Six days til Royal Parks – bugger me that’s gone quickly. Last Sunday I did my last long run, and then started getting a bit restless, which wasn’t helped by the fact I did precisely no exercise all week. I had good intentions, all scuppered by textbook examples of how not to run, such as getting changed and then realising I’d forgotten my sports bra, or just sitting on the sofa and going “Ooh, I quite fancy watching Bake-Off with a San Miguel.”
So as compensation this weekend I did my first parkrun. Park Run, or parkrun, or park run, or whatever the formatting is, is a free-to-enter 5km run organised by volunteers each Saturday in parks around the world. I’ve had the barcodes in my wallet for months.
I timed it pretty well as it turned out to be Burgess Park parkrun’s first anniversary. I don’t believe in fate, but as I do have a socking great weakness for coincidence it made the day feel jolly special, not least because BP holds some good memories.I spent 18 months living in a colossal marzipan townhouse on Trafalgar Avenue with my brother before he emigrated. It was where I was walking, in a slough of post-Job Centre despond, when I got the call asking me to come and work at The Times. And it’s where I started running at the start of this year AND YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENED THEN.
It had to be Burgess Park for all these reasons, but also because whenever I’ve crossed Brockwell Park’s parkrun on one of my morning lollops, it’s been filled with people who appear to have been entirely hewn from rock.
I ran off in the direction of Albany Road feeling comfortably like a smug prick in lycra. I arrived sweating like a sad pig. “Ooh, you look like you’ve already been running,” said another first-timer. “Phaaaar,” I replied, intelligently.
I have got used to running quite far, quite slowly, but 5ks are fast. They’re the sports day of unpleasant physical activity and oh God I can’t do fast. I duly set off at a near sprint, and got a stitch after about 10 minutes. I didn’t stop, but at one point it looked as though I was going to get overtaken by a duck.
I finished in 29.33 which I was very happy with, and then we all had cake and coffee and cava, because they’re frankly light years better than Lucozade. Someone had made a cake!
I bumped into someone from – I think – that running club I went to once, who was very sweet, and also met a girl who was beside herself with joy at having run it in under 25 minutes. “I was at 30 last year!” So maybe next year that’ll be me.
The rest of the week, I’ve got to do two three mile runs (“the work is in the barn, slow and relaxed” WTF Runkeeper?), and then it’s a 15 minute amble on Saturday before the actual run on Sunday. I’ve bought myself some new shorts in preparation. I can’t wait. I have literally no idea who I am anymore.