You know when you have one of those days where you just want to start again? Or maybe just scratch it altogether; delete it, and move on? Yeah, today was definitely one of those days.
Fortunately that had nothing to do with the parkrun itself, so I’ll get back to that later.
St Andrews parkrun is situated a couple of miles outside the town itself, in Craigtoun Country Park. This was my first visit to the park, and was very excited to see the miniature train tracks (similar to Vogrie in Midlothian) as I explored on arrival.
This has been on my list for years; it’s the original of three current parkruns in The Kingdom (of Fife), and having run Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline in Saturdays past.
The setting is one of the more idyllic ones, and even turning up on a decidedly depressing-looking morning wasn’t even enough to dampen [ba-dum-tss] the spirits. It was bitterly cold too, mind!
With my 20th different venue of Scotland’s current 35 moments ahead, let’s have a look at the course:
– It starts right at the main entrance to the park
– Three and a quarter laps
– Underfoot, it’s 1/3 on tarmac, 2/3 on the gravel in the train photo above
– It’s around the perimeter of the park, with a couple of small undulations
– And finishes right next to the cafe!
As half past nine strikes (later start in Scotland, for those new readers from England/Wales), the first time briefing gets underway. It’s short, to the point, and mere moments later we’re off with very little fanfare.
Now, I hadn’t ran at all in 27 days after a bout of shin splints, so my expectations were suitably low. I’d been on the bike a few times, but nothing like enough to make up for the missed runs.
After a steady start, I picked up a little as we came off the tarmac just past the cafe, and up to the highest part of the course to the north of the park. Steadily making up places, and trying not to get too carried away while also totally trying to make up even more places.
It’s really hard to be disciplined sometimes!
I finished the first lap in around 6.30, but knew with the extra quarter lap that I was probably a little outside 20m pace and expected I’d drop back as the lack of fitness caught up with me. The second lap followed much the same pattern, and I clocked KM3 at 4.10 or so as I got back to the start line.
The confusing bit is always the third lap where you’re starting to pass runners on their second lap, and chasing down people on the same lap. Ah, yeah, I was still going reasonably well as it turned out!
That last quarter lap saw me get halfway past a younger chap, only for him to put on a desperate sprint to the finish to try and keep me behind him. Bless. He can have it, I was just pleased to be running again!
Maybe I should have chased him down after all – he finished in 19:57!
A lack of carrot cake in the cafe hurt my post-run recovery, but you can’t have everything. At 10.30, the core team announced the results had been processed! No hanging around, there.
So, overall thoughts?
I loved it. Laps can feel repetitive or claustrophobic, but the paths are wide enough and the surrounds too engaging for that to happen. Over 200 were there today and you’d never know it. It’s a little out of the way for it to be a regular destination, but it was worth the trip out there!
—END OF parkrun CHAT —
This is later, so now I’m back to where this blog started. Two problems:
Problem #1. My alarm was set for 6.15am to get me up in plenty time for my 7.35am train from Haymarket, three miles away.
I woke up at 7am.
Ten minutes later I was out the door on my bike, knowing it was touch and go. It was raining, then hailstones, and I was having to pedal like a maniac who hasn’t had time to brush his teeth or have breakfast. And there’s a reason for that.
Already soaking wet, I made the train and managed to successfully navigate from Leuchars to the parkrun – which you already know, obviously.
Problem #2. My motivation for choosing this parkrun was I’d just signed up for Etape Caledonia, an 85 mile cycle. For ages, I’d been meaning to complete the run and then cycle back to Edinburgh (50-55 miles depending on the route), so this gave me the perfect excuse.
The forecast had been bleak, I’d already had a hail smattering in Edinburgh and a fair share of rain in getting to Craigtoun. It poured when I was in the cafe, but I timed my exit well and there was little to downpour from then on. The issue, as it turned out, was the stuff already on the ground.
Going through Kirkcaldy, I came downhill to a small roundabout, taking the second exit – a 90 degree right turn. Only I didn’t exit the way I’d planned; carrying a little too much speed and braking as I made my way round, the bike skidded out from under me and the momentum saw me skid along the road.
Oddly, it didn’t hurt as much as I expected!
Luckily it’s a quiet, single lane roundabout and the car behind was far enough behind to stop no problem. I got up quickly, grabbed the bike and walked to the side of the road, apologising to the driver for getting in their way, and tottered off to the pavement.
Bike buckled, me a little shaken up initially but essentially fine. Crumbs.
Handily, the train station was only a mile away, so I just walked the broken bike there and off I hopped home. Bit of a disaster, and only half of my planned mileage done. And I might need a new bike for that thing I entered. Rats.
— END OF ‘BAD DAY‘ CHAT —
I probably won’t be running for a bit beyond the monthly parkrun – now that I’ve posted that I’m doing a new one a month, I’m stubborn enough to stick at it – so this place is likely to be quiet until I decide where and when April’s box will be ticked. It’ll be at least a fortnight, though; I’ve got the wedding of two good friends to get myself to next Saturday.
Until next time…