There was to be no indulgent lie in or lazy morning watching z list celebrities making random cocktails on ‘Sunday Brunch’ for the Hoopers this week. The ‘up with the lark’ youngest members of the gang were bouncing around as usual, but myself and Alan were slightly regretting the decision when we finally stirred from slumber IN THE DARK (gasp!)
The reason for the ungodly hour was that we had promised the girls we would do the Junior ParkRun in Exhibition Park which starts at 9am every Sunday morning. No time for messing around as we needed to be on the road and heading down the Great North Road by 8.30 at the latest! Imogen had her new Nike trainers as motivation and this spurred her on to get ready in super fast time. Abigail was excited too and spent some time picking out some sporty shorts and a hoodie.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with running. I find the thought of putting my trainers on and stepping out of the door the hardest bit, but once i’m away in the fresh air I do actually sort of-ish enjoy it. For me personally its the ideal exercise as its free of charge, sociable (I run with some friends) and flexible enough to fit around various demands like work, the girls’ hobbies and Alan’s work schedule. Earlier this year, I was running 5K regularly but summer holidays, too many naughty indulgences (which has led to sadly some weight gain) and excuses meant I haven’t made it out for a few months. Since school went back in September I’m back into regular running and my general unfitness has definitely brought home the old saying ‘use it or lose it’. Onwards and upwards! It definitely gets easier the more frequent you do it and I know won’t be too long till I’m back doing the 5K’s!
ParkRuns take place all over the country traditionally a 5K run on a Saturday at 9am which is timed and completely free of charge to enter. The events couldn’t take place without the ParkRun volunteers who head out in all weathers to set up cones, markers and generally ensure no one is hurt or injured and makes it round the course in one piece. It is so simple to enter a race, you just need to register and download a barcode from the website which you exchange at the end for a token which gives you an accurate time. The times are then downloaded onto the website to view later on in the day. All very professional and efficient.
Junior ParkRun‘s haven’t been around as long, but were started in reaction to the number of children showing up for the Saturday ParkRun’s and the fact lots of regular runners have children they would like to include and encourage to take up the sport. Essentially all of the elements of the 5K are in there however, it’s a shorter course at 2K and only the children (aged between 4 and 14) get a time. Adults of small children are needed to supervise, though I’m sure you could allow children aged 10 plus to run solo.
At the Start Line
We parked up on Claremont Road just next to Newcastle university, which cost us 90p for the hour. This is a popular spot as the road soon filled up with lots of fellow Junior ParkRunners. From here it’s a short walk through the Exhibition Park gates, passing the skate park, underpass and bandstand. The start line is clearly marked in chalk and the marshalls are easily spotted in their high vis vests.
A briefing took place for new ParkRunners detailing the direction of the course and the system for handing in barcodes at the end, and we soon were warming up on a cool Autumn morning with a few stretches to get the blood pumping. The girls started to get a bit nervous at this point and we made a plan that Alan and Imogen would stay together and myself and Abigail.
The Junior ParkRun course is two and a quarter loops of a circle route around a field and you cannot get lost! Imogen and Alan took off to a flying start and Abigail was quick off the mark too. But once we had done around half a loop she said she needed a little walk. Throughout the course I would challenge her to run to the next marker which kept her motivation up. I was grateful for the little walks to catch my breath too. Alan used a less conventional motivation tactic for Imogen promising her a Starbucks hot chocolate when she had finished.
Massive kudos to the ParkRun Marsalls who all did a fantastic job of cheering, giving the children high fives and allowing them to bash on a noisy tambourine as they went past. As the finish line was approaching Abigail started to flag, but she made it to the end of the course in a respectable15:53 minutes. Imogen was ahead and came in at 14:28 minutes.
While swapping their tokens I had a little puffed out catch up with fellow blogger and former Cafe Royal colleague back in my student days, Jenny Hicken (GreatNorthMum). Jenny was there with her son Joseph who at 6 was one of the youngest participants along with Abigail.
Coffee and chill
We were all buzzing after the run and slightly red in the face as we headed back to the car. The promised Starbucks was delivered as we headed over to Acorn Road in Jesmond for cappuccinos, hot chocolates and cookies (courtesy of our Vitality points).
I even managed a little read of the morning paper, so I did manage some civilised Sunday morning relaxation! The girls really enjoyed their first experience of the ParkRun and are keen to go back and improve on their times. My goal would be to make it round without stopping and if I can do it anyone can!