Picture the scene. After a week of feeling tired and generally not 100%, it’s finally Friday evening. A text arrives checking if you’ll be at parkrun the next morning, and you send an affirmative reply (it’s pretty much the only running you do lately). You then get very little sleep and are woken up by your sleep-deprived toddler at 5:45. Your husband has been feeling ill in the night, so you’re on your own.
a) hide under a blanket and concede to watching Peppa Pig all morning
b) get dressed and head out for a buggy parkrun
I’ve been trying to work out why it is that I chose option b. Possibly because I’d told my friend I’d be there. Possibly because parkrun has genuinely been my only exercise lately. Probably because small children are much easier to look after in big outdoor spaces.
Longrun Meadow is one of the few parkruns we’ve been to that don’t tell buggies to start at the back, but we do anyway. There’s a narrow bridge right near the start which is a big enough crush at the best of times. So there’s lots of overtaking to be done.
It started pretty badly as I struggled to get past a few of the groups near the back, meaning my speed fluctuated greatly. Efficient buggy-running is all about momentum, as the hardest thing is getting any kind of speed up. When you’re overtired it’s even more important.
By the end of the first lap I’d overtaken quite a few people, but was also really starting to struggle. Running with a buggy requires running fitness, strength and energy. I had approximately zero of those. And shortly after the 2 mile beep I did something I don’t ever remember doing at Longrun before. I slowed to a walk.
Of course, this then made things harder when I started running again, as it took more effort to get speed up. By the time I got round to the formerly-muddy bit I’d conceded that I would need to walk the entire bark section, saving what little energy I had for the better path that lay ahead.
As we left the muddy bit, I told my daughter that I was sorry for walking so much, and that I’d get her back as fast as I could. This little voice replied “Doesn’t matter”.
Better ground and friendly faces got me round to the end. Glances at my watch as I’d been going along had prepared me for what I’d see just after the finish. I had completely smashed my worst Longrun Meadow time.
At the time of writing this, I don’t know my official time (my barcode didn’t scan correctly so I’m waiting to be added to the results), but I think it will be merely seconds quicker than my slowest ever parkrun (which was my first post-natal 5k). So just a course PW then.
But you know what, it doesn’t matter.