Thursday, 18 February 2016

An Unexpected parkrun...

Every year in February, myself and Mr A get a kid-free weekend away (wippee!).  I mentioned to Mr A that York (where we were heading) has a parkrun.  

Unexpectedly, he was quite interested in this and sounded quite keen to give it a go (Mr A hasn't run for about 20 years)  So I was soon googling running shops in York to find him some suitable footwear.  

I insisted the "very good pair" of trainers he used to use was not going to cut it (and I also forgot to mention I chucked said trainers in the bin about 10 years ago! - this is "need to know" information - which he doesn't).  


I knew the gait analysis I had planned for him may spook him slightly but it was with gusto I ushered him through the doors of Up and Running the next day.  

He took one look at the treadmill and glanced towards the door but in the end we got him assessed as a "neutral" runner (where he doesn't turn in or out on his feet and can buy any neutral running shoes) and had him parading around the shop in Brooks, Mizuno and Asics contenders.  

We settled on some Brooks Adrenaline GTS 15 shoes - I already used the GTS 14's for road running and I also got a pair of 15's as there was a 2 for 1 offer - bargain!

Parkrunday arrived and it was freezing and raining, great.  Not the best combo when you are on holiday and don't actually need to get up.  

We drove to the racecourse where the parkrun is held, expecting 50 or 60 odd hardcore runners.  We were amazed to see hundreds of people - some with dogs attached by special canicross belts, some with buggies and some with little children running too. It was a massive field, almost 500 runners.  

I jogged to the start to warm up, poor Mr A was looking a bit overwhelmed and walked to save his legs.  It was about 1k to the start before you had to run 5k then walk another kilometre back to the car.

As I approached the start area I noticed that there was a person who was the "newbies" marshal - a crowd gathered around her to listen to the course details - 1 and a half laps of the racetrack service road, and to know what to do at the finish (present barcode to scanning marshal).  

I also noted two pacer marshals - one with 25 and one with 30 on their hi viz vests (to help people run 25 minute or 30 minute times).  I decided the 25 pacer would be useful for me as I had forgotten my Garmin watch for the first time ever!  I was aiming for a PB of 23 minutes but with so many people and no watch I knew it would be tricky.  

Mr A arrived and we were off.  I ran ahead as I wanted to try for a PB and he stayed near the back so he could stick at a steady pace.  The start was awful.  I have learned in all races to get to the front. 

Never mind what the Mo Farrah types think of you, just get up there, it helps so much with settling into position without the jostling and frustration of people getting in the way.  

You do have to bare in mind one thing though - don't try to belt off at the front runners pace, just set off then settle into a pace that's comfortable to you and stick left.  Yes people will pass you but it will be much better than battling it out at the back - trust me, I know!

At this particular parkrun though, with our slightly late arrival, I ended up quite near the back of a sea of runners.  It was wet and muddy at the edges and the tarmac was quite icy so I was finding traction difficult in my new Brooks.  

As expected I didn't enjoy it until about 2k in, when I found my pace and passed the 25 pacer.  I then basically ran at a fast pace and did my usual heavy breathing (I'm a puffer), until I started chatting (between puffs) to an older guy who looked lean and professional in OMM gear.  He had a watch and told me what pace we were making - around 7 minute miles, and I told him about how I was used to hills and that this flat-as-a-pancake course was actually a good test for me.  


He seemed intrigued and stayed with me, encouraging me until the end - a nice chap. When we finished he told me he thought we had done it in around 23 minutes and he was right!  I got a new PB of 23:23, I was surprised after my ropey start.  

After scanning I went to find Mr A, I was actually surprised he hadn't bailed and waited for me at the finish!  I got chatting to the "home straight" marshal and we clapped and cheered the stream of runners going for the finish.  That's one of the best things about parkrun - its not a race, its not judgey and everyone is friendly and supportive.

After a bit, I spotted him and was a bit concerned that he looked dreadful but was still running!  I told him to slow down a bit and ran with him to the finish.  He did really well and even passed another runner on his sprint finish! I don't think he particularly enjoyed it but it did show him how unfit he is and has made him resolve to start doing a bit more running from now on!



Overall an enjoyable morning which made us feel less guilty about all the food we were eating!  I would definitely recommend York parkrun to anyone wanting to try a 5k.  If you are heading to York, the City walls are great to run and only about 5k in total - see map.