My First Park Run: A Humbling Triumph

I ran in my first park run today. That is the triumph.

It has been about three and a half weeks since I graduated from the Couch to 5K programme. Since then, I have continued running, using a mixture of the Week 9 30-minute podcast, a 5km course plotted near my home, and the Stepping Stone 5K+ podcast. This is all well and good but, until today, all of my runs were done solo.

The Oxford park run was an interesting experience. Looking at the run times from Oxford park runs in recent weeks, I knew what to expect: With a 5km time between 34 and 35 minutes, I knew that I would be near last out of 50 - 100 runners, but probably not _quite_ the slowest person in the race. This is exactly what happened.

That is the humbling part of the experience. Tis one thing to know this going in... and quite another thing to have folks zipping ahead of you... or lapping you around the 2km mark! A good reminder that, as far as I have come since starting C-to-5K earlier this year, I have a long way left to go! I don't feel a need to be winning races like these -- I mean, one guy had on a jumper embroidered with "10 Marathons In 10 Days", c'mon, I'm not going to compete with Serious Runners like that! But I would like to increase my personal speed so that I come in somewhere in the middle of the pack, not near the end. Like I said, a long way left to go. Before I start working on the bridge to 10K, I think some improvement in my 5K speed needs to happen.

In any case, I count this as a win. How can I not? Twas my first actual race of any sort! And, perhaps most importantly, I had FUN! My only regret is not meeting RollerToaster -- we had discussed doing our first park run together, then we both dropped the ball on making final arrangements. (Oooops!) I'm probably going to go back and do it again next week, as my diary is currently open for Saturday morning. Don't expect to improve much between now and then, but even a little bit of progress will bring a smile to my face.


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41 Replies

  • Well done! Doesn't matter about your time or where you come (said by someone near or at the back of the pack) it's about getting out there and having a go. park run is really about you against you not a race! Glad to hear you are going back next week for another go!

  • Fab IronMatt, the great thing about quite a slow 1st park run is that it gives you a beatable PB time :-)

    I haven't done my first 5k park run yet. Husband and Son do the one in St Albans regularly and they're annoying sub-20-minute-ers (husband's best time is 18.10 - eek). I don't fancy being lapped by them even though I'm sure they'll make encouraging "come on mum" noises.

    I'll just have to bit the bullet! But want to get a bit faster first.

    cheers Chocotwit

  • Well done IronMatt, glad you enjoyed it. I know that feeling well, I did the same thing last week at the Oxford parkrun, although I wasn't last, it just felt like it. Keep going and enjoy yourself. :)

  • Oh! Were you there this week?

    Also, thanks for the kudos! Maybe see you there next week?

  • No I went last week, can't go again until beginning of December as other things planned. Let me know if you're going to be there and we can all wear our t-shirts so we know each other.

  • Okay, schedule seems clear now -- I will be back at the Oxford park run this Saturday (Nov 17), I will NOT be there next Saturday (Nov 24), and I will be there again on December 1st. So it sounds like we will both be there on the first, yes? Looking forward to meeting you then!

  • Hi Ironmatt, I was there! To be honest, I was going to chicken out, so was hasty about making final arrangements! The gremlins got me pretty bad today, it didn't go very well at all, but I learnt a LOT! Going out at my own pace and not trying to match the crowd being the main one and knowing when the 4k marker is and isn't for me! It was gutting realising I had another lap to go.. hmm! But, we live and learn! Results are just this moment up!

    Btw, were you the guy supporting me at the end, by saying "if I can do it you can?" and then saying well done to me when I was about to get on my bike and go back home? I knew if you were there, you would be somewhere not too far away in the pack! :)

  • Oh! I was not that guy... but I think I've worked out who you were. Were you wearing a reddish-pink top and taking walking breaks from your run? If so, I think I know who you are... and we were within sight of each other (sometimes one in front, sometimes the other) for the whole race.

    I'm picking this up now, via guesswork, after having looked at the list of run times and knowing your first name, plus from your question about the other bloke (who was wearing yellow and had an accent, yes?). If I'm right about who you are, it looks like we crossed the finish line within three seconds of each other.

    I was wearing a maroon waffle-weave top and had long hair that was tied back, plus glasses. Though, to be fair, I often have the hair tied back and I always have the glasses. :-D

    Congrats on finishing your first parkrun. Shall we aim to do it again next week?

  • Yep that was me, I did walk bits. I went out way too fast and couldn't maintain it - I think that was what I was peeved off with the most, but having checked the times, I still got a PB! I shaved 12 secs off my 5k continuous running time, so maybe that's the way to do it ;) ! Seriously though, loads to work on!

    I know who you are! No the other bloke with the yellow top was one organiser that took pity on me and helped me round. I did try to explain to him that I really wasn't able to chat very well! I knew you weren't that guy as he gave me his running life story, but thought you were another guy in another bright red top, but now with the description I know who you are and we did spend the whole time really close to each other! How funny!

    Anyway, I can't do next week, but I will go back. I just need to learn how to run on grass first! Maybe also when it's drier! Excuses, excuses!

  • Well done for getting there :) Looking forward to seeing you back there at the beginning of December?

  • This conversation has had me in stitches. Well done to you both. I haven't even looked at getting out and doing the parkrun in my local park: literally five minutes (i.e. Laura's warmup) walk from home!

  • Janda its so close to your home, may I ask why you have not done it....can I encourage you to GET OUT THERE !! you sound like you can walk there and back, how lucky are you, I am sooo jealous I will have to drive half hour to my first park run, (bit scared of it though) but definitely want to give it a crack, hopefully I will enjoy it and not worry. It was a good blog by the two boys eh, they had me in stitches too.

  • Yep! I'll be there beginning of Dec, armed with a much better understanding of what the devil's going on! :)

  • Hey you two, you are so lucky to have these park runs - am quite jealous :-)... Don't live in the UK so am left to my own devices pretty much. Just finished 8/3 so will be missing Laura as she's been my running club :-).

    Just want to say I really love the way you described the humbling effect of the run - and like you say IronMatt, it's amazing that we all started this programme in the first place - getting that perspective is really helpful to let the other 'rocket runners' get on with their thing and just enjoy the experience. Wow - what an experience you both had - would love to be able to join you. Anyway WELL DONE and I know you'll be creating PB's every time if you're there egging each other on. Good luck with it, Sara :-)

  • Sorry to be missing you this coming week (Nov 17). Looks like I will not be able to make it on the following Saturday (Nov 24), but I do plan to be there on Saturday December 1st. Any chance that you can make it then? It would be good to actually meet you, rather than just run with you unknowingly! ;-D

    P.S. Congrats on setting a new personal best for yourself!

  • Thanks, I'll aim for 1st Dec as I know I can't do the ones around that weekend. (kinda) looking forward to it!

  • Sounds good.

    Also, I was rereading your earlier comment, from Saturday, and I know what you mean about taking off too quickly in a pack of runners. I made this mistake, too. It felt great for about ten seconds, being part of the pack... then reality set it. :-D In fact, I think the first time you passed me was when I was tuckered out from that foolish initial sprint. From then on, it was a pretty reliable back-of-the-bunch group of us, wasn't it? Ah well, we made it and that's what counts.

    I do remember that other guy in the red shirt that you thought might have been me. Bright red top and slightly balding, yes? He and I turned the corned to the finish line at about the same time; I'm guessing he's the guy who came in a mere two seconds after me. I'm glad he was able to encourage you at the end. I wouldn't have thought of that... as I doubt I could have carried on a conversation of any length at that point! :-D

    Sorry you won't be able to make it again tomorrow, but I hope to see you there on 01-Dec!!

  • Yeah that sounds like the guy I was talking about. He overtook me right near the end and so came in a second before me.

    I was surprised he could chat, he looked very done in as he crossed the finish line and collapsed on the grass!

  • Well done both of you! Walking breaks are fine!

    I know what you mean about being left behind etc, lapped etc, not a nice feeling at the time!

    But it is just an amazing achievement just to get out there and do it and the whole point is to get a benchmark for you personally against which you compare future runs!

    I did my 5th parkrun today and was chuffed, 5 mins faster than when I did my first one in March! Woo hoo!:-)

  • Way to go Deryn :)

  • wow! Amazing progress! well done :)

  • Woo-hoo - to both of you - my first parkrun was the same - I ran it on my own though as everyone else ran off into the distance! Perhaps next time you'll meet up and be able to egg each other on.

  • Hiya,

    Was this Oxford on 10th November? I was there too!!!!!!! You need to get registered as part of the NHS Couch to 5K club so that our group gets the publicity!! Plus...we can all motivate each other to go along when its grey and cold as I suspect will increasingly be the case. I wonder if there were any other 'undercover' C25K members?

    See you on Saturday

  • That's right! If you look at the results page, I came in 81st place (out of 86).

    You were there, too? Awesome! RollerToaster and I have managed to figure out who each other were. If you were near the back of the pack like us, we may have seen you, too.

    I'm planning to be there again this Saturday. How do I register with your club?

    See you soon!

  • ooh this is turning into a C25K invasion of the Oxford parkrun! Hopefully see you there soon!

  • I am doing C25K, just started week 5 but I've already done a couple of the Braunstone parkruns in Leicester. I am always last and need to knock at least 15 - 20 mins off my time just to be next to last (the average time seems to be around 25 to 30 mins), but a lot of the runners are very encouraging as they speed past me and the timing staff cheer me through the finish line. It's a great atmosphere.

  • I agree, it is a really great atmosphere and so supportive.

    I may see you at Braunstone Parkrun one day. I used to live in Leicester and still visit pretty regularly as I have good friends there and may just fancy trying another one out! (oh dear, has the parkrun bug bitten me?)

  • You will know me, I'm the little fat, very red faced, sweaty lady puffing at the back :D

  • IronMatt & Rollertoaster you guys ROCK....I just wanted to say I LOVED both your posts, soooo encouraging I am hoping to do my first Parkrun in Dec here in South Australia but have to graduate hopefully by the end of this week, I am looking forward to doing the Parkrun but at the same time it sooooo daunting for me, I dont know why....anyway I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading about it all and you both are an inspiration to me xxx

  • Don't worry pinkus, I was so nervous too! But once you get into the run, that goes and I'm sure once the first one is done, it will be a breeze! (i'm hoping!)

  • Thanks rollertoaster...I just love your name....can you please explain the meaning of it...for some reason it brings a wry smile to my face....I imagin you in the roller derby for some stange reason...thats what I think of when I see your name, hence the wry smile.....pinkus

  • Hi Pinkus,I'm not sure I can explain it! About 8 years ago an ex of mine suddenly came up with it and I liked it and that was that. When I signed up to this forum, that popped into my head and I thought, that'll do! So, no cool story behind it unfortunately!

    It was before this nifty gadget came onto the market though!

  • Well I think your names pretty cool I said everytime I see Rollertoaster in the blue ink it brings a smile to my face cause it reminds me of the roller derby...weird I know !!!

  • :) I like the idea of a roller derby!

  • me Rollertoaster thats what you are.....!! (thats just my weird sense of humour)

  • Thanks, Pinkus! When you go to do your first Parkrun, remember the title of this post: "A Humbling Triumph". If you're anything like many of us Couch-to-5K grads, I suspect you will have a similar experience. Don't worry about running at the back of the pack -- focus on the fact that you can finish the course, something you wouldn't have been able to do all that long ago.

    Can't wait to read about your experience -- good luck!!

  • Thanks IronMatt, yes i will be thinking of you all when I get to my parkrun, thats why I am doing one cause you all talk about it and it got me gonna just do it not overthink it...hubby is going to joint me too so very excited....will keep you posted, just hope it is not tooo hot at that time of the year as I like my running conditions to be just so.....xx

  • Hiya. You need to look at your original registration email, follow some sort of link and it will let you edit your details. When it asks you what club you are with I think (from memory) there is a drop down list and although the list is very long you will find NHS Couch to 5K on the list, select it and its done. I have some vague recollection that there was something odd about the list-cant remember if it was under 'N' for NHS or 'C' for couch, but at any rate I remember having to look twice before I found it. See you on Saturday-BBCweather forecast is a black cloud with 2 drops of rain--worrying!

  • Done!

    Also, I think I figured out who you are... at least on the results list. Did you come in 69th place last week? If so, I've found you! :-D

    Hmmmm... If I'm right, it means you came in 4' 40" before me. Which means we might say "hi" before and "well done" after... but you're fast enough that we won't be running together like RollerToaster and I were doing last week.

    Is all good, though. Looking forward to meeting you in a fortnight!

  • This is so totally unfair :(... life has really got in the way this month.... hope to see you all at the beginning of December

  • well done! you fixed the club name and sped up.

    AND it didnt rain!

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