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.

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