The Scribbler

17 January 2011

Happy Birthday Newcastle parkrun

Filed under: Parkrun,run — The Scribbler @ 12:10

It took me a long time to make it to Newcastle parkrun, and I certainly wasn’t there that cold and icy January day in 2010 when it started. But the challenge and cameraderie of this simple event lend a nice shape to my weekends and training at the moment.

So with chocolate brownies on hand for the post race celebrations, I was ready for a good run. The weather had slightly different ideas. It may not be as cold and icy as it has been of late, but the town moor gale was gusting and rain wasn’t far away.

It was nice to have the cafe to huddle in before the start. Maybe it was the sense of something a bit different, but the gathering of runners was even more chatty than usual. Catching up with Dave, Flip, and Jeff; spotting Mark – running rather than volunteering this week, and Rob suitably attired for marshalling duties in his shorts.

As I jogged out of the shelter for a bit of a warm up near the lake, I sensed it wasn’t going to be a day for pushing it. My legs felt heavy, weary. And with the weather, I gave myself permission just to take it easy.

Chilly at the start and wanting to be off, a great crowd of runners all mingling together. I stood next to a guy who made me aware that I’d overtaken him on the line last week and remembered my mission to sprint finish every race.

For once the start didn’t take us into the headwind. Instead we were batted from the side as we spread out across the moor. A particularly vicious gust almost sent me stumbling into the runner beside me, but the field had soon split too much to offer me any chance of shelter.

The first mile was a bit of a warm through to see how I felt. My legs were still heavy, but not uncomfortable, and as I approached the first gate I felt good, steady. Not remarkable, just sensible.

Martin, buggy running with Little Miss C had caught me buy this time, so I had breath enough to exchange a few words and wish her well on her first parkrun.

Back through the gate onto the moor and I felt like I was picking up the pace a little until the wind rushed in head on along the back straight, with the added accompaniment of stinging rain. Head down, catching what breath I could before the gusts whipped it away, I’ve never been so grateful to turn onto the path around the back of the museum.

But there was more to come. As I approached the 4k marker and Clare marshalling the gate, I was practically stopped in my tracks by the wind. Very cruel in the last kilometre, where I can normally pick it up a little. There was a lady running with a gorgeous and very well behaved dog quite close to me. Every time she praised he dog, I imagined she was encouraging me on and dug in a little more.

The problem with setting myself the sprint finish challenge on a day like this was whether or not it caused me to ease off a little in the last section, so I had something in reserve. But I think I can justifably blame the conditions for slowing me down a little.

And so, into the final straight. My legs just won’t take a gradual increase of speed.  It’s pick a spot and go for it. A patch of darker tarmac is my start line. Ready steady, go! Push, push through the legs. Pump the arms. Breathe faster. All the way to the line. I’ll never have an attractive finish photo, but it does give me a great buzz.

A long line of runners waiting to log their times and then off to the warmth and shelter of the cafe. Nice for once not to disperse so quickly once the race is over. Time for cake and chat and warming up with hands around hot coffee cups. Catching up with Lesley, meeting Stuart and having a lovely chat with Kevin.

Enjoying the awards presentations and the way they embody the spirit of this event. Not just the fastest and the best, but those who turn up week after week, and those who have achieved incredible things inspired by and encouraged by a simple Saturday morning run.

I was proud to shake Mr Parkrun’s had and say thank you for starting this fantastic event. Proud to be beaten by little Miss C on her first parkrun (and sure it won’t be the last time she overtakes me). And very happy to be in the company of some fine running buddies. See you again next week.

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