Eight months into 2016 and I have finally been able to change one of the PB’s on my medal board. I love my medal board, handmade by my friend, it was the first thing I hung up in January this year when I bought my own home. In fact, it is probably the most precious item in my house with all my medals and race numbers adorning it. Recently though I had begun to doubt if I would ever actually be editing any of the chalk numbers which display my best times over 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon distance – but this weekend the time came to get the chalk out.
Following on from last week's trip to Lincoln parkrun where I found myself in 22 minute territory for the first time in 2016, I headed to parkrun this week with a new sense of expectation and a certain level of pressure. Could I match this very surprising time? I found the run tougher this week. The weather was warmer and I was pushing myself even harder with this new knowledge of what my legs could do. Like last week I didn’t really pay attention to my watch at all, instead I ran to feel and using the reference of others runners around me. I didn’t even look at my watch as I entered the final sections of the run; finding myself instead in an intense sprint finish battle with a rapid junior parkrunner (she pipped me to the post – although we recorded exactly the same time in the parkrun results!) In the finishing funnel I was spent, and in my tiredness I didn’t really take in the fact my watch read 22.28. It was only when I collapsed on the grass next to my friend that I fully took my time in; a new PB! I had ran thirty seconds quicker than last week and taken nearly ten seconds off my old PB, which I has set over a year ago.
So where on earth has this PB come from when just two weeks ago I was struggling to complete 5k in anything under 24 minutes? Whilst I am in the midst of training hard for the Berlin Marathon, I am not focusing on speed, so although I am sure my training is playing some part I do not think it is the biggest driver. Usually marathon training saps me of my speed too! I am now beginning to believe that conquering one of my biggest fears has played a huge part.
Stemming from my youth I have a considerable level of apprehension when it comes to attending the doctors or seeking medical advice. I had not been registered with a GP for many years and was known for saying the only time I would go was if I thought I was dying! But a month or so ago I faced my fear, nervously signed up to my local GP and booked myself an appointment.
I knew something was physically wrong with me, I was tired and my body was not performing well in running. My times had dropped dramatically and everything was much more of an effort than it used to be, even when I tried to take things easier. I obviously knew I wasn’t dying, but it had got to the point where one of the things that brings me the greatest pleasure in life – running - was making me feel low. I believed I might be anaemic and following blood tests (which involved me having to attend a hospital appointment and face yet another of my fears!) the results proved my suspicions were correct.
At first I did not take the diagnosis well. It was not the end of the world I know, but I felt that I had let myself down. I control what goes into my body and I had clearly not been doing this right. I was annoyed with myself and upset to have to label myself as anaemic. My initial reaction may have been a bit over the top, and when I admitted my anaemia to people and researched online I began to realise it is common amongst many female runners who like me are also vegetarian. Since getting my results I have been taking iron tablets and now as I come to reflect, I can feel a change in my body. I have been working some long hours at work recently meaning I have been getting up early or going out late to run. But I have managed it and not felt like a zombie, as I was beginning to become. Running hills were my biggest indicator something was wrong. I had been struggling up any incline, legs having nothing in them, breathing unusually rapid, and then never being able to recover from the effort. But now I am finding hills back to their usual more manageable level of difficulty. My parkrun times have to be another indicator of improvement in my body – for now I am back within 22 minute time zone, whereas previously I could not shift my time not matter how hard I tried.
I am really proud of my new parkrun PB, especially as it took me so much by surprise. However, I am also proud that I went to the GP and faced my fears, especially as it seems to be paying rewards in my running.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...