Saturday, 28 April 2012

Eastleigh: The Place to be on a Saturday Morning

This morning was a little (and very necessary) reminder for me that it doesn't always have to be about pace, effort, distance, "miles in the legs", average heart-rate or getting in the top ten.

I managed to gather a car-full of friends to go and check out the newly opened swimming spot at Lakeside Country Park, in Eastleigh. I used to swim there regularly in 2010 but sadly it wasn't opened up last year so I was very pleased to hear that it was back open for business. If anybody wasn't entirely sure (and some weren't), the idea of following it up with a recce of the new Eastleigh Parkrun course had them convinced.

A warm welcome at Lakeside awaited us and actually, the lake wasn't too far off warm itself. It depends on your particular view of the word "warm", but compared to my last few lake and sea swims over the course of April, it was positively balmy. A safety kayak on the water and several points around the edge of the lake where you can stand up (yes, even I could stand up) makes it feel a lot less daunting than other open water swimming locations and means that you can easily swim a bit then stop and chat a bit too - perfect!

I don't know if they intend to measure out a proper course there, but at the moment it's just two big buoys (the girls were excited to get in as soon as they heard..) along the back edge and then you sort of make up your own route to get back around; it would be very useful if they could measure out a course so that you know how far you're swimming, but really, so long as you just keep going around it doesn't really matter.

The cafe at Lakeside is going to miss out on some serious cash if it doesn't start opening earlier; chilly, hungry swimmers need sustenance, so we headed to the next best place for coffee and treats: Texaco. Whilst not exactly the best place for ambience, the hot drink selection was just fine and a warm cabinet of pasties and other well-suited breakfasty items had us all a little bit excited as we huddled around with our bellies rumbling. I made - with the help of Scott - a remarkable discovery in that Texaco garage: the potato dog. Imagine if you will, a sausage wrapped in a whole lot of hash brown and then fried. Scott let me have a bite of his and I wasn't quite sure how it was that I'd lived my life so far without knowing these existed!

Upping the pace for the finish. Are my thighs
bigger Scott?! Those squats have obviously
been paying off!!!
Anyway, with fried potato snacks out of the way, we headed over to Fleming Park for what was to be a very muddy run. Whether it's due to the cross country nature of the route or the fact that most people don't fancy getting up on a Saturday morning to go and run 5k in the rain, I don't know, but the number of participants seemed dramatically less than I'd seen at  previous Eastleigh Parkruns.

We had decided today was not about getting a time, to be honest I don't think it's an ideal course for a PB anyway. We just wanted a good fun run, and that it was. Mud was the name of the game and we made the most out of every puddle, leaping in like overenthusiastic children and coating each other in muck, lovely!

As we returned to the car a bit dirty, a bit sweaty and a bit hungry (again!), I almost forgot that I'd been exercising because actually it just felt like I'd had a really fun morning out with friends and sometimes that is what it's really all about.

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