On 23rd May 2015, my daughter and I ran our very first Parkrun. It was something we’d talked about doing for a while, but we only took the plunge when my daughter’s best friend and her family started running. We ran that first Parkrun together in 38:12.
We had no real plans. I didn’t know I would start to run on my own, I didn’t know we would run every week, we were just giving it a try.
Before I knew it, my husband had joined us. Then both of my sons.
A few weeks after my first Parkrun, I ran on my own for the first time, in a time of 25:08. And so began my love affair with Parkrun.
I didn’t know it was going to turn into an obsession, an itch I had to scratch every single week, my absolute favourite 23 minutes of the week…
Before I knew it, the 25 minutes had become 24, then the 24 became 23. I got stuck at 23 for a long time, but after an incredible run of FIVE consecutive PBs, it’s now at 22.23.
My daughter went off it a bit and so did my sons. My husband took weeks off due to injury or illness or plain can’t-be-botheredness, but I kept on running.
In my first year of Parkrun, I ran 33 times.
In my second year, I hit the all-important 50 Parkrun milestone and I kept on running. In my second year, I ran 41 times. So I’ve run 74 Parkruns in total and my aim is to reach my 100 Parkrun milestone by Christmas.
Since we started Parkrun, my daughter has run 42 times, my husband 45 times, my eldest 31 times and my younger son 19 times.
My daughter’s PB is 29:31, my husband’s is 22:54, my eldest’s is 24:17 and my younger son’s is 23:38.
Over the last year I have finished as third female overall twice at my home Parkrun and once when I did a spot of Parkrun tourism. I finish first in my age category nearly every week. I take that for granted now, but when I looked at it closely it means I am coming first out of around 35 women aged 40-44. Not bad at all!
My age percentage grading has reached a very respectable 69.36%. To put that into context, the first few runners across the line normally have an age percentage in the region of 70-75%. For my gender and age, I’m on a par with the men who are crossing the line in 10th or 11th place (out of nearly 500 runners) every week. Not bad for someone who was never more than ‘quite good’ at PE at school.
This year, we’ve got my dad, sister and brother-in-law running, as well as another set of friends. Our own ‘Parkrun family’ is growing. As we hang around to see friends and family members cross the line, we absorb more of the atmosphere and feel more a part of the Parkrun family as a whole.
Over the last two years, Parkrun has changed my life. It’s not the running, because I’ve always run. It’s the atmosphere, the community, the sense of occasion. It’s the routine: on Saturday I do Parkrun. I. Me. It’s something I do for myself. Weekend activities in the past have always been someone else’s – football, rugby, swimming lessons. They’ve involved me giving a lift and watching and waiting, probably getting cold at the same time.
But I do also feel lucky that most of the time when I do Parkrun at least one member of my family is there. And if not my family, I have Parkrun friends too. There is always someone to chat to before and after the run.
I have absolutely loved my Saturday morning Parkruns over the last two years and I’m going to keep on running for as long as I can.
Parkrun is a series of free, timed 5k events held every Saturday morning at 9am at hundreds of open spaces around the UK. You don’t have to run. You can walk or jog or simply volunteer. To find your nearest Parkrun go to http://www.parkrun.org.uk