Towards the end of last year, I signed up for Parkrun. It’s a free, timed 5k run, that takes place every Saturday morning. All you need to do is sign up, and print off and take your personal barcode to the event. There are events all over the UK, and they are now popping up all over the world, as the concept grows.
I cannot fault the organisation, and thank the volunteers enough. As far as my local Parkrun compares with official races I have run! I have had far fewer problems, especially when lining up. There are some very, very good runners, and there are also those who walk/jog the course. Yet people line themselves up in some kind of order, so apart from the start, it’s not too congested, and there’s not so much traffic to get around.
My Saturdays are governed by Leicester City. As I go to all of the games, I can’t make every Saturday, but it is possible to do the Parkrun before a Saturday 3pm kick off.
So far, I have competed 4, with differing results…
I didn’t know what to expect, so lined up around the middle, as advised, which was just behind the 25 minute finishers zone. I knew the course had a hill, so wanted to conserve some energy for that, however, when I started, I seemed to be moving through the field more than had expected to.
The course is two laps, so I thought I might be able to push through the second lap, and was overtaking more runners. But his stage, the field had thinned out considerably. I didn’t expect the hill at the end, but was pleasantly surprised to clock 25:11.
Not too shabby for a first, cautious attempt.
So football got in the way of another Parkrun. I decided to run this one despite having been out the night before, and drinking more than my fair share of rosé. I didn’t get to bed until after1am, and had a terrible night’s sleep, even worse than usual. I did wake up hangover free, but a slight food intolerance had decided to show it’s face. Yeah, TMI.
I ploughed on regardless. Literally.
The first lap was okay. Until I reached The Hill. It did for me. I carried on straight through the finishing funnel, and made my acquaintance with a bush. Although I wasn’t actually sick, I’d only normally feel like that if I was coming down with a migraine. It was also very cold, and my asthma decided it wanted to show up too.
Despite this, I finished marginally slower than before, with a time of 25:18.
My worst Parkrun to date. It was bitterly cold. I was kitted out in full winter gear, however I don’t have shoes designed for winter running. The starter noted that pretty much everyone else didn’t either, as he warned us about the icy patches on the course.
At this stage, my race was over. I had visions of my taking a tumble, and so I treated the course with the utmost respect. Probably more than necessary, if I’m honest. I have Hypermobility Syndrome, which means my joints are looser and stretchier than “normal”, and I am more susceptible to major sprains (of which I have had many), and dislocations. One slip, and I could be out for weeks. The ice was conveniently more prominent on corners, just to make the run more interesting. As I felt my feet sliding, I had visions of my poor ankles suffering. Thankfully, it was all in my head. I was actually relieved to reach The Hill, as part of it is a mud trail, which would actually have more grip!
My finish time was 25:48, and I was disappointed. I was seeing my times going backwards. My asthma, though, behaved itself. One positive!
Although it was cold again, there was no frost or ice. I was relieved.
I was also still bouncing from the Leicester City result the night before.
However, I found the run tough, despite being hyper. I had been fighting some kind of virus for a few days, and I felt like I was wading through treacle before The Hill. The Hill was also slippy, as we had had a lot of rain in the days before the Parkrun.
I had The Bloke in my sights for most of the run, but frustratingly couldn’t catch him. When I did try and up my pace, he must have been doing the same, as he stayed ahead of me. I had no kick at the end, and failed to gain any ground. I was coughing badly, as my asthma protested at the cold air. I did the classic thing of not stopping my watch properly. It was 25:22 when I did. But The Bloke said that he had finished in about 24:10, and I wasn’t that far behind. He said I had a new PB. I had noticed that my average pace at the finish line was showing sub 5min km, and I knew I’d done it. I didn’t expect to have finished in 24:34, knocking 37 seconds off my previous PB!
It’s left me feeling positive; the following day was a right off, as I succumbed to the head cold that had been trying to get a grip. If I can run sub 25 mins feeling under the weather, then I should be able to break 24 minutes. That will be the next target, weather, and health permitting.