My 135th parkrun and my motivation to keep going

The yoga’s been going well – my yoga streak continues with daily practice ongoing. However, I am still struggling with the darkness and the cold, and the resulting lack of motivation for running. It is what it is and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I have two races coming up: Kinloss to Lossiemouth Half Marathon in February and Smokies 10 miler in March. Smokies is the one that I’m trying to focus my energy on as I think the boat has already sailed as far as Kinloss is concerned.

With that in mind, and the longer term goal of the summer marathon (Fort William again), I’m trying to refocus my energies and pick up the pace again. Today’s goal for parkrun was due to be a long run with a fast 5k at the end of it, but the reality of work and life meant that I was shattered last night, decided against setting an early alarm, and only managed to squeeze in a couple of miles this morning resulting in just over 5 miles in total.

Warming up, I’d missed my 8:30 chum, Colin, so headed out along the bottom prom knowing I’d meet him on the way back. That made for a fine start to the day. One of the best things about Aberdeen parkrun is the wonderful community and all the people I now consider friends.

My earlier intention of meeting Colin and then doing another loop disappeared in favour of a run in company so I found myself at the start with time to kill. That time passes easily as people slowly begin to emerge from the warmth of their cars. It’s amazing how some days it can look like there’s nobody around and then suddenly a couple of hundred people assemble at the briefing. I look forward to the day when a couple of hundred people also come with their listening ears turned on!!

Although below freezing, it was a perfect morning for running in so many respects. Very little wind and clear skies. Off we went, my intention being to push myself and try to run a little harder run than I’ve done of late. Not quite my intention, I also found myself tailing a wee group with Metro team mates Tony and Dino amongst it. Thinking Dino was perhaps pacing Tony (another one of the great things about our parkrun in Aberdeen – got a goal? Just ask, someone will help you achieve it), I tagged on to them, and as I felt strong pushed on a bit further. Dino then appeared to come with me.

We pushed on, running side by side with no exchange of chat (for once), until the turn. By this point I could feel that I was working hard but breathing okay. Onto the bottom prom I did utter a few words, and was told to stop talking – something to the effect that talking was wasting energy. Thanks Dino!

From this point onwards I received words of encouragement (or bullying) to keep going. I could happily have seen Dino far enough – somewhere out on the horizon in the North Sea would have been perfect – but I pushed on, trying to follow his encouragement and pick off runners as suggested. I’m not sure I was particularly successful in this, maybe managing one or two.

The lower prom seemed never ending, but thankfully did finally finish, and I was glad to get up the last tiny slope and onto the curve back to the finish line. At this point Dino informed me that my body was playing tricks on me knowing it was nearly done. Tricks or not, it hurt.

I held on as long as I could, but sadly don’t have the sprint finish of my fellow competitors, and conceded defeat as Alastair flew past, Dino left me in his wake, and Colin managed to stay ahead of me again. Very well done to each of them on their amazing sprint finishes!

Crossing the line in 21:15 (2nd female today, well done Hannah!) I was quite delighted, no longer wished to see Dino floating off towards Norway, and was actually very grateful for his encouragement. Onwards and upwards, the best time I’ve logged in a while. Here’s hoping if I can actually get myself out the door more often there will be more to come!

Sadly no photos today, so instead a wee motivational shot from last year’s Fort William. I’ve got this …

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Having now clocked the full results I’d also like to add a huge congratulations to my niece, Ellen, who ran a PB today and broke the 30 minute barrier! A great effort!

Volunteering (and a lack of motivation!)

Happiest outdoors or not, having volunteered at Stonehaven parkrun this morning I was somewhat frozen and lacking any motivation to go running outdoors this afternoon so headed inside for the ‘dreadmill’ instead.

I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to run of late. Darkness and cold are not great motivators and today’s session has been hanging over me like a dark cloud of dread, knowing my fitness is not where it once was, and having a lactate threshold session to address. In the end I was pleasantly surprised to find that although the session was hard it was doable having re-evaluated my training paces. There may be hope for me yet!

Yoga has been going well and I’ve succeeded in keeping my daily practice going for 13 days so far. Give me daily yoga over a run streak any day!

Back to the volunteering …

Having enjoyed my run at Stonehaven last week I had offered my services to volunteer this week and was given the role of Timekeeper. In my experience timekeeping is one of the more challenging roles to fill at parkrun. People are scared they may mess it up and this is why most parkruns have two timekeepers. Ultimately it’s a free run and there are far worse things that can happen in life – there’s always next week! Oh, and the timers are very visual and remarkably easy to operate.

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An impressive amount of first timers showed up for the Briefing 👍 Stonehaven are keen to encourage both walkers and runners to join them on Saturday mornings.

All went smoothly today and I was fortunate in having the joy of chatting to fellow volunteers, Alison and Alex, throughout. It’s amazing how time passes when you’re having a good blether. Alison was the smiley marshal from the top of the hill last week and is frustratingly injured at present, so I wish her a speedy recovery back to full strength.

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One of the lovely thing about a multi-lap course is the opportunity to cheer the runners as they pass 👏

Onwards, Terryanne’s Cafe at the Bowling Club saw us warmed up with coffee and chat, always a great finish to parkrun.

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The finish line gathering

If you’ve ever fancied trying parkrun please give it a go! The sense of community and friendliness has been evident at each of the runs I’ve done and it’s something special to be part of this truly amazing community.

 

Stonehaven parkrun

Most readers will be aware of parkrun I suspect. For anyone that’s not, it’s a free weekly timed 5k – run fast, run slow, walk … your choice!

I came late to the parkrun party, my ‘home’ run in Aberdeen being well established by the time I started going. Stonehaven is a more recent addition to the parkrun family (albeit they’ve already celebrated their 1st birthday) and I have to say, I love it! It truly is a favourite of the  courses I’ve had the pleasure to run.

As with all parkrun events, it’s run by volunteers and a lovely, friendly bunch of people they are, rising early to set up and organise the event for others to enjoy – thank you!

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Numbers at Stonehaven are small. Why this is, I’m unsure. It could be the proximity of other runs (Montrose, Hazlehead, Aberdeen and Ellon all have parkrun events), or it could be that people are put off by ‘the slope’ as Event Director Annie described it today. It’s somewhere up here. It’s not long, it’s just short and a wee bit steep:

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Given that it’s a 5k run (or walk) you must keep in mind that the slope can’t be that big a part of it, particularly given that you do 3 loops of the course, and of course the absolute bonus of any slope? What goes up must come down!! And it does, a rather splendid 3 times!

So, back to the run report …

I headed out today with Alan and have to say I was less than impressed as the temperature dropped to 1C 😮 and the skies darkened over on our arrival in Mineralwell Park. Looking out either side of the car, the beach facing side showed lovely blue skies and a rising sun, while sadly the other direction (from which Alan advised the weather was coming) was somewhat driech and there appeared to be hail or sleety stuff falling from the sky. Thankfully this was very short-lived as Stonehaven have an agreement with the clouds that they’ll cease dropping their contents for an hour or so each week, honest!

So out of the car and around the park for a wee warm up. At this point we were joined by the lovely Diane, another Aberdeen parkrunner.

Before long it was time for the off but only after Annie had given the Briefing and an excellent Doric poem all about the coffee shops in Stonehaven as the usual cafe (Terry Anne’s) was closed. Her advice on giving the door a dunt proved useful later!

As usual, the racing snakes blasted off ahead of the field. On this course I prefer to ease into it a little more gently, knowing that the third asking of the slope requires a little something left in the tank! I gave this advice to Young Jordan, another visitor from Aberdeen, and was delighted to find that he managed to hold his form and finish ahead of me. Despite trying I couldn’t reel him in.

The course is run predominantly on grass and trail with only a little tarmac which can be avoided by running alongside the path of you prefer. Around the playing field to warm up, up the slope, continue up, spot the friendly marshal at the top (always a welcome sight), then belt back down and run round the park again, cheered on by the fabulous volunteers who await the finishers.

Repeat this pattern twice further, then on the third passing of the smiley marshal at the top of the hill you can storm back down, smug in the knowledge that unless disaster strikes you have done it! The best way to start a Saturday in my opinion.

Reaching the finish, a cheery wee gathering of fellow runners and volunteers await.

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Coffee for us was at Molly’s today. Thanks to Vicky and Kate (Stonehaven regulars), and Paul (Kirkcaldy), for keeping Alan and the company and chat.

If anyone would like to visit Stonehaven parkrun please come down next weekend where I’ll be volunteering as Timekeeper and there to cheer you on! Other weekends are also available so if you’ve not tried it please do – I’m sure you’ll love it too!