I’m still in Liverpool, so my travels took me to Victoria Park, for the Widnes parkrun.
The first thing I noticed was that the park is surrounded by residential streets, and since there isn’t any dedicated parking space I had to squeeze in on the pavement where I could. Despite arriving about 20 minutes early space was already sparse so do leave time for space searching – or get public transport/walk.
The course is three and a half laps. Generally, I don’t like laps since the thought of ‘another two to go’ can be quite draining, but the park is very nice and there’s plenty to keep you distracted as you run round. There is only one tricky turn on the route, which is a sharp left as you approach the lake. Today the course was fairly dry, but there were a few leaves, some mud, and bird and dog poo (at least, I assumed it was dog…) around the lake, so it’s not unimaginable that someone taking the corner too fast could slip into the lake. In fact, I’d pay good money to see that happen. Nike+ reported just 37 feet of elevation over the whole three laps.
It’s hard to miss the starting point here, right next to the pavilion in the centre of the park. The paths were fairly wide so there didn’t seem to be much bunching at the start, despite there being 150-odd people present. There were a lot of volunteers today, and one of them took the children who weren’t running to the first marshall point to cheer on runners – a nice touch if you don’t want offspring to ruin your PB chances, like they ruined your finances and social life. The volunteers were all very supportive here, smiling and clapping as I ran past, although at the finish line I did hear one of them having to ask how long the course was…! Also, nobody here seems to take it too seriously so the vibe is quite relaxed – I spotted very few club shirts. When I’d finished, I did see one woman hand her son (I hope…) a water bottle and run along side him as he drank it. That was probably a bit too much. Calm down.
The website says there is a coffee social after each parkrun, in the park’s cafe which opens at 10am. Since it started to rain I didn’t stay, but I think things like that are a nice touch if you enjoy social interaction. There was also a photographer there today – I’m not sure how regular of an occurrence this is, but it meant I had to control my usual ‘I-hate-the-world-and-everyone-in-it’ run face as I passed him. I look forward to the inevitable embarrassing gurns captured forever (if there are any, I imagine they’ll be put on the event’s Flickr profile here). Results were sent out before 1pm.
Overall, the Widnes parkrun was enjoyable. It’s another young’un, this being the 32nd event and again I can see it developing a strong community. However, for me, the 3.5 laps means that Croxteth Park just edges to the finish.
My run felt good but my energy dipped early on – it didn’t help that I’d be doing leg exercises in the gym the day before (I refuse to use the term leg day) – and the laps got to me. I just find myself getting bored. Early on I counted 7 guys ahead of me, and so I set a goal of holding my place and finishing in the top ten. As Nike+ shows, in a bid to pull away early I probably went off a bit too fast, and then my average speed fell from 6’05/mile to 6’43/mile. Either way, I still finished in 9th place which I’m happy about, but after my next triathlon I’ll be throwing in some speed, hill, and pacing work to build some consistency in my running. See my times here.
- Laps: 3.5
- PB potential: High – as long as you don’t fall in the lake, and you don’t mind laps.
- Facilities: None, until the cafe opens at 10. Plenty of seats in the centre for spectators. Flickr profile here.
Update: here are the two pictures I could find of me. As always, I’m looking glam and dressed to impress.
Credit to Waldemar Rutkowski.