Owain and I have been saying for a while that we will do some parkrun tourism but have never quite got round to it, probably on the basis that Saturday mornings are the only day of the week we get a lie in.
However, we bought ourselves an itison deal for an overnight stay in Perth and managed to get it booked for Friday night, which allowed us to venture to Perth parkrun last Saturday.
As those who follow my blog will know, I have been really struggling with my running recently, just not being able to sort my breathing out and feeling fatigued while running and even more so the day after. For the last month or so, I have ditched the watch and just bumbled around my 3 mile loop at home a couple of days a week. I now only wear my withings watch which incorporates a watch and step counter. As a result, I wasn’t really sure what to expect on Saturday.
Our hotel was in a great location for the run as we were less than a mile from the start at North Inch and so were able to take a nice easy walk down. We aimed to arrive around 9.15am in time for any first timers brief but think we got there just after 9. Owain went off to do his warm up and I decided to walk around the park just to keep my legs moving. There was a nice little crowd starting to gather as Owain got back from his warm up. We were called for the first timers brief around 9.25 and after a brief introduction we were ready to start.
The course starts in North Inch and the paths inside the park are quite broad, which means the start isn’t too congested. I wasn’t really sure where to start but stopped near to the back when I heard a group of runners saying they were aiming for under 34 minutes.
I had decided to continue with my recent practice of running without my garmin and just run to how I feel. It was quite strange just starting without pressing a watch. The route itself is quite nice, you run out of the park, skirting the golf course before running next to the river. It is essentially an out and back course, although it labels itself as a pan and handle course. Rather than turn back on yourself, you head left and come back across a higher section of ground rather than follow the same path back. It is a nice scenic route with a couple of turns and inclines but nothing too challenging. I could see some runners heading back across the top path and suddenly wondered how long I had been running for. There are no kilometre markers on the course and with no gps or timer, I had no idea of my time or distance. As my activity tracker is also a watch, the only indicator I had was the time but as I had no idea what time we started this wasn't really helpful.
As we approached the half way point, we were directed back along the grass and warned to watch as it may be slippy. The course route had showed a grass section but I hadn't quite appreciated how long it was. Being quite a clumsy person, I am not too comfortable running on grass. In addition the runners around me seemed to be struggling with many walking so I had to try to make my way past them. Thankfully, I didn't actually find it that bad and before I knew it I was back on the pathway. At this point I thought I probably had about a mile to go and so tried to pick up the pace. As I came back in to the park I got a wee shout from Owain who was on his cool down and I knew there wasn't far to go.
It was actually quite strange crossing the line and not knowing my finish time as this is normally what I would judge my run on. Instead, I was able to look at the race more objectively. My aim in the morning had simply been to run the course. So how did I feel it went? The course itself was really enjoyable with different terrain underfoot and different sights to see and, although I wasn’t racing, I was pushing myself enough to have thoughts in my head about wanting to stop. Overall, I felt I had had a good run and was on a bit of a high.
We headed back to the hotel and the results had been processed before we had even checked out. My official time was 31:07, my fastest run since September 2014! This was quite a surprise to me as I have been having breathing difficulties while running and have cut my mileage back while awaiting tests and this has given me a huge confidence boost. I have had so many setbacks with my running and had to start from scratch a fair few times, it is nice to be able to see my fitness remain. I think we can say my running mojo is finding its way back to me!