Fitness Journey, parkrun

parkrun #33 Wimpole Estate

Last week saw us head a little further afield on the outskirts of Cambridge to the Wimpole Estate for our first National Trust parkrun. The full tourist crew were together again and we even had a friend join us so spirits were high as we all set off on a chilly morning.

The Wimpole Estate, once owned by the daughter of Rudyard Kipling, offers a beautiful setting for a challenging run. Starting not far from the Grade I listed mansion house, the route passes through farmland and is predominantly on grass with some nice undulations along the way. There are plenty of views to keep you occupied and even some HUGE cows and sheep to say hello to. One giant, horned beast in particular decided to get a little too close for my comfort along the way which led to much squealing and arm holding with C as she protected me from the scary looking monster!

One thing I did notice with this parkrun was that there was an added loop for runners with dogs – I thought initially to avoid cattle but that was on part of the course where there was no cattle so not entirely sure what it was for…? If anyone knows the answer then please do let me know in the comments.

About halfway there is a bit of a killer hill – most of the people were walking it by the time I got there (myself included), however it is short and sharp rather than long so I was back to it once we hit the top. There is also a gravel drive towards the end in front of the house which is quite tough on the legs. Not surprisingly, I was slower than last week because of the hills and grass but all things considered, it was a lovely event, with a beautiful scenic route.  A lovely course to do in autumn as I’m sure it would also be all year round.

Top of the hill – Wimpole parkrun

Next week is our home parkrun’s 3rd Birthday so we are staying local but will be back for tourist fun the week after.

Stat update:

Total no. of parkruns: 33

Total tourism to date: 9

2018 pb: 29.41 (Aylesbury)

D x

Fitness Journey, parkrun

parkrun #32 Aylesbury

I continued in my quest to find my running mojo through parkrun tourism last weekend at Aylesbury. It’s pretty local to me and I’d heard it was a fast course so was feeling pretty good about it.  Two of our little tourist crew were away so it was just me and P this week, he’d been training for a marathon the next day so offered to run with me. It was a very cold morning but the sun was shining down on us.

I hate that feeling of holding people back so wasn’t keen on the idea but he stuck with me for most of the first mile until I nagged him to ‘bugger off’ and he went and did his own thing. It was a pretty busy course, about 250 runners and the first section is on quite a narrow path so difficult to get spaced out until a few 100 meters in.  The course is a lollipop, something I hadn’t done before so despite a few runner friends commenting that it was a boring one, I actually quite liked it! There were a couple of bridges along the route which broke it up nicely and some wonderful marshals including a young addition who’s made a sign to cheer us on.  A very well organised parkrun and great team.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the watch this time and tried my best to run on feel.  P had obviously set me off on a reasonably good pace and it all must have come together on the day because it’s the first run I’ve done in a very long time which hasn’t involved a walk break! I ran the whole thing, even had negative splits and ran the fastest 5k I’ve done for AGES – a sub 30!! Was very, very pleased with that!

The rest of my running week hasn’t quite gone as smoothly, a club run on Tuesday night in the 10 min mile group was a big fat fail as my legs felt like lead and I cut it short at 3 miles rather than carrying on for 5.  I knew when I left the house I wasn’t feeling up to it so maybe it was psychological or maybe I should just listen to my body more.

Anyway, tomorrow brings another tourist run, something new that will hopefully make it exciting enough to kick that mojo into gear and a one lapper this time with the whole tourist crew and a special guest appearance from G! Hurrah!

Happy running

D x


parkrun #31 Gadebridge

Week two of our parkrun tourism continued at Gadebridge parkrun, a two lap course in Hemel Hempstead. The weather forecast was bright and sunny however when the five of us piled into the car, the drizzle wasn’t showing any signs of letting up. It was only around a 30 min journey which worked in our favour when half way there,  I realised I’d committed the ultimate parkrun sin and left my barcode at home! A quick detour back to the house to grab it and a traffic free journey back meant that we pulled into the carpark at 8.57, a good job that it was very near to the start line!

In it’s autumn setting, Gadebridge park looked particularly beautiful despite the now pouring rain! The course is two laps, each made up of a lap around two grass areas split by the main road. The trees were full of colour and on a dry day, I’m sure it would be a beautiful place to run.  However, for me, it brought back memories of those winter school PE lessons when evil teachers made you run laps of the school field in the pouring rain! I hate running on grass at the best of times so it was not my best run by far.  I also learnt a very valuable lesson about hairspray and pouring rain – you will spend the whole time drinking hairspray flavoured rain water, the taste of which was not pleasant!

I’m still struggling with my running comeback and no where near that sub-30 pace I once was. Gadebridge offered a few inclines and slippery wet downhills so wasn’t the fastest course and that combined with the weather ended up a disappointing 34:52.

So my overall thoughts of Gadebridge, a lovely course amongst the trees and wonderful marshals, however I hope to return in better weather soon.














Stat update:

Total no. of parkruns: 31

Total tourism to date: 7

2018 pb: remains at 32:44 (Heartwood Forest)

D x

Fitness Journey, parkrun

Around the world with parkrun

One of the things I love more than anything is travelling. Whether that’s to a remote location on the other side of the world or exploring towns and villages in the UK, I love discovering new places and experiencing all the different things our world has to offer.

So, I’ve decided to channel this love of travelling to see if I can rediscover my mojo! In 2017 I ran London Marathon and had the worst training experience I probably could have had.  After a chest condition wrote me off running for almost 3 months, I was staring from scratch when I began training towards the end of January.  I’d worked really hard the year before and really improved my running so it was a massive set back for me to be struggling to run 5k’s at anything more than 11 min mile pace.  Rightly or wrongly I went on to run the marathon and loved every minute of the day, but the training experience put me off running completely.  I continued to coach a beginners running course and did the odd parkrun here and there but I basically stopped running.

In the last year, I’ve had some big changes in my life. I recently took the decision after being unhappy in my job for some time to leave and pursue a new career (I’m still figuring out exactly what that is), I moved in with a boy for the first time, we got our little fur baby and emotionally, it’s been a pretty rough rollercoaster! I know I am happier when I’m exercising and working towards a goal so I’m going to be using parkrun to search out that spark that has been missing!

parkrun tourism isn’t anything new or different, there are lots of people doing it but my mission is to explore this beautiful world, one parkrun at a time. The hope being if I focus on the travel bit then the running will eventually come. An amazing friend of mine who I share the same inner geekness with introduced my to the google chrome running challenges plugin for parkrun which opens up a whole bunch of badges and awards you can work to – anyone who knows me will know this level of OCD excites me big time! I will have to achieve them all!

So first up, I’ll be tackling the tourism badge – 20 different parkruns. To date I have done 6 and the goal is to do 10 new ones by the end of the year, starting with Heartwood Forest which I completed last weekend (there are 12 opportunities to run left). I’ll share my experiences from each one for anyone keen to try out some different ones, this year they will mostly be within an hours drive of where I live but I hope next year to explore a bit more widely!

Fingers crossed this challenge will help me to get back on track and find my running self again!

Wish me luck 🙂