I tried a different morning routine today ahead of the weekly 5K Parkrun at Strathclyde Park.
Instead of falling out of bed and down the hill as close to 9.30am as possible I got up at 7:45am (on a Saturday!). Last week I felt as if I literally ran out of energy so I was keen to get up and eat some porridge and drink some water before setting off.
This week I was joined by David for his first run in ages and his first ever parkrun. Avril and I were speculating on just how much he’d beat me by last night, but more of that later. David picked me up and we arrived at Strathclyde Park at about 9:20am. We wandered along to the start in time to watch the keen, awake people do the warm up. I jogged about a bit, stretched a bit, not nearly enough, and it was time for the off.
The pre-run introduction always makes me giggle. “You are running at your own risk” always makes a run round the park on a beautiful autumn morning sound so dangerous!
Today I was hoping that the only thing in danger would be my PB. I’ve run 4 parkruns and my best so far was 24:31 in event #76. Today I had a plan to smash that. It was a simple plan really… follow Anthony.
Each week I’ve tried to settle in behind someone who seemed to be running around just under 25 minute pace. That has worked a little too well as I’ve tended to come in at just over or under 25 minutes in the last couple of weeks. This week would be different!
Anthony was wearing the 24 pacing vest, so I planned to stay with him for as long as possible. I was feeling confident after a good negative split run during the week so I knew had the legs for under 25 mins but there was still a nagging doubt that 24 minutes was maybe pushing it a bit.
We set off and a small group formed around Anthony and I settled in. I felt pretty comfortable through the first couple of kilometers. The sun was shinning, the dogs were mostly on leads and all was well with the world!
There were 5 or 6 of us in a little group when we got to the top of the Loch and everyone seemed pretty comfortable. It’s always good to run behind or beside someone if they have a similar cadence to you. Luckily one of the guys in front of me had a similar stride to me because Anthony has a much easier, longer stride than I do so I couldn’t keep his rhythm.
The far side of the Loch is where the puddles live. Splashing through the water is one of my favourite parts of the course. I had to negotiate a lady who wasn’t keen on running through the first big one and couldn’t decide which side to avoid it on so I lost a bit of ground on the group. I caught up quickly and tried to settle in again but the turn was approaching and that’s when I usually start to feel the pace between 2.5-3km.
Today was different though. I was feeling good.
I noticed David behind me at the turn. He’d set off a little more slowly than me to see how his legs were before trying to up the pace. That had been my prediction the night before… and that he’d cruze past me at 4km and disappear into the distance.
That was eaxctly what happened, but David wasn’t the only person disappearing into the distance at 4km… the number 24 vest was edging ahead and I was struggling to keep up.
The last 1km was hard work. I know it should be but at about 500m to go I felt like I could easily just stop. There was no way I was going to finish under 24 minutes but the PB was still there…
I dug in and as I hit 200m to go I went for it. Anthony turned round to encourage me in and I crossed the line with the volunteers shouting me home.
I was shattered.
Of course I couldn’t get my iPhone out of my armband to stop the time so I had no idea what my time might be. That timer stopped at 24:25 but all I could do is go home with David for some post run powerade and tense wait for the parkrun text with the official time.
The average pace splits on my nike+ were: 1km 5’00″/km – 2km 4’52″/km – 3km 4’53″/km – 4km 4’48″/km – 5km 4’42″/km. I was pleased to keep upping the pace with each kilometer but that last 500m could have been much quicker…
At 12:17 the phone beeped…
Stewart, your time in position 47 today at Strathclyde parkrun was 24:14. Well done on a new PB.
You see that’s what parkrun is all about, testing yourself against yourself. Of course someone wins overall each week but every week loads of people win because they get up on a Saturday morning, run 5km in all weathers with a smile and they try to beat their best time. It’s brilliant to watch people come through the finish trying to be the best that they can be.
In a couple of weeks on the 3rd of December all the pacer vests will be out, every 2 minutes from 18 minutes to 32 minutes so everyone will have a chance to do what I did today, follow a pacer and set a PB.
I’m going for sub 24. It might kill me but I’ll never know until I try. And I know that there will be lots of people encouraging me and everyone else to win that race with themselves.