Sunday, 19 January 2014

Warming up at Brockwell

"What do you fancy doing when you visit?", my friend asked.

"Well.. I'd quite like to check out your local parkrun.. but other than that.. anything!", I replied, hopefully.

She was dubious that I was only visiting so I could tick another parkrun off the list, and she wasn't sure about this 'getting up early' business on a Saturday morning either. When you spend most of your time with runners, triathletes, cyclists and other sporty types, it's easy to forget that there are other people out there with zero interest in your sporting endeavours. My old school friend is one of these people; she generally just rolls her eyes when I tell her what I'm up to and thoughtfully serves me up an extra portion of whatever tasty meal she's making.

I did my best to convince her that parkrun was really fun and that her husband, who is into a bit of running, might enjoy it too. So off we trotted on Saturday morning, venturing across London to Brockwell Park. We navigated through tiny walkways and through various housing estates on what she called "an urban orienteering adventure", so I could tell she was secretly having fun, despite occasional snippets of abuse; I was accused of being "far too serious" based purely on the fact that I was wearing shorts in January and told off for doing too much groin-related movement as I lunged about the place to warm up.

Two and a half miles later, we arrived at Brockwell Park, which had a very inviting-looking lido. There was significantly more eye-rolling as I suggested that next time I could bring my bike and do a mini triathlon. I prevented further verbal abuse by diverting her attention to the cafe.

Pre-run excitement
Brockwell parkrun boasts a big crowd of nearly 300 runners. It was very difficult to hear the briefing but I just about made out that there was a big loop and a small loop.

The first half a kilometre was busy, I tried to weave in and out through the crowd and find a bit of space but soon enough the path lead up a fairly long drag of a hill that separated everybody out. I had gone out fairly hard and was very glad for the downhill section!

The back of the loop was flatter and before I knew it, I was running past the finish line for the first lap. In my head I thought I only had a small loop left but it wasn't actually a small loop. Instead, the route deviates up another hill, merely cutting out a tiny corner and sending you up the big drag for a second time. I was not mentally prepared for this and hadn't factored in another climb. My pace had been a bit ambitious and I ended up having to walk up some of the hill to get my breath back. As soon as I hit the top of the hill though I was fine again, and enjoyed the last stretch to the finish line.

Lianna's parkrun activity
After we'd had our barcodes scanned, we went off to find Lianna. She was very happy with her morning's activity of sitting in a nice cafe with a good book and tucking into an almond croissant. So happy in fact, that she suggested this could be a regular Saturday morning activity, checking out the parks and cafes of London. Turns out I can even convince the most reluctant of folk that parkrun is a great idea!

Including the brisk walk back via a few shops we had covered about six miles not even including the run, so brunch was very welcome by the time we got home. A good morning's work!

Veggie fry-up with plantain, mmm!

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