After several weeks of putting it off, the time had come for me to face up to my fears and go back to parkrun - scene of the big fall nearly 6 months ago now. I had considered going to the Cardiff one instead, but I like the route at Newport, and somehow it would have felt disloyal to Lliswerry Runners who organise it to go elsewhere.
So the alarm was set for 7am in order that I could fuel myself with porridge ready for the big event - it doesn't taste any better when its two months past its best before date, but as a humble student I wasn't going to let it go to waste. A tablespoon of sugar eased the discomfort a bit, but I still think its disgusting.
It was a lovely clear morning today, but not too hot, so perfect conditions for a little run. However, going back for the first time was never going to be about whether I could physically run 5km. I know that I am capable of dragging my flabby self around that distance without stopping. The problem was the fears in my head, especially when I thought about the part of the course where I fell, and due to the double lap of the route, I had to run that bit twice.
I was actually quite calm about it all until I pulled into the car park, where I had to fight the urge to drive home again and get back into my warm bed. I think I had probably chosen a good week, as most of the club members that I knew were off an another event, so I was left alone with my thoughts, rather than having to make conversation before the start. I decided that I would just concentrate on getting round, and not worry about the time it was taking me. Summer appears to have brought out a whole lot of new runners; usually I am near the back and after the first 500 metres I am mostly on my own. Today I found myself running with people the whole way, and even managed to overtake three people. It is great to see that parkrun is bringing running to the less athletic in society though - although its good that there is a competitive edge amongst the front runners, most of us will never achieve a sub 20 minute PB, and I personally think that there is much more for the organisers to be proud of when someone new to exercise finishes in 50 minutes, than when the course record is broken.
In the end, it was ok. I was terrified the whole time, and it was probably one of the toughest mental challenges that I have ever faced, but I made it in one piece and even managed a little victorious sprint towards the finish line. I was very pleasantly surprised on receiving my confirmation email to learn that I had smashed my PB for the course by 66 seconds, finishing in 33.55 - faster than I ever thought possible when I started, and creeping closer to the sub 30 minutes that I'm ultimately aiming for.
So all in all not a bad day. Thank you for reading.