The parkrun quest had been to get back to my old 5k PB of 22 mins 37 secs in between finishing the Manchester Marathon in April and starting marathon training for the Berlin Marathon in June. My Berlin Marathon training started this week - which meant Saturday's trip to Lincoln parkrun should technically have been the week I stopped running in the 24/25 minute time zones and got my legs back into gear. Did I? Well no. But things felt more positive...
Heading into parkrun I knew there was no way I was going to run a PB, as I had yet to dip below 24 minutes since the Manchester Marathon; so a sudden near 2 minute drop would have been a bit extreme! My aim instead was to get under 24 minutes for the first time post marathon. I was feeling very determined heading into Saturday morning, this visit to parkrun marked nearly a year since my favourite ever parkrun (see blog), when my friends and I finished in 1st, 2nd and 3rd female positions, and I ran a huge PB at the time of 22.55. A year on and a lot has changed, some good things some not so good, but I had that memory driving me on too.
Standing on the parkrun start line next to my friend feels almost natural now, and as the 'go' signal is given I watch her almost effortlessly dart away from me, and then proceed to slot myself into my own position in the field. The week I keep up with her will be the week I know I am on for a PB! For the first lap of the three loop course I found myself running among a different group of females. I recognised them all as runners who have been finishing well before me in recent weeks, but I kept on their heels nevertheless, feeling comfortable.
I was also focusing on my running form. A photograph taken at last week's parkrun had highlighted to me how bent over I was running, and comparing the image to past running photos I looked much less at ease (I hate the photo in fact!) So I was running aiming to lift my chest and legs higher, hoping this would consequently make my time drop lower (see image - which shows some minor improvement)!
On the second lap the group of females I was chasing began to split and they edged away from me. After a fast first loop I knew I needed to not let my time suffer too much in this middle one. I didn't get preoccupied by my watch though, and instead focused again on my form and keeping in touch with runners around me. By the final circuit of Boultham Park I was feeling the best I had in a long time at parkrun. My legs were not complaining too much and I had no winded sensation in my stomach (possibly from running more upright?) I really dug deep now, trying to catch a female in front of me, and started to pick up my pace very early on. The final winding path felt like forever, and in particular the last 10 or so metres, which is a relative straight sprint into the funnel, seemed like a marathon as I gave everything I had. I collapsed in the funnel again, hands on knees, trying to catch my breath, knowing I should keep moving (sorry!) I had to look at my watch though. It read 24.07.
I was strangely not too disappointed in myself. I was not sub 24 minutes, but 24.07 is my best time since the Manchester Marathon, so this felt positive. I had also felt my best in a long time. Considering the week before Manchester I ran a 25.28 5k, I have knocked 1 min 20 secs off my time - which I should be proud of. Can I really run another 1 minute 20 secs quicker..? At times it feels almost impossible, especially when I know marathon training will sap some of my speed again. But if its one thing I am good at it, it is never giving up - so the parkrun quest continues.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...