Gentle readers, I realise that my recent posts have all been about running. For this, I apologise, as I also realise that the vast majority of you[*] have no interest in running.
That said, dear friends, I am about to make another post about running. So do feel free to skip this one, if so inclined. I will write about something else soon, I promise. For the moment, however, LJ serves as a useful place for archiving some running milestones.
Right. That said, for posterity and the few who are still with me, here goes:
One year ago today,[**] I ran in my first race
, an Oxford Parkrun. Parkruns are nifty things -- many places around the UK have these weekly 5K runs in a local park. I approve.
At the time, I was a recent Couch-to-5K graduate and just eager to finish the course, hopefully not coming in last as an added bonus. In the span of five weeks, I did a total of four Parkruns[***]. My times for those four runs were as follows:
- 2012-Nov-10: 34' 44"
- 2012-Nov-17: 30' 59"
- 2012-Dec-01: 29' 38"
- 2012-Dec-08: 28' 36"
Then the December holidays kicked in and, after the new year began, I started the Bridge-to-10K programme. The 5K Parkruns were put on hold during my 10K training and, until today, I never went back. I must confess that this is partially due to laziness on my part -- I finished Bridge-to-10K months ago, but did not return to the Parkruns. Either I was away from Oxford on travels -- a common occurrence in the Summer months -- or simply preferred to sleep in on my Saturday mornings!
Anyway, that brings us to the present. Knowing it was the one year anniversary of my first Parkrun, I made an extra effort to drag my arse out of bed at 08:00 and be at Cutteslowe & Sunnymead Park with ample time before the run began at 09:00.
As always, I set goals for the run. Last year, for my first Parkrun, the goals were pretty basic: (a) finish the course, (b) don't be last, and (c) don't take more than twice as long as the person who comes in first. Simple goals, but at least I met them all.
For today, I knew that I wanted a new personal best (PB). After all, it has been eleven months! All that training should be good for something. I wanted more than that, though. Last month, <a href=">I finished the Rotary Blenhein 10K in 52:48. Surely, I could finish a 5K in half that time, which would be 26:24. Still, not good enough.
As odd as it now sounds to me[****], a 5K run is a pretty short distance. I now run for 60 minutes, covering distances greater than 10K, two or three times each week. With far less ground to cover, there is also far less need to strictly pace one's self. So beating my 2012 Parkrun PB of 28:36 wouldn't be good enough; nor would the 26:24 of half my 10K time suffice. For today, I decided to see if I could run 5K in under 25 minutes, which would be a sustained average of under five minutes per kilometer.
What this means is that, for most of the 5K run, I was pushing myself as hard as I could. Not much "saving a bit for later", as there wouldn't be much later to save for. I was huffing and puffing as I went, and it felt a lot like the early days of Couch-to-5K when I often felt like I would keel over before the running interval -- all of 60 seconds -- was through. I was rather relieved when I crossed the finish line and could finally stop! The only question remaining, of course, was: "Did I do it??"
Several hours later, my legs still ache. However, it was worth it. My friends, I am very pleased to report that your friendly neighbourhood Nomad succeeded! A little while ago, I received the text with my official results for this morning's run: I finished in 46th
place (out of 115 runners), with a time of 24:45.
Very nice! Okay, I'm not likely to break world records anytime soon... but, still: Very nice!
I achieved my goal, averaging 4:57 per kilometer (or, if you prefer 7:58 per mile). This is the first time that I have completed a sustained run in under 5 minutes per kilometer (or, if you prefer, under 8 minutes per mile). My best recorded 10K was only at a 5:14 pace. Also, to be quite fair, I know that I couldn't maintain this speed for a 10K right now -- it was only possible because of the short distance involved. Even so, it feels pretty good to have solidly broken through the 5 minute barrier!
Looking back, one year ago[**], I completed my first Parkrun in 34:44; today I did it in 24:45. That's an improvement of nearly ten minutes[*****], or over 40%, in a year. Not too shabby! Okay, to be fair, the first 12% came almost immediately
, when I bought proper running shoes to celebrate my first Parkrun. But the remaining 28% increase in my speed from last year has come purely from hard work and training. If I dare indulge in a moment of self-congratulations: Go me!
If there are any of you left still reading this post, I thank you for your patience. Next entry will not be about running, I promise! That said, I'm sure that there will be other running posts in the future, so I really should get an appropriate icon. (Heck, while I'm at it, I could do with an icon of myself where I'm not overweight!)
Meanwhile, have a great Saturday, gentle readers!
[*] Those few of us still on LJ, that is.
[**] Well, fifty-two weeks ago, anyway.
[***] Skipping one because I was speaking at Oxford University's annual Cosmology Day.
[****] And would sound even odder to the me of a year and a half ago!
[*****] Well, nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds. Ah, if only I had come in one second sooner! That would have been an added bonus, to be an even ten minutes under last year's time! Oh well.