Can I thank Strava or should it be Park Runs?

Well no blogs for months & now I plan two in a day. The more important one will follow this one but first I’ll get some of my running trivia out of the way.

Well I’m still on Strava & drinking plenty of coffee from my Xmas present mug emblazoned with ‘If it’s not on Strava it doesn’t count’, thanks for that Becca!

I have to admit that Strava & it’s world of Kudos’, Local Legends & comparisons with others has continued to have an influence on my running. My weekly mileages are averaging more than normal (if you exclude the high mileages of Lock-ups) & I am taking on more hill climbs that I would usually avoid such as the CyB’s infamous ‘Sting in the Tail’ & ‘Plummit’ (in reverse in the latter’s case).

This combined with a renewed commitment to the Dolgellau Park Runs (16 out of the last 17 having only missed Christmas Day when I opted for my usual pre-Goose 17 miler in the CyB) have recently brought some rewards. First up was my first Park Run ‘win’ 5 weeks ago which I was able to replicate a couple of weeks later in decidedly wet conditions. The reality of both is that neither of my times were great so it was more a case of who didn’t turn up but as they say ‘a win is a win’ & both were very satisfying. That said last week I came 5th but in my second fastest time of recent months missing a pb by just 6 seconds (20:17 to be precise).

Sandwiched between the two ‘wins’ was an appearance in The Nick Beer 10K, an excellent race around the Great Orme in Nick Beer’s memory, it being the races 30th Anniversary. I was pleased to beat my pb from 2018 & also to place 3rd in my O. 55 age group (admittedly two O.60’s also beat me). Some days later a rather neat little trophy turned up in the post, a very pleasant surprise, small things can mean so much.

My highlight of the past few weeks though was taking part in the Anglesey Half Marathon last weekend, the reason was threefold:-

Firstly a week before the race I found out that a good friend, Janet, & her daughter Katy were coming over from Yorkshire to take part so we would get the chance to meet up for the first time since Covid. Imagine our pleasant & very co-incidental surprise that as I parked up an hour before race start who should park next to me but Janet & Katy allowing a very pleasant walk to registration.

Next & by now running quite well as we headed through Beaumaris towards the finish I looked up to take in the glorious view on a bright morning across the Menai Straits & into the heart of a resplendent Snowdonia. As another runner drew alongside me all I could say was ‘It doesn’t get any better than this, does it!’, he agreed, we would later shake hands at the finish not caring if that was allowed or not.

Thirdly I crossed the line in 1:30:21, more than 2 minutes faster than my 2017 course pb & my fastest Half Marathon for over 6 years, feeling the beneficial effects of the Park Run a day earlier still flowing through me. Sadly my body’s tendency to turn from very warm to very cold post race meant there would be no hanging around for Katy & Janet but at least Janet had spotted me mid-race as I made may way back to Beaumaris allowing us to wave & cheer each other on. Back at the Cafe I would soon discover I’d finished 51st out of nearly 700 & better still had won my O.55 age category by nearly 5 minutes having also held all those demon O.60’s at bay too.

My Angel & the Cafe girls gave me a very warm reception before putting me firmly back in my place on the Pots for almost the entire afternoon, before Eric, Katie & David (part of the Becca clan) came to my aid by giving me the excuse to join them for a fully caffeinated coffee.

The weekend had one final surprise in store, as Dorina & I arrived home that evening Dorina spotted an envelope by the front door. Unbeknown to me a Dolgellau Park Run associate, Tony Hodgson, who had also been racing earlier (we had also met before the start & Tony then secured 2nd place in the O.70’s in a very impressive 1:48) had stayed on for the Prize Giving & had the good grace to collect my prize & drop it off on the way home. Thank you Tony, which I hope to be able to say to you in person at tomorrow’s Park Run, very kind of you & sums up the very best of the running community.

So should I thank Strava or should it be Park Runs for recent successes albeit they are marginal in the world’s wider context, well of course I should really thank Ashley Charlwood & his team of Park Run volunteers for continuing to stand out in some at times quite appalling weather, their cheers & support simply is exceptional. Also a thank you to all those giving Kudos to me on Strava, these little motivations are much appreciated.

My next blog will give an update on Reach Out for Nepal, so watch this space it should hit the screen later today.

I won’t mention my back but not all is good in my world at the moment(:

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