It’s funny. I run about 60 miles per week on average. I love running and I like to push the effort as best as I can, well in a relative to me kind of way. It’s funny in that I have never done parkrun. Despite being a rather passionate runner I’ve never managed along to a Saturday morning event. Why not? Well, simply put, we have other commitments on a Saturday which are to my mind non-negotiable at this stage, so that’s why.
But, on 17th May a window of opportunity had opened up and I had the chance to go along to a parkrun for the first time. It would be an ideal last fast(ish) effort before the Edinburgh marathon. In addition, it was arranged thus that Andy, Skoosh, Darsk, Lynne & Nico would all rock up too. And, therefore we had a sextet of parkrun virgins getting set to pop their cherry at Strathclyde Park. All 6 would be at EMF the following week.
Now, I have taken Euan (my 6 year old) along to junior parkrun on Sundays at Falkirk’s Helix Park, so I knew the effort and dedication that is put into these things by the volunteers and when we got to Strathclyde Park there was already a small posse of dedicated souls without whom this stuff just wouldn’t happen. Respect and thanks to all.
As for me doing 5k, well this was only my second blast at it, so I didn’t know what to expect in terms of pace. I spoke with Robert Soutar beforehand and he said ‘not many will finish ahead of us here…’ Two things:
1. Robert bracketing me with him as a runner is a major compliment (if a bit of a stretch)
2. I didn’t believe him
Turns out he wasn’t far wrong!
I had a singular aim, which was to run 3 miles all under 6 m/m pace. If I could do this I would be really pleased. My official 5k PB was 19:26. My target pace would take nearly 60 seconds off of this 2012 marker.
The first mile was done in 5:47 and after that mile I had settled into 4th place – a place I would neither improve or lose for the remainder of the run. Robert was leading and opening up a gap with every step. He’d go on to win in 17:26 (ish) and this is an amazing run when you consider Robert’s WAVA was >83. Having ran the Tak-Ma-Doon with him the previous week you can learn a lot from guys like this by simply chatting.
Mile two was 5:53 according to the watch and whilst I was feeling the pace I was actually going well. I even saw all of my cohorts on the switchback, with the exception of Skoosh who was nailing his run.
Mile 3 was done in 5:52. Objective achieved and I crossed the line in 18:16 for a massive PB. I was super delighted with this. I mean, I thought 18:30 was on, but only just. I don’t run 5k hard very often so to do this was extremely pleasing and I felt pretty good at the end. Doubly pleasing! I feel I could go under 18 mins in future.
The guys with me done superb as well, Skoosh burst the 21 minute marker by 1s. This is a guy who was 3 stone heavier only 8-9 months ago and is now a flying machine in the making.
Next was Darsk who runs like he swings a golf club, unwavering, steady and always seemingly in charge of things. He came home in 23:16. He is always capable of putting in a good effort no matter what stage he is in his training.
Lynne and Nico ran together and dipped in just under 26 mins. Well inside the pace Lynne will shoot for at EMF on Sunday and Nico looks the most athletic of the lot of us. He proudly wore his national team’s colours as well.
But performance of the day was Andy’s. He only started back running in December. He did a mile in 11:43. That was day one of operation ‘shoes back on’. At parkrun he did his 5k in 29:07, or just about 9 min miles. That is a stunning achievement.
People who have experienced parkrun will know already it is a great community resource and that the organisation and support which goes in to it, all for free, is remarkable. I hope to do more of these in the future. Certainly Saturday has sated the appetite.
Another reason for that is catching up with people before and after, whether it be David Mooney and his pacing of his friend, Julie shouting at me as I passed to ‘keep going’, John rocking up with Morven and his wife Gillian doing her first parkrun too, or any of the people I have neglected to mention or have already mentioned above, parkrun shows the running community in its most alturist mode.
It is after all about running, relationships and keeping healthy.
Big thanks to Ross from Strathclyde parkrun for the photos above. Quality stuff.