I think the point I knew I needed a week off was on the Sunday after #11: Falkirk. It was a lovely day and I was meeting some friends in the old town. Around half way into the walk I found myself needing to stop for a rest. Training in the week was a slog, and the cough I had was still not shifting. In the end up, I resigned myself to a gentle run near home so I could at least get some more sleep and not have to think about getting a train.
This seems to have paid dividends, and I started the week raring to go. Pilates was great, and training this week just gone was tough but lacking the desperation I felt the week before. The only issue as the weekend got closer was, where on earth was I going to go?
By Thursday I had managed to narrow it down to Linwood, or Springburn. Linwood is 2.5 miles from the nearest station, and requires some navigation. Since in weeks gone by in #5: Livingston I managed to fail to navigate a straight line, this is something I don’t take lightly. Work was rather demanding this week, and so I felt it best I left this one for a time when I have more brain space.
6am isn’t the friendliest time of day is it? Granted it’s less aggressive than 5am, but it’s still a little narky. Things are still very different now though to when I first set out for #1 Drumchapel. The sun is up, as are other people. Making my way to the train station it feels like tea and crumpets morning rather than nightclub kicking out morning.
Into Queen Street and I wrongly assume I’ll need to go through the barriers to get my connection. I look around bewildered to see where platform 9 is, and eventually find that I need to go back where I came. My ticket doesn’t seem to want me to do that, and I’m eventually let through by one of the station staff. For reasons I don’t understand, Glasgow Queen Street lower level is kept a few degrees colder than the rest of the station. As I entered the platform, I felt the temperature change, turned back to the lift which was now closed and realised I was stuck with it. Only 5 minutes to wait, but by the time the train arrived I was visibly shaking.
Talking to club mates earlier in the week, Springburn seemed to elicit some odd reactions from people. On leaving the station and walking over so much broken glass I can only assume it was done for decorative purposes I started to get the picture. I made my way swiftly in the wrong direction for 50 metres, before a quick check confirmed I should about turn and up the hill. Past the gentlemen at the newsagent head down since I clearly had no idea where I was and quickly onto the park. On finding the park, the next question was how to get in. Looking around, I heard a voice call ‘it’s over here’ and found a guy in a red t-shirt coming to the rescue who then guided me to the start line. Now I’ve banged on about this before, but I love visiting Glasgow because every time the people prove themselves to be warm enough to thaw the coldest of parts of the city.
After a quick chat I decide to go off on a bit of a recce round the park. Glasgow really does take amazing care of its parks, and this is no exception. The towering winter gardens loom in the distance, and as I go through a wooded section I see a rabbit. Finally after a warm up of near 2 miles, I’m actually warm.
The conditions for the run are near perfect. It’s cool but not cold, and dead still. After a good training session in the week, followed by a few easier days, I’m inwardly feeling more confident than I have in a good few weeks. Near the start line I hear a couple discussing going to try Camperdown, I reassure them that it’s great and it turns out they are also trying to complete the Scotland parkruns.
Off we go! We’re stretching gently downhill and I’m quickly into a rhythm. We’ve not covered a few hundred metres and I’m already in the harder work zone, but it’s controlled as I settle in. Round a bend and we’re following some trees as the path steadily goes up and round. A house comes into view and we weave round the side of it and round to the right. I ease off slightly to recover from the climb and before I know it we’re going steadily downhill. We’re into the tree lined section where I earlier saw the rabbit, and I’m trying to read the t-shirt on the guy in front of me which appears to say ‘tree ultra’. I start wondering what a tree ultra marathon would be exactly as we come back out into the open and we’ve still got more of this gentle descent to keep the pace going. Another pond on the left and a wiggle round and we have a long open stretch in front of us. Mile #1 done in 6.51.
On the long stretch I start to zone out, all I’m hearing is my feet, my breathing, and I’m keeping it to that same rhythm I had at the start. This is only interrupted as we hit a small incline up to a car park. It feels briefly like my pace is shattered, but we’re soon cruising down past the point we joined the lap and into the line of trees and I’m back on track. The long climb around the bend this time seems steeper and I concentrate on keeping my cadence high and looking up and ahead. Up at the house I attempt to thank the marshals but little comes out and now I can try again to quickly recover as we get a little respite. I now notice that the tree ultra is in fact the Tiree ultra, which makes a lot more sense than covering a long distance by swinging through trees. Back into the short wooded section and mile #2 is done in 7.08.
For anyone out there wanting a tip on running 5ks, I would very much suggest changing to thinking in miles rather than kilometres if you don’t already. With just one mile (and a bit) to go I feel like I can now take this on and push for home. When I used to run in kilometres, on almost every race I ran I would have a terrible 4th k.
I’m past the Tiree ultra runner now, and I have two people left in front of me. As we get up back to the car park, I’ve passed one more and have only one person in front of me. She’s a good few metres up the road, but as the road in front of us gets shorter, I’m gradually closing that gap. We go up the long winding climb for the third time, and it’s again gotten steeper. I can’t see any other runners except the one runner in front of me, and were she not there I would probably be panicking I had taken a wrong turn. As we reach the house and turn right into the finishing straight, mile #3 is done in 7.04 and it’s now all to play for as we charge for the line but in the end it’s a bridge too far and I settle for second place. It’s not a race anyway.
Scores! 15th place, 21.36
Next week: Second new parkrun of the year – Ruchill!