The one with the Christmas cheer. This morning saw a return visit to Portsmouth Lakeside parkrun. I’ve actually visited Lakeside twice already this year, I ran back in May at their 2nd event as well as doing my 25th volunteer point there in November as a marshal. Today I got there early to volunteer again, I’d put myself down to help with course set which is remarkably easy to do even having run there only once before. You get given a sheet of paper with a picture of the areas you are laying out and detailed instructions so it’s hard to go wrong. I even had time for a nice gentle mile warm up run to get me back to the start/finish area. This I did with Havant regular Del CHANDLER, Del was also visiting the course today and was there early to have a bit of a warm up beforehand as well as get in a bit of a course recce. I bumped into him whilst I was setting up the turnaround point, it was great to have a little run and a chat with him.
I chose Portsmouth Lakeside as I wanted to stay close to home for a couple of reasons, I’ve got a kids party to take my daughter to later in the afternoon, but I also wanted a nice flat course I’m relatively familiar with. Whilst I love Havant I’ve got the Portsmouth Coastal Waterside marathon Sunday and I didn’t want to risk turning an ankle before that. My 50 milestone shirt arrived this week so it got its first airing on this, my 56th run. It was sadly covered up for the most part with a Santa suit, it is almost Christmas after all and the fancy dresss theme at Portsmouth Lakeside today. The invite had gone out earlier in the week for all to come run in their favourite Christmas costume and potentially be rewarded with mince pies afterwards, how could I resist such a temptation! Mince pies are food of the gods, it’s the one thing that makes Christmas bearable that and being able to watch Die Hard with impunity! Best Christmas film ever!!
With the course laid out and a gentle warm up run done there was still plenty of time for some pre-run socialising. As it’s a local course there are plenty of familiar faces around, people to greet and have a quick catch up with. I really do love the social element of parkrun, it’s such a great way to spend a Saturday morning, talking with people who all share a passion. I got chatting with a chap called Simon LAMPKIN, it was his first ever parkrun, he’d only taken up running 8 weeks earlier. He’d been quite apprehensive about coming along as had been worried about coming last. I explained about the tail runner and also went through the parkrun basics with him to ease his nerves before directing him off to the first timers brief. If you are reading this having never done a parkrun before there is seriously nothing to worry about, times range from 15 minutes to an hour and it’s the tail runners job to come last, you will never be last, and besides, “It’s a run, not a race!”. The whole thing is so friendly and simple you’ll kick yourself for not starting sooner.
The RD this week was Sophie PYMAN who stood on the bank and gave the run brief to 152 runners gathered there. With that it was time to run, 9am had arrived and it was time for runners, santas, elves and reindeer to get going, there were some great costumes on show. I positioned myself relatively near the back and started off with another friend, Pauline DORN. Pauline was suitabley attired in a Miss Santa costume and was also running the Coastal marathon on Sunday so we stuck together for a little while and had a bit of a chat as we ran round the course. The conditions were ideal, you’d barely guess that we were in the middle of winter, after the first mile I was glistening with sweat and feeling somewhat toasty in my Santa suit, I dread to think how the poor ED, Rob HALL was feeling in his reindeer outfit!
As I approached the Porsche dealership for the second time I spotted the chap I’d been talking to at the start, Simon, he was going really well. Looking at my watch I could see that he was totally on for the 30 minutes that he’d been wanting to achieve so I dropped in alongside him for a chat and to push him along a bit to the finish. A 30 minute time for your first ever parkrun is a great target. As we get to the turn at the underpass I stop for a brief moment to give the marshal there, Ellie RANDALL a sweaty hug, and a “thank you marshal!”. It’s very important to thank the marshals every time you pass them. Debbie COX was with her so also received a hug from Santa! These two are great, when I was volunteering at the Great South Run they were a part of my group dishing out medals.
With a bit of encouragement and gentle pacing the finish line comes about quite quickly. I spur Simon on to get him over the line in front of me in a very respectable 81st position in a time of 28.47. He is elated by this and thanked me wholeheartedly for pushing him along on that final mile. I fervently hope that he enjoyed the experience that much that he’ll be back for more. I’ve become truly sold on parkrun this past year and can’t encourage people enough to get involved, both as a runner and as a volunteer. There is so much to gain, from health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, to friendships and cameraderie. I’ve made so many great friends this year, my parkrun family. It is so much more than just a run in the park.
So with another parkrun under my belt it’s time to go grab a coffee and a muffin in Starbucks and do the post parkrun socialising, no Cornettos here sadly. However, there were puppies!!!! Liz WORMAN and Jenny CAMPBELL have picked up some simply adorable black labs, they are brothers. Who can resist a cuddle with a puppy!
Next week it’s Christmas Eve so I’m off to Havant for a home run. Then the parkruns come thick and fast, with one on Christmas Day, one on New Years Eve and two possible on New Years Day! I’m fairly certain that these are going to be split between Havant and QE, but plans are always subject to change.
Merry Christmas everyone!