On Saturday March the 14th, little did I know that it would be my last parkrun for a very long time and for a change, not due to an injury. I moved to a village in Wales and spent 3 months in isolation not knowing anyone and decided to come back as I was also spending too much money on rent. It was great to see some familiar faces after 3 months of loneliness, although the views were spectacular and the animals on the marsh road become my best friends. Anyway, 5 months after my last parkrun and still no signs of any return, just rumours and maybes..
I have been doing “Not parkruns” or “Non parkruns” still when I was residing in Wales and this is all thanks to the Vegan runners parkrun community. They, or should I say Mike Harper, fellow Vegan runner and Fareham Crusader gets everyone from Vegan runners to post their timed “Not parkruns” either on the parkrun facebook page or he’ll take your stats from the parkrun strava group. I get to see my fellow Vegans posting their selfies with their times and a little story attached to it and where in the UK they are. It is very inspiring. Mike collects those details and writes a fantastic race report with everyone included in the post. And it is very detailed and sometimes very random facts but I absolutely love them and look forward to them each week. Mike actually becomes a V60 today and he’s still speedy too!
I am back from a hip injury now and the last few weeks I have been running proper parkrun courses at Southampton common. Well, one course in particular, Route F. Well, I think it’s route F! It starts on the “Flats”, you head towards the Bellemoor pub, take the first right, over the little bridge and then turn right at the crossroads/junction and head downhill towards the Cowherds pub. Before you get there though you turn right onto the new-ish gravel path and behind the play park where the paddling pool used to be. Follow that black fence around and veer off left until you are back to where you started. 1 mile done!
Repeat the “Flats”, turn right again as before, over the little bridge but you turn left at the crossroads/junction this time and head up hill instead of downhill. This is the hardest part in my opinion and probably most other people’s. Anyway, no-one cares about opinions, right?
Take a left after the climb and you have now completed mile 2. Mile 3 is the quickest for most. A nice descent on the hill that you once had to climb twice on one of the old parkrun routes. Route C maybe? Continue on the path and past the pond on your left. At the end, take a left and then head back to “The flats”. It still seems a long way as you have to run all the way to the start and you only turn right onto the gravel path finish when there are no more exits. Do not take the first right onto the gravel path! That’s it, simple course even for me to remember.
The first route F I did was 3 weeks ago. I ran a 20:30 and it nearly killed me. I was hoping to pace more comfortably until my fitness returned. It never happened. It was a good idea to run it at 7am though. Fewer people around and not as hot.
Last week, I returned but with Di Mattingly at 7am again. I ran the course with Di. Di put in a really good effort and we finished with a sub 25. Di was really surprised how bad her fitness was over the 5k. Parkrun sure has a big part to play in some of our fitness and speedwork. Not the people who train properly though obviously!
Roll on to this week. Di was keen to return with me and race it again. This time I messaged Josh, Disgo Dan, and Kev. I was surprised when I turned up everyone was there apart from Kev but he had been replaced by our guest of honour.. Mike Mattingly. Aka Di Mattingly on facebook..lol. That winds her up.
I somehow slept through my alarm and woke up 15 minutes later than planned. I made a coffee, drank it and ran 2 miles to the start. I had got there at 8:01 rather than the arranged time of 8am. Doh! Luckily they hadn’t started without me. We chatted for a bit then an even later Kev came running over. I knew he was on his 4th beer when he messaged me last night telling me that he was on his 4th beer. I knew he would be okay though as we once got hammered on Spingo in Helston, Cornwall the night before my favourite parkrun at Trelissick. He still came in 2nd place behind a rapid 15 year old kid. (Probably in his 20’s!).
I’m not really good in crowds, despite them all claiming to be my friends, so there wasn’t really a race briefing. I just told everyone that they had to run 3.11 miles if they were in miles and not 3.10 as its not 5k. Another thing I learned from Mike Harper on the Vegan runners not parkruns. I did a quick 3-2-1 countdown and the garmins did their beeping and buzzing.
We were off. I went out pretty quick trying to keep up with an imaginary Alan Graham and the other speedsters I’m used to seeing. A glance at the watch says 5:40 pace. I sensibly slow and let Josh and Kev pass me on either side. I could still get a podium finish though right? My breathing feels laboured already and I tell Kev so, who is ahead but says he will pace me. My plan was to run 7’s again, like when I got that 20:30? The air was nice and cool though, this was PB conditions but not for any of us today. Maybe Josh? Josh is now well ahead and shows no signs of slowing. I talk to Kev in small sentences and say Hi to Kim Kelly as we pass her and turn right towards the Cowherds. Ah, love this downhill bit. I turn right onto the gravel path and can see Josh through the other side of the black railings. That would be the last time I would see him until the end of my 5k on the “flats” to the finish. No P1 for me today.
Kev was telling me to speed up despite me telling him I only wanted to run 7’s..lol. First mile 6:38. Now for that tough 2nd mile. I could no longer talk to Kev as I was breathing harder. I told myself to relax and take it easier on the 2nd mile, although I still wanted a sub 7. We repeat the run towards the Bellemoor, right and over the little bridge again. We then turn left and up the hill this time around. This is bloody hard and going on forever. Keeping pushing Deano. Was that Kev or me who said that? I look at my watch, get my head down and drive forward. I want that sub 7 on this mile and scrape by with a 6.56. Okay, relax the breathing and take charge of this downhill. Last mile and downhill with a lot of flat. Push dude.
Is that Rob Kelly? Of course it is. I have never been in front of Rob Kelly in a race. Although parkrun isn’t a race right? I’m still in 3rd though as we chat to Rob. This surprisingly helps me relax my body and breathing and I’m still running a sub 7. Rob veers off to the Bellemoor entrance to meet up with Dave Keates and Ian Howard. I know this, because we see them later on after this pain and misery is over. I tell Kev that I “should” run an average pace of 6.45. I have worked this out based on my 2 previous mile times and what pace I’m currently doing. To be able to work this out so well, I can’t be putting enough effort in right?
We hit the flats and pass Kim Kelly again. I can already see Josh running into the finishing straight. I shout encouragement although it’s probably inaudible. He probably thinks I’m just calling him a tosser anyway. I’m only going to run 21 minutes and it’s still bloody painful! I keep telling myself that I need to sort my diet out and stop eating the crisps every night! I need to lose a stone in weight at least I reckon. I may not look fat but I feel fat and my tummy tells me so. Okay, I have come a long way from 18 and a half stone and a waist size of 44 inches.
Di reminds me of this when I give myself a hard time but without my anger and annoyance I will just get fat again. They are useful tools.
I hit the final mile in 6.37. A bit quicker than I expected. Kev hasn’t told me but it’s then that I realise that I am really close to 20:30 again. I decide to blast it for the 0.11 but sadly, just over the 30 second mark with 36 seconds. Really pleased with 20:36 though but a long way from that 19:02 PB back during the second world war, or was it the first?
I stop the watch, congratulate Josh on the P1. Thank Kev for the pacing and just lay on the wet grass breathing heavily and looking up at the sky. After a minute or two I sit up and get ready to snap a photo of the awesome V60 Mike Mattingly. Mike doesn’t wear a Garmin though or do social media or even Tik Tok! I ask around frantically for the time even though I’m wearing a watch myself! 8.30am bang on. That gives me a Guessitmate on his time when I look back and see what time we actually started our watches. Not long after, is Disgo Dan. Not with quite the smiley grace that Mike presented to us. You can tell Disgo has put a lot of effort into this 5k. And did say that he, like Di is not producing his best 5k times lately, with the exception of Josh who ran a 17:54 or something PB a couple of weeks ago.
The first thing Disgo says when he grinds to a halt and pauses his Garmin… “Have we really missed parkrun though?” This make me laugh a lot. Just waiting on Di now who was hoping to do better than the previous week. She knew she was going to be last but she always puts in 100% and will still be first lady anyway. She races in and we all beam with smiles once the pain subsides and we chat away. It was so nice to catch up and race these people. I wish there were some more people though. We had 6 which is the maximum I guess but we were so far apart because of our abilities and times today. I’m sure we could squeeze another 4 people in there or do 2 waves of 6 based on times.
We also got to chat to Rob Callen after his not parkrun and saw Khalid running with James. Oh and Alex Beaton showed up for a not parkrun as we were leaving. Was really nice to chat to him as I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years. What a great morning with a nice cool breeze and some great people.
Josh Chivers was P1 today. A real good friend from skateboarding. Loves his running now and looking to join a running club and train with some people.
Kevin Willsher was P2 today. First met Kev at an RR10. Stoney cross I think? Seems like many summers ago now. A V40 inspiration for me.
Me in p3. Working on getting those sub 20’s back for the Autumn.
Mike Mattingly p4. Semi-retired mechanic and my better father figure in life. I want to be like Mike but not actually Mike. Could you imagine me with an afro?
Disgo Dan p5. Beaten by a 60 year old and only ran to 3.10 miles today..lol. Known Dan since the early days of skateboarding and getting drunk. We were a nightmare once! Disgo Dj’s a lot in places like Belgium and Blues/Overdraft etc.. Nearly got married this year as well..lol
Di Mattingly p6. First lady and lives for running marathons. I think she’s gonna be in the 100 club before we know it! She looks after me in a societal role and also gives me the occasional moral to think about. I also let her car share with me from time to time.
The fastest average pace today was 6.00 minutes per mile, the slowest 7.52. Which is still pretty impressive I think!
I had the highest average heart rate of 162 BPM.
Di had the lowest with 134 BPM
In the middle we had Kev with 135, Dan with 137 and Josh with 154.
Mike sadly had no pulse.
Some of these stats may actually not be true!
The rest of the results can be seen in the photo above that I put together.
Thanks for reading. See you next Saturday at 8am maybe? I’m off to the pub….