Princes Park parkrun review

Short review this week. I’m back in Liverpool for research and interviews, so I couldn’t turn down a chance to run at my home parkrun, Princes Park.

The course consists of two and a half laps around Princes Park, which is fairly hilly. The scenery is nice though, and being the only parkrun in South Liverpool it’s usually fairly well attended, regularly getting over 200 runners to turn up. Despite this, there’s usually not much congestion after the race starts, since the paths are fairly wide and there’s not usually that many people there.

As usual, my pet peeve surfaced; slower runners insisting on going at the front. This week was a double whammy: a man with his grandchildren in the second line, and then a woman running with a dog at the front.

Again, people are free to do the parkrun as they wish – that’s part of its appeal and why it’s such a great community – but this works both ways. Some people there aren’t aiming for new PBs each week, that’s cool, do your own thing, let a thousand flowers bloom, and so on, but other people are aiming to get a PB, and it’s unfair for someone to plonk themselves at the front, with hound, and then take up over half the path as other runners have to skirt round/avoid going arse over tit.

It’d be nice to see the group do something social afterwards (if this happens, I haven’t heard about it). There’s no talk of going to a cafe etc., which is strange since Lark Lane is so close.

Anyway, my run went very well. Despite having a few jager bombs and a cocktail last night, I felt alright at the starting line. My target was roughly 19:30, perhaps 19:20 to match the week before at Fulham, but I knew the hills would probably hold me back a bit.

I started strongly, working through the crowd at the start and decided to keep pushing when usually I would have settled down into place. I got the first half mile announcement from Nike+ with an average pace of less than 6 minute miles, so my target became keeping that pace going as long as possible.

Luckily, a lady gained on me and I used her as motivation to keep pushing. We overtook a guy in a MerseyTri t-shirt, and wasn’t feeling too exhausted at this point. This lasted for about a mile until the mid-way point, and then she pulled away (she came second, so at least I knew I would never have been able to keep up!). At the halfway point I was still hitting sub-6 minute miles, and I realised I could beat my course PB.2015-10-31 - Princes

At this point, I was left following a guy I’d noticed at the start. My new goal was to maintain the distance or perhaps catch up with him. Until about 2.5 miles, this was going well. He began to slow a bit and I started gaining on him. At just under the 3 mile point I was overtaken by a guy I’d passed early on, and I realised it was now or never to place fairly well. I’d hit the 3 mile mark, with Nike+ giving me an average time of 6’01/min miles, which was the motivation I needed. I just started to sprint, hoping I could hold on and reduce my average pace. I overtook the two guys I’d been following and pushed harder than I think I ever had before, determined to get a sub-19 time.

I crossed the finish line coming 5th, with my Nike+ saying I’d done 3.16km and my fastest 5k ever. It was a nervous wait for the result, because I had no idea if I’d actually done enough to beat my overall PB. Happily, I did – I (officially) crossed the finish line in 18:51, beating my course PB by 17 seconds, and shaving 2 seconds off my overall PB (set in Edinburgh, which is pancake flat).

This puts me in a good position for a strong half-marathon next week. I’m not expecting to get a PB for the distance, but I don’t think it’ll be as bad as I was expecting it to be. I think becoming a regular at the gym is having a positive effect, as is getting in some quality long runs too. I’m going to stick with what I’m doing until Christmas at least, and then have a review in light of the Manchester Marathon in April, since 3 runs a week might not be enough. Either way, I’ve got a spring in my step today. It’s good to be home.

Main points:

  • Laps: 2.5
  • PB Potential: Low – hilly course.
  • Facilities: Easy parking.
  • First-time friendly: Yes
  • Other positives: You get to be in Liverpool, and you might even get to see me.
  • Downside: Crowded start, no facilities on site.Princes - 5k Record 2015-10-31 - PB text
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