Saturday morning saw me complete what could quite possibly be my greatest Park Run ever. Together with my two friends we managed to squeeze in a trip to Lincoln Park Run before I headed away for the weekend on a training residential. Despite a bit of rushing around, it was all made extremely worthwhile...
We arrived at Boultham Park quite early as it was also my friend’s birthday and we wanted to give presents beforehand. Heading to the assembly point, it was clear it was going to be a beautiful morning for running, warm but not too hot and only a slight breeze in the air. I usually get quite nervous before a formal run, even a Park Run, and I had felt a little anxious before leaving the house. Now any form of nerves had completely gone as we stood chatting in the sun – I nearly forget we actually had to run still!
The running element of Park Run obviously did arrive, and as we gathered at the start line my intention was to try and beat my Alien onesie time of 24mins 52secs which I recorded at Old Deer Park Run in London a few weeks back. I would be even happier if I managed to get under my Lincoln Park Run PB of 24mins 40secs. As the run started I was instantly shocked at how different my legs felt. My last Lincoln Park Run venture had been well into my marathon training, when I recorded a sluggish 26mins. Running the same route again meant I was able to directly feel the variation in the two runs, and I literally felt like a totally different runner. My strides felt longer and more powerful, whilst my feet seemed to only strike the ground briefly before stretching out effortlessly. My two friends were also close to me, whereas last time I had lost them within seconds, only glimpsing them streaks ahead of me at turns in the course.
Lincoln Park Run involves three laps of the same course, and after the first lap I started to think to myself I must not be able to keep this up. I maintained my pace though, and although my friends had gained a little gap on me, they were still very much in my constant vision. Entering the third lap I could barely believe I was still running so strongly. I started competing with a male runner who was just in front of me, and we spent most of the time nudging backwards and forwards in front of each other. I streaked ahead of him on a slight downhill section of the course, seeing my chance to make distance. I put all my effort into keeping in front and I could just hear his footsteps behind me as we turned the last bend. This spurred me on to push further into my legs and sprinting to the finish funnel I made it, literally pipping my competitor at the post.
The competition I was engaged in during the final lap meant I had not been paying much attention to my time. I was therefore absolutely gobsmacked to see my Garmin displaying an unofficial time of 22.57. My two friends had finished just in front of me and needless to say had also recorded excellent finish times. As we headed back to the car for birthday cake I tentatively raised the question of whether there had been any other female finishers before us, as I could not recall seeing many, if any. None of us were really sure, and with the important matter of cake to be eaten it was temporarily forgotten.
The excited wait for the Park Run email then consumed the rest of my morning. Sat in my training workshop, I subtly kept checking my phone, until at last it arrived. My time: 22.55. Not only this but I was first in my age category, 48th overall finisher and, most importantly, third female overall! I was ecstatic! After this surge of exhilaration it then hit me that as my friends had both finished in front of me, they must have came in first and second place - meaning we took all three top places. Moreover, my friend whose birthday it was topped of her birthday run by finishing first, leading to literally the best Park Run result possible.
The thrill of finishing third almost meant I didn't take the time to fully appreciate the numerical time I had recorded. Nearly two minutes faster than my previous Park Run PB and over three minutes faster than my last Lincoln Park Run. This really emphasised to me just how much marathon training had taken out of my legs and the constant state of tiredness they must have been in. I was also quite proud that my finish time seemed to demonstrate that my post marathon training has been effective in restoring my legs to where they were prior to embarking on sixteen weeks of high mileage running.
All in all, what some would see as a little 5km run around a Lincoln park, brought a lot of pleasure, achievement and fun; and has given me another fantastic running memory to keep and share with my friends.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...