My First Parkrun experience (or how not do it and still have a great time!)

I laid out all my kit the night before and then double checked everything. Turns out I forgot to put my mp3 player in the first time so remember to double check! Then the first error creeped in. The in-laws called and asked if they could have the wee man over night and take him for a day out. Of course we jumped at the chance and a night of rented dvds and copious pizza occurred. I ate way too much which was most silly of me.

Due to being overly full I slept fitfully and was awake at about 5am. My tummy felt like a basketball although a nice coffee helped. I kissed wifey goodbye and headed off for the drive.

Despite checking the route I took the wrong turning and got myself turned about. Using some common sense and the sun's position I managed to find the right road (amazing myself as I am completely useless at that sort of a thing) and arrived with 10 minutes to spare (instead of 20 or 25).

I quickly pulled my calf support on and set my mp3 player (I paused it just as Laura says run on the w9 podcast). It was 7C and raining but I was in a short sleeve running top and my nose wiping gloves(tm). I walked round to where the elite folks were doing fancy looking stretches. I shyly milled about not knowing what to do. I spoke to a nice gent in a hi-vis saying parkrun and he said just to go to the start line, run round and they scan my barcode at the end. Easy enough.

I was bouncing around for about 5 minutes, feeling just like I used to before a difficult exam, I paced and paced and had a good old warm up. The announcer asked for newbies and everyone gave us a clap, really nice! She then gave us some safety and common sense info and wished us luck. She reminded us it is a 3 lap run. I made my way to the back of our wee group and the hooter went, off we go!

I pressed the wrong button on my mp3 player and switched it off by mistake. I stumbled the first minute whilst switching it on and finding Laura. I forwarded to a few minutes in and let it run. I looked up and realised I was dead last. Fortunately running on the grass felt great and my calf didn't feel tight so I settled into my happy pace and gradually overtook about a dozen or so people. The first part was downhill so I soared on and overtook about another dozen. Of course I went overly quickly.

I got to the up part of the hill and struggled my way up. When I got to the top of the hill and saw the lap 2 sign I was blowing really hard! I was running pretty quickly though so determined to head on. My tummy was lurching about and I really regretted pizza! I was just about half way down lap 2 when the front runners overtook me. I hadn't thought of that and got a bit of a surprise as they zoomed passed. This distracted me and I veered off the course shortly afterwards by mistake. The volunteers waved me back and urged me on with great smiles and clapping. I hit the uphill part and slowed way down.

I had to stop halfway up the hill and had a 20 second or so break. I noticed a good few runners who had started quickly had done the same and I passed a handful. I picked up the pace again and made it to the lap 3 sign. I reckoned I was at about 20 minutes so I could set a new record if I could keep it up! Of course I was silly and flew down the downhill bit (enjoying the springy grass). and was spent at the uphill. I had to stop and walk 2 or 3 times on the uphill. When I could see the finish line I stumbled into a run and sprinted up.

Volunteers clapped me in and a man clicked a stopwatch. They gave me a barcode chit and a man scanned my barcode and the chit. That was that! I then realised it had been raining and I was soaked, I hadn't even noticed!

So it turns out I completed in 32:47, about 13 seconds slower than my normal pace. I looked up my time on the parkrun site about 2 hours later. This meant I failed all my goals but I have to say, I loved the run! I couldn't help but smile and wave at volunteers and supporters as I went and really wanted to stay and clap home the last finisher but was too shy. Turns out I was 85th out of 100 or so, I think the weather scared off quite a few. I am quite happy with that and hope to go back soon and try and run the entire way. The atmosphere was really great and welcoming and every shape and size of individual took part. Give it a try if you can!

15 Replies

  • Hey, 32.47 is a pretty respectable time for a first parkrun! You didn't know the course but you'll get to know where you can push yourself and where you need to hold back a bit and you'll see your times tumbling.

    There really is a great atmosphere at Parkruns. I helped out today with marshalling and almost every runner said thank you as they went past (some gave the thumbs up if they were out of breath!). And I had lots of lovely comments about my daughters who were helping me out. Volunteering is a great way to get to know everyone, give it a go if you get a chance!

  • Congratulations, a lovely read ..... A park run may be on my to do list, when I improve a lot more.

  • Brilliant, sincere congratulations!

  • I really enjoyed reading your blog, I almost felt like I was there myself! Well done for battling the nerves and doing the run and getting such a good time, you'll be smiling all day now :)

  • Good story KiltLegs :-)

  • Well done for such a good time! Great blog as well - very encouraging for those like me who are trying to pluck up the courage to have a go :)

  • don't fret about the time, all courses are different, just worry if next time is slower :-)

  • That's a fantastic time, well done!

  • Fantastic blog and a great time. Well done. x

  • Well done - as I said on my blog one thing that kept me going today was the thought of other C25K folks running at their local parkruns. I'm amazed that you consider 13 seconds to be a significant variation from your "normal" time over 5K - I'm just pleased to get anything within about 33-35 minutes and I don't think I've established a "normal" time yet!

    The volunteers are great aren't they? I'm hoping to do that soon - at least I'll get 100 points for it!

  • What a really lovely blog! Really enjoyed reading it kiltlegs - as someone else said, it made me feel as though I'd been there. Afraid I laughed at the bit where you switched Laura off by mistake - so easy to do!

    So glad you enjoyed it too. Great run, well done! :)

  • Fantastic blog, I smiled and chuckled all the way through it and am tinged with a little sadness that I can't blog about my own first run. Well done you, PB next week I'm sure!

  • Thats a really good read and excellent time too. Parkrun's are fun, it should be their moto in my opinion. Well done you can now look forward to trying to better your own time, thats your next goal. :)

  • A gread reead. Better than reading the papers :-) Congratulations on a good time, a wet lap as they say on top gear.

  • There were a lot of us Parkrun virgins out last Saturday. Well done its a great time.

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