As Stuart is still injured and M had a gymnastics class, I decided to do some parkrun tourism. My friend Pete agreed to drive Ellie and me to Queen Elizabeth parkrun. It’s my NENDY (Nearest Event Not Done Yet) and also a Q for my parkrun alphabet.
Work has been busy for me (for the last 18 months!) so I’ve not been exercising as much as I’d like to. There are a lot of days when I don’t leave the house and barely walk over 1000 steps. I managed to fit in a 5.5km run with Kate on Thursday… but it was probably more walking than jogging or running. I’d been looking forward to going on a bike ride or long run on Friday, but Storm Evert decided to arrive bringing gale-force winds and rain, so I stayed at home doing some organising and having some downtime. (I also managed to complete some blog posts that have been half-written for a long time. Apologies to anyone who subscribes for sending you a slew of outdated posts!)
Arriving at Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Last night I thought I had better get everything laid out so that I would be ready when Pete arrived at 7:30am. I had charged my Garmin, filled a bottle of water, plugged in my phone, got out my bank card and £5 and checked my trainers had a barcode on them when I realised there was a minor flaw in my plans. I hadn’t done the laundry and my ‘favourite’ sports bra and running shorts were still in the basket. (* By favourite, I mean the only ones that fit me these days). I put them in the washing machine and stayed awake until nearly midnight to ensure that I could hang them to dry.
In the morning, I got up at 6:30am, made my porridge and got dressed. I then had to organise M for her gymnastics class and do her hair. This all took longer than expected, so I didn’t manage to find my parkrun flatband before I left. (I’ve only used it once and am certain it is in my lounge somewhere!)
Pete arrived at exactly 7:30 and we headed off towards Queen Elizabeth Country Park. We had allowed plenty of time as there is an average speed limit of 50mph for 8 miles between Southampton and Portsmouth. We chatted all of the way and arrived at about 8:30am. There was plenty of parking close to the start and we had enough time to walk over to the main building where there were some toilets.
Queen Elizabeth parkrun
We had enough time to take some photos before heading up to the start area.
The route was explained to us by a regular runner and then we headed further uphill for the first timer’s briefing. We could see the start sign from where we were. The start was uphill and we were told that as long as we only ever turned right, we would be fine. We were told that there is a short loop (2km) and a long loop (3km). The middle kilometre is almost entirely uphill.
After the Run Director’s briefing, everyone walked to the start. Pete and I hung back a bit as we were aware that we would finish towards the back of the field. I knew that I would not be quick as I struggled to run with Kate on Thursday, but hadn’t expected the two commuter bike rides that I did to take as much out of my legs. It wasn’t long before Pete and I started walking. His calves were aching and my thighs were burning.
At the first right-hand turn, we were greeted by a grassy downhill. The views were attractive and the path reminded me of being at Thunder Run. We turned right at the bottom of the hill and followed a gently undulating chalk path past the finish line and back towards the start.
The second lap
Pete and I walked most of the hill section and were relieved when we got back to the downhill section. We were busy chatting and knew we didn’t have any more hills to climb. We enjoyed taking in the scenery and we’re grateful that we didn’t have to climb any of the hills we could see. It’s not easy to see the road that goes right past Queen Elizabeth Country Park, but it’s easy to hear the traffic which is a shame.
Towards the end, Pete picked up the pace a bit. I could hear Ellie cheering, but couldn’t manage to run any faster. I was so relieved to cross the line.
Post-parkrun cafe visit
We walked back to the car and then went to the cafe. Everything felt so normal, which is really lovely after the last year. We got some drinks – and I bought a brownie, which was a mistake. It was quite dry and crumbly and a waste of calories! We enjoyed our drinks at a picnic table outside the cafe. It seemed like everyone else there had a dog. I think the park would be a lovely place to explore with a dog or go mountain biking.
Whilst browsing on my phone, a memory from exactly 5 years ago popped up. It was a picture of Ellie and me from when I was about 30 weeks pregnant.
So how did I do?
I really enjoyed this run. I didn’t feel any pressure to run quickly. My main aim was simply to complete the event.
I had a look at the results for this event using the parkrun Extended Info Chrome extension and was surprised to see my name in the top summary table. I was the runner who had completed the most parkruns with 334. The runner with the next highest number was on 308 runs.
Ellie had a great run, finishing in 25:27 as the second lady. |It wasn’t a PB on this course for her, but she said she enjoyed it.
I’m pleased to be able to cross Q off my list. There are still four letters that I need to get for my parkrun alphabet: J, V, Y and Z.
- J: Jersey Farm parkrun (86 miles)
- V: Victoria Dock (85 miles)
- Y: York (246 miles) (I’m so gutted that Yeovil Montacute – 71 miles – isn’t returning)
- Z: Zillmere parkrun (Brisbane, Australia) or Zuiderpark parkrun (The Hague)
Fortunately, Pete is also keen on parkrun adventuring and needs to get the same letters (and a few more).
Although I didn’t run at Southampton parkrun today, I like to follow what’s going on there. I saw that a video had been shared of the return event last week.
I was also impressed that a new course record was set this week at Southampton. A first-timer ran the course in a blistering 14:48!
What else have I got coming up?
I’m so happy to be back to running and cycling. I’m starting to get a few more events on my calendar:
- St Ives Bay 10k 17/08/21
- Southampton Sportive 04/09/21
- End to End Run (Virtual) 04/09/21
- Southampton Half Marathon 05/09/21
- Gourdy’s Pumpkin Run (Virtual) /10/21
Have you got any events planned for 2021?