December started for me with mud, sweat and swears at Rossendale, the last of the Red Rose cross country series, and ended with the rather more civilized surroundings of Avenham park where I knocked 15 seconds off my 5k pb despite the excessive driving and eating over Christmas. More excesses to follow at New Year – you’ll have another piece of cake / glass of whiskey? Oh no I won’t; oh yes you will! (Went to the panto too – it’ll wear off in a bit I hope.)
I’m rather enjoying parkruns with Pennington Flash at Leigh – a beautiful nature reserve and lake in reclaimed mining land – and Avenham park, Preston, on the river behind the station – a Victorian park being gradually restored to its former splendour that I would never otherwise have discovered. It has a hill which you (or at least I) have to gasp up three times so it’s not a flyer so any improvement was good to me.
Rossendale was anything but civilised. It was raining, or possibly sleeting it felt that cold, steadily and had been for some days so the ground was quite damp. You start off round a rugby field and then head up a ~ 30 foot near vertical mud bank then it eases off a bit as you slog up to the top. Nice knee deep mud section on the second lap to sap what little leg strength you’ve got left (so glad I’m not a bloke who has to do this twice as many times). Round and down with a right angled turn after a short, steep drop where I expected to roll each time but managed not to. Then down to the real highlight of the course – for the spectators that is. Down the ~ 30 foot near vertical mud slide. Option a) edge hesitantly down sideways hoping not to slip – most do – or b) run screaming, eyeballs out, arms flailing, legs getting faster and faster till they’re totally out of control by the bottom where you risk going face first into the dirt. Twice I caught Nina (going for option a)) by using option b); twice she got away from me on the flat with her superior power and stamina. We walked into the showers (warm, oh joy!) fully clad (couldn’t get any wetter) in order to find feet and shoe laces and so on as the mud, partially, washed away. Ah heaven! My other half can’t understand the lure of cross country. Can’t think why.