Looking to start off 2019 in the manner that I hope to continue, I headed off for my first visit to my new local Parkrun in Towneley Park.
We seem to be quite well blessed with Parkruns in Lancashire. The Pendle Parkrun in Colne is also particularly close, and Blackburn is probably 20 - 25 minutes away.
I did contemplate doing the Blackburn / Burnley Parkrun double this morning, the event times had been amended with an 8:30 start in Blackburn, and 10:00 in Burnley to facilitate this - and many did both. Ultimately I decided that was probably a little eager having not run for a couple of months - but with retrospect it would have been feasible.
I arrived at Towneley Park around 15 minutes before the race, fortunately there was some change lying around on my dashboard as there is a car park fee of £1.50 here - although that does cover the whole day. I just took a couple of quick photos of the park, having not been prior.
Arriving at the start line in front of Towneley Hall, I headed toward the back of the pack, as my plan was to run a steady 5km , and I expected to be running at closer to 6min/km than 05:30min/km pace.
The Towneley Park course consists of two figure of eight loops of a couple of fields in the park. The length of the route is fairly flat, but the sides climb up to the top of the route. There is only really one noticeable climb, and two downhills given the contour.
I had settled in too far back in the pack, and given the size of the crowd it took a few minutes to get running at a coinsistent stride and pace. I felt my diaphragm tighten a little on the first lap. My asthma felt under control, so presumably that was a wee leftover from this winter's chest infection. In any case I eased back, it passed, and I was able to run at my own pace for the remainder of the race.
Towards the end of the first lap I could see my average pace sitting around the 5:50min/km mark, and it did start to head south a little on the first climb back up to Towneley Hall.
I was fairly happy with 5:50min/km in the context - I knew I was going to get a big personal worst for 5km today. I would have liked to get under 5:45min/km though, and so pressed a little harder on the second lap as the field thinned, and especially down the last downhill and finishing straight.
I crossed the finishing line in 28:23, averaging 5:36/km (this course measured slightly long on my watch) - and that is at home alongside my fastest runs since March/April - so I'm incredibly happy with that - and it also includes a decent amount of walking at the beginning. I wasn't pushing particularly hard for most of this run - it was deliberately RPE1/2 in the main. The official time is slightly longer at 28:41, which presumably includes some of the time waiting for tags to be scanned on the mats.
There is a cafe in the car park that many of the other participants were using - but I headed straight back, having exhausted my bank holiday morning out pass!