Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for park run

London Running – Take 3 (or first-timer at a park run)

I registered for park runs several years ago when I first learned of them from a British blogger. For anyone unfamiliar, park runs are free timed 5K’s run entirely by volunteers. They are not about racing, but about running for everyone. Each park run provides an accurately measured course and timing to allow the runner or walker to compare results against themselves over weeks or years.

So far, we have only a couple of park runs in the USA. Although none near my home, a runner need register only once and you are set to run a park run anywhere they are held. I registered with the organization and received my initial sheet of bar codes. Since receiving the bar codes, they have been sitting in my miscellaneous running folder. I thought to pull them out to travel with me to London.

London was a great location to experience my first park run. Since there are more than 100 park runs established within the 32 boroughs of London, I had a wide selection to choose from.

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I decided on one about five underground stops from me. Convenient, and I liked the sound of the name: Putney Green. The Putney Green stop is only a few blocks from the Fulham Palace Park RunThe 5K takes place in Bishop’s Park near the Fulham Palace, home to bishops since 700 (yes, that’s right – 700).

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River Thames near Putney Green and Bishop’s Park

The course is two and a half laps around the park, so runners are running along the River Thames for a distance three separate times during the 5K. One of the runners informed me that this portion of the river is the site of the Cambridge University Boat Club and the Oxford University Boat Club  boat races, renowned in Britain.

Several hundred runners turned out for Saturday’s park run here. A friendly group, as are most runners around the world. I was putting in a medium hard effort but wanted to enjoy the run and the running company, having done a number of solo runs the previous couple of weeks.

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Runners find a queue to get their bar code scanned to ensure their time results.

With a total of 340 participants at this run, finish times were in a wide range, Several runners at the front of the pack did sub 18-minutes, with first place at 16:48. There were a number of walkers and several families running together. I fell somewhere mid-pack with a time of 27:07.

Along with the clock time, results also show each participant’s age-graded percentage, a nice plus. Within a couple of hours, participants received an email with their time and place. My email came with a nice congratulation on having run my first park run. If I do more park runs anywhere in the world, those results will be available along with my results at Fulham Palace.

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Following the event, runners were invited to join others at the Drawing Room Café in the Bishop’s Palace. The café offered a selection of coffees and teas along with wonderful pastries and artisan sandwiches. Although the interior of the cafe was lovely, so was the day. That brought most of the post-run group to outdoor tables overlooking an expansive green.

The park run morning offered an opportunity to visit a borough of London I had not yet seen. When and if the opportunity presents itself, I will return for the friendly company and historic sites that are a part of everyday life.

If you get a chance to do a park run while traveling anywhere, take the opportunity. You simply need to register with the organization prior to participating and remember to bring one of the bar codes (you will receive these in the mail after registering) with you.

I look forward to hearing about your next park run, especially if it is your first.

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A Year of Running and Writing

September of 2012, I touched the “publish” button and with that simple action my first blog post was released.

English: birthday cake

Happy 1st, stillarunner Credit: Wikipedia

My expectations were to make contact with a few senior runners who I could learn from and who may be interested in my quirky training methods, my running travels and attempts at eating well.  The pleasant surprise was readers from 40 different countries and interest of runners from all over the world, and all age groups from beginners to elite runners.

In addition to runners, I’ve found – and been found by – bloggers who are incredible foodies, fashionistas, philosophers, photographers, cyclists, triathloners, every combination thereof, and just really good story tellers.

To celebrate my blog birthday, my gift to readers is a list (12 for 12 months of blogging) that I look forward to seeing appear. Several bloggers opened my eyes to before unknown activities, such as:

Park Runs –  Am I the only runner who hadn’t heard of these?

parkrun logo

parkrun logo

They are 5K runs that take place at the same locations weekly, usually in parks.  Park Runs are timed events, free, and open to everyone of every ability.  They began in the UK in 2004 and have since grown to include runs in seven countries, including the USA.  Thank you Run, Hemingway, Run for the introduction to park runs.

Gravel Grinders – Never heard of them?  Me, either, until a few posts from CultFit, a Midwestern philosopher athlete who broadens my awareness with every post he writes.

Credit: Chris Locke

Credit: Chris Locke

Gravel Grinders are distance bike rides – or races – that take place on gravel roads, generally in the Midwest but spreading to other rural areas.  Reading about the rides with minimal support, minimal traffic – the occasional farm machinery or animals crossing the road, may encourage this just-the-basics, fearful of traffic, timid cyclist the whif of adventure to think she could do this.  It’s on the possibility list for 2014.

Triathlons that include horseback – Hadn’t heard of this either, but now I know.  No, this isn’t on the list for 2014, but it was on the list for Chasing The Blackwood Marathon. This athlete’s writing clearly conveys her love of the outdoors and her beautiful country.

And what more have I learned?

That I can go to Move, Eat, Create and find recipes that are healthy and as delectable to the eye and the taste buds as any food site I have found.

That I am susceptible to being pulled into the triathlon world by Triathlon Obsession, Ashleystri and nonblogging friends who are just as obsessed as these bloggers.

That the reviews of All Seasons Cyclist can be useful for this infrequent cyclist. His blog is a great place to browse if you’re thinking of adding to your gear.

From my blogging friend Red Hen , I learned that humor in writing is a wonderful way to share your running escapades.  I vicariously join her on training runs along the craggy coast near her home.

One of my earliest readers, a strong ultrarunner and the writer of Mind Margins, has reinforced my knowledge that real toughness comes when life throws us stuff that no training plan could contemplate.

And finally, I’ve found – or they found me – three photography blogs that are great for armchair adventure and relaxation after a tough run:

Patrick Latter’s hiking photography,
Sethsnap‘s whimsical photos of mostly rural Ohio, and
Merilee’s haunting black and white photography at thegravelghost.

Thanks for being with me this year and I hope you enjoy some of my reads I’m sharing.

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