Monthly Archives: April, 2013

New Year Resolutions…in April!

Not possible, I hear you say.  the New Year doesn’t start then so this is wrong. Well my New Year does, 14 April is my birthday and it is a very significant year.  Although I have already retired, and I have my senior bus pass, at the end of this year the government will be giving back to me some of my hard earned money in the form of a pension.  Today I enter my 65th year.  When better to make some resolutions?  Actually it is that is wrong; they cannot be resolutions, more aims/targets because to some degree they are not as controllable as are New Year Resolutions, they can only be what I am hoping to achieve.


1 Complete 50 to get the red 50 top

2 Run in under 23min Achieved on 18 May


3 In 50min Achieved on 16 June

Half Marathon

4 In 1:50:00
5 In 1:35: 00 to qualify for the New York Marathon (strange that you can qualify with a half marathon time)


6 Complete my first Achieved 10 November The Athens Classics Marathon
7 In under 4h
8 In under 3:55:00 to qualify for the Boston Marathon

Which of these are likely?  In order

6 All things being equal, almost certain?

1 This should be OK.  To date I have done 11 Parkruns, so only need another 39!  Easy I hear you say, as with the extra runs there are at Christmas and New Year (and mid-summer?) there will be at least 55, so I can miss 16.  This will depend upon how many holidays out of the country  I take (I will be surprised if this doesn’t include 4 Saturdays) and how many other official runs I do, as I am unlikely to run a Parkrun the day before (my a week before a marathon); so far I only have 2 booked but I will be surprised if I don’t do at least 6 in the 12 months.

4 My most recent time in Marseille was officially 1:54:05; there were issues with the timing and I recorded 1:53:29.  The run included a section where we walked for about a minute because others didn’t want to run through  puddle.  Many other runners also suggested the distance also was not  correct, I measured it to be almost 100m long.  These 2 factors suggest a time close to 1:52, and because of injury the run was done with little training over the previous 3 months.  So the target is highly achievable.

7 This is the aim for many first time marathon runners.  The required pace is 10.55km/h; I have maintained more than this for 35k when not specifically training for a marathon, so I have to believe it is possible.

8 Requires 10.77km/h, if I can get under 4 hours I can get this.

2 At present my PB is just under 25min, but I have yet to run in anything but mud with lots of water making it hard going.  I’d be disappointed not to achieve this. Update. 1st Parkrun of my New Year, knocked 52s off PB, so now just 65s to go to achieve this.  Marvelous how a lack of mud helps! Further update. 5 parkruns into the year, 4 PBs and the ‘resolution’ achieved with a time of 22:58.  Feeling good after a my half marathon PB last weekend as well.

Although I don’t enter 10k runs I should do as part of my marathon preparation.  This target will involve running at 12km/h and my Parkrun target required 13.1 km/h.  But I don’t go in for ‘quick’ running… Did I set this target too low? On my first official 10k, RunThrough Wimbledon Common, on 16 June I ran 49:06:7.  It was Father’s Day and my daughter ran with me, rather than attempting to better her PB of 41:51 achieved the previous week. I can genuinely say I would not have achieved the time without her, and it certainly proved the point often espoused that having a partner to run with makes a difference. Although she didn’t actually bully me along the way, she did encourage me at the times I was suggesting I was suffering! And I proved to myself that you have to be prepared to push through the fatigue barrier when the running gets ‘difficult’. The run was even more pleasing as I had run 30k 7 days earlier and I wasn’t sure if I had recovered sufficiently to run at a good (for me) pace.

5 Not a hope!!

Of course the key feature to achieving any of these is staying injury free.


Run Costa Rica


The beach at Manuel Antonio at sunset


A sloth, very easy to run past these!

Whenever I travel abroad the first items on my packing list now are my running gear.  Of course that obviously had to be the case for 2 of my recent trips, the half marathons in Jerusalem, and Marseilles, but when organising for Costa Rica my running shoes, socks, shorts and top where first in the bag.  Because a lot of the holiday involved early starts (I actually out of bed before 6.00am for 14 consecutive days and I cannot remember when I last did that – ever?) either for excursions or to move on to a new resort, I realised running was not be the first activity I could expect to do.  In fact it wasn’t until day 10 when we were at Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast that I managed to put the gear to use. Even then it was only for a 4.5k run along the beach because we did have an early morning forest walk organised, but it was enough.  The temperature was in the mid 20s C when I set out, and as soon as the sun came over the palm tress (just after 6.00am) the (my) temperature rocketed and running became very hard work.  I started out a few minutes earlier the next day (even I found it difficult to justify getting up before 5.30am on holiday) and managed almost 6k before the wall of sunlight hit.  But just running along a sandy beach (albeit in trainers, as previously in Zanzibar I had ‘shredded’ toes when running barefoot) was so refreshing after months of the Riddlesdown Parkrun mud!

It was however my third and final run while away that was an amazing experience after we had moved back to San Jose in preparation for the flight home.  We had originally been allocated a hotel near to the airport, but decided that with a 4.55pm flight, if we stayed in San Jose we would be able to explore the city in the morning.  We ended up a couple of km from the centre, very close to the new national football stadium which is at one end of La Sabana Metropolitan Park.  One of my first impressions of San Jose, on our first morning in the country (a Thursday) at the beginning of the holiday, had been the large number of runners we passed in the outskirts of the City as we were being driven out to Volcano Poás; before arriving I had no the idea that running was so popular in Costa Rica (why should I have had!)  But even this experience had not prepared me for my run in the La Sabana Metropolitan Park.  We had visited it the evening before, a Sunday, and it was clear it was the equivalent of Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York, filled with families enjoying the usual hot weekend.

Marker post

Marker post

One of my first observations was a small wooden post about 30cm high clearly having a function other than to trip up unsuspecting tourists.  My astute eyes, more use to picking out potholes and mud patches, soon noticed more of them, forming a winding trail through the trees, maybe just a sensible way to make sure the whole area didn’t get trodden down?  But soon it became clear that the main users of this trail were not families but the occasional runner.  Great, I thought, a route to follow tomorrow.  A bit further through the park, it was actually after 6.00pm and dark, an actually running track appeared (the middle used for roller hockey); maybe I could also use this next day?


Running trail


Running track

So before 6.00am on Monday morning I set off for my individual San Jose ‘Parkrun’.  My first positive experience was when the driver of a huge truck, the kind you see on films that drive long distances on highways through the US ‘deserts’, stopped for me.  I wasn’t trying to dart through a gap across the road at the corner of the park, as I normally would if there was a long stream of traffic, I was just waiting with the only vehicle on the road, this lorry, to pass.  But it was inside the park that the real revelation took place.  At such an early hour, on a work day, there were 100s of runners, some using the marked trail but most others running along the many paths.  CaptureAnd the actually running track was crowded with both serious club runners and enthusiastic ‘amateurs’ like myself.  If this wasn’t a big enough surprise, scattered around the area were tables with water, other hydration drinks and even fruit, all of which appeared to be free.  I was disappointed that I only had time for a 7k run as I needed to get back for breakfast and our brief walk around San Jose.  It was on this that I realised why the park was essential for the runners of San Jose city.  The pavements are terrible and the curbs the highest I have seen anywhere, totally unsuitable and unsafe for walking, never mind running!


Large, deep hole in the middle of the pavement


Pavement obstacles

We walked through the park at midday when the temperature was in the high 20s C and there were still plenty of runners (not workers on a lunch break). I wanted to come home with a San Jose running top, but of course the shops that sold kit only had the logo-ed tops you can get anywhere where the world.  I did spot a runner with one in the park and spoke to him; I don’t have much any Spanish, and him no English, which made it difficult  but his top was from the 2012 10.5k run in the city and he won’t have wanted to part with it whilst I would have been a fraud to wear it!

When I make my list of top 10 places to run, La Sabana Metropolitan Park, San Jose, Costa Rica will definitely be one of them. Pura Vida.