The day has finally come! It’s a week later than planned and a month or so later than originally planned, but all good things come to those who wait and today was no exception. Today all that waiting was finally over as I crossed the finish line and completed my first Parkrun.
To be honest, I was feeling a little bit nervous about the whole thing. I’m not sure why. I knew I could run 5K (even if it was going to be pretty slow) and I wasn’t bothered about my time. Of course it would be nice to run faster than before, but my main job was just to get round the park with all its hills and slopes (ok, inclines) without keeling over or leaving a trail of destruction behind me.
After a good night’s sleep, I woke up early to make sure I had enough time for a coffee and a slice of toast – enough to give me some energy without making me throw up after the first mile. Then, at 8:30 I headed for the park, making sure that I had my keys, iPhone and the all important bar code.
Now, I know I only live less than ten minutes from the park and I realised that it didn’t start until 9:00, but I wanted to give myself enough time to do whatever had to be done before things got under way.
There weren’t too many people around when I got there, so I hung out on the grass for a while to do a bit of stretching and warming up. I don’t usually bother with stretching before a run, but it gave me something to do while I waited and it helped me relax and enjoy just being out in the fresh air.
Soon, a small crowd began to gather so I headed towards the rear to avoid getting in anyone’s way. I found out later that there were no less than 410 of us – a pretty decent turn out for a run in the park!
There was a nice vibe to the whole thing. Everyone seemed happy and relaxed and, even though I couldn’t hear any of the announcements, I clapped along with everyone else at whatever was being said.
Then, just after 9:00, I heard a rumble from the front and everyone started moving. We were off!
I realised very quickly that I probably shouldn’t have started right at the very back as I had to pass a few people to find my pace. But I soon found myself some space and settled into a comfortable rhythm.
The inclines came quickly, so I knew not to go out too hard or I might not be able to go the distance. My plan was to just take my time and do my own thing.
One of the nice things about running with so many people was that it helped to both distract and focus me at different points. Keeping pace with the people around me when I was feeling tired, pushing to overtake someone in front when I was feeling inspired, or enjoying watching the elite runners whiz past as I reminded myself that no-one gets that good without hard work and training.
So, I kept going and, as I hit the 30 minute mark on the final downward slope, I knew that I was doing ok and that I had enough in me to finish. Not enough for a final sprint, but enough to pick up the pace and cross the finish line feeling that I’d done a good job.
Of course, I didn’t get my time right away as you have to wait until the results go up on the website. But my RunKeeper app recorded my distance as 4.97 and my time as 33:25. As it turned out, the GPS on the app isn’t that accurate and I forgot to stop the workout when I crossed the finish line, but I wasn’t too bothered about my exact time. 33:25 was pretty good by my standards, so I left the park on a high with a real sense of achievement at having completed my first Parkrun.
Of course, I did end up spending most of the afternoon refreshing the results page on the Parkrun website, before eventually giving up and going for a nap.
At about 5:30, however, I was woken up with an email from Parkrun. It was time to check out my result…
As it turned out, I had done much better than I thought I had. My official time was 33:05, making me 357th out of 410 runners, 109th out of 140 women, 17th out of 24 in my age category and, this is the bit that really shocked me, my best 5K time ever!
Oh, and it’s also ParkRun’s 9th Birthday. So, Happy Birthday Parkrun and thank you for an awesome day!