It’s been a strange week for me. After spending months and months thinking that I would never get back to my former level of fitness, there is actually a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I’ve come back from my training holiday with a new enthusiasm for running and an unwillingness to accept my self-imposed limitations.
As Run Camp has finished until January, Thursday morning has transmogrified into ‘Run Gang’, which is similar to ‘Bike gang’, but with running. Liz, Katherine, Stu, Jenny and I have been meeting near to The Hawthorns at 6:30am for speed work sessions. This week, Coach Stu told us to do one mile reps at our 5k PB pace. For me that translates to 5:01/km (about 8:04/mile). Unfortunately, I had forgotten my Garmin, so I decided to just follow Katherine and Jenny and do my best to keep up with them. Amazingly, this strategy paid off. We followed each rep with about a 2 minute recovery. My pace was 8:05, 8:10 and 8:15. Ideally, I would be able to maintain three reps at the same pace, but given that I really didn’t think I would be able to do a single rep at that speed, I was really happy with how well I did.
On Saturday morning, I was excited about having my first chance to run at Southampton parkrun for a number of weeks. Sadly, Stu didn’t feel well, so he stayed at home. I rushed off, so that I could collect a parkrun parcel before the event, and realised after I had closed the door that I had forgotten my Garmin, which was charging. As Stu was sleeping, I didn’t want to wake him, so I decided to run without it.
I met up with Katherine and we decided to have an enjoyable run together. The first part of the run went well. We saw Di and Angela and had a chat with them as we first went up the hill. It was fairly busy, so I had to ask a few people if we could pass them, but I was enjoying the conversation and barely noticed the hill. Katherine didn’t allow me to slack off at all on the downhill, and it wasn’t long before we were tackling the hill for s second time. As we neared the top, we passed Laura. She fought back and surged past us and I commented to Katherine that I didn’t think Laura would let us be ahead of her for long. This spurred Katherine on, so we had to speed up on the downhill. We then kept pushing, until we turned the corner and got back to the Flats. At that point, Katherine encouraged me to sprint, but I was unable to pick up the pace.
About 15m from the line I was able to find a tiny sprint, so I pushed as hard as I could.
It felt like it had been a good time, even though I had not pushed myself for the whole run and I had failed to do a warm up. I asked Katherine our time, but she hadn’t stopped her watch. She reckoned it was under 26 minutes. We then saw Laura, who said that she had recorded 25:20 on her watch. My 5k PB of 25:08 was set 596 days ago in April 2012. The closest that I had come since then was 25:32 earlier this year, so if Laura’s watch was right then I knew I would be in for a Southampton parkrun PB.
Eventually I received a text message and email with my result:
So, not a PB, but very close. I was delighted with how well I had done. I think that I should be able to beat that and am now starting to believe that sub 25 minutes is a real possibility for 2013 😀 I had a good look at the results and was also pleased to realise that I was 3/13 within my gender/age category, which is quite a good result for me.
This morning, I ran my last CC6 of 2013, which was also the final (eligible) race for the Club Participation Award. It was at Badger Farm in Winchester and my recollection of it was that it was quite flat, with the exception of a final long gentle incline to the finish, but when I arrived, several people pointed out that my memory had failed me. As usual, the brilliant local photographer Paul Hammond was on hand to record the action.
Having completed this CC6 twice before, I am quite familiar with the course. It starts off at the top of the hill, so there is a long downhill, before an uphill run, most of which is between two hedges, so it is difficult to overtake. My strategy was to do what I have done on my last few runs, which has been to ignore my watch and run as fast as I can, but to pace myself according to how I feel.
I adore running downhill, so this race starts exactly the way I like it. There is then a long uphill, before a relatively flat section around a field before running sandwiched between two fences for quite a long section. I could see Kirsty just ahead of me, so I decided to try to stick with her for as long as possible. I knew this would be challenging as she set a fantastic PB at parkrun yesterday, but I didn’t think it was an entirely unrealistic goal.
When we returned to the main starting field, I could still see Kirsty about 10m ahead of me, and I was feeling surprisingly good. paul managed to catch some photos which really show just how much I was enjoying the race:
I didn’t dare to look back to see who was behind me to how close they were, I just wanted to keep pushing to finish the race as quickly as possible. I knew that catching Kirsty was unlikely, but I wanted to try to match her pace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite manage that, but I kept pushing up the hill.
Eventually, I reached the finish line. I was the 6th LRR lady and in 37th place overall, which I think is my highest ever finish in a CC6 race.
Garmin data for the race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/411084453