Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Lanhydrock parkie

     The thought of doing Lanhydrock parkrun definitely wasn't at the top of my list. I had done the Bodmin half marathon a few years back and I can tell you now that it is hilly, very hilly. But this is parkrun right and it's only 5k? I was heading to Plymouth anyway so I thought I may as well jump on the train from Redruth and alight at Bodmin. This would be my 155th parkrun, my 40th different location and the last of all the Cornish parkruns for me to complete.
It's important to remember your barcode for parkrun or else you won't get a recorded time but also in Cornwall and Devon, quite a few of the parkruns are run on National trust sites. I have also done a few in Wales. I usually remember my barcode but sometimes I forget my National trust Loyalty drinks card! Let's face it, we only really go to parkrun for the coffee and gossip afterwards ;) Anyway, I made a conscious effort to take my card this time around.

   I get off the train at Bodmin and realise that I don't even need Google maps as Lanhydrock is sign-posted from the station. It's a lovely 1 and 3/4 mile walk too. The sun was out and the birds were singing and the only other sound I could hear was that from a babbling river on route. I got to a gate and an entrance of Lanhydrock but wasn't really sure where to go from here. I looked at Google maps but still no idea. Luckily all parkruns have a website and I followed the postcode to the car park at the top. I had a big hill to walk up where I saw an arrow sign. One of the ones they use in parkrun in fact. There were cows everywhere though. Surely we weren't going to be running here? I walked to the big house which I remember from the half marathon and take a right up another hill. I could see the "Finish" sign to my right and further up the "start" sign to my left with a few people gathered around. It was still early though. About 8.30.

  I talk to a few friendly marshals who tell me... A: This is not a PB course and B: This is the toughest parkrun course in the U.K. Now, I have heard the latter stated by a few proud parkrun directors before including Trelissick which has nothing on Mount Edgcumbe or Parke parkrun. So, I was going to take these words with a pinch of salt. I put my bag and hoodie into the back of a jeep thing where they tell me the bags get taken to the finish for us to collect. I decide on a warm up and do a couple of Kilometres which entails lots of effort and heavy breathing. "That's just the way it is sometimes I tell myself".
I was feeling like I might get a top Ten finish here as no-one the previous week could even manage a sub 20. Not that I was at that level of fitness and it was only the previous night that I had had an MRI scan on my knee. The knee wasn't feeling too bad but I never knew until a day or two later what sort of pain I would be in, if any.

    Anyway, I kind of missed half of the first timers briefing and the course sounded quite complex so I would do what I always did.. follow the person in front and then the person in front of them etc..

3.2.1. We were off. It was a fast start and there was no congestion whatsoever with such a wide path and just over 200 runners/joggers and walkers. I guess the fast start was due to it being down hill. There appeared to be a lot of people in front of me too and I wasn't passing many. Think I remember glancing at my watch and seeing a sub 6 pace at one point. I was soon to slow though. We passed the big house and then there was a brief climb on a gravel path that I also remembered from the half marathon. After this climb though it was back downhill at full speed. It was all uneven gravel paths. every footfall was exciting yet dangerous. You had to think and place well every time you landed. It didn't help that my eyes were watering. I wiped them dry as I ran twisting on the gravel paths with the woodland all around us. It sure was a very hot day. The sun was shining but here we were protected by the trees, but not the heat.

     It's very hard to try and remember a course when you are racing. it wasn't like I was taking in all the beauty of the course but I was aware of it. I was also struggling to breathe despite the majority of the first mile having so much descent. I was close to twisting my ankle just before the end of the first mile as well but I survived.
Coming to a junction I had trouble slowing and turning right. I nearly ran straight on as it didn't seem to obvious to me. The marshal managed to steer me to the right after I had asked. I guess I should have been paying attention to the runner who was in front really! It flattened out but before long, we were running downhill again. So much downhill. Doesn't seem like a tough course right? Maybe a little technical underfoot though.

   6.44 for my first mile and 7.20 for my second mile. I was slowing and really feeling it in the heat after the first mile. And I knew it was going to get worse! In fact, I have just checked my strava stats and it's pretty much downhill for 1.5 miles and the rest just climbs with a nice bit of a downhill sprint finish. My heartrate felt pretty high on the last mile and I was struggling to keep it down. My breathing was really laboured too. I decided to walk for a bit. A couple of people passed me as we headed on the road back up towards the big house.

   I started running again though and soon caught them up. We turned right and crossed a field and then another ascent began where I walked again. Ok, it was a tough parkrun. That pinch of salt was now truly sore in my open wounds. I kept on going regardless. A bit more running and a bit more walking. Not many people were passing me though. Maybe one or two? It did flatten out again eventually and then there was a crowd of people supporting and cheering including Lordshill's speedy Pete B who I had spoken to at the start. He was supporting and his wife was running. He shouted words of encouragement that pushed me that little bit harder and all I can remember shouting back was "brutal mate". It was a nice speedy downhill sprint through another field and I felt fast at that point even though I had run/walked my last mile in just over Nine minutes.

    A finish time of just under 23 minutes and 18th place. It's a lovely course and the marshals were fantastic. I chatted to few after the run as well while I waited for the jeep thing to turn up with my bag. The jeep thing never showed though. I walked towards the café hoping it was there but no sign. It turned up in the end but I was getting a bit concerned at one point. I was in no rush to be anywhere. I was in such nice surroundings and the sun was shining. The weather forecast was set for thunderstorms, they never came, thankfully. After tracking my bag down, I then went for Coffee and got my loyalty card stamped. I had sadly forgotten about Pete and his Wife and never saw them again.

   I felt satisfied with my run as I drank my Latte in the café. I also decided to retire my trusty Mizunos that day too.
It is a very hard course. Tougher than Mount Edgcumbe with its 3k climb at the start? Tougher than Parke with the hill that you can barely walk up near the start? I couldn't say but they are all lovely places to visit and great experiences to be part of. What's next? All the Devon parkruns? I think I need to head back to Penrose for a faster time as I had cycled about 500 miles to get there the last time I did it.

The good thing is that I have had very little knee pain after this parkrun and had little knee pain after Trelissick parkrun but after Eden project parkrun in between, I had bad knee pain for 7 days where I struggled to sleep every night. The trails seem to be better for me because of less impact I guess.
Either way, it's good to be running parkruns again even if that is my limit at the moment :D

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Heartlands parkrun

                I'm only 5 miles away from Heartlands parkrun so I thought i'd give it a go. It has only been going for 3 weeks now but was a bit put off when I heard it was 4 laps! I was later to find out that it's actually 3 and a bit laps, consisting of almost 1 mile loops. Anyways, i'll go through the course with you as I ran it....

       I get to the start, say hello to a few friendly faces and try a 1k warm up. My ankle hurts and so does my knee. I am recovering from a sprained ankle and I have cartilage damage in my knee. My doc and Physio both say I can run though as long as I take it easy and go slow. I hadn't run a 5k in 3 weeks and I was hardly training with the achy knee.
The usual race briefing ensuing and then the 3.2.1... 

    You run out towards the Heartlands Engine house and Café, which I forget the name of both. Then you take a right a run across this narrow bridge. If you wanted a speedy time you'd better start at the front. Although they barely get over 100 runners at the moment, but we all know how that goes ;) Remember, I am not racing though am I? Doctors orders and all that. 

       The course kind of gets technical now as you enter these lovely enclosed gardens. There are lots of twists and turns and the lead runners take a left past a cone when they should have gone right. They don't lose too many seconds though and are back on track in no time. I get to witness this as I have obviously gone out too fast in my excitement of being able to run. 

   There are more tight turns until we exit the gardens from the otherside. Now we take a right onto a path and then a left onto a little bit of off road. Another tight bend and through a gate and then we are heading back towards the café. I get to the straight and realise than I am running too fast for my own good. My breathing heavy and laboured. You run a nice flat bit towards the road though, nice and straight too. Then you go left around the grass, sticking to the smooth path. 

       I get a few words in with a fellow runner. I can't even remember what we talk about but we exchange a few words of pleasantries in the sunshine. He leaves me and then I notice we are running into a children's play park. I duck just in case I am tall enough to hit my head on the bridge that we run under. It's an interesting park with lots to look at. I later go back and notice I am a couple of inches clear of the bridge when I stand under it.

      We appear at the start again and pass the parkrun tent thing. 1 lap done but not quite a mile yet and I am feeling it. But something inspires me and pushes me. There is music coming from the tent. We have music! Also it's a song I love... Highway star by Deep Purple. A surge of energy hits me and I run my first mile in a little over 7 minutes.

      It's much easier to pass people now as the field really opens up after the first mile. Plenty of space for everyone. It's not long before I see the tail runner and we are lapping people. The ones who are running and sweating I shout words of encouragement as I can see they are putting all their efforts into it. They usually huff and puff a "well done" back unless they are wearing headphones of course.

    So, around we go again. I guess there isn't much more else to say except that I slowed on that 2nd mile and ran about 20 seconds slower. The course may have lots of twists and turns but it is pretty fast as it is flat and if anything there is a bit of overall descent.

   The last mile or loop 3, I picked up the pace again and ran with another guy at a similar pace. We chatted a bit. I told him to stop slacking when I caught him up again and he laughed and obliged by picking up the pace. The last mile was only just about my fastest. The ankle had stopped hurting after the 1st mile and the knee felt ok after the 2nd. My body almost felt normal again with no aches and pains!

     I hadn't even thought about position or racing today. I was more concerned if my knee and me would actually complete a 5k. After the 3rd loop you begin to run a 4th but then turn left along another path and towards the finish. I was glad to get there and I was on such a runner's high. I had missed running so much. I was on cloud 9 for quite a few hours after parkrun but knew I would pay for it in the coming days. It would be worth it though. Next parkrun I will run slower and see if the recovery time is quicker with my knee. It was a fantastic sunny day and my 38th different parkrun location.

   Surprisingly I came in 9th place with a time of 21.51. Not a speedy time at all and the winner only ran a 19.01. I guess he did go the wrong way near the start though! Lots to see on this parkrun despite it being just over 3 laps.