my running adventures – barefoot or otherwise
This last weekend was a wonderful weekend in which my sister and her husband (my sister’s brother – I know, we’re brothers-in-law twice over!) came up to visit us from Bristol.
The weather was fantastic, and with my wife not teaching piano on Saturday morning, I’d planned in advance, with her blessing, to attend the local parkrun at Rushcliffe Country Park. I was excited about this parkrun as my running times have been slowly getting better of late, so I knew I was on for a potential pb time. I was also excited about this parkrun because I’d registered my sister for it, told her about it, and she was up for giving it a go!
For this race, I decided to wear the same running shoes I’m planning on wearing for the 10-mile race on Friday 7th June, just to get myself used to them again. The Saucony Hattori LCs will have to wait a little longer to debut in a race of some sort!
One of my goals, incidentally, for May was to run a sub-18 minute parkrun 5k. Sadly, the previous weekend that I’d planned to do parkrun coincided with end of term stomach bugs all round the family, so I didn’t attend on the 25th May. Therefore, my May goal had to wait to be attempted on 1st June.
My younger sister has been an inconsistent runner over the last few years, going through periods of regular running, and periods of little, if any running. Right now, she’s in a great period of running where she’s been fit and healthy for over a month and her times have come plummeting down!
The weather was beautiful, bright sunshine with no cloud in sight. We got to the park in plenty of time and made our way to the start line. However, the nerves must have attacked my sister, because just as we were approaching the other runners, she decided that it really was best she go to the toilet first!
We were now against the clock in order to get back in time to run, but fortunately we managed it with just a couple of minutes to spare! We arrived in time to hear the usual necessary information about the course, rules of parkrun (i.e. giving way to other park users, etc) and hear welcomes and give applause to first-timers and parkrun tourists visiting from various places including Edinburgh and Bristol (my sister!).
We set off near the front of the pack, but went our separate ways from the beginning, as I was looking for a pb and my sister is a bit slower than me.
Within the first 500m, I settled in to 4th position and as my app gave me the first 1km time, it was evident I wouldn’t be able to keep this pace up (3:23/km pace!), but I was still in touch with the three runners ahead of me.
At the 3km mark, I really started to feel like I hated the 5km distance! It seems like you’re almost sprinting the entire way round and my breathing was heavy from about 2km! It was around this point that I overtook the guy in 3rd place and now I was hunting the front two runners.
As an aside, the entire course for this parkrun is on loose-ish gravel paths and so the crunch, crunch under your feet means you don’t have an amazing grip on the surface. I keep telling myself that this means I could go even faster for 5k on a normal road surface!
I’d moved into 2nd place on the last hill of the first of the two laps of the 5k parkrun and was trying to extend the gap between me and the guy I’d overtaken. I didn’t want to get sucked into a battle with him and really wanted to try and stay with the guy in front, although he seemed to be getting steadily further away from me! He seemed like he was coasting too, and ran 16:54 in the end – rapid!
Anyway, I was determined to break 18 minutes and seemed on track at 4km and just had to tough it out despite my legs feeling wobbly and feeling like they just wanted to stop. Not even slow down, they just wanted to stop. I think I had shocked them into this state, as I haven’t done anywhere near as much running as I’d like to have in the past few weeks, and cycling just doesn’t have the same impact, or work the same muscles quite so much as running does.
I really had to try hard to keep good form in that last km because frankly, my body was telling me it wanted to curl up in a ball and go back to sleep.
I crossed the finish line and my Strava app timed me finishing in 17:33, a new pb! This beat my previous best parkrun pb of 18:22 which I’d set back in early April.
One of the galling things for me personally about being ill last weekend is that if I’d done this time the previous week, I’d have come first! But that wasn’t to be. So, as it stands, I have done parkrun three times. I came 4th in my first parkrun, 3rd in my second parkrun and 2nd in my 3rd parkrun…will I finish first next time? That remains to be seen, but I really enjoyed the hard effort I had to put in to achieve my May goal a day late! It filled me with an immense sense of achievement and reassured me that I am improving and can hopefully look forward to bringing my time down further looking ahead. My goal for the 5k distance is to achieve a sub-17 minute 5k by the end of 2013 and so I just need to shave off 36 seconds to do that, over the next six months. 36 seconds, because my official time was 17:35 in the end.
In the meantime, I have a 10-mile race this Friday evening. It is on the same day as I’m on a course, one which is quite intense based on the last day of this course I went on, so I’m hoping the need to clear my head will help motivate me to run to a fast time!
My goal for this race is an ambitious sub-1 hour time, which means running sub 6 minute miles (sub 3:45kms) for all 10 miles/16km. A tough ask for me at this stage I think! My current pb for this rarely competed distance in my training is approximately 1:05, and I think I’ll be in 1:02 or 1:03 territory realistically on Friday evening in good weather. If it’s hot, or windy, then I’ll be slower.
Back to parkrun, and after a good chat with a couple of other early finishers, I clocked my sister on the ‘home straight’ and embarrassed her mildly with my over-enthusiastic cheering. After looking up the results online later on in the day, my sister had run a 5k pb too! She finished in 29:24 and came 94th out of 129. I’m so proud of her achieving a new pb. It must have spurred her on, because since then, she’s gone on to run nearly 10k distance in under 52 minutes!
Here’s a picture of my sister and I back at home after our pb-tastic parkrun!
Sadly for me, the parkrun barcode scanner was having issues of its own in the sunshine and it took a few days to get my details to show against my time in the results. My official time was 17:35, which I was really pleased with and hope to build on now.
When we got home, I had a nice big drink of chocolate milk (apparently, this is a poor person’s solution to protein shakes to help muscles recover after exercise, which I’m happy to try, rather than shelling out £40-odd on something that is probably going to taste disgusting) and a banana.
Next up – a review of my 10-mile race some time over the weekend or early next week. For now though, if you live near a parkrun, I recommend you go and try it (remember to register online first, and print out a barcode so you get a recorded time!). People are so friendly and it is such a fantastic concept to help encourage the nation to get fitter and healthier. You can find out more about my ‘parkrun passion’ on a previous blog post.
After we got home, we made a plan to head out in the glorious sunshine as a family and despite the long-ish journey, had a wonderful time at Rufford Country Park. Here are some photos of what we got up to!
Have you done a parkrun? What did you make of it?
What do you eat/drink after a run or race to help you recover?