Humiliation and Pride on a Parkrun

Well, that was humiliating! I did my first Parkrun this morning. Turned up on a freezing cold day with a beautiful blue sky and bright sunshine. There were about 30-40 people. We waited for the countdown, the whistle blew and off we went! Well, they did. I was certain I WAS running, but either my legs are much shorter than I've ever realised or I've got some kind of in-built speed restrictor! Needles to say, I was the last runner - even some bloke who looked about 80 passed me. And I wasn't just last, I was last by several minutes, at least.

There was a point where the course looped round to the entrance to the park and I was tempted to run out the gates, back to the car and drive home.

But, I didn't.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other, didn't walk or stop, even though I wanted to and even though I felt like throwing up for the last two 2k.

Every volunteer I passed on the course, said 'well done' and so too did the runner who had completed the 5K and was running back along the course to join a marathon that was taking place a few miles away!

Then, just when I thought I'd come to the finishing area, I was waved on and had to run another circuit of 1k to eventually end up at the finish, where most of the runners had already left and there were only a handful standing round finishing their water and breakfast bars, given out by Asda.

And I know that the volunteer marshals clap and say 'well done' as you come in, but I felt embarrassed and would rather that they hadn't really.

So, yes. Humiliating. But I was also proud because I didn't give up and I did keep running (although not to the same standard as the others). On the drive home I wavered between thinking "Who am I kidding? I'm just a fat, fifty year old not suited to running. I've made myself look stupid." to "I did it, I kept going, and if I keep doing that, one day I won't be at the back, I might even be able to be in the middle somewhere."

I don't know if I will, though. I suppose the only way to find out IS to keep going and keep trying - my sons have said that they'll come with me next time. Perhaps then I won't feel like such a slowcoach or look such a tool!


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63 Replies

  • That's fantastic, you did it!! I look foward to a day when I can even attempt a park run, so to me the fact that you did it at all is something inspirational. So rather than feel embarassed a being last, be PROUD that you finished it.

  • Yes, rfawag, I am pleased that I finished it. And I look forward to seeing you graduate and doing your first parkrun!

  • What you have achieved is PROUD of yourself. it doesn't matter where you finish (I am normally at the back) or your time.....the fact is that you went out there and did it. YES YOU DID IT!! I am waving some virtual pom pins for you. I was one of the volunteers at my local parkrun today and I love cheering on or slow!

    You now have a time to beat so go back next week and aim for a PB! :)

  • See you are near Crowborough so which is your local run? Eastbourne?

  • Yes, Ali - it was Eastbourne - and I shall go again and see if I can improve - but I'm doing the 5k funrun in Hove next Sunday, so think I'll leave it til the following Saturday!

  • Wellone Viv, the first one is always the hardest but you didn't give up, you finished so be very proud of yourself. Parkrun is not a race against others as such, its a race of you against the clock, now that you have set your time the idea is to try and improve on that time. Some weeks you will some weeks you won't a lot can depend on the weather conditions, also the amount of runners can play a big part too. We have some quite slow runners at my local Parkrun but if anyone was ever heard to criticize them they would be set apon by regulars because Parkrun is for all abilities fast and slow. The fact that you got out there in very cold weather was great credit to your determination. Well done you.

  • Just a point Viv, was there not a back runner with you, my understanding is that all Parkruns have a back runner to ensure no one is left behind with an injury etc?

    One of our slower runners very often volunteers for this duty and says "I'll be last anyway so I may as well work for the honour" he's one of the favourites with the girls.

  • Hi Oldgirl - no there was no back runner - I was it! ;-) Perhaps, I'll volunteer for that job too - I can do THAT!

  • Well done on completing a Parkrun, not easy and especially not on a cold and windy morning. You should feel proud of your achievement, the great thing about Parkruns is they are for you to run and improve not races against everyone else. You have a time now you you can track your improvement against it. You don't have to be fast just finishing is a massive achievement, fantastic.

  • Yes, you're right - I know it's not against anyone else, it was just that the gap was so large, it was a bit dispiriting. Gotta start somewhere though, and I DO have to remember that 12 weeks ago I could barely run for 60 seconds - so there is progress.

  • The running conditions are difficult this morning - when I went out , the resistance was so strong, I felt like I was standing still at times when I was running into the wind. HUGE congratulations on completing the parkrun - what an achievement. Out of interest, what was your time?

  • Congratulations on completing a Parkrun, that's my next challenge. I will also be slow but hey at least we are getting out there and doing it.. Good luck for your next run Jxx

  • Thanks - good luck with yours - let us know how you get on?

  • I second what everyone else has said. Be proud girl!! You kept going to the end and that is fantastic. Well done!

  • Yes, I am proud that I finished - and it's due to the programme - because it encourages you to just keep going.

  • You should be very proud Viv - you had the courage to go along and you finished it - thats a great achievement so very well done! I still need to get myself along to one of these.....

    As AliB1 says you now have a time to beat so that will be your aim next time. Best of luck! Sx

  • Thanks, S. I look forward to reading about it if you get along to one. They are great because they're free and well organised and because they're each week, I suppose it's a good way of tracking your progress on a regular basis, as well as having a mapped out 5k route.

  • Vivwestie, I hope those feelings of pride come soon to you and the humiliation subsides! In the meantime the rest of the community here is so proud of you!

    My park run is superfast - slowest is around 35 mins (most people finish sub 25mins with fastest at 17mins!) and I am always really near the back but I love it! Everyone is so supportive and I think their claps cheering us on are really genuine. It takes a lot to get out there on a cold Saturday morning when everyone else is snuggled up in bed, but you did it!

    When you started c25k, I bet you would've looked at someone coming in last in a park run and thought "I wish I could do that"! Now that you've graduated, it's only natural to be at the bottom of the next challenge. See it as something really positive to work towards, and don't let it get you down! You're not a tool, or a slow coach!

    Good luck with your next park run :) Seriously, keep at it and you'll see huge improvements! x

  • Thanks, Newbie - you really are going to have to change your name! And you're right - it is a challenge and that's good, because it would be boring just to keep plodding along. And if I want to run a marathon eventually, and I do, then I've got to start somewhere and parkrun provides a great opportunity for me to start building speed at least.

  • Well done you for having a go. I haven't plucked up the courage to try mine yet. I know that I am going to be last but I suppose someone has to be. Looking on the positive side at least I'd make everyone else look good ;-)

  • Haha - you're right! I hadn't thought of it like that!

  • Well done to you. I had a similar experience when I tried Parkrun but I actually did sneak away when everyone thundered off into the distance. And have regretted it since. So super congratulations on your grit and determination. :D

  • Thanks, Christian - did you go back and have another go another day?

  • Not yet. I've had a couple of setbacks with my running so think it will be New Year before I pluck up courage for another go.

    And when i do I will think of you and make sure I finish!

  • vivwestie - Ive got pure admiration for you in even going on a parkrun and completing it. At this stage I can only imagine. Put all those nasty negative thoughts behind you. Run them in to the ground (see what I did there:-) )

    where were you at the start of this journey compared to now? Exactly. Soooo far removed.

    youre a graduate and a runner. you also give us starting on the programme so much encouragement.

    keep running!!


  • Yes, AuntiAli - I saw what you did there - very clever ;-). And you're absolutely right - I know that I've improved massively and it's good not to get complacent and have something to keep aiming for. And I encourage for the same reason that everyone else does, we're paying it forward for the encouragement we've received, innit?!

  • Well done Viv. I always enjoy reading your blogs. I really applaud your determination, i think I would have sloped off halfway through! I have checked out the parkrun times near me and it looks like a fast one! I would also be that person at the back, and so I don't dare go along yet!

    As others have said, this one was about setting a baseline time, something to work from. You are only competing against yourself :) Good luck with the next one!

  • You are right Rollertoaster - I hadn't realised that it was a fast parkrun - I'm doing a funrun next Sunday, so am hoping that there'll be lots more people at my level, it would just be nice to not run on my own the entire way!

  • Well viv, it looks like you weren't last, so go have a look at the results and your time was fast, in my park run that would be middle of the pack...WELL DONE :-) :-)

  • Thanks, Phil - perhaps I should come and do your Parkrun!

  • Viv, well done on completing your first parkrun! The Eastbourne course is a killer at the end, with that annoying loop around! I have only managed the parkrun once, and there were about 70 people there; I know that I would feel rather intimidated with only 30-40. They all seem so hardcore don't they!!

    I'd be interested to do one with you so please message me if you'd like to in the future :)

  • I forgot to say that the old bloke is an amzing runner. He was super fast when I did it too.

  • When i did my first park run i was well and truly beaten by an 80+ bloke

  • TBH, he was in inspiration - there was a women there too, who was all togged out and had a trim and lithe body, but her face was obviously that of someone in her seventies - but she thundered off too - And this is part of the reason why I started this whole crazy journey - I don't want to be shuffling around in my old age, I want to be able to easily run 5K and more. So they're a real inspiration.

  • I would love to do one with you in the future, TJFlute - I'm planning to go to the 10/11 one.

  • Have been looking to see where in the south east there are park runs....if you and Theresa decide to do Crawley one week let me know and I'll become a park run tourist and come and meet you.

  • I really fancy the Crawley Parkrun - haven't been to Tilgate Park for years but it's a lovely park and I was tossing up between that and Eastbourne, TBH - so how about the 17/11?

  • What about joining a few of us (me. Theresa and Greg) at the jigsaw 5k run...looks like it should be fun

    Here is the link

  • I'd love to - thanks AliB1 - I've signed up for a 10k that day, but TBH, I don't think I'm going to be able - it's a local course over 2 laps of a 5K route - half of which is up a very steep hill and I've been told that even seasoned runners walk half of it cos it's so steep. So, maybe a 5K with friendly faces might be better.

  • Let us know if you decide to come along.

    If it makes you feel better I adopted a run/ walk /run /walk strategy for my 10k and walked up the hills. :)

  • Oooh, ok - I'll see how the running goes over the next couple of weeks and see if I think it's feasible. Thanks so much for the support, Ali.

  • Viv I've just had a wee peep at your Parkrun results I don't know what you were expecting to do but - a) Your time is not at all slow for a new runner b) You were not last either.

    Congratulations there would be many new runners proud of that time as you should be, my first Parkrun wasn't much faster and its completely flat with good weather conditions too.

    So be proud very proud and good luck with the next one. ;)

  • Thanks, Oldgirl - I am proud that I finished - and no, I wasn't last as it turns out. Onwards and onwards....

  • Very well done Vivwestie, you went, you ran, you finished! You stuck to the bloody minded running philosophy of never giving up and you RAN! Great going girl - don't you worry about being last, you were obviously in there with the elite athletes this week! Plenty of room for us slower mature ladies too.xx

  • Yup, you're right, Carole - that is the philosophy - don't give up, keep going - it's bloody hard sometimes and it makes it all the sweeter. On a slightly related note, I've just read a book called "Best foot forward". Link: which totally embodies the 'never give up' philosphy - I totally recommend it.

  • Ooooh, going off to look at that book NOW!


  • I should add, on my first park run over a month ago I was beaten by a nine year old! So, no shame there!


  • LOL! those 9 year olds and 80 year olds are right crushers aren't they! Damn them - although great for keeping us motivated - damned If I'm going to let a youngster and an Oldster beat me!

  • Well done on your first Parkrun, you did brilliantly.

    Remember, it isnt a race against each other but against the clock.

    You probably got a PB today! Now you can work on improving it :-)

    I have only done a few but have managed to go a little bit faster each time and I am sure if you keep doing them you will see improvements over time too.

    Your "well done"s are more than well deserved. I saw this quote on FB the other day

    "Came last"


    "Didn't finish"

    which totally trumps

    "Didnt even start"

    So WELL DONE! :-P

    If you do that 10k, don't be afraid of it, there is nothing wrong with having a run/walk plan x

  • Haha - I love that quote - says it all, doesn't!? It reminds of that one that goes something like 'no matter how slow I'm going, It's faster than someone who's still sitting on their couch." Or something like that... but yes 'you've got to be in it, to win it.'

  • Struggling to reply to a previous post. I could do the 17th at Crawley if you are up for it.

    Any ine else want to join us?

  • That would be great, Ali. I'm deffo up for it.

  • Message me enter the time and we can arrange to meet up

  • I've signed up for park run but not had the courage to take part yet, so well done you for completing your first one. Don't let stats beat you up, you were the fastest first timer female in your age category: not sure if there is a medal for that but if not, treat yourself to a twix, you deserve it :-)

  • That's really putting a positive spin on it chusan51! (we won't mention that I was the ONLY first-timer female in my category ;-).)

  • Way to go girl! That was a great time you did! I wish there were parkruns near me in France. Many congratulations and I hope you've been congratulating yourself and completely re-oriented your self-esteem after your original post - the girl did great!! :-)

  • Thanks, Suki - perhaps you could set up a parkrun near you!? And yes, I have re-oriented my self-esteem. When it comes down to it - couch to 5k is about running 5k in 30 mins, and I was only 5mins over that, so nearly at that target.

  • Well I think you are amazing - I have been too scared to do a park run as I know I still have a way to go before getting 5km in 30 mins - I do about 3.5 at the moment. So the fact that you kept going and finished is brilliant - you dont say what your time was but just finishing is brilliant. Really Well Done!! Dont give up - but maybe some homegrown support would be a good idea next time :-)

  • Hi virtualrunner - thank you - my time was 35 mins and 15 seconds (I think). I am glad that I did it even though I ran it virtually on my own, because I know that it was a verified 5k course and it gave me a feel for running in an event - I'm sure that the first one is hardest. I'm looking forward to reading that you've done your first one.... (and yes, that IS a challenge!)

  • Viv, I read this just a few hours to my doing an organized 5k. I must tell you I am so happy you posted this otherwise I would of been totally deflated when the horn sounded and I seemed to be the only one left trying to figure out what just happened. :-) I am happy that even though you were disappointed at first you realize how far you have progressed! I love reading your blogs, you are so down to earth and I feel like I am experiencing your adventures right along with you. :-) Gayle

  • Thank you, Gayle. So.... how did yours go?

  • Brilliant post - thanks so much for writing this - it inspires us all.

  • Thank you, londongirln19. I've been on a site before where everyone is so inspiring and supportive - it's a bloody breath of fresh air!

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