The one with the PB by the sea. This morning my parkrun tourism took me closer to home, Southsea to be precise, a stones throw away and surprisingly one I’ve never done before. There is method to this madness though. Now that I’ve started on the tourist trip I’m trying to work through my list of places to visit doing the furthest ones first, leaving the local ones for occasions where travelling further isn’t viable. Today was such an occasion being my daughters 6th birthday, I had to cut travel time to the barest minimum if I was going to get a cheeky parkrun in.
Southsea parkrun starts at speakers corner on the seafront. If you don’t know where that is then head towards Pyramids and you can’t miss it, it’s in between the very sorry looking pier and the Pyramids. Parking is straight forward and will set you back £1.80 for an hour if you chose to park up on the seafront, alternatively you can park for free in one of the residential streets close by, if you’re lucky, but add an extra 5-10 minutes at least to walk there if you do. You really can’t miss the start as the area is awash with neon clad runners and marshals milling around waiting for the off.
There are quite a few people sporting their Tribesports apricot home run shirts, I was wearing my Havant top on its first outing. I looked about to see if I could spot any other tourists, there were a few Orpington Road Runner shirts visible. As this was a run fairly local to me I did however bump into a few familiar faces, Helen Mayhead from Baffins Fit Club and Mark Allen who I met at Havant parkrun and chased round the Portsmouth Half Marathon earlier in the year. I had a little chat with them before the main briefing took place, I didn’t bother with the new runners/tourists briefing as I know the course. So after a few announcements and the usual clapping and support at the beginning of every parkrun we are ready to go.
Southsea parkrun is a very flat out and back along the promenade. It starts at speakers corner and heads along the promenade towards Eastney and back. It is renowned as being a PB course if the weather is kind and the wind is playing ball. I’ve run this stretch numerous times in many races, Portsmouth 50k, Great South Run, Portsmouth marathon, Pieces of Eight to name just a few. It is pretty much always windy on the return leg towards Pyramids. Today however the parkrun gods were smiling on us and it was uncharacteristically calm along the seafront. No wind at all, I could be on for a PB, even though I’m still suffering from back/shoulder issues. I plan to take it easy and run it in around 25 minutes.
The start is a bit crowded and I feel like I’m tripping over people all the way to the pier, I’ve made my usual mistake of starting too far back in the pack, when will I ever learn. After the pier things start to thin out a bit as people get into their stride, remembering all the while to keep to the left of the promenade. We pass a couple of marshals on the way to the turn around point who are very supportive, I thank them as I usually do, these guys are giving up their time or their run to ensure that we can run, hats off to them.
My first mile comes up at 8:11 and I’m feeling good, I plan to see how I’m feeling at the turnaround point and maybe push a bit harder on the way back. Unlike other parkruns I’ve visited I actually have a good idea of how hard and when to push on this course. I hit the turnaround (thank the marshal) and start into the return leg, feeling great at this point I push a bit harder, as we’re running back on the left side of the promenade other participants are now on our right, this is great as I get a high five and a shout out from Helen as we pass in opposite directions, I love this. Mile 2 comes in at 7:48 and I still feel like I’ve got plenty left in the tank so push on harder. Once you get to the pier you know there’s not much further to go so you can really push hard, mile 3 comes in at 7:17 and I’m almost home. Last push to the finish line.
I finish in 23:21, my fastest ever parkrun and a 5k PB to boot. What a great run in perfect conditions, it was so still and warm. I did overheat a bit, wearing a compression top under my apricot parkrun shirt was a bit of a mistake, but it can’t of affected me that much judging by my time.
Southsea is a nice parkrun in a great location, it’s easy to find and easy to get to with parking a plenty. I’m not sure on the post race social aspect of it as I had to dash as soon as I’d finished, but it came across as being very friendly. The only thing I would change is to move the barcode scanners further away from the finish funnel, there’s lots of room to play with there, no real need to crowd it all in.
I’ll be doing this one again in the future.