Ken Baker and his wife, Carol, have kept up their Saturday morning routine every week since parkrun events were paused. (not)parkrun has given them a further incentive to keep it up.
When my step-daughter, Harriet, started parkrunning she introduced it to Carol, my wife and her Mum, and I. This was back in 2014. We decided it would be a good challenge and measure of our own improvements as we had already started running to stay fit for our holidays fell-walking in the Lake District.
I had been a runner back in the 1980s and 90s when I ran the London Marathon twice along with other events at the time. However, I gave up running after the 1992 London Marathon so that I could keep on playing football and cricket. Running was taking up too much time and I was lacking focus with no one to run with. parkrun would have been perfect to keep me going then!
Our original ‘home’ event was Aylesbury, but I did my first parkrun at Keswick after a tough week of fell-walking. Having retired and moved north, Penrith is now our ‘home’ event.
That first parkrun in Keswick was a wonderful experience, being with so many people and in such a great community. We felt most welcome. It was harder than I expected, due to the effort I had to put in, but I realised that it was all worthwhile afterwards. I got the running bug back again!
We enjoy parkrun because it is a weekly event, the opportunity to meet different people and challenge ourselves to improve. Whenever we have had chance to try a different parkrun, there is always a friendly welcome. Overall, Carol has 252 parkruns to her name to date and I have 243.
Carol and I don’t normally run together at parkrun as we have different paces. Carol is quicker than me.
Since parkrun stopped we have run every Saturday and enjoy keeping the routine.
We have both been logging our (not)parkruns over the past months. We’ve found (not)parkrun to be an inspiration and incentive to run faster in these difficult times. It has also ensured we have maintained our Saturday morning run routine which has been important to us. We’ve found that (not)parkrun does have a few advantages over the real thing including the bonus of not having to get up so early on Saturday morning nor the jingling nerves just before the start of a parkrun event!
However, there is plenty that (not)parkrun can’t substitute. We miss parkrunning with other people and the sense of community and support that comes as a given with the events. We miss the excitement of a parkrun, the anticipation beforehand, the start and the parkrun itself, the camaraderie and discussion at the finish and the waiting for the text message of your result with all the various details. This is often received on the way home and leads to much discussion in the car.
We have worked out at least 7 different routes for our (not)parkruns and continue to develop them as we go. Just lately, with the ice and snow, we’ve been running an off road route near where we live and have found it to be the hardest one to date. All our routes are hilly, whichever way we run from the door it’s uphill.
Generally, we run the course of our choice on the day so we run separately. However, when we have run the same course at the same time, Carol usually gives me a 2 minute start, then she chases me down. It means I have to strain to keep her behind me and she uses me as a rabbit. She always catches me, usually in the last km meaning we’ve both worked hard.
Our usual routine is to run 5 or 6 days a week. Sunday is the longer run and during the week we do efforts, a tempo run, recovery run and an off road run. Sometimes we run together although this varies depending on the focus of our running. Some of the off road is done together. Carol sets herself target ‘races’ into her running schedule and has ‘raced’ half marathons, 10 mile and 10k ‘races’ during the lockdowns and I have just started doing this but only with 10k ‘races’.
We really can’t wait to start up parkrunning again and resume volunteering at junior parkrun on a Sunday morning. It’ll be lovely to see all the smiling and cheerful volunteers and fellow parkrunners again. We have missed it all so much. On a personal level I’d like to achieve 250 parkruns (7 more to go) and keep on volunteering with the enthusiastic lot at Keswick junior parkrun.
Thank you to (not)parkrun and parkrun.
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