IPL Ian Giggs Beats the International Odds

By Paul Monaghan

Ian Giggs proved being the club’s IPL (International Parkrun Legend) is all in a day’s work.

Picture the scene. A bunch of us from the club have all planned to run the Tokoinranta parkrun in Helsinki followed by a boat at 1:30 to Estonia to run the Estonian Marathon the next day. Would it go to plan? Does it ever?

Giggsy’s a true parkrun ambassador for our club and his stats are nothing short of astounding. Over 500 parkruns in total which includes nearly 300 different locations spread over 13 different countries outside the UK including Australia, Singapore, New Zealand and North America to name a few. He also puts a lot back into the community by regularly volunteering at parkrun and other events. What he doesn’t know about parkruns is not worth knowing as he’s a born statistician. He also counts parkrun founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE (and his wife) as his friends. I’m almost forgetting that he also runs many other distances including marathons and has been a member of the club since a wee nipper.

Anyway getting back to the story at hand. The day before parkrun we decided to take a short boat trip from Helsinki to a small island called Suomenlinna. We were browsing Facebook during a quick trip to a brewery when we were confronted with the devastating news ‘ Tokoinranta parkrun cancelled’ Giggsy who’s face had been beaming throughout the trip now looked as if someone had just confiscated all his bar codes. Between us we tried to find a way to reach another parkrun in Finland, but the most easily accessible was over 100 miles away. We talked about catching an Uber cab, hiring a minibus and grabbing train at 6am. There was 6 of us and time was just not on our side. As our boat was at 13:30pm to Tallinn we’d calculated getting the train back would be a push to make it. The following boat was at 4:30 so there was a chance we’d miss the expo hence picking up our marathon numbers. All of us decided the gamble was not worth it.

Being an IPL means you’re made of sterner stuff. I can honestly say I’ve never seen Ian Giggs looking so sad, or was I getting sadness confused with a mass of calculations going on inside his head? The rest of us turned in that evening resigning ourselves to having to write it off and just enjoying Estonia. Or so we thought, as one of us had different ideas.

At breakfast we texted him to find out when he’s be joining us. No answer. We tried again. Could he have? No, never we thought, even Giggsy is not that crazy. We couldn’t contact him and he did not turn up for breakfast. Then have a guess what pops up on Facebook? Only Giggsy posing behind the Tampere parkrun sign.

He’s actually done it. We still couldn’t get in contact and it would soon be time to catch our boat. We eventually caught it at 13:30 and there was still no sign of him. Just before departure Caroline had took a picture of me from the stern  looking towards the port with the caption ‘Waiting for the IPL Mr Ian Giggs. Will he make it?’ She’s barely put her phone down (actually she never does, but that’s another story 😊) when who was standing behind us? It was none other then Giggsy. Against all odds he’s not only ran a parkrun over 100 miles away but also manged to catch our boat. He was now on schedule  to be able to also run the marathon on Sunday also. To say we were pleased for him was an understatement. A rapturous applause followed. Unbelievable!

And this is what he did:

  • Woke up at 5am.
  • Ran to train station a mile away with luggage.
  • Caught the train 6am to Tampere.
  • Arrived 8:30 after a 2 ½ hour journey.
  • Ran with luggage to Tampere parkrun start.
  • Ran the parkrun in 22 mins.
  • Found a fast fast coach back to Tallinn after chatting to locals.
  • Ran to coach station with luggage and caught coach with 2 mins to spare.
  • Arrived back at Helsinki around 12:40.
  • Ran 2 miles to Ferry port with luggage.
  • Caught the boat with mins to spare as final boarding was at 1pm.

What separates the greats from us mere mortals is that they will sometimes go with their gut instincts rather than following or trying to please the masses, no matter what hand they are dealt. He’d made a risky decision but pulled off a Royal Flush. And to that I take off my hat. Well done Giggsy!  A parkrun legend if there ever was one.

 

Jargon Buster

Ever wondered what the various terms used in describing training sessions mean? Here’s a quick guide.

5k (10k, etc.) pace
The pace at which the athlete could run a 5k (10k, etc.) race at that particular time (taking account of fitness, conditions, previous races, etc.); not the PB they ran over that distance a year ago! For most athletes, 10k pace will be slightly quicker than threshold pace, while half marathon pace will be slightly slower.

Buddy parlouf
Essentially, a relay for two athletes; one runs, then hands over to the other and recovers while the other runs, and so on.

Cool down
A period to gradually return the body systems to normal after the training session. It will generally consist of a jog followed by stretches.

Cooper test
A popular test for estimating VO2max; it consists of running as far as possible in 12 minutes. The coach will call out the time left after every lap. (Other similar tests are also used.)

Crocodile
A session where the group runs in single file, with the back runner sprinting to the front, then signalling to the new back runner to do likewise.

Drills
Exercises designed to improve running style and/or dynamically stretch the muscles to be used.

Fartlek
From the Swedish: “speed play”. It consists of alternating periods of fast and slow running – not sprinting and jogging.

Magic numbers
Like a crocodile, except that after running to the front, the runner chooses who should go to the front next by calling out a number.

Pyramid
A training session in which the reps vary in distance (or duration) – either increasing then decreasing again, or vice versa, or maybe just increasing or just decreasing.

Recovery
A period to recover from the previous rep; often this will involve jogging slowly for a given distance or time.

Rep
Short for “repetition”. A single training element that is to be performed with a reasonable amount of effort (which should be specified), defined by time or distance: for example, 400m at 10k pace, or 1 minute at 5k pace. Reps may sometimes be referred to as “efforts”. It will invariably be followed by recovery.

Scorpion
A rep in which the last part (often 100m) is to be run faster than the rest – in other words, it has a sting in the tail.

Set
A group of reps and recoveries, for example 4 x 400m at 10k pace, 1 minute recovery. There will be a longer recovery between sets than between individual reps.

Target 5k (10k, etc.) pace
The pace at which the athlete is working towards running a 5k (10k, etc.) race. Be realistic and discuss with your coach!

Threshold pace
The maximum pace at which the amount of oxygen used in exercise per second  is equal to the amount of oxygen taken in in the same time; the maximum pace at which the athlete can maintain a steady breathing rhythm. An athlete will be able to maintain this pace for about an hour.

VO2max
The maximum rate that the athlete can take in oxygen from the air and transport it to their muscles, usually specified per kg of body weight. It is a measure of cardiovascular fitness and endurance capacity. Often estimated by the Cooper test.

Warm up
A group of exercises to prepare the runner physically and mentally for the training to follow. As well as jogging, it will often include drills.

Friday Track Schedule

Friday Track Schedule/Track Friday

Friday night sessions are for runners of all abilities, i.e. target splits for runners of 10 minutes per mile to seasoned 5 minute milers. Sessions are laid out in the schedule but if you prefer to do your own session you are more than welcome, just make sure you do not clash with the main group. We welcome runners who just want to have a social jog around the outside of the track within the safety of the facility. If you prefer training tailor made to suit your personal needs, just ask the coach in attendance for advice and they will assist you. This is a friendly and safe training session.

About 4 times per year we also have our special Track Friday evening.

Greek Island Retreat and Sore Feet

Crete Marathon Long Weekend 2019
By Paul Monaghan

Because of budget and time constraints it was necessary for Myself and other half Caroline Jackson, Pete ‘The Train’ Morris & Martin ‘Bushy’ Bush to fly to the Crete island capital Heraklion for the marathon which is based in Chania and a 2hr 45 minute coach ride. We’d be flying back from Chania the following Wednesday, so the most difficult part was getting there.

We had this worked out so we’d make it easily in time for the Chania expo which closed in the evening at 8:30, however we didn’t bargain for and hour getting through passport control and then getting off the wrong stop on airport bus to coach station. Anyway 2 hours later than planned we caught the 3:30 coach to Chania, there were no loos on board so it meant no drinks could pass our lips. Pete Morris brought on board an empty drinks cup to be on safe side. Thank god he didn’t use it especially whilst trying to hold his phone in the other hand.

The journey itself was picturesque as we were travelling through stunning mountain ranges and along the coast, though we were feeling really parched and in bad need of a drink. Not ideal prep for marathon the next day.

We got off the coach with about two hours to spare so decided best to head to Expo before checking in to our hotel. The Expo was held at the Kucjk Hassan Mosque which is the oldest Ottoman building in Crete and was a great sight. It’s on the sea harbour which in itself was impressive but typical of a Greek island. There was also a lighthouse on the sea front which made for quite a few good photo opportunities.

Inside the Mosque was a photo exhibition but Bushy looked far more impressed with his free towel and t-shirt in the goody bag. He prob has enough towels himself to dish out to every runner and enough marathon t-shirts to clothe the island, but that’s never stopped him collecting them (I won’t go into his medals)

We finally got to check into our hotel which was great as we had a roof terrace. One thing I never knew about Crete is there’s an ice tipped mountain range within sight, so it made for a great view from our terrace, mind you saying that, it was 25 degrees in the UK at this time but only 18 in Crete. Always nice to think you’re getting money’s worth weather wise but guess we’d missed out this time. A case of unusual high temperatures back home.

A pre-marathon Torch carrying relay was due to finish at the marathon start area so we headed in that direction to see what it was about and also hook up with some 100 marathon club pals. As we arrived there were about 15 torch carrying toga wearing guys just entering the area. After a pose for pictures they lit an Olympic style cauldron which was an impressive sight especially as it was at night. After a few speeches in Greek a band then started playing. It was an amazing buzz that got us right in the mood for the next day

Whether it’s placebo effect or not, I think it divides opinion but regardless we headed to an Italian restaurant to carb up for the next day. Easy enough for Caroline, Pete & I, but Martin ‘Bushy’ Bush always has a few issues with food and is quite happy just eating chips. He’s also not a big fan of cheese so pizzas usually need to be minus the

cheese.  Anyway, he ordered plain pasta but the waiter brought it and explained how the chef had covered it in a lovely spicy tomato sauce he would enjoy. WRONG!! That was not all, his garlic bread then came with lashings of cheese WRONG!! Poor old Bushy had to send 2 dishes back but by this time we were eating at 10pm. Luckily Caroline & I were not taking this marathon serious and would run together taking pics. London was looming so not a good idea to push yourself the week before. Anyway, Bushy was finally happy and it did give us all a few laughs. I kind of like chaos especially on holiday, so right up my street.

The next morning was the marathon so we were up early and grabbed a bit to eat before our 10 minute walk to the start. But hey, where was everyone? The place was empty except for about 20 officials and runners. We spent the next 45 mins in and out of the loos as was a novelty not to queue for a change, so decided to take advantage. Then 20 mins before the start about 400 runners turned up, definitely not quite as laid back as we’re used to but a refreshing change. That was not all, as at 9am race start time there was about 10 mins of passionate speeches (all in Greek of course) as 400 runners all raised their right arm. I’m sure I heard the words TeamJackMon, Bush & Morris mentioned but I could have been mistaken. Anyway, 10 minutes later than scheduled we were off.

The scenery on the route was something else as it started along the coast, though not many supporters as guess they were busy getting ready to support the kids 10k which would start in 4 more hours.  Caroline & I decided to run together, take this easy and enjoy, and that is exactly what we were doing. It was an out and back route and before we knew it Bushy was overtaking us.. For him no magnet shops or photos during race today for some reason. The sniff of beating us may have been a factor 😊. We eventually saw Pete who looked far more interested in his phone then the scenery. Must be some phone, that’s all I can say.

It was an out and back route and support gradually improved as we hit the towns. Mind you so did the traffic and became almost unbearable for us during second half, though must add that the marshals did an amazing job controlling it under the circumstances, and with a smile.

We were having fun running this but eventually all must come to an end. The last few miles were really undulating and to our surprise during last mile or so we had the kids 10k runners all walking along the same route to the finish line, It was a nightmare getting around them and if you were going for a time it would be out of the question. However, the finish was a party atmosphere despite the congestion, and we were glad to eventually finish running in intense heat. I’d recommend this marathon for the scenery and atmosphere but if you’re seriously thinking of a time then probably not ideal. Bushy had managed to finish before us and had a great run considering how many marathons he’d just ran. Pete was also not that far behind us and told us he really enjoyed the course.

The next day we stayed in Chania and decided to visit the lighthouse via a route paved with broken rocks. This was nearly as difficult as the race but great fun. After we struggled to reach it we clocked a group of local ladies who must have been older than the rocks, sitting near it. As far as I can gather, they must have had jetpacks hidden or had perfected the ancient Hellenism art of levitation (should have asked for tips for next marathon)

 

No trip to a Greek island would be complete without a boat trip and Captain Nick with his glass bottomed vessel was glad to oblige. It was choppy and cold at sea that day, but he went out with around 10 of us regardless. We even all had a go at steering the boat. Pete Morris managed it with one hand whilst holding phone (I’ve recommended a surgeon who may be able to detach it from his hand) and taking selfies in the other. Got help us if we had of hit a storm. Even in the cold-water captain nick swam out and attached bait to the bottom of the glass so we could witness some cool looking fish feeding. We had the option to swim but Pete said his phone may leek, so we gave it a miss. Besides, it was not the warmest of days.

Nice local Greek restaurants are plentiful in Chania especially down the side streets. It’s real friendly 5-star service. If tacky British bars on every corner aren’t quite your thing or you prefer a more cultural trip, then Chania in Crete delivers, even if it does have its fair share of tourist souvenir shops. We found it similar to Seville or San Sabastian if you’ve ever visited. We even had Martin trying stuffed vine leaves rather than his usual chips, so I guess that says it all.

Will we be back? I love the Greek Islands and will find any excuse to go especially if there’s a marathon. We plan on returning to Rhodes next year, if only for the awesome pre marathon pasta party, but I’m sure we’ll be back to Crete soon.

If you fancy joining us on any races abroad then visit are Runners on the Road section on our website or give Caroline & me a shout.  All are welcome.

It’s Back to Back to Cyprus

Paphos & Limassol Marathon 2019 Week Report.

By Paul Monaghan

We’d last ran Paphos in 2015 and ran Limassol marathons a few times over the years but one thing we never expected was that in 2019 they’d each announce their Marathons within a week of each other. As Caroline’s parents live over there this was a perfect excuse to spend 10 days away and run 2 marathons.

After arriving we checked in at a great hotel called Nereus it seemed tons of runners were also staying there. We got chatting to a couple at the hotel bar, the guy Clive had his eye on the big win so we chatted about marathons we’d done for the rest of the evening before being sensible and calling it an early night.

The Paphos marathon expo itself is a a lovely area next to Paphos castle & the beach and near the finish. To anyone new to the race it’s an impressive area and soon gets you I the mood.

Race morning we made our way for the coach pick up as we’d be transported about 20 miles to Aphrodite’s Rock where the marathon would kick off as this was an out and back course. I’d previously ran this in 2015 but what surprised me is just how much this marathon had grown. Three coaches were there in 2015 but this time there was a queue of about 10.

You have to be there to appreciate the start. Aphrodite’s Rock area is just stunning and as it was sunrise it looked even more spectacular. A sight to behold.

We eventually started, and although being stunning there was the slight problem of a Kilometre up hill to contend with. Caroline shot off but I knew at that moment it was not to be my day. A great race but support is sparse amongst many sections of main road leading to Paphos town. I found myself running solo on some parts but about 12 mile in at an out and back section I spotted fellow 100 marathon runner Adam Holland leading the race by a serious margin.

Many runners seemed to struggle with the heat but Adam Holland took first in 2:35:03. Our pal Clive from the hotel came 5th in just a few seconds over 3 hours. My lady the other half of #TeamJackMon Caroline Jackson managed 3:53.

The best part of this race is the awards ceremony. They gave out lots of age cat prizes which many of our pals picked up. Caroline only just missed out on the vet female 40. Free beer was flowing as well as a local DJ. Our friends and fellow RRs Stephen & Julie Wing had a good marathon and also joined us at the end.

Did we rest the following day? Erm not quite as we walked about 8 miles to and from Tomb of The Kings which was a welcome quiet day.

A couple of days later Caroline & I joined the local Cypriot running club West Coast Runners for about 10K around Paphos. Was one of the highlights of our stay as they were a great bunch, we’d meet some of them a few days later at Limassol marathon.

 

Next port of call would be Caroline’s parents in Pano Lefkara for a couple of days before heading to Limassol. A can was needed for this but as usual for us we were ill prepared which meant us walking around Paphos for a couple of hours to get the right one, one back alley place we ended up by accident was a used car, car park with prices sprayed on the windscreens which we decided may be worth giving a miss, luckily we found a great Europcar garage that gave us just what we needed.

Caroline’s parents as always were great as hospitality & food were in abundance, not to mention the bottomless wine carafe her dad always produces. I really do need to get myself one of these. Pano Lefkara is up in the mountains and a stunning typical Cypriot village that specialises in linen and has managed to keep it’s culture despite the tourist buses that frequently visit. I’ve been close on a couple of occasions to buying a set of curtains whilst just going for a loaf.

They have a local running track at the village which in our wisdom decided to do about 20 laps on in the 25 degree heat. It was empty so we had it to ourselves, we even managed to  collar a local old lady to grab a few pics though 5 minutes later she returned with curtains and a few table cloths.  We did eventually manage  enjoy a ice cold local beer after our track & linen dodging session.

It was eventually time to leave Caroline’s parents so we drove to Limassol to check into our second hotel. This was slightly more out of the way from the marathon start but had great views from our balcony.

We managed to get in a few tourist sites including Kolossi Castle and the brilliant Kourion archaeological site whilst in Limassol which required a lot of walking, not really ideal for our marathon in a couple of days but well worth the visit.

The expo on Friday was a quiet affair but the pre-race pasta party was a different matter. They’d put on the entertainment of Greek dancers doing their balancing glasses on the head routine. As the sun was setting this was great fun but the lack of lighting meant we couldn’t see how many glasses were on his head, still I’d lost count after 15 anyway. The Cypriots know how to put on great pre and after marathon shows which seem to lack back here in the UK.

Marathon morning was buzzing, as the race starts parallel to the beach surrounded by Palm trees. With the DJ pumping out tunes, this really is a mega experience. Caroline was recognised by some of the organisers as she’s won the 2015 Marathon so there was quite a few pics taken though no autograph hunters I’m afraid .

 

Before we knew it we were off. This year the race was in waves for the Marathon, HM and 10K meaning there was no congestion as in previous years. I was feeling a lot more up to it then at Paphos the following week so shot off at 7:15 min mile pace though just 1 mile in I had a case of the runs so shot into nearest loo. Caroline also seemed to be on better form as I didn’t catch her until 20 mile in when after seeing me she found some competitive energy to leave me for dead. This is a great course though support can lack in places. The heat and hill at about 15 mile make this tough but the scenery and atmosphere more than compensates.

I came in at just over 4 hours which was 20 mins faster than the previous week. Caroline also finished faster. Can never really run your best in these hot climates but these races were as much about the holiday as running.

 

After the obligatory #TeamJackMon video and a few post drinks it was time to celebrate in the evening at the Guaba Bar who organise the official race after party. Live bands, DJs etc play well on until after midnight. It would be rude not to indulge so we did the decent thing by singing along to cheesy tunes and returning to our hotel long after the door had been locked.

Cyprus as always is a great island to visit as so much more to do besides running, but take my word for it, It’s far more fun if you run. It would be rude not to.

Marseille Marathon 2019 Run Report

Report by Andrew Butler.

Had a good first day, picked up the race numbers at the race village. Very easy, nothing much going on there in particular, got a customary shot in a Roadrunners top, spotted our names on the entrants wall for a couple more selfies etc. Free T-shirt (in what are apparently Marseille colours) picked up. Looking at the mountains of Tee’s for 10km and half runners, a slight concern on the much smaller pile of shirts for Marathon runners. Noticed there was no proper course map in the bag, or race magazine, nor were there little country flags on the bibs as there is at some races.
Spent the day chilling out, didn’t end up sleeping in the day as per the original plan. Found a good Pasta place for the customary pre-race Pasta.

Back at the hotel for an early night, but then sadly woken up by our ‘Neighbours’ about 2AM. Managed to get back to sleep but it was hardly ideal prep.
Left the hotel a little later than planned and walked down to the start (this time we hadn’t ‘pre-walked’ the route). Arrived to find the organisers had provided a woefully inadequate number of loos (about 10 near the marathon and half start, and with the marathon, half & 10km about 13800 runners (!) Made it but meant we were a bit frazzled at the start, having just about navigated to the right start pen, the only directions given in very fast French (and again something that could be solved by printing it out before hand, as happens at many races.

For the race itself, I was looking for the 345 pacer, so we pushed through the pen to find him, only too later see he had moved back in the pen. Pen was a mixture of marathon runners and half marathon runners.

Off  we went, having the half runners with you for quite a bit of the route, making pacing harder and emphasising the need to ‘run your own race’. For myself things went largely according to plan, was happier when the half marathon runners split off; less happy with a park we had to run around with two big ‘out & backs’ in, and after that the two hills, both on the coast road.
Was running well then came back through the city for the 2nd Lap, at about 16 miles or so… Then there was a large group of apparent runners, hundreds of them high fiving me as I went through…(which gave me a lot of energy)..I had been thinking, that’s nice of the finishers to high five, then I noticed they were in a pen, and the 10km course car ahead!
The 10K runners were then chaotically released just behind us! This caused me and the few other marathoners around me quite a bit of trouble; first we had to move out of the way of the course car & motorbikes, with the quick runners for the 10km just behind. It was a real rhythm breaker, and a bizarre, and frankly idiotic way to organise a race, and caused us to need to run on the far left hand side, plus caused more pacing issues.
Just about recovered from that and then it was time for the marathoners to split off again, into the lovely park, with (somewhat confusingly) a different route to run it in (but including the two hated out and backs).

Was still feeling quite good on 20/21 miles as reasonably on target and a good 300 minutes ahead of the 345 pacemaker. Once we started the coast road, it was time to ‘merge’ with the masses from the 10km field. This caused no end of trouble, with some of them running back down the course the wrong way, stopping suddenly, fiddling with phones and getting in the way by stopping for selfies. Had my rhythm broken at least 4 or 5 times and had to keep running round people which was quite chaotic in the narrower bits (forced to jump into curbs, pavements, traffic Islands). Was struggling slightly but still overtaking the 10K runners when at about 25.2 miles I was eventually overtaken by the 345 pacer. This was slightly heartbreaking as I think I could easily have made that pace without the 10K runners  in the way; and he  went past in an area where an unnecessary course car basically forced me to stop, since I wouldn’t get round it in the narrow cobbled streets of the last mile. In addition to the 10kmers, one man at one point blocked the marathon route in his car and argued with a fellow runner (in French) then shouted at me, cyclists and scooter riders where someone on parts of the course (sometimes going the wrong way).

There was sadly more chaos at the finish as was still trying to pass people all the way to the line plus there was no way of immediately getting water.

A chaotic and badly organised queue for medals formed in the small finish area. I only got the finishers bag (which is quite nice tbf) because they happened to be getting a box out when I went past. Eventually I found the water, so took 3 bottles to make sure. Wasn’t feeling too smart at the end; possibly as a result of energy gels and/or too much water.

On the course, for a hot day (about 20 degrees by finish time) there was insufficient water for the marathoners (not too much of an issue personally as I was wearing my race pack).
Having said all that, I did manage to finished with an 8 minute PB though  would have been nice to hit 3.45. To be honest I’d been  aiming/hoping for 3.40 but it just wasn’t to be on the day.

I did really my time in Marseille. Hotel excellent, good food and  lots to do. Nearly 10 miles of the race where on the coast which was really nice, and the flights here a lot cheaper than the other marathons we were looking at. The bag, medal, and T-shirt are nice, you can stay near the start and Port Vieux is a really nice area, especially near the start zone.

I’d have to only give a 4 out of 10 for the race. Good marks for the pretty route. The day before was well organised, but not enough water stations plus the 10km started just behind us causing chaos during the route and at the finish  A shame because these things are easily fixed.