Having been unable to run properly in almost two months, I have been desperate to get back out to a parkrun. I have been struggling with a sore ankle for six weeks now and thus my running has been very restricted. Under the guidance of my physio, I have had a few weeks completely away from running in which I made the most of my local PureGym for some cross-training. This kept things ticking along but nothing quite made up for the freedom which can be felt by simply lacing up my trainers and disappearing into the night for a spontaneous jog. Over the last couple of weeks I have managed to sneak a few cheeky miles in without any real issues and so this week I decided to disappear under the radar and whisk myself off to Greenock for a parkrun. My theory was that I would be able to run my own race out along the promenade as there would be nobody there from my club and I would therefore be able to avoid getting stuck into a battle against one of my pals (I know what I can be like if someone gets up on my shoulder!). I didn’t tell anybody I would be running and instead I surreptitiously set my alarm before bed on Friday night and prepared myself for the 7:30am train to Greenock.
This morning I awoke with a buzz, knowing that I would be running ‘fast’ for the first time in weeks! I wolfed down my porridge, threw on my racing shorts and bounced out the door to catch my train. Once I had changed at Central, I had a 45 minute journey to enjoy which was filled with coffee and the latest copy of Runners’ World Magazine. When I arrived at Greenock West I was relieved to find that it was only a short, straightforward walk to the start of the parkrun. I made my way over and introduced myself to the race director who informed me that the first timers’ briefing would take place ten minutes later. This gave me just enough time for a nice warmup along the promenade which was glistening under one of the first blue skies of the year. My ankle felt great during my strides and I decided to push out from the start and see how things went. I had already told myself that I would ease up if things started to ache and had accepted that I would rather have a DNF at a parkrun than put myself out for another couple of weeks by doing something stupid.
As the race director announced the start, I kicked away from the line and immediately felt the brakes come on as the harsh wind battered me. I am sure the wind has been much worse at this particular parkrun – it is out along the esplanade after all – but in my slightly out of practice condition, I really felt its effects! I noticed my lack of fitness immediately and doubt started to creep in that I would be able to maintain any sort of pace for the duration. I had set my stall out early though and pure pride stopped me from slowing down. Reaching the far end of the esplanade came surprisingly quickly and gave me a bit of a boost – until I remembered that I would not simply be heading back to the start and would actually have to double back on myself again fairly soon. I also had a chance to view the other runners and was pleased to see that I had opened up a gap between myself and the two runners in second and third place.
By the time I reached the next turning point I had managed to relax into a fairly steady pace and actually felt much better. I faced the wind for the final time, knowing that once I reached the far cone again I would be turning to have the wind behind me. With this in mind, I felt a final boost and pushed on for the final straight. I crossed the line in a shade over 17 minutes which I was fairly pleased with. Deep down I had been hoping to post a sub 17 run however I figure I wasn’t far off – I will just have to return in a few weeks to set the record straight!
I really enjoyed my morning of parkrun tourism. This took my total to 12 events visited and I will be looking to add to the tally further. This morning reminded me just how easy (and enjoyable!) it can be to jump on a train and try running somewhere new. Whether for further parkruns, or simply for finding new places to explore, I will definitely be heading out into the further reaches of Scotland over the coming months and lacing up my running shoes along the way. I had a great morning in Greenock and the parkrun team were fantastic. I will be back!