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Small Steps, Big Achievement. My First Parkrun.

I felt like I’d won an Olympic medal, well almost!


I believe anyone can get that feeling – you just have to achieve something you didn’t think you could do. It happened to me on Saturday when I completed my first Parkrun (or, in my case, Parkwalk).


Thousands of people will also have completed a Parkrun, and I hope they feel as proud of themselves as I do. I completed the 5K in a fabulous 1 hour and 2 minutes. The winner today at Rickmansworth Aquadrome finished in 17 minutes, I witnessed him flying past me on his second lap while I was a few hundred yards past the start flag.


About four years ago I was diagnosed with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS). If I didn’t have MS I would have been playing in a hockey match, or possibly tennis, but when you start tripping over grains of sand on the astro , you know it's time to stop. The rest of my family are all involved in various sporting activities, so if I didn't want to spend Saturday morning feeling sorry for myself I would need to find something of my own. I have drop foot which makes my right foot fly around uncontrollably, a dodgy right knee which caves in, and a hip which feels like it’s made of heavy gunmetal, but little handicaps like that aren’t going to stop me.


Last weekend I signed up and received my Parkrun barcode. It’s funny how a few little black lines can make you feel part of a team, but because I had the barcode, I was part of the team and there was no going back. Luckily my husband was able to accompany me for this first ‘run’. It’s the first bit of training he’s done in preparation for the ‘Tough Mudder’ he’s entering next weekend (I think he might be in for a shock!)


We arrived just before the starting time of 9am to a wonderful atmosphere. Hundreds of people, young, old, every shape and size were congregating at the start line. I joined the back of the group with the people expecting to take ‘more than 35 minutes’. I was aiming for less than 3 hours, but there wasn’t a group for that sort of time.


We all set off and I was happy to find myself near the back. I discovered that there is always a Park Run Volunteer who stays at the very back. How fantastic! So next week when I go on my own, I know there will be someone to pick me up if I fall in a bush, and even more importantly, someone to chat with. Today’s volunteer had been teaching geography to a Syrian refugee who was deaf and didn’t speak English.


She was fascinating, and so were the people passing me on their second lap. There were proper runners who moved effortlessly; stompers who were moving surprisingly quickly considering the force with which they were slamming their feet; agonisers who didn’t look as though they were enjoying it at all, and my least favourite – the grunter/gaspers. These were the people I could hear coming up behind and on passing me, appeared to be staving off a heart attack.

There were volunteers at every point where you might take a wrong direction. Not one of them looked disappointed to see me hobbling round slowly with my walking poles. When I told them, “I’m afraid this is only my first lap” each of them came back with a smile and a “No problem,” or “That’s what I’m here for,” or “Keep going, you’re doing well!”

Sixty-two wonderful minutes after starting, I crossed the finishing line and was able to ping my barcode! Pretty much everyone else had gone home, but I didn’t mind, I was so happy to have completed the course.


Next week I will be back hoping to beat my PB (personal best). One day I might get round the 5K in under an hour – think how that will make me feel!


If you have read this far, you might be interested in my book, It’s Raining in Moscow and I Forgot my Umbrella It has absolutely nothing to do with MS or Parkrun, it's about shining a positive light on dementia and is available on Amazon. 😊

Reviews:

“If you're considering getting this book then don't hesitate BUY IT. I hope there will be a sequel one day. One of my best reads this year.” SW Cheshire


“What a book...Caroline writes in such a way that you get lost in amongst the pages and before you know it you've finished the book! An incredible authoress, fantastic book and a must to add to your basket.” AR London


“One of the most well written books my children have read in a long time.” NH Cambridge


“A wonderful and sensitively written story. I just couldn't put it down!” CI Hertfordshire


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