All by myself, quiet please, manual pacing, and the first all tarmac parkrun.

Twas the morning of parkrun, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The running kit was laid out in the hallway with care, in hopes that Running Dan soon would be there. Of course I was there quietly tippy-toeing around the house in the dark to get ready while The Son & Mrs Dan remained in bed.

Other Dan was not parkrunning today due to the local Met League cross-country fixture so I took the opportunity to visit Valentines parkrun, which takes place in Valentines Park in the London Borough of Redbridge, between Ilford and Gants Hill. This is the furthest London parkrun from my house that Other Dan has already run so it seemed the ideal time to cross this one off my list.

There is plenty of free roadside parking around sections of the park and it was only a short walk to the start area, which is near the Valentines Park Cafe. I did some light jogging to warm-up / keep warm before joining the huddle congregating by the start line. Unfortunately the run briefing wasn’t well observed and there was plenty of noisy chatting and dog barking that the shushing could not stop.

The course consists of two anti-clockwise loops of the park before a sharp turn for a straight finish by the boating lake. The park reminded me a little of Danson Park, where Bexley parkrun takes place, due to the same layout of boating lake and the two lap format.

I was aiming for a sub-25 minute finish today, running by feel. I started my Garmin and then put my thumbs through the sleeve thumb holes to keep my hands warm, which also meant that I could glance at my time or pacing. The wind was gusting around some of the open spaces so there were a couple of straights where the headwind slowed me down a bit. On the second lap I developed a pain in my left shoulder blade. Definately not a running injury, probably caused by some awkward sleeping or bad positioning at my computer desk, but it certainly didn’t put me in a good mood.

The final straight was in sight so I put on a burst of sprinting to take take one runner in front of me and cross the finish line. I stopped my watched and saw that I was 10 seconds off my target. Not a bad bit of pacing and I could have easily slipped under 25 minutes if I had been paying attention. I also realised that the finish funnel was constructed from free standing posts on the tarmac so I have finally found the magical all tarmac parkrun course.

My thanks go out to the Valentines parkrun team and volunteers. It was another great day of parkrun touring.

This now marks my final run of 2014. On Monday I am in hospital for day surgery to have an abscess dealt with. The doctor has already told me that I won’t be running until January so I hope to be back running for the next Sunday League XC fixture. I may walk Northala parkrun on Christmas Day and Mrs Dan is threatening to attend as well. Otherwise I’ll be parkrun volunteering until I receive the all clear to run and start marathon training.