72 running miles banked over the last 7 days. The highest weekly mileage in my life to date. Marathon training really is in full swing and I’m completely focussed on the Virgin London marathon on the 26th of April. I organised a pub quiz during the week and raised a further £500 towards my £2000 goal (if anyone is interested, you can sponsor me here; http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/spraggins ).
With this amount of fatigue built up, I went into this weekends racing with low expectations – the legs were feeling tired and sluggish and I was just hoping to survive through to Sunday night. I wanted to run 8 miles on Saturday so I squeezed 4 slow miles in on the way to the parkrun start-line. I had no goals in mind for the run – I just wanted to get round at a fairly reasonable pace, nothing too quick.
We were away promptly at 9, and 6 guys broke off the front, leaving a second group of 5, myself included, making our way through the first couple of kilometres. The pace felt very comfortable, so I just sat off the back of the group and made sure I wasn’t working too hard. There were some familiar faces in the group, and I knew at least 3 of the others were faster than me over the 5K distance, so I was just happy to take it relatively easy and see where we were at after the first lap of the park.
Quite amazingly, I felt fantastic, and going through halfway, I found I could push on with relatively little effort. I’d never felt this comfortable during parkrun running at this speed, and in my mind, this was a big breakthrough run for me, and told me that training was certainly making a difference. I broke off away from the front of the group on the first hill of the second lap,and pushed on from there.
Still not aware of how fast I was running, I passed the guy in 5th as he was going backwards quickly (not literally) and for the first time, allowed myself a glance at my watch. Wow. After a fairly average first couple of kilometres, I’d upped it without realising and found myself in a position where a personal best was potentially the cards. After this, the game plan of ‘taking it easy’ went out the window and it was time to really get moving.
I caught the guys in 3rd and 4th and clung on for dear life. I wasn’t able to pass them in the final 500m, but it didn’t matter one jot. I stopped the clock at 18.22, a 15 second personal best and 5th place in a field of 222 runners. The most pleasing aspect of this performance (apart from having 70 miles in the legs), was the fact that I’d set off at what felt like a fairly conservative pace, and I didn’t give it absolutely everything that morning. On a good day, with a decent rest beforehand, going under 18 minutes might be a realistic goal, a time which before today, I would never have thought possible.
That brought to a close the first of a two part race weekend. The Tunbridge Wells half marathon would follow on the Sunday, and I’ll jot down a few thoughts on here shortly…