I have a list of things I dislike. It is quite a long list and, to avoid causing offence to too many people, I won't mention all my pet hates here. I'll try to keep them relevant to today's run! I dislike, in no particular order, running on grass, running in mud, through puddles and with wet feet. I hate driving into or around or through Reading. I have nothing against the people of Reading - but the roads are just too confusing - give me straight forward London driving any day. And I really, really hate being late.
So today didn't start well when I woke up to discover that Husbando had gone out and taken the car. I sent him a tex, reminding him that I needed to leave at 7.30am, and made myself a cup of tea - not realising that the text was not delivered until I went to pick up my phone again. Argh! Panic! Husbando hove into view at ten to eight. TEN TO EIGHT! Google maps said it would take me 55 minutes to drive to Thames Valley Park, and I have a history of getting lost in one way systems in Reading. Adding to that I'd have to find parking and the start of Reading parkrun. I was a little bit stressed by this state of affairs.
Luckily the traffic was good and I only took one wrong turn in Reading, and Google maps lied a bit (or I drove too fast - who can say?) and I had arrived and parked by 8.35am, phew! Reading parkrun's course info page told me that 'regular road running shore should certainly suffice in most weathers' but I decided, on advice of other parkrun tourists, to wear my trail shoes. This was the right choice - although in retrospect mud claws would have been a better choice… not that I own any because, as has already been stated, I don't like running on mud!
Having picked my way between muddy patches to the start area, I bumped into friends I know via the parkrun show and lovely Gary - with whom I have run a couple of marathons in the past. Soon we were on the start line and raring to go.
And then… squelchy, squishy, slippery, slidey mud. And lots of it! I didn't know what my feet were doing half the time. I revised my hoped for finish time and concentrated on staying upright! The views along the Thames were lovely - but I couldn't look up and see them as I was terrified of ending up flat on my face in the mud. And kicking myself for not bringing an entire change of clothing with me just in case of such an eventuality! Part of each lap was on gravel paths - sheer heaven after the mud, and a chance to claw back a few seconds, but with paths came puddles and there were choices to be made. Pick one's way gingerly around the puddle, through the mud, losing time or plough straight through the middle. I went for the latter option. Once your feet are wet they can't get much wetter (but it was bitterly cold and a bit of a shock to the tootsies!) The last 600m are back across grass, just when I wanted to put on a bit of a sprint I found I was struggling like Bambi on ice (but far less graceful). I overtook someone, then realised I could not work out where the finish funnel was - there were loads of people but I couldn't spot the tape, so I let him overtake me again (having established he knew where he was heading) and managed to get across the line in 24.59.
I was disappointed with my time. It had been hard work and I always want to take advantage of my child free parkruns to run as hard as I can. I chalked it up to experience, met up with friends and went for coffee. We left our very muddy trainers outside the doorway to the David Lloyd gym and had a very nice coffee and a natter. Putting ice cold, wet trainers back on is somewhat unpleasant, but it didn mean that the pleasure I felt at changing into warm and dry socks and trainers when I got back to the car was immense!
Back at home, looking at the results page, I realised that I was 4th lady to finish - I've only bettered that at Pymmes parkrun (very small field) and first in my age category. So maybe it wasn't such a bad run after all. And, at the end of the day, I was out there doing something I love, with people who share my passion. There are thousands of people who couldn't run if they wanted to. Thousands of people who go for days and days without any meaningful interaction with other people. I get to do this every single week.
And today I came home to madeleines made by my 10 year old son...