This weekend I finally made it to my first parkrun! (Saturday 28 May 2011)
We turned up bright and early at the Banstead Woods parkrun in Coulsdon, parked the car and headed into the woods not knowing exactly where we were supposed to find the start line. Luckily we stumbled across the race director taping some areas of the woods off to protect the delicate undergrowth that has been worn away during previous parkruns. After a brief chat we knew all we had to know so I went off for a little warmup.
As 9am approached I headed along the path to the start line, I noticed that there was a really nice mix of all ages and abilities, including plenty of children, lining up to start. I saw a few people wearing their commemorative 50 and 100 parkrun t-shirts and wondered if I'd ever make it to 50 and receive my own t-shirt!
After a brief announcement regarding the future of this parkrun and effects it has on the woods (good and bad) and we were off.
I found myself starting off in the middle of the pack and moving quite slowly along the first section, which was uphill, over the first kilometre I gradually moved past the slower runners. Half -way around the first lap the course comes back downhill and past the finish line.
Then I turned a corner to start the second lap, uphill again, this time around it seemed much steeper! Anyway, I dug in and pushed myself on, finally the course levelled out. I noticed a bit of a stitch over near my right shoulder, I focused on my breathing but couldn't completely get rid of it. Before I knew it we were coming back round to the finish, I pushed fairly hard but not all out.
I finished in 34th place (out of 192 runners) with a time of 22:03. Overall 5th in my age group (SM30-34).
I don't think I'll be able to make it every weekend, if there was one closer to home it would be easier (and I'd probably have my 50 run t-shirt this time next year) but there isn't. I'd really love to do two per month, and maybe try some of the other parkruns around the edges of South London. It would be brilliant if I could persuade some friends to sign up (for free) - you know who you are! - and run with me. (My brother-in-law has signed up but I don't think I can persuade him to fly over from Switzerland twice-a-month..) There's also the wife but 5k is a bit too far at the moment)
Thanks to the wife for taking photos of the race!