After I had completed my first Half marathon I was already a regular Parkrunner but I needed some incentive. I felt like I had hit a bit of a dead end. PB’s were not coming easy, winter was upon us and there was no great looming event to get in shape for. I had stopped the regular morning runs, and only went out after work occasionally. What I thought I needed was a group of like minded types who could give me a little guidance and encouragement to keep me on track. Helping me achieve those ever important Parkrun Bests. I went online and searched for local running groups finding a club that was not very far from where I lived. The site said that they met at such and such a time in such and such a place, and I decided that I would go down one evening see what it was all about and join up. So one evening during the winter as it was getting dark I set out for the place in question, to be honest it was not very clear when I got there where this group was supposed to meet. I was a definite noobie and a bit nervous, what I needed was the kind of supportive positive welcome that you get at parkrun. That was not what happened. After wandering about for 5 – 10 minutes I spotted someone in running gear and asked them if they knew anything about the club. They looked at me like I was mad, told me that they were dealing with the youth group and I should have been there 10 minutes earlier if I wanted to join with the adults. I felt like I had been told off, and to be frank I didn’t think I would fit in with a club where people looking after young runners were quite so rude.
Well the winter was hard, my running suffered Parkrun was the only running that I did and my local event managed to flood so we ended up with about 4 or 5 different courses to avoid the floods. By the time January arrived I was barely showing up, then 2 events brought me back to the fold, the chap who encouraged me to enter the Blenheim Palace half told me about a local 10k race. Well it was on the doorstep so it would be rude not to, and we discovered a local Half Marathon. Back I went to Parkrun, I needed to get back into training.
If you have been Parkrunning for a while you will notice that you tend to end up running with the same people most weeks. These are the runners who share your pace, you know that at a certain hill you will probably see them as you pass on the way up, only to be frustrated as they scoot past on the way down. Many of these peers become nodding acquaintances and some you even find nicknames for until you summon up the courage and actually start talking to them. Well I had a few of these Parkrun buddies who I had been sharing times with for quite a while before my lethargic hiatus, however when I got back to it they were quicker, and not just a little quicker, they were ahead by quite a way. The jealousy and determination rose, I wanted what they had. I should be gliding over the ground like a supercharged gazelle on speed, well at least less like the lumbering troglodyte I felt was. Eventually I asked their secret and I was told. While I had been moping about spurned by my local club and getting more disillusioned by the winter weather and misery they had joined a positive and supportive club where they had been given running tips and taken through proper training regimes and it had paid off. Of course I asked where the club was, and when they met. At the very next opportunity I made my way down to Broadbridge Heath to meet the Horsham Joggers. To say I was welcomed with open arms is probably an exaggeration but it is entirely accurate to say that by the end of my first evening there I had met and made friends with a number of other runners, two of which have definitely changed my life. One introduced me to the delicious masochism of marathon running, and another has become a regular training buddy and introduced me to the delights of twitter.