The Scribbler

8 October 2011

Beware, rookie parkrun pacer at work

Filed under: Parkrun,run — The Scribbler @ 14:41
Tags: , , ,

I turned up at Newcastle parkrun today with only half formed plans in my head. After enjoying the sprints with the running club on Tuesday night, I was in the mood for a fast blast and chasing a potential PB. But I’m also toying with running an off road and hilly 10k tomorrow and wondering what was wise.

It was one of our paced runs this week, but when I turned up, there was only a 20 minute pacer. So, when I asked if they needed any help, I was offered a pacing job. For a second or two I considered taking the 25 minute shirt and making myself run at my best. But although I’d understand if I dipped under the time, I didn’t think it would be fair if others were pacing off me and failed to reach their goal. So I adopted the gigantic 30min shirt hoping to make someone happy with a good time this week.

Watch set, mind set at 6 min/km pace and off we go. I jog out, easy, easy, warm up pace and keep an eye on my watch. I know I’ve gone off a bit speedy, but really do try to keep it steady and in check. My pace shows somewhere around 05:30 as I keep checking my Garmin. But at the first kilometre mark, I’ve clocked 05:09 – way too fast for anyone using me as a pacemaker. The fact that I can run that kind of pace and find it feels easy shows how much I’ve  improved with my running.

I slow it down and let myself get blocked in a little behind a couple of other runners. This is usually the kind of position I hate to find myself in, but today I use it to slow down to nearer 5:50 pace. Out across the moor towards the gate, the wind picks up and I can hear the runners around me digging in. A couple running together are encouraging each other.

Along Grandstand Road and I’m holding the pace at just under 6min/km. It feels like a nice easy run, but I know this is hard work for many. I draw level with a girl who says ‘Oh no, you’ve caught me! I won’t be as fast as last week.’ I reassure her that I’ve gone off too fast and to keep it going. She tells me she did 27 something last week as she goes ahead and I shout after her that it’s still possible.

Another girl with white blonde hair is struggling with her breathing and takes a bit of a walking break. But she’ll be fine. I give her the thumbs up and tell her to come back at me.

Back through the gate and onto the smooth tarmac path and the long straight towards the finish. There’s a slight uphill here until the lone lamppost, but the surface is fast and easy. I’m still checking my pace and making mental calculations. I’m running at just under 30 min pace now, but that fast first 2km means I’m well ahead of target. So instead of picking it up, as i would normally do here, I slow it down again, hoping the runners behind can still see me and keep hoping.

By the last corner I’m still a good minute and a half ahead, so I stop and jog on the spot, calling back to the runners behind to encourage them on. A man and his young daughter come past hand in hand. I tell them they’ll thrash 30 minutes and offer similar encouragement to all those coming through. They include the girl with blonde hair who looks happy to have made it.

With about 30 seconds to go, I spot a lady in a white and pink t-shirt and shout to her that she can still make sub 30. She starts to put a bit of a sprint on. So I go with her down that final straight. “I can’t, I can’t,” she pants, really putting the effort in now.

“You can. Just 20m to go,” I shout and keep pushing her to the line.

I’m afraid I cross in front of her, which I didn’t mean to do, but I stop my watch at 29:51. As she catches her breath, I show her the screen and she’s delighted.

“Is that really sub 30?” she asks, incredulous.
“Absolutely”, I say with confidence.
“That’s it then, I quit,” she laughs as she goes to pick up her barcode. And it makes my slower than usual run totally worth it.

I later learn she’s called Gillian and is a parkrun regular. Well done Gillian. You made my day. It was brilliant to help you achieve your goal and I’m so glad you dug in and went for it in those last metres. I was really pushing you to sprint and you did!

I’ve benefited from the pacers in the past, keeping one behind me to record my PB on this course. And I’ve got a lot from parkrun; from the good discipline of getting up early and getting the run done, to some decent speed sessions and learning how I deal with racing and pacing myself. Parkrunners have also been very generous with their Great North Run sponsorship too.

So, although I felt a bit strange to have run and not had the big adrenaline buzz of a tough session, it was worth the effort. And with a speed session and an easy run this week, I hope I’ve not set myself up too badly for a run at Hellhole 10k tomorrow. I’m not expecting a PB, but it will be interesting to see how these road runner legs cope with a tough mixed terrain course. And it will be much more interesting that my usual Sunday run.

Stats and stuff:
3.15 miles 29:51
1) – 0.62m – 5:09(8:18/m) – 63cal
2) – 0.62m – 5:48(9:19/m) – 65cal
3) – 0.62m – 5:56(9:33/m) – 65cal
4) – 0.62m – 5:53(9:29/m) – 65cal
5) – 0.62m – 6:50(11:00/m) – 65cal
6) – 0.04m – 15(5:44/m) – 3cal

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