So I cycled to the Scrubs and met up with a friendly bunch of 57 souls, most of them ParkRun veterans but a few newbies like me among them. Most distinctive of all were a team who'd opted for convict stripes and fun police uniforms in homage to the famous prison on the border. They were celebrating one of their number's 50th run and had travelled all the way up from Basingstoke. Apparently it's a thing to run in as many ParkRun venues as you can. Good on them.
It was Go at 9am in perfect sunny conditions and after a bit of watch fumbling I found myself on the edge of the leading group of elite runners and running rapidly out of puff. The first few metres were unexpectedly up hill across the grassland and I struggled to get a good breathing rhythm together.
In fact I couldn't believe how heavily I was breathing until a glance at my Fitbit watch revealed my pace was sub-seven-minute mile; too quick for me. I eased off and let the big boys gradually disappear into the distant flowering blackberry bushes.
By the end of the first of two laps of the bone-dry Scrubs I'd settled down and felt like I was running on my own with just the chiffchaffs for company. But as I trundled up the hill for the second time I heard heavy breathing behind me. It gradually got closer until with about half a mile to go a bloke overtook me almost apologetically. Then a young teenage boy. I couldn't go with them. I was just glad to take the welcome applause from the quickies at the finish line and kept moving until I could breathe again.
I was pleased with the time - 22:45 with an average pace of 7:24/mi. That was later upped to 22:53 by the official timer which took into account my pensioner pressing of the wrong button on my Fitbit at the start and having to set it up again.
The Strava summary (above) listed some new PBs: 4:21 for 1km, 7:07 for the mile and 14:40 for two miles. Not bad considering the foot pain and the, er, dehydrating effects of the hardcore drug. I don't suppose last night's bottle of red wine helped much either.
I rewarded myself with a protein shake followed by a sauna and a soak in the jacuzzi. Then it was time for the traditional Saturday fry-up with a less traditional colchicine tablet on the side.
The impressive ParkRun set-up texted me my time and later an email linked to the full results; I finished 15th in the race and second in my age category with a grade of 63.95%.
A decent start and something to aim for next time - minus the bloody gout.