That was a weekend of running highs and lows! On Saturday I took part in the inaugural Foots Cray Meadows 10k organised by PB Race Events and on Sunday I ran for the first time at Cyclorun. So let’s start with the lows and build up to the highs!
I’ve driven passed Foots Cray Meadows a fair number of times over the years but have never actually had occasion to visit so when this inaugural run came up in a search for local events, I decided to give it a go.
The day dawned bright and sunny and the forecast was “warm”. We drove to the school where parking had been arranged and then followed the marshals’ advice to “go through the alley, turn right and follow the arrows”. The pre event instructions weren’t wrong when they said it was a 15 minute walk to the registration area! I tracked it on my Garmin on the way back – 1.5k! There weren’t too many people around to reassure us that we were heading in the right direction and we even managed to pick up a couple of other stray runners en route. Eventually we found the registration desk and picked up our numbers, enviously eyeing the cake stall being set out in front of us! Hopefully there would be some left by the time we finished, especially as there was also a 5k run taking place at the same time.
The start/finish area was reasonably shady so we were protected while waiting for the off. The field was small but we set off more or less on time without much preamble and headed out across the meadows towards a small copse. The route wavered between out in the open and in amongst the trees where some tree roots had helpfully been highlighted with purple spray. The marshals also gave us vocal warnings where necessary of the trip hazards.
The kilometre markers started to come and go but it was getting hotter and hotter. By the time I’d got to 3k, I was beginning to struggle and put this down partly to my pace, I’d probably gone off a bit too quick – again – but it didn’t feel quick. It was somewhere between 3k and 4k that I started to consider pulling out at 5k! And as the route was two laps this was feasible. The thought of carrying on with another lap was becoming particularly daunting. By the time I’d got just passed the 4k marker, I had to resort to walking and the last kilometre was very much run/walk. Once I got to the finish line, that was it, no more. I wasn’t prepared to put myself through the remainder of the course.
It became apparent as the run progressed that I wasn’t the only runner to pull out half way and having seen one poor man carried across the finish line where he promptly collapsed and had to be dowsed in water, I certainly didn’t regret that decision. I subsequently discovered that St John’s Ambulance had to be called out to another poor soul out on the course. If it had been an out and back course, maybe I would have persevered, if only because I wouldn’t have known the way back but there was an option to pull out, so I took it!
Despite this experience, I would definitely take part in the run again but hope the weather was a bit kinder. Oh, and there was cake left – a nice piece of red velvet 🙂
A few months’ ago, I’m pretty sure I would have been gutted to have pulled out before the finish but it seemed the sensible thing to do at the time. I’m just putting it down to experience although I’m now beginning to get concerned about the Great Newham London 10k in a couple of weeks. That is out in the open, the chances are it could be hot again and I have a later start time!
Due to another event, there was no junior parkrun in Gravesend this weekend so I took advantage to go along to Cyclorun, a free timed run which takes place in Cyclopark and its environs. It’s an early start because when the track is used, it has to be cleared before the venue opens to cyclists so I don’t mind admitting it was a bit of a struggle to get up even earlier on a Sunday morning. And it appeared I wasn’t the only one to take advantage of junior parkrun’s absence because I recognised a few faces from the volunteer core team when I arrived!
There are three distance options at Cyclorun, 5k, 7.5k and 10k. After my disastrous run the previous day, I felt I should do more than 5k but wasn’t sure 10k would be advisable, especially as my elliptigo experiences meant I knew the track was fairly undulating and I wasn’t confident of finishing before the cut off time.
The timing process is fairly simple but it works. When you register, you take a number and you put down what distance you plan to do. I did enquire if I could pull out at 5k if I wanted to but it was suggested that would confuse the timers. Okay, no get out clause there then – damn! As it happened, the 5k runners went off in one direction and the 7.5k and 10k runners in the opposite. The track is conveniently 2.5k long and each time you pass the start line, the time is called out.
The weather could not have been more different from the previous day. Grey skies with threatening clouds abounded. As the sun had been making an attempt to show its face when I left home, I’d taken my sunglasses with me but although in the end they weren’t necessary, I found it easier to wear them than carry them with me. This meant when it started to rain, I must have looked really stupid (or more stupid than normal)!
I could say the first lap was a voyage of discovery but I had a rough idea of what was coming up, which included a sharp incline around the back of the course which had been gleefully freewheeled down on an elliptigo.
It was on this first lap that Phil, a running buddy from parkrun, decided to pace me. Personally, I think he was trying to kill me! He’s a much faster runner than me and knows the course well. He sacrificed his own PB opportunities to drag me around the course and it’s probably just as well as I suspect some walking would have been involved on the last lap if I’d been on my own.
As it happened, on the second lap I was already employing parkrun strategies! That is – “next time is the last time I’ll run this part”, followed by “less than 2k”, “less than 1.5k”, “only six minutes to go at most”, ”downhill after here”, “up that last little hill and then down to the finish line”. Also “why am I doing this?”, “I could have been enjoying a lay in” as well as a few swear words! These were all in my head by the way!
My finish time was 40’ 11” which I was very pleased with and I ended up setting an AGR (I think that means Age Group Record) for the distance and direction, but let’s be honest, it was only because I was the first female in my age group to do that distance in that direction! Would I go back? Yes, when time allows. I have toyed in the past with running the 5k and then going on to junior parkrun but I’m still not totally convinced of the logistics for doing that. Maybe one day I’ll give it a go.
So not an entirely successful running weekend but I live to run another day!