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Monday, 29 November 2010

Coventry parkrun 27/11/10 (Snow!)

After a night on the beer and less than 5 hours sleep, I woke at 7am on Saturday morning and for some reason, something told me to take a look outside. It had snowed. It wasn't too deep, maybe half an inch, but a covering nonetheless. My first thought was, "will parkrun still be on? I hope so!".

My brother (Andy), our mate Mike and myself all set off for the park hoping that it would still be on. Mike may have been hoping for another outcome, but he didn't say anything. The fact that he was going to be making his parkrun debut and his first run of any kind since school cross country (over 20 years ago), it was not the kind of weather you would choose.

It was bitterly cold. Even in running tights, with three layers on my top half, hat and gloves I still felt very cold. We jogged the few hundred yards to the start assembly area and found that there were already a few people milling about. At that stage (8:55am) it was pretty much one volunteer to each runner, but that quickly changed as the die-hard parkrunners started to assemble. In the end we managed 58 runners. Well down on the normal 120 plus runners, but impressive given the conditions.

It was clear to all that this was not going to be a day for a PB. However, Jason Douglas (Coventry parkrun race director) advised everyone to be sensible during his pre-run briefing. The chuckles from the gathered parkrunners suggested that everyone was more than happy to enjoy the run without even thinking about a PB. The atmosphere is always very friendly at Coventry parkrun (and all parkruns I expect) but this week it seemed even more so.

From the very start of the run you could tell that everyone was a bit more tentative than usual. The first few corners were taken very steadily. But after that, people seemed to grow in confidence. In fact after a couple of minutes the pattern seemed to be very carefully on the corners and then pretty much normal speed on the straights.

Personally I managed a 10:01 first lap whilst running with Andy. After I that, as my confidence grew, I pushed on and posted a brisk second lap of 9:09 to finish 4th overall in a satisfying time of 19:10. Given the cold and the snow covered ground that was a far quicker time than I had expected.

Andy finished about a minute behind me in 20:09 and Mike, in his first run for 2 decades, finished in a respectable 34:13. The most impressive thing was that Mike continued to talk about parkrun for the rest of the weekend. It had certainly made some impression on him. He said that he would do it again next time he was with us in Coventry and even suggested he would do one at a venue more local to him one day if he could get someone to run it with him. I'm not sure we have made him into a runner just yet. In fact I am sure we haven't, but he liked the idea of parkrun and I'm sure he will be back again at some stage. And that time he will have a realistic target to beat.

I think that is great testament to parkrun. It can take someone who hasn't run for 20 years and get them interested. Then it won't be for everyone, but for some its only a small step to run a second time with the aim of improving, getting fitter, losing weight, whatever the draw may be for each person. And that's when you can find yourself hooked. Brilliant!

After this weekend's run, one thing is for sure, my longstanding opinion of myself as a fair-weather runner is well out-of-date now. I don't mind at all if its freezing or snowing for my next training session or parkrun. I intend to run whatever the weather and I am already looking forward it. Bring on my Wednesday freedom parkrun with Andy in the snow, I can't wait!

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