Today I had my first post-Christmas test – a return to parkrun.
With a view to blowing off the Christmas cobwebs, not to mention burning off the Christmas junk-loading, I headed up to my nearest parkrun, at Tymon Park in south-west Dublin.This would be my first race of 2015 and as I’m working towards the Tralee Marathon in March, I added a ten-minute jog before and after to make it double up as a good lactate threshold session.
Runners today at Tymon, and probably at most other parkruns in Ireland and the UK too, had to contend with strong, cold winds and surface water on a few parts of the course. On top of that, I was carrying my Christmas kilos – and those are kilograms, not kilometres.
Happily, I had a great run. My time of 20:47 wasn’t spectacular (a minute slower than my parkrun PB, in fact) but it was enough to get me around as the 6th finisher overall and first in my age category.
The wind made things difficult for everyone, as parts of the Tymon Park course are quite exposed. However, the middle kilometre is sheltered by trees, so that gave us a chance to husband whatever energy we had left.
A more difficult obstacle was the series of impromptu water jumps along the course, where the sodden parkland was overflowing onto the path. This broke up the running rhythm and forced some runners to take a chance by veering onto the muddy grass. But smart runners will have looked ahead to see how those further up the path picked their way through – and besides, it was better just to run through the water than chop your stride and sink into the water-soaked ground.
So that’s how my parkrun turned out today. I felt I kept up a strong, consistent pace for each kilometre, and I enjoyed the mental and tactical challenge of running against the testing weather and course conditions. In kilometre 3 I dropped a runner who was trying to keep pace with me, and in kilometre four I overtook and left behind someone else – this gave me a great thrill. Alas, on the run-in to the finish I wasn’t able to reel in the person around 10 seconds ahead of me.
Still, it was a hugely enjoyable and satisfying run.
I’ll do another parkrun in two weeks time, probably at a new location for its inaugural event. And before that, next weekend I’m planning to do a race which will be a new running experience for me. More on that in due course…