Last Saturday I took part in my first official, timed 5k with other runners! It takes place in Bushy Park near my inlaws’ home in Teddington, UK every Saturday and it’s called the ParkRun. There is no charge to take part, and between 800-1000 runners participate each week. My inlaws run the race quite frequently and since I was staying with them, I decided to join in.
We arrived about 30 minutes before the start to find a parking spot. Lots of people were milling around, doing stretches and talking to their friends, as the organizers marked out the start and finish lines. I had a new water bottle which must be a British design, since many of my American friends commented on the photo!
We all gathered near the start line as a lady gave some announcements through a megaphone, and then we were off.
I went off too fast and quickly felt winded. I had to force myself into a steady 5 mph pace as the fitter runners streaked ahead. I concentrated on following the beat of my music and tried not to pay much attention to those around me.
My father-in-law had shown me where the 1k mark was, and I had a side stitch at that point, but it passed quickly enough. My mother-in-law was alternating bursts of faster running and walking, but this meant that our overall pace was about the same and we were able to check in with each other throughout the race. My father-in-law, despite claiming to have an injured hamstring, was miles ahead!
By the time I reached the 3.5 or 4k mark, I’d managed to keep running without stopping for a walking break. I then decided that my goal was just to complete the race entirely by running. I’d never managed to do a 5k without a walking break in any of my training runs. In the end my time was 37:40. Not bad for my first attempt at a timed race on a new course! Of course, nothing could compare to the true eilte; the fastest runner did it in 16:38!
Regardless, I feel very accomplished. It’s not something I’d like to do every Saturday, but it’s nice to know I’m capable of doing it without embarrassing myself!