The Scribbler

19 February 2011

Diary of a triathlete part 2 – or the things I do for parkrun

Filed under: Parkrun,run,triathlon — The Scribbler @ 16:42
Tags: ,

This week has been crazy – even for me. It’s a ramp up week for training, due to culminate in my first brick session (bike and run to non tri-speakers). This was in the plan for Sunday, but Mr S has booked us on a bread making course, so we’ll be busy.

No problem – I can juggle my training. Saturday was the obvious candidate, but that would mean missing parkrun and I’ve already skipped two weeks. I was ready to catch up with some running buddies and blast out a run on the Town Moor.

I talked over the possibilities with Ian. Early morning’s don’t give me enough light yet to fit in a cycle before work and I’m not an experienced enough rider to go out in the dark. And the same is true in an evening. So we agreed that an indoor brick was a suitable alternative.

On Friday morning I got to the gym for 06:45 to hop on the spin bike for a speedy 10k then straight onto the treadmill for a slightly more sedate 5k run. Then I went to work.

Here’s how my crazy week looks:

Mon: weights
Tues: rest (was meant to run but put it off to Weds)
Weds: 10k run am / boxercise pm
Thurs: PT session (kettlebells) am / swim pm
Fri: brick (10k bike/5k run) am/ pilates pm
Sat: parkrun
Sun: REST (nothing more strenuous than kneading dough)

Wednesday through to Friday has been a bit jam packed. And last night there was just a small matter of coming home, cleaning the bathroom, hoovering the flat and preparing an untried butternut squash risotto for a couple of friends we’d invited round for dinner. But I did it and survived. And felt pretty good actually. Tired, but good.

And so to parkrun and waking on Saturday morning to the sounds of rain lashing against the window and wind howling down the chimney. Perfect parkrun weather.

But I went through the motions. Porridge in tummy, running kit and extra layers on, off and out before I really got chance to think about it. I told myself not to expect too much. I’d had a heavy training week and parkrun was more about catching up with some buddies and enjoying a run.

At first the weather only drew out the hardened runners. At about 08:45 I was looking good for a top 40 finish, but as I went for a warm up jog to the start line, the crowds appeared, including Jeff who had been keeping warm and dry in the car until the last minute. Good to see him at the start line and get a spot of encouragement.

As we were getting ready to start, I overheard a girl in a purple hat talking to her friend and saying she’d done a sub 25 last week. And even though I had it in my mind to keep it steady, I thought I’d see how long I could keep her in my sights.

We were off and racing in a flash away over the moor. I zoomed past a few runners onto the long straight across the moor, only to be overtaken shortly afterwards. Pretty quickly before the first kilometre I was out on my own, just clearing my head and thinking of nothing but just running.

The first kilometre beeps and I sneak a glance at Gerty the Garmin – 04:50 – that’s quite tasty for me. Doing my usual thing and going off too fast? I’m soon through the gate with a thank you to Malcolm, the regular gate marshall, and onto my favourite bit of the course. Just hold it there and see how you go, I think to myself.

Through the muddy gate back onto the moor and I sense a tall male runner in black pulling close up behind me. He’s not crowding me or breathing down my neck, but I sense he’s there. And part of me says ‘He’s a bloke and he’s taller than you – he’s bound to be faster.’ Then my competitive instinct kicks in and I think ‘Not necessarily’.

I stick to my pace as he draws level and maybe a pace ahead. Sorry mate, if you want to go past me, you have to work for it. I won’t make it easy. I lengthen out my strides and keep pushing on. He draws level again, then I’m half a pace ahead. He matches me and I pull away again. Not consciously increasing my speed, just keeping it going. He drops a little way behind until we’re past the 3km marker and heading back towards the 4k gate and then he smoothes on past.

Whether it’s the distraction of this mini race, or just because I’m feeling strong, I sense I’ve run a decent 3-4 km. It’s cold and damp, but there’s very little wind today and that’s helping. At the 4k gate, Flip yells out “Kick from the turn. Looking strong. That’ll be the kettlebells”. I show him my guns and try easing out another centimetre from each stride.

The sub 25 girl in the purple hat is still in sight. Too far to take down in a sprint finish. Maybe she’s not having such a good day today I think as I start pondering what would be a good time for me. 28 minutes I tell myself, 28 would be acceptable, 26 would be better, but we’re not pushing it, remember. And then I tell myself to just shut up and run.

There’s no one close enough to chase down on the final straight, so it’s just about me seeing how well I can do. I’ve picked up a gear already in the last half kilometre. Now I choose my spot and go for the sprint finish all the way through the line.

Take my token from Penny and stop my watch, bent over to catch my breath – 25:01 – you beauty! That’s a course PB. Penny sees it and says that I was easily a second less than that. I don’t even care if it’s under or over that magical 25. It’s a course PB and my fastest 5k since Edinburgh parkrun in October. And all the better because I really wasn’t expecting that after a tough week’s training.

At the finish before a few of us go for coffee, I see Eric putting on his wet gear, ready to cycle back home after his race. Eric’s one of my running heroes. He’s 78 and cycles to every parkrun from the coast, then cycles back. And he’s a canny runner, one of the best in his day. He tells me his fastest 5k time was 16 minutes something and he did that in his 50s. I tell him I want to be just like him, still running in my 70s. What an inspiration. And a great way to round off a fantastic week’s training

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