My name is Margaret Treanor, I did my first parkrun (or strictly speaking park walk) in November 2016, the welcome and encouragement for walkers was great and very quickly I started volunteering as a tail walker, might as well I thought as we were always near the end anyway. I enjoyed my walk and my sister in-law and I chatted to all sorts of people, all walking for a variety of reasons mostly to improve physical or mental health or during recovery from an illness.
It was around this time I start to get concerned about my own health, I occasionally had a tremor in my left-hand, my fine motor skills were not good and whilst walking at parkrun I found my left arm did not swing automatically and my left leg got very heavy like I was carrying a wooden leg. I kept walking and always admired all the runners, some I knew were much older than me, but I thought good for them, but I am content with walking, too late for me to start running I thought.
In August 2016 I was diagnosed with Parkinson Disease, no great shock I had suspected for a long time and having read so much on google I was just glad it was not something worse. On the advice of my Consultant I carried on walking as much as possible and was grateful for the parkrun because you didn’t need to rely on anyone you could just go along and always feel welcome.
All my research into Parkinsons told me that there was strong evidence to suggest that vigorous exercise slowed the progress of Parkinsons, I needed to do something more, I was only 58 and wanted a few more healthy years. My daughter had done Jog Belfast in 2016 and encouraged me to give it a go, reassuring me I would not be the oldest or the slowest. I joined Jog Belfast at the Girls Model on 23 April 2018, what an experience I amazed my self each week with my progress, I had a few aches and pains in the early days but was sensible and always heeded the advice from the wonderful coaches from the North Belfast Harriers. To supplement my 2 nights at Jog Belfast I used a couch to 5k app on my now parkrun/walk. I graduated at the parkrun on 23 June 2018, it was a tremendous feeling that I could run for 3.1 miles (5k) (sorry I still think in miles). I completed my 50th recorded Parkrun on 29th September albeit I walked the first 35 but I still get my free t-shirt lol.
I am running 2-3 times per week now, have improved my time but I’m never going to be the fastest 59-year-old runner. I am just happy to keep doing what I am doing and accepting that I will have good runs and bad runs depending on my condition. Despite my condition I am fitter than I have ever been and it’s all thanks to the parkrun, Jog Belfast and the volunteers from North Belfast Harriers. Give the parkrun ago you never know how far you might go.