My first Parkrun - Harcourt Hill, Oxford

I'd planned to do this Parkrun since the beginning of my week 9, when I became confident I could run for 5Km. However, there were times last week when I was finding running to be hard work post-graduation that my resolve wavered a bit, as I wanted to be able to hold my head up in the company of others. Then the weather yesterday really made me wonder about the wisdom of doing my first Parkrun because I knew it would be a bit muddy, and I hadn't run on soft ground before. I thought it would make running significantly harder.

BUT, as I thought about it overnight, and as I woke this morning, I considered that one of the main attributes C25K gives us is determination, and the mental strength to keep going. So I got up, put my running kit on, and went the 10 minute drive to Harcourt Hill.

I didn't really talk to anyone before the run, but things seemed fairly straightforward as I warmed up (not jogging around the field like those experienced looking other runners did, but doing a bit of brisk walking around a la Laura. There were 48 runners. The lead marshall set us off..... 3-2-1-go! Most of the runners streaked off like I expected (I'd prepared myself mentally to trail in last, which was fine, as long as I completed the course on my feet and running). It was strange to be running naked (no earphones, music or Laura), and I kept looking at my Garmin, as I was aware of the risk of going off at too fast a pace, even if I was so much slower than the others.

After a few hundred metres, the really fast runners were out of sight, there were two people behind me, one young woman perhaps 20m ahead, and a group 100m further on. I just tried to concentrate on a steady pace. My Garmin beeped - kilometer 1 complete - 6:18.1 - oops, too fast? Keep going, steady pace, steady pace! We hit one of the many muddy segments of the course. My feet squelched in the mud, and I felt my socks get a bit damp. I realised I was slowly gaining on the woman in front of me. I tried to ignore that, and just keep MY pace going. Beep! Km 2 - 7:15 - slowing down, but closer to my recent comfortable average of 7m/km. I slowly passed her, again my pace, not some notion of cruising by. Yay! First lap completed - half way there! Volunteers clapping as I passed. Try not to blush! One of the things I've been doing to keep my determination up is to focus on the 3km mark - less that 2km to go! Beep! 6:34. Second wind? I'm ahead of the other three now (one of whom I realise may well be the tail runner, keeping with the last runner). Just 1500m to go...... 1200...... Beep! 7:10 - digging in now, starting to find it hard. 800m - keep pushing on, it's not much further...... 400m.....200m, I can see the finishing funnel! That last 200m was hard - seeing everyone watching, trying to keep form, don't fall for the temptation of thinking well, that's done, I can walk the last bit.... DONE! I run into the funnel as directed, stop my Garmin and take the barcode tag given to me. 6:48 for the last km, and a 5k time of 34:07 according to my Garmin, 34:16 according to the official result. (My Garmin said I ran 9m over 5k).

Got my Parkrun and finish barcodes scanned, stood around awkwardly and got a coffee from the cafe. Drove home, checked emails - there was my result - 34:16, 45th out of 48, age grade of 46.01% (though I don't know if that's good, bad, or average!)

My lovely running shoes are caked with mud, but I'm feeling good. I went, I ran, and I'm satisfied with myself. I didn't feel out of place, and for a 58 year old who's only been running 10 weeks, I think I did ok.

I recommend Parkruns - a great institution!

My run -


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17 Replies

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  • Great run Steve, 34 minutes is great. Muddy running shoes are a badge of honour. :-)

  • Well done, Steve. Sounds great. I did my third Parkrun this morning and really enjoyed it. The first time I went I was totally stunned by the speed at which everyone took off and felt like I was chasing all the way round! Today I did my own thing - I think this is the key :) There are a lot more runners at mine, though. More than 300! My age grading was 46% too, but I don't know what that means either... So, are you going again next week?

  • If not next week, then the week after. I'll definitely be making it a regular thing. I was expecting to see most of the field fly off, so it wasn't a shock :)

  • You did fantastic, what a good effort and a big well done. I'm like you, in my head I think I can mix it with the top guys, on a flat route I've done it in 26mins on the park run my best is 28:55, but when all said and done its the fact we are getting out there and making an effort. It would be nice to faster but I just keep telling myself I'll do it. Keep up the good work and look forward to the times falling.

  • Thanks! I do feel good about having done it today.

  • Well done Steve, that sounds great. Fab time too :)

  • Thanks!

  • Well done Steve! I loved reading this post- it's nice to see a parkrun perspective from a newbie there.

    I've never been to a parkrun before - I would love to have a go but weekends and mornings are my worst running times.

    Are you going to be a regular face at your local parkrun now?

  • I think so - this one is really quite convenient. Unlike a lot, there's plenty of free parking there, and it's only a 10 minute or so drive from me. It would be a pity for you to miss out on the fun of running with others. Perhaps you could practise running at a slower pace at the times you find it hard? I've set myself a notional target of an actual 10k race in July, and got a myAsics plan to get me there. What it's asking me to do is some jogs at over 10 minutes per km. Since my normal pace is perhaps a little better than 7 mins/k, I can't imagine how I'm going to do that comfortably! Perhaps I'll try using the virtual pacer on the Garmin.

    Seriously, though, I do feel an immense sense of achievement and satisfaction from actually having done the Parkrun, and you would too, I'm sure, especially if it's overcoming your difficult weekend runs. Any idea why it's harder at the weekend?

  • Well done for giving it a go Steve, that sounds like a good run. Glad you enjoyed it and will go again. I love the fact that you can just turn up anywhere on a Saturday and be part of the park run family.

  • Yes, it's a great thing, and so well set up!

  • Well done you, very brave and sounds like a great fun. Blimey your park run is very small...we have around 300 or so on ours!! It's a great event isn't it??!!

  • I think it's often been about 100 strong before now. Perhaps it's the Easter effect. I did look, and I'd have fared better, position-wise at a lot of other runs! Never mind, I still enjoyed it and felt good about my run.

  • Nice one Steve!

  • Thanks!

  • Seeing the route makes you realise how long 5k is!!!Really impressed Steve...hoping I get to the point where I have the confidence to do a park run so reading your account makes me feel it's possible ๐Ÿ˜Š

  • I'm sure it is, Pot. Just give it a try and don't expect more than just getting around it!

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