I am a Parkrunner

I had my first experience of Parkrun today and I loved it.

The run started with a rookie tactical error. I received a "first-timers briefing" about 10 minutes before the race start and when that was complete, I wandered slightly away from the start to warm up a bit. By the time that was complete, the start area was packed and I was stuck quite near the back.

When the gun was fired I was going nowhere fast as after the start there are narrow paths which are roped off which means really bad congestion for the first 3-400 metres. The upshot of that is I spent a good 30 seconds having to walk at the start and consequently completed the first Km in 6 minutes 26 seconds. I mentioned in my graduation post that I was gunning to break 30 minutes for 5k so I was clearly quite badly behind schedule.

No matter, even if 30 minutes was now unlikely, the best thing to do was to try to settle into a steady pace and make sure that I didn't gas myself. That plan worked OK for a while and my second Km was slightly quicker at 6:14. At that point I had some running room as we started a lap of a lake, I was passing a few people who had gone off too quickly. I now totally get why people say "you get pulled along by a crowd" because without trying to dramatically step up my pace the 3rd K was registered in 5 minutes 30 seconds.

All of a sudden 30 minutes was back on the cards and told myself to just try and maintain steady rhythm. I was just about able to do that but having overtook another 20 or so runners I came up behind a lady and her two daughters who were 'blocking' the path. I had a quick glance at my Garmin and I had actually sped up even more so rather than try to barge my way through or ask them to move, I settled in behind them to gain some breath for a final 'push'. The 4th Km was recorded in 5:33 and I was now well ahead of my 30 minute target.

For the first half of the last K, I just sat in behind that same lady and her kids (they were going a really nice pace) but as the path widened and the home straight beckoned, I accelerated again and went past them and then I went past another couple of runners - it was all going swimmingly until I heard footsteps gaining on me from behind. I asked my legs for one last push but they had nothing more to give, I couldn't even maintain that pace and in the last 100m I was overtaken by (I think) 6 others runners including lady and both daughters. With about 50m to go, my Garmin beeped to indicate I had completed 5km and said that the last Km was done in 5:23 so the GPS was thrown a bit of a wobbly somewhere (probably in the woods during the 3rd Km). I crossed the line with my Garmin showing a distance of 5.06Km in 29 minutes and 27 seconds.

As I type this, I am still awaiting the official result but it is safe to say that I did break 30 minutes and in doing so took about a minute and a half off my previous PB.

I was completely pooped at the end but after doing the barcode stuff, I dragged my weary legs to the swimming pool cafe and had a coffee with a couple of regulars who laughed at my rookie error and said that the organisers were looking to change the area of the start because field sizes had swelled so much in recent months.

In truth that bout of walking at the start probably didn't cost me much at all in terms of finishing time. With a faster start, I would not have been able to maintain the faster pace I managed later.

I really enjoyed today, the folks were friendly, the volunteers were great and my run surpassed my hopes but Parkrun will be only an occasional treat for me. Saturday mornings are normally a good time for me to get some work done but more than that, these last few weeks have made me realise that I enjoy slow running more than busting my lungs going fast. So Parkrun once every 5 or 6 weeks would be my thought.

Garmin Linkie


Update: Official Time was 29:31

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42 Replies

  • Well done Dunder. I did my second Parkrun this morning and as a slow runner at a busy venue I deliberately keep to the back at the start so I don't get trampled. It does take a minute or so for the pack to sort itself out. As you found, starting a little slower than your ideal pace doesn't make that much difference to the final outcome.

  • Thanks Coddfish.

    Yes it is a bit of a cavalry charge. Mid pack is probably the most sensible starting zone for me and that's where I will try to get next time.

  • sub 30 on your first parkrun ! brilliant. I started right at the back too, but it gave me incentive to get it right the next time. If you take the walking time into account you were probably quite close to 29. Get in the middle next time and you'll smash it again.

  • Thanks. Middle it is.

    It was actually quite amusing today. When I went around the corner to warm up, folks were milling around and chatting but just a minute later there was a solid wedge of people in the pen.

  • That sounds very exciting - although the crowd at the beginning sounds eerily similar to the first day of the summer sales. Well done for the sub-30 minute 5k!

    No Park runs here in France as far as I know, and not in our village, anyway. I don't think I'm competitive enough to cut the mustard - I'd probably end up lying beside the lake pulling petals off daisies until everyone else had got out of the way. :D

  • It was all very cordial mfam and there were no tripping/falling issues as far as I know.

    I wouldn't go near a summer/Boxing Day/Black Friday sales event - just a mass of elbows and knees (and mouths) those are.

  • Awesome job, well done! We still don't have a parkrun here but I'm looking for alternatives and hope to join a running group for a weekly 5k every Saturday once I'm re-graduated. Keep up the great running!

  • Thanks Fraz. I see from your profile that you (like me) used to live in Singapore (lah).

    They have Parkrun in Singapore although running in 32degC and 90% humidity wouldn't be my idea of fun.

  • I took my shoes and garmin to Singers, but could barely make it to work in a fit state with the humidity so figured I would just expire if I tried to run. I lived in the old black and white apartments near Portsdown so lots of joggers going by every day and I have to say they all looked at meltdown point all the time.

  • I used to play football (many moons ago) but nearly always at night so it was a little less brutal.

  • I love park run and glad you enjoyed it too ! With all that faffing about with pacing you've definitely got something to aim for improving for next time. Great time !

  • Thanks Henpen definitely out to beat it next time. It will be a few weeks though.

    Congrats on your own Parkrun PB, everyone was smashing it today.

  • Aw well done Dunder !

    Blimey, that is a cracking time there !

    Enjoyed reading that, Good stuff ! :-) xxx

  • Thank you Pops. Several weeks of nice slow runs awaits.

  • Are you starting a Acsics plan ?

    Im starting one on Wednesday, cant wait to get stuck in can you ? :-) xxx

  • I start the MyAsics plan in 4 weeks (Half Marathon) but need to gradually build my distance beforehand because it has regular 10.5k runs from the 4th week.

    The furthest I have ran so far is only 5.7k.

    So I am essentially starting my pre-plan-plan :)

    What are you training for?

  • Ah, I see a pre-plan plan , youve got all bases covered :-)

    Im doing the Asda 10k in Leeds in July. This is supposed to be a really good course and very well organised and supported . Cant wait ! :-) xxx

  • Sounds good.

    Just got my official results through and the two runners who finished directly in front of me were a JW10 and a VM75 (albeit both club runners). That puts things into a bit of perspective!

  • Sub 30 min on your first Parkrun is brilliant! Ignore the super humans! At my local Parkrun a man in his 70s does it in about 27 minutes and my 8 year old does it in 24 minutes. I'm never going to beat them but you might!!!!!

  • Thanks and yes, ignoring them sounds like a good idea. There are some ridiculous performances further up the results page.

  • Thats a great time Dunder, well done! I hope to try a Parkrun once I graduate too.

  • Thanks Sandra.

    Good for you. I would suggest you check out the course beforehand. I knew in advance that my course was nice and flat - some are really nasty though!

  • Good advice - I have actually discounted my nearest because I know it is a toughy! There are a couple of others quite locally however which I know are less challenging.

  • Looks like you have it all covered! All the best.

  • Totally ace Dunder, cracking post. Glad you enjoyed park run & it all worked out in the end! And a PB👍🏼

  • Thanks Sparky.

  • Well done Dunder! Bloody brilliant performance there. How fab to have got under that 30 minute mark, especially when you didn't think it was possible. Trouble is now......you got to get sub 28......YOU CAN DO IT!!

  • Cheers Dan. One day, maybe.

  • Well done dunder very impressed am I ☺ im taking part in a 5k race on Wednesday night organised by my local running club, will be my first race since graduating and hopefully good practice for the race for life next month, nice to read your post cause i must admit am feeling a little apprehensive about it 😕

  • Thanks jules. I am sure you will do just fine.

  • Fantastic and what a lovely blog too... And yes I'm with you on the slow running!!! Bro glad you liked parkrun it really is such a fantastic event...

  • Thanks JJ and yes it is a great event. There were 333 finishers today, an all time record. Pretty amazing that so many people come together on a Saturday morning just to run together with no bling to gain or charities to benefit.

  • Very well done, that is a cracking time. I love ParkRun it's how sport should be. Sub 30 is my dream, although at the moment I shuffle round in 40 mins. What I would say to a few that have said they want to try a park run when they graduate is. Why wait? It's called ParkRun not Park Race. I shuffle round in 40+ minutes behind 400 others and get the biggest cheer and support from the wonderful volunteers as I collapse across the line. It's amazing, I have never got to 2km yet before I have to stop and walk and then I jog 50 steps walk 50 steps.

    That being said this community is going to get me round the entire 5km non stop in the next few weeks.

    Sorry to take over your post. Well done this morning.

  • Thanks CC and well done yourself.

    I can see both sides to be honest, horses for courses.

  • wow dunder thats brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!! well done for busting your target! :)

  • Thank you ali, still dead chuffed!

  • Wow that's impressive! So glad you enjoyed parkrun. I think they are fab. But, my longer slower runs I enjoy even more. Always good to mix it up a bit. You should be well pleased with that time! X :-)

  • Thanks NE. As I mentioned I think once every 5 or 6 weeks will be enough for me, I will look forward to them though.

  • Amazing. Well done.

  • Thanks Daisy. Good luck for next Saturday!

  • Excellent stuff, and how immensely satisfying to go sub-30 on your first parkrun. I foresee your times dropping significantly over the next few months.

    My local parkrun (Richmond) is a victim of its own success, it's always a total embouteillage at the start - I once counted 20 seconds between "go" and starting to shuffle forwards, let alone begin running.

  • Thanks TT and I do feel that good steps are possible in the coming months even though slow longer runs are my focus.

    There were 333 runners at Tonbridge yesterday compared to 375 at Richmond so it is obviously becoming a victim of it's own success too. Tunbridge Wells is the other main Parkrun locally but that is hilly which probably explains the bigger turnouts at Tonbridge.

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