Monday, 25 August 2014

Dundee parkrun race report

Ainslie blogs are like buses, you get nothing for ages that a whole bunch all at once!

Having extended the Ainslie property empire with the purchase of a flat in Dundee, where Andrew will be at Abertay University for another 3 years, I've spent more time in Dundee in the last 4 weeks than in the previous 50 years of my life. Whilst it been great fun fitting out the flat, it has played minor havoc with my Saturday morning long runs, with a late evening drive up on Friday and a whole days shopping in prospect I thought I’d squeeze in a quick ParkRun last Saturday.

Dundee parkrun takes place in Camperdown Park the largest park in Dundee; I arrived way too early and actually did a warm up! Well I scooted off down the path, looked at my watch showing 7:25 min/miles and slowed right down before I broke something, I did a gentle loop of around 1.25 miles, just enough to warm the muscles.

This was only my second parkrun, my first being the infamous “congratulations on being first lady at Carlisle parkrun” just before Christmas last year and each event seems to have its own character and characters. One of the volunteers shouted for all first timers and gave a race route briefing, very well meaning and very detailed, but unfortunately only any good if you already knew the route, slightly self-defeating.

Looking around at several of the racing snakes I reckoned there would be plenty of people to follow and it wasn't a looped course like Carlisle so at least I shouldn't get lost.
There were a number of prominent boards with target times printed on them adjacent to the start, I naively assumed people would organise themselves close to their anticipate finish, wrong! There was a great big huddle at the start, 3, 2 , 1 GO I was about 10 rows back with about 100 people in front of me 10 wide on a path wide enough for 3. The three ladies in front of me started running, well moving would be a more accurate description, I started and immediately had to stop. A quick re-assessment told me if I didn't do something quick, I’d be miles behind the front runners before they’d gone 200m. I darted off to the left and smashed my way through the low hanging branches to get past the bunch quite successfully. The briefing had warned us of a downhill 1st mile “you’ll be coasting” and the “the hill” through mile 2, I generally don’t do short races so had no idea what pace to aim for, I settled for faster than a pacey training run but not gasping for breath. I’d only brought my road shoes and with most of the route on ash paths or grass I wasn't 100% comfortable. I was however steadily passing people on this downhill and flat section
Dundee parkrun route

Mile 1 6:38

Just after mile 1 the route slopes up and then at 1.5 miles you hit the hill proper, although I slowed, I wasn't slowing as much as those in front of me, over this mile I overtook around 10 runners, every one of whom turned round as I approached puffing like an old steam train. Passing people is always such a positive morale booster, the field had thinned out by now and there were only a couple of people in view in front of me.

Mile 2 7:44

The route crosses itself for a downhill section of around 0.75m and I was steadily reeling in the guy in front just before the left turn at 2.75 miles and the final uphill section. This was apparently the point at which the fairies came and kidnapped my brain, having passed my #1 target I could see #2 up ahead but neglected to see the tree root that brought me crashing to earth!
What an embarrassment 3 years of trail running without a fall (the 2012 7 Reservoirs ice dance doesn't count) I managed to face plant on a parkrun. Quickly onto my feet, nothing feels broken, I’m not winded, my hands are manky with mud, but so what but target #2 is out of sight. A quick left turn, out of the trees a sharp right and the finish is around 150 metres away, UPHILL.

Dundee parkrun - route profile
Mile 3 7:12

The customary sprint finish evaded me; I did manage to increase the pace slightly for a dignified but dirty finish.
22:25 16th overall and 2nd MV50-55 out of a total field of 153 runners, pretty happy with that.
Collapsing briefly on the grass until I could see straight again, I checked my legs for damage, knees both bleeding through the mud and a sore left palm, I’ll swap that for 16th any day, but I think next time I’ll try trail shoes, as there is only a short tarmac section throughout.
If I sound somewhat uncharitable towards the Dundee parkrun I apologise unreservedly. What a fantastic bunch of volunteers giving up there time so that Prima Donnas like me can get a free race on a Saturday. As for the start, well that was my fault, if I want to be at the front(ish) end of the field I should stand nearer the front, shouldn't I.

It may only be my second ever parkrun, but Saturday long runs permitting I’ll be back for more.

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