Come in, Number A624157, your time is up…

The start of the year has been a bit of a washout.

Not so much the weather, though that has been poor by any standards. I am referring to my own meagre efforts at training.

Since the ‘Lock Up The Year’ half-marathon on New Year’s Eve morning, I had managed one 5k trot in the local park, and one swim. I then had a miserable head cold which paid a visit to all the family. I wasn’t exactly bed-ridden, but it left me with no great desire to run.

This morning, I was feeling a good deal better, so decided to do the local parkrun at Castletown. It was a cold start to the day, and I arrived a little late so the warm-up routine was somewhat abbreviated. And as I discovered halfway around, the course has changed.

Not for me yer fancy wristbands! Oh no… This is the unironedman way. Office laminator, hole punch and safety pin, plus a quick dash of the yellow highlighter.

It is no longer a simple two-lap course, which is fine on two counts: firstly, the original course seemed to be about 5.1k long. Not a disaster, but certainly for those with a keen eye on the minutes and seconds, that extra bit could equate to half a minute. Secondly, the revised course includes more of the paths that make this location so attractive. The only downside is you no longer pass the magnificent façade of the main house, and the last stretch to the finish is slightly uphill. But these are minor details. Parkrun is still a wonderful example of everything that’s good in the world, and it can only happen with volunteers. If you don’t currently do a parkrun, find one. If you do already, volunteer. If you do that too, then you, sir or madam, are a legend. I doff my beanie hat to you.

There is a certain palindromic numerical convergence going on today. I have finished in the 20+ places a good few times. 22nd twice (today, 23rd). My first time at Castletown was 22:22. Today, my time was 22:22. I ran a 22:22 back on 25th January, 2014. And it was my 22nd parkrun in total since I began running them back in 2013. 31st of August to be exact, when I clocked in at 24:06. I have steadily shaved off a few seconds here and there, and my current PB (set in Griffeen in Lucan) is 21:31 in October of last year.

I’d love to get that under 21 minutes by the end of the year.


There was one landmark moment for me, which happened in May of 2014. I had completed 8 parkruns and had not managed to dip under 22 minutes. I also had another target in mind. Back in 1980, at school, when I must have been 12, I ran a 5k race in 22:09. My parents still have the little A6 card (rather faded) certificate on the cork board in the kitchen. I have no idea what condition the 12-year old me was in those days, but I know I was fairly keen at running, and had a few plaques and medals from various community games over the years.

They do say parkrun is really a run against yourself. So I guess a 48-year old me is entitled to chase down a 12-year old me (though I was a couple of years younger when I reached that particular milestone).


Anyway, as they say, it’s all about the pace, ’bout the pace, no trouble. So I have put together a really simple chart. Use as you wish. There are lots more of these online, with a lot more detail. I just wanted a simple one. I hear a lot of runners saying things like “yeah, just did a 6 miler there, knockin’ out 9 minute miles…”

I generally work in kilometres. That’s simply down to the way I have SmartRunner set up on my iPhone, which I don’t use much in any case. I don’t own a Garmin.

Hopefully, this marks the end of the sniffles and muzzy heads. By the end of the month, I shall be in possession of a training programme for hardman.

That, as they say, will put manners on ya’!

7 thoughts on “Come in, Number A624157, your time is up…

  1. I love the Parkrun idea. Unfortunately I don’t get to attend as often as I’d like to due to my husband’s work commitments and lack of childcare. I was incredibly proud of my first Parkrun back in September after doing the C25K program over the summer. I’m now training for the Derby 10K in April with some rather lonely runs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You were a speedy little chap!

    I have to admit that I’m a bit of a parkrun obsessive – I’ve run about 170 and have volunteered over 50 times (mainly because I was Event Director at Southampton parkrun for a long time, although I’m now just a Run Director).

    It’s not always easy to follow the racing line at parkrun, but as you said, those extra few metres can make all the difference between getting a PB or not. I ran a race this weekend – my first in a while – and the difference between the race and a parkrun was immediately apparent. I could hear the sound of footsteps all around me and a few people’s laboured breathing, but the sense of community engendered by chatting wasn’t there. We were all trying to do the same thing, but were so focussed on getting a good time that no energy was wasted on talking or admiring the surroundings. (Not a criticism of either, just an observation).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is an impressive performance. I think we’ve got some future Olympians at Southampton parkrun – watch out for three brothers Mahamed, Abdi and Zakariya Mahamed. They’ve already been competing nationally in their age groups and last year as a 14 year old, Zakariya finished in 15:33 (which gave him an age grading of over 91%)!

        Just purple volunteering, red 50 and black 100 t-shirts for me – I’ve a way to go to get a green 250 one 🙂


      2. Wow, so there is a 250 T-shirt! I have a LONG way to go so. My head hurts thinking of 15 minute 5ks. I could it… on a bike. And to think some do a marathon at that pace as well…

        Liked by 1 person

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