The Rio 2016 Olympics were a phenomenal success for Great Britain and Team GB - standout athletic performances, an array of new sports getting showcased (anyone else feel like a Diving expert now?), an unprecedented medal haul, and an even more unexpected second place finish in the medal table. I loved it, and joined many in setting alarms for silly o'clock in the morning to watch the likes of Mo Farah and Jess Ennis-Hill compete.
So how should we celebrate our Olympic heroes? Well Saturday saw what was billed as the nation's biggest sports day take place in association with the 'I Am Team GB' programme, an event which encouraged people to get active in a series of local sports events. Historically, ITV also switched off all its channels for an hour during the morning in the hope people would literally get off the couch. Some were skeptical of whether this move would work with people simply being able to switch to another of the multiple TV channels we have (its a shame the BBC did not follow suit being the Olympic broadcaster after all!) But in my option what is the harm in doing it? If it means any number of people got active as a result then it was worth it, and the act itself has certainly got people talking about sport and physical activity for a start.
So on Saturday morning I joined in with the rest of the country in celebrating our Olympic success and headed to Lincoln parkrun for an I Am Team GB themed event. We were encouraged to wear red white or blue (all three if you could!), and whilst my addiction to purple exercise wear meant this was a bit of a struggle, I did manged to dig out my red running vest. Many other runners had got into the spirit too, you will see from the start line photo (can you spot me?!) that there is very strong red, white and blue presence! Boultham Park itself was also adorned with some Team GB flags and bunting which set the scene nicely.
As for the run, I do not think there was any danger of me running a Mo Farah-esque 5k time, but I did hope I would be able to emulate my own recent return to 5k running form and try and keep sub 23 minutes. My last parkrun had been a new PB of 22:28, so if I could get near to that again I would have been happy, and it would also demonstrate some consistency. As I ran my legs felt great; powerful, light, and importantly fast.
I seemed to eat up the first two laps of the three loop course, and when you are running like that there is no need to consult the Garmin; you know things are going well. I did glance at my watch as we entered the final sections, but to be honest it felt like a wasted second and I knew I had a strong sprint left in my legs regardless of my time. I surged hard for the finish and slapped stop on my watch as I crossed the line. The result - a new PB of 22:03. I was very happy; and also a bit hot and sweaty (see beautiful post run photo!)
Its hard to believe that a few weeks go I was stuck running 24 plus minute times, I honestly could not have imagined running the splits I needed to get close to going sub 22 minutes. The way my legs felt on this run has given me belief though that I may be able find that little bit extra to dip into the 21 minute time zone one week. Perhaps Mo needs to watch his back after all..! But parkrun is not all about finish times as we know; and it was a joy to stand back and look at the streams of people winding through the park, making the decision to be active. I hope the I Am Team GB events across the country inspired many to take part in activity or try something new, but one thing is for sure, parkrun makes this happen every single week without fail.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...