This weekend, my mum came to stay, which meant that I had a free pass to travel to another parkrun. (My mum comes to visit M, not me!) I’m trying to complete my parkrun alphabet and as the letters that I needed were J, Y and Z, it was an easy decision. There’s only one Y left in the UK (York), which is at least 4 hours drive away. There is no Z in the UK. So, I decided to visit Jersey Farm parkrun in St Albans.
My running buddy, Pete, said that he’d be happy to drive in return for some company, so Stu, Kate and I got a lift with him. In advance, Pete checked the event details with Laura, another Lordshiller/parkrun fanatic. Laura has run Jersey Farm parkrun before as it’s near to her parents’ home.
Pete arrived just after 6:30am and we piled into his car. About a minute down the road, Kate realised that she had forgotten her trail shoes, but she said that it would be fine. After the recent change to allowing digital barcodes to be scanned, we didn’t have to worry about anyone forgetting a barcode.
Arriving in St Albans
After driving for a couple of hours, we arrived in St Albans. We knew when we were getting close to the event as we could see other runners, including a few wearing cow cowls and beanies. When we parked, there was a bit of time spent removing some layers of clothing, whilst putting on others and changing shoes. As it has been really rainy this week, I decided to wear my trail shoes. I was also wearing my new parkrun Adventurers ugly Christmas t-shirt with some festive leggings. As it was chilly, I also had on my parkrun Adventurers buff with the 2019 design on it.
The car park is a short walk away from the start. It’s not a huge car park, but it does have some clean toilets.
When we arrived, we could see a number of other tourists. We took the opportunity to get a photo taken with the Jersey Farm parkrun sign.
The first timer briefing
We were told that it was time for the first timers’ briefing. It seemed that almost everyone moved over to listen to the information. The results show that there were 7 people taking part in their very first parkrun and 38 tourists visiting St Albans. The first-timers made up over a fifth of the total participants.
The route was explained, but to be honest, I didn’t need to pay too close attention to that part as I knew there would be people for me to follow. I also knew that there would be signs, cones and marshals out on the course.
It was then time for the main briefing. Participants were asked where they had come from. We had been impressed by runners driving from as far as Telford, however, it turned out that one parkrunner had travelled from Vancouver, Canada!
The start of Jersey Farm parkrun
We lined up at the start. I had positioned myself towards the back as I’m very unfit at the moment. I didn’t want to make Stu, Kate and Pete wait for a long time in the cold. However, I also wanted to enjoy my run.
I decided to take it steady and do the best that I could. Work has been hectic recently, so I’ve not been exercising as much as I’d like.
The first lap
The first lap was relatively busy as the paths are quite narrow. I was running on my own, but was able to hear other people’s conversations. In particular, I liked hearing one mother’s detailed description of the course to her son who had not run the winter route before.
We had been told that there was a hill. It felt like much more of the route was downhill than uphill. When I arrived at the uphill section, it didn’t feel tough.
The marshals out on the course were very friendly. One, in particular, commented that he could tell I liked the downhill sections.
The second lap
I quite like two-lap courses. You know what’s coming, but it doesn’t feel repetitive.
Just after the end of my first lap, I was passed by the two first finishers. The second lap was really peaceful. I was running without anyone too close to me for most of it, which was a pleasant change from Southampton parkrun. There were a few runners who passed me, but I wasn’t too bothered about trying to keep up with them.
When the finish funnel was in sight, I put on a little sprint.
Going for a post-parkrun breakfast
By the time I’d finished, Laura had long gone. She had beaten her PB at this event and was also the first female finisher!
After a little bit of chatting, we headed back to the car to drive to the Potting Shed Cafe at Carpenters Nursery and Farm shop. We had read that it was the best local place to visit for breakfast. We were not disappointed. Pete and Stu had bacon rolls with eggs; Kate had pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, and I had a vegetarian breakfast.
How did I do at Jersey Farm parkrun?
Whilst we were in the cafe, my results text and email arrived. I finished in 34:15. It was a slow time, but I was pleased to have enjoyed my run and have ticked off another alphabet letter.