I know you thought yesterday was Saturday but actually, you were wrong: it was Park Run Day.
Happy with my week’s training, and determined to take on Mr Parkrun Noob, I tucked into a light breakfast and then donned my armour: running shorts, my favourite running top, clean socks -yeah, clean is a bonus – and of course, runners.
With my secret weapon all set to be unleashed from my ipod(Shhhhhh! It’s the Black Eyed Peas album The Begining) I was good to go.
Now yesterday was wet. Unusually so. After a glorious July, it seemed like the whole month’s rain had been detained in some vast holding area in the skies only to be unceremoniously dumped on the entire park run population on Saturday morning. Rain skittered across my windscreen as I drove to the park run venue and then I saw it.
Beyond the sign lay a treacherous bend and, from the whirl of blue lights and flashing tail lights, I knew someone had come a cropper on the greasy roads. Thankful that it wasn’t me, nevertheless, I still had to make to the parkrun venue on time.
The Garda (yep, we call our policemen Gardaí) held up his hand and I rolled down the window.
He eyed my running gear appreciatively. Or, more likely, the body beneath
He peered in through the window and, with shake of his head, said
“I’m sorry, there’s been an accident so all traffic has to be detoured via The Sticks”
“Is everyone okay?”
“Yes, it seems so but it’s always a shock, of course”
Swiftly forgetting the agony for the people ahead of me, I glanced at the clock and realised I wouldn’t make it. Not in time to run, at any rate.
By the time I got to The Sticks, my good form had reasserted itself. I needed to train harder anyway for park run. Last week’s I’d got out of my comfort zone and pushed for speed. I finally felt I was creeping back to that place I was in two year’s ago, pre marathon and pre injured feet. I felt strong again. I needed to build on that.
I pulled up at the park run venue in time to see the first runners arrive in. It’s always so interesting to watch such a variety of finishes, from the steady super fast athletes who manage to sustain the same blistering pace throughout, to the little kid who lops along easily and then makes a break at the sight of the word Finish. And then those who struggle just to make the distance and have that sheer determined look that says
“I’ll finish, even if it kills me”
I stayed in my running gear all morning, watching the skies for a break from water torture. And I got my golden hour.
Lopping along by the river, I kept an eye on the Garmin so I’d keep my pace in the 5.40 min/km range for the three miles out, quelling my whiny self to maintain a steady pace.
I allowed myself to relax a little on the way back in. As usual the rewards came in the form of nature’s surprises: the blue flash of a kingfisher whizzing by, the grey on grey of the heron lifting his ungainly body above the river, the brilliant yellow bill, tipped with orange that is the herring gull’s. All of these things lift my heart and remind me why I run.
So I missed the park run. But, instead, I bagged myself a run which had a happy combination of progress and pleasure.
Sometimes-maybe most times-life’s little detours can take us to better places.