Did it! My first parkrun of 2019.

Multiple queues of people in the funnel at Southampton parkrun

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about people taking part in RED January whereby they take part in exercise every day to improve their mental health (amongst other benefits). I would have been interested in taking part, but I’ve really not been well enough to exercise so far in January (and haven’t even managed to walk 5000 steps most days).

The last parkrun that I did was on Christmas Day, which turned out to be a mistake as I definitely wasn’t well enough to run. I paid for expending too much energy and was lethargic for the rest of the week.

Anyway, I’m now starting to feel a lot better (although I’m still deaf in one ear and have limited hearing in the other), so I was eager to take part in Southampton parkrun. However, I was also filled with trepidation. Would I be able to run the whole thing? Would I be able to run at all?!

I posted my intentions on Facebook and received a much needed boost from friends who encouraged me to come along.

Big girl pants

M has suddenly decided that she wants to wear ‘big girl pants’, so potty training is in full force. That necessitated an extra early morning wake up, which felt like the middle of the night. I definitely needed to put on my ‘big girl pants’ to get out of bed!

We arrived at The Common just after 8:30am. M had a potty break in the car and then we all walked to the start, where M spent another 5 minutes on her potty before getting into the buggy. She was also busy looking for my friend Rachel’s son and kept asking “Where is he? Is he hiding?” I was also wathcing out for friends.

An enormous crowd

We could see from the size of the crowd that it was likely to be a record-breaking event. I have to admit that although Southampton parkrun has a special place in my heart, I do wish there were two or three other suitable venues within the city as I think we’ve outgrown the space.

It’s not far to Eastleigh parkrun, but that’s all on grass and is often waterlogged. Likewise, Netley Abbey parkrun is lovely, but it’s either a long drive or a toll bridge away. (Pre-M, I’d have happily run or cycled there, but they’re not easy options any more).

There are plans afoot for another couple of parkruns in the local area, but I don’t think either of them would be close enough to regularly lure parkrunners away from Southampton.

Stu and I made our way onto the path. As it was so crowded, Stu said that he’d be happy to run with me. That was both a positive and a negative. It’s nice to have someone to talk to, but I knew that Stu would gently push me and not let me walk!

Motivation from friends

We’d not gone far when I hear a familiar voice say hello. I looked around and saw Clare, who was part of our Thunder Run team last summer. I’ve known Clare for a long time. She has a son at college who is a fantastic runner and I often think back to when he was primary school age and I was able to run with him at Eastleigh parkrun. Clare is also a great runner and a brilliant role model for other runners.

Clare said that she was going to run with Stu and me, I which gave me a much-needed boost… as well as a bit of pressure not to stop and walk. She explained that she is currently doing Pilates via Yoopod. I’m interested in trying it out as I need to find ways of adding more exercise into my week. Have you tried it? What do you think?

Getting harder

At one point we passed Cary who was pacing 33 minutes. She was a bit concerned as her watch was playing up. We pointed out that our average pace was 6:30/km, which works out at 32:30 over 5km, so she was pretty much on track.

I found the second time that we ran towards the crossroads quite challenging. My lungs have definitely not been tested recently. When we finally got to the top of the hill, I took M’s buggy from Stu. It gave me something to lean against on the way downhill!

Long finish funnel

Finally, we were onto The Flats. We could already see multiple queues in the funnel.

4 queues of runners in the funnel at Southampton parkrun.
The finish funnel at Southampton parkrun. ©Chris Brown

I kept pushing, surprised at how well I was doing in comparison to how I thought I would do.

We crossed the finish line and then jogged another 10m to join the end of a new queue in the funnel. I was pleasantly surprised by how briskly the queue was moving. My friend Sarah was on finish tokens and her fingers were moving a lightning speed to dish the tokens out… although later a revised system had to be put into place as the team ran out of tokens! Luckily, more are on order and should arrive soon.

Persil #DirtIsGood

As Persil reps at Southampton parkrun, we were given some free Persil tabs. I think the reps were surprised by the number of runners, so they had run out of samples by the time we joined the queue. Quite a few people walked away, so when more supplies arrived, we were allowed two packets each. Score! 32 Persil tabs in a week when I’ve done more laundry than ever before 🙂

The results

After we got home, we received the results texts and emails.

Tamsyn's result from Southampton parkrun on 12/01/19: 31:11.

I was impressed by the accuracy of today’s results. My finish time of 31:11 was exactly the same as the time I had on my Garmin. In the pre-run briefing Southampton ED, Rob Kelly, explained about the importance of remaining in the finish funnel and collecting a token as there have been a lot of funnel duckers recently… but there was a lot of chatter, so plenty of people probably didn’t hear.

There were 1295 finishers, which is a huge record for Southampton parkrun. I saw that Bushy parkrun had over 1600, but it has cemented Southampton position as the 2nd largest parkrun in the country. I’m even more surprised that the tailwalker finished in 53:49. I assumed that they would take over an hour as there were a lot of first timers.

I’m so pleased that we made it to Southampton today and that I was able to set a benchmark. My goal for next week is sub 31 and to keep chipping away at my time.

Did you parkrun this week? Have you set yourself any parkrun-related goals this year?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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