Last weekend, Stuart treated us to a trip to London. M was so excited about our minibreak as the last time that we went somewhere other than my mum’s house in Cornwall for a break was two years ago. I was excited because it was an opportunity for some parkrun tourism. I’m still trying to complete my parkrun alphabet, so I knew which event I wanted to head to: Victoria Dock parkrun.
I’d checked the weather forecast before we left home and was delighted to see that bright sunshine was on the cards for the whole weekend. Nowhere on the met office forecast was fog mentioned, but that was what we woke up to. We went on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Victoria Dock.
Victoria Dock parkrun has a reputation for being fast and flat. I’ve run part of the route before when I did the London Tri in 2016.
Arriving at Victoria Dock parkrun
It was really quiet when we arrived at Victoria Dock. The fog hadn’t started to clear and it made it feel a little eerie and deserted.
I felt sorry for people who had chosen to go on the cable cars as they wouldn’t have been able to see anything.
We had a chat with the Run Director and some of the other volunteers. The RD’s daughter, A, seemed pleased to see M. I think perhaps because there weren’t many children around. It seems like a really lovely, friendly event that is popular with local runners.
The first lap
The run briefing was quite short as the course is an out-and-back. There were a few awards for regular runners and volunteers and then it was time to go.
I set off in the middle of the pack and didn’t want to go too fast, however, I was optimistic that I could finish in a good time. Some of the path was slightly cobbled, so I took care. I was pleased that I completed the first kilometre in 6:01, but knew that I needed to pick up the pace to complete the parkrun in under 30 minutes.
I pushed on and was disappointed that I completed the second kilometre in 6:04. It was lovely to see M running with Stu at the back of the pack. She gave me a fantastic high five and looked pleased to see me.
The second lap
After the turnaround point, I pushed as hard as I could. I had to avoid some stalls that were being set up. A little further on, I caught my foot on the ground and nearly fell, which raised my heart rate. I completed the third kilometre in 6:03, so I knew I had to work a bit harder.
I decided to pick up the pace a bit. My legs were feeling OK and my breathing was also fine. I could see the runners around me and wanted to catch up/keep pace with some who were ahead of me. The 4th kilometre took me 5:33. I really didn’t realise that I could still run that fast!
I got to about 4.5km and was so disappointed that my shoelace came undone. Normally, I double-knot them so I was surprised. I felt lightheaded when I got back up, but decided that pushing on would be the best option. When I looked at my pace later, I saw that I did 4-5km in 5:55.
Waiting for Stu to finish
After I turned the final corner, I could see the finish line. Stu and M were waiting there for me, so I pushed as hard as I could. When I crossed the line, I was surprised to be handed a large chocolate medal for being 100th finisher!
I had pushed so hard that I could barely speak to the barcode scanner to explain that I had a shoe tag with my barcode on it. I then walked over to the finish where M was waiting for me. She had completed one lap with Stu who waited until I finished and then ran off to catch up with the tail walker so that he could complete his run.
Stu managed to catch the tail walker and then passed them to finish in 41:29. He said that it took him about 11 minutes to complete the second lap, which was a good result – especially as he’d been limping and had knee pain before the start of the event.
Walking back to the DLR
After a few photos, we walked back to the DLR to travel back to our hotel. There was no sign of the fog lifting, but there were plenty of swimmers enjoying a swim in the dock. It was surprisingly warm, so I would imagine that it was a pleasant temperature for swimming.
How did I do?
I was so frustrated about the shoelace incident. I tried really hard as I wanted to get a season’s best and was hoping that I might sneak under 30 minutes. My Garmin shows how much effort I put in!
It was nice to be the 100th finisher. I’m determined to lose weight, so I gave the medal to M (after a photo!) Although I didn’t finish in under 30 minutes, I did achieve my fastest parkrun time since February 2020.
I was the female runner who had completed the most runs and had the third-highest number of runs overall. I also noticed that I was the only runner who had volunteered 100+ times.
It was surprising to see that I was second in my age group. It’s a long time since that last happened.
I’ve now just got J, Y and Z left to complete my parkrun alphabet. Are you pursuing any parkrun challenges?