My First Race

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a Parkrun for some time. If you aren’t aware of the Parkrun event, it’s a free weekly 5k run and many are organised all over the place. I was hoping simply to be fit enough to get around the course without walking. On the Saturday prior to Christmas Day, I declared – I’m very dramatic, you see – that I felt ready up to the challenge.

“And when was the next Parkrun?” I hear you cry. Well, it was Wednesday morning – when I usually train with my dad. In case you’re not good with days, and let’s face it no one is at Christmas, the other thing that not-so-coincidentally fell on that Wednesday was Christmas Day. We quickly decided that this was the perfect opportunity for me to run my first race. I really can’t stress enough just how quickly this decision was made. Almost too quickly. Had I run at the same pace as I made this decision, I’d have been setting records.

Aside from a weird dream I’d had about getting on a bus mid-race, I was really excited for the run. I was ready to do it. I knew I could finish. It was time. An added bonus of the timing of the Parkrun was that my dad, who’s usually training some far more talented athletes than I on a Saturday morning, was able to be there. Given that my dad set this whole snowball in motion as the first runner in the family, it felt only right that he be there for my first race, relaxed as it was. In the end, the whole family came out. Mum decided last minute that she was going to run too, meaning that I ended up with what appeared to be two bodyguards, and my younger brother just came for the entertainment.

It went pretty well really. I didn’t come close to walking or falling over. That was my primary mission. The hailstones provided an unwelcome little treat but besides that all went smoothly. I finished in 34:41. I was happy enough with that for a first time. It was a lovely way to start Christmas Day. And, let me tell you, I’d never deserved my Christmas dinner more!

I’m pleased to report that I’ve since run another of the Parkrun 5ks. This time even my brother ran, so we had family results ranging from 5th place to 415th. I lost 154 seconds on my previous time on the Saturday. My brother took pains to warn me not to ever expect such an improvement again. For a second there I was thinking, “Wow, at this rate, I’ll be winning in a month.” Maybe not.

At the Saturday race, there was a huge turnout of runners we knew. There was no training that morning so everyone was using the Parkrun as a substitute for the training session by doing what they call “tempo runs”. What may have started out as a training run quickly seemed to turn into race mode. Those rebels! Callum, my brother, seemed very pleased with himself as he lapped me (just in time, might I add). One thing I did rather enjoy was that a lot of my parents’ runner friends who were there did a double take as they spotted me running. It warms my heart to know that the lazy reputation that I’d effortlessly cultivated for years has been so hastily undermined. Ah, Christmas.

From now on, I’ll be making the Parkruns a weekly appointment. And, thanks to some helpful Christmas gifts, I’ve got all the right kit for it now too! My next goal? A sub-30 5k, and 50% on the age-graded Parkrun scoring percentage.

Things To Do For Christmas


Holidays are coming. Holidays are coming. Holidays are coming…

  1. Wear as many festive jumpers as you possibly can. I’m talking fairisle, reindeers, snowmen, snowflakes. This is one the time of year when garish is good. Capitalise on that. Keep warm and carry on.
  2. For all those people who hate festive jumpers, buy them one for Christmas. If they want to Scrooge it up, throw some tinsel around their necks and blast Michael Buble’s Christmas album at them. No time for grumps. You don’t want to be friends with someone who won’t go festive.
  3. Instagram every fucking Starbucks you buy in December. Not that you needed my encouragement. Go on, you bunch of sheep. Seriously, I had so many pictures of their festive cup when they brought it back that it was my entire Instagram timeline. I almost forgot the true purpose of Instagram: pictures of sunsets.
  4. WRITE CARDS PROPERLY. Don’t half-ass Christmas. This holiday season is a time for whole-assing. If you’re like me and you have under 30ish cards to write, write a damn card. I’m not talking about “Hi Beyonce, Merry Christmas, Love Jess xoxo”. Write some feelings down. Tell people they’re great (they really like it). Tell people you miss them. Tell people the same joke you’ve been telling when you see them every single day (no, but Heather, what have you done today to make you feel proud? …Sorry Heather). I think cards can mean a lot and how often do you write to someone by hand? Take this opportunity.
  5. Rest your writing hand, because of all the carpal tunnel you got from following suggestion #4, by using your other hand to change the channel from Christmas special to Christmas special. There’s so much bloomin’ telly on the box in December, your hands will be equally tired by the grueling Christmas schedule by C-Day dinner.
  6. Avoid buying anything bath-related items for people you don’t really know that well but still have to buy a gift for. They’ve never used the set of bath salts you got them in 2006, nor the bath bomb of ’08, nor the body lotion of 2010. They use the products that they buy for themselves every week at Tesco. At least if it’s chocolate, they’ll actually get eaten. But do try to be creative and fun in your gifting. It always shows. Also, getting smellies always reads as, “I know I don’t see you that often but when I do, you bloody stink.”
  7. Deck the halls with tacky baubles, tra-la-la-la-laa la-la-la-la. In all seriousness, I do expect 3,000 fairy lights and a giant inflatable Santa to decorate the front of your house. Don’t let me down. If people aren’t confusing your home for Santa’s grotto, you haven’t tried hard enough.
  8. Put your gifts ON the tree. Cliff said so.
  9. Leave a mince pie out for Santa (with Rudolph’s carrot). Dude’s come a long way to give you your presents. It’s the least you could do.
  10. Show gratitude. Both when you get that perfect present and when someone’s missed the mark (but tried!). If you, like me, get to sit around the tree with family opening presents before a three course festive feast, you’ve got nothing to complain about. Let those thank yous spill out faster than the mulled wine.

Merry Christmas! And to all those who don’t celebrate Christmas… Happy Holidays!