It is not essential to turn up at one`s first parkrun feeling somewhat hungover. But maybe it helps. The nightcap(s), in any case, ensured a solid sleep and I was still sufficiently drugged to crawl into my running gear and be on the road before I realised it.
As it happened, I rocked up to Malahide Castle far too early. The castle ghosts had retreated to their diurnal sleep and park attendants and cooks were arriving for their day`s work. There was an odd pooch trailing their owners around the place, but nary a screeching kid in sight. Ah! bliss!
Though I`d frequented the castle grounds a good deal since my favourite café had found a home there, it was still a bit of a mystery to me. So I was glad to have the time to get my bearings, find the best parking spot and get all set up for my first Park Run 5km.
You know how we all stand about and suss the crowd before a race? Well, I have to say, Malahide park run crowd was the most pleasing spectacle. All sorts, all shapes, all sizes. Sure, there were the serious athletic crew. Garmins right up to their skinny elbows, twitching thigh muscles and rarin`to go. But there were normal folk too. Folk like me.
And what a glorious morning. Fingers of warm sunshine eased the slight autumnal chill, as grass, trees and floral abundance spoke of a summer well spent.
Sheeplike, I followed the crowd to the starting area and soon we were off.
It`s been a while since my last race. Yes, the inglorious half marathon where I caved at mile five. This was utterly different. I felt better in myself and, whereas at Clontarf, I was consumed by a tsunami of faster runners, this time I was very quickly passing others out. This has less to do with my fitness, than the more motley crew Parkrun tends to attract, but it felt good all the same.
And it was short, of course. I had no idea though, of either pace or distance. My garmin is going through a moody teen phase, so I`d left it at home. And honestly, I missed it. Note to self: get it sorted by next week.
Lovely to be in the middle of the crowd though. Some were chatting-Dads urging on their little kids, or just pals having a nice chat among themselves. Then others struggling just to run at all.
And the course was flat. It meandered through woodland and parkland. Really, it was perfect.
I met a couple of ladies there myself. Both, like me, were trying to push themselves on to their very best times. So we egged each other one.
I felt great.Trying to get the balance right though, between feeling great and yet pushing myself harder. And for me, that really is a problem. I suspect I`m too damn lazy for too much pain. But, running with others on a weekly basis might just shame me out of that shortcoming.
Today, was all about getting into park run. And, of course,establishing a baseline time from which to improve.No point in going too fast then, right?
And soon, we were headed for the Finish. I`d been good at practising intervals lately, so I managed an extra kick. Then, I handed in my park run slip, got my place category bar code and left the rest to technology.
The good news is, I`m doing three miles in under thirty minutes. The bad news is, it`s not by a great margin. But it`s a PB for now. And gosh, it`s easy. Up a teeny bit earlier, short drive, half an hour of a run, and I`m done.
This will add a new impetus to my weekly training. Even though I`m lazy, I`m competitive too. If I beat my PB any week, that will be good.
Oh, and the best news is that parkrun is free. Free. That`s because it`s entirely manned by volunteers. It`s an absolute gem of an idea that`s running in several countries now, including Australia, the US and the UK.
I know in Malahide the volunteers are a really friendly bunch who steward, usher, urge and water they three hundred odd running pack with warm smiles and the greatest of patience. Definitely something worth supporting with my own time too.
Shaz and Moorhen, you were both so right, Thank you! I love parkrun.
Can`t wait for next Saturday!