Things That Happen Straight After A Race – That Only Runners Will Understand*

I have a contributed post for you today by Ellie Jo:

Are you obsessed with running? Then you’ll recognise these familiar situations; that occur once you have crossed the finish line.

Check your time

The first thing that you are want to going to do is to check that all important time. Did you make your personal best (pb) or were you just off?  If course there are quite a few things that can have an effect on this. How your feeling on the day always makes a difference. The weather does too, as it can be pretty hard to run if it’s scorching sunshine or if it’s lashing down with rain.

Clock, Watch, Time, Minute, Countdown, Chronograph

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Injuries can be a stumbling block on achieving that all important pb too. Just remember it’s better to run the race and complete it, that strive for a pb and put you at risk of aggravating a recent injury.

You are elated and exhausted at the same time

One of the things about stepping over that black and white checkered line is that you have two opposite emotions all at once. First, you are exhausted after your run, but your body does funny things when you exercise hard. It floods your system with endorphins, so though you are tired you also feel great!

Runner, Race, Competition, Female, Athlete, Marathon

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You realise how sweaty you are

The next thing that is familiar to most runners that they realise just how sweaty they have become during their run. It’s not the best feeling, and you probably want to go and have a shower as on as possible.

If you have to wait for others completing the race or want to get some food before you shower, why not take a pack of deodorising wipes to freshen up with. You might not look your best, but as least you will smell nice and not put the other diners off their food.

You get your goodies

From one of the worst things to happen after a race to one of the best. It’s goodie time! As medals are easy to get now through companies like Trophies Plus Medals, most races provide one at the end of the run. The best ones also provide a t-shirt and goodie bag too. Which often contains energy tablets, drink, and other rubber related products. This is always a nice little treat to look forward to. It is guaranteed to perk you up after a gruelling run.

Winner, Medal, Gold, Award, Success, First

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You realise how chaffed you are

It’s one of the least fun things that runner will identify with after a race. That’s right it’s assessing how much damage has been done to your poor skin, by the action of your clothes rubbing on them as you go round the track.

The chaffing struggle is real people, we might as well talk about it! If you suffer from this problem, make sure you have some soothing cream like E45 on hand to treat any affected areas. You can minimise chafing by using talc or vaseline on your problem areas before the start of the race, to ensure that there is less friction when you move.

What do you think or do straight after a race? My favourite item to pack in my race bag is a pack of face wipes (I have some for sensitive skin which are slightly rose scented and they are just so refreshing). I do also love a medal, or a technical t-shirt if it is a good size. 

Round 2- to Vancouver Island

So after a kayak on Moraine Lake, and a walk up to the top to take a few last pictures, we loaded up the car and headed off as we had a long drive (over 400km) to Kelowna. Annoyingly, as I have mentioned before, this was Saturday, and on that very Saturday, the inurural Canadian parkrun was starting, IN KELOWNA!!! But there was no way we were starting our drive at 3am to make it there on time. We stopped early on in our journey to pick up some bits for lunch (we got a nice picnic of hummus, ready sliced peppers, crackers and apples) but we didn’t pass any proper looking rest stops, so we ended up powering through, arriving in the afternoon.

Kelowna is on a large lake and seemed the place that a lot of people had headed to on holiday- loads of trucks towing boats, and there were large parks where you could hire bikes and do some walking. In the end we spent a bit of time walking around near our hotel, going to a shopping mall, walking along by the lake (a lovely path from close to the town centre all along past beaches and marinas), in the old town, and we even came across a lovely Japanese garden.


Now I know about the parkrun, we can plan our next trip to make it work!


The Japanese garden


A cool bear sculpture by the water. It was fairly overcast here, but it was very hot indeed.


Some of my favourite Canadian shops were visited (plus Roots- not sure where the bag was for that)

We only stayed there for two nights, so on our final morning I was awake early so headed to the gym in the hotel for a run- I was conscious that we had an even longer car journey so I wanted to get moving for a bit that day. I had it all to myself at the start, and listened to a Marathon Talk podcast while I was running (I save them for running so I had a bit of a backlog).


I even managed a mid-run photo, although I realised afterwards that I could have just pretended by holding a running pose…


Anyway, the 500+km journey to Whistler loomed, so we didn’t hang about after breakfast.

Again, we didn’t really find anywhere to stop properly. We have been on a few US road trips and their roads seem to have frequent rest areas with benches and toilet blocks, but I think over this side of Canada it’s more sparsely populated. In the end we stopped on a pullout for a bit of a stretch, before the final few hours.


We had the evening and next morning in Whistler- we have been there before (last time we got the cable car into the mountains and did some lovely walks up there), and this time just enjoyed wandering around the village.


I was still loving the Olympic spirit! Because of the time difference we had seen a lot of it (although if a Canadian athlete was doing something in another sport, they would cut away).

Then we drove to the ferry port north of Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) and got the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.


When we arrived we knew we had (another) drive to our hotel, so we wandered around the town for a bit, and found a place that made smoothies and vegan food- we both went for the hummus wrap (some sort of dehydrated wrap- they gave us water to have with it too as apparently we needed to) which was filled with lovely fresh veggies, although very hard to eat!


Of course we also had to have a nanaimo bar- when in Rome eh?


On the drive to our hotel, we both saw something dark run across the grass in the middle of the freeway- initially we both thought it was a dog but when we got closer we realised it was a bear! Crazy!

One of the things we both really wanted to do was go whale watching, so we had booked a trip from Telegraph Cove.


It was the tiniest place- winter population =4!


As I am sure you can imagine I took many photos- I wanted to look at them properly, and not on my phone screen, so I tried to point my phone in the general direction and then press the button whenever I saw anything.


They put up a special “whale watching” flag whenever we saw whales, to warn other boats.


Killer whale/ orca

We were so lucky- we ended up seeing several pods of killer whales (some ate mammals, others ate fish), two humpback whales, porpoises, seals, sealions and dolphins!


Humpback whale

The next day we were heading to the other side of the island, so that will wait for another post.

Have you ever seen whales?  The shop had t-shirts that said “I’ve seen Blackfish in the wild”- I have been to Seaworld a few times and then after seeing that film I have had a lot of guilt. Although to be fair the wildlife expert on our boat told us that they were seen as the enemy as they ate fish, so there used to be a machine gun (yes- you read that correctly) mounted at one inlet and people would just shoot the whales. When they were first captured and put in aquariums, they realised how intelligent and also how endangered they were, so the conservation work started there. Although those parks played their part, they should be in the wild now.

Wimpole Estate parkrun tourism

After missing several weekends whilst on holiday, I was very much looking forward to going to a parkrun this weekend. As my dad and brother were both around, and none of us had to be back quickly, we decided to visit a new (to us) one. We had a little look around, as there are a fair few within about a 50 minute drive, and on the end settled on Wimpole Estate (I keep calling it Wimpole Hall). It’s about 40 minutes from me, it is in the grounds of a National Trust park, it is one lap (we prefer that) and it sounded lovely.

As I was on the way, Dad picked me up at 8am and we arrived at around 8.40, so not too bad at all. The parking costs £2 (there were signs saying that it all goes to the upkeep of the lovely surroundings) but it’s free for NT members. The car park was right by the start area, which had a building with toilets and a cafe. I don’t normally go to the toilet before a parkrun (Panshanger doesn’t even have any) but it had been a longer than usual journey.


The toilets were fine, but can you see the enormous spider on the wall???? I was staring at it in horror when another lady came in and told me “it’s a harvest spider”. Giving it a nice sounding name makes it no less scary. Even though the cubicle on the end was free first, I waited because there was no way I was going into the one closest to that monster!

Anyway, once safely outside again we were chatting and heard a bit of a shout (over the noise of a lot of dogs barking)- we realised that they were doing the new runner’s briefing, so headed over, but when we got there it was more general information for new parkrunners. We had looked at the course online and knew it was one lap, which is much easier to turn up at (if courses are multiple laps you can’t just follow the person in front in case they are on a different lap number). Once this was over we were told to head to the start, a few metres away. One thing I thought was really good was that they had a separate start for runners with dogs. I don’t mind dogs, but I’m not hugely keen on them when running as sometimes people have them on longer leads, and you don’t always see them as they can veer a bit more erratically than people. Plus the barking over the noise of the run briefing was particularly bad here (even though most of them were already away at the dog start). They started a bit of a way up the road and off to the right, so after about 500m they merged with the rest of the runners. They explain the reasons well on their facebook page: nervous non-dog runners don’t have to worry about multiple dogs at the start around them, the dogs have generally steadied their run by the time they are caught, briefings can be heard and we can remain inclusive to all. They also remind people of these rules: One dog per runner on a short lead or harness. Please ensure dogs are under close control at all times, including before and after the run. Be conscious of any nearby runner who might be frightened off ( remember, for good reason some people can be terrified of close-by dogs). Bag and pick up any dog waste as you run. As our course has livestock keep dogs on leads at all times and if you have to take a wide route to not scare livestock, then so be it. One slower run is better than no future runs. I thought this was really good because they are still including people who want to run with dogs, but the reminder that not everyone loves dogs is very important. Apparently the Cambridge parkrun now does not allow dogs because they regularly have 500+ runners and it’s a lapped course, so I imagine they get all the dogs from there too (it’s about 10 miles from there).

The run briefing was then held, warning us of some slippery parts on the course, and then (I loved this) a sort of air horn signalled the start!

I had said to Dad I wanted to take it easy, because I only ran once on holiday, and since being back I had run a couple of times but had needed a walk break during them. He was happy to stick with me as he was not worried about time, but my brother headed off in front of us as he wanted to go a bit quicker. It was busy at the start- we weren’t right at the back but because we were running along a road  (track) initially, it felt a bit narrow. Once we got into the fields the runners were quickly spread out. Underfoot was long grass so you had to watch your step, more in some places than others, but as we were going steadily it was fine. We saw the highland cattle and some calves (and had to dodge big cowpats- at one point a marshal was shouting at everyone “mind the low branches on the tree and the big cowpat on the path”- a slightly unusual warning!), as well as sheep, geese and possibly some goats (they were silhouetted against the hill so they could have been sheep with horns).


We had been told about the one hill on the course, and that it was short and steep. At around the 2km point we started going uphill, and we both said “this isn’t too bad”. Well then we turned the corner and were faced with that hill! It was very steep indeed so I told Dad I was going to walk it. He kept running and waited for me at the top.


It did mean you had lovely views of the grounds, the house, and the countryside beyond. You could also see a lot of the other runners ahead and behind, which I liked as part of the fun of parkrun is running with others.

The 4km point seemed to come very quickly, and then we were heading back close to the big house, and running back along the road where we started. I thought we would finish where the new runner briefing was (as I had seen boards with numbered hooks for the finish tokens) but it was right where the start was, so our final push was a bit late starting!

I was position 264 (out of 368), and we both had the same finish time of 32.13. Near the end we had noticed these strange structures in the fields, with large mirrors on them. Dad asked a marshal on our way passed, who said it was something to do with the 300th birthday of Capability Brown. After getting our tokens scanned, we had to put them back on the boards ourselves (this to me seems very risky- at every other parkrun the scanners have taken them and put them into a bucket right away, to be sorted later, and even at those parkruns they lose some. Here at the main briefing they reminded people that the tokens are not a souvenir, but the board was a good 10 metres from the scanners, leaving plenty of time for people to see someone they know/ wander off for a cup of tea). Anyway, right by the board was another one of the mirrors with a little explanation- it was about looking at the landscape in a different way.


So we had our obligatory parkrun tourism photo in the mirror instead. There was a National Trust tearoom (my favourite) but we have decided to visit it next time we go there.

After getting home at around 10.30, it was time for a quick shower and breakfast, before our job of the day- dismantling the shed. Our old house had a garage, but this one doesn’t, so things like the lawnmower need to be kept in a shed. It had two (one is really a small bike shed), but we found (after a big rainstorm) that the main one is not waterproof, and when some people took away the big dog cage that was next to it, it was rotten in more places than we realised. We have ordered a new one, and we found out it is being delivered next week.


Before we even started we had to get everything out, and the people who lived here before us had left a lot of junk in it, including a big metal shelving unit, a rotting wooden shelving unit, half filled massive tubs of paint, random old outdoor candle holders and other assorted rubbish.

IMG_20160903_144849364It took hours! I think it took us about 4 hours in the end. There were panels of glass so we didn’t want to smash that, the roof felt had loads of small nails in it and was disintegrating everywhere, and there were huge rusty nails and screws- I had visions of one of us standing on a nail and having to go to hospital. Andy had to saw through the bolts as they were so rusty they would not undo, as well as prising some of it apart with a newly purchased crowbar. There were also so many spiders in there- by the end I was reaching saturation point having already seen that massive one in the morning!


Weirdly the shed was not on the concrete base- that’s where the dog cage is, so our new shed will go next to where to old one was (and behind- more junk that they left us- an old metal bin, a rusting wheelbarrow, old recycling boxes, bags half filled with compost….). We have no idea how to get rid of the old shed panels, but that at least can wait.

When that was done we headed over to see my parents and catch up on their holiday (they went to Iceland) and tell them about ours. My mum had made some caramel shortbread, but the chocolate hadn’t set, so she said (completely seriously) “I can make pancakes instead”! Melted chocolate is no bad thing in my eyes!

This morning I was up early for a 6 mile run, as we were going out for brunch with Andy’s brothers and their wives. We met at The Bakehouse in St Albans, and I had the most delicious French toast, with blueberries, banana and maple syrup- the perfect breakfast after a run.


Afterwards we had a long walk around the park before heading home. It’s been a great weekend- parkrun/ long run, seeing family and friends and ticking some house jobs off the list.

What do you think about the separate start for dog runners? How does your parkrun collect and sort the tokens?