Parkrun, (or rather, Parkwalk)
I am not a runner. I'm going to start with that. In the interest of complete honesty, I am not a runner, never have been, probably never will be.
The husband is a runner. All elbows and knees, long limbs and lean muscle. Lightweight and quick.
I am not. At almost 6ft I am tall, but not elegant. Quite the reverse, I am clumsy, badly coordinated and all boobs, bum and tum.
I do, however, dabble in the odd Parkrun from time to time. I like Parkrun, or, more accurately, I don't hate it. Today was the first day I got up and did it on my own, with intent, since The Boy appeared.
I never enjoy the start really. Today I jumped the gun a bit, which is fine because I always start at the back anyway so by the time I got to the start the rest were already moving. I soon fell into my usual rhythm. Timing my steps with my breathing, which was hard and heavy almost as soon as I got moving. I am out of shape. I keep out of the way of the faster runners as much as I can.
I am lapped close to the end of the first lap, which is normal, and as I pass the start finish line to begin lap two I think 'please don't notice me please don't say anything to me...' Pretty early on in the event a dog walker had shouted at me;
"You're actually supposed to run, love!"
In my defence, I was going faster then him, and I already know I look ridiculous. Bright purple and sweating, I am busting out of my pre-baby sports clothes and my breasts hurt in a pre-baby sports bra that is way too small for me. I am wondering if I have weed myself a bit, but it has rained, so it might be just that. I have stitch, I feel a bit sick and I have a blister coming. My skin is doing that it's-cold-outside-but-you-are-a-bit-hot-and-sweaty itchy thing. But he's right, I am not running. I do a fast walk-shuffle thing which is definitely not running. Don't get me wrong, though, it's still really hard work. I am not slacking. And now I am hoping that, as I pass the finish line to do the last lap, no one actually notices me.
This next bit is the bit of the run that I quite like. I am not being lapped anymore and the field has stretched out so there is less pressure, less people likely to overtake. I already look awful so I am unlikely to look any worse. I know each section I complete is the last time I have to do it. No one can hear me panting or see my top riding up because we are too spaced out or too wrapped up in their own little world of pain back here to notice. I don't have to compete. But that dosen't mean I back off. I still have the toughest trainer I know driving me on-me. I'm no athlete but my expectations of me are high.
There are two ladies in front of me who are hardly breaking a sweat. They are doing the whole run-walk thing. One is wearing a handbag. They make me feel inadequate. I have to have a word with myself about this. They probably didn't have a baby 4 months ago, I tell myself.
Still, here I am. Half the battle is already won. It's 9.30am and I am already half way round. I got out of bed and left my little family and came. In the rain. It dosen't matter really who I go faster then or how done-in I look, I just need to get round. The people who organise Parkrun are supportive despite how slow I am. They don't mind that I am always nearly last. Someone has to be. One of the regulars says 'go on girl' as I shuffle past him. The marshals shout encouragement or call out my time even though I am clearly too slow to worry too much about times.
Thing is though, I do. I like getting my email telling me my time. I like looking at my previous times and making improvements. Even though they don't matter. Even though they are only small. Even though I am still slow. If it wasn't for Parkrun I probably wouldn't bother too much with my times, but it is kinda cool knowing.
Maybe another week I will be able to shuffle a little faster. Even run, maybe. Just for a bit, you never know.