The Return of Parkrun

It is so good to have parkrun back. We’ve all missed you. 14th March 2020 was my final parkrun before the very first lockdown, and we all thought that maybe a month and we would be back, but I don’t think anybody expected it to take 14 months.

24th July and me and my lovely wife lined up at Morecambe Prom parkrun. The prom is nice and wide so there is plenty of space, and it is a nice distance from where we live for me to run there and then run with Helen. So many people to say hello to.

We missed the following week, but 7th August and we lined up at Lancaster. I had run there again while Helen drove with Nelly, our silly old dog. It was the ‘B’ route as there was a wedding, which meant three and a half laps of Fenham Carr. If we had known that we would have gone somewhere else. There were 8 tired legs between us.

My next parkrun was Salisbury as I was visiting my Mum for a few days. The route had changed once again and I lined up at the front of the sub 25 minute area, and then spent most of the first lap trying to overtake people. If you’re going to run in 28 minutes, please don’t stand in the sub 25 minute area, especially when there is a bottle neck within a the first few hundred metres. Despite that I finished in 20 minutes and 20 seconds, which I was very pleased with. Maybe I can run sub 20 minutes again.

Having not done parkrun for so long and keeping ourselves busy on Saturdays, going forward we don’t intend to do one every week, but we will do the odd tourist run.

Last weekend was a bit of a kerfuffle. I lost my barcode so I needed to print off a paper one, which combined with printer problems and not being able to log into my parkrun account meant that it was a bit of a rush to get to Williamson Park. I hadn’t checked to see if the run was cancelled, which it was due to the music festival. We should have known really.

Anyway, it is good to be back.

Injury Update and Salisbury Parkrun

Two and a half weeks back I strained by right calf, although it feels like a hundred years ago (read about coping with injury here). I’ve been mostly resting, apart from a couple of long hilly walks with my beautiful wife and our silly pointer (read about them here and here). I’ve been stretching it and wearing a tubi-grip. I also went to see a physio for a massage. Brett, who works from the Lancaster Uni sports centre, is not there for a relaxing massage. He has made me cry in the past. It would appear that I probably overloaded my calf and need to strengthen them, and definitely continue with the stretching. Brett added that I should be able to go for a gentle run by the weekend, so I purchased a pair of calf guards and made sure that I packed my parkrun barcode as I was off to Salisbury once again to visit my mother.

I had vowed to Helen that I would gently jog to Salisbury parkrun and if I felt any discomfort I would head home, with the same during the parkrun. Salisbury parkrun isn’t my favourite by a long way, as it’s always busy and the paths are quite narrow. It’s also four laps in the winter, with grassy sections in the summer allowing for three laps. I blogged about Salisbury parkrun the last time I was here, although on that occasion it was cancelled due to flooding (read about it here). The water was still quite high, but not in the park, which was a relief.

The run director was a bit cross with people talking during the briefing, but when she asked if there were any tourists, one wag shouted that he was from Bournemouth, much like at Morecambe when someone always shouts out Lancaster. There were also about half a dozen people celebrating 50 parkruns, and about the same who were at 100. Every week there are hundreds of people around the world hitting these milestones which is amazing. There were also a few pacers from Sarum Ladies, with walk 1 minute, jog 1 minute, up to walk 1 minute, jog 4 minutes. Parkrun really is open to everyone. Plenty of dogs as well, including one dalmation, one vizler and a stupid barking sausage dog, yapping at everyone.

I lined up nearer the back so that even if I wanted to run a bit faster I would be able to. My calf felt fine as I gently jogged round, overtaking the tailwalkers at the start of lap 3, and then being overtaken by a couple of the faster runners. A couple of people also sprinted past me towards the finish funnel as I sauntered in, finishing in 121st out of 508 finishers, with a time of 25:24, almost five minutes slower than my quickest time at Salisbury. I didn’t stop to sample the vast array of cakes at the finish line, instead once again gently running back.

Calf all felt good so I will probably try another run on Monday. Hopefully I will be able to stay injury free and up my distances ready for the Oldham Way Ultra in April (read about it here).

Did anyone else parkrun today?

 

Salisbury Parkrun

Three years ago my parents moved to Salisbury, and my beautiful wife and I (along with Nelly) have visited at least half a dozen times. Apparently Phil Harding, one of the archeologists from the TV program Time Team, hosted by Tony Robinson lives on the same street. I digress. All those times and I’ve only managed Salisbury parkrun twice, and Helen has never managed it. This was for a variety of reasons. One time we were off to London to see The Lion King musical, and most recently I was just getting over an illness and wasn’t in any way shape or form up to a parkrun.

This weekend though I was ready. It would also take my parkrun p-index up to three. The p-index is the number of parkruns that you’ve done p times. Salsibury would be the third parkrun that I’ve run three times.

Salisbury parkrun is held in Churchill Gardens, which isn’t a particularly large park. This means that in the summer there are three laps, and in the winter four laps, to stay on the paved areas. It’s also quite busy with on average 375 runners every week. With narrow paths if you want a quick time you have to push your way to the front. In the summer I managed to finish in 18th place in a time of 20:30, my fastest time this year.

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Having been caught out once, I (we) always check the parkrun cancellations webpage the night before, and then again in the morning, just in case. Alas, Salisbury parkrun was one of dozens called off. The River Avon runs through Salisbury as well as the Nadder. With the heavy rain in the last week all of the flood plains upstream and downstream were full of water. One of these flood plains is adjacent to Churchill Gardens, with one path almost completely under water.

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Salisbury parkrun is to the left on the photo above, but this section of the River Avon is usually narrow and quite tame. There used to be a dearth of parkruns where we live until just under four years ago when Lancaster parkrun started, and then last Easter Morecambe Prom parkrun started up. On occasions one or other has been cancelled, but it’s easy enough to get to the other. Salisbury is also in an area with very few parkruns, with the nearest being Moors Valley near Ringwood and Mountbatten School near Romsey, both 15 miles away (if the crow was to fly in a straight line). Without a car it was to be a weekend without a parkrun. Instead I went for a bit of a random run through the suburb of Laverstock before cutting along a cyclepath onto London Road and back to base. Not quite parkrun, but the next one is on Wednesday at Morecambe Prom. Say ‘hi’ if you see me.