Killer Park Run

Yes indeed, the photos here tell of a place of great beauty. There are delights at every turn. But Ardgillen Park, Skerries has its shadow side.

And that shadow side comes in the form of a killer park run.

Yes, I trooped up there today, all thrilled with myself. I had a game plan, see. I would start off fast, then put the brakes on and keep a steady pace before letting all hell break loose for a killer finish.

But something wasn’t right from the very beginning. Everyone looked alarmingly young, lean limbed and athletic.

And then there was me.

And as we set off on the course it soon became clear why youth and limbs and athleticism were essential for this course. Hills. Lots of. Doing their undulating thing all over the place. The kind of hills that were vicious to ascend but barely registered on the descent.

Not for the first time I realised what goes up must come down is just a vicious lie. What goes up, goes up forever and may only go down ever so gently.

By the second kilometre I was in trouble. All about me the young things were loping past. Some even had enough wind for light-hearted conversation with each other.

Meanwhile, I was in deep conversation with myself.

Get Real Me wanted to quit but Aspiring Runner Me wasn’t so sure.

Get Real Me: C`mon. Pull out before the end. Then you won’t actually register with a lousy time.

Runner Me: Well, maybe I won’t get a lousy time. And, anyway, since this is my first run here, it will at least be a PB.

Get Real Me: There’s another runner flying past. C’mon, quit while you’re not ahead.

Runner Me: If I quit I’m going to feel an awful lot worse for an awful lot longer than what I am feeling now.

In the end up, it was exactly that thought that kept me going. Somehow, I had to get through this and, if it was pushing me out of my comfort zone-and it most certainly was-that would be a good long term investment.

I thought I knew Ardgillen pretty well, but the route took me to places I hadn’t been before. And not just in my head. So I had no sense of where the end was as I shuffled along at the end of the string of runners.

At one point I was beginning to feel a little hopeful. Suddenly, I could see the finish line and I realised I was only a little behind some of the faster runners. But then a steward rerouted me to Lap Two. And while the young ones were racing towards their sub 24 minute finish times, I had to do another loop-one the faster runners had already done- with the few stragglers that were left. It was a sickening moment.

But, eventually, I got to the end. Didn’t even bother with the sprint finish. I was just glad to be done with those hills.

Time? Don’t even ask.

But I did score a PB for this particular Parkrun.

Will I be back? Oh, I have to bite this bullet again. But it won’t be next week and, while I can’t reverse the clock and get my young legs back, it will be a grand challenge just to do better next time.

Compensation? I rediscovered the wonders of the park afterwards, with a most enjoyable photowalk through all of its beautiful gardens.

Almost beautiful enough to forgive it for its killer park run.

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23 thoughts on “Killer Park Run

    • Depends on the level of agony, really. If I’m hurting too much, I don’t care about anything except finishing. The best part if afterwards, when I can unwind with a nice stroll and take everything in.

  1. Hi RH, thanks for a great post. I was honoured last night when a woman asked me if I was Red Hen! I had to explain that I wasn’t but was half tempted to pretend to be you except that I knew I wouldn’t look the part if I was spotted running.

  2. Hey that sounds tough, but it looks beautiful. Well done for getting to the end. Ignore the young legs yours do just fine.
    Recently madam told me a pregnant woman had beat me and I retorted in a slightly angry/peeved way with the question “are they nearly 50?” Young ‘uns got to put ’em straight!

    • Ah, thank you! Yes, walled gardens really are a wonderful legacy from the Victorian era. I’m glad we’ve managed to preserve some of them at least.

  3. What a great-looking place RH! And you had two bites at it – a race then an appreciative stroll. Most of your fellow competitors will never see Ardgillen properly.
    So many places I could easily have visited in my time in Dublin but had no idea existed 🙂

  4. Beautiful photos, makes me want to come for a visit. That parkrun sounds extremely tough, hills sometimes have a habit of keeping on going up and never coming down. Great post as always 🙂 Keeping listening to the Aspiring Runner in you!

    • Its not so much that this park run is tough. It’s just that I’m not tough enough! You should have seen those fine young things flying it. Sickening.
      When you get here, have a go at it yourself. You’re the Park Runner Queen so I know you’ll laugh your way around the course.

      • I’m sure I won’t laugh my way around hehe talk maybe, laugh no 🙂 I did a hilly parkrun in NZ and that was a bit of a shock after my home one in Launceston. I also did an out and back one in NZ and that was amazing, there were fast people returning to the finish line when I was at the 1.5km mark – the fastest lady was pushing a pram with a very chubby toddler in it – ugh.

      • Well yes! Being an out and back it was amazing to see all the fast people flying to the finish, but was gobsmacked that the fastest lady had a pram. Oh well, at least we are out there running, and someone has to come at the back 🙂

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