The Winsome Run

a running blog


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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

 

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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 ūüėä.

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.

  

  


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Inverness parkrun

My goal to run all the Scottish parkruns in 2014 has been on hold since June as marathon training mania took hold. However¬†since I would be¬†going all the way to Inverness for a Sunday marathon,¬†it seemed silly not to go for an extra night and tick the UK’s most northerly parkrun off my list.

Inverness parkrun is held in Bught Park, on the west bank of the River Ness. Initially I had planned to drive to Inverness so did not bother with the location of my B&B in relation to the parkrun or marathon start, but by some happy coincidence I discovered that I was staying less than half a mile from the parkrun, which was the same park that hosted the marathon festival, bus pickup point and finish line. Perfect!

The parkrun is 3 laps of the playing fields, so on the upside it is flat, on the downside it is a bit boring, at least it is fringed with tress that were beginning to display their autumn foliage. The course had to be altered slightly as the marathon festival had taken over a chunk of the park, invading the usual route. And it was not just the course that the marathon festival had invaded: Of the 95 runners on Saturday, 36 were Inverness first timers!

Inverness parkrun

Heading to the start line

So I’m back into the swing of parkrun tourism and Inverness brings my total to 9 of 14 Scotti…hang on SIXTEEN SCOTTISH PARKRUNS! When the hell did Ayr and Hazelhead arrive on the scene and why didn’t anyone tell me?!

Hmmm, not so sure I’m going to make all the Scottish parkruns in 2014 after all :-I


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Camperdown Parkrun

A 6:30 am alarm on a Saturday morning, an 83 mile journey in pouring rain, just to run a parkrun, when there is one less than a mile down the road from my flat. It sounds completely mad! However I’ve set myself the goal of running all the Scottish parkruns and I’m determined to see this through.

Dundee is on the outer limits of a reasonable day trip for a 9:30 am start (Scottish parkruns start at 9:30am!) and  the local parkrun is in Camperdown Park, a country park to the north west of the city. The course is mostly on unpaved paths and passes through open parkland and wooded areas. It is a challenging run with a half mile uphill section at the half way point and another hill to the finish line.

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My only expectations were to enjoy myself and to not regret failing to find a toilet between leaving home at 7:30 and the start of the run at 9:30. Thankfully I succeeded in both: the rain held off and the snow drops were plentiful, the park lovely and the locals friendly and chatty. The chance to run off road was also a very pleasant change.

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There followed a change of clothes in (what I thought was) a remote car park, with strategic pauses while dog walkers passed and got in and out of their cars and put their wellies on. Jeez some of them were slow!

I then found my way to the centre of Dundee and wandered around the McManus Museum and Art Gallery and then had a well earned toasty and hot chocolate in a local cafe before driving back to Glasgow. There was a heart sinking moment when I discovered that I had lost my parking ticket, but the man on the other end of the help button was short staffed and friendly so let me through the gate for free.

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parkrun tourism? What’s not to like!

Scottish parkruns: 4/12 done


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Strathclyde parkrun & the end of my dry streak

Today saw the true start of my parkrun tourism as I ventured for the first time outside the four walls of Glasgow to Strathclyde Country Park. The parkrun route is an out and back course along the edge of the artificial Strathclyde Loch.

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It was wet. It was very wet (except for the middle bit where it actually stopped raining for awhile). I live in Scotland so it is really a miracle that I got to this point in January without getting wet on a run!

There were lots of rowers on the Loch as well as the usual loch inhabitants.

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The course is along a tarmac path that is quite narrow in places but the only congestion was at the start of the course, with the group needing to spread out on the sodden grass.

I started at what felt like an easy pace and just aimed to stay with people until the turn when I started to find myself overtaking people. One man I passed with less than a mile to go asked where I got the kick at the end from. I replied that I start very, very slowly! But actually when I checked my garmin just now my pacing was very even throughout with mile splits of:¬†9:37, 9:28, 9:28 and 8:31 for the last 0.1. My official time was 29:59, which doesn’t tally with the splits, but never mind.

It was a picturesque course (ignoring the traffic roar from the very nearby M74) and one that I might have to repeat in sunshine.

Stats: 

Running – 49.45 miles

parkruns – 3/12 Scottish parkruns and my 10th in total

Happy Burns Night (and happy 5th Birthday to my niece, Esther), I’m going to a friend’s this evening for vegetarian haggis neeps and tatties. Yum!