For the visiting mainlanders the road to Park Run started with a steady period in reverse - a calculated manoeuvre to get the bus off the pier. There was a bit of backseat driving and few people (and dogs) holding their breath, but we made it safely in the end.
A select group of 30 participants and four canine companions assembled at the start line, casually regarded by the chickens who are more confident every week! Dominic paid tribute to the results processors John, Ann Marie and finally Aoife (her name was on the tip of his tongue). He was right to mention these unsung heroes of Park Run volunteering who don’t wear high viz or get to air their opinions in the report, so their hard work is often overlooked. He also reminded us it was Michelagh’s birthday (the big 1-4) - she expressed her gratitude from under a pile of coats.
5k-a day in January is still bearing fruit as it seems to have generated a hateful of PBs this week, all the way through the field. Ciarán O’SULLIVAN, first finisher in 20.28, nicked a PB by a single second, William O’Driscoll only just managed to hold off Cian Murphy - they both finished in 29.47, nipping under 30 minutes for the first time - a real milestone. Sandra Galvin improved her time from a fortnight ago, just behind first timer Aidan Cotter, and Anne Marie Harrington strode out to a faster time to make it a very brisk event altogether.
Oh! And how could I forget Joseph Blake - who was delighted this week, not with his PB, but because he beat Granny! I’d say, to be fair this is because Granny let you past her on this occasion, Joey. Granny, using some choice language, blamed the hapless chickens - definitely not the ducks - the language may have rhymed with ducks. Joanne Sullivan finished as first lady for the 123rd time … her reward was listening to Granny’s complaints about the chickens.
For those of us further into our running careers, after this rush of improvement as we start doing Park Run, it can feel a bit like we, just like the bus today, are going steadily backwards. Needless to say there is also a bit of backseat driving - from others, and our own inner voice - “Come on!” “Why can’t you go a bit faster?” How can we find those extra few seconds?
The answer, as ever, is simple in theory, tough in practice. Early doors improvements in general fitness and familiarity with the course are enough to see steady gains. As we progress we need to train more specifically and have real focus on the task in hand. We might do well to look in our mirrors, so to speak, to try to remember what we did and how we felt when we got our last PB. We also need to look forward, to the future, and make sure we set realistic goals. But, when we get to the start line we need to commit and be in the moment. Start with purpose and go quickly off the line. We would still aim to accelerate in the second half, however, starting with purpose will give you the best chance of a PB. In order to do this you should warm up - it doesn’t have to be long, it can even be on the spot, but you need to get your heart rate up and blood pumping to the big muscles that propel you round the course if you want to start with intent. Also, remember some of what looks like going backwards is a calculated manoeuvre to help us move forward or change direction - if we’re recovering from injury or illness or aiming at other fitness goals then a period of slower results might be natural.
With new website tools at my disposal courtesy of Park Run, I am able to bring you more fascinating facts of the week … there were some excellent achievements from the youngest to … err… not the youngest, that nearly passed us by because they were not PBs … but I can report that Kevin Sullivan chalked up the best age graded result this week (71.25%) and Phyllis O’Sullivan smashed (we’re talking over 9 minutes) the VF75-79 event record in a very neat time of 44.00. Congratulations both - proof that at any age we can always compete, with others and ourselves, and come out on top.
Back in the bakehouse Michelagh had a well-earned slice of cake (not for sharing despite Ciarán’s encouragement) and a day off from waitressing duties, to finally recover from the revelry of the famous disco. She doesn’t have long to rest, mind you, as next week is another of our "Junior Takeovers" and she will no doubt be roped into volunteering again. The young people of this Park Run are a credit to themselves, their parents and Bere Island and I have no doubt they will do a fantastic job of organising Park Run event number 190 with very little adult help. Thanks to the Bakehouse, Bere Island Ferries and the brilliant volunteers in all roles. We’ll see you next week to see what our talented Juniors have in store.
Natalie (aka whats her name;)