Well, would you believe it! Now that I’m into some (un)structured long distance triathlon training I’m getting in more long runs, the bike rides are taking forever and I’m still not swimming enough! However, the combination of regular cycling and running over the past few weeks is really starting to show.
Following on from a 10 mile personal best and a good 18:02 5k run at Frimley Lodge parkrun a couple of weeks ago. The Frimley course is fast but has quite a few turns in it to slow you down so I was really pleased with 18:02.
A week later I was at Bushy parkrun. I’d not run there since August (shock horror!) and had a nice little warm-up with Sharon before the start. Conditions were ideal (cool with little wind) and as the 700+ runners set off I found myself pushing hard.
I chose not to look at my watch and just go on feel as much as I could. As I went round the corner at the end of the first straight (about 1.1km in) I could see Mark G., Chris W., and someone else up ahead about 20m away. I was feeling good and tried to see if I could slowly reign them in. There was no rush. This isn’t a sprint!
By about 2km I was with them and I tucked in close behind. It felt comfortable being in their draft and before long I decided to push on ahead. As I moved ahead I expected to see Mark and Chris right behind me (as they’re both much faster than me over 5k) but they didn’t. I was then off on my own, with no idea of my time/pace other than knowing that either I’m doing very well or Mark and Chris are having a ‘mare!
At 4k I decided to take a glance at my watch. I didn’t see the timer but did glance at my pace, which was about 5:37 per mile – a few seconds per mile quicker than my PB pace. OK, all I had to do was try and fight through to the finish and I was looking good for a personal best.
Coming down the final straight I dug real deep – didn’t quite catch the runner ahead of me but crossed the line in 17:32 – a 19 second person best. As soon as I saw my time I was pretty stunned – then I realised how tough it is going to be to get near it again! Ho hum.
Fast forward a week to today and I’m on the start line at Richmond parkrun. I’ve not run here since new years day and its a little challenging course. The downhill is too steep to be comfortable, and there’s very little comfortable about running uphill on the way back! I wasn’t expecting anything special today as I’d run 17 miles on Friday as part of my marathon training. The legs were feeling it but a 10-15 minute warm-up and a few ‘strides’ got me ready.
Over 250 runners set off in ideal conditions once again and it was pretty chaotic at the start as everyone goes off in a mad rush to find clear space. As I came round the first corner before the downhill I was probably 12th or 13th and I could see the leading two runners moving into the distance.
I pushed on at a solid pace and went through the first mile in 5:33 (there’s a fair bit of downhill during the first mile). I’d slowly moved up to about seventh place by this point. As we headed along the grass towards Sheen Gate I caught up with the runner ahead of me and pushed on past him. I was feeling pretty good but know it was literally all uphill from here!
In the last half mile I caught up with another runner ahead of me and pushed past him on a short steep uphill section. I opened up a gap and just kept on pushing.
Crossing the line in a time of 18:13 was much better than I’d hoped for at the start. I was fourth overall and my time was 22 seconds faster than my Richmond parkrun PB of 18:35 (from September 2009).