In the last week I’ve squeezed in 3*5km efforts – I call them efforts, 2 races and a run, because “Parkrun is not a race” – and I seem to have fallen back in love with the distance.
It started with a womble around Wimbledon Common at the RunThrough Chase the Sun, ironically named as 3 inches of rain fell on Wednesday and instead of chasing the sun we were dodging puddles and mud on the trails, not that I was complaining! Forgoing the warm up in an attempt to stay dry under the bag drop tents, I made a dash for the start line when we were called and set off with the pack, but within 100m or so I was soaked through and took on the mantra of embrace it or waste it, trudging straight through the puddles in our path while others hot-footed it around them.
Although I’ve been including speed work and intervals in my training more recently, my body is still on 50km race pace aka steady does it so when I reached the 1km mark and realised I only had 4 to work with I kicked it up a gear. Ahead of me was fellow FRC-er Maddy and another lady, so I set my target and slowly wound up the pace, aiming to reach them by 3km to give me a 2km go-for-broke finish. My plan worked. Despite a little unfriendly attempt at trying to hold onto my pace as I passed the unknown female, I overtook them and continued to increase my pace, picking off a few other guys who were probably running the 10km race and still pacing steady, to stride home (failing to high five the Womble – pictured) and win first lady in 21:40. Medal, banana and most-importantly homemade flapjack in hand, I headed home, sodden but happy.
Onto the weekend and after an overnight stay in Datchet with Stephanie, we headed to Bracknell Parkrun. On this occasion, someone had locked them out of the clubhouse so at the briefing we were told there were no signs but to look out for marshals on route wearing begged and borrowed high-vis. I seemed to miss the start as we were too busy chatting/didn’t realise where the start line was, but followed suit as others started running and headed off on 2 and half loops of beautiful forest trails.
I clung onto friend and Datchet Dasher Zena for the first lap and then picked up the pace on the second, almost forgetting there was a half lap to go coming back into the park and blowing up but sticking in and finishing in 23:25, 2nd lady and 1st in my age category! I ran a cool down lap with Steph before hopping in the car to meet the Never Stop London team in Swinley Forest and run another 11 miles on the beautiful trails.
On Sunday it was the last of the Surrey League Road Race series at the Wimbledon Dash 5km. It started and finished at Wimbledon Park athletics track and it was nice to be back on flat, potentially fast terrain. My aim was to beat my time from Wednesday’s race and as we started with a lap around the track and headed out onto the road I felt confident that it was achievable. That was until we met the hill. I put my head down though, it was over quickly and we were rewarded with a lovely descent, albeit on tarmac, which I remembered was not my friend. The race would be over before I knew it though – that’s what I’d learnt over this week of short runs – so I got on with it and held onto fellow FRC-er Rick’s tail until the end, finishing back on the track in 20:33, more than a minute quicker than my previous race.
Regular Wild Trail Runners hill (interval) sessions on Mondays, track with Sophie, improved technique thanks to the Running School and fresher legs from no long distance road running seem to have paid off and I’ve found some speed again after a long time looking for it. It’s great but it’s not my main drive, that will be days out on the trails, for now anyway, but it’s good to know that some hard training has paid off.
What’s your favourite distance to race and do you ever push yourself out of your comfort zone, be that shorter, longer or faster, for a challenge?