It is very simple and it is this.
Please stop reading my blog.
If you read it because you know me personally, and you feel obliged to, then stop*.
If you read it because I once commented on your blog and you feel some sort of reciprocal duty, then stop*.
If you read it because there was one post ages ago that you enjoyed, but since then it’s really not spoken to you, then stop*.
If you read it because you feel somehow that you ought to, then stop*.
If you read it for any reason other than enjoyment, then please stop*.
Because I am not writing this blog to become rich, and I am not writing this blog to become famous, and I do not care if it is read by one person or many.
I am writing this blog because I want to, and if my parkrun reviews inform you or my struggles with motivation reassure you, or my attempt at ultra training amuses you, then that’s great. But life is short, and time is precious, and there is very little that you will read on here that will transform your life. So go, with my good wishes, and discover a blog that you can’t wait to read*. Like Cake of Good Hope. Or Something about Rowing. Or College at Thirty. Or Not Much of a Runner. Or Bad Science.
*Unless you are Abradysis. In which case, I’m sorry, but tough. Reading my blog is a requirement. And there will be a quiz.
I have just spent the day at Write this Run, listening to inspiring tales of derring do*, grit and general awesomeness from the likes of Donna DeWick, Mimi Anderson, Kevin Betts and Scott Overall.
After which I drove to Wimbledon Common, sat in my car, watched the rain, ditched my planned run and drove home.
*I have no idea what this is.
After much soul searching, and some welcome words of wisdom from Run or go Crazy, I decided against the inaugural Pegwell Bay parkrun in favour of a trip to nearby Banstead Woods.
My training plan called for an easy parkrun followed by an hour of rolling trails, but after ditching both Thursday’s tempo session and Friday’s easy three-miler, I decided that a tempo parkrun was probably the order of the day.
I turned up bright and early, ready to meet Plustenner (who had agreed to be my SatNav for the additional miles) and was, once again, bowled over by the beauty of the Banstead Woods parkrun course.
In addition to the usual trees, today also sported a (small and extremely well marshalled) hurdle …
Banstead parkrun hurdle
…and an abundance of bluebells.
Banstead parkrun bluebells
After which, Plustenner led me along the nature trail, through the fields, around the houses and back again.
Bluebells and sunshine on the nature trail
I was lazy this morning. Instead of setting the alarm for stupid o’clock to tick off another new parkrun, I set it for the luxuriously late time of 8 o’clock and pottered off to Wimbledon…
…where I bumped into Run or go crazy and her son.
Sometimes sloth has its benefits.
Not all inaugural parkruns go entirely to plan. At Wanstead Flats, the frontrunners missed a turn and we all took a small detour through the car park. At Burgess, the timer malfunctioned and the day was saved by some quick thinking on the part of speedster King Danny. And at Winchester, there were so many parkrunners that the course had to be widened and ended up being ever-so-slightly short.
Which in no way detracted from the appeal.
I arrived just in time for the start, after a mad dash from a nearby car park. I said a few quick hellos to some familiar faces, listened to the briefing and then we were off. It’s a flat, three lap course run on a mixture of grass and tarmac, and the laps have enough twists and turns to make them interesting, featuring trees, a river, two bridges and assorted other bits of scenery.
The turnout may have been swelled by curious tourists, but judging by the number of parkrun first timers and Winchester and District AC members who were there, a good proportion of the 280 runners will be back in the future.
And given the parkrun’s proximity to the South Downs Way*, ideal for when parkrun forms part of a longer training run, I may well join them.
*Which I found very easily with a little** help from Rob and Marc.
**Okay. A lot. Directions followed by a guided jog, once my ability to follow instructions was shown to be wanting.
On Saturday, six days after the Brighton marathon, I returned to Preston Park for their inaugural parkrun.
It’s one of the more unusual parkrun courses that I’ve run*.
To anyone from Cardiff, St Albans, York, Harrogate or Bushy parkruns, this is a hilly course. To anyone from Dewsbury, Ashton Court, Ally Pally, Hampstead Heath or Conkers, it’s flat.
Visitors from King’s Lynn, Netley Abbey and Maidstone will find the switchbacks familiar, and will be well trained in the art of keeping to one side of the path looking for friends or rivals running in the opposite direction. Visitors from more traditional lapped courses like Wimbledon, Dulwich or Hilly Fields may find the sight of so many approaching runners disconcerting.
Buggy runners from Finsbury Park and Riddlesdown will find the relatively gentle gradients and tarmac surface a welcome relief (though they’ll need to watch out for the bollards), and everyone will be able to appreciate the café.
*Three slightly different laps of gently undulating tarmac, each with an out and back section.
Yesterday was one of those days. By 5pm, I had peered under rocks, peeled the lids off several cans of worms and opened Pandora’s box, and I still had a 2 hour run to fit in (deferred from Sunday, when a hard day of spectating had left me good for nothing more than a kip on the sofa).
I had it all planned. I would drive to the Reigate Hill car park, get changed in the loos there and then run out and back along the North Downs Way before the light faded.
But then the universe started giving me hints*.
Hint 1: rush hour traffic – I was significantly later getting to the car park than I’d anticipated.
Hint 2: closed toilets - cue trying to change in the car without contravening public decency laws (damn you, sports bra designers, damn you all to hell).
Hint 3: disassembled hydration pack – cue ten minutes of trying to force the plastic tubing into the cloth sheath
Hint 4: Garmin having a spat with the satellites – and taking what felt like hours to find a signal.
At which point I was nearly ready to give up and go home.
But I didn’t*, and I had one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve had for a long time.
Maybe the universe was just testing my resolve*.
*The universe is not sentient and does not revolve around me. The universe is not sentient and does not revolve around me. The universe is not sentient and does not revolve around me… [repeat ad infinitum]