I woke up with a very vivid dream still in my mind. It centred around parkrun. Was it coincidence given that I was up early on my birthday to go to Oxford parkrun? I think not, but would the real parkrun resemble my dream?
I arrived in Oxford with my parkrunning wife and my friend, a devout non-runner.
We gathered in a little hall. There was much faffing with discarding outer layers and making little attempt to hide our valuables.
All of a sudden I realised we hadn’t been called to the startline. We left the hall to see the pack of runners disappearing down the hill past the Cutterslowe park mini-golf. Off we went, attempting to catch them.
Despite the downhill, we had to really go hard to catch them. Tamsyn powered past me as I struggled to keep up the pace.
I managed to compose myself as we hit the city. Clambering up steps and the sudden changes of direction was fun but I was slipping further behind.
Bursting down the steps into the Newcastle University Quadrangle gave me a boost and I rounded the corner to Haymarket before realising I was completely lost.
Where was the finish line?
Plodding through an empty grass park, I made my way back into the hall to find 5 people being interviewed, presumably the top 5 finishers, and a small group of other parkrunners watching on.
From the other side of the group, Tamsyn’s smiling face peered around.
Before I could get across to her to ask her what had happened there was a huge commotion. Two two-litre bottles of fizzy pop were skidding, spiralling and spewing their contents everywhere!
And then I woke up.
I was strangely undisturbed by the unusually vivid dream. Perhaps because it was SO strange.
After opening my presents in bed (I’m still a big kid) I jumped into my gear and my car and drove throughthe drizzle to Oxford.
I was called out by the run director and wished a happy birthday. Fortunately for my fellow parkrunners, they weren’t asked to sing to me!
My goal was to concentrate on cadence; aiming to get my legs going closer to 180bpm than normal.
During the third lap my legs started to shout but luckily a friendly voice from behind me yelled, “Go on birthday boy! Don’t let me catch you.” The voice belonged to clubmate Graham Le Good, a speedy vet triathlete.
His shouts kept pushing me forward until the last little hill sapped them. Graham drew level and now was using his shouts to pull me forward.
Rounding the tight final bend, I pulled out the Wymer finish, blasting toward the funnel.
Somehow while gasping for air I remembered to stop my watch. Ooh, perhaps a PB for an extra birthday present. It would be a matter of seconds so I’d have to wait to see what the official time would be.
I stayed to cheer on the remaining parkrunners, whether it was pushing them to the finish or encouraging then onto their final lap. Up and down the country, around the world, there would be people running, jogging and walking round parks with many different motivations but all together as one community. I felt a surge of pride to be a small part of this huge movement.
I returned home to find another birthday surprise – a huge chocolatey cake!
Having been promised a crispy bacon sandwich for birthday breakfast I restrained myself from the cake. For a while anyway!
I had a great remainder of the day with lunch at the in-laws, falling asleep in front of the F1 qualifying, a tasty curry with our besties and then drinks with the gang. Thanks all for a fab birthday!