At the beginning of 2014, writing my running targets for 2014, it seemed unlikely that I’d be achieving any of them for some time as I’d sprained an ankle just three weeks before …
Brighton Half Marathon – 16 February 2014
One of the things that I love about being a frequent, consistent runner is how quickly my body repairs and recovers after hard efforts or injuries. I resumed running 4 weeks after my injury and returned to my typical 25 to 30 miles a week the week after that. As a result I had been back in training for almost 6 weeks when race day at the Brighton Half Marathon arrived. I chatted with the 90 minute pacers at the start line and settled in to track them throughout the race. With an existing PB of 89:53 my aim was just to ensure I finished the requisite “more than 7 seconds” in front of them to record a new PB. The weather at Brighton was fantastic; clear blue skies, cool and still and this combined with the close to flat course to create perfect running conditions. Within the first 7 or 8 km I saw and briefly chatted to a runner I recognised from December’s Brighton 10k; I’d drafted behind him towards the end of that race before pushing on to a new, and for the first time sub 40 minute, PB. At about 14 km I began to struggle mentally with the effort required to stay with the pacers, but remembered my experience at the Ealing Half Marathon and pushed myself on. Having reached 18 km and doubled back along the sea front for the second and last time the distance seemed to pass ever more slowly and though I had moved in front of the pacers I felt sure they would pass me at any moment. Eventually my watch showed 20k and I pushed as hard as I could; afterwards I was really pleased to find that I’d covered the final km in just under 4 minutes. Finish time an amazing, to me anyway, 88:16! I briefly spoke to the pacers and it turned out they’d mistakenly run faster than their intended schedule!
Self Transcendence 10 mile, Battersea Park – 1 March 2014
My first ever 10 mile race and hence a guaranteed PB, but buoyed by my performance at Brighton I revised my 2014 target of 67:53 to 66:30. I love the events organised by Run and Become at Battersea Park, this was my tenth, as they meet all my criteria for a perfect race! [Note to self – blog post in there.] In a small field of a little over a hundred I soon found myself in plenty of space and settled down to my goal pace. At the end of the first of six laps I was close enough to the group in front to hear them described as the “leading female runners” by the race PA. Using the group as a focus I caught up with the third of the three and followed her she passed the other two and gradually broke away from the group. She maintained her pace and, as the laps and miles passed, stretched her lead over me to perhaps 100 metres or more. I certainly reached the conclusion that I wouldn’t be catching her, but continued to focus on her as the next runner in front of me whilst trying to maintain my goal pace. Over the final two miles or so I realised that I was in fact closing the gap and as I approached the final mile this combined with me being able to hear at least two male runners closing on me from behind. This generated the most exciting close to a race I can recall. I covered the final mile in 6:23 and the final km in under 4:00 and in so doing passed the lead female, (“Hope Sloly” the results reveal) who called out “well done” as I did so, and also held off the male runners pursuing me. Hope’s performance throughout the race made a huge difference to mine on the day; a highly satisfying 66:41. Thank you!
Reigate Priory Mile, Track Coulsdon – 5 March 2014
Again my first ever race over this distance and another guaranteed PB, but going into this I knew that I wouldn’t be getting close to my target of 5:00. I am not sure that I ever will, but the 5 minute barrier is just too attractive to nominate anything else as my goal … I revised it to 5:20, but even as I chatted to one of the other runners before the start about spiked shoes I acknowledged that 5:30 might be more realistic without any middle distance specific training in advance of the race. Running in a field of 12 I hoped for someone to pull on, but took up my finishing position of sixth within the first 50m and couldn’t make fifth place come close enough to help. Nonetheless a finishing time of 5:31.7 which equates to an age grade of 75.50%; my all time sixth best performance in over 75 events at all distances.
parkrun, Dulwich Park – 8 March 2014
My first competitive 5k of the year and only my second parkrun or 5k of any kind for that matter; the only other being a non-competitive Crystal Palace parkrun in January when I was still running tentatively on my recovering ankle. Dulwich parkrun is by far the fastest of the parkruns within easy reach of home and it is also the one I ran first. As such I know the course well and the subtle elevation profile that dictates the km splits. Not that it feels like that at the time; I’m holding on for dear life and only recognise the patterns at my PC later. Splits from existing 18:58 PB at Dulwich in November were 3:54, 3:50, 3:46, 3:52 and 3:36. This time I ran 3:41, 3:50, 3:48, 3:53 and 3:43 totalling 18:55. All the improvement in the opening kilometre and so it seems Chris Goodman‘s tactic of “go out hard and just hold on” may well have something in it after all.
4 decent PBs in 21 days. I thank you 🙂