Conkers Parkrun #206

If you haven’t heard of Parkrun then you must be living in the ice ages. With over a million zillion free ‘timed 5km runs’ around the world Parkrun has become a bit of a phenomenon amongst Mr Joe Blogs and Mrs Brown.

It’s a Saturday morning, and just like the rest of society I am up doing a ‘Parkrun’ at Conkers in the heart of the National Forest. It’s a long way from home to go for a 5km but it had a purpose, a purpose of being a guinea pig (Squeek squeek) for my friends’ sports massage course. He required a pre and post massage guinea pig and I was it.

It’s still a Saturday morning and unlike the rest of society I am laid on some grass wrapped up in woolies having my legs massaged by friend and massage trainee Simon. It’s cold but fun. I look a plonker but I don’t mind all in the name of helping out friends.

The pre-massage is just a means to warm up the legs, so after 10 minutes Simon is done with me and I am off to warm up. I feel a bit clumsy today as I take on a lap of the surrounding lake. I don’t know what to expect today. 5km PB or just a 5km? Who knows until you start running.

Last time I ran Conkers was some two and a half years ago having notched up my 5km PB at 20.31. At that time there were less than 100 people at the event. Today over 350 runners gathered on the trail around the grounds of Conkers to conker this 1 lap trail / flat Parkrun.

Each step, each run takes me closer to my goal

At 9am sharp we were off. I lined myself up about 3 or 4 deep from the front, eyeing up the sub 20 pacer with his bright yellow vest on. I was hoping! And off the speedy guys went. I gathered pace and ran after the sub 20 guy.

The course is ‘nice’ it is all trail, first heading onto the old disused railway trail path, down a little slope, up a little slope, back round onto the Canal and then re-joining the path some 2 miles later to head back to the finish.

The weather was cold but kind as I tried to race through the path, jumping the puddles and straggling the mud. There weren’t many people around me at all, I was very much running on my own keeping the sub 20 guy in sight at all times. I ran, and ran and ran, my breathing heavy and sticky. I never heard the beep of the first mile go but had a rough idea where it may be, even within a mile I felt like I was struggling and the sub 20 guy was slowly creeping away. I am not fast enough for a sub 20. No way.

A rest bite came as surrounding runners flew down the little ‘hill’. Grainy and traily it was one to watch the footing. A couple of cameras on sight captured the anguish of this little timed 5km run, and friendly marshals shouted out words of encouragement.

Up the little hill I pushed on, my breath even heavier, feeling like I was going to explode. Although this had nothing to do with the game of ‘Conkers’ it was certainty a way of holding onto a thread and striking my foot until I break. I wasn’t even 2 miles in yet.

No, your legs are not that tired, Yes you can breath, keep going

Onto the canal I ran, I didn’t really run on the canal but by the side of it – the footpath although technically ‘off-road’ it wasn’t ‘technical’, just the odd meander to avoid the odd puddle here and there.

Why was I wearing cheap purple cotton shorts along side my pride and joy ‘Ring O’ Fire Ultramarathon’ t-shirt. What a clash of colours, green and purple, what a clash of kit, cheap shorts and a fantastic technical tee – that’s me all over – a clash of running.

Back onto the ‘out and back’ loop and I began to catch up the sub 20 guy but knew I was not running at sub 20 pace as I felt very heavy, however I paced on until I caught him up and with all my might overtook him to run as hard as I could into the finish area.

As it was valentines day I was handed a tube of love hearts – bless Parkrun it loves me although at that point I didn’t love Parkrun as I tried to catch my breath feeling a mess and probably looking a mess.

I refuse to give up on myself

I had come in 19th overall, 2nd Female in a time of 20.33 just 2 seconds off my 5km timed race of over 2 years ago – elevated, disappointed or confused? More the latter as it took me a good 10 minutes to catch my breath. It (the breath) must have run a lot harder / faster than myself for me to take that long to catch it.

That’s me running 5km. I can not say that I enjoyed it but it had a purpose and it is perhaps something I should do more of. However I find it hard and the dyslexic element of me is too lazy to do Parkruns all the time and fight for the odd second here and there. So there.


  • Position: 19 out of 350
  • Gender Postion: 2nd Female
  • Time: 20.33

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