The horn sounds and we’re off!
Slowly slowly the body of runners and walkers make their way closer to the start line. Walking. Shuffling. A few running steps and we’re off!
Carefully I pick my way through the throngs of runners (190 on Saturday). Around that walking lady. Carefully passed the dad and the pram. A quick sprint around the lady with head phones. Finally I’m in a space on my own. Slowly I inch up to the next bunch of runners and the weaving and zooming starts again. I feel free. Could this be what flying feels like?
Launceston parkrun starts on the top of a levee bank. It’s a narrow start line so the field of runners can stretch back for up to 30 or 40 meters. I’m no good at estimating distances so I asked Pauly – it’s a long way. It can take nearly a minute for those at the very back from the sounding of the horn to crossing the start line.
I’ve given up on parkrun PBs largely because of the start line. It just does my head in so I’d rather run and have fun; run to feel rather than time. I usually start right at the back, giving more room up the front for those who do chase PBs. On Saturday I wasn’t quite at the back, probably three quarters back.
Something strange has come over me. Despite thinking I’ll just plod and meander my way from start to finish, when that horn sounds I suddenly become like a greyhound leaping out of a starting box! I zoom forward, I get held back by a slower bunch of runners, I see a break and off I zoom again. Giving this some thought, it’s the freedom of being able to let the throttle go and put the pedal to the metal – a feeling of total freedom washes over this Unsporty Woman. It’s my one run a week where I allow my lungs to really burn – my heart to pound out of my chest and my legs to do overtime. What’s the worst that could happen? I might have to walk. And would that matter? No. It’s my time to try; and to try in the supportive environment of parkrun where I feel safe.
On Saturday as my lungs burned I thought of what I’d learnt reading Born to Run. I reminded myself that my brain will tell me that I need to slow down way before my body actually needs to. I pushed on.
Just as I was thinking that I might have to bring this fast running caper back to sensible Unsporty Woman pace the very lovely Renee came up behind me. Go Annie!!! she said. I couldn’t talk so I fell in sync with her. One little slope and 700m to go and I felt myself slow a little and Renee crept forwards. I gave myself a verbal slapping and pushed back to be beside her again. Just as we were about 400m from the finish Renee says Three, Two, One, GO!!! Off she went faster and faster with me trying to stay with her. There was just two seconds between our finishing times. Thanks Renee, I needed that push at the end.
No PB but a great run where I learnt again that I can push and I won’t actually pass out or die or something dramatic like that. parkrunning and the encouragement I received today are teaching me to become a braver runner.
If you haven’t experienced parkrun look one up and see if there is one close by. It’s free to register and a great way to start the weekend.
parkrun has benefited my running in so many ways:
- I’m no longer as nervous in the mush of the starting line at fun runs
- It’s my weekly opportunity to do a faster run, something I find hard to do on my own
- But without doubt the best part of parkrun has been meeting wonderful people who I now call friend
And guess what? This Unsporty Woman was first in her age group (all the fast ladies must’ve stayed in bed) AND I was 15th female over the line. It’s a bit nice and encouraging when I see results like this AND all because I didn’t give up and got a little help from a friend at the end right when I needed it.
I think it’s fair to say I’ve recovered from that bad run on Friday. I’m ready to put my Marathon Training Plan on the fridge. Three marathons in one year? I’ll be thinking of an Ironman next (winking at Sue).
Happy running 🙂
PS all photos were pinched from the Launceston parkrun facebook page.