Digested read: made it out to parkrun, not my most enthusiastic running outing, but I like to think I showed willing. Then post parkrun breakfast and running endorphins did their thing and now who knows what running horrors I may have unwittingly signed up to for 2018?
I’ve been a bit of a lard-arse since the 12.12 if truth be told. Tourism at Bushy parkrun last week was my first run in weeks, and then last weekend it was back to my home patch at Sheffield Hallam parkrun. I was present more in body than in mind, some might have applied the word ‘begrudgingly’ to my demeanour and I’d have to concede they would have done so fairly, but in my defence it was a wet one, and being physically present is at least a start. I’m still lapping my other self in a parallel (possibly more comfy cosy) universe, who rolled over when the alarm went off and stayed in bed. They also got to listen to Saturday Live, can’t remember when I last got to do that… What might have been eh, sigh.
By way of illustration, Here is the parkrun assembly of 9th September (thanks George Carman). As a fun rainy day activity, why not have a sit down and squint at the photo and see how many gritted teeth you can count and how many waterproofs there are in evidence. The results are an indication of how much fun was expected to unfold. Clue, the higher those numbers, the lower the fun quotient. You can disregard the people in shorts, there’s always a few, and they are statistical outliers which might compromise your findings. It is a great testament to the
cult lure of parkrun that I’ll even turn out for it in the rain. How did that happen?
I would have happily run the whole thing in my pink coat were it not that I live in mortal fear of being seen by my cheetah buddy who (rightly) always wrestles me out of what she considers to be excess clothing if I appear to be sporting too many layers pre-run. Heaven help me should she catche me waivering at the start in my duffel coat. Honestly, the fantasies I’ve had about being allowed to run in a parka in our inclement weather – and I don’t even own one, but it’s just too high risk… She wasn’t even there today, but her eyes are everywhere, she’d find out, it’s not worth it. Others had great running gear options, I could only look on in envy and admiration, loving this powder blue offering, wonder if I could smuggle that through my next kit inspection?
As you can tell, I wasn’t feeling the lurve in advance to be honest, but I did stomp down and as always je ne regrette rien. The first truism is that running with others does really help to motivate you. I most definitely wouldn’t spontaneously have heave hoed out of bed and gone for a run in the pouring rain on a Saturday morning if it was just down to me. Knowing that others will have turned out too, and they might be a breakfast buddy or at least some good anecdotes around to be harvested is a powerful incentive to get down to Endcliffe park. It’s only about an hour out in the rain tops. That’s probably not going to hurt. Running in the rain can even be fun if you surrender to it, well, so goes the theory. Personally I think it depends. If you are interested, I do have extensive (unsubstantiated) theories on this topic, but one criteria is I don’t mind at all getting wet once I’m running, it can be exciting and invigorating – but I really hate starting out in a downpour. It feels wrong. Puddle splashing, that’s fun, but best out on the moors as that’s also what fell shoes were made for, puddle splashing on tarmac, not so much. I probably should draw up a chart someday if there’s enough interest. Lucy’s acceptability of inclement weather in which to run scale. That trips of the tongue nicely does it not? I wonder if I could get some made up in time for the Christmas market. The gift for the runner who has everything apart from friends able to choose winterval presents with care. It could be a goer. There must be loads of people like that.
Back to parkrun. It was so inspiring. In general it always it, but on this day there was extra cause for amazement at the tenacity of others. There were the cardiac athletes out in force to mark a fellow parkrunners 250th milestone, who discovered Sheffield Hallam parkrun post a heart-attack six years ago. Two hundred and fiftieth parkrun people, that’s pretty good! Also, a runner who always has a smile, which is more than I do when I’m running. Go cardiac runners! The outfits are pretty cool too, maybe not ones you’d proactively want to qualify for, but you get my drift.
Then there were the hi-viz heroes having a lovely time (not) standing around in the pouring rain, sheltering hopelessly behind the rubbish bins as they waited for runners to do their stuff. If it is true that running in the rain just makes you even more hard-core in your endeavours, it’s truer in spade loads for volunteers. I love them all. Congratulations to our special centenarian volunteer today. Yay. That’s quite some service to parkrun over the years. Volunteering is (mostly) fun, even if granted on this occassion the body language of some in the photo screams more ‘community service conscript’ than ‘enthusiastic parkrun marshal’ but that is why they need our approval and adulation more than ever. Don’t forget to thank them as you speed by. A wave will do if you are too breathless to speak. Thank you for turning out hi-viz heroes. You are stars!
By the way, there was a bit of a shortage of hi-viz heroes today, if you haven’t volunteered before have a go – email or get in touch with the run team via facebook maybe. They will love you for it, you will get adulation from runners and a lot of laughs on the day too. Go on you know you want to…
There was the joy on the faces of the other runners, though possibly a bit less of the euphoria of running expressed on my own grumpy visage. I wasn’t going to put this shot up as I do have some sharing limits – although granted the boundaries of these may not always be clear – and then I thought, since it does indeed accurately reflect exactly how much fun I was having at the time, and exactly how much effort I was willing to put in to get around too, maybe it will help motivate me bizarrely. I mean I still did it. With very bad grace apparently, but I did it nevertheless! It shows parkrun is inclusive. The camera never lies, unfortunately. I am barely moving, no wonder it felt like a slow one…
The thing is, although I didn’t enjoy that parkrun at all at the time, my body protested the whole way round. As with childbirth I imagine, once it’s all over, you completely forget the indignity and pain of the whole thing. I was perked up immensely by the presence of parkrunners proffering cake and carbs in various forms by way of milestone celebrations as soon as I was spat out the finish funnel.
That, and hearing about the stories and adventures of others including the VI runner also on a 50th milestone run in the rain, and I couldn’t help but just feel privileged to be part of this extraordinary collective enterprise that is parkrun. I do declare, it is hard to remember a time pre-parkrun these days, in all seriousness I think it has a cultural significance that is hard to explain or quantify. My entire social circle seems to rotate around parkrun, and that’s my way in to new places too, no weekend away would be complete without clocking up a new or nearest parkrun venue. Who’d have thought it? As if to reinforce the point pre this run I met a woman in the loo (outside the cubicle, we weren’t sharing) who was checking out the local parkrun pre attending a university open day with one of her offspring. Quite right too. I’ve noticed a local estate agent (ELR) has taken to describing houses in terms of their parkrun proximity to Endcliffe park in the following terms:
Nethergreen offers a diverse lifestyle: weekends and evenings can be spent in any number of restaurants, wine bars and pubs or perhaps reading a book in the excellent local café is preferred … Perhaps instead a stroll through the picturesque Bingham Park which acts as the gateway to Porter Clough and the stunning surrounding countryside is more your thing, or for the more fitness minded individuals even one of the various exercise classes on offer in Endcliffe Park including the popular Saturday morning park run may fit the bill.
Mind you, can’t help but notice this particular estate agent didn’t get the memo about how to write parkrun properly #aowalc – All one word, all lower case. It’s parkrun. Not Parkrun, ParkRun, Park Run as the parkrun tourist jargon buster makes explicit. I would tell them, but I’m too chuffed about being labelled as a ‘fitness-minded individual’ to want to rock that particular boat. Little must P S-H have anticipated how his project would grow to become an influencing factor for potential house buyers but hey, those estate agents have a point. Realistically, how far away from your nearest parkrun fix would be acceptable to you if you were seeking to relocate? Exactly. I rest my case.
Then, also at the end, I found despite my initial fears, there were actually potential post-parkrun breakfast buddies on hand. One thing led to another. We were soon ensconced in a cafe, sharing nostalgic running anecdotes, romanticising training runs out on the hills, bashing through heather and breathing in the views. The misery of a wet and cold parkrun long forgotten. Worse yet, we had bigger collective running memories to distort.
Wasn’t Dig Deep 12.12 fun? Wasn’t the training awesome? Wouldn’t it be great to do it all again? How amazing if we did the ultra? Imagine that! Do you think we could do an ultra? Maybe we could if we trained. Shall we train? We could just recce it – use it as a way to explore the peaks? Well if we recce the route, we might as well run it? It’s only an intro ultra, just a teensy bit more than a marathon and loads of first timers do that! If we don’t try, we’ll never know. … So it went on. Post running euhporia you see. They call it that, but I am starting to wonder if it’s just a form of temporary psychosis brought about by post-running oxygen deficiency, like people get at altitude. We should just be grateful hypothermia didn’t set in too, or we’d have started taking our clothes off. We could have found ourselves block entering the naked running international series, and the photos from that would be really bad! Though on the plus side, such an approach would surely put an end to chafing injuries… I don’t know where they pin their numbers though.
In any event, the upshot is that I have a terrible feeling I may have inadvertantly entered some sort of impossible-to-extract-myself-from pact to aim for entering the intro ultra in the Peaks next year. Eek. I mean I’d love to have a crack at it, but really, is it wise? It’s far enough away that I can choose to deny it for a while at least, but sooner or later I’m going to have to buckle down, and set out some sort of training plan, otherwise there is zero chance of making it so. Wouldn’t want to disappoint. Gotta have a plan, or it’ll never happen. I’d like to have done it, but that post-run euphoria will only come about if I train and enter. Scary stuff. After some toing and froing, I think I’m more in that not. My running buddy (12.12 graduate from this year too) and I are also scheming to drag other into the frame too. The more the merrier. Sometimes just the act of committing is enough to start a veritable tide of ‘what the hellers’ and very welcome they are too. We can indeed ‘make it so’
or die trying.
The thing is, everything running-related I’ve ever done has seemed impossible to me until I’ve done it. Of course on the one hand it’s ludicrous to even think of such a challenge when I could barely get around 3 miles on a wet saturday morning, on the other. Well, you won’t know if you don’t try. The 12.12 was impossible the day before as well as the day after too to be fair, but it still happened. Apparently, and amazingly. However, it wont happen unless I get off my arse and put in some miles and some training. Curses. It’s hard this running malarkey. But worth it in the end. Meantime, if I’m going to get the training in, I’ve got to learn to embrace running in the rain.
Not sure I’ll be able to multi-task and sing as well as run in the rain. I can’t talk and run, let alone sing! Probably a blessing for everyone around me.
So how about you? Are you going to keep on embracing parkrun and set a Spring goal too. Oh go on. The more the merrier, you wouldn’t want to miss out would you? That really is a terrible thing, way worse than having to make yourself go for a training run when it’s cold and dark and wet. Truly. 🙂 If you don’t fancy a running goal, how about a volunteering one. 2018 could bring new opportunities to us all.
Aah go on.. channel you inner Mrs Doyle, you know you want to!
For all my parkrun related posts see here – scroll down for older entries.
For Sheffield Hallam parkrun seventh birthday post see here.
For all Sheffield Hallam parkrun posts see here scroll down for older entries.