I took part in the inaugural Edinburgh parkrun on Saturday, an event that was special in very many ways. The weather was absolutely perfect, the course was beautifully flat, it was exceptionally well organised, there was a huge turnout, I got a new 5k PB, and – best of all – it really felt like parkrun had properly arrived in Scotland.
It did require rather an early start to get over (never popular in our household), not least because I wanted to have a chat with the guys who were behind the event. I was also determined to keep my distance from them when things were getting under way, I know all too well how busy it can be being in charge of a parkrun event, and how much more stressful it can feel when it’s the first, and distractions don’t help.
Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the man who started parkrun five years ago, was along, so it was great to have an opportunity to have the first of many catch-up chats with him whilst we waited for the event to get underway. Sadly my warmup wasn’t quite as long as it should have been, but I was keen to join the start crowd for the announcements, and quite touched to get a mention in their acknowledgements.
I was feeling good for a PB, having been pushing myself in training recently, and am feeling increasingly comfortable running with the fastest group in my training set. The last 12-18 months have felt a bit ‘flat’ on PB’s. My 5k hasn’t improved at all, and my 10k has just settled into the low 44’s. Perhaps half-marathon and marathon training have taken a bit of the focus away, but mostly I think I’ve settled into a comfort zone and have been reluctant to push myself a bit harder, so I was feeling it was time to try that little bit harder, on a course that was conducive to a PB.
I set off and settled into what felt like a comfortable pace. It’s an out and back course, so great for being able to mentally break up the sections even without a GPS device giving me splits. There were also km markers at this first event, which was helpful to be able to lock on to targets. I was delighted to get a 3:57 split for the first km, but conscious that was perhaps a bit optimistic to maintain, so eased off slightly for the next km, which I managed in 4:10. A tough session on Wednesday ensured my mind was in the right place: I knew I could maintain this sort of pace for over 5k, all be it with recovery breaks, so it was all mind over body.
The half way point was naturally enough the turn back point, which is an immense boost; Really enables you to focus on the work ahead, and keep the effort up. My 3k split was 4:12, so pace was looking consistent, as I focused on what I find the toughest section of the race – the 3-4km where you’re really beginning to feel things, and need to dig in and battle those demons niggling away. 4km went by at 4:18, so slightly down, but easy now to focus on the end: It was in sight! A few supporters in the last stretch said I didn’t look like I was working too hard, but I knew I was, and somehow managed to find a tiny bit extra to cross the line with a 4:08 split, and a 20:43 overall time, a PB by 16 seconds from over a year ago, and the first PB of any sort for quite a while.
I’ve always felt it’s important not to push so hard that you’re sick at the end: I’m determined to enjoy my running first and foremost, times come after that! This time I pushed it a bit harder than I had done before, and kept my dignity (just!), and even remembered to take a token at the end of the funnel (the shame I’d have felt if I’d forgotten!).
Naturally chuffed to find myself with a spangly new PB, and feel there’s much more to come where that came from. I’ve a real sense of determination to push my times, particularly in the short-medium distance events, over the next six months, and a sub-20 5k and a low-40’s 10k time feels like it’s not all that ridiculous now.
The post-run parkrun chat went on for a long time – we finally headed back towards Glasgow around 2pm, having stayed for coffee and cake whilst the Edinburgh team did their results, and discussing various parkrun plans and ideas. The Edinburgh team did spectacularly well, and blew apart the first-event attendance record, with 204 participants. With Glasgow parkrun having 193 runners, that meant that almost 400 runners were taking part in parkrun events in Scotland on Saturday.
Huge congratulations to the Edinburgh team for staging a great event on Saturday, the first of many. And as the awareness of parkrun continues to grow in Scotland, we’ll surely see more events starting wherever there are determined individuals who fancy stepping up to make it happen. Sterling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness are surely only a matter of time. Perhaps even a second event in Glasgow before too long (largely we just need an event director who wants to drive it forward). With coverage such as this piece in the Sunday Herald featuring parkrun rather prominently, awareness is growing all the time 🙂