PB Chasing: South London Tour

The relentless search for a sub 36 parkrun finish to end the year continued this week with a trip to Dulwich.  I was going to do something entirely different, but when I found out that the London Vegan Runners were visiting this lovely, off-flat, corner free, immaculately tarmacked and picturesque parkrun I felt my ship had come in and duly joined them.  The weather was perfect and I hadn’t done anything stupid like running or spending hours at a Hitler exhibition the previous day, and I really felt I had it in the bag.

Of course this guaranteed that I didn’t have it in the bag after all and for absolutely no reason I ran the entire 5k slower than I did when I got my PB there in January, coming in at a sorely disappointing 36:25.  It was a really enjoyable run and I was very pleased to meet some other vegans and enjoyed a delicious vegan breakfast with them in a local café, but I was extremely irritated by yet another 36-something on my parkrun results page.

Still, I put the woe behind me and pressed on with the Christmas Day run at Bromley, which looks set to become a family tradition.  I had things other than the 36-avoidance on my mind, namely my mother’s moaning.  You think I whinge about the weather non-stop?  Well this is where I get it from!

“I only have two tops on, I think I’m going to be cold”

“Look, it’s frosty.  We can’t run in the frost.  I think they should cancel it.”

“Can we sit in the car a bit longer?  You can do your warm up in the car, can’t you?”

Eventually I cajoled her out of the car and crunched across the frosty grass in my new, lighter shoes (because I am sure I ran faster when I had lighter shoes) and did my warm up (because Mike said I needed to do a proper running warm up and not just “dynamic stretching”) and then lined up with 600+ odd Bromlians for a very crowded festive parkrun.  Which I completely unexpectedly finished in thirty four minutes and thirty six seconds.

I don’t think I’ve ever considered Bromley to be a potential PB course but now I come to think about it it does have all the necessary features: slightly off-flat, all smooth tarmac, no sharp turns.  The paths are quite narrow and it’s 2.5 laps so it does get very busy and someone of my pace will be both lapping people (walkers) and being lapped – but the narrow paths also mean that you can’t take a longer route to get out of people’s way unless you want to go on to the grass (which I don’t) and therefore you end up running closer to an exact 5km than you would at Dulwich or Finsbury Park with their wide paths.  Also it could be that Norman Park is just such a boring old park that you don’t get distracted by pretty scenery and have nothing better to do than concentrate on your running.

So there you have it.  I beat my PB and got my first sub 36 parkrun since March in fucking Bromley, a town I could happily never visit again, and now when I look at my results I will keep seeing BROMLEY in big letters, and I hope this is enough incentive for me to go and run a bit quicker somewhere else sharpish, because I just can’t have this standing until next Christmas!

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