The letter, in an off-white embossed envelope, with royal crest, was delivered by courier this morning. Naturally, I was expecting this to be my impending Knighthood for Services to Average Writing but, alas, I was mistaken.
It was a letter from the palace royally proclamating that I was no longer permitted to share my parkrun experiences with you. It followed a complaint to her majesty from a Mr Jobsworth, Director of Lacking Common Sense at the municipal borough offices. And, in the words of Mr Jobsworth, HRH The Queen requotes:
“Mr/Miss/Mrs (delete as appropriate) Allen’s rather coarse and base observations of his (or her) local parkrun are not wholly reflective of everyone’s experiences and he (or she) only essays to provide one side of many stories. This has led other parkruns to worry for their continued existence. We have even had a few tears…
….that is tears - tears of hamstring muscles - as gobsmacked parkrunners pull up sharply in shock and horror that their experience is not getting blogged about.
Should this blog writer wish to negotiate a position in which he (or she) is able to recount the personal experiences of every runner participating in all events around the globe then I, as Director of Lacking Common Sense, may allow him (or her) to continue. There is one proviso, however, and that is the taking of photographs of his (or her) lunch and scoring them on a scale of 1 to 10 is strictly prohibited.”
The Queen went on to add in her own words:
"I am very sorry to have do this. You sound like a jolly good chap/chappess."
I could have just taken it on the chin and put on a British stiff upper lip. But, I wasn't hanging around waiting for mine to stiffen.
I'm made of sterner stuff. So, I immediately took some expert guidance from Veg (aka Martha), the 9 year old girl school lunch blogger who has had a similar experience this week with her local council. Her advice to me was simple. So, I duly took it and stuck two of my own potato croquettes up to authority.
Therefore, I shall carry on providing those aforementioned services to average writing and no doubt expect to be gonged on another occasion!
As you know, there were wild celebrations and jubilations in the Allen household as I toasted a new parkrun worst last week. Could I better… or worser … it, this week?
It was another average day weather-wise. The sun was poking through broken cloud. A distant threat of grey was kept at bay, and the gusting wind blew around the course like the breeze of a Caribbean beach.
Proceedings commenced with Event Director, Stuart Pelling, calling runners into line. He informed us there was a birthday girl in the group. Was it me? No, surely there must be some mistake. My birthday isn’t until December.
Oh no, it seemed it wasn’t for me. The birthday belonged 40 year old Eleanor Ruffell, who had brought a number of Hailsham Harriers to celebrate her special day. After a heartfelt rendition of Happy Birthday, sung beautifully off-key and out of tune by everyone, we were set on our way.
I settled into a nice rhythm this week, covering the first mile with my Garmin showing 7:53s and 7:52s for most of the opening split. That’s better, I thought to myself. I checked for awry arrows at the 2km mark, after last week’s wind-assisted drama, but thankfully all was well. What could possibly go wrong?
We headed down the long back straight and, by some marvellous twist of fate, we had the wind slightly behind us here, which made it a little easier to power along. Little figures were dotted throughout the distance, probably all feeling as knackered as I was. I picked off a couple of people who were beginning to drop back through the field and my motivation was relatively strong.
I hit my usual bad patch at 2 miles, where I felt my legs begging for mercy and my stomach tighten with wretched pain as I tried to run. Never in my life had the inappropriateness of saying to myself keep firm, open your legs and push harder seemed so properly appropriate.
At 4km I could hear heavy breathing and feared that the man from the funny phone calls was right behind me. I tried to up the pace but not so hard that I couldn’t sustain it until the end. Heavy breathing behind, three people to pick off up front and I was in the middle.
We came out of the ditch into a howling headwind that almost stopped me dead in my tracks. The pace was lifting step by step, like the dénouement to a 5000m Olympic final. I knew I always had a finishing kick and today was no exception. Calling on my last few vapours of fuel, I surged past three people in the final 100m and burst through the finishing funnel.
It wasn’t until a few seconds later that I realised I had forgotten to press stop on the Garmin. I raised a resigned eyebrow at my own stupidity as I watched the seconds tick on: 24:49, 24:50, 24:51…
I would have to wait a while for my finishing time but I estimated it to be 24:20 or so.
Idiocy number two then dawns on me. Not only did I forget to stop the clock, I also forgot to set my mile splits beforehand, having turned them off for an interval session earlier in the week. In the words of BA Baracus……. "I ain’t gettin’ on no plane"… sorry, wrong quote… "You crazy fool!"
My final time was indeed 24:20, some 29 seconds quicker than last week, 20 seconds slower than average and still almost a minute outside my freakish course and distance personal best.
After jiggling some shopping priorities, I managed to find my way to the Toby Carvery (via every Hampden Park pathway possible) for a quick social debrief. I was only expecting orange juice, lemonade and polite conversation and was shocked and appalled to find some rather dubious parkrun ‘usual suspects’ lining up tequila slammers and whisky chasers as they tried to nobble me for a special parkrun mention. I steadfastly refused. If it were gin and tonic it might have been a different story. Don't forget! Gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire, Fever Tree, ice and an organic slice, please!)
It was very nice to say hello to some regular faces that I don’t often get an opportunity to speak to. We discussed with scientific precision the finer points of running on a curry and the motivation you get from overtaking children, octogenarians and dogs.
The quickest way to get a mention in my blog is to tell me you don’t want a mention. So, if you find yourself at Eastbourne parkrun and notice someone busting moves like John Travolta and sounding like Maria Sharapova as they run (or was it the other way round, I can’t recall?), then do not fear - that will just be Mr Alan Roberts gunning for a PB. T'was a pleasure to meet you, Sir.
And finally, for my lunch for today, I had chicken and vegetable broth, which I score 7/10. Tasty, but not enough of it.
I don’t have a picture, so you will have to make do with pixelated ones of my home-made lunch and dinner from Thursday. I scored them 10/10 and 9/10 respectively:
And my dinner:
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