parkrun 42 and 43

As previously posted I am slowly making my way to 50 parkruns by the end of the year. Last weekend and this weekend mark off numbers 42 and 43 in this moderate ambition.

2016-07-09 16.21.14Number 42 was at Stratford-upon-Avon. A lovely place where I do not spend enough time watching Shakespeare. Hmmmmm. That’s not a sentence you would usually expect to find in a post about running. The course is flat and it uses a route which has you running near the Royal Shakespeare Company – but it is laps. Three laps. As I have no doubt mentioned before I hate laps. Overall the time wasn’t too bad, my first sub 24 mins in a while. As only myself and another club member were running we caught the train up from Birmingham to Stratford which made a nice change and we were able to get one with ample time, although as the trains back were every hour the return was a little closer to call.

2016-07-16 11.01.53Number 43 was at Conkers parkrun. This was a mix of canal and trail. Quite a nice route as it was an out and back (or lollipop as one of the club members referred to it). One short sneaky hill quite near the start and a bit of a steeper hill later in the route but a gradual downwards route after that so you didn’t really notice you were running back down. More importantly there was the possibility of getting a bacon roll at the end in the cafe and you can’t grumble at that (unless your vegetarian, or vegan). Also the large tea was quite cheap… Ok back to the running talk. I actually enjoyed this one but I thought I had ran another sub 24 but didn’t, it was 24:09 despite feeling I had pushed quite hard. Of course that could be because it was actually quite muggy. Definitely on the list of potential returns – but there are many more to get first. On that note…

This was also my 15th different event. If all goes to plan then I will not only reach 50 parkruns by the end of this year I will also tick off 20 different events – which is another achievenement. Continue to watch this space



Reaching 50: in parkrun terms

I rarely run parkrun. In part because my local one is in a park almost all my runs use. Mainly it is due to predominantly volunteering at parkrun so others can run. However I have 10 runs to 50 so have decided to do most of this by touring – not running my local parkrun. I also want to try and tick off ones I’ve not done before. Essentially for me it has become more about running different routes than get high numbers of runs.

And so today was parkrun #41 – the first run towards 50


Victoria Park parkrun (Belfast). So the quest to complete the next 10 runs to 50 in six months begins.  I was a little excited as it has a bridge to a trail for part of the route. Sadly construction work meant it was a three lap route instead, and I hate laps. However it was a nice park, a bit of an odd location (half way to the airport). Talking yo their RD they have on average 240 runners and the best brownies in the world (I didn’t stay for a brownie as I needed to get the bus back).

Not sure of my time but the position token said 35. I may have misread it but I overheard someone say they are 10th at around 22 mins so this could be true…

Tourism done. I actually ran a parkrun and despite it being laps it was fun

Post results update 


I’m not actually sure how to start this post, but in saying that I start to write and the words begin to flow.

As always when hearing about attacks as we’ve seen in the news recently there is shock, disbelief and grief. One strange quirk of mine has always been to hold a rather dubious stance towards public grief (a side effect of studying some of the Social theories around morality of Western society resulting in a more questioning position). And so this isn’t a post about my feelings over the atrocities in Orlando but my anger on the fall out.

There was no anger until this morning when looking at Twitter to discover Owen Jones has walked out of the studio during a paper review. His issue was that the presenter and other guest were portraying the attack as one against fun and Western life – making a parallel to the Paris attacks. They were both less willing to accept that this should be viewed solely as a homophobic attack. Despite Owen’s efforts to explain why this should be viewed as such they continued to try and play down the LGBT angle.

The writing out of LGBT people in the narrative being offered was offensive and just wrong. The frustrating thing was to effort that seemed to put into side-lining the claim that this was a specific and intentional attack on LGBT people. The association with Paris may have some similarities but misses a fundamental difference. The Paris atrocities were an indiscriminate attack on all Western people. The intention was to create fear and terror regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or any other social division. The Orlando attack was a discriminatory attack. It was an intentional targeting of an LGBT venue to kill LGBT people. The comparison with Paris can only hold out so far.

But the really frustrating aspect of the debacle of a paper review was the reaction to Owen’s comment at this point – an intentional attack on LGBT people which the presenter suggests is not the case it is an attack on people who want to have fun, to which Owen responds, it is not and he cannot accept the point because he is not gay. The presenter states his sexuality is immaterial to the understanding the debate and issue – but this is ignore the point Owen is making in the build up to this standoff.

LGBT people have had to fight and suffer for recognition and rights. Many in the older LGBT community carry the scars of those battles. Many of the younger generation carry different scars. The ignorance that Owen is trying to highlight light is about the experience and perception of LGBT people. We are still “muttered” about. We are still bullied and abused. We are still discriminated against overtly and covertly. We still have to “come out” with the fear of the unknown and unanticipated reaction of everyone in our personal and work lives. Just briefly reflecting over my own life since I was 18 I have been spat at, had drinks thrown at me, had glasses thrown at me, had abuse hurled at me, had people look and point over in my direction because I am on a date with someone who is a bit camp. I’ve seen protests against my lifestyle from people I don’t know. I’ve read news story after news story about LGBT people killed because of their sexuality by governments as well as people who take offence to gay lifestyles. I’ve been told its a phase, its a choice, its an illness. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973. The UK only recently legalised gay marriage – and there are vast numbers of countries (and US states) that refuse to do that. The legal age of consent in the UK only changed in 2000. Alongside these more overt challenges and changes we still live in a society predominately shaped by and for heterosexuals which often in subtly and implicit ways promotes the dominance of heterosexual lifestyles – if this wasn’t the case then there would not really be a need to “come out” – to declare yourself as different.

But this is starting to enter in to a wider debate and discussion. The point is that the newspaper review illustrates something that remains fundamentally abhorrent – the writing out of LGBT people from their own tragedy. The demeaning of those lives lost of people who were able and willing to stand out as different. If we are to be intolerant of homophobia in its overt form we should also be intolerant of its insidious forms – the more subtle, discursive ways in which apparently reasonable arguments can be made as to why this was not an LGBT tragedy. To do otherwise demeans the battles for equal treatment that have been fought and one and those that still go on. Equality in law is only one victory – the hardest to win is the one of social and cultural norms. That fight continues. It will find new strength in the wake of Orlando but it requires that we resist the narratives which seek to suggest that this was anything other than a direct and intentional attack on a group of people because of their sexuality.

Back to running: update 1

I have not been updating for a while due to Spanish classes, work and more work Back with a running update soon but until then a delayed Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll race report

So at the suggestion of a friend from my club I entered the race weekend and glad that I did. This was probably my first two races in two days – the 5k on Saturday and the half on Sunday. Having never been to Liverpool it was an ideal choice and as I soon found out my inner medal slut was soon to be satisfied like a baby eating bacon for the first time (search it on YouTube)

My hotel ended up being better quality than my usual selection – although behind two night clubs…

Thus after a limited amount of sleep Friday night I ran 5k. It was quite nice but as always announcer guys were really, I mean *really*, annoying me. I believe we were told about 8 times every five minutes that we were live on Facebook.  NOBODY CARES!

The 5k wasn’t too bad. Usual brutal dash despite saying to myself don’t run too fast with a second race the next day. But since when do I listen to myself!? Time was 24:13 so a good time for me considering current fitness, injuries, lack of training in the month leading up to the race.


Saturday I then explored the city. Note to self, go back and explore more.

Saturday night – adjusting to the night clubs managed a few hours sleep.

Sunday. It was hot. Before the race. During the bulk of the race. Towards the end it cooled down before getting hot again. Running around I realised I was starting to love running again. Time was 1:58 which us the fastest half in a while – a sign of reduced knee injury I hope although mile 8 it started to hurt and was worse by mile 11. A very nice route but not only did I get a second medal – I also got a remix medal for doing the double.

The medals are heavy, pretty and mine.

But why the delay in report? I was missing from the official times 😰 First time this has happened but I emailed in with my self recorded times and it’s all sorted now. YAY!

Policy chiefs urged to make financial education compulsory in primary schools

Primary school children should receive age-appropriate lessons in financial education to encourage positive attitudes towards budgeting and savings, according to new research published today.


In an age of contactless payments and in-app purchases, the report ‘Financial Education in Schools: Two Years On – Job Done?’ commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People (supported by Young Enterprise), makes eight key recommendations that aim to ensure schools equip young people with the skills to manage their money well.


Among the proposals, drawn up with the help of experts from the University of Birmingham’s Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM), Professors Andy Lymer and Peter Davies and Dr Lee Gregory,is a call for:


  • Statutory financial education for primary school children and a better focus on real-life contexts in Mathematics and Citizenship lessons at secondary school
  • Ofsted Inspections be extended to the provision of financial knowledge and skills
  • Schools to use Pupil Premium funding to strengthen their focus on financial skills
  • The Department of Education to embed financial education in the new Initial Teacher Training framework
  • Financial services organisations to offer “significant” funding for financial education initiatives in schools
  • The UK to participate in the OECD’s evaluation of financial literacy in 2018

Following the introduction of statutory financial education in English secondary schools in 2014, the six-month cross-party inquiry, chaired by Suella Fernandes MP, examined the current impact and effectiveness of financial education.


The report stated: “Understanding how to manage money well remains a key life skill that is required for all aspects of adult life… Yet despite this, the UK still faces a significant financial capability challenge, with young people affected in particular.”


The report called for financial education to “start younger” and recognise the role that primary schools can, and should, play in familiarising children with money concepts in an age-appropriate manner.


“Financial education should not be a ‘postcode lottery’, with some students left out simply due to the school they attend, which is why we recommend that statutory financial education is introduced at primary level,” the report stated.


Professor Andy Lymer, Director of CHASM and Professor of Accounting and Taxation at the University of Birmingham, said: “Getting the right foundations in financial education is more important for young people today than it has ever been. Evaluation of what works when educating children about finances is critical to aiding further enhancement of this provision. CHASM is delighted to have supported the development of this report as it fits closely with a key aim of the Research Centre in supporting all aspects of financial education development. ”


The report will be launched in the Houses of Parliament later today. A copy of the full report can be found here:


Notes to Editors:

The University of Birmingham’s Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management (CHASM) aims to provide a focus for world-class research on financial security; financial inclusion, financial capability; and wealth taxation.

Running lull

So since the marathon the running his died back a little. I have maintained my beginners group but that has been it. With the knee pain I wanted to be careful until it was checked by the physio and I could start “fixing” the issue. Before I realise it, three weeks have passed (now almost four) and I suddenly had a 10k race! This was my first ever race and first ever 10k a few years ago and so I decided to run it each year. It currently holds my pb for 10k from that first race (injuries have been nearly constant in one part of my body or another about four months after that first race) and so it is the one to beat.

So realising that I had a week before the race I had to get some running in – so the training was essentially one 9 mile run broken into sections – run to club (2 and a bit miles), slower run with my beginners for the last time (4miles they have gone beyond the 5k now!) and the original plan was the bus home – I missed that and was able to run home quicker than wait for the next one so another two and a bit miles. Not ideal training but I’m sure it would be enough – this year I wanted to complete not be speedy.

Race day starts with junior parkrun volunteering – just timing today not run directing and it is so easy! Saturday I had timed at Parkrun for just under 700 runners. Whilst it was our biggest juniors to date (106) it was a nice easy task. Thankfully the race was in the same Park so a dash over to race HQ, shed a few layers of clothes and quick warm up just in time to start.

And of course I ran faster than planned, the knee then started to play up and I was stuck between race mentality and sensible mind. There was no compromise – it was just run fast. Consequently a faster time than last year but still a few minutes slower than the PB – but a sub 50 mins and an excellent finishing photo


But the passion for running is still missing.  It is still a psychological battle as in the back of my mind the knee issue still makes me reluctant to run. Fortunately the physio assessment has been done and we have a way forward now – thankfully no actual damage to the knee. So hopefully resolution is on the horizon. I do have a half in a few weeks so need to psychologically prepare for that more than I need to physically prepare I think. Running a half post marathon isn’t intimidating anymore but enjoying it may be a bit elusive at the moment

Post marathon “rest”

So with the knee playing up during the marathon the self-referral form has finally gone to the physio (ok a few weeks later than it should have gone, but it has gone now), I am currently on a running rest. Now before you say/think “typical runner”, allow me to explain why I have run twice.

DSC_2219First of all they were no longer than 5k. The first, on Thursday was 2 miles and the second, on Saturday was 5k. Second, I ran because, through my running club, I set up a 5k and beyond group (essentially a couch to 5k and 5k to 4 miles group) and we reached our 5k point this weekend. We usually run on a Thursday but we link the 5k to parkrun and then go for a post-run breakfast. This is a great way of getting the team engaged in a running event but also celebrating their achievement. I also ask for volunteers from my club to run with the group, to buddy up, so they are supported in achieving the hardest hurdle of any running activity, completing the move from non-runner to 5k runner. Naturally I am pleased to be able to announce that they all did it! Unknown to them they also get a club medal at the end to celebrate their achievement. So I had to run the final training session on Thursday before the 5k on Saturday. This week we run another 5k on Thursday as we move up to the beyond stage and I will soon start merging them with some of the runners from my Sept-Dec group who have their own 4 mile group on a Thursday (see beyond is not just distance but also turning them into runners!). So with luck the two groups will merge into one and they will all keep on going.

The running activity didn’t stop there. I was also Run Directing the local juniors parkrun this Sunday. We had a total of 93 runners which was amazing, especially as it is only our third event, and I think this will grow well, especially as we enter spring and summer. In volunteering I also ticked off the 25th volunteering event for parkrun so have joined the 25 club (I have still yet to reach 50 with the running but I don’t run parkrun that often, it is a bit too short for my tastes at the moment and I prefer parkrun tourism). Thus whilst I have had no lie-in this weekend (when do I?!) it has been a very successful running weekend – one that involved very little running on my part.