The ‘Tour of Britain’ – An Explanation
Back in 2016 on my first three week caravan holiday I attempted to run pretty much every day. I missed a run on the opening day thanks to problems with the car and then took two Fridays off. After ten days or so I aimed to run at least 10 miles, but for the first week, thanks to some injury issues and lack of established plan I had a few runs of less than 10 miles. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the places we visited through running and also the challenge of finding three pictures to be uploaded to Strava to reflect what I saw on the run.
For our second three week caravan holiday in 2018 I formalised my running plans some time before I left. Quite simply I aimed to run a minimum of 10 miles a day for each of the 21 days I was on holiday. I could run where I wanted or at any pace, the only condition was I had to start and finish from wherever I was staying – no travelling by car to a possibly more preferable venue. As in 2016, I also had to upload three pictures to Strava that told the story of the run.
We stayed at seven caravan parks on our three week family holiday, spending three nights at all of them except the last, where we spent two nights, but I would attempt three runs.
A note about the data used for the reports of the runs: the mile splits in the written reports, distances, times of runs and Strava segments come from Strava. The Split Summary at the bottom of each day’s run and the Leg Summary comes from FetchEveryone, with the exception of the Total Ascent, which comes from Garmin Connect with, in most instances, the elevation corrected as the altimeter/barometer on the Garmin Forerunner 935 leaves a little to be desired.
Leg One – Stockton-on-Tees
Stockton is a market town on the River Tees with a population of 105,000 and closely neighbours the better known Middlesborough.
Staying at the Tees Barrage Caravan Site we were impressed by the water sports centre.
We also thoroughly enjoyed the Stockton International Riverside Festival which, by pure coincidence, began the day we arrived in Stockton.
Day 1 – Thursday August 2 2018 – Stockton to Middlesborough & Back
The first run of the Tour took place, not long after arriving in Stockton-on-Tees at the warmest part of the day (4pm) and what would be the warmest run of the holiday at 25C and pretty humid. The run was a simple out and back affair to Middlesborough town centre and back. I used the cycle path that runs along the River Tees for the most part. This section was quite enjoyable – the bit through some industrial zone in and around Vulcan Street was less pleasant with some reminders that this is not the most affluent area in the country.
Once in Middlesborough I looked for some decent buildings to take a photo of. This proved a bit of a struggle and I resorted to black and white to make things look a bit more impressive.
A struggle too was the actual run itself. I’d left Grantham feeling sub-par with some mild virus which affected me badly on a cycling TT just two days earlier. Added to that the right Achilles was grumbling and not enjoying the warm weather – plus I picked up some weird sharp pain in the left foot at just after halfway which led to me removing trainers and socks expecting to find a thorn or something equally sharp, but finding nothing. The pain soon went and did not return.
All that said, 10 miles at 6:46 pace was a solid start to the campaign.
1) 1m – 7:24(7:24/m) 133/148bpm 94cal 8.11/9.02mph
2) 1m – 6:37(6:37/m) 143/157bpm 92cal 9.06/9.64mph
3) 1m – 6:40(6:40/m) 152/156bpm 100cal 9.01/9.98mph
4) 1m – 6:36(6:36/m) 153/158bpm 99cal 9.08/9.43mph
5) 1m – 6:53(6:53/m) 146/157bpm 90cal 8.72/9.46mph
6) 1m – 6:48(6:48/m) 146/155bpm 89cal 8.83/10.18mph
7) 1m – 6:48(6:48/m) 152/158bpm 98cal 8.81/9.29mph
8) 1m – 6:39(6:39/m) 153/159bpm 97cal 9.03/9.68mph
9) 1m – 6:44(6:44/m) 152/158bpm 91cal 8.91/9.35mph
10) 1m – 6:32(6:32/m) 154/161bpm 94cal 9.18/10.08mph
11) 0.13m – 48(6:03/m) 158/162bpm 12cal 9.92/9.96mph
Best Strava Segment Performance: Forty Foot Teesaurus – 24th/334
Day 2 – Friday 3 August 2018 – Stockton Loops
Not beginning the run until 11am meant that I was unable to use the Caravan site toilets (They were closed for cleaning) which meant the first couple of miles was spent trying to find a public convenience, which I eventually found in the Stockton Shopping Centre.
Once that had been sorted the rest of the run was trying to explore Stockton without resorting to an out and back effort. The town centre was all geared up for its Riverside Festival (Which we enjoyed the following day). The first half saw me try to follow the River Tees unsuccessfully, making my way through the Durham University Campus and back to the Tees Barrage where I was staying.
The second half had me following a Cycle Path around the back of the Caravan Site. This proved fruitful literally in the discovery of a bounty of early ripened blackberries which the kids returned to later that day to harvest. This path went past the Asda I had spent ages trying to find by car the day before (It was around half a mile away if you walked, rather than drove, which was nearer 3-4 miles). It then went over some barren land around the back of the prison with a path which looked like it served some other purpose years ago.
The cycle path briefly degenerated to a footpath before once again becoming a fully fledged cycle path. I could have followed this for ages but with over 10K covered I opted to head back into town on a main road before returning again on the Tees cycle path and back to the caravan park with a loop or two of the site to bring myself over 10 Miles.
As with Day One I was still feeling a little sub-par with the right Achilles hurting a fair amount. Some hamstring stretching appeared to be helping though. The photos too were struggling for inspiration…
1) 1m – 7:54(7:54/m) 123/138bpm 85cal 7.59/8.72mph
2) 1m – 7:53(7:53/m) 128/140bpm 87cal 7.61/8.35mph
3) 1m – 7:18(7:18/m) 134/144bpm 91cal 8.22/8.87mph
4) 1m – 7:05(7:05/m) 136/141bpm 88cal 8.48/9.25mph
5) 1m – 7:06(7:06/m) 139/148bpm 89cal 8.45/8.93mph
6) 1m – 6:59(6:59/m) 132/141bpm 71cal 8.58/10.54mph
7) 1m – 6:49(6:49/m) 134/141bpm 72cal 8.79/9.48mph
8) 1m – 7:02(7:02/m) 136/145bpm 76cal 8.53/9.83mph
9) 1m – 6:49(6:49/m) 140/148bpm 81cal 8.8/9.5mph
10) 1m – 6:51(6:51/m) 140/148bpm 79cal 8.76/9.52mph
11) 0.07m – 26(6:33/m) 141/142bpm 5cal 9.15/9.46mph
Best Strava Segment Performance: Dubliners to Barrage – 11th/115
Day 3 – Saturday 4th August 2018 – Tees Barrage parkrun
It took a lot of convincing that it was a genuine coincidence that the first caravan site of the holiday was literally less than 400 meters from the start of Tees Barrage parkrun. I only caught wind of it a few weeks before the holiday, but was unsure of the route. It was only when I arrived in Stockton that I guessed this would not be your typical parkrun as none of it actually takes place in a park.
Setting off at 8am, an hour before the start, the first mile or so had me wondering whether I’d be able to complete the 5K course – the legs felt dreadful! It took at least three miles before the legs felt anywhere near half decent and even by the time I’d run 5.5 miles (Mostly covering sections that I thought were on the course) I held little hope for a respectable performance.
The pre-run guide to first timers was the best I’ve experienced so far at a parkrun – they had printed a large laminated map of the course and told me, as someone hoping to run around 18 minutes, to take a good look at it! I tried as best as possible to memorise it, but wasn’t totally convinced I knew where to go.
When the traditional question of whether any tourists were taking part, by coincidence I was stood next to a pair of runners who came for Holme Pierrepont Running Club, which is based in Nottingham – the closest city to Grantham. Talking to them further after the run, if this wasn’t coincidence enough it transpired they had taken part in the Belton House parkrun the week before and had spotted me running to the start of that parkrun along the A607. They also pointed out that I was wearing the same 2017 London Marathon finishers’ T-Shirt as I did at Belton House. They also noted that I finished first at Belton House. Would I repeat the feat 105 miles or so further North?
I made my usual fairly cautious parkrun start, that is to say I didn’t set off at a pace I couldn’t sustain. After 200 meters or so I found my legs were working quite well all of a sudden and I soon eased to the lead, eking out a 20 meter gap as we headed to the Millennium Bridge. As I’m really not a fan of bridges over water, especially when on foot or on bike, I went a bit more conservatively than those behind me and I was caught by a small group which soon became a group of myself and one other runner. We were running relatively swiftly, enough to ease ahead of the following pack, and as I wasn’t totally sure where I was running, I decided to stick on his shoulder and let him, for the most part, lead the way, only moving ahead when I felt the pace was slowing too much.
As the course traversed canal paths, bridges and rivers, it soon become apparent why this is not a particularly quick parkrun course. Despite being pretty flat there are numerous sharp 180 degree turns and a fair number of steps to be climbed too. I’d overheard a runner at the start saying that once we’d crossed the third bridge it was a mile to the finish and mostly free of any twists and turns. I took this as an opportunity to put the hammer down and picked up the pace. If you believe the Strava segment I ran the final mile and a bit at 5:06 pace, which I find surprising, but could explain why I pulled out 24 seconds on second placed James by the finish, which came all of a sudden and a bit sooner than expected!
18:11 was a pleasing time given how bad the legs felt when I first started running, and has me 24th all time currently at the time of writing. After a good chat with the Holme Pirerrpont runners it was merely a case of an easy 1.5 miles warm down and a couple more loops of the Caravan Park to take the mileage just over the 10 miles.
1) 1m – 8:15(8:15/m) 118/134bpm 83cal 7.28/9.04mph
2) 1m – 7:31(7:31/m) 132/137bpm 94cal 7.97/8.37mph
3) 1m – 7:26(7:26/m) 134/142bpm 91cal 8.06/8.77mph
4) 1m – 6:56(6:56/m) 141/145bpm 94cal 8.65/9.06mph
5) 1m – 7:28(7:28/m) 136/147bpm 87cal 8.04/9.46mph
6) 1m – 6:04(6:04/m) 152/168bpm 85cal 9.89/13.3mph
7) 1m – 5:48(5:48/m) 166/169bpm 96cal 10.35/10.96mph
8) 1m – 5:50(5:50/m) 170/176bpm 99cal 10.29/11.33mph
9) 1m – 6:08(6:08/m) 156/175bpm 85cal 9.79/11.4mph
10) 1m – 6:55(6:55/m) 140/149bpm 78cal 8.67/9.5mph
11) 0.07m – 28(6:27/m) 142/144bpm 5cal 9.3/9.18mph
Best Strava Segment Performance: Difficult 4th km – 7th/1966
With the third run completed it was onwards and upwards to Berwick!
Leg One Summary
Distance Run: 30.3 miles. Average Pace: 6:55 per mile. Accumulated Time: 3:29:32. Average HR: 142; Total Ascent: 150 meters.