I did my first parkrun today

A parkrun (sic) is a timed race for five kilometres in a local park. It is meant to give amateur runners a social group for encouragement and it occurs all over the world. Registration is free and so is participation. Once you register you receive a unique barcode and no matter where you are you can join in any run at any one of thousands of venues all over the world. Your time is recorded each run and logged on your personal stats.

I haven’t tried it before today: there is no venue closer than half an hour’s drive and I didn’t feel fit enough, anyway. But last night I was out with a friend of mine and she runs in her local spot so I said that I’d come along.

Come 6.30 this morning and I really didn’t want to leave the warm, snuggly bed and the warm, snuggly husband but I forced myself out. My friend and her partner and son were volunteering this week (to keep costs down members are asked to volunteer in an admin/watching/timing/setting up and down capacity every so often, rather than running; people are great about doing it) but I still was going to run.

Now, I don’t usually run with other people. I’ve been following a Couch to 5K program and I’ve just completed the last week so I thought I was ready to do an official run. Once the timer went off and the pack started out I immediately became aware that my running speed was nowhere near everybody else’s and  that I had been deluded in thinking I’d been running five kms in my program. I may have been running for all of the length of time required but, given my geriatric sloth pace, there was no way I’d made the distance.

I usually pace myself when I run so I can make the full time span but today the runners spurting off in front of me made my speed so much faster. Unfortunately, after about 2kms my legs decided that the pace was unsustainable and developed a case of shin splints and had to slow down to a walk. I ran/walked the rest of the route and I was very slow indeed; multiple people passed me, including women pushing strollers, families, eighty year olds and probably even the odd turtle and snail.

If I’d not let myself go so much faster at the beginning (and I was running on concrete path, something I don’t normally do) I think my original slow pace would have meant I could run the full five Ks, rather than having to walk.

People were so nice, however. Everybody cheered you on and you were clapped in as you ran to the finish line. It honestly was about enjoying yourself and not competitive at all. I finished 9th last with an appalling time of 37 minutes but I am going to take it as a Personal Best. After all, there is nowhere to go but up from here, right?

And, yes, I can see this becoming a regular thing.

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