I was amongst a large group of runners.
Then we were off.
I was soon on my own, the race spread out and the leading pack out of sight.
I followed the concrete path, and passed a lake, trees, benches, other park users.
I kept thinking of the time I wanted. My goal.
At halfway my mum and fiancée cheered me on, which inspired me to push my pace.
Once out of view I returned to a manageable rhythm.
On the second lap I fought off a stitch. I developed a metallic taste in my mouth; I was on the verge of manifesting runner’s cough.
I had to dig deep not to drop my pace.
I came to the playground and car park for the second time.
The finishing stretch appeared as I lapped the runner in last position. I sprinted to the line, passing a couple of runners.
As I got my breath back my family told me my finishing time. It was seven seconds quicker than my goal, equivalent to the time saved from two bursts of sprinting.
Although I had a clear and realistic time goal of 20 minutes I did not wear a watch. The benefit is there are no distractions. The drawback is that at no point during the race did I know whether I was on track; I had to trust my instinct.
I did not complete any specific 5km training but I was prepared to push myself and experience pain.
The start line felt like a mass cross country competition, even if the circular, flat and dry course did not.
It was also the first race my fiancée watched me, which was a boost. I was surprised and pleased to obtain a new personal best and finish in the top 20. Better still, at least half the runners that finished ahead of me were over 40 years of age.
I was excited that if I kept myself as fit as these experienced runners I knew I could achieve greater success.
Later, when I looked to enter again I found that the race was no longer held. I wonder if the emergence of free parkruns had an impact…