First ever parkrun

We registered for parkrun in October 2015 and we’ve never been. Until today. Finally we got our butts to parkrun. We live pretty much in the middle between Skipton and Bradford so we needed to choose. We chose Bradford on the basis that it is 3 laps rather than 4. Yes I know they are all the same distance but number of laps makes a difference!

We took the car this time, not being sure about timings and where exactly we needed to be or when for the start etc, factoring in the unreliable bus times seemed a step too far. I was unjustifiably nervous as it was! We were early but that gave us time to figure things out, look at the route map, be told how it all worked and then walk to the start. We couldn’t really hear the instructions etc given at the beginning but at pretty much bang on 9am we were off. The course is 3 laps and starts off in a flat straight line, then does a little squiggle round Cartwright Hall and then turns left downhill and left again to go flat/downhill along the length of the park. Then, after another left turn, comes what appears to be affectionately known as the teeny tiny hill. Yeah right. Then you’re back at the start.

I haven’t run with people since the abandoned half marathon in November. Running with people increases anxiety levels. Increased anxiety levels mean I worry about everything. So when I looked at my watch about 100 metres in and saw that we were running at 11 minute mile pace I panicked thinking we were going way to fast for me to be able to sustain it. I felt fine until that point and suspect I would have naturally slowed off a little and found my pace but in my little panic I then couldn’t breathe and threw everything out. I settled a bit on the downhill and flat and on lap one I ran teeny tiny hill – I just then couldn’t keep running so had a walk break at the top.

I’ve really noticed that I have got mentally tougher recently – running rather than run/walking the 3.1 and 4 miles earlier this week are examples of that but I am mentally much weaker when things are ‘different’. I suspect I didn’t really need to walk after the hill. I suspect I could have run the hill on laps 2 and 3 and I suspect I could run a bit faster but I didn’t have it in me mentally to push today. I’m not disappointed and I did enjoy it – I’m just making an observation about me and my running behaviour really. My goal was to finish in under 40 minutes. I had decided that under 40 minutes would be major success. I’d also decided that it might not be a bad idea to have a plan B and C in case plan A was, for whatever reason, not going to work today. So Plan B was to complete in under 45 minutes and Plan C was just to complete. So I am delighted, in fact a sort of happy dance warranting excited, to have come in at 39.44.

After the finish we got a coffee from the coffee van to share (I’m a coffee snob, the coffee wasn’t great but it was coffee I guess) and sat on a bench watching the remaining runners come in and a little wagtail be busy on the lawn in front of us. Then we drove back. I’m glad we went and I felt comfortable and confident enough that I think if we go again soon I’d be happy for Kath to run her own 5k and for me to plod and run mine. It was great to have her there with me today but I think it would still feel like doing parkrun together even if we didn’t actually run together! I’ll just have to try not to let her lap me!

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