Runner Profile – Maria Riera Turro

Early Years

I have always enjoyed being outdoors and moving my body, not necessarily in a very athletic way. When I was little I wasn’t athletic at all, no one in my family took sport seriously but living in a warm country with plenty of nice outdoors meant we always kept an active lifestyle. We would go swimming in the lake or the sea in summer and cycling around it in winter. The PE lessons at school and high school weren’t exactly the inspiration we needed to get more of us into sports, the boys would be easily drawn into the basketball teams but a lot more needed to be done to get any of the girls interested. What we did in the PE lessons largely depended on which teacher we got, it could be anything from line dancing to volleyball, I remember us doing some running only during my second year at high school.

I tried a few different sports but none of them stuck with me, the only thing I enjoyed was hiking so during my teens and young adult life that’s all I did every now and then. 

Getting into running

I never thought I would get into running, it’s all Gary‘s fault. I moved to Ipswich in 2016 and after a few months here I felt like I needed to start doing some sport but not knowing the area and the complete lack of mountains made it quite difficult for me to continue hiking like I was in Spain. So I got a bicycle, but none of my friends were keen on cycling, they preferred going to the gym which I find incredibly boring. It was only after meeting Gary that I got introduced to the world of running. At first I simply didn’t get it, why would anyone choose to run for fun? It was Gary’s passion for the sport and the great atmosphere of parkrun what made me want to give it a go. It took me a while to get into it, for a while I used to say “the best parkrun is no parkrun” but after a few months of spectating races and taking part in a few parkruns I slowly started to enjoy it. 

First Races

I spent many Sundays in 2017 going to spectate the different races around the county, as Gary was already running for FRR. I loved the atmosphere and meeting some of you FRRs for the first time but standing in the wind/cold/rain wasn’t so great, so it didn’t take me long to decide to join in the action.

One of my first races was the Kirton 5M  which I ran unattached with Justin Ostler in 2018. I didn’t put myself under any pressure to get a good time but we ran at a good steady pace and we crossed the finishing line in just under 50min. By the end of 2018 I had already joined FRR as I was enjoying the sport more and more. My first race running for the club was Thurlow 5M, I wanted to try to improve my time from Kirton but I had heard there was a very long hill and it terrified me. I realised while racing that there was also a long downhill, so I stopped worrying and managed a 2min PB.  At the same time, I also started getting into the habit of running a couple of times a week so by the end of 2018 my times had improved and continued improving during 2019.

Most memorable races

Ipswich Twilight 5Km 2019 – This was my first race in the town, a loop around the waterfront with tons of people cheering. I was super excited at the time as I had been training well (thanks coach Gary 😊) my 5km had quickly dropped from 29, to 28 and very recently I had been getting closer to the 26min mark at Kesgrave parkrun so I knew I was ready to really test myself. I remember mentioning to a few FRRs how I was hoping for an under 26min 5Km to which Solly said “Go for under 25!”. I didn’t think that was possible, but after the first kilometer came on my watch at 4.45 I realised I might actually manage it. I think the flatness of the race and the crowds helped me achieve an amazing time of 24.40 which I have only recently beaten at Felixstowe parkrun. 

Cursa dels Nassos 10Km – I was really looking forward to this race as it was my first time racing with thousands of other runners in my homeland. We had to argue a bit with the organisers at race HQ so that they would allow us to start in one of the earlier waves (Gary hoping to get in the under 35min and me in the 50-52min). We argued kind of successfully as they wouldn’t give Gary an under 35min start as his PB was around 36 minutes but we both got new bibs and off we went to get ready to race. Later on I realised they had given me the bib for the 42-44′ wave. In hindsight I should have just started with the later wave instead of starting with the faster crowd, this meant that I felt very out of place at the start and had hundreds of people overtaking me through the race. It was psychologically difficult but I still managed to keep a good pace and achieve my goal of going under 50min for the first time ever.

The future

Like many others my motivation took a dip during the pandemic, I liked taking part in the virtual events but apart from that I really missed parkrun, the races and seeing all of you. This year I feel a lot more motivated to continue running regularly and racing every now and then. I especially look forward to some classic fixtures like the Friday 5s and the Summer Series. Even if I don’t necessarily get faster I think I will continue running for as long as I enjoy it. 

I want to thank Matt for the nomination and I’m going to pass the baton to Nicola Stevenson so that she can reveal how she got so fast!

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