My fastest 5k so far in 2016

Caution runners sign at Southampton parkrun

My original plan for today was to cycle to Brockenhurst parkrun, do the run and then cycle home – a sort of reverse duathlon. However, my friend who wanted to go cycling ended up going on a weekend trip and I have been feeling really tired, so my plans changed and I decided to do Southampton parkrun instead.

Stu left the house early this morning to go for a long run. I had planned to jog down to parkrun, so that I would get a warm up in, but Stu left me with his rucksack, so I drove to The Common.

I thought that I had arrived early (8:35am), but the number of cars that were there already showed me that I need to arrive much earlier than that if I want to park in a convenient location! (Yes, I am a lazy runner!)

Chatting with others before the start

I carefully picked my way across the waterlogged grass and joined John and Rob at the finish funnel. I thought they might have seen Stu, but he wasn’t around. Then I walked back to the start, having a quick chat with Ruth, Kim and Inez on the way. So many people saw the article about me in The Echo this week and commented on it when they saw me. It was also lovely to receive congratulations on the Bloggers’ Lounge Award.

I placed myself somewhere in the middle of the pack, near to Luana and Elaine, which I thought would be about right. Unfortunately, although many of the regular runners know where to position themselves, lots of newbies have no idea and with many runners chatting through the briefing, it’s hard for anyone to hear the Run Directors.

I wanted to set off quickly, but the path was so congested that the first 100m of the course was covered at a very slow jogging pace. Part of the problem is that there are large muddy puddles along the side of the path and no-one wants to run in them!

Passing people on the first hill

By the time that I got onto the first hill, I was passing people who had already started walking. If these people had been given a bit of guidance then they might have started further back and could perhaps have started at a pace that was more sustainable for them.

I was very disappointed with my performance at Netley Abbey last weekend and was determined to get a time of 25:XX this week. To do that I knew that I would need to average under 5:12/km… however, with the slow start, I knew I’d really have to push myself for the rest of the run.

A few people chatted to me as I was running around, which was lovely, but I didn’t have enough breath to do much more than say ‘hello’ as my breathing has been really bad this week. Near the top of the hill, Hannah said ‘hello’ – she recognised me as I always wear shorts, even when it’s freezing, as I overheat when I wear tights [N.B. It wasn’t freezing today, it felt quite warm].

The big push

I reminded myself that I had to keep pushing on the downhill section if I wanted to achieve my goal.

I gave a wave and a cheer to the amazing Sue who marshals at the crossroads. This fantastic lady was volunteering for the 150th time today at Southampton parkrun. I also noticed that my friend Jacqui from STC was marshalling with Sue 🙂

I knew that the second run up the hill would be hard work, but I kept pushing in the hope that I would achieve my goal.

Downhill to the finish

By the time I got to the crossroads for the second time, I was feeling quite confident. I knew that I could keep pushing on the downhill and then hoped that I could maintain an even pace to the final straight and then manage a sprint finish.

In the final kilometre, I kept an eye on my average pace. It was gradually ticking further and further under 5:12/km, so I was feeling great. By the time, I was ready for my final sprint, I was averaging 5:07/km… but I also realised that I hadn’t taken the racing line and I realised that my goal was quickly slipping out of my reach.

How did I do?

My final time on my Garmin read 26:07, which was so disappointing. To add to my frustration, my official time was even slower:

parkrun result 30th January

Darn! If I’d kept to the racing line then I’d have finished in 25:41. That definitely gives me a goal to aim for next week. I looked back at my annual bests at Southampton (I ran faster in other locations in 2012!) and can see that I need to train hard if I’m going to run faster than in 2014 and 2015.

parkrun annual achievements

At least my splits remind me where I need to improve. I must position myself better at the start and then need to work much harder on the second hill.

parkrun splits 30th January

Finding the positives

I’m trying to think positively about life at the moment, so there were a number of positives that I can take from this run:

  • the weather was lovely
  • I got to see a number of friends before, during and after the run
  • I ran over a minute faster than last week
  • I was 341/769 runners (top 45%)
  • I was 10/41 in my age group (top 25%)
  • I was 55/289 female runners (top 20%)

Next week is an odd-numbered pacing week, so I’ll be trying to stick as closely as possible to the 25-minute pacer!

Did you parkrun today? How did your run go?

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