My fastest 5k in over 3 years

Oriental street art including a Chinese dragon.

This has been such a week of highs and lows. I’ve been away from home, so have missed some training sessions and haven’t eaten healthily, but I’ve also run my fastest 5k in over 3 years!

Trip to Birmingham

After missing my long run on Sunday, I had a busy day on Monday. I spent the morning at work and then caught a train to Birmingham to go to Digifest. For previous work trips, I’ve taken my fabulous triathlon transition bag, but this time I had some new kit. For my birthday, M and Stu bought me a beautiful green suitcase and I also got a useful new rucksack.

A bright green Tripp suitcase with a navy blue Lazy Bear rucksack.

The teal suitcase is from Tripp. It came with a ‘Good Housekeeping Institute approved 2022’ sticker on it. M commented that she was sad that my suitcase was ‘out of date’, which I thought was hilarious. The suitcase is really easy to wheel around as it has swivel wheels. It’s spacious and lightweight and the lock is easy to use.

Navy blue Lazy Bear foldable rucksack.

The rucksack is a Lemont blue limited edition foldable backpack from Trendhim. It’s water resistant, which is good as it certainly got tested in Birmingham. It was easy to fold it up to pop inside another bag, and when unfolded it has a zipped front pocket and two side pockets that are suitable for drinks bottles. The bag is also available in other colours, such as black, brown or green. The bag tag is a cute and useful feature, which can easily be replaced by others in the range.

The space in my suitcase meant that I was able to pack my running kit. When we arrived on Monday night it was wet and cold, so I didn’t feel like running. We went out for some drinks and a fantastic Thai meal. On Tuesday I didn’t get up early enough to go for a run, which was a shame. I hadn’t realised that the conference didn’t start until 10:15am, so I could have fitted a run in. Instead, I enjoyed a cooked breakfast. At the end of the day, there was a drinks reception and then I had to jog back to the hotel for a parents’ evening consultation.

In the evening, we went out for a Chinese meal. We found an amazing restaurant that had a separate vegetarian menu, which made me very happy. We also enjoyed strolling around Chinatown taking in the street art.

Oriental street art including a Chinese dragon and a red camellia.

Run in Birmingham

The next day, I managed to get up early enough to go for a run. I packed my suitcase and got my rucksack ready so that when I returned I wouldn’t have too much to do. I checked the weather app on my phone and decided that I would layer up before heading out. In previous years, I wouldn’t have got much use out of a long-sleeved running top and I’ve rarely needed a base layer. This year, I’ve worn my warm running tights every week and the two new Contra long-sleeved tops are my most worn items! I also added a base layer, a buff and gloves.

I had looked at routes on Garmin Connect and decided that I’d like to run along the canal. Way back in June 2013, I ran along this towpath. Unfortunately, that run didn’t go as planned. I was looking for Tri-1st, a triathlon shop, and ended up running quite a few miles in the wrong direction.

Once, I’d made my way onto the towpath, I was able to relax and enjoy my run. Obviously, the path is flat and it would be hard to take a wrong turn. I wanted to take a lot of photos, but also didn’t want to spoil the rhythm of my run. Snowflakes were swirling around me, but it didn’t feel unbearably cold. I decided to run 5km out and 5km back which would take just over an hour. I averaged 6:38/km, which wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped. There were some icy patches on the path, but the snow wasn’t really sticking.

A view of a bridge over the canal.
Two Canada geese on the grass near the canal. There are daffodils in bloom and the picture isn't clear as there are snowflakes falling.
You may just about be able to see the snowflakes in this picture.

Bleak Thursday night run

Thursday was my first day back at work in Southampton, so I was determined to get back to my training routine. I arrived at 18:31. It was drizzling, so I was wearing a rain jacket. We started running, but on my warm-up lap, I realised it was too warm to wear a jacket. Many of the regulars were not there, so I didn’t have a chance to speak to anyone during the warm-up.

I ploughed on but started feeling increasingly despondent. Before leaving home, I had read through the session details but was struggling to remember them. I didn’t feel like I was able to pick up my pace and was really demotivated.

For my previous marathons, I’ve had a training partner, but that hasn’t happened this time. Outside of club training sessions, I don’t have any friends to run with. I spend over 80% of my working hours, working from home, so I’m incredibly lonely. I’d really hoped that I would find training partners by returning to training with Lordshill. Until I went to Birmingham, I had attended every Monday night training session this year. I’ve also attended all of the Thursday night sessions after the first one (I didn’t know they had started). Unfortunately, this hasn’t helped me to find people to run with, which has made me really sad.

After running for 45 minutes, I told the next Lordshill Runner I saw that I was going home. I’ve never quit a training session before, but I’d completely had enough. I ended up running 6.77km at a 7:10/km pace.

New Team Soas kit

A white t-shirt with a dark green, lighter green and yellow Team Soas logo.
A running skirt with a yellow waistband and a light and dark green chequered pattern.

This week my new Team Soas kit arrived. I’ve tried it on, but it’s definitely too cold to wear it right now. The t-shirt is a gorgeous silky fabric and I’m looking forward to trying the fleet running skirt. The colours are really vibrant.

Team Soas t-shirt and running skirt.
Rear view of running skirt, It is light and dark green checks with a yellow waistband.

New trainers

Recently, I was delighted to see that Sport Pursuit had some Brooks trainers in stock at half-price. It’s so rare to find Brooks shoes with much of a discount. I love my racing flats, but don’t want to run more than 10-15km in them, so I was glad to be able to order a cheap pair of shoes.

A new pair of grey brooks Ghost trainers with pink shoe laces.

My fastest 5k at Southampton parkrun for over 3 years

Unfortunately, Stu slipped on ice whilst I was away. He has injured his ankle, which is now swollen. He is struggling to walk, so he agreed to volunteer at parkrun this morning with M. This meant that I was free to push myself a bit at parkrun. I considered incorporating parkrun into a long run, but then remembered that I had Sunday Runday to look forward to.

Initially, I thought about wearing shorts but was glad that I chose leggings as it was cold outside. I hoped that running quickly would help to warm me up. As usual, the start of parkrun was quite congested, I wanted to run more quickly up to the crossroads on the first lap, but it wasn’t possible to overtake slower runners. I also struggled to clear my lungs – I’ve had a cold recently and my lungs are full of mucus.

For the second kilometre, I managed to keep my pace under 6 minutes/km but knew that I would slow on the uphill section. I passed the 29-minute pacer but thought that perhaps he was a bit behind pace. I figured that I should just keep pushing as hard as I could in the hope that I could pick up the speed on the downhill. Fortunately, my strategy worked, even though I had a ‘discussion’ with another runner near the 4km marker.

So how did I do?

I kept pushing in the final kilometre and managed to pass the 29-minute pacer, but still thought that he might be out on the timings. It was a surprise to see the tie on my watch at the end: 28:26.

Tamsyn's results email from Southampton parkrun: 28:26.

This was my fastest 5k run since December 2019, which was a huge surprise. I don’t think it was perfect running conditions, so I think I must be getting fitter. It’s now less than 5 minutes to my PB! I was 12th out of 48 in my (new) age group and 112th out of 363 women. My age grading was 55.86% which is the best it’s been since 2018.

My next goal is to achieve my fastest 5k in 4 years – that would require me to run 5k in under 27:40. I’m starting to think that might be achievable.

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