Couch to 5K
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Parkrun debut. Well, feck me gently!

Talk about over-thinking it. Whether to walk to the park or get the bus, trying to gauge how long both would take as I wanted to arrive at such a time as to still be warmed up when the run started. Then what to wear, my C25k shirt had arrived so that was a given, except I have no pockets worth the name in my jogging bottoms so would need to wear my regular light jacket so as to have somewhere to put my 'phone with the tunes on so no-one would see my shirt which made wearing it pretty pointless and paying extra for next day delivery the work of an eejit. Then I had to go straight on somewhere afterwards, only briefly but it had to be done so should I bring a spare shirt to change into as what I had on would be sweaty, then if I brought another shirt I'd need a bag and could put my water in it too and then where would I leave it during the run and did I have enough time to go indoors first after all, then what if it rained would I need anything else oh shit I'd definitely have to go indoors before my appointment as I'd be soaked to the bone but wouldn't be able to get the bus as I'd be dripping wet and then......BREATHE!

You think reading that was exhausting? Imagine the state of me on Friday night until Mrs Fingalo told me to cop myself on and stop fretting!

Anyway, Saturday morning came and I was still quite excited at the prospect, I left about eight thirty and walked to the park, getting there about ten minutes before it was due to start. My excitement mounted as I arrived and saw others doing the same, the hi-vis of the stewards doing what they should and so I headed straight for them, just to check on a couple of things, oh and tell them they'd need to be cancelling any plans to shoot off at their usual time as I was pretty slow. I think I may have suggested they might just make it home in time for Mother's Day.

It was quite an amazing sight as I stood taking pics by the starting area, it put me in mind of The Sermon On The Mount as I could see folk converging on that point from every direction, except they were in running clothes and trainers, rather than a knee length tunic and sandals. Obviously. Although being Brighton, that wouldn't have surprised me either.

In the end I'd brought a bag with a spare shirt and after taking a few sips of my water, I left it with a myriad others by a tree, no special arrangements were in place but folk seemed fairly relaxed about it and I had nothing of value in mine anyway. I was amused to see several items of clothing left hanging from lower branches too, not exactly the kind of tragic Strange Fruit Billie sang so beautifully about but strange looking nevertheless.

I estimated about 300 were there (it transpired I was 98 short) and after a quick briefing in which guests and newbies were asked to raise a hand and given a warm cheer, we were off. The weather had held, no rain and the cold snap we have now had yet to arrive, so why I decided to wear my usual amount of gear I have no idea, given all the thought I'd put into it the evening before, when it came to it I acted out of habit and donned two long sleeved t-shirts and my light jacket. I'm still amused that I even bothered with the shirt I'd bought specially for the occasion but reasoned I'd take my jacket off at the end and unveil it to the world.

Heeding the warning about the newbies schoolboy error of setting off too fast, I was quite happy with my pace, feeling I was at my usual speed. The course consists of one short and two long laps, I've mentioned before that one side has a long and torturous incline which I feared, having done all but the final kilometre of my last run on the flat. The downside (ptp) is that the contours of the park mean it's not balanced by a corresponding downhill section, it drops in quite a short distance.

I'd set MapMyRun going but for some reason, didn't put on any music, a decision I was to regret as I missed it, I also think it led me to ponder too much on what I was doing and how hard I was finding it. I also paid for wearing too much. I should have left either the jacket or one of the shirts off, indeed I could easily have ran in just the one shirt, it wasn't that cold at all. An error I put down to my usual 5 am starts. Quite quickly the crowd around me thinned out and then in front of me was the hill (I've decided to call it a hill from now on as it makes me feel better, given what was to come) and my first climb (okay I'm overdoing it now) which I immediately found tough, in fact I'd realised I was in for a tough one before I even got that far, it seemed I'd chosen the wrong time to have one of those days.

Just before I finished the short lap on came MMR guy, to my surprise I'd only gone and done excatly what I'd set out not to do and gone too fast, so easing back I carried on, around and before long the hill was there again, on the second and third laps it's even longer and it wasn't nice. Again at 2k the MMR guy was mocking me by telling me that I was STILL going too fast, again I tried to adjust but to be honest, I was suffering so much by 3k that I can't remember what he said. 4k comes about halfway up the hill for the third time and I just couldn't keep going and to my utter disgust, I slowed to a walk.

I was absolutely devastated!

As early as the second ascent (ahem) I'd decided not to enter again for some time and although I'd seen plenty of people walking, some even in the first kilometre, I just wasn't prepared to accept that I'd had to, indeed that I'd allowed myself to. It wasn't all hell, I was able to notice the different runners, the various shapes and sizes, those overtaking me at a rate of knots (18 minute 5k bastards) and some who looked so uncomfortable they made me feel like Mo Farah in comparison, the quick and the almost dead, so to speak.

I've not 'failed' a run since the first run of Week 4 and have ran plenty of 5k's at this stage, some of which have been tough but lately I've found them much easier and have certainly not felt even close to stopping, this time I was in bits after only a four fifths of the distance. I walked for about half a k then started up again, making sure I was back on the flat before I did so. For my ego's sake I had a quick look back and was surprised to see folk still behind me and even passed a woman with a 50 (parkruns done) shirt on, which gave me a bit of a boost, then as I approached the finish line I could hear runners catching up and I don't know from where but I was able to speed up just enough to get to prevent them overtaking me, only to find as I entered the finishing funnel they weren't even in the feckin' thing and I'd speeded up unnecessarily!

Stop laughing at the back, man dying of embarrassment over here.

The stewards in the funnel were very nice, they could see I was suffering and were very encouraging, gave me my little tag and told me who to go to to have my time recorded, a barcode reader later (I vaguely registered the girl telling me a time, 37 something) and I was able to sit down at the little coffee shop by the finish where the runners congregate afterwards and take a few minuites to recover. Looking back I can't believe how bad I felt, after a few minutes I stood up and had to sit back down as I had a really bad bout of dizzyness.

This is how i started the text I sent Mrs Fingalo as I sat there: "Triple disappointment. Think I finished last, the uphill section killed me so I had to walk a bit third time round and thirdly and most important, I didn't enjoy it one little bit!"

She said later she thought I was suicidal!

When I felt a bit better and after a knowingly sympathetic smile from a young lady opposite me, I walked over to chat with one of the stewards. Although I had thought I was last (and collecting my bag, now alone save for one other, lent weight to the idea) it seems there were a few after me so that made me feel slightly better, it had also registered with me that it was probably the third fastest of the 5k's I'd done, even with the hill and walking a section, which cheered me a little more. Already I was finding some nuggets of optimism and at the time I'm writing this, I've decided I'll probably give it another go this week, primarily because it being Paddy's Day on Sunday they've asked participants to wear something green and they're going to run the course in reverse.

Now being all sensitive an' all that I should be mightily insulted at the implication, however as it means I won't have to tackle that feckin' hill again and is the only reason I'm even considering going again, I'll let it pass. And I might even get to show off my shirt, I was so wrecked at the end of the run it was the last thing on my mind to remove my jacket.

Ho hum!

Hoi Greeners, have you got a green buff I could get a loan of?

Postscript: Oh my aching legs! All day after the run I could feel aches in places I've not felt before and even yesterday they were slightly sore, this next day pain being probably only the third or fourth time since I've started running.

25 Replies

Congratulations! You're no longer a parkrun virgin! ;-) Fretting and tensing up may have caused some of the running can relax now and enjoy the next one, as you already have a parkrun under your belt. :-) I envy you in a way. It must be nice to have weekly parkruns available nearby. Our organized 5K's are few and far between. Congratulations again for experiencing your first organized run! :-) Gayle


Thanks Gayle. Your final comment is spot on, I really should appreciate that it's so handy. The thing about the fretting is that it wasn't out of angst, more excitement but that might have been an issue regardless.

I'm sure the first run being out of the way will help too.


Really sorry it was such a tough session for you. Hope you're feeling a bit better about it now. I bet Gayle's right, and it was all the stressing that made you go so fast to start with - you need a pacer to slow you down! (Wouldn't be surprised if you then ended up faster overall too). Main thing though - you did it, horribly tough though it was, and that's admirable.

And the stressing - oh, yes, I identify with all that totally! Do I need the loo, not really, but maybe I'd better just in case - push the door of the ladies' single toilet open - aaaagh! - a man in there who hadn't locked the door!!!! Forgot that on my run report!

Running with others is quite a different experience - although I did enjoy having done it, I think I prefer running on my own really. But I will do parkrun again.

Sorry, no green buff! I do have an emerald green scarf with shamrocks all over it though, which I bought last year in Ireland (terrible touristy thing to buy, but I really like it). However, I'm not good at sharing things - I want it!

I went out for a pretty horrible run this evening in snow (in the air, not on the ground) and dark - legs still a bit achey from Saturday I think. Not too wonderful overall - 25 minutes was plenty, though I think it's because I was trying to go a bit faster up a slope in case I do the reverse parkrun next week. The way I feel at the moment, I probably won't - but I may well change my mind later in the week.

Take care.


Cheers Greeners. I quite enjoyed the buzz at first but as I said, the run turned into a tough one quite quickly. On reflection I suspect it was a combination of things, no music so too much thinking about what I was doing, going off too fast, the incline and perhaps it was just my day for a bad run, I've not had one in a while so feck it, it was due.

I know those scarves well, I bet you've a house full of sombreros and straw donkeys too!

I didn't run this morning, I seem to have settled into a pattern of going out on a Tuesday instead but I regret it now, Brighton is at a standstill with the snow and I'm just too unsteady on my feet to trust myself to run in it. I was walking back from the station after arriving down From London and almost everyone else seemed quite sure footed in comparison to me.

Now, parkrun or not to run? You know it makes sense.


Oh by the way, where is the run report you mentioned, I've been a bit busy since Saturday but couldn't find it when I looked?


I put my run report in poppy's blog comments, here, and jenniej's is there too:

Glad you sound as though you've moved on from it already. I can't get over all these snow reports, when we've barely had a sprinkling of flakes here. Seems very odd. Hope you had a good day off and made the most of it.

No, I don't have a sombrero or straw donkey, but we do have a donkey collar with bells and a didgeridoo.


Ha ha!

Thanks for the link, I'll check the two blogs out.


Quite frankly, I think you nailed it. The first one is the hardest, like the first run of c25k really. Now you know what to expect you will enjoy them more and more I'm sure.

You should be proud of yourself, you took yourself out of your comfort zone and did it. Smashed it in fact. So what that you had to walk a bit... you didn't give up and perseverance is key, again like c25k week in, week out.

Be proud and dig out something green ready for this week, after all, you have a time measure for the run now don't you and I'm sure there's a little part of you that wants to do it all again :D

I can't wait to get back to mine, I'm always in the bottom 10, but hey, I'm out there doing it, which is more than the couch 'tators are!

Good luck Fingalo, keep us posted :)


Thanks Doggyma, I forgot to mention the folk running with their dogs and pushing buggies, sadly yes, one of the people who beat me was a four month old child....


Congratulations, you did it. I think Parkruns are much much harder than running 5k on your own. For one, there's no escaping hills and secondly it is really tough running with all those super-fit people. So completing one is a real achievement.

As for walking, well I had to as well on Saturday - and more than once. I noticed one or two doing it who came in around the 32 minute mark. It's no big deal. Talking to some of the experienced runners afterwards, they said one of the hardest things to do in the parkruns is to pace yourself especially when you first start.

I'm definitely doing it again. And if I can go from feeling devastated to ecstatic about parkruns in one week so can you!

Good luck on Saturday.


I have to say, it was my advice to you to get back out there after your run the week before that gave me the kick up the arse to stop whinging and go again next week.

Although I think I can come across as quite hard on myself in these blogs, I do tend to get it out of my system quite quickly and while I know it will be on my mind on Saturday, in the past a tough run hasn't followed a tough run so I'm hopeful it'll be okay. Also I remember the only time I'd previously been unable for a run I found it quite liberating, I no longer had the fear of not having stopped before. I intend seeing this the same way.


Oh well done you! That's the toughie out of the way and 37 minutes even with a walk??? I can only dream!


Ha ha!

Thanks Khrissy.


Well done Fingalo - I agree the first one is always hardest because you don't know what's coming & pacing takes a while to get right. I remember my first pr, puffing & panting to the finish line & a 10 year old shot past me... :-)

You all beat me this Saturday.... I was too lazy to get out of bed.


You know what, it's quite bizarre but i think I'm starting to look forward to next week's one. I've said before that I use these blogs to write out a bad run (and by Jaysus did I write enough in this one) but once again, putting it down in words seems to have helped me get past it.


Well done the time was good. Pacing yourself is the hardest thing to do I'm not sure I have mastered it either. I know not to rush off but think I sometimes don't push myself enough in case I don't make it till the end. Relax and enjoy Parkrun No 2 we will wait for your post run report.


Well, I've been feeling sorry for myself because I haven't been able to get out since last Monday and I think it may be a while yet....but, oh my Fingalo...I'm still laughing, sorry!! :-D

I admire you so much for baring your soul in such a hugely entertaining way and for just getting out there regardless. And I think you did a great time, especially for a first timer. I only hope that when I do mine (oh yes, I WILL do it...sometime!) I get somewhere near my slowest road time.


You make Park Run sound terrifying!

Maybe you need a little arm strap thingy to put your phone in? Then you can ditch the jacket and run with music - sure all you needed was music to sort of make all the external stuff melt away a bit and find your usual running pace.


Ha ha, sorry about that. I do tend to say it how I feel.

If it's any consolation, of the almost 400 participants I saw no-one afterwards who looked anything like as bad as I must have, it was quite sickening actually!

Oh and thanks for mentioning the arm yoke, a friend in the office offered me one the other week, I'll have to remind him.


Thanks Mo-Glo and Dottie. I sometimes think I whinge a bit too much and I'm often surprised at how long the blog is when I scroll back to proof read it but to be honest I started it as a memo for myself, that others enjoy it is a bonus.

This Saturday I will try and pace myself better, I just checked my splits and the first km was two minutes quicker than it should have been!


I think you did brilliantly, Fingalo, and there's your first one out of the way. They can only get better after this. Okay, so you set off too fast, okay, so you were beaten by a four-month-old (heh heh) okay, you were over-dressed for the occasion - so what? You can change all these things next time (well, maybe the baby will still beat you, but hey :D ) And there will be a next time, I'm sure. Go for it on Paddy's Day - you know you want to!

And tell us all about it - it cheers me up no end :)

Annie x


I'm actually looking forward to it now Annie, I think I'll wear my Celtic shirt regarding the green. If I do, it'll mean I have no choice but to keep running as Celtic don't do walking!


Great blog, I've been wondering how yours went... I can only dream of 37 minutes, well done! Unfortunately there were no buggies or walkers at mine, so I was definitely last supported by the tail runner, and I kept busy apologising to the last few stewards waiting for me (for about 7 minutes) probably cursing me in the cold!

On the leg ache thing I have had aches in muscles I didn't know I had, I think due to the sliding sideways through the mud most of the way round. Don't think it will have improved this week so far, and that's putting me off a bit for Saturday! Not been running since due to being exceedingly busy moving & building furniture at daughters, wardrobes today, back to work for a rest on Thursday!


What a bummer. But I can see a pheonix moment! You got one over me though. Good on you for doing it. Roll on Saturday. :)


Cheers guys, I've not ran since but will be out in the morning for a my usual 5k, I might do the 1k run up the incline past my home again, I need the practice.....


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