Saturday, 14 June 2014

My 1st parkrunniversary what a different a year makes.....

The second Saturday in June 2013 will forever more be a special day in my mind for many reasons although it does feel like it has been about two years rather than one!  This past year has been so full of excitement, fun, friends, family, challenges, new friends, new experiences, new roles and so much happiness and it's all down to that second Saturday in June when I turned up to my first ever parkrun at Greenhead park.

I've been running now for nearly 2 years but I think if I hadn't have turned up at Greenhead park that Saturday I don't think I would be half as fit as I am now and would definitely not have done as much as I have over the last 12 months. 

Over the last 52 weeks I have run countless training runs with a smile on my face each time, and most of the time, with great friends tagging along too. I've smashed PB's and shaved seconds off them now and again too, from 25min 5k's down to 21min 5k's, a 45 min 10k PB along with a 2hr half marathon time, on a truly monsterous route.

I've run :-

5k runs
10k runs
10 milers
Muddy obstacle runs
Half marathons
And a triathlon!

After every event I've felt exhausted but happy with a huge smile on my face everytime and no regrets at all. I've met so many new friends since last June and encouraged them as they've either passed me or I've overtaken them. We've celebrated runs together and helped each other if we've tripped or fallen, we've pushed each other to new challenges and helped everyone that has needed a little push to reach the next level. All this has only been possible because of parkrun and the community that you become part of when you make that first leap of faith and turn up to your first parkrun. Here are some photos of the friends we have made over the last year and it's not only me that has changed too.

And in the year I've had I've gone from background hair line to full family close up.

My previous year, before parkrun, was not nearly as full and at times getting out on a training run was a drag. I entered two organised events and organised one event myself, but if I hadn't registered and printed off my barcode I think my love for running might have waned and I could have found myself sat on that couch again thinking, I'll go for a run tomorrow....I promise.

Thankfully I did print off my barcode and I did take that 20min car journey across Huddersfield to stand on the start line to be among the 436 other athletes that morning. The thing that makes me the happiest about that day is all the friends and family that have joined me on that start line since and how happy they have been since doing their first parkrun too. My son Dexter joined me the week after and a few months later, 10 days after giving birth to our 3rd child, my wife also joined in and hasn't looked back since.

I am immensely  proud of SJ and Dexter and I think if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be on as many parkruns as I am. To date I have now run 48 and soon will be celebrating my 50th hopefully with a lot of my family too. It hasn't just stopped at SJ and Dexter I have encouraged almost all of my family to join in and take part regularly in parkrun, from Jessie to Jodie and even Nana completed the 5k a year after being diagnosed with and beating cancer. Many friends have also tagged along with us like, Steve, Rob, Paul, Becky, Luke and many more, I even arranged for the school fun run to take place alongside parkrun. So far I think I've encouraged around 50 or more people to lace up those running shoes and pound the paths of Greenhead park. I still try to encourage as many people as I can to try it, whenever someone on Facebook is talking about going running for the first time I inform them about parkrun and tell them they won't regret it and not to be scared about making that first step.

It's not just running at parkrun that gets you involved but volunteering too can help you become part of the community and give a little back, and best of all it's free. Free to run, free to volunteer, free to make friends, and free to give your all, every single time. SJ and I have also been privileged enough to join the team that organises and creates awesomeness every Sunday in the form of the Huddersfield junior parkrun. Still in its early stages but the junior parkrun is something amazing and special already, and has brought so many people from the community down so their juniors can run around the gorgeous Greenhead park, with many parents volunteering whilst their juniors run.

It's safe to say this past year has been AWESOME and I hope the weeks, months and years to follow are just as good.

Keep running everyone......

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

A weekend full of first's and an amazing weekend at that. Part 2 Sunday

'Sundays until recently were normally a day of rest and a catch up on TV programmes maybe a run now and again, but 4 weeks ago that changed and after this weekend I hope they never change again.

This Sunday was and will be for the foreseeable future Junior parkrunday and I sometimes look forward to it more than running on a normal parkrunday. It's pure fun in a disguised as a mass gathering of chaos, so many smiley faces before and even afterwards. It was SJ's turn as Run Director and she did a brilliant job we had volunteers coming out of our ears and 175 fabulous juniors giving it their all round our exciting course. Louise did the warm up again and she does it really well with music blaring and juniors jumping and waving. Then SJ did a great run brief and set the juniors off around Greenhead park in the glorious sunshine a complete opposite from the rain the day before. We are starting to get a nice regular team of volunteers and are starting to become more familiar with the juniors and their names. There is one thing that you don't take in to account when becoming an event director or run director is the amount of people who know you but you don't know them in return. As time goes by I'm sure we will get to know more and more and gain lots of friends in the process.

We had a lot of great performances again this week and we are always surprised by the number of fast juniors that return week on week to try and better their times or finishing positions. Matthew Burke decided to give his usual Saturday parkrun a miss this week to save his energy for the junior parkrun. This was so he could try and give it his all and improve his PB and beat it he did, so well done Matthew. Even among the juniors there is competitiveness between each other  but more importantly they're always trying to better themselves. Yet it is all done with complete honesty and friendliness, even helping each other too. Some with younger siblings will run back to find them and help them to complete the rest of the run together.
 We did have some slight issues but luckily none of the little problems affected the juniors runs or times. We had lots of PB's again and a few of them were helped by our first ever pacer Matthew Jack Potter who dressed up as a bunny and ran as a 10 min pacer. We had a couple of comments from parents that he helped their junior to a PB which was great to hear and will probably mean we have a pacer more often.

So with Junior parkrun done it was now time to head off home and prepare for the rest of the day, as I wasn't finished just yet. I had to be ready for 11.30 to meet up with my good friend Luke as we were taking part in our first Triathlon down at Scissett. It was a 400m Swim, followed by a 15km bike ride and then finished off with a 5km run. We were both really excited but Luke was more nervous than I was probably down to the fact I had been in more race/run events than Luke and was used to those pre-event butterflies. 

We arrived at 11.45 with plenty of time until our start times, Luke had put down a silly time for his swim so was setting off a whole hour before me so I was in for a wait. I also knew a few other people who were taking part in the triathlon all mainly from parkrun. Mr Ian Rutson of the parkrun show fame and Pontefract parkrun event director, and Rich Mcloed a fellow Huddersfield parkrun member and an amazing all round athlete.

Luke and I arrived and propped our bikes up and whilst Luke went to register and hear the event brief I said hello to Ian. He seemed really relaxed about the event but was a little confused about the layout of the transition area, he said it was a bit more complicated compared to last years. Ian was the first of us to start at 12.45 with Luke going at 13.00, me at 14.00 and Rich going off at 14.30. As this was Luke's and my first triathlon we had no real idea about what to do but we seemed to fit in pretty quickly with the set up. Luke parked his bike in the transition area and then I went to register whilst he got change into his triathlon suit then once I had parked my bike I did the same. It wasn't long before Luke was due in the pool so waited in the reception area and I took the opportunity to go upstairs and see Ian doing his swim. He looked like he was going well and was soon off out of the pool and on to his bike, which meant it was Luke's turn in the pool.

After Luke had done his swim and was off on his bike I was left with an long wait till it was my turn but as it was such a lovely day I just hung about outside watching the triathletes on their bikes and catching some rays. Just before Luke was due back from his bike ride section SJ and the boys turned up to support us and it was nice to see them before I had to get in the pool. I missed Luke's transition as I was pool side ready to start my swim, I was in lane 2 with just one other guy which was nice not to have too much pressure from other swimmers as some lanes had 4/5. Whilst waiting to go I could hear the boys and SJ on the balcony above me cheering which was an awesome feeling.

The whistle went and I was off swimming front crawl at a nice steady pace but before long I had to change to breast stroke as I just couldn't comfortably get a good breathing rhythm. Luckily my pace didn't slow too much and after 10 mins I was off towards transition and my bike.

Once on my bike and on the main road I put my foot down and was soon at the first corner and on my way up the hill towards Emley and the Emley mast. There are 2 steep sections of the 6km climb and on the flatter sections I tried to push it as much as I could. I did get overtaken by about 6 riders on proper road bikes and a couple on olympic style time trial bikes funnily enough they were part of the GB triathlon team, so didn't mind getting overtaken by them. Once at the top I pushed once again and even managed to overtake someone who had passed me earlier, that was a nice feeling. From here it was pretty much all downhill to the end and I tried to push hard to the transition area. About halfway down there was a photographer and he took a photo of me looking like I was on a gentle bike ride and all I was missing was my shopping basket on the front but I promise you I was going fast.

Once I was back at the swimming baths I quickly put my bike back and got on my way round the 5k run

I took me about 500m to get my calfs working properly after the bike ride but once they were going again I found the run ok. It was another uphill route all the way to Skelmanthorpe and then a nice steady downhill all the way to the finish. You finished the run on the same roads as the bike so I passed the same photographer as before so this time I tried to give a pose but looked more like I was dying rather than having fun

Once I was back down on the flat on the final stretch to the finish I dug in deep and keep going all the way to the line and where the final chip mat is. The final mat was rather thin so when the guy behind me tried to do a sprint finish to beat me on the line he missed the mats and had to double back to stop the time on his chip. A bit of a fail on his part but I liked his determination to get to me before the line, maybe next time. Well that was it I had finished my first triathlon and I was so pumped that it kind of felt like it wasn't long enough and I was up for going round again, I had a really amazing time and experience and I was really pleased with my time. I finished my first triathlon in 1hr14m25s and I know I could do better too, maybe next year.

The set up of the event was great and rather than a race it felt more like a competitive time trial, there was always someone to chase and someone chasing you which kept you pushing all the way. 

For all of you who are wondering how Luke, Ian and Rich did, well they all did pretty amazingly.
Ian knocked 3 mins off his time from last year completing it this year in 1hr18min12s

Luke finished his first Triathlon in a fabulous time of 1hr12min16s

I finished in 1hr14min25s as you know

And Rich did it in an amazing 1hr02min41s

Well done everyone who took part and usually at this point I say keep running everyone but this time I will say

Keep swimming, biking, and running everyone.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

A weekend full of first's and an amazing weekend at that. Part 1 Watergrove parkrun Rochdale

This weekend despite the varied weather was truly awesome and full of first attempts, first visits and first experiences and after all of it, I've been left feeling humbled and smiling from ear to ear......

The view down the hills from Watergrove reservoir

The weekend started with a worrying look at the weather to judge when not if the rain was going to effect us this Saturday. I was heading over to the inaugural Watergrove parkrun at Rochdale, whilst SJ and Dexter were staying at Huddersfield parkrun as they were heading off to the Brahman horse trials straight after. Which ever parkrun we were at it was going to be a wet one, but just how wet was the question.

I set off early to Rochdale to at least get there before the rain started, I jumped in the car and it was lovely and sunny even a little warm. As I got close to Rochdale I could feel the temperature dropping and as I pulled into the car park at Watergrove parkrun the clouds were building very quickly. I met up with Simon Edwards and Tony Pinnington at the start who had also made the trip over the Pennines to try out this new parkrun. After a chat with the guys Barbara the Event Director gave a speech and run brief and when warning people about not having their barcodes she was echo by an enormous rumble of thunder which would have scared anyone into bringing their barcodes. She then sent the field of 89 runners to the start ready for the countdown to the first Watergrove parkrun, and as we crossed the cattle grid you could help but notice that about 75% of the runners had a parkrun T-Shirt on either a 50 or 100 tee. Just as we set off the rain started and apparently it did the same at Huddersfield too, but as your running it doesn't worry you at all unless like me your wearing your glasses. 

The run was brilliant nevertheless and the course was beautiful even in the rain just imagine what it would be like in blue skies. You run round the reservoir until there is a cobbled road leading up on to the moors where the path splits off in 2 directions like a Y. You take the left route and head downhill until you reach 2 bridges of which you take the left hand one as the other is for the return journey on this out and back section. Once over the first bridge it's up a small incline and onto a path that leads to a gate with a wet but still smiley marshal and this is where you double back and over the second bridge. You're about half way now and starting to get into a flow but then you are faced by what I would like to christen the Mischievous hill you ran down about a Km ago. It's not until you run back up it that you realise how steep it was when you ran down it, but with a deep breath and a dig you can make it without too much pain. Then as you reach the top you now take the other part of the Y route and again this is uphill, not as steep as the last hill but it certainly tests you legs. You hit a cone and then double back again but this time your on the final stretch home and it's all downhill to the reservoir and a fast flat finish. You do have to be a little cautious as you run down the cobbled road to the reservoir because the rain had made them a little slippery but not too much that it was dangerous it just made you think. After the flat finish I crossed the line and picked up token 28 which I was happy about, and in a time of 24.44. The time was about 2 or 3 mins off my regular times but it seemed that was the case all round there was no one under 20 mins which is unusual. I guess the weather was a helping factor but I think the course is just a tough one and will be a challenge to anyone.

As always we hung about to talk about our runs, as did lots of others but after a loud rumble of thunder the heavens open with a burst of rain twice as heavy as before which sent lots of finishers running for their cars. This sadly put and end to the Watergrove inaugural a little earlier than they had hoped, but with such a stunning parkrun and lovely volunteers I'm sure they will have lots of returning runners and I'm sure I will be one of them at some point. 

That was my first inaugural run and it certainly has something a little special to it and there is no wonder that there is a growing group of parkrun tourist that will travel all over the country to them.

When we all arrived home I was told about the rain at Huddersfield and the amazing turnout of 570 runners even in the rain and with 2 inaugurals nearby, it just show how people feel about parkruns that they will turn up whatever the weather or time of year. SJ told me that Dexter ran well but complained a little but when I say complained, his complaint was, "mummy will you please turn off the rain now". Love my amazing family.

Keep running everyone.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Huddersfield juniors parkrun event #3 in brilliant sunshine

Just 3 events in and we are starting to get some stand out performances from our juniors with new course records set from both the boys and the girls this week.

It was my (Matthew Pattison's) turn as RD at this weeks Huddersfield juniors parkrun and with a full volunteer roster and the weather fairies working their magic it was all set up to be a fantastic junior parkrun morning.

The pre-event setup is becoming a favourite of the juniors team's children as they like to draw the start and finish lines and add pictures, arrows and messages. This also makes them feel more a part of the event and even helps them make friends with the other juniors.


I am assured that this is a rocket a firework rocket drawn by my son Dexter (6) and his brother Clark (3) helped him with the finish line.

The run as a whole is becoming a very slick and well oiled machine but the behind the scenes action is still being fine tuned and altered slightly by each of the team as they take their turn as RD. Plus we are there backing each other up as we go and make sure that we make a junior parkrun that the juniors can enjoy and be proud of.

As the junior, parents and marshals started to stream through the park gates there was a buzz in the air and the smiles on the juniors faces was amazing and the sun just topped it off.

After the run brief we attempted a Marshal Mexican wave to make sure they can see each other, we know they can see each other but this week it failed. Maybe we will try it again next week as it's a great way to get the juniors involved at the start, with the juniors starting the Mexican wave down towards marshal 1.

The juniors were all set off safely and before we could blink we had some of them completing lap 1 which still catches us of guard at how quick they are. The funnel was set out and we clapped the remaining junior on to their 2nd laps and again we were almost caught off guard as our first finisher crossed the line in a course record time and our first sub 7 minute time. 3 events in and we've already broken the 7 minute barrier, where will our course record time settle at in a few weeks time, it keeps getting broken, but that wasn't it. The time he finished in was also an age grade record for the course. plus not settling for that, our first girl across the line also broke the girls course record and completing the trifecta of course records.

This weeks run finished with a lot of happy juniors, with 56 first timers and 35 new PB's out of the field of 155 runners. Following on from Leeds parkruns trip to the moon (see their Facebook page if confused) so far our juniors have run from Greenhead park to the outskirts of Berlin and by this time next week we will have visited Zary parkrun in Poland. (

I wonder how far our juniors will travel over then next year or is that thinking too far ahead too soon.

Keep running everyone