I don’t usually get up at 7am on a Saturday morning….well, not by choice anyway!
This morning I was up and at ’em at 7am so I could get ready to go to my very first ever Parkrun.
Last week, I ran round my local park and noticed that the arrow signs from that morning’s Parkrun had been left up, so I used them to guide me round. When I got home and mentioned this to my husband, he said “oh, I’d be up for a doing a Parkrun next weekend!” He’s done one once before and as soon as he made the suggestion, I agreed….
Parkrun began life in 2004 in the UK and now it’s a global phenomenon. Essentially, it’s a 5k time trial. It’s free to take part – all you have to do is register on the website and then collect your personal barcode (which you have to have otherwise you won’t get your time). Then, you turn up to your local event…and run! Simple! 🙂
In this case, my local event’s held every Saturday morning at 9am, a couple of miles down the road in a country park. It turned out that one of my neighbours was planning to go and said she could give us a lift (though my husband decided to cycle down as he was going elsewhere afterwards).
I had to be ready to leave by 8.30 and, having got up at 7am, it meant I had plenty of time to have some breakfast (I don’t usually eat at that time of the morning!) So I had a bowl of yoghurt and fruit and then waited in my running kit for my neighbour to come by.
Once we arrived (and located my husband), we realised that another one of our neighbours had come along too! There were lots of people milling about. Some were high viz jacketed volunteers, there to marshall the runners and time-keep, others were friends and family of runners who were there to spectate, and then there were the runners. All around, people were happily chatting with fellow runners (it’s meant to be a social event), and stretching and getting sorted.
A notice, on a nearby tree, indicated a meeting point for first timers where we had to be at five to nine for a briefing. There were quite a few first time runners (possibly about a dozen), in fact the high viz jacketed woman doing our briefing seemed quite surprised by the numbers! Anyway, she explained the course (told us to be careful of tree roots), explained the barcode/timing system and just told us to have fun!
There were timing markers at the start, so I placed myself by the 35min sign…..
Everyone gathered at the start and waited. People ahead of us clapped, and I realised it was in response to something someone at the very front was saying, but as I couldn’t hear what was being said, I had no idea why people were clapping. Anyway, it didn’t matter and shortly after, the lycra clad masses (close to 400 people), began to shuffle forward then break into a run.
One of the nice things about Parkrun, is that anyone of any age and ability can take part. You can walk it if you want! Some people were running with their kids or even their dogs. I nearly tripped over a little girl who must have been about 3 years old and who was running along with her Dad! People were quite bunched up for a little while as everybody found their pace but gradually things thinned out.
Signs around the course urged people to “keep left” and it soon became obvious that the reason for that was to allow the really fast people to overtake! These people tended to be wearing running club vests and I only saw them from behind…..
I didn’t listen to anything on this run. I didn’t use my headphones at all with my phone, I just set the Runkeeper app going. Had I been on my own, I think I’d have been bothered by that, but as it was, I was constantly thinking about where I was going, who was around me and checking my speed. That last one was actually a lot easier because of the presence of other runners as I found myself comfortably sitting behind people and using them as pacemakers. If I then felt I was faster than the person in front, I would put on a brief burst of speed in the “outside” lane, then slot back in behind someone else.
The other thing that helped, were the spectators and marshals who clapped and encouraged the runners. Shouts of “well done” and “keep going” were very nice 🙂
I’ll be honest, I also tended to earwig bits of conversation from the runners around me (well, those who were able to speak). I don’t remember anything that was said, but it served to provide another point of focus for my brain and help it fight the urge to make me walk.
Then, it came down to the final few hundred metres. Unsurprisingly, my husband finished first and was there to encourage me across the line. I collected my token and there I was, having completed my first ever Parkrun!
My middle neighbour finished a couple of minutes behind me and then my other neighbour followed on a couple more.
After catching our breath we trooped back over to the start area and got our finish tokens scanned along with our personal barcodes (the point being that they can then match you with your finish time).
And that was it!
A few hours later and my official finish time turned out to be 32:28 so that now becomes my Parkrun PB….
I enjoyed it and we’re already talking about going back next week! If you can find a local event to you (more are appearing all the time), do give it a go!