First up- after saying how tired I felt last week, I ended up with a bit of a sniffly cold earlier in the week so maybe that was it. I took the week very easily, with a gentle 3 miles after work on Monday, and yoga on Tuesday (it’s normally Wednesdays but the hall was booked). Actually, that wasn’t so gentle- we did some (well I attempted) handstands and headstands- normally we do the tripod headstand but we tried a different (and apparently easier) one, but my shoulders were not strong enough and I didn’t make it. At one point one of the other people asked “is it blanket time yet?”- it was enjoyable and relaxing in the end, but my shoulders ached a lot afterwards. I had a late meeting on Wednesday so we had a walk before dinner, and on Thursday I visited my sister and my niece. I was planning on running on Friday after work but my back had stiffened up so I opted for a walk instead. I certainly had fresh legs for parkun on Saturday.
We were up early- I picked my parents and brother up before 8am, as it was around 50 minutes to an hour to drive up to Milton Keynes. I decided to have a little bit of breakfast as I would normally be up a bit later, so I had a little bit of granola.
We were meeting my dad’s cousin at Linford Wood parkrun- he has done a lot of running in the past (the GNR something like 15 times) and we thought that he had done a parkrun in Milton Keynes before (which is why we had arranged to go up there) but it turned out that last week was his first one- he did a sort of recce to find out where the parking was and what the course was like. The description of where it was on the page was a little confusing (MK is confusing generally with a million roundabouts, road numbers instead of names, and it all looks the same) and the satnav postcode didn’t quite take us the right way at the end- luckily we had read the instructions that said to follow signs for Linford Wood West, which we did, and reached the car park at around 8.45, to see Brian and his wife Maureen (Maureen is my dad’s real cousin, but Brian has always been known as “cousin Brian” as he is a bit older than my dad so as he grew up Brian was already in the family).
We followed the other runners along the path to the start, and had a new runner’s briefing more or less straight away. The guy giving the talk asked where people had come from, as there was a big group of tourists from various places (including Cornwall and Brighton). I said we were from Ellenbrook in Hatfield, but then realised I was wearing my Panshanger apricot t-shirt (I have an Ellenbrook vest). Someone else commented that they had been to Panshanger and loved it- it is a very beautiful course.
The main briefing warned us to give way on the paths- apparently there is often a horse on the course. I was very impressed with how silent everyone was during the briefing- sometimes people at the back chat and you can’t hear what is being said (you just join in with the clapping and guess “that’s for the volunteers, that’s for a milestone run” etc.). I think having everyone penned in (we were behind tape so as not to obstruct the path for others) must have helped. We then walked the short distance to the start, heading to nearer the back. The start was the direction of the way we had just come, so at first (without realising) we were right at the front, but once we noticed we headed back.
The course was lovely- one lap through woodland along the redways/ underpasses. At times it was close to traffic (we could hear the busy roads) but at other times we could hear birds singing and it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of a town. The start was very busy as the paths were narrow, and they had put out cones to keep the runners to the left, away from other park users. If I was aiming for a pb I would start further forwards as I was stuck behind quite a few people- as I wasn’t bothered about time it was fine for me, and when it’s a new (to me) event it’s hard to know where to place yourself. They get a similar number of runners to Ellenbrook it seems (120+ ish) so I would need to picture whereabouts I start for that parkrun. There were lots of houses nearby, hidden in the woods, and at around the half way point we ran around some playing fields- here we could see runners across the road, but that was the only point on the course that you could see anyone else. Dad was going to run with Brian, but Brian was using a heart rate monitor and wanted to go at his own pace without feeling pressure, so Dad soon sped past me and Tony, who spent the run mainly chatting.
The course was undulating in the correct meaning, (not the way race directors call hilly courses “undulating”)- the first mile must have been gently uphill but it felt flat. There were some short down and then ups as you ran under roads, and there was a lovely long downhill bit just after 2 miles. We even joked that we were worried about having to run back up again, but it seemed fairly flat at the end. We saw a little “250m to go” sign and Tony sped up, but I was happy going along at normal speed (I was conscious of having eaten a few hours earlier…)- I managed 30.24 (with the congestion at the start making for a nice negative split), Tony was just ahead with 30.15 and my dad was super speedy finishing in 25.03! We were all there to cheer Brian over the finish line, and he got himself a new pb- he may be a parkrun convert!
We did some stretching and looked out for Mum and Maureen- we thought they had headed to the cafe so we walked there, but they weren’t inside. We then thought they had headed to the car, but as we were going we heard them coming up the path (where the runners finish)- they had gone for a wander in the woods and missed us all finish! We had joked about Mum meeting someone with a dog (she always seems to) and when we met her she had mud on her trousers from where a dog had jumped up on her.
We then had a quick photo to commemorate (this also is very funny as the battery on my mum’s camera was going, so she used my phone and was not 100% sure how to take one- the first picture was just me and Brian).
We then headed back to the car, and visited Brian and Maureen’s house for a well-earned breakfast of croissants and tea. (And although we didn’t see a horse on the parkrun course, we saw one as we were pulling into their road). It was such a great start to the weekend- a really enjoyable course (I really do like the one lap courses and there don’t seem to be that many) and a lovely time spent with family.
So that was my 16th UK parkrun, and my 99th time of running one (although in fact, the first time I was tail runner I didn’t take a finish token!). Next weekend I am marshaling – I was originally going to run, but then Dad and Tony are away (they are going to watch a match in London so have booked a hotel so they can parkrun in London first), plus I am running a half marathon on the Sunday, so I swapped over and will run my 100th all being well on the 25th March.
What did you get up to this weekend? Do you have family living close by to you?