This weekend, for the end of half term, my family and I went up to Staffordshire to see my Grandparents and little cousins. And what’s always one of the best things about holidays in England? New parkruns! My family and I planned to visit two parkruns during three day stay: Cannock Chase Parkrun and Telford Junior Parkrun. I was nervous as I hadn’t done two back to back “races” in ages and it would be my first junior parkrun for over 3 months but I was up for the challenge and just curious to see how I would get on.
Cannock Chase is a fairly new parkrun. The park is very dear to my heart as we have gone on walks there since I was tiny so I was very excited that it had finally caught the parkrun bug…and it had certainly caught it well! We arrived early and there was already a huge amount of people there! I did a brief warm-up not really knowing what to expect before everyone starting jogging over to the start line which happened to be on a long stretch of road – which surprised me as Cannock Chase is about as rural as you can get! I found myself pushed back quite a bit from the front of the line but it turned out completely fine as I was able to get off to a fast start. Admittedly, it was slightly too fast considering I had been planning on taking it easy but that was purely due to a load of young boys sprinting off and my competitive desire to progressively take over each and everyone of them – which, I am happy to report, I did.
The course consisted of two laps – an inside lap and a slightly bigger outside lap. The Chase is absolutely beautiful so the course was inevitably very picturesque yet very undulating. It seemed to be constantly up or down with very little flat in between but, to be honest, that made it more fun despite being quite challenging. I found myself in a group of adult men for the first half of the run which was quite useful as it allowed me some protection from the hard wind. However, they managed to pull away from me on a downhill and I found myself completely exposed. It was at this point where I decided to take it down a notch if I was going to have any chance of a decent time the next day but I kept plowing on into the wind and along the paths which seemed to be getting progressively rockier and muddier (I was glad I had my trail shoes)! The end soon appeared and I put in a final bit of effort to put sprint a man with a really cute dog.
Overall, I was very happy with my run. I was first female and 15th out of 439!!! That’s right- 439! Definitely the biggest parkrun I had ever been at – pretty good for a relatively new event! My time was 20:40 which I was pleased with as I hadn’t really gone flat out and it was a challenging course. It is really satisfying to me that a few months ago, I would have almost definitely gotten about 21:40 on that course – or slower- so it’s really lovely to see my improvement.
My general experience at Cannock was lovely! All the volunteers and runners were so friendly, encouraging, helpful and supportive. My little brother, Sam, unfortunately managed to twist his ankle just over half way round, on the furthest part of the course but we needn’t have worried as two volunteers were right over to help and support him! Everyone was so sweet and I really believe this event exuded the ethos of parkrun. Plus it had loads of cute dogs – that was obviously a bonus! I can assure that we will definitely be back again as soon as we get the chance! Much to my disappointment however, I was unable to spot any deer (but, to be honest, they were probably terrified by the huge mass of runners)!
Next up is Telford! As I previously mentioned, I hadn’t done a junior parkrun in a long while so I was really nervous about the speed. Throughout the whole cross country season, the shortest run I had really done was 3km (excluding the Youth Games but that was back in early November so it didn’t really count) and I struggled with how short that was. I definitely had not been training for speed – the cross country’s and parkruns and training I had been doing had been almost completely endurance based. However, I was quite excited for the run as it was almost like my first transition into the track season. Also, we managed to encourage my little cousins to come and run too which was lovely!
You may remember another blog post which included Telford junior parkrun in which I boldly claimed it was possibly the best run of my life. Granted, that was because of the insanely easy course which seemed to be infinitely down hill. Unfortunately, it turns out that that we had run a temporary course and the real one was significantly more difficult. To be fair, it still was no where near as hard as our home run at Brockwell but there were definitely a few more hills! Again, there were loads of runners and volunteers – who were really lovely and gave us a good description of the new course (and a shoutout as “parkrun tourists from South London” in the briefing)! The start line was pretty irritating for me as I was unable to hold a front position. We new that this course had a lot of very fast runners so everyone was barging to the front. As soon as they let us off, a mad rush began and it took me a while to settle into fourth position behind two older looking boys and one absolutely tiny lad who was rather demoralisingly talented. Part of the course was around an “arena” with was a four hundred metres track like path which was really fun. The other part of the course was up a hill and around a lake which we had to do twice. We were also running straight into the wind which was annoying as I couldn’t exactly use my usual trick of hiding behind larger beings. Inevitably, it was over incredibly quickly and I immediately felt that I could have gone quicker as I didn’t feel very competitive for once whilst running – part of me was just completely bemused by the tiny lad ahead of me. Even so, I got my fastest ever 2km time which was encouraging as I certainly hadn’t gone flat out and I had run the day before. My little cousins really enjoyed the run too which was really nice to see! I do really want to come back again with completely fresh legs and a more determined spirit and attempt to get the magical sub 7 minute which I believe could be possible and would be really awesome!
All in all, I had a really enjoyable experience this weekend, adding to my parkrun tourist guide and seeing my family- including celebrating my Grandma’s birthday (who I know is an avid reader of my blog so I hope you had a great day Grandma!). It was also really inspiring to watch the Birmingham Grand Prix which has actually got me looking forward to the track season. Laura Muir is absolutely incredible! I read an article about her in the newspaper and it was so amazing – I really admire her work ethic and how she manages to balance her veterinary studies and her training! So inspirational! And, of course, Mo must be given some credit for his last indoor race (probably)- an absolute legend! The 3000m was really nice to watch to – especially Eilish McCoulgan and Steph Twell. Finally, I was really excited to see Lavia and Lina Nielsen doing so well in the 400m as they have visited my school and given me an award! Pretty cool!
I hope everyone had/ has a really great half term/ week! I’m a bit disappointed that the break is already over because I have already had an insanely busy start to the week including two netball matches on consecutive days, lots of homework and, of course, training. I did somehow manage to hurt my hamstring during 200m repeats on Tuesday and, much to my annoyance, had to cut the session short but I’m hoping that it’ll just pass and I’m going to try and take it a little easier…at least until Saturday which will bring another new parkrun course – much excitement!
I hope you enjoyed reading and that I didn’t drag on too much as I have noticed I have a tendency to do so!