My own personal pacer

After a couple of weeks of psyching myself up, this morning was my first serious attempt of the year to beat my PB at parkrun. I made sure my shoelaces were tightly double-tied, I ate my banana and I headed to the start.

My strategy of publicising my attempt paid dividends, as not only did I have a few people wishing me luck, but they’d managed to find me my very own pacer! John was pacing at 35 minutes. Bear in mind that the PB I was trying to beat was 34:21, set on the same route on a sunny dry day last June. Today one part of the course (the middle k) was over a section that involved a stretch of sticky mud and a stretch of concrete that was under water, so I was hoping to do around 35, maybe 36 mins, which is still faster than the last few weeks.

I set off fast, probably too fast, but by the 2k mark had settled into a steady but good pace. As I ran I eyed up the grass at the side of the path, figuring that should I collapse I’d be best heading for that rather than the concrete, and feeling reassured that hubby was waiting and there were enough people around to offer first aid and assistance.

That feeling wore off as we went round the loop, where the mud wasn’t quite sticky enough to slow me too much, and some high stepping managed to prevent too much splashing of the water. The third k was marked by a remarkably reasonable time, and it was the straight stretch along the prom back to the start/finish point.

By this time it was hard to keep up the pace, but quiet encouragement from John and the knowledge of having to report publicly on the run kept me going somehow. There were times when I felt like admitting defeat and falling back, but somehow I kept going, trying to keep decently long strides and to keep my breathing under control. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to beat my PB, simply on previous performances and the going underfoot round the loop, but I was also sure that I’d be inside my 36 minute target for the day.

The final few metres of the run is a steep slope up to the kiosk, which can be an absolute killer, but as we rounded the corner and John said 34 mins I knew I had to make the effort to keep under 35, so I managed to stagger/run up the slope, with volunteers cheering me all the way.

The final time was 34:43, which was 22 seconds slower than my PB but well within the target I set myself, and I’m confident now that the next time I try, all being well, I should be able to set a new record. I’m also happy that I was making a real effort, and not kicking myself for any sections that I could have taken faster.

I won’t be doing it every week, though. The run was hard at that pace, and I wouldn’t like to run at that speed all the time. Mind you, I suspect that with a little effort that speed will feel more comfortable, and I’ll achieve more still by pushing myself hard.

Many thanks to John for pacing me and keeping me going, to Jacky for getting me out training during the week, and to all who offered encouragement.

Next weekend is a 10k run (so the same again, but twice as far!), with possibly further 10k runs in the future, and my next parkrun PB attempt will be at the end of February, so watch this space!

For anyone who’s interested (mainly me!) my times for each k were:

  1. 6:39
  2. 6:36
  3. 7:21 (the muddy, wet one)
  4. 7:02
  5. 6:58

via Endomondo, which is within a few seconds of the official parkun time. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever had three of them under the 7 min mark (apart from the original PB, I guess).

Looking forward to improving that still further in the weeks and months to come. And adding more 10k statistics to the pile.



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