Some people seem to be getting parkrun pb’s each week, but not me! When I first started I did speed up a fair bit (I even had 3 weeks where I improved exactly a minute each time!) but that was on the super flat St Albans course. Since going to Panshanger I have enjoyed the experience of the run so much more- it has such lovely scenery, so mostly I have not been trying to go flat out. I used it as a short fast run last year in my marathon training, and the last time I got a pb was on my birthday (back in May). I have been trying to keep my runs under 30 minutes, but mainly I want to enjoy them so I don’t want to spend the run gasping for breath and feeling sick, so I have not really pushed at all.
I was hoping to beat my course pb at some point this year, which is 27.44, but since then I have only run one beginning with 27 (27.55 back in September). In fact since 2014 (basically since going to Panshanger) I have only run 4 times under 28 minutes- 27.45 in San Fransisco (a very flat course but I had not been running much on holiday) and then 27.39 a Hove- again super flat but it was very windy, and the day before a race so I was trying not to go flat out. The only St Albans run I did last year was as part of a long run so that was 28 something (whereas when that was my regular run, I would quite often finish 27-something). I felt like I was capable of beating my pb, but then each week the overriding memory is of gasping for breath on the finishing hill and feeling sick while I get my token scanned. I do love it, honest, but that hill, which isn’t even long (it’s the last 0.1 mile) is very steep and as it’s the last thing you run it’s what you remember.
Anyway, this week my dad picked me up. The forecast was cold, so I had worn my 50 t-shirt with a thin long sleeved top over the top, but as we were waiting for the talk to begin, I made a last minute decision to take my top off, and ran back to the fence where I had hung my bag, to leave it in there. I knew I would warm up and didn’t want to feel all hot and horrible. Last week we ran the whole way together, and as we set off my dad was still chatting to me so we stayed together for the first km- I pointed out to him the 1km marker as he never notices any of them, but as I have been tail runner I know where they are. He was feeling good and wanted to test his knee, so after that he headed off, but I tried to keep him in sight- I managed it for a bit! A few times I glanced at my watch and saw 8-something, so I knew I was going pretty fast, but I also told myself that within a half marathon I managed some 8-something miles, so not to panic about going too fast.
From their facebook page- I am in the red top and I think both feet are off the ground! Dad is next to me here but hidden by other runners.
And there’s my dad in the blue top.
I felt like I was overtaking a lot of people, meaning that I was keeping my pace going and not slowing down. I tried hard to keep up my speed on the long downhill section as often I get overtaken here as I think I worry about falling over. The ground was much drier so the final mile was much nicer- no more slipping and sliding or collecting mud on your shoes. I had seen my watch at that point and didn’t want the adrenaline rush (I get that if I think I am going to get a pb and then I slow down as my legs so wobbly) so I flipped my watch around so I could not be tempted to think about it.
Coming up the final hill I really pushed on (remembering to use my arms and thought about the how torturous lunges and squats from body pump must help make my legs stronger for this) and even managed to overtake someone- I did say “go on” but I think he thought I was talking to myself.
As I crossed the finish I remembered to stop my Garmin and saw the time- 27.29! This was exciting but at that point I was not 100% sure of my course pb (my actual one is 26.29 on the pancake flat St Albans course)- I got my breath back and then mentioned to my dad that I thought it might be. “This will be when the results are delayed” he said- he was right! He dropped me off home, I had a shower and breakfast, checked my phone- no text or email. I did some work, checked my phone- no text or email! I posted on a running facebook group (saying I had my fingers crossed for a pb but was waiting for it to be official) and one of the RD’s for Panshanger replied saying they were having issues and results would be delayed, so at least I knew! It wasn’t until just after 1pm that I finally got my email confirming it- 27.28- a new course pb by 15 seconds! Not too shabby!
I do like the rule of thumb of taking 1 day per mile to recover from a hard race effort, and this Saturday was 13 days after the Brighton half (which was indeed a hard race effort). It seems with hindsight that it was the perfect time after the race to attempt a pb- I was still enjoying the benefits from the training, but had allowed enough time to recover after. My last pb was around a month after the Brighton marathon, so again enough days to recover but my fitness would not have been lost.
I feel like I would quite like to go to a flatter course and test myself out, but before too long it will be hot and I slow down in the heat! Next weekend I am marshalling as lots of our club runners are graduating their couch to 5k course, and then over Easter I am not sure if I will go. There are also a few local courses that I want to try (well, up to 30 min drives away)- so many parkruns, so few Saturdays!