For those who have Parkrun as a big part of their running lives, nothing beats being able to fit in a bit of Parkrun tourism when you’re away from home. I’m fortunate to have done Doncaster and Long Eaton while being away on courses and have also done Dundee a couple of times as part of our local 3 run challenge on New Years Day where we do Perth and Dundee runs and finish with a 6k fun run in Blairgowrie. Being able to do one on holiday is something else and as we come to Florida every year, we couldn’t resist going to Clermont Parkrun.
We normally do a couple of 5k races every July when we’re across and this year, we were really keen to do Parkrun, especially as it’s close to where we ran last Saturday at Cool Summer Mornings 5k. They used to use the same route but moved it further round the lakeside to avoid having to cancel whenever there was a big race on.
We had an early start as Parkrun here starts at 7.30am and takes us around 30 minutes to get there. 7.30am sounds early but this is actually a little later than Cool Summer Mornings 5k and other races we’ve done. We got parked up and made our way across to the start area and the pre-race briefings. What’s interesting here is that they have a guest book, largely for all the international runners they get, where everyone signs in and then leaves a comment afterwards. From chatting to Jim, the run director on Saturday, they average just less than 100 then get a boost in the summer when the Brits come across then again in the winter with Canadians. Given that Clermont is the place to be for Triathlon, it would be good if Parkrun there could benefit from the number of athletes who gather in the area to train.
We got started on the usual “3,2,1….go!” and it was a simple out and back course. We quickly joined the course we ran last Saturday but were heading in the opposite direction and felt a bit weird to begin with. I felt pretty good at this stage, just focusing on my form, my cadence and generally doing my own thing. The first mile went pretty well in a pace of 6:19 and was pretty constant to the turnaround point, which was just beside where our start line was last week.
The second half of the run was completely different as that’s where my body reminded me that it wasn’t running in Scotland and it was rather humid! Legs felt heavier and was constantly wiping the sweat from my eyes. At mile 2, I was passed by another British runner and tried to stick with him. I could also see a couple of girls in front of us and other guy further ahead who were beginning to feel the pace. I was closing the gap but not enough to catch them before the finish. As soon as I saw the finish line, I started pulling my knees further forwards and pumped my arms harder and managed to overtake the guy who had passed me a mile back, just before the finish line.
I know Parkrun is fun and all about participation but I like to use it to test myself and gauge my progress. I was delighted as I had run 27secs faster than Cool Summer Mornings and beginning to feel like I’m getting my form back again. This is a timely boost as I’ll be starting marathon training for the Loch Ness Marathon when I get home.