Braunstone Park run 9th September 2017
As my young guide Josh West and I warmed up for our 5k run at Braunstone Park, Leicester, I remembered the last time we ran together at a cross country run back in October 2016. That day on the second loop of the run a very well hidden rabbit hole caught us by surprise. My foot disappeared down it and I took a spectacular tumble. Josh was horrified as I rolled on the ground. I got up and faced the wrong way and Josh apologised profusely. The ground was soft and there was absolutely no damage done and, after I reassured Josh everything was fine, we continued with our race unhindered.
So, as we warmed up around the tarmac of Braunstone Park (Josh’s first time guiding me on hard ground), I briefed him that I wasn’t looking for a personal best time. The aim was to get around safely and gain some valuable guiding experience. The park run was to prepare us for Leicester half marathon that we are racing next month on 15 October.
As we jogged around the park I turned to Josh and said jokingly,
“There are no rabbit holes on this course Josh.”
But, I knew there were several bollards which would hurt a lot more than putting my foot in a rabbit hole. It’s a tricky course for any guide to get me around unscathed. But this was a big ask for Josh who turns 18 on 17th September. He really impressed me last year when guiding me in the cross country race and I know that he certainly has a great career guiding a VI (visually impaired) athlete in a future paratriathlon race, if he so desires. Not only is Josh a very talented triathlete, he is a very quick runner. For Josh to sacrifice his racing to guide me makes him a very special person indeed.
On our warm up lap we met a number of geese who had wandered on to the path in front. Josh remarked,
“I think they are going to move out of the way…yes, they have, haha!”
As we worked our way round it was clear that the Braunstone Park bollards were going to require some skilful negotiation and guiding on the part of Josh. We weaved our way through people to get to the front so that we had clear space around us. Julie, the race director kindly gave us a mention and asked people to ensure that they didn’t impede our progress.
It was soon time to set off and as we did I decided to go at a blistering pace. Boy it was quick. We got ahead of everyone bar one guy who was in front. A first for me, but I wasn’t going to keep that up for long. We went downhill and then started to turn towards the right before turning a sharper left. My lungs were bursting and I started to get a bit of gut discomfort. That spicy curry the night before suddenly didn’t seem like such a good idea!
I slowed down the pace and settled into a steady run I could manage. Josh held on to my wrist in order to ensure I was safely guided through other runners. There were not that many opportunities for Josh to slacken the tether as he kept me sensibly close to him. We soon got to our first bollard. A metal bollard around 3 feet high. Either side there was a stone wall, and, of course, other runners coming through. Very tight, and, Josh and I slowed right down to ensure safe passage through. I tucked in behind Josh and we slipped through safe and sound. However, slowing down meant that we were overtaken by a number of fellow runners. Well, I guess that’s the competitor in me.
As we turned into a more rutted part of the course I somehow twisted my left ankle which was already a little sore before the race. I felt a little click and felt a bit of a dull pain. Race over perhaps? I carried on running hoping that the pain would subside quickly. Luckily it did. Phew!
On to the second lap and more bollards to contend with as well as working our way around other runners we were now lapping. Josh sensibly took me on to the grass to overtake people and we were soon reaching the last 800 meters of the course. I heard Josh’s gentle voice tell me to push hard for the last few hundred meters. He seemed to find this so easy. Well, he can run a 16.30 5K after all. As we approached the last hill Josh encouraged me to dig in hard. I pushed as hard as my lungs and legs would allow and we came to a sudden stop as we crossed the finishing line. Josh said that we finished bang on 20 minutes. I was pretty pleased with that time.
We went to scan in my park run number which was on a piece of paper in my back pocket. Unfortunately it was a little soggy from the run and wouldn’t scan in. We managed to get the number to another race volunteer and I got my official time emailed to me. I had actually finished in 19.57. I was really chuffed with that. I know that I have a quicker time in me. I just need to figure out how to get around the bollards faster without hitting them. I also need to do more park runs and focus on 5k training. Well, once I get Ironman racing out of my system that is!
Even though I haven’t done all that many park runs, I have to say I find them very welcoming and great fun. I really get to meet some fabulous people from all backgrounds. The volunteers do a phenomenal job.
I am now looking forward to doing my best at the Leicester half marathon on 15 October. I have picked up a slight ankle/foot injury while training over the past few days. I will be training on my static bike to keep up my fitness until my foot improves. I still have around 5 weeks left so I won’t be panicking just yet. Then, I will be taking a couple of weeks off training for an end of season break.
Don’t worry though, I will keep blogging about different things.
Do let me know if you have any questions you want to ask me or anything you want me to cover in my blogs.
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