Jo and I had talked about a bit of parkrun tourism down to Medway, to visit Great Lines parkrun in Gillingham. We’d tentatively tried to plan it before, but plans were scuppered with canceled runs, so we finally managed to go yesterday. I’d been for a walk through the park before as it’s just round the corner from the house-that-wasn’t-to-be, but after reading Steven’s write up, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
Great Lines Heritage Park is rather pretty and links Chatham and Gillingham. The run starts at the Gillingham side, opposite the leisure centre who are very good about letting Saturday morning parkrunners descend on them to use the toilets. There is limited free parking on some of the surrounding streets, or the parking in the leisure centre car park is cheap. Gillingham station is about half a mile or so away.
We’d been exchanging tweets with some Twitter running buddies who were also running and it was lovely to catch up with Teresa, James and meet Lisa. We stood around shivering in the cold whilst I moaned about feeling a little bit delicate. I’d been out the night before for my first wedding anniversary. Wine and good food happened. Plenty of it. This seems to be a recurring theme…
9.00am came and we were summonsed for the race briefing. A welcome to the tourists was given but the parkrunner from Connecticut clearly won the uber-tourist award. Finally, we lined up and it was time to start.
As Steven mentioned in his write up, the run starts by sending you off in the opposite way to what you’d expect. A lap of the football pitch on grass and then it’s on to the tarmac path to follow the long drag up the centre of the park. It looks fairly flat, but as you get further into it, your legs start feeling the incline and when you get to the top, you realise that you’ve traveled up a fair way. You then turn a corner onto a gravel path, with a sudden short drop and you’ve treated to an amazing view of the valley. Follow the path, give the thumbs up to a photographer and you’re led back to the tarmac path which this time you get to run down – much easier than running up! The course then goes round for a second lap.
I placed myself near the back, but as there were plenty of C25K graduates taking on their first 5k, I probably could have moved forward a bit. I found myself “boxed in” for the first lap of the football pitch, finding it tough to get round people, but it opened up once we moved to the tarmac path. I kept a reasonable pace as I ran up, luckily it flattened out as my legs started to get cross with me. Running down the path on the way back down again was much easier and I found myself debating whether to let myself go, or just keep comfortable. I opted for comfort, telling myself I’d push it down to the finish. As we headed round the football pitch for the second time, I felt grumpy. I find it really hard running on grass. The obvious thing is to do more of it, but I prefer the burying my head in the sand approach and pretending it doesn’t exist. Onto the path for the second time and I was really starting to struggle. I ran up half of it, but eventually admitted defeat and finished up with a combination of 20 seconds running / 20 seconds power walking and mused the possibility of visiting Dulwich again, a tarmac and pancake flat course. Around the gravel path I went and the sun came out. I got really hot. Typical. Back to the tarmac path for the long drag down to the finish and along came the wind. A quick glance at my watch showed me that I’d completed 4k in 25:46. I’d really wanted to try to go sub 31 and I optimisically decided to try as it seemed daft not to take advantage of that slight downhill.
So I gritted my teeth and I ran.
I now know the concept of running until you feel like vomiting. I much prefer the concept of feeling like “could have done better, if I’d wanted”. It hurts less.
A 4.49 minute final km and I crossed into the funnel in 30:35 (Polar), 30:40 (official).
A huge post-pregnancy PB. With a mild hangover. Hurrah!
Jo ran a stunning time and Lisa ran a PB, paced by James. Teresa also ran a parkrun PB, a successful morning all round! Jo and I also helped with the post-event take-down which won us some bonus volunteer points and ticks off one of my 30 by 30 challenges.
Mission complete, we all went to the greasy spoon cafe where I enjoyed a bacon and bubble and squeak sandwich. Even if the server did laugh at my order. It was delicious.
A fabulous morning out with some truly lovely people – can’t wait to see you all again!
- Although not the easiest (hi Dulwich!), I can see why some great times are recorded at Great Lines – the final km is ideal for making up lost time. Next time, I think I might try to give it more at the end of the first lap.
- Eating fine food and drinking wine on a Friday to end up with a mild hangover is clearly key to a successful parkrun.
- Lisa had a fucking awesome Buff. It was from the Giant’s Head marathon and featured a willy. Teehee.
- Although a cold morning, the sun never fails to disappoint, coming out at the top of the valley.
- I prefer slacking. It hurts less.
30 by 30 – parkrun update
- Complete parkrun in 10 different locations.
This made number 8.
- Volunteer at parkrun, doing 3 different roles
Mission complete! I have now done barcode scanning, time keeping and post-event take down.