Today was parkrun number eight for me, my seventh at Bramley (which is my local parkrun). I headed out after doing my miracle morning and having a banana for a bit of fuel.
It was a bit windy this morning and that made the air quite chilly, so I decided to keep my hoody on over my t-shirt whilst waiting for the run to start. At some point I’m going to invest in some proper running winter/colder weather running gear – today I was wearing running capris, which were fine (and they’re fab as they have a little pocket on the back which is perfect for my barcode and car keys, and my phone actually fits in as well!), and a cotton t-shirt which I got when I ran a 10k years ago.
I still wasn’t warm once the pre-run briefing was done, so I decided to keep my hoody on to start with, knowing that because the course is four laps of the park, I’d be able to ditch it after a lap and pick it up later on.
We set off and I immediately felt like a PB was off the cards today. It felt hard! Maybe I just really need to warm up properly before the run to get my heart rate up a bit. It also doesn’t help that the first part of the course is uphill. However, when I looked at my watch I could see that my pace wasn’t too bad given I was running uphill, as I’m always slower on that bit. I decided just to run the first lap comfortably-hard (not too hard, as I needed to be able to do another three laps, but not so comfortably that I wasn’t pushing) and see what my time was at the end of the lap. Towards the end of the of lap I took off my hoody (it was a large, loose hoody so easy to remove!) and threw it on the wall near the finishing chute.
I knew that if I could aim for about seven minutes a lap I’d be close to my PB, as the fourth lap is slightly shorter. I can’t remember what my time was, but I think it was under seven minutes, so I decided to plough on up the hill and see what time I hit for my first mile. I told myself that if I ran the hill on this second lap, I could walk it on the third (I may have used this tactic before…).
The elevation at Bramley parkrun
My first mile was 8:39, which was an improvement of sixteen seconds on my first mile from my previous parkrun. Knowing that I actually had a chance of beating my PB, even if I didn’t push crazy hard the rest of the run, really spurred me on the for the rest of the lap.
When I got to the start of the second lap, I was easily under my seven minutes per lap target, and convinced myself to run/jog the hill as best I could (again, telling myself I could walk it on the next lap – HA!). The wind that had made me so cold before the run didn’t actually bother me during the run at all. It didn’t seem to make running difficult, or make me cold (unlike a previous parkrun where I was frozen the whole time despite really pushing my pace).
When my watch beeped for the end of mile two (8:21) I was really pleased, and just hoped I could sustain that pace, as that would guarantee me a PB – mile two was two seconds faster than my previous run. To be honest, by the time I completed mile two, I had already done the uphill bit three out of four times, and that definitely gave me a boost! Once I got to the top of the hill I tried to even out my pace, speed up a little and get my breath back into a rhythm.
The rest of lap three was pretty straightforward, trying to pick up the pace a bit on the downhill but not to go flat out, as there was still one final uphill section to come. At the start of lap four I was still well under my seven minute/lap target, so I knew I’d sustained my pace so far.
The uphill bit of lap four was HARD! I kept giving myself mini targets to run/jog to – a bin, a particular tree, the intersection with another path – and finally got to the top. It was so tempting to stop and walk! At the top, you go onto a field and I was trying really hard to pick up the pace a little bit since it was now much flatter, but I was so tired from the hill! Once I turned the corner (onto the short side of the rectangular-ish lap – the uphill, and part of the field is the first long side), I was able to even out my breathing a bit. It is flat-ish along this bit, but uneven, so I couldn’t just run flat out. To be honest, that is kind of ideal given that it means I can use this part to finish getting my breath back then hopefully start to pick up the pace.
I then turned the corner to come back down (it goes onto a gravelly path here, then back onto tarmac for the final half of the length) and realised I was still running a good time, and at this point really tried to get stronger. Knowing that the final side was all flat or downhill, I really tried to channel my confidence and go for it.
I didn’t actually look at my watch the rest of the run – I didn’t even notice it buzz for the end of mile three. I was just trying really hard to lengthen my stride for the downhill and really finish strong, putting everything into it.
This week I actually remembered to stop my watch on the finish line. I was amazed to not only see number 47 on the token I was given but also to see 25:25 on my watch! The distance was showing as 3.08 miles, so it might have been very slightly short, but even so, it was definitely a PB! I was starting to wonder if I’d got something wrong or my watch hadn’t timed the run properly.
My mile times
The confirmation came through from parkrun though, with my official time being 25:29. I was a) amazed, b) incredibly happy and c) super proud! My third mile was 7:58, with the nubbin completed at a pace of 5:56.
So why so much faster today? Well, the conditions were pretty good. The temperature was nice, and despite all the warnings about mud before the run, it was the least muddy I’ve seen it (except once, when it was frozen), meaning you didn’t have to tiptoe round corners on the field to avoid sliding onto your bum. I definitely credit my miracle morning routine with giving me the optimism and confidence to go for it as well. I’d also only run once in the previous seven days, so maybe the rest did me good.
I have a lot to live up now! I definitely feel like my sub 25 minute 5km target is more realistic though – especially if I can find a flat course!