One of my personal goals this year was to finally drag my now slightly smaller behind to Parkrun. I had always found the concept of Parkrun a bit daunting – it may be fewer people than the usual type of event I go to but the chances of seeing someone I know are increased phenomenally and that in turn increases my anxiety. The very first time I went I was actually sick behind a park bench.
It’s ok no one saw. I don’t think.
However, ridiculous issues aside, I do enjoy it and I do try to go when I can. (I no longer throw up by the way). So this past Saturday when I discovered my other half was not working I decided I should go. I rock up just in time for the little de-brief. It’s raining but the course is ok just now, round of applause for the fabulous marshalls who will kindly be standing in the rain and a shout out to those doing mile stone runs.
It’s not my best pace. My left hamstring is slightly niggly – I’m definitely feeling the ‘running on tired legs’ I’ve been told I need to practise. I try to keep up with a girl who’s usually about my normal pace but quickly decide not to risk pushing it and instead let my mind wander as I go along the river. It’s very therapeutic running in the rain along the trail, I do enjoy it. It’s an out and back route with a bit of an uneven section and my mind wanders to the trail race I’m doing next weekend. Now that’s a tough route!
Back on to the concrete path and as I near the last 500metres an older gentleman comes up beside me and says ‘thank you for being in front of me, an inspiration to keep going’.
I can’t help but smile and laugh a little. I ask him if this is where he takes off and does a sprint finish. He replies ‘oh I don’t think I have that in me’ but he does slowly pull in front. He reminds me of Rob on the TV show Stella. He’s wearing one of the Parkrun 50 T-shirts, red with the big ’50’ on the back. As I watch him near the finish I realise that, just a few months ago, I wouldn’t have been there, At best I would have had my earphones in refusing to make eye contact with anyone and staring at the ground, literally running off as soon as I had finished.
Yet, I was here.
And here was this gentleman too. Politely speaking to me – a stranger – for more than his fiftieth time at a Parkrun. He may have said I had helped inspire him to get round that day but truth be told he inspired me to keep going with my goals. To continue to push myself out of my comfort zone and to continue doing what I have found I love – running.
After I get my barcode scanned (very important, don’t ever forget your barcode!) I see him stretching his legs out before slowly wandering away, saying hi to several people with a friendly smile and I find I’m smiling too. I feel comfortable.
This is why I love Parkrun.