Well, it has been quite a long time since my last Park Run – 123 days in fact – on New Years Day! Two days prior, on 30th December 2023, I ran a personal best but on the 1st January, despite going well for the first 4km and on the pace to better it, my knee decided that was enough and I limped across the finish line. A week later the diagnosis was patellar tendonitis. Anti inflamatories were prescribed and several sessions with Stuart the Physiotherapist treating it with electric muscle stimulation and ultrasound complimenting the on-going training in the gym with Matt and all was well again by mid March.

However, I felt it would be best not to push it too soon and with the weather being very wet almost constantly it was decided to leave the outdoor running until signs of Spring. The risk of slipping and causing another injury was too great.

With various things happening over the last couple of weekends, this one was chosen to be my return to ParkRun…

…and yes, it was to be a damp start to the day.

The once familiar walk from the Blackpool Sports Centre car park to the Clock Tower at Stanley Park, where the ParkRunners were congregating. It’s been just over four months since my last ParkRun. I have changed a huge amount in that small space of time. Much lighter than I was, much fitter than I was and so this was to be the first ParkRun where my legs would officially come out, and potentially my arms as I now train exclusively in very tight compression vests. However, it was a bit cold and bit wet so the tracksuit top stayed on. It was also the safest way to keep car key and phone secure – I’ll look at a different solution for next week.

At the Clock Tower the hoards were getting restless and eager for the start – 262 of us would start (or rather, finish) this one!

And at 9.03am we were off! Two laps of the circuit around Stanley Park. A slow-ish start due to congestion but I was soon able to overtake a few people and find some space. I had calculated the pace I needed to maintain to hit my target for this run. I was aiming for just over 1min 30secs faster than my personal best which I set on 30th December. After 2km I realised that I was absolutely smashing through it. I kept overtaking people, no signalling required and even sprinted past a group on the final 400m.

I crossed the finish line to shouts and cheers, remembered to press “STOP” on my Garmin. My unofficial time had me beating my previous PB by exactly 7 minutes. Definitely a Personal Best but I had to wait for the official timings to come through.

6 minutes and 58 seconds stripped from my previous PB.

Now we’re talking. Four months away from ParkRun, having now just run the entire 5K for the first time with a respectable time and feeling like I have more to give. I know I can push harder next weekend. My target then will be to try and knock another 4+ mins off my time. I still need to tread carefully if it’s wet underfoot as I really don’t want to pick up an injury due to slipping or falling.

Unfortunately, there we no official ParkRun photographers to be seen but I did get a photo with Stanley before heading back to the car park.

Happy to be back in the park. Looking forward to progressing even more next weekend!

Our Blackpool Resident Chalk Guy was back to mark Star Wars Day and what was Blackpool ParkRun’s 300th event!

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