Jericho & Thame 10ks

It’s been a bit of a job keeping the Vegan Runners UK blog up to date what with lots of activity and photos from facebook – it’s all very positive and inspiring but I’m less inclined to keep this blog up to date.Nik and Maria Abingdon parkrun

Anyway two recent races and my slowest ever parkrun for the record. Good fun at the Run Jericho 10k on 22nd June which was too hot to push even if I’d been able. I started right at the back – because I’d got the wrong start time in my head and was still pottering about when I should have been ready to go – worked my way up the field enjoying a cup of water over my head at the halfway point. Finished in 58:13 169/333.Nik Windle Run Jericho 10k 2014

Thame 10k 2014

Maria, Celine and me after the Thame 10k

The Thame 10k on 29th June was warm but not as hot as some years. Made a bit of an effort and managed 51:28 386/782, fastest 10k this year but still rubbish.

My shoulder is still as stuck and achy as it was at the start of the year and is not easy to live with, I think the recent heat and humidity aggravates it. So work is difficult and I’ve asked them to start making some allowances; repetitive stuff like hoeing upsets it so Jane is stuck with the allotment for the 2nd year; I’m not comfortable on the bike so max 10 miles and my running just gets slower as I can’t push myself much without upsetting it. I’ve been back to the doctor and will be having Xray, ultrasound and maybe a cortisone injection.


Xmas Time

Well I’ve not done a lot over the Xmas break so far and I’m not planning on doing much with my remaining week off work. I seem to be tired – as in don’t want to get out of bed before 8am tired – and suspect body and mind are doing some healthy catch-up on sleep lost to my frozen shoulder and early work start over the year.

With the Brighton Half less than 2 months away and it being a targeted Vegan Runners UK event I thought it about time I made myself a training plan. All things considered I’ll be happy with a reasonably dignified finish under 2 hours but I do need to build up the distance a bit to even manage that. Yesterday’s attempt at a decent parkrun – no beer the night before and up at 6:30 for breakfast – was a total flop as my determination gave way under the strain of a chilly breeze and a moaning shoulder. 27:29, 63rd of 101, is my worst for a while but at least I didn’t put a lot of effort in so hopefully will be able to struggle round todays planned 10 miler ok. I did receive my red 50 parkrun shirt so was worth turning up for that ๐Ÿ™‚

parkrun 50 shirtI rashly entered myself for the Oxfordshire Cross Country Championships first weekend of January again as part of a club effort to target various ones across the country. Oddly ours is just over the Warwickshire border in Warmington near Banbury. Maybe I’ll be last this year – I’ve no idea what the course will be like but at least by driving there I get a chance to warm-up probable wet feet instead of taking them home on the bike.

What else have I done? A couple of very short spins out on the road bike which feels very precarious but doesn’t seem too uncomfy shoulderwise so something to build on. Lots of food and beer. Too much playing with the computer and websites – I now seem to be looking after both VRUK and VC&AC websites which is not a problem but I have to avoid getting obsessed with detail and stuck in this chair too long.

Oh and entertaining the cats who are not so keen on going outside for exercise at the moment. Mostly I sit about with them while Jane indulges them with sessions of string play (or is that the other way round).

Honey String Dec 2013 Molly String Dec 2013


Marshalling at the Abingdon Marathon

Having given up on any hope of being marathon fit several months ago I had transferred my place in this years Abingdon Marathon to VRUK member Shelley and volunteered myself for marshalling instead. I’d no real idea what my duties would be or how long I’d be needed for till just before the event so as the weather forecast got increasingly ominous I was beginning to wonder what I’d let myself in for.

Come 20th October I dragged myself out of bed in time for a good breakfast and drove out to the rendezvous at Draycott where I was 15 minutes early so parked up and waited in the car listening to the rain hammering down. A wet cyclist appeared then disappeared and I had a look round thinking she may be another marshall but she’d obviously gone off to shelter somewhere. A car pulled up beside me and Lucy from Abingdon parkrun emerged from it and, noticing the rain seem to be stopping, I got out and said hello. We spotted the others gathering over the road from the pub and joined them where Nigel very efficiently handed out our various positions and duties along with emergency contact numbers etc.

I was to go to Milton and try and get runners to use the pavement rather than run on the road at a section where the road was already narrowed by parked cars. Despite running this marathon twice I’d managed to forget there were 2 laps of a big loop making up much of it so runners would be passing my station at about miles 9 and again at mile 18. This spot had been a bit of a potential problem in previous years as it was not previously marshalled and there was a pub over the road which increased traffic come lunchtime. As it happened the Admiral Benbow was closed for refurbishment so I wouldn’t have to worry about this.

Dry now I nibbled a 9bar sitting in the car while waiting for 9:25 when my instructions said I should be in position. This proved a bit optimistic and it was nearer 9:45 when the lead bike, escorting 3 fast runners well ahead of the rest, came past. From then on it was pretty well a non-stop stream of runners for 3 hours. The rain returned for about 30 minutes about 10:30 and everyone looked pretty wet but then it gradually cleared and there was even a bit of sunshine. I shouted encouragement and clapped for so long I susequently found I’d upset my frozen shoulder and it took a day to stop aching again.

VRUKs Shelley and Alex came past running strong. Various local faces came and went but most were unfamiliar with a good spread of club vests near the front reflecting Abingdon Marathon’s reputation as a fast and well organised race. A couple of marshalls on bikes passed me several times. The fast guys came back round before the last of the slower runners had completed their first lap, still looking strong and determined. After a while some were showing the strain of the second lap, some taking walking breaks, some wearing determined expressions despite the lopsided gait of sore legs. A few chucked me their energy gel wrappers to dispose of. No one looked in danger of collapse. I clapped and cheered shouting out ‘please run on the pavement through the village’ when appropriate. There were several shouts of ‘thanks marshall’ and very few miserable faces despite the gloom and pain of bad patches some must have been struggling through.

Eventually the field thinned out and the bail-out minibus pulled up with no passengers on board. I was told there were 3 more runners that were almost with me and were expected to continue despite rather pushing the 5 hour overall time limit. Way behind them were 3 more who would continue but unofficially. The fact that both the last official runner and one of the out of time group were wearing their 100 Marathon Club shirts suggested they knew all very well what they were doing. About 12:45 I handed my yellow marshall tabard to the minibus officials and drove back home, a bit tired but not half as much as the runners. A very a rewarding experience and highly recommended!

Meanwhile – a couple of weeks back now – I completed my 50th parkrun timed to coincide with Oxford parkrun number 100 so I should be getting my red running shirt soon. I guess that counts as an achievement clocked up for this otherwise rather inactive year.


Inverted Bowl

Had one of those sad moments when I couldn’t drag myself away from the computer after parkrun yesterday so I decided to get geeky and create a graph of my parkrun times over the last year or so, using data conveniently downloadable from my Fetch training log, to examine their rise and, at last, fall. I know I’m getting a bit of speed back since my shoulder has become less painful but nothing like a graph with a trend-line to illustrate the obvious.

Rise and Fall of parkunThe November 2012 starting point is actually when Fetch introduced parkrun as a separate category but it tallies nicely with when I first started to be aware of something wrong with my arm, though it wasn’t diagnosed as a frozen shoulder till February this year.

Spuds 2013And while I’m posting trivia here is a photo of this year’s main-crop potatoes – pleased with the yield and apparent quality for just 3 rows, it looks like there are quite a few big bakers in there as well. They should last us till Xmas at least. The weather has been much, much better this year but I think the thorough dressing of seaweed fertiliser and compost we applied has revitalised our garden plot.


Headington Road Runners 5 Mile 2013

It’s been a couple of years since the Headington Road Runners 10k round a flat old airfield at Worminghall disappeared from the calender so I was pleased to see they were organising a new race to celebrate their 25th anniversary. I got an entry in, the start at Oxrad was only a couple miles from home, though I wasn’t expecting to be up to much.

Meanwhile, over the last few weeks, there has been some progress with this blooming frozen shoulder. It is still somewhat stuck – I can now raise it a few more inches, level with the top of my head at a push – but I’m not going to be reaching stuff from the top shelf with it any time soon. But it has got less painful, I can get through the night without painkillers (to say I can actually sleep through the night would be a bit of an exaggeration). Sometimes I manage to forget it’s there for an hour or so then feel unwarranted disappointment when it starts aching again. Most importantly I’ve felt able to go out and run as fast as I can a few times, it hurts the shoulder but only for a short while – not like before when any real effort left it really sore for a couple of days. I even managed a sub-25 parkrun a couple of weeks back – my best for ages. So progress at last!

Back to the race though, I was knackered that morning and the shoulder was having a (now less common) moan. I stuffed a couple of ibuprofen and cycled down to Marston anyway and it was great to see lots of local faces on what was a good morning for running, cool and fresh for a change. We wandered over a couple of playing fields to the start area and I checked out the start and finish, we were to go through old Marston then out onto the bypass cycleway then back through Cutteslowe and the paths behind Summertown to follow the Marston Ferry cycle-track then under the subway and on to the finish.

Chip timing so I placed myself right at the back with a hope of 43 minutes and definitely wanting under 45, not very ambitious I know! Off we went with me only pushing the start on my Garmin after the lack of tell tale beep wrongly suggested it was gun-to-chip not chip-to-chip. I settled into comfortable pace and passed a few runners as we ran through Marston, I was surprised to see a bunch of what looked like fast guys appear out a road on our right and join the race. We unexpectedly appeared at what I think of as ‘the hole in the hedge’ where we were efficiently marshalled through onto the cycleway – I had expected us to emerge from Elsfield Road.

The first mile clicked over in 8:07 which I was happy with, not quite up to 8 minute miles again yet but this was good enough and sustainable. We passed the ‘2 mile’ sign at about 1.4 miles – oh dear! A chap next to me had a grumble and I speculated that they had needed to change the route at the last minute, maybe due to problems on the road. Perhaps they’d add a bit on later.

I was feeling pretty good – always a boost starting right at the back as you’re bound to pass a few – just a matter of keeping the pace up and I was good for that. We turned off the cycleway and were very well marshalled through the Cutteslowe estate and down the narrow footpaths that they try and pretend are now a cycle route. Under the first subway, along the Marston Ferry proper cycle track – then under the 2nd subway where a couple of runners cut the corner despite being well marshalled. ‘Half mile to the finish’ a marshall shouted out – so we weren’t going to get our under-distance back. I passed someone having a walk just before the finish straight then heard her coming up behind so pushed over the line.

A lovely new race and really enjoyed it, a mug for a memento was nice as I’ve far too many shirts and don’t usually bother picking them up any more. It turned out that the race had indeed taken a wrong turn near the start and even a small mistake is impossible to correct when nearly 200 runners are charging along. Otherwise the organisation and support were great and I’m looking forward to next year already. 35:28 for 4.4 miles 123rd of 187 runners.

HRR 5 Mile Mug