My kids have been running cross country since they were in 2nd grade in 2013. I have run with them occasionally during their practices, but never consistently. In 2014 I decided I wanted to run a 5K and try to be an example for them. So, one hot, humid August morning I went out for a run and pushed myself hard. After that, I just could not recover and I started having some weird symptoms. I felt like I was dragging my left leg around, my head was tingling, and I felt an unusual pressure in my chest. I gave up soon after that and sought some medical advice. After a lot of tests, I was finally diagnosed with MS in January of 2015.
“MS – or Multiple sclerosis – is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves disrupting communication between the brain and the body. It causes many different symptoms, including vision loss, pain, fatigue, and impaired coordination, and can vary from person to person.”
Although immediately beginning MS meds, they didn’t help too much. Eventually, I started taking a medicine nicknamed ‘the walking medicine’ which gave me a little more ability to keep stable on my legs, and not feel as much pain.
Our Joe Creason parkrun began in April 2018 and my family started with the 5th Joe Creason Event. I thought it would be a good idea to keep my kids running and active through the Summer. I tried to get someone to run with my 9 year old son because he needed an adult with him (following the parkrun rules!), but unfortunately the person didn’t show up. The only one who could chaperone then, was me. And so I ran. My first recorded time was 40:34, and at the end I was dead! Week after week, I kept trying to get someone to run with my son, but had no success. So I kept running only on those Saturday mornings with him.
All of a sudden I noticed that every week I kept improving and getting PRs. People were so encouraging and would say things like “you’re my hero!” How could I not keep going? My new running friend, Mike, asked me how often I ran during the week, and I was like, none! He suggested a little more during the week would help me even more, because he could see I was pushing myself (very encouragingly, of course!). So that December, some 7 months later, I started running 2-3 times more during the week with my kids. At one point I had 9 PRs in a row! It was very satisfying. Slowly, I was getting stronger all with the help and encouragement from the Joe Creason Volunteer team. They are the best! This past year I recorded one of my best times, 28:20!
At this point all of my children have earned their 10 parkruns shirt, 2 have earned their 50, I earned my 50, and I have also earned my 25 volunteers shirt. We all take turns volunteering and running. We take pictures and time and course marshal and run social media. And my husband also volunteers and supports us and everyone often when he isn’t working. (He is not a runner ).
My kids like parkrun even more than their cross country practice! Even when their practice seasons starts they would prefer to run parkrun than to go to practice – or at least until their races start. And we miss our parkrun family so much when we have to be out! We also miss our parkrun family so much right now during this Covid outbreak and can’t wait to get back to it!
No matter your ability, whether you walk or run, everyone is so encouraging and they are a great support system!
Shawn Ann Wendling
Volunteers across the board, whatever their role, are fundamental to the long-term success of parkrun. They are the social glue that holds everything together and are one of the factors that make parkrun so special. On parkrun’s 19th anniversary we’d like to celebrate these wonderful people. Since the first event in 2004, we have significantly…
You can wear anything when you join in at parkrun – a suit, shorts, jeans or even fancy dress. We want everyone to enjoy parkrun and being comfortable in what you’re wearing is crucial. If you’re going to move a lot, walk, or run you might want to consider using a sports bra. We chatted…