I’ve been part of the parkrun family for a little under two years now, however Perth parkrun had its inaugural event in late November 2013 and today we celebrated the event’s 3rd birthday. Last year we marked the occasion with a beach party-themed run. This year, the theme was superheroes, an idea far more up my alley!
But before I get to my eventual costume, I want to share something I’m very proud of…
I won a prize!
And not just any prize, a parkrun points prize.
You see, while parkrun is always a run rather than a race, your finishing position in each event accrues a number of points which are tracked in a table throughout the parkrun year. I don’t know how it works at other parkruns since as yet I’ve not actually been to any others (I must take care of that in 2017) but here in Perth there are prizes in the form of race entries donated by the organisers of races in this area. These are awarded to the top male, female and junior finishers. This year there were also some spot prizes awarded to volunteers.
The beauty of the points system is that it’s not just speed that leads to success, but commitment. A slower runner can win the points competition by running regularly so it’s not all about fast finishes. Points are also awarded for up to three volunteer stints in the year as well, so there’s no reason to miss out by helping out.
My parkrun year began badly. I finished the birthday parkrun last year with a sore foot which later was diagnosed as a stress fracture (hard to believe it’s been a year – I still tend to think of that injury as being a really recent thing!) and didn’t return to running parkrun until late February, several weeks in to the points competition. Despite this, by the summer I had managed to claw my way up the table and inside the top ten. I made it my goal to finish in the top five, but then took about a month off parkrun while my hip was bothersome. As recently as a month ago, I thought I was going to finish in sixth place, frustratingly close to my goal.
But then something happened. My body began to find a bit of pace again and I sneaked into fourth place with just one run left to go before the prize winners were decided. There were enough prizes for the top four male and female finishers so I had to hold my position.
What to do?
The decision I made was to go for it. Run hell for leather and see what happened. There was a risk of completely detonating half way round and crawling over the finish line, but at least I would know I had tried.
And so last Saturday, in less than ideal conditions, I did just that.
The day began with the comedy of Steve and I managing to choose almost exactly the same kit to run in. We found it pretty amusing and were sure to point it out to people, just in case they thought we actually MEANT to turn up in his ‘n’ hers garb! Our friend Phil, a photographer, took a great shot of us in a “catalogue pose” before the start:
But when the run started it was time to get serious. I set off fast and hung on, aided by a pre-run espresso, chilly conditions and a great new pair of all-terrain shoes I was trying out which made me feel really secure landing on the frosty, slippy paths.
The fastest I had managed since my return from the hip-related time out was 24:30, a time I consider to be an “average” for me. I tend to feel on good form when I’m running quicker than 24 minutes, but didn’t think I was anywhere near that form. Until last Saturday.
That’s right. I ran a sub-24. 23:50 to be precise!
And it was enough not just to hold onto my fourth place on the table, but to move up into third. I was emailed later in the day with the options for my prize and picked a half marathon in May, a few weeks after Paris and, for a long time, the race at which I set a long-standing PB, so all being well I might take a crack at a fast one.
Why is this relevant to superhero-termed run? Because the prizes were awarded after today’s event, giving me another good reason to make sure I was there.
Now back to my costume.
I knew I had an Under Armour tech top with a Supergirl logo on it, so this was my starting point. The colours were going to be a bit different, but I was still modelling the overall idea on the Supergirl image in my mind, and while I know there have been more recent incarnations of the character, I’m of the vintage that thinks first of the original 1984 movie starring Helen Slater.
Along with my UA top (which is short-sleeved so given the chilly weather lately of -6C (about 21F I think) I opted for a UA base layer underneath), I wore a UA skort, and UA winter tights (yes, this is one of my favourite brands!) then added some compression socks in the same colour as the logo on my top and asked my sister, who has done much more fancy dress than me, if she had a cape I could borrow. Put together, I felt quite pleased with the result, especially since I knew not everybody would embrace the theme!
To be honest, I thought the cape might annoy me and swirl around to the front, but it stayed put and billowed behind me making me feel amazing (although I probably looked more like that episode of Only Fools and Horses where Delboy and Rodney are Batman and Robin!)
And of course, I had to make an alteration to my jumping shots for the occasion:
Fortunately, lots of people did dress up and I was greatly amused at the crossover section to see a couple of guys in full Batman costume running towards me. And despite enjoying a couple of adult beverages with the neighbours last night, I ran a solid 24 minutes, laying down a decent benchmark for the start of the parkrun year. As for Steve, he looked to classic advertising and dressed as that chap from a certain chocolate advert. Because the lady loves it, of course 😉
As is traditional, the birthday celebrations included cake, although in the cold conditions the hot cup of tea I acquired afterwards was much more gratefully received! I enjoyed it while chatting to other runners then headed off for a well-earned jacuzzi and sauna at my gym.
Oh, and one more thing before I go. My sister actually lent me TWO capes. The mid-length black one I opted for, and a smaller, yellow one which I felt was much better suited to another member of the household…
Fancy dress runners, what’s the best costume you’ve ever run in?
How does your local parkrun mark special occasions?