The Braunstone Parkrun
I’ve been wanting to have another Braunstone Parkrun outing to test the legs since the Liverpool marathon. I must confess since my injury in the run up to Liverpool I have been ultra cautious and therefore slowly building up the mileage.
My training has been going OK, however, I have often run whilst in pain. I have been telling myself, as long as the pain doesn’t get any worse, , with ongoing treatment, and, if I can just keep my fitness levels up, then, with any luck my injury will start to improve.
Training since June has been going well with mileage increasing each week. I’ve made sure that I am seeing a good physio and getting regular sports massages (I’ll write another blog about the importance ofgetting the right treatment for injuries and employing a good sports masseur later this year). I’ve also kept up the strength training with my new PT Martin Hulbert. Again I have no doubt that this has played a big part in my rehabilitation. Again a blog for another day.
I decided at the end of July that I would give park run a pop. Saturdays are normally reserved for a tandem ride on a Saturday but with my friend Rupert, who pilots my tandem away on 3 August, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see where my fitness was at. I contacted one of my guide friends a week prior to park run day and he told me that he was free. Great news for me as it meant that I didn’t have to hunt around for another guide. Unfortunately a couple of days prior to the run he messaged me to say that he wasn’t well. So the hunt for another guide commenced in earnest.
After a couple of messages sent to friends I eventually got a positive response from Arron Cox. Arron and I have completed a long training run earlier this year in the Spring. I have dropped Arron a line on a few occasions when I needed a guide and he was unable to help out due to other commitments or races he was doing. Fortunately on this occasion he was as free as a bird, so, game on.
Arron picked me up on Saturday morning 8 am sharp in his Sporty Fiesta and we made our way to Braunstone Parkrun. We parked up at the Leisure Centre and popped in for a comfort break before the race. We bumped in to one of his friends who he greeted with,
I had imagined this very white looking bloke with a carrot for a nose and wearing a scarf. Maybe that isn’t why he is called “Snowman.”. I didn’t stop to ask the reason for such a cool name.
We arrived at the start of the race and met up with my awesome friends Mike and Abby Reynolds with their dog Panda. The usual race briefing took place with some lovely announcements for those doing the park run for the first time and so on as well as calls for more marshals to help out. The Race Director was a really nice chap who acknowledged that the last time they asked for volunteers they had a great response and remarked,
“Wouldn’t it be good to get that response every week?”
Everyone clapped and cheered at the end of each announcement. The atmosphere was electric. The air was warm with the sun’s rays wrapping themselves around me. This was going to be a good day.
MY left leg was still tight so I did a little warm up run with Arron before we lined up. As we did, Arron corrected the angle in which I was facing, gently taking my shoulders and turning me a few degrees to my right. The Race Director counted down a quick 3,2,1 and we were off. Despite the fact that we were right at the front a few people managed to get in front of us in the line up. The race starts on grass which isn’t ideal but nonetheless ensures that everyone takes things a little easier to begin with. Arron stuck close to me as there was a swarm of people around me. I felt the feet of someone in front as I tapped my foot against theirs. We found tarmac and then back on to grass.
“take it easy Has it is very crowded.” Arron instructed me.
Arron then guided me on to firmer ground, on to the fast downhill section with the speed bumps. However, it wasn’t particularly fast as we had so many slower runners who had somehow found their way in front of us and there was nowhere to go.
We overtook on a couple of points where we could and then took a sharp right turn. We got to the bridge with some bollards to negotiate, which we did with Arran’s expert handling. He commented as we got to the bridge,
“Stick close to me Has…don’t worry you aren’t going to fall off the bridge.”
It was still very crowded and I kept shouting,
Blind runner coming through.”
People kindly moved to one side and let us through. But, there were more people in front. Where did they all come from? There were 558 runners today as we weaved in and out of those of us in front orArron expertly manoeuvred myself on to the grass.
The first mile was churned out in 7.48. much slower than I had hoped purely down to the maraud of runners. As we hit the gravel car park and carefully picked our way through the pot holes we took a left turn on to tarmac again. Arron became distracted by a chocolate Labrador and missed a slight rise which I then tripped over. Somehow I kept myself on my feet. I slightly pulled my back and there was a worrying moment for me. I carried on running and my back eased off much to my relief.
We soon reached the second loop and the course began to open up. We passed some really nice park runners who encouraged us and said well done. That’s always so heart warming and motivating.
We finished mile 2 in 7 minutes flat. We had definitely speeded up. Arron was encouraging me to open up and make any gains in time that we could.
My lungs were starting to complain and my legs were beginning to burn. There are so many twists and turns as well as changes in tempo on this particular course, which, eventually takes its toll on me. The 3rd mile was even quicker (6.51), and, as we were nearing the end I sensed someone coming up against my right shoulder. He got closer and closer.
“Come on Has…give it all you got.” Arron shouted.
I dug in extra deep and turned my legs around quicker as my feet sunk in to the grass. The guy behind me soon dropped off and before I knew it I stumbled in to the finishing shoot. As we crossed, I careered in to the tape on one side of the finishing shoot as Arron informed me that we had completed the run.
So what was my final time? It was 22.23. My 8th Braunstone Parkrun. My fastest there was 19.15 a few years ago and this year my other park run here on New Year’s Day was 21.15. I have no doubts that with fewer people around me I would have been at least a minute or more faster. Having said that I thoroughly enjoyed the run and catching up with a few friends afterwards. The social side of park runs for me is just as important and I have to remind myself that it isn’t actually a race. Something which clashes with my competitive nature!
As I stood by a tree stretching a number of friends popped across. We swapped banter about the speed of park runs we have run in the past compared to the present day. As we chatted I was very conscious that I was incredibly thirsty and like a dipstick, I had forgotten to bring a bottle of water with me. Not to worry, soon we would be heading off to a full English breakfast at the local cafe.
Arron did a super job guiding me on a very technical course. I’m really looking forward to more racing and training with him. The following day (Sunday 4th August) will be my long run which should bring me close to 40 miles of running this week. The following weekend I am looking forward to a half marathon guided by Lucy Neamz.
Later this year I will be doing the Berlin marathon in aid of Breast Cancer Now. I’d be really grateful if people would donate on the Just Giving Page below. The reason why I am raising funds for this charity can be found on the following:
About The Braunstone Parkrun
Braunstone Parkrun is completely free to enter. You must register in advance at the Parkrun website. It takes place every Saturday starting at 09:00.
The start of the run is near Braunstone Hall. You can use postcode LE3 1JN to find it. If you struggle to find the start line, just follow some of the other runners, they’ll all be going to the start!
One thing to remember about the park run is that the course is on public land and is a shared space. This means you should at all times, give way to other users of the park.
The road opposite the park gets really busy with parked cars during and after the Braunstone Parkrun. For this reason, Id recommend trying to car share with a few others to avoid over populating the area with cars. The park is quite close to houses so I imagine it can get quite annoying for the residents. There is also ample parking at the leisure centre close-by, so perhaps you could try there.
The course is 5km long, as are all of the Parkrun’s. Its two laps of the park and most of it is on the concrete paths. There is a short section of grass at the start. Be careful as some parts of the course can sometimes be muddy or have some shallow puddles.
Its perfect for beginners, competitive and professional runners alike. It’s mainly on concrete so you can get some really fast times. Another thing to consider is, if you are a visually impaired athlete there are some bollards and even some geese to contend with.
Good luck with the Parkrun. It it’s your first one, make sure to have fun and don’t worry about what times other people are getting, enjoy your self! Also, you can read my other blogs about Parkrun’s i’ve taken part in.