😉

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Photo by CM (Blackhill Bounders)

I think the best way to share the route for this is to just let Derwent Valley Running Club do it themselves with their fab video of the route!

There was a slight modification to the route this year – apparently two horrendous hills is not enough so a third near the start was very kindly added in by some generous route-finding soul… I confess here and now to marching it! When we set off I had faint hopes of getting under the 1hr marker for the first time (previous times 1:09:48 in 2015 and 1:00:24 in 2017 I have just discovered) and I’d basically thrown that out the window by the time we turned through the gate for the first hill – the new one – and figured I’d just see how I did and concentrate and getting to the finish line!

I don’t know how many flights of steps there were in this race – maybe 5? – but I know I only ran 1.5 of them and walked at least part of all the big hills! I was in good company 😉 I was therefore delighted to get back round to the viaduct and find that I still had a shot at getting under the 1hr marker – and the terrain was going to be in my favour (for once) for getting there if I could keep the pace going.

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I did – even with the walk breaks – end up coming in under the hour marker at 57:48, which I’m really pleased with 🙂 Definitely making progress with the pacing! Plenty of spot prizes at the race with the finishing gifts – our group walked off with a bottle of wine and another of gin! This race usually gives goodies instead of medals and this year was no different – water bottle, buff and B’s favourite jellybeans 🙂

B, G and I will be back next year…we’ll wait and see if J3, C and R join us again! According to some it’s not a race without bling at the finish 😉

map

You can download a GPX file for this route from my Dropbox account by clicking on the link below:

George Ogle 2018 route file

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Sunderland 10k – 2018

It was very much a Girls On Tour trip this morning – four of us on our merry way to Sunderland; two for the 10k and two for the half marathon (after J3 had remembered to retrieve our 10k numbers from her car before we left). Many odd things were discussed on the way there, the direction of conversation seemingly funneled by how much B needed to use the little girl’s room…

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The weather was forecast for rain forever when we checked it on Saturday so were all armed to the hilt with waterproof jackets and long trousers, but by Sunday morning it had changed to light drizzle all morning, and when we got there it looked decidedly too muggy to wear long-anythings! We succeeded in finding B a loo, and then trekked back to the car to dump the coats!

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We did eventually make it to the start line, where J3 & I dumped B & J2 (maybe I should just start using names?!) as they were leaving half an hour after us for the half marathon, while we were doing the 10k. We completed the usual cram-into-the-pens-like-sardines and wiggled around a bit as a warm up before we were allowed to head over the start line!

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The first half of the 10k route weaves through more built up areas – and as a result there was no breeze and it was very muggy! We spent some time swapping between pavements and roads depending on the presence of cobbles, and dodging Deadpool when he lost his keys. We were passed by a guy carrying a full wheely bin as we headed towards the bridge – and didn’t really see him again until the last kilometer! He was a man on a mission and one does not get in the way of that!

It was with great relief we left the town, headed out over the bridge and dooooooown towards the rivermouth. Still not particularly breezy but at least everyone was spacing out nicely and we were still chugging along at a good pace. It didn’t rain for the whole day so I was able to pass the boats at the docks with full vision available and therefore discern they were not grey walls as I have previous for observing on a high rain and therefore no glasses attempt at this race (2015). We hit the first water station here with the odd squishy bag bottles, and had a mini water fight trying to get water out of them to spray over our heads to cool off – they’re designed not to leak under squeeze pressure only! We managed 😉 Apologies to anyone running around us we may have hit in the process!

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April 2018

Definitely starting to feel back on track with exercising – I set myself the target at the start of the year of hitting 500 miles by the end of it, and as such needed to hit just over 40 miles a month – 9.5 miles a week. January, February and March I think I hit about half of that each month which has been increasing the amount I need to run each month for the rest of the year to still come in green without breaking myself in December!

April 2018

I need to hit 48.57 miles flat profiled for the rest of the year, and for April I’ve hit 49.5, I would probably have done the extra half a mile while I was out if I’d realised and hit a round 50 but I’m not going out just to do half a mile for that 😉 Mixed up in that mileage is a duathlon (Washington Novice Duathlon) and two races – 1 road (North Tyneside 10k) and 1 trail (Washington Trail 10k). I’ve also attended four bounce classes – not included in mileage – and done three training sessions (two intervals, one hills). My longest run was 7 miles for a Bounders Sunday run along the Derwent Walk.

April 2018 Graph

I’m slightly behind on my mileage target – should be 33% by the end of month 4, but at least achieved the mileage I needed + 1 so we’ll get closer to target as we progress through the year if I can keep that up, and I’m bang on with parkruns. I’ve actually run in four different locations in the last six weeks – one of the local ones at Gibside and then three new ones; Sedgefield, Stockport and Pennington Flash, meaning I’ve also hit my target of running in 10 different locations!

I’m ahead for races having completed four events so far out of ten, but looking at my calendar I’m only booked in for another six, so I better not miss any of them if I want to hit ten for 2018! Got to be in it to win it! Or, you know, at least get the shiny thing at the end! I’m deliberately keeping the summer quite empty – I’ve got two races in May (Pier to Pier and George Ogle) and two in July (Red Kite Race and Northumberland Coastal) but nothing for the rest of the summer as P & I have just bought windsurfing rigs :O :O :O I’m keeping the weekends quite empty and am hoping to get in some long runs when there is either not enough or too much wind for us to be out on the water 🙂

Next month’s aim – keep up the exercise levels while not eating all the cake on the planet (I must have had four or five birthday cakes this month and am getting a reputation as a cake fiend!!!). Off to a good start – no sweet treats for the last week of April and down 4lb – just need to shift a few more and work on toning up ready for our holiday in June 🙂

Onwards to May! (Seriously, where is the year going?!?!)

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parkrun – Pennington Flash

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/penningtonflash/

This parkrun involves three laps of a small part of the grounds at Pennington Flash. There’s one hilly bit – not too long – and the rest definitely counts as ‘undulating’ to flat; not the flattest I’ve done but a long stretch from hilly. It’s worth noting that there is a reasonable walk from the carpark – allow 5-10 mins, and there is a parking charge at the main carpark (it’s a good size though – you should find a space fine). There is a free carpark at the entrance to the park, but it’s 1 mile walk/run from there to the start line, so factor this in if you’re planning on taking that option. Toilets available at the carpark and a lovely spot for birdwatching after your run!

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My GPS map for this route:

Pennington Flash

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Pennington Flash parkrun

Course completed 21-04-2018

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#finishformatt

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Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can feel the very pulse of a community. For the running world, you can touch on it locally simply by spectating at a race – you don’t even have to run – and watch the fliers, and the plodders; the joy, the wonder, the pride, the pain and the struggle. A whole microcosm of human emotion will pass before you in even 15 short minutes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 10k or a marathon. You won’t be able to help cheering complete strangers on and feeling part of something.

Rarely, something happens which allows you to feel the heartbeat of a national connection. In some small way you have to be part of it – even if you’re not mentally ‘there’ – or you know you’ll regret missing it.

I remember when Ben Smith of the 401 Challenge was running daily marathons around the country with people from local running clubs and communities – I’d missed him when he was in the North-East and he was working his way back down the country: Carlisle was the last weekend he would be within driving distance, and despite being on a low after my own marathon training earlier in the year, I knew I had to go. I’d seen the route and knew if I got to 5 miles, I’d be able to get back again via public transport or walking if it came to it. I went.

This month, it’s a more sombre reason the running world is pulling together: last Sunday was the London Marathon, and one runner not only didn’t make the finish line, they died in the attempt. Masterchef is one of very few TV shows P & I watch, so while it was hard reading stories about it, it was harder recognising the person featured – even though we’ve never met him. You watch a small part of someone’s journey doing something important to them and you feel a distant connection, an empathy with them. Matt Campbell had 3.7 miles left to complete the London Marathon when he collapsed; the running world’s response? Finish it for him while making donations to the charity he was fundraising for. People all over the country and further afield are running and walking 3.7 miles in Matt’s name. It won’t bring him back, but it is a powerful recognition and acknowledgement.

If you want to donate (the running’s optional!), you can find his JustGiving page for the Brathay Trust here.

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Spirals

I’ve found myself thinking often of how things always seem to go in cycles when it comes to my exercise routine, and I wish I were talking about bikes. I start getting into good habits, my calendar is filling with star stickers on a regular basis and I’m feeling like I’m on an upward spiral. The consistent and varied exercise sessions start to work together, I see improvement in my performance, and because I’m in a good headspace I eat better so also lose weight as I tone up and feel fitter.

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Then, normally about three weeks later, something will happen to upset that routine I’ve been building up around myself. I’ll end up making a choice between doing what I feel I should do rather than what I want to, and end up begrudging that choice even though I would – and do – make it again.

The biggest thing which ‘gets in the way’ is, as with many people, my job which sometimes has somewhat unpredictable end times and can occasionally be quite physically exertive. I feel a large amount of frustration and animosity towards this like it’s some sort of inconsiderate fluffy monster thing always standing just in the way of the door when I’m trying to leave.

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It (not me), is making me tired, or eating into “my” time – which allows me to be very passive about the responsibility I take for looking after myself. My exercise sessions drop off – I either can’t get to the time-booked ones, or feel forced (still not my fault!) to choose rest over making myself ill or worse in the medium-term. Obviously it’s something I didn’t want to do that’s got me into this pickle in the first place.

I was thinking at the start of the year about what I want to get out of this year – regardless what happens with work and other life commitments. I didn’t want to push myself further with my running, though I had hopes of getting faster. I lost the fun of running in 2016, and it took me over 12 months to find it again – so my focus is to have fun being active for 2018 – try stuff that’s a bit different, and if I’m not going to just enjoy being out, then do something different. So far, I’ve completed my first duathlon, and am hoping to get a team together for a team marathon – 10k each and lots of picnic food. I’ve also tried skiing , been to a spa for the first time EVER, and I’m finding new running routes and running buddies while revisiting some of my favourite races from the last few years. I’ve even bought padded bum nappy shorts for cycling – and a new bike – at the back end of last year!

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My run challenge for the start of the year was to run 500 miles in 2018 if I could – this is about 5k 3x a week not something that requires crazy amounts of time dedicated to running. For whatever reason (getting married this year – another first! – definitely played a part!) I didn’t hit the mileage I needed for a flat monthly target in January, February or March – but April is going really well and I’m on track for new milage target I need to hit each month to compensate for the first quarter being under. I’m trying to use the positive fitness spiral that’s growing for April to get me in shape for a positive eating spiral in May, and between the two I’ll get to spend the summer being fit and healthy rather than hiding in the fridge from the sun 🙂

My current battle is habit-eating. I am fine at work not snacking, but even when I can acknowledge to myself at home that I’m not actually hungry I’ve gotten into the habit of snacking on an evening – especially agitata-eating (this is a thing) when I’m trying to work through things like booking all the holiday things and other more menial necessities. A stern talking to and a padlock on the fridge might be needed 😉 Spending all my evenings at work seems like too drastic an action!

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I’m still a touch apprehensive about the summer – it’ll be easier with a few lbs off (no more cake!!!) as it is for most people – but I’m determined to keep pottering about doing things to keep myself active, and if I can keep my running miles up so much the better; though it may be at about 5am!!! We’re starting windsurfing again hopefully next month so watch this space for some interesting tan lines developing, and I’ll be working my way back up to half-marathon distance for the Northumberland Coastal Run I hope. Maybe somewhere in the middle of the horrendous rain they had last year and the blazing sunshine of the London Marathon would be lovely with some sea breezes! Parkruns are becoming a more regular part of my calendar – I’m ahead of my target to reach 15 events for this year, being already on five, and have beaten my target of 10 different locations ever attended – a stretch target definitely needed for that one. The biggest thing though is just enjoying what I’m doing – social runs and classes, some head-clearing time out on my favourite routes on my tod (it’s been a while since I hit the moors at the Waskerley!) and trying all the new things 🙂

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I’ve no doubt there’ll be another dip in the future; whether I fall off the food wagon (which I must admit to not being on yet though I do brush it with my fingertips occasionally!), or for whatever reason my exercise routine takes a stumble, I’m determined to see out 2018 with a collage of happy memories and the reinforcement that I can do it – whatever ‘it’ is, because I’ve done it before.

See you out there 😉

x

 

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parkrun – Sedgefield

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/sedgefield/

This parkrun in Sedgefield involves 2 laps of Hardwick Park; it’s mostly flat and runs around a lake but has one small hill about 2/3’s of the way round – fine on the first lap, a bit of a stickler on the second I found! There was plenty to see on the way round – a mix of wildlife and more manmade things of interest so it’s an easy one to just kick back and enjoy if you’re not going for a time 🙂

There’s plenty of parking – normally a charge but if you put your spare barcode in the windscreen it’s FREE until 11am, which gives you plenty of time to pop to the loos (also open before the start) and go the coffee shop for a breakfast bap or a wide selection of yummy cakes!

My GPS map for this route:

Sedgefield

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Sedgefield parkrun

Course completed 14-04-2018

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Washington Duathlon

A few years ago, despite being just about able to float in water and having been on a bike twice in the previous 10 years, I signed up for a Go-TRI event in Prudhoe just to see what it was all about. I came away with two lasting impressions: various exercise segments being comfortably within your grasp does not mean they will remain so when you’ve shoved them all together, and I do not like swimming.

My main aim for 2018 was to try new things and have fun with exercise, so when I saw a novice DUathlon in the local area, I was down to give it a go – and why not drag someone else along for the ride?! I really like the ‘intro’ level events that some clubs hold to get people into sport – they are much less daunting than signing up for a ‘full’ event when you have no idea if you’ll be able to do it all and are still shaky on what’s involved with ‘Transition’ and really don’t want to be shouted at by a marshall for making the biggest faux pas in the world ever in complete ignorance.

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There were two events on today – a Novice event, and double the distance for the Sprint.  Being undeniably new to this, B and I had signed up for the Novice event; a run of 2.7km (2 laps), cycle of 10km (2 laps), and a final run of 1.35km (1 lap).

When you turn up at an event like this, the first thing they do when you register is cover you in numbers. Everywhere. You know when you go to a theme park and there’s small children with bracelets or writing on them with their responsible adult’s details on incase they get lost? It’s like there’s an assumption to do one of these events there must be something special about you, and thus they make it obvious you are undertaking such an event. This way, if some kindly soul takes pity on you cycling in circles round and round Sainsbury’s carpark, they will at least know which way to point you to return you to your kind. We had pen numbers on our arms and calves (I still haven’t got them off two washing attempts later), stickers for our helmets and our bikes, a number bib for pinning to our belts incase the smaller ones just weren’t obvious enough and a house-arrest convict style ankle bracelet which is allegedly for timing but may or may not contain a GPS tracker… It is claimed these are to stop people stealing your bike – it must match your numbers, your bib – it must match your body art, and your helmet – which must also match all of the other things. We know the truth 😛

We succeeding in levitating our bikes ready in transition (there was a fence too close so they didn’t touch the floor!) and were about as ready as we were ever going to be to set off.

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It is a well-known strategy for particularly longer races that you find a nice bum and follow it. We hadn’t been running for long when we were passed by several of the people doing the Sprint (and well, compared to us – sprinting), one of them with a very…distinctive bottom?! We dubbed him Window Bum Man as for some reason he had a circle of netting in the back of his tri-suit…

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parkrun – Woodbank

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/woodbank/

This parkrun in Stockport covers ground in two parks – Woodbank and Vernon, and starts at the top of a hill…you can see where this is going?! There’s a tough little uphill kick at the end of the Vernon Park loop (which you do twice) as you can see on the elevation profile below!

There’s limited parking near the start-line – maybe 20 cars? – so get there early if you’re planning on using it, or there’s a bigger public carpark nearby. Average number of runners is 120 per week, so no fear of being on your own in a small group of elite runners! The whole route takes place on tarmac, except for one small section of cobbles as you crest the top of the hill coming out of Vernon Park.

 

My GPS map for this route:

Woodbank

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Woodbank parkrun

Course completed 31-03-2018

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400dpiLogo

Hello! Welcome to Blue Runnings.

I run distances between 5k and half marathon, predominently around the North-East of England over a mix of terrains. I prefer trail and coastal runs, but you’ll also spot me at a few road runs if the setting’s right! If you’re looking for reviews of a particular race, please check the link below (or on the right) for a full list of races I have participated in and reviewed since 2015. This includes maps and elevation profiles, and GPX data available to download from my dropbox account if you want to try out the routes yourself.

Race Reviews

I am also an erratic attendee of various parkrun events; if you’re looking for information relating to the parkruns I have attended, please see the separate link below.

parkrun

You can keep up with the latest site updates, or just what I’m doing from my own fitness perspective on my facebook page – I regularly run (obviously!), cycle (badly!), hike and attend local Kangoo Jump classes. Irregularly, I’ll try whatever’s going!

www.facebook.com/bluerunningsNE

Feel free to check out where I’ve been racing on the Race Map, or just browse through the archives and see what you can dig up.

Please get in touch either through the comments, the contact form or my facebook page if you’ve got any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you.

Sarah

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