Nur Krap Rewind – 25 November

It’s been a rum couple of days, and this is a rum heading for today’s post.

Yesterday Mr JCR and I decided to head up West, to buy some famous fruit based equipment. Walking into town about 4.30pm, we were passed by blues and twos, not an unusual sight or sound in London. A few minutes later, more blues and twos. Still not overly concerned we continued into town, and then noticed the pedestrian traffic was pretty much one-way, coming away from Regent Street and towards us. Some young women were clearly upset, almost everyone was glued to their mobile phones either talking or texting. Shops were closed, restaurants/bars/pubs/cafes shut and locked but with their clientele still inside. Then we heard snatches of conversation; there had been an incident at Oxford Street Tube Station and also at Selfridges.

We turned back home, making our way up Shaftesbury Avenue, when we heard two loud bangs, of course this noise caused a stampede and Mr JCR bundled me towards the side of the cafes/shops and we entered, by now somewhat alarmed, into a Wasabi store. The manager and staff were lovely and although evidently frightened themselves, invited us and many others in to shelter downstairs in their kitchen and upstairs, whilst they shut and locked the doors. As we now know, we were all involved in the ‘incident of the non-incident’. In fairness to the authorities concerned, it was handled very well and really considering what might have been, the disruption to London, was I think minimal.  A big shout of thanks to the manager and staff of Wasabi in Shaftesbury Avenue, who were helpful, friendly, calm and generous, supplying free water to those who wanted it.

After all this had settled down, we made our way towards Covent Garden to said fruit store, and then winding our way to the viewing table, were presented with a view of more anatomy than you expect to see on a laptop screen in public. Evidently we had hit ‘perv’s corner’, so Mr JCR told the staff, and the guilty person was warned about his viewing habits. In the space of a few minutes we had experienced I suppose, the extremes of human behaviour and instinct.

Another walk home via a pub, for a well needed gin and beer, and all was well in the JCR household. I’ve never been so happy to have been part of something that ended up being nothing at all!

Getting back to normality, we did the weather check – Mr JCR for cycling and me for running. Mmmm brass monkey’s weather was forecast, the usual layers assembled in readiness, because despite my misgivings I had decided (more or less) to revisit Park Run, hence the heading … Nur Krap, a spelling rewind of Park Run, not an obscure Nordic term for no rubbish! 🙂

Alarm set, Mr JCR out, I decided I would do the Park Run. I wasn’t as nervous, but still faffed a bit before getting out to go. Arrived at the Park to see frost on the ground and a man wearing shorts again. OMG is he crazy? I did my warm up walk and again skulked at the back. 9 am we were off, a similar number of folk as last time, again I tried to ignore the throngs and suffered the indignity of being overtaken by two men pushing their pushchair buggies as they passed me. I had a bit of a twangey leg this week, so wasn’t keen to push anything, first lap not too bad, but I think I set off a bit too fast, on the second lap I was tiring a bit. There was a younger lady runner beside me, she and I vied on overtaking each other – I generally was better up the slopes, she rocketed down them. But on the last leg up the hill towards the finish line, she got the better of me and motored out of sight, whereas I had the runner’s shame of walking about 15-20 paces I guess.

This time I finished 290th out of 315, vs. 312th out of 329 last time. My time improved, (despite the walking) to 33.16 seconds. An improvement of over a minute on last time here. So what do I think of Park Run second time around on my rewind? Some observations I think still stand, the volunteers are all lovely; the runners seem a nice lot too. I just don’t really like the crowds, I think I prefer the loneliness of the long distance runner.

In summary it’s Nur Krap, it’s a great experience if you want to acclimatise and run socially with lots of folk, especially if you’re thinking of taking part in races. I will pop along from time to time, not least because the slopes in Finsbury Park are a useful way of maintaining my hill legs, but I think I may run there in the same manner, that an Executive in my old company once memorably described…

‘Yes JCR, you may call me regularly, but not often’ and I think that will be how I do my Park Runs – regularly but just not often!

Playlist

She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult

Vienna – Ultravox

A View To A Kill – Duran Duran

New Moon on Monday – ditto

Save A Prayer – ditto

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me – Culture Club

Rio – Duran Duran

Purple Rain – His Purple Highness

Walk Like An Egyptian – The Bangles

Embarrassment – Madness

Stats

Distance – 5km

Time – 33.16

Elevation Gain 34 metres

Placed 290/315

Age and gender placed – 6th out of 6! (no improvement there!!!)

I Perv – Friday

1 Hero – Manager of Wasabi

0 Incidents and for that I thank heavens.

November 21 – Water, Water, Everywhere

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and certainly not a drop to drink. Today I am doing a canal side trek as a change to my usual City based route. On Saturday at the Finsbury Park ‘Park Run’ Hannah, a friend and one of the Park Run volunteers introduced me to her friend and workmate Quentin. He lives near Old Street and recommended running by the side of Regent’s Canal. Now he is an ultra runner – 50 and 100km runs not unusual for him, so I did have to explain that 10k is about my upper limit. But he was very enthusiastic about the joys of canalside running, and one stood out – the lack of inclines – true enough there are a few bridges and locks to navigate, but it’s mainly flat.

Off I trotted, up to Islington and dropped onto the canalside, straightaway there’s one thing I notice, the smell. Or rather the lack of traffic smell, so that’s a quick win, certainly not so many particulates clogging up the old lungs here. You do have to dodge the occasional canal-side clogger-uppers, that is folk walking two or three abreast, cyclists, and prams but it’s not too bad. I am aiming to get just past Victoria Park which I think is about 5kms away.

All the male runners are wearing shorts, I am somewhat over dressed in running tights and two layers on top, but hey ho, the red face gave plenty of warning of my approach to on-comers, especially near the ‘under-bridge’ sections. Getting close to Victoria Park I see a group of canal ramblers coming towards me and through a very low narrow under bridge section. Being in no hurry I wait patiently for them to come through – aha there’s about 70 of them. Lots said ‘thank you’ and I was happy with that, but then my polite mannerly mask started to slip, as Compo, Clegg and Foggy meandered somewhat slowly through, as I was cooling down, waiting for them.

It wasn’t the slowness that upset me, it was the fact that they managed to find something to see in the water, under a bridge, in a canal, in November. They stood three abreast and discussed this thing for what seemed like a full episode of Last of The Summer Wine. Eventually, they came out, by which time my blood pressure was higher than it had been and my temperature lower, and I asked politely if they were the tail walkers and they said yes. That was my not so subtle hint for them to say ‘thank you’ – they didn’t – bah humbug, who says it’s the young that are discourteous?

I carried on through, past the entrance to Victoria Park and then unfortunately the canal side was blocked, so I trotted back through the park and back home again. This of course meant circumnavigating the canal ramblers again, but this time I was in clear territory, whoosh loads of mini-overtakes and I was past. One lady trilled ‘runner coming through’ – that’s the first time anyone other than Mr Smooth has said that. Result!

I managed 11.5km in all, but was a bit tired and was channelling my Mrs Overall running style at the end, near my local fish shop. I stopped the clock, entered the shop and eyed up the dead fish. There was one glassy eyed Sea Bream, who looked like I felt.

The day however ended better than I could have imagined – at my usual annual MOT, my doctor told me my blood pressure was now perfect, having been borderline last year. Despite Foggy, Compo and Clegg doing their worst, they failed!

Playlist

Don’t Let Me Be MisUnderstood – The Animals

Stray Cat Strut – Stray Cats

I’m Free – The Soup Dragons

Take It To The Limit – The Eagles

All Together Now – The Farm

Money – The Flying Lizards

Dirty Harry – Gorillaz

Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime – The Korgis

Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard

Crying In The Chapel – The Orioles

Daydream Believer – The Monkees

Who Let The Dogs Out – Baha Men

Black Betty – Ram Jam

Can You Dig It – The Mock Turtles

Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Crazy Horses – The Osmonds

The Eye of The Tiger – Survivor

Hungry Like The Wolf – Duran Duran

Stats

Distance 11.53km

Time 1.26.21

Average Pace 7.29 mins/km

Elevation Gain 31metres – on a canal???

Old Farts – 3

Blood Pressure (now ) 108/52 or Perfect

 

 

Faffolino at Finsbury Park – 18 November

Can’t sleep, won’t sleep. This is my Friday night, for some bizarre reason I am nervous about doing my first Park Run. So what’s the problem?

I’ve tested the journey, so I know where to go

I road tested (almost) the course route, so I know the topology

I can run 5k, in fact I can run 10k, at a push 11k

So what is the problem? It’s just nerves I reckon.

Saturday morning comes, I am awake before the alarm (and as a perennial teenager when it comes to getting up, this is strange).

And Faffolino decides to visit – Mr JCR makes a very welcome mug of tea, so that gives me plenty of time to just sit and mull over the up-coming run. Finally, I decide to get up and at them. Wash, brush my teeth, get dressed, go to the loo. Change clothing as am worried it’s too cool and I haven’t got sufficient layers. Faffolino coughs and I decide I need to go to the loo again. Remove a layer of clothing as I feel warmer now. Faffolino sneezes and that reminds me I may just need to go to the loo again. Get back out and decide maybe another layer, a hat, a buff and running gloves would all be helpful.

At this stage I have visited the bathroom on at least four occasions and got changed/rechanged a similar number. It is time for me to take control, but one final faff, my Park Run bar code is just printed on paper. Maybe it is better if I stick it to a piece of card and put it in plastic, so it’s more robust and doesn’t get sweaty when I run. that’s my final faff, before I leave home. Ouch the cold hits my face and I feel happy I am all togged up, walk to Moorgate to get the overland to Finsbury Park, even though it is mainly underground. I’ve actually managed to get an earlier train in my concern not to be late at the park.

I arrive at the station (not the same one as my Thursday test run) and from what I can recall the park is just across the road, but I don’t see it so start walking and then ask a passer-by for help. Oh yes just like Thursday  – ‘it’s behind you’, somewhat embarrassed I work my way back and get into the park and go to the cafe meeting point. I am trading messages with Hannah who co-opted me into doing my first park run here. Yes, I do have my barcode, but then that gives me a whole set of faffing to do, as I can’t exactly recall which pocket I put it in.  Now I am thinking I need the loo again, so that’s more bloody faffing around… because I was a tad nervous I arrived really about 30 minutes earlier than needed and as a consequence, was not really warmed up. Then I along with other newbies got the newbie briefing, so I never did a warm up walk either.

Over 300 people lined up to do the run, with some good natured jostling at the front and a ‘shout out’ to about 6 people who were doing their hundredth run. I was determined not to get caught up in the atmosphere, because you can easily overdo it trying to keep up with every one, so I reckon it took me about 20 seconds to get over the start line, as I was right at the back, and I deliberately looked at the floor so as not to get ‘pulled’ along by the faster runners. I got into a pace and tagged along with a lady runner Sophie, who looked to be doing about the same pace as me, she wanted to beat 40 minutes, because that would be a personal best. I stayed with her for about half a kilometre or so, but I naturally was just a touch faster, so she was very gracious and told me to carry on. Coming up the first run of the big hill, I was overtaken by the eventual ‘winner’ who did the course in sixteen and a half minutes… now that is depressing, even though he was about 30 years or so younger! I carried on and finished a grand 312th out of 329, I thought I wasn’t so bad when I saw I came 6th in ladies of my age group, except there were only six ladies in my age group running.

The upsides of Park Run – it really encourages everyone, there were parents, kids, old uns, young uns and dog walking uns. The volunteers were all lovely, friendly and very helpful, everyone you passed encouraged you to carry on and applauded you. The ‘multi’ park runners, all were friendly and chirpy and there is a great sense of camaraderie. I met one lady who was doing her 99th run, her husband was a volunteer and her daughter was doing timekeeper duties, so there’s a definite sense of a running family, even in anonymous, unfriendly London.

The downsides for me are personal ones, I had been really happy with my running progress from the summer start to today and had been seeing how my times were improving. In Park Run you are graded by performance and although it isn’t a race and isn’t meant to be I felt that there was a ‘race buzz’ about. I thought I’d been doing okay and now find I am decidedly rubbish…, so that was a bit demoralising. Being passed by loads of Speedy Gonzaleses also made me feel a bit crap (it was worse being overtaken by dog walkers!!!). Having spent a lot of time telling myself that I am only competing with me, all of a sudden I felt as though I was competing with 300+ folk.

Running with people, also for me is a new experience, I think I am just a miserable old cow and truthfully prefer my own company when I run. But it was nice meeting Sophie on the run and I notice that she did beat her 40 minutes target, so maybe like learning to  run, I need to learn to run with people and that will help. If Sophie can beat her time and not get disheartened, then there must be a way of doing that….

Final lesson, the warm up walking is crucial, I missed out on that due to all my stupid faffing and being nervous, but next time I won’t need the newbie briefing, so can do my warm-up.

Am I a Park Run convert/advocate? – the tone of my writing tells me I am not. But then it took me a little while to get into my running rhythm when I re-started in summer; it seems to me I should give it another go, probably at the same venue, they are a lovely crowd, I know two of the volunteers already and met Sophie. I think it’s a mindset issue; how I tackle my solo running may not work when I am being a ‘Park Runner’.

But Hannah and Lorna and the other volunteers were fab, and they make fantastic cake too, I can highly recommend the banana bread – great crumb, in a Great British Bake Off technical critique.

So down to the nitty gritty

Stats

Distance 5k exactly

Time 34 mins 42

Placed 312/329

Playlist

Be My Number Two – Joe Jackson

Temptation – Heaven 17

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Talking Loud and Clear – OMD

Einstein A Go-Go – Landscape

Mamma Mia – Abba

Dreaming of Me – Depeche Mode

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Can You Feel It – Michael Jackson

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson