Category Archives: parkrun

Run (x4), swim, gym (x2) (parkrun No2, naked chess, robots and sailing for madmen)

Autumn seems to have arrived so it was a short sleeved compression top, a warmer long sleeved top and long tights for Monday’s 7.25km (4.5 miles) run with my wife.

Off to the swim doctor session in the evening; there were fewer drills and more front crawl than usual so I swam 1050 metres. It feels like I’m making some (almost imperceptible) progress but I still don’t love it and it will get harder to leave the house to swim as the evenings get darker and colder. Perhaps I’ll stick with the structure of the swim doctor sessions over the winter and reassess next year.

I had a good hour in the gym on Tuesday followed by some woodworking and mowing, in between showers. Having missed them last week while in La Manga, it was back to the hill for the usual 8 hill reps on Wednesday. This time it measured 9km and 267m of ascent (5.6 miles and 876 feet) but the Garmin seems to measure the same run differently every time. Inevitably, more mowing in the afternoon.

A short run (on very tired legs) with my wife on Thursday – 5.6km (3.5 miles). I rather overdid the cold weather gear so it turned out to be a bit of a sauna.

Gym for an hour on Friday morning and that was followed by the bike shop – a happy couple of hours replacing cables, fixing punctures, truing wheels and adjusting gears. The rest of the day was cold and wet but, eventually, it brightened up a bit so (despite sage warnings that it can become a bit of an obsession) my friend and I decided to go to the parkrun on Saturday.

There was every possibly of that being a mistake as it was my 9th session of exercise in 8 days but I enjoyed run, even though the label ‘race’ yet again meant that I pushed hard. People say if it’s not hurting, you’re not trying hard enough – at least I’ve cracked the ‘making it hurt’ bit.

The conditions were good despite a lot of rain in the previous 24 hours. There was a distinct breeze and a turnout of 116 runners. The run felt slower and tougher than my first parkrun last week and I really noticed the 30+ bends (most 90°) in the 5km. I wasn’t expecting much of a result but, to my surprise, I managed to get the ‘sub 25 minute’ monkey off my back by clocking 24m 36s.

Perversely, I’m quite pleased I didn’t go a bit faster as I don’t immediately feel the ‘go sub 24 minute’ monkey climbing aboard.

My friend and training partner was a few seconds behind me but had put in a good run on Friday which, I guess, will have cost him all that time. It tells me that, even though it’s only 5km, it does deserve a bit of preparation (no more that a short run or little leg work in the gym Friday morning and no more than 2 glasses of wine Friday evening?).

I was 29th overall but 5th on the ‘age grading’ list. My rating is 69.44% – nearly at 70% which is Regional Class Level. I was second in my age group. The chap who was ahead of me has run more than 130 parkruns and is a member of Gateshead Harriers, one of the country’s most famous clubs (think Brendon Foster, Jonathan Edwards, Richard Kilty) so I don’t feel at all bad about that.

I acknowledge that it’s a bit strange to take a 24 mile round trip for a run that is shorter than I’d do if I just stepped out of my front door. It’s fun and I like the competition – but it probably means that I won’t be there every week.

We have friends coming over for lunch on Sunday so a welcome absence of any exercise while I enjoy watching others run the London Marathon – very best wishes to them all. Oh yes, yesterday I put in an entry for the ballot for a place next year.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Rain does not fall on one roof alone

2. BBC News website: Naked chess, a move too far?

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has openly accused fellow player Hans Niemann of cheating.

Niemann (19) has admitted cheating online twice, when he was 12 and 16, but has strenuously denied ever cheating over the board. He says he is willing to play nude to prove his good faith.

3. BBC News website: Latest prototype of a humanoid robot on show

Optimus appeared on stage at a Silicon Valley event, where it waved to the audience and raised its knees. The robot, being developed by the Tesla electric car company, could be on sale to the public in a few years’ time at a cost less than $20,000 (£17,900).

People were shown a video of Optimus performing simple tasks, such as watering plants, carrying boxes and lifting metal bars. The Tesla boss spoke of “a future of abundance” ahead., saying “It really is a fundamental transformation of civilisation as we know it,” .

I wonder if ‘Skynet’ ever said much the same (or am I confusing science fact with science fiction?)

4. BBC News website: Golden Globe race – 3rd edition of the race since 1968

The race set off in September and consists of a nine-month, single-handed, non-stop sail around the world, covering 30,000 miles. It is ‘sailing like it’s 1968’ so entrants are limited to similar yachts and equipment to what was available to the winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, in the first race. That means sailing without modern technology or the benefit of satellite-based navigation aids.

Nine sailors took part in the original 1968 event – just one finished and the others sank, retired or, in one case, disappeared in what looked like a suicide.

The rules bar entrants from contacting family and friends or putting into port. Some call it “a voyage for mad men”.

If only I sailed …

Run (x2), swim (x3), turbo, La Manga, parkrun, a tasty snack and vicious windows

View from the balcony, La Manga

Last Sunday we drove our younger son back to London after the weekend at home and the local 10km race. We dropped him off at his flat and went on to ours for the night.

We were up at 4.30 the following morning to head off to Gatwick airport to fly out to Spain. Friends had decided to rent an apartment in La Manga for a month and invite some others to join them for a few days. Luckily, flying from Gatwick was not affected by the Queen’s funeral – some flights were cancelled from Heathrow to keep the sky quiet for the funeral, as a mark of respect.

La Manga is on a several kilometre spit off the south east coast of Spain and forms the Mar Menor, a very large salt water lagoon. Our friends had driven out there, complete with dog, and very kindly provided us with a personal transfer service to and from Mercia airport.

The apartment was beautifully located overlooking a marina and we had a great time relaxing in the sun – upper 20s℃ (upper 70s℉) – and eating and drinking. I managed to run once (with Graham, our host, who was a good runner but hasn’t run for ages, so I think my presence had some beneficial effect) and swam three times. Against all odds, I did manage to lose some weight before the run last weekend – but those pounds have returned and brought some friends with them.

We also had a few long dog walks along parts of undeveloped coastline. Like so much of Spain, the area has a lot of high rise developments and then some large desolate tracts of land where they lost interest (or started to reap the consequences of over-development and saturation of the housing market). There are even a few building ‘skeletons’ (just the concrete framework, long since abandoned) in La Manga, a legacy of the collapse in the market in about 2008.

Back home late on Thursday so I gave the gym a miss on Friday morning. I did the usual stint in the bike shop, which turned out to be 4 hours instead of 2 when a lady brought in a completely disassembled mountain bike that she had crashed in the European seniors duathlon cross championships in the week. A nice carbon framed Orbea which seems to have escaped with little damage (unlike the rider who cracked a couple of ribs).

On Saturday I did my first ever Parkrun (and my first ever ‘timed’ 5k), prompted by my friend and training partner. It was in Grove, about 12 miles away. It’s a shame that we don’t have anything closer but the course was good and pretty flat, mostly grass but with some confusing loops. There were 122 people and the whole event was very friendly and positive.

I’m always ridiculously nervous before these things (as if anyone cares, or even notices, what I’m doing) but at least there were fewer club running vests than there had been at the 10km last Sunday.

Against low expectations, it went pretty well. I probably set off a bit too fast and I gave my friend a target to aim for. He reeled me in at the end and we finished together, which was great, both clocking an official 25 minutes 06 seconds for the 5km. My Garmin measured it 2 seconds faster and 5.12km making an average pace of 4.54/km – goodness knows which is right.

We were 28th and 29th out of the 122 runners but the ‘age grading’ they give (to make times comparable, taking account of age) put me in 6th place. My grading was just over 68% which says I’m almost ‘regional class level’ (whatever that means).

I’m now going to have to do it again to find those pesky 7 (official) seconds to get under 25 minutes.

Just a turbo session on Sunday afternoon, a hard 30 minutes @ 31.5kph (19.57mph). Quite a week in many ways – I’m looking forward to an evening doing nothing.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Do not treat your loved one like a swinging door: you are fond of it but you push it back and forth

2. BBC News website: Bodies in suitcases story (mentioned a couple of weeks ago)

South Korean police have arrested a woman accused of murdering her two children who were found in abandoned suitcases bought in a sale in New Zealand last month.

The bodies were believed to have been stored for a few years. Korean police said the victims were aged 7 and 10. The woman is a 42-year-old New Zealand national of Korean descent and had fled to South Korea in 2018 after the children’s deaths.

3. BBC News website: Working from home or shirking from home?

A major new survey of more than 20,000 staff across 11 countries shows that bosses and workers fundamentally disagree about productivity when working from home.

While 87% of workers felt they worked as, or more, efficiently from home, 80% of managers disagreed.

It is untrue that 70% of workers could not be contacted because they were out

4. BBC News website: Latest Tesla recall

Tesla is recalling nearly 1.1 million cars in the US because the windows might not react correctly after detecting an obstruction and so close too fast and pinch people’s fingers.

The world’s largest electric-vehicle manufacturer has had repeated run-ins with federal safety regulators, who chief executive Elon Musk calls “the fun police”. He criticised the ‘recall’ terminology as the matter will be fixed by an over-the-air software update. Previous recalls have been due to: rear-view cameras; bonnet latches; seat-belt reminders; and sound-system software.

5. BBC News website: Who nose about veganism?

The chief operating officer of a vegan food giant has been arrested for reportedly biting a man’s nose during a row in the US.

It is alleged that the incident occurred on Saturday night as he left a parking garage in Arkansas after a football game and became involved in a dispute with another driver. He faces charges of “terroristic threatening” and third-degree battery.

No laughing matter, but he just had to be COO of a vegan food company, didn’t he?