Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A year in the life of a parkrun tourist...part 5.

So as the title of this piece suggests I have been planning to be on tour for most of the year, aiming to hit 20 different parkruns by the end of the year and experiencing the best that Yorkshire in particular has to offer!

After our trip to Wembley via Milton Keynes we decided to revisit some local runs again- mainly due to time constraints and other races and to be sociable!

First stop was Dewsbury – closest parkrun to the track at Spenborough where Kirklees Council organise an excellent track coaching session for under 8’s on a Saturday morning at 10am. Jamie decided he could do both so of we set round the hilly 4 lap course. After 2 laps his feet hurt so he stopped by the finish and allowed me to smash out 2 laps, nearly managing to catch Event Director Nicki at the finish despite being 100m down with 200 to go – I was out-dipped in the funnel after my heavy breathing and footsteps warned her I was coming but all good fun! One quick coffee later (plus a sausage sandwich and ice cream for Jamie!) we headed for the track where he spent a great hour and a half trying out a variety of track and field events – I can recommend this for any kids under 8 who want to have a go at athletics with qualified coaches for next to nothing!

After that a trip to my second home in Bradford to see Event Director Linda and to pace a friend to 27:30. Always good fun at Bradford despite the teeny tiny hill (x3) and I finished in 27:29 (thank you Garmin!) – my friend unfortunately struggled coming back from illness but there will always be other parkruns…..

Enjoying the pacing theme the week after (and the day before the Great North Run) we planned to get Sarah (my wife) round a parkrun in under 30 minutes for the first time. Like the four-minute mile this was a psychological barrier rather than physical and true to form she passed me on the finish straight to clock a time that was later rounded down to 29:43. Very well done Mrs!!!

The day after I travelled up to the GNR with the Huddersfield Running Bunnies to take on my second half marathon since coming back to running- despite the usual chaos (bus breaking down, driving past us and off up the motorway etc) we got there in good time, set off and knocked over 10 minutes off my comeback pb, and without stopping once!!! Happy day- though the traffic was so bad on the way back I did run out of beer…..

After 2 more weeks of pacing back at Leeds the 3 of us headed off to Harrogate parkrun with pool-playing friend Nicky for company. Nicky had gone from occasional runner to parkrun addict over the previous year and had caught me up time-wise, to the second at Leeds! Heading off round the perfectly flat half grass, half tarmac course he took his usual lead with me reeling him in slowly. After 2 of the 3 laps I realised that the cold I had been feeling was getting worse so I backed off, run/walking the last lap. The course however is so fast that if you have anything left for the last lap you can pick up a fast time! Lapping Jamie and Sarah with about 500m to go actually led me to my second fastest parkrun ever and a minute plus victory over Nicky, though the cold was to linger for a few weeks after that….. Nicky disagrees (because he does not like the mixed terrain) but I think this is one of the fastest courses out there – so long as it’s not too soggy!!!

Finally shifting that cold a few weeks later however having had a hip injury since the Woodland Challenge we set off for Hull parkrun on the 3rd Nov. Struggling to walk from the car to the start I was already planning a Personal Worse at possibly the fastest course in the country. However having tried to job at the back with the boys I figured my hip hurt anyway so I might as well get it over with as soon as possible!! Running on one leg around the lake on a very chilly morning I ended up with a very respectable time considering and promising to return next year when fit because this is a good one and a fast one!! The park itself is worth spending a bit of time and the event team are a great bunch, though I was appalled by the bad manners by a number of people during the run briefing!! I’ll be back…..

The week after back at Leeds we had one of those special events that sets Leeds apart – organised by the mighty Sam Dooley, statto extraordinaire the 3 leg relay (finally stopped calling it the 3 legged relay- completely different!) consisting of 25 teams of 3 running approximately 1 mile (ie a lap) each on a handicap system which only Sam understands but which works every time!! I had volunteered to marshall with Jamie for the main event due to the hip but as the 3 of us had entered as Team Jamie I had to do the relay! Now 1 mile is much more my thing- in the Golden mile track event a couple of months earlier I had clocked 5:38, far quicker than my 21 min plus 5k pb would suggest so I always do rather well out of the handicap system! However running on one leg still would not be easy. I ran the first lap with Jamie (aged 7 by now) who clocked 9:16 followed by Sar running 9:38 (ok, the first lap is very slightly shorter but still good going!) then I managed to shuffle round getting the team up to 3rd at the finish. Between us we managed a parkrun in 25:19 -if I had been fully fit…… Oh well, there’s always next year!! A great event with a fantastic atmosphere immaculately organised and supported – love it!

 The week after I decided to test my hip out at Leeds parkrun and it did not go well- so the day after I sacked off my pb attempt (planned for 12 months) and ran the Abbey Dash 10k with Sar – supposed to be pacing I spent the first 9k trying not to let her see the time as she was on for a massive pb- 7 mins 32 seconds as it turned out!! Most I’ve enjoyed a PW ever!!! Shows what parkrun can do for you…..

And so onto the final and 15th different parkrun of the year- York. Again, reckoned to be the flattest and fastest in the country they are not kidding- if it hadn’t been -1 degree, foggy and if I had full use of both legs it would have been!! As it was I ran the first lap with Nicky’s friend then hobbled off to pick up a few places on lap 2. Nicky again beat my best time (well done mate!) and proved that in good conditions this will be very fast. The usual excellent event team even gave Jamie a shout out (for those who followed the links earlier on the Longest parkrun he ran an unofficial world record for parkrun by a 6 year old in wellies at York…) and I had to apologise that he hadn’t made it and was tucked up warm in bed! Still, another great event to revisit when we start to fill up the calendar for next year…..

So what about the festive season? Well due to special events and generally being sociable we are staying local – full details can be found on our Facebook page – feel free to add and join in!!

Have a good one and see you at a parkrun near you soon…..

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