25th November 2017 – a significant day in my life for two reasons:
1. It was my 71st birthday.
2. I participated in my 50th parkrun at South Bank, Brisbane.
The first was inevitable after I kept waking up each morning. The second event was never a certainty. It all began just before my 69th birthday. I know many people say “But I’m not a runner” and believe me, that was certainly my case. I played tennis and squash when I was younger and always tried to attain a level of fitness and good health by doing fitness classes at a gym. I had been going to a group-training session with a trainer and was feeling fairly fit and healthy.
When my husband invited me to parkrun as he had done almost every week for two years, I thought (1) it was time to shut him up, and (2) it was time to check out how fit I was. Could I walk 5 km?
Well, I did, and I didn’t like it one bit. The little voice in my head kept saying “What on earth are you doing? You could be home in bed reading the paper, having a coffee. This is madness.”
The following week, I thought, I think I can do a better time, so I will go in and walk again, just a little faster. Same thoughts – madness, how many bridges have I passed? Why am I doing this to myself? This pattern went on for several weeks. I think it was around my 25th “run” that I realised I hadn’t thought once about the madness of being on this path with so many others at this time on a beautiful Saturday morning. I wasn’t loving it, but the benefits of getting up each Saturday morning and meeting up with friendly parkrunners (and getting my 10,000 steps in before lunchtime) were slowly winning over the negative thoughts. What an efficient way to exercise! All over quickly, (or relatively quickly, in my case), back home for coffee and the newspaper. I admit, my running style is not to be admired. I ‘shuffle’ in a style that makes “Cliffy Young look like Usain Bolt”. However, over a period of some two years, those few seconds I was able to take off my time each week amounted to approximately eight minutes, and my PB time is currently 38 minutes 28 seconds.
I have been encouraged all the way by my husband, Alan, my trainer Mel, my family and friends and all the wonderful parkrunners who have given me the thumbs up, smiled and often spoken to me after the run. To any senior out there wondering if you could last the five kilometres, just give it a go. If you don’t, you will never know. Like me, it may not be your favourite thing, but I feel certain the euphoria of completing the run will have a positive effect, both physically and mentally.
If you saw me on Saturday in my pink tutu and a 50th balloon waving around above my head as I ran along and spoke words of encouragement or a thumbs up as you passed, thank you. It meant a lot. See you next week.
Jess Causley is our Event Director at Yamba parkrun and has recently completed her 100th parkrun. Get an insight into her mindset each week at parkrun… Lead up – parkrun is not a race. I’m not going to race. Not race myself. Not race anyone else. Racing is doing my head in. I’m a long-distance…
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