Thank you Hilly Fields parkrun, Janathon, Jantastic

Oh my, Elizabeth Fry!

Today, I really didn’t fancy running. I put my clothes out last night and my beloved put them away thinking I wasn’t running until Tuesday. I got to work and my running colleague, D, said she’ll run tomorrow instead of today. At least she went out running on Saturday, so she’s building up her schedule. Then I was stuck in my big project, letting my mood slip as I’m alone in my office today. I was finding reasons not to go. Put it off to tomorrow. Or the next day. And then the schedule collapses. 

I took a few breaths. Stepped out of my day. Listened to my thoughts. Noticed them. Noticed that they’re thoughts, not facts. 

Some more breaths. Letting the thoughts go. Finding some facts. I’ve got a schedule. I need a break. I’ll feel better afterwards. I can have a slow plod if that’s how I feel. 

I took my phone, started the Endomondo app from the top of our steps, walked the few yards to the street and set off. I was feeling okay. Had to dodge a few people. At a roundabout I had to wait for a car to pass. The driver acknowledged me. Another runner, noticing I had broken my stride? At the building site a chap standing chatting on the pavement stepped out of my way. Through the park. Out of the park, across the zebra at Grove Road. Back into the park. Noticing other runners, walkers and cyclists. Smiling to a few. It feels almost as good as last Thursday, when my colleague S and I hit 8:34 in our first mile, then slowed it a bit out the back. 

The voice of Endomondo calls out the first mile. 8 minutes, 11 seconds. 

8 minutes 11 seconds! I’ve never knowingly hit this pace before. I’m doing the sums, Two miles in 16:22, three miles in 24:33. Plus a bit more to finish off the 5k. My fastest parkrun is 25:07. This is could be the same pace. 

Of course, now I’m on something akin to record pace my body starts complaining. My shins start to feel tight. My mind knows that when I run with colleagues we’re on the track but today I’m on the path. My knees are complaining. Is my shoe lace coming loose? It’s mind games. I’m stronger than this. 

Being Victoria Park, I can see the pub that roughly marks the 2 mile spot. It’s miles away. I settle again. On the far east side of the park. Up ahead are some chaps with leaf blowing machines. Whatever happened to rakes? And a tractor. A 13-plate, I notice as I get close. It’s blue so I assume it’s Ford but it’s not, it’s New Holland. Past the men with their blowers. Past their Ford Transit truck. 

Around the corner. My shoe lace is undone. Bother it. I stop and tie it up, another double knot. Will I lose my time now? I recall my slow start from the steps. I’m doing okay. Sweat in my eyes. Seem to see a lot of women with babies along this stretch. And a chap with a baby. From now on I wonder with each runner if we’ve passed each other already. 

Endomondo woman announces the second mile. Seven minutes thirty seconds. Two miles in 15:41. Oh my, Elizabeth Fry! I’ve gone faster than the first mile! I’m tiring though. I tell myself it’s okay, even if I ran the next mile at 10 minutes a mile it will be respectable. 

The north side of Victoria Park, parallel with Victoria Park Road goes on forever. You just have to keep going. Eventually you get round. Keep going, I tell myself. When I notice my pace falling I encourage myself on. 

Back to Grove Road. Over the zebra. Into the next stretch. The section that we sometimes think is the last but it isn’t. There’s another divider to go. 

At last, the back bend, the furthest west section of the park. I almost get entangled by a dog walker. One with about seven or eight dogs on leads. Round the final big bend. Another runner just ahead of me. I use him to pace myself, he’s going faster than I’d like to be going but I’m nearly home. 

Endomondo woman again. Seven minutes fifty-three. Three miles in 23:34. I’ve never done this before. I pass the runner I was pacing with, sprinting as hard as I can to the gate. But it isn’t over at the gate. I’m fiddling with my pocket as I run, to get my phone out, to open it up, be back at the pause button. It’s a 90-degree corner and onto the bridge. I begin to slow as I’m onto the gate. Remind myself to push. Last few strides. Over the (imaginary) line. I lose a few more seconds fumbling with my phone. 

Finally: 24:27. I’ve done it. I’ve broken my record. Broken? More like smashed it. I look at the time again. I’ve ripped 40 seconds off my best parkrun time. No hills, but still. 

I walk back to the office, triumphant. 

As I walk I’m thinking of my friend David, who demolished my reasons for not running and guided me through my first eight months of running. And it was David who first told me about parkrun. I’m thinking of the my friends Mike, Stefan, Chris and Mark who have all run parkrun with me. I’m thinking of the Hilly Fields parkrun community. And my colleagues who run at lunchtime. I’m thanking the Jantastic crew and the Janathon bloggers. And my mindfulness group. Because it’s good to have goals and it’s great to find old friends and new inspiration. And my beloved and Junior. I’m thanking you all as I walk. 

Finally, I’m thanking me. Because I did it. And I can do it again.

Stats so far today: 6,441 steps. 5.3km run. 

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