Weekend larks in the parks

A weekend of larks in parks as I resolutely stick to my Ronhill #runeveryday for October. What easier way could there be to get a fast, early run in than Park Run?

It’s Saturday and its quite early and I’m still learning to love it. But once I’m up, I love it every time I give it a go, but I wouldn’t say it’s a habit yet. I gave Rushcliffe Park Run a second go and was blessed with another pleasant Saturday morning of weather. That brings my total to 4….. Getting a 50 or 100 Park Run T-shirt seems rather a pipe dream, I never managed to do 5 sweat shop runs to get a t-shirt but then there was no appeal like there is with Park Run.

It was the first time I didn’t recognise many people on the start line, I’m used to knowing so many runners at events but I only saw the lovely John Oldfield from HPP (my vet 70 pacer from last week’s Stilton Stumble and 100 Park Runner). I didn’t spot one purple lady from NWR which is unusual. Bizarrely, the run director was an old boss from years ago but he seemed too busy to say ‘hi’ to and he’d probably not recognise the old dear in front of him…..he hadn’t changed at all ( clearly Cliff Richard syndrome). Note to self, say hello next time ! I can’t really call myself a Park Run tourist as I’m only registered to Colwick Park barely 5 miles away, I keep quiet at that point and let those from further afield (Cornwall yesterday) take a bow.

Parking is easy and free. I wish they wouldn’t say a voluntary £1 to park , does anyone pay ? Unlike Colwick Park, the start is easy to find and is the same place as the finish. That’s so handy for using the unofficial ‘leave all your jackets’ park bench. I foolishly trust all runners, who wouldn’t, and as the bench is by the finish, it’s well policed. I take a crappy hoodie just in case, but it’s good to be able to leave something for afterwards.  Good job my car keys don’t point to which car !!

This was only Rushcliffe Park Run number 2 but I remembered the start is rather a funnel so I made a point of not getting stuck too far back. There are several more park benches as you leave the starting funnel so you can’t go wide to pass people without serious injury. Fortuately a marshal does stand in the way of ‘sudden death by park bench’ or I’d probably have gone flying. The route is flat, you can’t call a very slight incline along the back of the park a hill. You run around the lake which is always pleasant. We’re too land locked in Nottingham so running next to any water is a pleasant experience in my book. It’s a two lap course, two laps is as much as I can stand with my low boredom threshold so it’s perfect. I tried to keep my pace up which I’m rubbish at doing on my own but I really gave it a go plus I had the added incentive of keeping a couple of ladies ahead of me in sight, I knew there couldn’t be too many. I was staggered by the speed of couple of very young boys, most impressive.

I’ve now lapped the slowest runners/ walkers at about the same point on the course so I guess I can use that as a guide to how I’m going too…I am nothing but supportive of other runners, it’s all about community but the lapping thing is satisfying when you’re uber competitive, we just don’t like to admit it !

I pushed on, no pacers this week. I eyed up a speedy looking lady in the last kilometre. Long tanned arms and legs in shorts and a vest. Every inch the perfect runner. I hate that dilemma, if you pass too soon you have the stress that they’ll come back at you before you cross the line. I made a break at the final turn and got away with it! I passed the gazelle and got a PB at 23.42…..I couldn’t see a bell to ring, I guess that’s a Colwick thing ?

Then the best bit of Park Run is waiting for the email geek fest of stats and comparisons. 8th lady out of 115, I’m very happy with that. But 3rd in the 45-49 category, not happy with that. Who are these speedy LCAs ? At the Forest Park Run that same morning, a time of 27 minutes won my age category. I’m not sure I can muster much more speed to beat these south Notts thoroughbreds but I’ll be back, as I say in my ‘Arnie’ voice, I’m beginning to love it !

Sunday I felt the need for some new runner inspiration and ran down to Colwick Park to help with the NWR improvers group. So that’s run 1 of the day at about 5 miles. There’s a huge group of beginners followed by about 10 improvers. They’ve done C25km but now need to be confident they can nail 5km every time without that confidence sapping voice in the beginners head telling they ‘need a walk ‘ which is the most common issue in new runners. Then they’ll move to pushing beyond 5km up to 10km. We took a different route through the park. I’m amazed how big it is, I have no idea of all the paths.

That being the case I ran as a mid runner. Actually as the group naturally splits up the mid runner is quite tough as I sprint between solo runners for a chat and check in. Such a mix of ladies and such great guys, lots of interesting running stories.  I was able to reassure the lady who’s entered the Tissington trail half marathon next October that her finish time of 5 hours is a bit pessimistic. In fact if we trotted along at the speed we were yesterday we’d be looking at 2.40  finish time. Maybe she was planning to stop at all the pubs along the route?

Most worrying is that my teens assure me I smell like a moose when I’ve been for a run so I hope running to Colwick  hadn’t already made me aromatically offensive……they’ll be dreading me rocking up next week if I did.

My biggest achievement was wearing my Adidas VLM jacket that I purchased at the marathon exhibition. It cost a fortune, I loved the colours, I couldn’t wait to buy it and yet since April, I’ve never worn it. Why? Not sure, don’t want to be a show off, too embarrassed by my less than impressive time. Yet I can’t wait to get race tshirts on after races. Anyway, gave myself a talking to, bought the bloody thing, wear the bloody thing ! Why are we lady runners so complicated?

So a PB, a longer run and new runner inspiration, a streak of 18 days #runeveryday…..that was a good weekend.

Categories: Ladies of a Certain Age Running (LCA), Race Reports

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