Encouragement works wonders

I took part in my second parkrun today.  For those unfamiliar with it, parkrun is an event that takes place in many locations around the UK and other countries, always at 9am on a Saturday morning.  It’s a free, organised 5k run, on a measured course and with times monitored.

My first run, last week, was on a day with a freezing wind coming straight off the sea that made it hard to breathe.  I wore my jacket all the way round and was glad of it.  The route is two laps along the promenade by the sea, up the slope and back along the downs (grassy area) at the top, and for most of the route I was struggling to catch my breath against the wind.  There are marshals along the route, at various strategic points, and as I trailed round in last place they were all really encouraging.  From just after the 3rd k the marshal joined me for the rest of the route, giving me encouragement and pacing me a little.

There were 105 runners last week, and I came in last, a good two and a half minutes behind the runner in front, with a time of 39.09.  In fact as I passed the finish line at the end of the first lap I was overtaken by the winner who was finishing his second.  There were a couple of points where I decided I was giving up, and would just walk up the slope to the road and back to the car instead of continuing, but somehow my body never carried out those orders and I kept on to the bitter end, and was left with a real sense of achievement, albeit also with aching legs and chest and feeling decidedly shaky.  I was stunned at my time though, as I knew I should easily make it in 50 minutes, hoped to make 45 and expected to make 47.  Problems with a blocked nose made breathing even tougher than normal to start with, and so I spent most of the time walking and watching the pack in front get further and further ahead.

This time the weather was much better, with barely a breeze and a heavy rainfall that stopped miraculously an hour before the start of the race.  I wore a long sleeved top and a new running jacket, but the jacket was discarded very early on and tied round my waist instead.  Hubby drove me and parked along the route, so I didn’t feel so alone either, although the running crowd is all very friendly.

It was the second anniversary of Whitstable parkrun, so there were announcements of award winners in various categories before we started, with awards to be given out at the post-run cafe visit.  Then we went down to the start.  The run was started by Mike Inkster, an ultra marathon runner who once did 180 miles in 36 hours and is planning 3000 miles in 50 days.  I felt much better from the beginning, and was able to keep up with the pack better, although I’m still spending more time walking than running – that rate is definitely improving though!

Again I found all the marshals really encouraging, but what really made my run was Mike Inkster hovering by the steep slope up from the promenade to the downs – he ran up with me, asking if I usually walked or ran up it, encouraging me to keep running but with smaller steps, and then keeping pace with me along the next stretch.  I said it was only my second parkrun, and he said there were millions of people in the country and 120 at the parkrun, so I was already miles in front, and he also said that walking is excellent exercise too.  All this encouragement really helped me to complete the last stretch of the course, and as I got closer another runner came back and ran with me too, all of which helped me pass the finish line at 37 minutes 59 seconds, beating my previous time by 70 seconds and finishing 154 out of 156.

If you run, or are considering taking up running, do look up parkrun and see if there’s a run near you – it really is a good start to the weekend, and I’m already looking forward to the improvements I know will come in my speed, and in clocking up more runs.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Good for you honey! 🙂

    Xx

    Reply
  2. Victoria Dick

     /  November 3, 2012

    Fantastic! Well done you!

    Reply
  3. just checked and there is one near me a definate option for getting fit once I recover from surgery

    Reply

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