January 1st 2017. For most people, New Year’s Day is a day of recovery and rest, seeing family and welcoming in the new year, setting resolutions and making plans for the year ahead. I have just finished a run streak through the month of December, running at least a mile a day, running a total of 48.7 miles. I had thought that New Year’s Day would be a day of rest however, when I saw there was a chance to do a double header parkrun I jumped at the chance! Well…initially I thought I was just doing Stratford Upon Avon but when I realised Leamington was on the agenda too I didn’t back out.
So…8:20 and I am up, dressed and surprisingly not too hungover. I await the arrival of 3 parkrun friends so that we can travel over to the first venue together. Stratford-upon-Avon is the destination and we make good time. The course is on the recreation ground by the river run over 3 laps of fairly flat ground. There are a lot more people there than I expected to be honest and representatives from far and wide including York, Milton Keynes, Coventry, Redditch, and Evesham!
We set off and I feel good. Getting swept along with the crowd I set off a tad too fast so force myself to back off a bit….i want to run it all! I settle into a pace and it isn’t long before I realise I am on for a PB if I keep it up! A little bit of me is worried that after running just a mile for most days during December I might burn out as soon as my watch buzzed at the mile marker, but I pushed that negativity from my mind and plodded on!
One of the things that made me fall in love with parkrun was the fantastic support you get from everyone there. Not just the marshals (although they are the true heroes of parkrun, without them we couldn’t do it!). I am lapped week in week out and I don’t care! I don’t think the lappers know how much of a boost it gives me to hear them shout out ‘well done’ or ‘keep going’ as they dash past.
Coming up to lap 2 and I see one of the Pershore Plum Plodders I am running with in my sights. As I pass him I shout out that I am on for a PB and keep on pushing. I cross the line in 36:22 (official parkrun time), a PB by just under 1 minute!
As the last of our troupe runs home and we make our way to the plum mobile it starts to rain. We head off to Leamington. We park up and head towards the start. It soon becomes apparent that we are some way from the start and by now it is raining quite hard combined with a bitter wind making us question why….just why!
We make it to the start just in time and as soon as the briefing is done with we head off. It is soon very clear that this parkrun is a different beast to Stratford! The start is around, what is now, a very muddy football pitch. As we head out onto the trails I get a familiar ache in the back of my right thigh and right butt cheek. One of the women I am running with is also suffering with a bad knee so we decide to take this one steady despite the bitter wind chill. As much as Stratford was lovely and flat, this one isn’t….within the first mile there is a whacking great hill. As we approach it as a group I decide to power up the hill. As I do so I hear a wonderful round of applause, only to realise that it is coming from my gut! (must get some more restrictive running underwear!)
This is a one lap course and I have to say I miss the lappers! We run/walk the rest of the way through the trails. In better weather conditions this would be a lovely course. We make it to the finish, just the 3 ladies as the men went ahead to move the van (and more importantly the coffee!) closer to the finish. We are wet through, freezing cold and sore. Barcodes scanned we head back to the van for 3 cups of the best coffee I have ever had to start to thaw out before heading home for an afternoon of hot bath, PJ’s, food and napping!