It’s taken a while but I’m finally a member of the parkrun 50 club! I had the honour of running today with my 7 year old son on his 2nd ever full parkrun and we got around the course in a new PB for him of 30:54! He managed to run the whole 3 miles without stopping so I couldn’t be prouder! Hopefully the start of his amazing parkrun journey.
My parkrun journey began just under three and a half years ago when I began what I call ‘adult running’ and working towards a couple of goals, namely 2st weight loss and completing a Half Marathon.
I ran my 1st parkrun on 26th April 2014 with a friend of mine, also running his first one (and perhaps his only one). I didn’t have great kit back then and remember running out of energy during the last mile. My debut time was 27:36. I came back the following week by myself and managed to grind out a good improvement of 3 minutes, finishing in 24:35.
I didn’t complete my 3rd parkrun until over 3 months later. I spent the time in between preparing for my 1st ever 10K race in August 2014. Ultimately, the aim was to get my mileage high enough to help me complete the Great North Run in September. I managed 50:08 at Darlington 10K in my first proper ‘race’ as an adult and loved the experience and atmosphere.
After my 10K race was done I attended 3 parkruns in a row before GNR. My Half Marathon training helped me get 23:01 followed by 22:26, before running round the last one in 29:30 with my sister who was also hoping to complete GNR the following week.
I somehow made it through 13.1 miles in a time of 1:58:52 and then somewhat hibernated through the winter! My challenges were complete and motivation to run was waning during the dark, cold months. I only managed to complete a further 4 parkruns before April 2015 came around but I did lower my PB to 21:38.
It was at this time that I was talked into joining a running club and despite not parkrunning again until late August, I had lowered my 10K PB to 47:53 and had 2 Half Marathons planned for September. I lowered my GNR PB to 1:55:58 and then achieved a new PB of 1:50:57 at Redcar Half 2 weeks later. During the Winter I managed to take part in 13 of a possible 26 parkruns in order to keep my fitness up. Coupling this regular social run with a few Facebook 100 mile monthly challenges was to be a massive factor in smashing all of my PB’s in 2016!
The winter period of 2015-2016 saw my parkrun PB fall to 20:32 before my first Spring 10K blitzed my PB down to 44:37. I quickly followed this up with a solid 1:54 on the hilly Keswick Half Marathon and another 10K in the region of 45 minutes. My first chip timed 5K race arrived in June and my parkrun pacing experience was essential. A bitter sweet time of 20:01 was pretty unbelievable, but I was also gutted not to sneak under the magic 20 barrier!
The rest of 2016 brought equally amazing results after hitting 2.5st weight loss since my running adventure started… Firstly producing a remarkable 19:37 parkrun, smashing the 20 barrier out of nowhere before bettering it a few weeks later to 19:34! My 10K PB had been obliterated to 41:14 and I also broke the 1:40 HM barrier with a 1:39:01, again at a flat-ish Redcar course.
My biggest achievement yet, and one I have no plans of repeating, is completing my first Marathon in 4:00:30. This well and truly broke me for around 3 months and meant starting from scratch fitness at the start of 2017. Luckily, I’m getting back to somewhere near my 2016 form and if I can re-lose the weight I put on during my injured period, I’m confident I can repeat those times next year.
A massive thanks to all at parkrun for a great experience. From the volunteers who make it possible to the runners that make it enjoyable, and to all of the friends, acquaintances and club mates I’ve made during the last three and a half years of running it!