“Oh and remember it’s 2 laps”
The Run Director was finishing announcing the instructions to the newbies and Park Run tourists (those who go round different locations to complete different Park Runs).
“You’ll have enjoyed it so much the first time that you’ll want to do it again!”
Us regulars sniggered at this comment. She was trying to make a joke about the long steady uphill section that no-one enjoys.
“3, 2, 1, GO!” she shouted through the megaphone.
Almost 100 runners of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities set off.
It was a bit of a strange sensation – the prickle of cold air on my bare skin yet feeling rather warm on the inside. It still isn’t cold enough for long sleeves and legs but autumn is definitely beginning to make itself felt.
The downhill allows me to build momentum and gain a little speed. I know I have to be breathing hard if I want a good time.
The burnt out car is still languishing on the bottom field; police tape long blown into the nearby hedge. I wonder when it will get removed as this is the third week I’ve passed it.
My mind flits from one thought to another and I remind myself to be present again; to enjoy the moment. I notice the clear blue sky, warm sunshine, birds singing and the bright orange berries of the pyrocantha.
The dreaded hill approaches. I actually don’t mind it so much now. I’ve learned to dig in and know it’s a good opportunity to overtake those who stop and walk. My dad gave me a tip years ago – look down at the ground on the steep sections as it makes it look flatter.
Another tip I learned from Lucy Ascham is to remember the Alexander Technique principles of ‘my neck is free, my spine is long and my back is broad’. This somehow improves my posture and makes my step feel lighter.
It gives me a little boost to hear the shouts of encouragement from the volunteers as I pass the end of the first lap.
The usual guy is sitting on the bench like it’s his sofa; speaking in a foreign tongue to someone on the other end of his mobile phone. This week he’s wearing a woolly hat – a sign that the weather is getting cooler.
A young lad joins me for a short while and I congratulate his progress. He asks me ‘do you sprint?’ I laugh and say ‘only at the end!’ ‘Yeah, me too’ he replied.
Turning the last bend in the path triggers my turbo charge switch. Suddenly my legs start pumping faster, my arms swing more vigorously and I go full pelt. Crossing the finish line my lungs are burning and cheeks are glowing. Today is my 149th Park Run. It was a good run and a good time. Not quite where I want to be yet but heading in the right direction.