What could be better, on a lovely sunny Saturday morning, than to run, jog or walk around our beautiful parkun course at Blickling. Apart from doing the First Timers' Brief and putting out a few route signs, I had the opportunity to join 373 of you on your many different sorts of parkrun journey on Saturday.
The event starts, as usual, at the bottom of 'the hill that becomes a mountain'. Anyone who has run that slope the two times required will know exactly what I mean by that. I have learnt over the years that to have a good run it's best to take it easy up that slope, as you run (no pun intended) the risk of deadening your legs with lactate. So off we headed, all ages, all different sizes, but with one purpose - to enjoy the parkrun experience.
I wasn't expecting much out of my run as I had had problems with injury over the last few weeks and wasn't at my best, but what the hell. Even taking it easy up the hill I was struggling by the time it flattened out and headed towards the Mausoleum. Attempting to practice what I preach, I tried to get my breathing in sync with my pacing, relax my shoulders and concentrating on the rhythm of my running. It did help that the course flattens out for a fair distance until the downhill slope towards the finish.
Pushing on past the start on the 'second lap' I dug deep and tried to keep to my planned pace, I was trying to keep to 8 minute miles, to get round in about 25 minutes. I dropped about 10 seconds off that pace, but was content enough with that. What was really pleasing at this stage of the run was that, whether I was being overtaken, or passing a parkrunner, words of encouragement both ways were often and sincere. I just love the parkrun family.
Passing the last marshal, never forgetting to say thank you for their volunteering, I kept on driving forward before letting gravity do its work on the final downhill slope to the welcoming finish funnel. Many parkrunners tell me, and I agree with them, that the best bit of the parkrun experience is meeting up everybody just after the finish and just chatting about how things have gone.
Whether you've whizzed around in sub 18 minutes, or jeffed* (jeffing is a combination of walking/jogging/running invented by a bloke called Jeff) the course in 45+ minutes, what you have all achieved is getting around a 5 kilometre course by your best efforts. I recall the great Sir Mo, when congratulated on a recent marathon success, saying that he was amazed that some runners had managed to keep going for up to 6 hours, whilst he had spent a little over two hours doing the same thing. For me it puts it all into perspective.