From A to B(bey)

Fountains AbbeySaturday was an early start for another hotly anticipated inaugural parkrun, this time at Fountains Abbey near Ripon.  The sunrise combined with a slight mistiness made for a great journey and we arrived in good time.  A decent warm up – mainly down to a slightly delayed start – revealed that the course may not be quite as flat as expected, being gently undulating.

The run didn’t disappoint, starting very close to the abbey.  It is a two lap course, a short one – actually about 2km, so not that short – and then a longer one finishing on the opposite side of the ruins.  All on good paths, so road shoes the correct choice.

I was caught in two minds, whether to continue in the ‘slightly faster than last time’ slowly slowly plan – so around 26 mins or so – or whether to go for a full on test of current fitness and push for a medium effort just to see where I am at and whether my tendon has any hope.fountains abbey parkrun trace pic

Even as we set off I still hadn’t decided but accidentally got a good position to the side and was able to make a trouble free start amongst the 375 runners, and quickly settled into a comfortable pace, reaching the first km in 4:36.

As that equated to about 23 min pace, I couldn’t face dropping off nearly a minute a km to come in over 26 minutes, so switched strategy to maintaining pace for a sub 23 min target, gradually finding it harder and harder to keep it up especially after pushing a little too hard around the 2km mark.

The finish line arrived much sooner than expected before the top of the slope,  crossing the line at 22:35.  Like last week, my Garmin had the distance slightly on the short side.  In the main a C effort, so time was around what I would expect for fitness levels, maybe slightly better – back to slowly slowly again next week.

Great paths, great vistas, great organisation and as ever amazed at just how slick inaugural parkruns have become, particularly when faced with overwhelming numbers.  As with Lyme Park, a shame that this is too distant to be a regular route but will definitely be back.  It is a close call, but I prefer Lyme in terms of a running course being more trail, but Fountains just about has the more favourable views.

Fountains Abbey Fountains Abbeyparkrun courses have advanced two big notches in the past 8 days, here’s hoping that the National Trust continues to offer it’s grounds to more new runs.

I think both Fountains and Lyme Park make into my current top 5 favourite parkruns, along with Cuerden Valley, Preston and Oldham.  But then there’s Delamere, Pennington, Sewerby, Temple Newsam, Worsley Woods, etc… so many inspirational places to run.

We ignored the tempting offer of a runner’s breakfast – in retrospect, an error – and headed straight off to Barden Bridge, via some extremely interesting sat-nav suggestions.

A quick change – whilst runners undertaking the Troller’s Trot came over the bridge – allowed time for a re-think on the planned walk up Simon’s Seat.  Having missed out on a meal on the recent Lakes trip, I was determined to get back in time for a pub meal before returning home and we opted for a flatter short loop to Bolton Abbey through Strid Woods instead.  Hmmm, now that would be a great venue for a parkrun…

There were lots of others taking advantage of the sunshine and relative warmth of the first day of spring, although to be honest it doesn’t feel like we have had a winter at all.  Yesterday was the fifth successive yellow warning of snow with absolutely nothing materialising.  I think the Met Office’s snow forecasters have been more than a little over enthusiastic this year.

Bolton Abbey

My current hope is to be 10 mile fit by early April, so this week should have included a 7 mile run, but tendon refused to let me play out on Sunday.  Overall it has been an easier week, adding just a 9.5km on Tuesday and a 5.3k run preceded by 20mins on cross-trainer on Friday.

A trip to Preston on Thursday coincided with Sir Tom Finney’s funeral meant parking further out and a bit more walking than planned.  Thousands were lining the streets, applauding the coffin as it passed along on its way to the church. Tom Finney