A year ago on Saturday I took part in my first ever Park Run. Heading to my local Lincoln event with two of my friends I felt as nervous as I would do on a race day; I remember one of my friends laughing at my sheer level of anxiety! I did not want to even register for a barcode through fear – fear of what I am not exactly sure – which is an act I am now regretting in my quest for a Park Run milestone t-shirt! A year later I am a total Park Run convert, going as often as I personally can. I also love reading the stories and impact the event is having around the country. I am therefore pleased to say that a year on from my first event, I managed to introduce another person to the world of Park Run – my sister (see image). I have been trying to get my sister to go to Park Run in her hometown of Liverpool for a while, so when she came to visit me in Lincoln it felt like the perfect opportunity.
Saturday morning the weather was pretty dire; cool, grey, windy and with persistent heavy rain… conditions which would have put many people off getting up on a Saturday morning for a run. My sister is a regular runner though and this thankfully was not an issue; so we soon found ourselves huddled under the small bandstand on Boultham Park along with the other hardy Park Runners. I smiled as I pushed my slightly reluctant sister towards the new runner briefing, remembering exactly the same feeling I had standing there listening to the strange concept of barcodes and scanning a year ago.
My sister was nervous as we waited to start; I had pushed us to the front as I was hoping for a good time. Some of you will have read that my recent Park Run performances have been below par and varied to say the least. Today I was determined to run sub 24 minutes; still minutes away from my PB, but a time that would much more acceptable in my mind. I wanted it badly, both for my own achievement and because I wanted to get the time for my friend who couldn’t run that morning and usually accompanies me to Park Run. I had even been lying in bed Friday night thinking about how I needed to run in order to do it.
Perhaps I put too much pressure on myself, or maybe I am just not capable or running as fast as I think I should be able to at the moment, as I failed miserably, recording a 24.50 time – my slowest of 2016. I normally try not to beat myself up too much over finish times but today I was angry, upset and annoyed with myself; if it hadn’t been for my sister being there I think I would have been in a foul mood for the rest of the day!
I ran the first kilometre fast, but not super speedy, slowing slightly for the second and third kilometres. On the fourth kilometre I collapsed though, suddenly feeling energy-less and, despite pushing as hard as I could, I seemed to be getting nowhere. On the final kilometre I just could not recover the time I had lost, despite picking up some speed. Going into the final bend, I knew I was well over 24 minutes, and shamefully my attempted sprint finish petered out towards the funnel as I dejectedly virtually let two runners overtake me.
As I left the funnel I found my sister – who had ran a super 23.42 on her first attempt and was stood chatting to a friend she had made on her way round – true Park Run spirit right there! Her new friend could clearly tell I was not happy, joking that I should be smiling as it was over now. I laughed - he was right after all, I should not have been beating myself up quite that badly. Rather reluctantly I tried to find something positive to take from the morning. I am consistently within the 24 minute time window at present, whereas last year when marathon training and attempting Park Run I ran 25 and 26 minute times. So this shows I am not losing pace too much compared to last year. I may possibly just not be able to 'multitask' quite as well as I would like and keep my speed levels up whilst simultaneously marathon training. The biggest positive was however that this Park Run was not about me, it was about introducing someone new to Park Run, and I am pleased to report my sister enjoyed it! I meanwhile will continue to pursue that sub 24 minute time, and when I get it, I will celebrate as if it is a PB!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...