One Week To Go

In 7 days time I shall be running the London Marathon. I am incredibly excited and terrified at the same time.

Yesterday Carrie was busily organising how she would get around London on race day and where she would go to cheer me on. She has decided upon a spot somewhere near the mile 16 marker. All this organisation stuff brought it home to me that it’s a suddenly become very real indeed. In seven days time I will be running 26.2 miles around the streets of London. That’s twice I’ve said that here now and I may say it again just to try to get to grips with it.

Now, I mentioned that I was terrified up there and you may wonder why. I’ve done the miles. There has been plenty of training.

Until a few weeks ago.

The post on this blog before this one was a very self congratulatory post about achieving a personal best time on a training run. Well, once the soreness in my legs had abated from that run I found that my hamstring didn’t feel quite right. Next time I went for a run I came back with quite a severe pain. I took a week off training and tried again. It was still quite painful and so it has continued. This has meant that my training came to almost a complete stop many weeks before I should have begun my taper. I am desperately hoping that I had built up enough fitness to carry me through on Marathon day.

I can’t do much about that now, so I’m going to try not to think too much about it and concentrate upon enjoying the Marathon experience.

Carrie was busily organising herself yesterday so I thought that maybe I should check that I had everything I needed. I sorted out some clothes that I could wear at the start but would be happy to discard. I also sorted out some clothes to wear at the end. I am usually very warm when I’m running but a little while after I stop my temperature drops dramatically and I can often feel incredibly cold. It’s a strange feeling that feels like you are cold at the very core of your body. It’s a cold that hurts from the inside and it takes quite a lot of doing to get my temperature back up. Therefore I’ve got some clothes to put in my kit bag, that I can collect at the end and try to stay warm. I also have my Shotblocks (a kind of solid gel) for nutrition during the race. I’ve trained using them. They are a bit sweet but they are the best thing I’ve found so far for eating on the run.

I will be visiting the Expo at the Excel Centre on Saturday 23rd to collect my race number and I should imagine they will give me tracking chips too. I have been sent notification of what my number will be and I need to take that form along with me, together with some photo ID. My race number will be 46648.

So what else do I need? Aha, most important, running shoes.

Ugh! They’re downright filthy. I shall put them in the washing machine so they will be brigpic of dirty running shoesht and shiny for race day.

 

I also need running shorts and shirt. The shirt has been supplied by Save The Rhino and I’ve taken that into a t shirt printing shop for them to put my name on it. This is so that people watching the race can shout out my name as I run by. I’ve found that this has given me quite a boost when it happens at the Cambridge Half Marathon. I must remember to collect the shirt this week.

A quick check of the running total on my fundraising page http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JimMowatt shows that it currently stands at 2014 pounds. This is absolutely fantastic and I hope that combined with the money from all the other Save The Rhino runners can make a significant contribution to preserving this magnificent species.

There is still time for you to contribute more. For those who have already contributed then prod family and friends to throw in a few quid if they can. Save The Rhino would very much appreciate it.

So, apart from the recent lack of training and the hamstring niggle I reckon that I’m all ready.

ZZ9, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy Appreciation Society have organised a slouch to watch me slog my way around London. They will be meeting at the Surrey Quays Railway Station for 0900, outside the Lower Road entrance.

For those people looking to try and figure out when I will reach particular bits of the course then calculate that I’m hoping to finish in around 5 hours. On race day there will also be a tracking link on the home page of the Marathon web site  . I will have a tracker that will register me crossing a timing mat every 5 kilometres so you should be able to follow my progress quite closely through that.

Just seven days to go. I’m running the London marathon in seven days.

Have I mentioned that before?

On that subject. There’s a wonderful video that pokes a little fun at people such as myself…

A New 10K Personal Best Time

I would say that I didn’t expect to get a personal best time today but that wouldn’t be strictly true. It was just a regular training run but I’d done a couple of 10K runs recently and found that I was running reasonably good times (for me anyway). I knew that I was in good condition.

I set off around the local streets and then headed out toward Waterbeach. My legs felt good although breathing was a little rough so I wasn’t altogether happy. I was fighting for breath and so felt that this would slow me down a little. My legs did feel strong and I was striding out quite confidently. I’ve seen videos of me running and it often does look rather like I’m just shuffling along, so I was really trying to stride out a little and flick my legs out after I landed. It felt good. I pictured myself as if I was a Kenyan or Ethiopian striding along at the front of one of the great marathons. It is testament to the wonderful flexibility of the human mind that I was able to maintain this fiction for several seconds at a time.

I strode confidently at the side of the A10 and then turned right toward Waterbeach. I was beginning to tire here and soon reverted to my regular shuffle step. However when I got to the River Cam I lengthened my stride again and pushed on. My breathing seemed to stabilise at around 5K and I felt comfortable again. It seems to take me around 5K to warm up.

So, my breathing was fine but the legs were starting to hurt. I checked my phone and the time looked good. In fact it looked very good indeed and I started to realise that there was an excellent chance of a personal best time here. I pressed on. I reached 8K and turned back toward Milton. It was getting quite painful now but at 8K I could smell that potential PB only a couple of thousand yards away. I staggered up Fen Road and then turned into the country park. I knew that I’d reverted to my tired shuffle step now but cared not. I just kept pushing on. I reached 10 kilometres and collapsed on to a park bench. The time on my phone was 52:42. Far better than I had ever done before. I am a very happy runner indeed.

I was trying to think what might have made the difference.

I’ve been putting in a lot of miles in training for the London Marathon but I’ve also been adjusting my diet.

My wife Carrie has been adjusting her diet to try and lose a little weight so I pic of brown breadhave also adopted some of her new regime. One of these changes is to try complex carbs that take a little longer to digest. These include things like brown bread. Previously I’d steered away from brown bread due to it tasting a lot like cardboard. However we’ve found a brand that tastes really good. It’s Tesco Finest Wholemeal with Wheatgerm.

We have also started using organic brown rice pasta and that tastes pretty good too. I have managed to lose around 8 pounds over the last twopic of brown rice pasta weeks and it may be because of this or it may have something to do with the fact that I am foregoing my daily bacon sandwich but whichever it is I am losing weight so have a little less to lug around.

So now I am doing the happy, I’ve just achieved a new personal best, dance but am also deeply apprehensive in that I have only six weeks to go before the London Marathon. This is all getting incredibly real.

 

Cambridge Half Marathon 2016

I absolutely adore the Cambridge Half Marathon. It’s a grand occasion, a celebration of running and a celebration of just being in this glorious city.

We were on Midsummer Common about an hour before the start and soon began to meet our regular running pals. It was a little more difficult to connect up this year as the event has doubled in size. They have changed the route so that it goes out into a couple of the nearby villages in a wide sweeping loop. That means they don’t have to worry about runners getting all tangled up with each other on the double loop that they had before.

There is a really handy meeting place for us in that the shop ‘Up and Running’ has their own stall this year and is displaying a giant flag that draws us in like moths to a nice quiet mothy spot where we can hang out with other moths without worrying about this moth flame that everyone talks about. Darryl and George from the shop are both there. Richard, myself and Carrie all stand about chatting to other runners asking how they feel and what time they are aiming for. John is injured and can’t join in this year. Steve is quite distraught that he won’t be able to run. He’d been training really hard and was hoping for a good time in this race. Unfortunately he was riding his bike when the chain came off. He was pitched forward over the handlebars and suffered a wide variety and fascinating and painful injuries. All of which made us wince in the retelling.

It’s a cold cold day so we’re quite pleased when the time rolls around and we are summoned to join in with the complicated process of getting into the right colour coded groups. I am in red group which is the very slowest of the groups. Richard leaves me to join yellow group. It’s an odd system in that anyone who reckons they will take longer than two hours is put into red group. That means that this group has people of a very wide variety of abilities, from those who are pushing close to two hours to people who will stagger in around 3 hours and longer. It’s a big group that could possibly benefit from being broken down a little more.

pic of Jim at start of runWe are yelled at for some time by the chap on the microphone who wants us all to bunch up so that we can fit on the road. The umpty thousand (about six thousand apparently) people who are here don’t seem to fit in the space they’ve marked out for us. We shuffle, we bunch we look confused and make noises of incomprehension and bafflement and eventually someone, somewhere makes the decision to start the race. People move off but we red group at the back don’t have much notion of what’s going on way up there at the start line. We sidle along here and then stumble back there and suddenly we are moving toward the start. The people who could not get onto the road to begin the race are now joining us from the side and there is quite a squash.

jimatstartWe’re thrilled to be off but it’s just so crowded out here that you can only trot forward slowly with little choppy strides as you are afraid of treading on your fellow runners all around you. It is frustrating but I realise that this is how it’s going to be until we begin to thin out a little. I run up to the Elizabeth Way Bridge and we are slowed to a walk again as our path narrows. We see Arco Eris on the bridge and they are making a gloriously rambunctious noise. (Tip for race organisers, if we could have percussion bands all the way around then that would be just great).

We turn left from Elizabeth Way Bridge on to Chesterton Road and just as we’re on that corner I see people in front of me waving toward one of the upper floor flats. There are a couple of silver balloons and a silver haired woman in the window waving at us. The balloons are both in the shape of zero so I wonder if there was another balloon somewhere with the number one. This running fan may have been a centenarian. I waved at her too and this wave of interaction carried on as far as I could see. Poor woman must have been quite exhausted with all that waving but I’ll bet she felt like a queen.

We run down Chesterton road now but the choppy stumbling continues as we try to settle into our own pace. I give up trying to move through the field and settle back to wait until we get the chance to stretch out a little.

There’s a sharp left turn back along Bridge Street and we are heading into the centre of Cambridge The noise of the crowd is quite deafening. I’m trying to pick out people I know in the crowd but it’s all quite disorientating. I’m assaulted by noise from all sides and there are runners everywhere. It’s all so confusing that I almost miss the first water point. There’s a real crush to get water but I managed to grab a bottle. I don’t take a gel as I find the High 5 Energy Gels a bit too sweet. I have a supply of 3 Shotblocks in my pouch and reckon that is about right for me when I’m doing 13 miles.

We pass by the Round Church and then turn right on Market Street. I see Carrie there but she doesn’t recognise me at first. Maybe she is overwhelmed by the sheer mass of people also or maybe she’s just not admitting that she knows me.

We turned left on to Kings Parade and the view is as always absolutely gorgeous. Kings College must be one of the most iconic buildings in England. Truly a splendid sight.

As we run out along Trumpington Road I start to find a little bit more space around me. I can’t yet run at the pace that I would like to but I am starting to move through the field a little. I pass a pink flamingo here. It’s a very ungainly looking bird but seems to be enjoying itself.

We turn right then and we are heading toward the picturesque little village of Grantchester. There is another large crowd here at the turn all cheering us on and a sign that says ‘food stop’. It points to a barbecue grill but I’m not sure I’ve earned a burger quite yet. Just slightly further on there is a water point and I’m prepared for it this time. I am running quite slowly and it’s downright chilly out here so I don’t feel that I need the water. However, I grab a bottle and it gives me a real psychological boost.

We enter the village and I encounter the 2:15 pacer. He’s running along nice and easy pointing out landmarks as we pass by. That’s Geoffrey Archer’s house there he says waving toward the Old Vicarage. There are some questions about who the statue is that we can see through the gates. I guess that it might be Rupert Brooke and googling later find that it is. Rupert Brooke immortalised this village and the Old Vicarage in his poem, ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester. Here’s snippet from it:

God! I will pack, and take a train,
And get me to England once again!
For England’s the one land, I know,
Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;
And Cambridgeshire, of all England,
The shire for Men who Understand;
And of that district I prefer
The lovely hamlet Grantchester.

Of course the lines that most people remember are the last two:

Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?

I am really enjoying my run now. There is more room to move and we are curving around to join Barton Road. I check my watch and it shows I am some way behind schedule. It would take a lot to hit my half marathon PB. I resolve to speed up a bit but reckon there’s no point pushing really hard as I am over half way through and there’s just too much to make up.

We turn back toward Cambridge and all around me runners are making comments about being able to see the city in the distance.It’s a cheering sight to see that we are now heading back in the right direction.

All the way down Barton Road we run and eventually arrive back in Cambridge. Turning on to Fen Causeway I remember how I felt last year at a similar point. My legs had turned to jelly and I was just dragging myself on to the finish. This year I felt strong and happy and was coasting along nicely. I think I allowed my mind to wander here as looking at my splits I see that I slowed down again while running along Chesterton Road only to speed up for the last 2 kilometres. Darth Vader came running past me and then stopped to collect donations from people at the side of the road. He passed me again and again just to rub it in. The dark side is evil indeed.

Just before turning right on to Elizabeth Way Bridge I glance up and the silver haired lady is still there waving to everyone as they run by, and we are all waving back. She has some stamina that lady.

Arco Iris must also have some stamina as they are still on the bridge banging their drums and blowing their whistles. At the end of Elizabeth Way there’s a marshall shouting out, ‘just 5 more minutes’. Excellent, thinks I, 5 mins is no problem. I put on a bit of a spurt toward the finish. Crossing the finish line I see a chap on the ground and medics are attending to him. He looks in a bad way. Hopefully he pulled through.

The finish funnel went a looooong way, presumably so that there was plenty of room for people to fall over, gasping in agony at the end. I didn’t do this and felt a little guilty that I didn’t. Part of me was saying that I should have pushed myself much harder and part was saying well done for running within myself and avoiding injury when I’m only 8 weeks before the London Marathon.

We all met up after the run. There is a mixture of emotions. For many of us this race is the climax of our running year. It’s the biggest race in the area and an astounding experience. We train for it, we plan for it, we adore running it but then it’s over.

Some leave to go to the Old Spring for the meet up of Cambridge and Coleridge running club. The rest of us head off up the hill (the only hill in Cambridge) to the Castle Pub. There we drink Adnams Ale and eat hearty pub food while we share our race stories.

It’s been a very good day.

 

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

A Creaking Engine

I stepped out of the door this morning and began to run.

I’d been looking forward to this run all week. I get out there for 2 to 3 hours and just roam around, taking in the scenery and feeling the joy of piling on more miles to make my legs stronger and more prepared for the trials to be imposed by the London Marathon. I will often struggle a little at first until everything is at working temperature and then I just start scooping up the miles. Today was different and I don’t really know why.

I had a fine midweek run where I was zipping along quite nicely and a really good parkrun yesterday where I felt fit and strong. Today however all my joints seemed creaky and sad. It made me think of an old engine that has been left in a leaky garage for the last 20 years. Try to start it up and it will valiantly struggle but you’ll get little more out of it other than a few coughs and splutters. My body felt something like this. I imagined that what it probably needed was to be completely dismantled and soaked in a bath of oil for about a week. Then to be lovingly reassembled before being coaxed back into life.

The above didn’t happen. Maybe this is a good thing as I’ve never been disassembled before and I’m not sure I could cope with the trauma.

What did happen was that I just gutted it out for 13 miles and then staggered back home feeling terribly sorry for myself and completely baffled as to why my body is letting me down.

Hopefully things will go better next Sunday for the Cambridge Half Marathon.

Guess How Long It Will Take Me To Run London Marathon

I’ve set up a sweepstake on a page run by a site called Guess To Give asking you to guess how long it will take me to run the London Marathon.

It costs 5 pounds to make a guess and you can make as many guesses as you like (although it will cost 5 pounds each time). From that money, 1 pound goes to the prize fund (the amount you can win), 3 pounds and 70 pence goes to Save The Rhino (if gift aid is included or 3 pounds and 30 pence if not) and I’m assuming that the other 70 pence goes to the web site.

So, that’s the logistics but i hope the fun bit will be trying to guess.

You could ask I suppose but it’s all unknown territory to me. I’ve never run 26.2 miles before so really have very little idea how long it will take me to run that far in London on the 24th of April 2016.

There are, however clues and if you pay close attention you will see more clues as we approach marathon day. The best of these clues are probably to be found on a page of my web site called ‘race log‘,  .This page contains my finishing time for every organised race in which I take part. If you want to see my training runs then take a look at my Strava link.

Good luck and hope you enjoy trying to guess.

 

20 Miles!

I would be dancing for joy today if my legs weren’t aching so much. I went out this morning with the intention of doing a longish run but not expecting to manage much more than about 13 miles. I slowed my pace, kept plugging on and arrived back home 4 hours later having completed 20 miles. I’m thrilled, overjoyed and incredibly relieved. My longest distance for some time now has been 15 miles and I’ve been finding it extremely difficult to increase that. I’ve arrived home time after time having reached 15 and been crippled for the next 3 days. This time I had no real agenda and just kept running. I passed 13 miles and realised that I was quite some distance away from home. I also realised that I still had some energy left in my legs so could quite happily keep going. I got closer to home and checked my Strava app. It now said that I had run 26.2 kilometres. My goodness thinks I. That seems quite a lot. I taxed my little brain for some time trying to figure out how many miles that may be and all the while the distance I had covered was going up. It’s now 27 kilometres. Well, that’s quite close to 30 so why not go for that. I got to 30 and I’m quite close to home but still had some energy left. Why not make it 32 and then I’m only 10 kilometres from my marathon target.

And so I did.

People have been telling me for some time that if I can manage 18 miles before the London marathon then the adrenalin provided by the crowds and the occasion will push me on for the rest. I’ve now covered 20 miles and reckon I still had a little bit left in the tank. This is such a relief. I now feel that the 26.2 miles is an attainable goal. It has previously always seemed too ridiculously far to even contemplate. Reaching it has now become a very distinct possibility.

This has been quite a week and in other news I got a wonderful gift from one of the people who have donated to my ‘Save The Rhino’ campaign.

Claire Middlehurst popped into my office on Friday with a bottle of tonic. She ran thpic of tonice London Marathon last year and said that one of the most important parts of her training was trying to stay clear of coughs, sneezes and general diseases.I shall be taking regular doses of the tonic to try and ward off the evil lurgi.

 

Thanks Claire

It’s very much appreciated.

 

I also went along to Anglia Ruskin University to see the Saucony running shoe folks and try out their new gait analysis machine. They’ve promised to send me the video from the machine so I’ll be writing a little more about this once they send it across.

Meanwhile here’s a little bit of video we shot on the night with my phone

And here’s a pic of the running gait computer. It filmed from 3 different angles. I’m really looking forward to seeing the video it produced.

pic of running gait computer

Rhino Running in Oakwell Mud

Oakwell Hall is a fine setting for the parkrun. It’s not as big and grand as huge places such as Temple Newsam but it’s very much of its time and place being a late 17th century family home more suited to the affluent upper middle classes of the time rather than the nobility you would find in the great houses. It looks hard, stern and super tough. The parkrun course is similarly tough and this rhino found it difficult going up and down the hills, through the trees and then slogging its way through the mud.

pic of runners at start of oakwell hall parkrun

We are waved off and go charging past the house circling right around and then charging down the hill. Going down seems fine but then you have to climb back up the other side. No mean feat for a rhino that can’t see its legs. I know that they’re down there somewhere but not entirely sure what they’re getting up to. We flounder our way along until there’s a car park and then dive into the woods. This is a really pretty bit. There are trees and tracks and all sorts of good stuff. Then we come out of the trees into a short stretch of field before another track. The mud is so thick here that I become completely stuck and can’t move for a moment. I haul one foot out of the mud and plonk it down in front of me. Then repeat process for next foot and continue until the gate of joy and hope is reached and normal rhino running can be resumed.

Then there’s more running around Oakwell Hall and the stables and we can begin all over again. It’s a great run but a difficult one. There’s no chance of a rhino pb today despite the abundance of super manic marshalls cheering us all on. The course is just too tough. Great fun though and absolutely gorgeous.

pic of me and amanda

I eventually crown the hill and am running along the finish funnel. Amanda, our run director is there cheering everyone in and doing the timekeeping too. We wait until the flood of runners coming in slackens off a little and then bag her for a rhino and run director photo.

There’s a whiteboard at the finish line and various people write on their new year resolutions. I couldn’t think of any new ones so didn’t add to it myself.

pic of rhino with new year resolution board

We go for a coffee afterwards and  discover a Leeds Rhinos fan who would very much like a picture with the rhino and I also meet the chap who had been taking video with his GoPro on buggycam at Woodhouse Moor and Temple Newsam. He promises to post the link to the video on the Oakwell Hall parkrun page.

We took some more photos around the house including this one from the front which mirrors Charlotte Bronte’s splendid description of it when she used it as a model for Fieldhead in the novel ‘Shirley’

ic of Jim the rhino at Oakwell Hall

and then this great model of a sheep which is hanging about in the front garden. Me and the sheep make a splendid art installation I reckon.

pic of jim in rhino costume with sheep statue

We have a great time relaxing with a coffee and talking to other parkrunners but must eventually leave as we need to drive back to Cambridge today. There will be two cats waiting for us there who haven’t seen us for two weeks and will need their cuddle quota topped up as soon as possible.

pic of 2 cats

 

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

 

New Year’s Day on Woodhouse Moor

I’m visiting my mum in Leeds and there are parkruns on New Year’s Day. Of course I have to go. What’s more I want to do two parkruns in one morning. Also I want to do them in rhino costume. All sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Carrie sighed and agreed to come along. I can see so little out of the front of the rhino suit that I need as much assistance as I can possibly get just to make sure I arrive on the start line. Therefore I’m really grateful that she can come along to help.

pic of Rhino runner at start of parkrun

There’s a fine gathering on the moor. As with last year there seems to be a tradition of gathering near the finish funnel and then moving back to the start for the prerun briefing. Sam, the run director does the briefing. He mentions someone who got what sounded like about 84 per cent in age grading and also someone doing their 250th parkrun. Unfortunately I couldn’t hear much from inside the rhino but many congratulations to them. Sam also does a wonderful shout out for me and talks a little about the sorry plight of the rhino.

pic of start of parkrun

The run director counts us down and then sends us on our way around the course. It’s a nice flat course although there are occasional patches of ice. We do a fair amount of looping around and pass some places three times during the run. It’s not the most scenic parkrun I’ve ever done but it’s an excellent example of being able to put on a fine run even in quite a limited space. They’ve really used what they have in an interesting way alternating the loops slightly each time around.  I follow someone in an orange shirt for a while and eventually manage to pass by. Then I followed someone in a 250 shirt but I didn’t have enough energy to pass her and she left me staggering along behind. It looks a really nice shirt. Hope they’re still doing them when I get to 250 parkruns.

I hauled myself across the finish line and run director Sam came across for a chat. I thanked him for the shout out at the start and we had a photo taken together. Sam then grabbed my finish token and barcode and scanned them in for me. He then shooed me away to my next parkrun at Temple Newsam asking me to remember him to Ronnie who would be run directing there.

I’ve just received my Woodhouse Moor parkrun time and it’s a new rhino pb:

Woodhouse Moor parkrun results for event #435. Your time was 00:32:49.

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

A Temple Newsam Parkrun Rhino

Wow!

So many people here at Temple Newsam.

The run director is doing the prerun briefing but I can’t hear any of the words. I’m not sure the people around me can either. My guess is that there may be rather more people here today than they are accustomed to. However it all seems really well organised so they handled the large turnout really well.

Jill popped over to say hello. She’s been answering my email enquiries about the parkrun. Hiya Jill, good to see you.

Dogs are barking at me and I’m meeting folk I saw at Woodhouse Moor. I’m also seeing a lot more children at this parkrun and they are all intensely curious. That gives us a great opportunity to offer them Save The Rhino stickers and talk to them and their parents a little about the endangered rhinos. I see a family running with a buggy and a small dog. They have a GoPro Hero strapped to one of the buggy arms and assure me thay have footage of the rhino from Woodhouse Moor. I wish I’d swapped email addresses with them to ask for some of that footage. Quite apart from gathering more rhino video I would like to see how the Hero performs. I quite fancy getting one for myself.

We set off past the glorious Elizabethan mansion and out through the formal gardens. Down the long hill, left at the motorway and curl back along the edge of the woods until we are once again struggling up the hill toward the house. Twice around we go and the second time we are curved around the hill a little until we burst out into the finish funnel. I queue to be scanned behind the girl in the orange tee shirt. I’d finished before her at Woodhouse Moor but she was really pleased to finish in front of me here at Temple Newsam. “I couldn’t be beaten by a rhino twice in one day” she said.

pic of Jim as rhino at Temple Newsam parkrun

I was going to get a coffee afterwards but there was a very long queue indeed and I had more family duties to attend to at home. We made our way back up by the house and stopped for a moment outside the glorious front doors for just one more picture. We were immediately pounced on by large numbers of people asking if we’d let them take a picture of their child standing by the rhino. It was really sweet and I posed for many photos beside children who were either delighted or terrified to take part in a rhino photo.

pic of rhino at Temple Newsam

I never got to pass on your regards Sam, to Ronnie the run director. He seemed awfully busy. I’m saying hello to Ronnie here from Sam and the Rhino.

If anyone gets the urge to donate to Save The Rhino then please visit the page http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt and donate whatever you feel you can afford.

Rhino runs For Tablet At Eglinton Parkrun

A wet and windy day in Scotland. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

We’re driving toward Eglinton and google is confidently giving instructions over my phone. I’ve programmed the postcode in from the parkrun website and my phone tells me that we will arrive at 09:21 for a parkrun that starts at 09:30. Easy peasy.

At 09:21 on the dot we arrive at a road called Long Drive and there’s no sign of a parkrun or even the entry to the park. We set off again but this time spot some brown signs pointing toward the country park. Google maps is discarded and we’re on our way once more. Car park found and we’re dragging the rhino out of the car, yelling to passing folk to ask where the parkrun is. They point and shout and away we go with me busily trying to strap myself into the suit as we run across the field. It’s exactly 09:30 and everyone is at the start ready to go. There’s a fine cheer as I stumble across the field and join the runners. Then we’re away up and into the park. A dog begins sniffing my tail. His owner chuckles as she runs past. “It looks like he wants to get in there with you.” I’m not sure I want to share the inside of the rhino suit with an extremely friendly dog but thankfully he passes on by.

They told me at the Ayr parkrun that this was a nice hard surface at Eglinton and I should imagine that for most of the time it is but last night we got a huge amount of rain and huge swathes of the park have turned into a mighty swamp. The rain is still falling and it’s bitter cold. I have the choice of trying to run around the puddles and ending up in super slippery mud or ploughing straight through. I choose the latter option and find myself immersed in freezing cold water. Yet again I’m heating up in the suit but from my knees downwards I am numb with the cold. A weird sensation indeed.

We turn to go up another hill and another dog has spotted me. It squats down and refuses to budge. The owner pulls it away and waits until I’ve passed. Dogs in particular often find the rhino suit somewhat confusing. They see something that looks quite large and may be dangerous and yet it smells human. Most confusing. Their usual reaction is to look confused, bark a little and do a bit of sniffing.

As is so often the case I’m finding it tough by around 2.5 kilometres. After that it’s al about gutting it out. Point your horn frontwards and just keep moving on.

I weave around and about and lose all sense of direction. I try to keep other runners in sight so I know where I’m going. I round bend after bend and think every time that this must be the one that reveals the finish line. Time after time I’m disappointed but at last it happens. The funnel is there and there’s people cheering and shouting. I cross the line and collect my token. Moments later I see an angel bearing Tablet flavoured with Irn Bru. A splendid post run snack. Thank you angel.

I’ve just received my Eglinton parkrun time and it seems I’ve set myself a parkrun rhino personal best.

Thank you Eglinton parkrunners for helping me to a rhino pb.

Eglinton parkrun results for event #145. Your time was 00:33:21

Jim’s Save The Rhino Fundraising Page

http://virginmoneygiving.com/jimmowatt