The Winsome Run

a running blog


Portobello parkrun

I love autumn, I love the clear blue skies with a chill in the air, the lengthening shadows, and most of all the colours. And since parkruns usually occur in parks, and parks usually have trees that blaze in autumn colours, I particularly love parkrunning in autumn (sometimes parkruns occur on playing fields – these are less alluring, even in autumn). Yesterday’s visit to Portobello parkrun did nothing to convince me otherwise.


Arthur’s Seat from the start line of Portobello parkrun

Portobello is Edinburgh’s second parkrun.  Held in the oddly skinny Figgate park, it is into its sixth month. The course is 3 laps along a tarmac path, round a pond and along a burn (creek) with several bridges to cross. The path is narrow in places which is really only a problem for the first 5 minutes until the pack stretches out, though if the run grows too much it may cause problems for the whole event.


I started towards the back of the pack, not too bothered by my time, but after a little while I realised my pace had crept up towards the 9 min/mile mark so I decided to try to maintain it. I had once again failed to find a toilet before the start but bafflingly this turned out to not be an issue (how can this be so unpredictable? ) and managed to stay on track for a sub 29 minute run. I thought it was going to be faster, but the finish line was further away than my watch predicted – my watch is a known liar.
My 15th Scottish parkrun done (of 20).

After the run I headed off in search of Breadshare, a cooperative bakery featured on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme a few months ago. I came away with a walnut sourdough cob loaf, almond sweet roll and a very yummy brownie. All in all a successful morning out!


Walnut sourdough for lunch




Ayr parkrun

On Saturday I returned to my quest to complete all the Scottish parkruns with a trip to Ayr on the south west coast of Scotland. I had planned to run this course during Janathon, but discovered minutes before walking out the door that it had been cancelled for several weeks – I went to Edinburgh parkrun instead that day.

Ayr parkrun is held in Rozelle Park which forms the gardens of a former country house with a trail course that skirts the boundary of the park, forming a shape that reminds me of a boxer holding gloves up to celebrate victory. I completely failed to read the course instructions so was surprised to discover that the first arm is actually completed twice! 

Though not particularly hilly, the mud, tree roots and gravel mean this is not a parkrun for a fast time – and this is my excuse for my time of 32+ minutes though I suspect the slow time was more to do with me also failing to find the toilet before the start of the run. Despite my time I still managed to finish 29th – my highest ever overall placing – woot! 

Yes. It was also the smallest parkrun field, what’s your point?

It was a gem of a parkrun however the highlight of the morning was when at the start line I was approached by a man who asked if I happened to be an Australian runner. “Why, yes, I am” I replied, trying to work out what I could possibly be wearing to give me away. But no, he had found this blog when researching Eglinton parkrun, and recognised me from the photos! This is without a doubt the first (and most likely last) time I will be recognised from my blog. So thank you nice man, you made my day 😊.

I have now completed 14 of the 20 Scottish parkruns. When I set myself this goal in January 2014 there were only 12 parkruns in Scotland, their expansion shows no sign of slowing down, so it looks like I will have blog material for some time to come.




Strathclyde parkrun with Abradypus

A few weeks ago I had a DM on Twitter from Abradypus; Ultra runner, blogger, ‘Athoner and parkrunner extraordinaire. She was planning a trip to Scotland and did I want to meet up? I certainly did and offered her a bed for the night prior to a trip to Strathclyde parkrun. 

It is possibly weird offering a bed for the night to a complete stranger but fellow bloggers are not really complete strangers are they?! I don’t think so and to prove the point I had no trouble spotting Louise when I met her at the station, even though her skin was not quite as yellow in real life as it is in her Twitter avi.

We headed to Strathclyde parkrun this morning. My last visit was in January 2014 and provided my first lesson in parkrun tourism: Always carry warm clothing for after the run. Today, however, it was mild and overcast but dry. Louise paced me for the first 2/3 of the run, asking me questions that I strongly suspect were more to test my effort level rather than satisfy her interest in the difference between physios and occupational therapists. I couldn’t keep with her for the last third, but I still took a minute off my previous Strathclyde time.

Apart from it being lovely to meet Louise in person, she has re-sparked my enthusiasm for parkrun tourism and I have started plotting my tours of the last 5 Scottish parkruns still to be crossed off my list…can I manage it before the end of the year?

Abradypus and me (I need to practise standing up straight)


Juneathon Day 27 – parkrun

One hundred metres into this morning’s parkrun and I thought “I really hate parkrun”. Today was my 60th parkrun, so that thought was either a lie, or I am very good at convincing myself to do things I find repugnant. 

So, maybe I don’t always hate parkrun, but I didn’t love today’s run. Based on my almost PB a fortnight ago, I had had high hopes for today, but it was not to be: I felt a bit off and it was sunny and warmish. I even forwent the run home when I was offered a lift. In the end my time was 28:07 which is not too shabby.

It was a quick shower once home and back out the door to meet up with a friend and her baby for a walk. We ended up back in Victoria Park and had an icecream and talked to the ducks, swans and coots (I think coot chicks have got to be the ugliest chicks around).

Juneathon Day 27 – 4 miles running and approximately 4 miles walking.




Should I panic?

Yesterday, during the 3rd and final lap of Victoria parkrun, as I rounded a corner, I landed on the outer edge of my left foot and twisted my left ankle. It was the same ankle and in the same way that I twisted it five weeks ago, though this time I managed to stay upright. My ankle hurt and I limped up the hill, wondering if I should give up but realising that my friends were at the finish line, so I may as well cross it and get a time – however woeful. I broke into a pathetic jog with a slight limp, crossed the line, then got a lift home.

I spent the rest of the day with my foot elevated and intermittent icing and pulled out of today’s jog leading. This morning my ankle is barely swollen and I can walk on it fairly easily. Range of motion into inversion is limited and it’s a bit sore.

I should feel relieved (I do feel relieved) but I also have that sinking feeling that precedes the onset of panic:

On the one hand I feel like a complete wuss: I’ve read your blogs, I know what kind of injuries you all run on. A barely swollen, easy to walk on foot? I should have run that 12- 13 miles today that I desperately need to fit in.

On the other hand, I had never before twisted my ankle and now I’ve done it twice in 5 weeks. The first time felt fine and I was running on it within a few days, though it has been stiff (when inverted) ever since. What if it happens again?

The panic? In six weeks I have a half marathon. A trail half marathon. In the Lake District. And this is what the elevation profile looks like:

Coniston Trail Hal Marathon

Coniston Trail Half Marathon

In comparison to my half-marathon last year, I’m under-prepared, and that was a flat race! I ran 11 miles 3 weeks ago, 10 miles 2 weeks ago (though this included a club run so had some faffing for 15 minutes between mile 3 and 4). Over the next 5 weeks I need to fit in 3 or 4 good long runs, with at least some of them on trails, preferable hilly trails! All manageable, as long as I have a functioning ankle.


Aberdeen parkrun

Aberdeen is 150 miles north east of Glasgow, a 2 hour 40 minute drive. Now call me a lightweight, but I’m not getting out of bed on a Saturday morning at 6 am so that I can go to one of the two parkruns in Aberdeen.

An overnight trip was required.

By happy coincidence one of my friends has an Aunt in Aberdeen who works in a quilting shop, that has a long arm quilting machine. Debs wanted a lesson on the quilting machine, I wanted to run at parkrun, so we headed up yesterday morning.

Is it weird that I took a day of annual leave just to do a parkrun?

I chose the slightly closer of the two parkruns, Aberdeen, starting at the Bridge of Don Nature Reserve, a couple of miles north of the city. The run is an out and back course along the esplanade: The ‘out’ heading towards Aberdeen on the upper esplanade path, with the turn around taking us down to the lower path for the return.


Lead runners returning on the lower path

After a week of gorgeous spring weather across Scotland, it came to a wet and windy end over night. Despite what it looks like above, it was not actually raining, though the North Sea was still making its presence felt. I had stupidly forgotten how cold Scotland can be (I have a very short memory) and did not have gloves with me, so spent half the run not able to feel my fingers. This was good motivation to get back into the car as quickly as possible, though the head wind on the return slowed me down to finish in just over 28 minutes.

We were staying at a Travelodge which has a 12pm checkout, so I returned and showered before we headed out for brunch (pancakes with bacon and maple syrup), followed by a wander around Aberdeen. We continued being tourists on the way home with a stop at Glamis Castle, childhood home of the Queen Mother.

I arrived home at about 7 pm, and realised that I had not received my results email. Hmmm. I checked the results page and at 28 minutes there was a blank. Aaaarrggghh! 300+ mile round trip for NOTHING!

After a brief panic, I sent a polite email to the organisers at Aberdeen parkrun and they very kindly amended the results. Phew!

So that is my 13th Scottish parkrun in the bag. As of next Saturday there will be 18 parkruns across Scotland: It seems to be that the more I do the more I have to do! Nevermind, such a great excuse to visit new parts of Scotland.





parkrun joy

Two weeks ago I ran Victoria parkrun in a time of 27:29, just 7 seconds off the PB I set in July last year. I may not have scored a personal record but Victoria parkrun did with a record attendance of 270. I didn’t need to see the official numbers to know that it was busier than usual: I had started from my preferred position towards the back and was surprised to find it very slow going for the first quarter of a mile, with a tightly packed field of runners. It probably took me more than 7 seconds just to cross the starting line.

So I have had my eye on that PB since, turning down a chance to run at another, much hillier, parkrun this morning. I also learnt from my mistake and positioned myself towards the front. It was perfect spring running weather: dry, cool but not cold and almost sunny. 

Starting towards the front with the fast runners always risks going out too fast, which I did but quickly settled into an 8:30 minute/mile pace. The second mile saw the onset of gut grumbling and I began to wonder whether I might need to make a choice between a toilet stop and no PB or a very embarrassing PB. I decided not to panic and ignored the grumbling a bit longer before it thankfully went away. 

The last mile hurt but I kept my pace to around the 8:50 min/mile and started doing basic addition in my head to work out my time…Yes, I could have just looked at my Garmin, but adding it up distracted me from the pain. I managed a sprint finish (well, it felt like a sprint to me!) and crossed the line in…

26:43!  😀

My weekly interval or hill sessions are starting to pay off and I now have my eyes very firmly set on that sub 26 minute 5k. 

Happy Easter everyone!