Back in 2012 my son and husband started participating in Victoria Park parkrun. I'm not the sporty type at all and avoid exercise like the plague but I always went along and walked our dog Buddy until they finished. One week in August 2012 I got caught up in all the excitement at the finish line and declared that some week I would actually run a parkrun and not just walk it. My husband and son thought this was hilarious and said 'yeah right!' I thought I'll show them so went home and immediately signed up to Jog Belfast - a 10 week 'couch to 5k' programme.
The course was starting in September and the closer the starting day came, the more nervous I got. What had I done? I can't run the length of myself never mind a 5k! The first night arrived and I was so pleased to see that not everyone was aged 20, a size 10, and could run like a whippet! There was people just like me - the wrong side of 40 and not exactly built for running! (There was the odd 20 year old whippet too!) Anyway the first night was a complete disaster. I ran from the clubhouse to the first tree and I thought my lungs were going to burst. I was so unfit! I gave up and went home.
I was so annoyed with myself for throwing the towel in so easily. The next training night the coaches were very surprised to see me - they didn't expect to see me back but not as surprised as me! I got stuck in after that and thanks to the fantastic coaches and volunteers from Orangegrove AC who were so supportive and encouraging throughout, I managed my first 5k parkrun 10 weeks later. It was 10 weeks of blood, sweat and tears but so amazing to finally cross that finish line. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience (even though you wouldn't have guessed that from my face each week) and have met some great people along the way.
I'm not going to lie and say I love running but I do love that feeling of achievement crossing that finish line on a Saturday morning. I still may be one of the slowest runners but I'm still doing it and have now completed 85 parkruns - not bad considering I almost gave up on the first night. I know it's a much overused phrase but I sincerely mean it - if this overweight 40 something with a lifelong health condition can do it - so can YOU!!