My favourite local park for running now has its own parkrun. This morning saw the inaugural Tymon parkrun in Dublin.
It’s the second-largest park in Dublin, but Tymon Park is somehow unknown to a lot of native Dubliners. Truth be told, I only know it because I live a mile from it – and even then because we just happened to spot it through railings while driving south on the M5o (the orbital motorway, or beltway, around west Dublin) one sunny afternoon just after moving to the area.
On summer evenings Tymon Park is where I do my lactate threshold training. I have a loop of 4 miles – 2 on tarmac and 2 on grass – that gives me a good hard workout in plenty of open space. After a Tymon Park run I’m usually buzzing with battle fever for my next race.
In winter Tymon Park is off my itinerary because it’s mostly unlit, but the running goes on – it’s one of the race venues in the local club cross-country season.
Given its size and suitability, its proximity to at least three west Dublin athletics clubs, and the huge crowds regularly attending Marlay parkrun just a few exits down the M50, a Tymon parkrun always seemed likely. And so it has come to pass.
The course takes in a lot of the tarmac stretches of my usual Tymon Park threshold runs, with one difference – the parkrun goes in the opposite direction. Aside from the slightly weird prospect of running the wrong way, I had been looking forward to this parkrun ever since I heard it was imminent.
Like a wagon train of pioneers striking out for the Wild West, 160 of us runners gathered near the Templeogue gate and the two local GAA clubhouses. The weather was humid and cloudy – tense and concentrated like serious athletes.
Debriefed, then walked down to the start, we waited for our signal – a whistle not unlike that of a big steam train surging along a prairie line. We were off; the first Tymon parkrun was on!
As at Marlay parkrun, Tymon starts with a small loop before striking out to a wider circuit of the whole park. That first loop took us around some of the nearer pitches, where underage teams were practising their hurling and Gaelic football skills. The occasional walker took a double take at the novelty of seeing a thread of runners during his Tymon morning constitutional. But we didn’t encounter many other park users and everyone seemed to get along famously.
A couple of nearly-synchronised beeps nearby told me we were passing the kilometre 1 point; my trusty Casio digital watch read a couple of seconds over 4 minutes. The first kilometre was flat, but the second kilometre was mostly downhill, though it included one nearly-hairpin bend that made me chop my stride for a few seconds. Here we passed the Millennium Tower, a tall sculpture that looks like an Olympic torch – inspiration for any runner.
Past the start-finish area and out onto the second, larger loop, I was travelling well though conscious of working hard. I kept up the same pace of just over 4 minutes per kilometre as I headed into the second half of the run. After a week of niggles and no training, I wasn’t too far off sub-20 pace. This gave me a great boost.
I wobbled and wavered a little in kilometre 4, though – for a second or two my mind drifted and my pace slipped, before I snapped myself back into the business at hand. Down the western edge of the park the long tarmac path allowed runners to build up a head of steam – by now I was feeling drained but I still kept the legs turning over.
With around half a kilometre to go, a quick look at my watch broke the news to me that I wouldn’t be going under 20 minutes for this parkrun. However, the run-in to the Tymon finish is downhill – tough on the quads if you’re not careful, but still a good opportunity to gain a few seconds and blast home.
I ran in for a time of 20:22 – and considering my disrupted week gone by, I was happy to be only 40 seconds outside my personal best. Alas, this ended my streak of 8 personal bests in my last 8 events – or so I thought.
Imagine my pleasant surprise when the parkrun results e-mail, with my 20:22 at the first Tymon parkrun, told me that “we have set this as your new PB”. Of course – an event PB. Nine in a row, baby!
Well done to the Tymon parkrun organisers and volunteers for a great event which has got off to a flying start. This is now my local parkrun, and I’ll be back for more.