I finally got around to running my first parkrun at the weekend!
Our nearest parkrun is at Birkenhead Park, just a few miles from home here at Hoylake. But as I typically do my (marathon training) long steady run on a Saturday, I’ve never got down to the event. I’ve eased right off the distance stuff since Chester Marathon so it seemed like a good time to give parkrun a bash!
We (me and my better half, Sarah) got to Birkenhead Park at around 8:20am and in plenty of time for the 9am start. It was a bit chilly but it was dry and hardly windy. A bit of a trot to act as a warmup and then we put our jackets in the car and ambled to the start area. I knew Mike, one of the volunteers, and he explained that your parkrun barcode is scanned at the end of the run, not before the start. I hadn’t realised that, as I was under the assumption you had to get it scanned beforehand in order to run. But you don’t get an official finish time unless you have your barcode, so don’t forget it.
The parkrun itself
I’d sort of had a target finish time of sub 21 minutes, maybe even a sub 20, in mind. My train of thought was: 3miles, at 7min pace=21mins plus a bit for the extra .1mile, but I’ll probably go faster than that, so 20-something should be do-able. I wasn’t putting myself under any pressure though as shorter, pacy runs aren’t my usual thing. And I’m not typically at my most supple at 9am.
I mingled near the front of the start line while Sarah stood further back as we were both running our own races. There were about 300 runners taking part this morning. The race director made a brief announcement then it was time for get set, go!
I started off like a loony… way too fast at sub 6min/mile pace (I was wearing my Garmin). So obviously after about 3 minutes my lungs felt like they were going to burst! My pace dropped a bit as I continued the first of the three laps. I did the first mile in 6:14 which is pretty fast going for me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep it at that pace.
Mile 2 and the second lap completed in a slower 6:40 and the final lap completed in 6:44. Then there’s the tenth of mile of do to make it 3.1 miles (5KM) …I upped the pace to the finish line so that was at 6:13/m.
I was handed my finish position token and got it and my bar code scanned. First parkrun done! It was evidently a bit a lung opener for me as I was coughing a bit afterwards. My official finish time was 20:18 so I’ve obviously now set myself a target of sub 20.
I walked back up the course a bit and waited for Sarah to give some encouragement to. Sarah finished in 27:00 and having had an annoying and run-stopping hip niggle for a while she was happy enough with that.
There were runners of all ages and abilities, so definitely register and have a go if you fancy joining in.
After the race you receive an email from parkrun that confirms your finish time and your position within the field. I finished 19th and was 5th in my age category. I achieved an age-graded score of 72.09%, but I’ve not yet looked into how that’s calculated. Here’s the results for the event.
Apparently, my Runbritain rankings are automatically updated with my parkrun finish time on the Tuesday after a Saturday event. As this was my first one, I can’t update my Runbritain profile with my parkrun ID until tomorrow.
I’ll definitely be running future events with an eye on a sub-20 finish time. Maybe not every Saturday due to family life, dog walking, etc but certainly a few. For some future runs I might cycle to Birkenhead Park, run and then ride home. Alternatively, I could jump on the train, get off at the nearest station and jog to the start. Then run the event and to get a few extra miles in, run home. I’ve not plotted a route yet but I guess it’s about a 6 or 7 mile run.