Last week I posted a slightly cryptic piece, in the hope that some – if not all would quickly work out that I was about to lose my ParkRun cherry.
Well, now that the weekend is over and I can elaborate on that experience in full, I have to tell you (confess really) it was a lot harder than I’d expected.
I have to admit, I had delusions of grandeur where timing was concerned. I honestly thought I was capable of around an 18 minute finish.
Why so confident? 2013, Sheffield Half Marathon – I covered the first 3 miles in 18min 40secs, with the rest of the race still to go. I assumed that with no pressure to continue after the same distance (ParkRun being 5k/3miles), I could push the pace and fall over the line for roughly 18 minutes or thereabouts.
I’d even been stupid enough to imagine what it might be like to win my first ever ParkRun. Prat.
When the race started – with me up front for a fast getaway, I launched into a run and immediately felt like it was gonna be a slog. A few strides in and I was considering the possibility of a bail out. This was exhausting. Why am I running so fast? Why does it feel so hard? This is stupid!
I was in the Salomon Sense 3. Not because they were the ideal, but because as ever – they felt the comfiest and lightest shoes in my ‘toolbox’. I should perhaps have opted for a road shoe, as the entire race takes place on tarmac paths. Despite this blunder, I maintained my ‘fast feet’, high cadence running style and dashed around the first lap (or so I thought), but there were so many runners making a quicker go of it. Not fair.
The week before, as I stood with a friend and watched his wife complete the same race, I’d observed that only a couple of racers appeared to be breaking away and that I would likely figure in the top five easy, should I ever get round to taking part. The same run has taken place every week for the last 2 years and I’ve had every opportunity to get involved, but it took until now to talk myself into going.
So there I was, struggling, fighting and wishing I’d taken an easier start and built speed. But I was now losing the will to live. My girlfriend and baby boy had come to the park to watch, so I was still hoping to pull it out the bag and find some rhythm, but the power continued draining.
I hurled myself downhill, then clawed my way back up again. I actually enjoyed the ups, since as ever – I would still see myself gaining on people, even overtaking during these sections. The problem was the same folk passing me when it evened out again. Boo.
My son had fallen asleep (just as well), my ever loving girlfriend looked as proud as ever, despite my near blow up.
I finished in 20.05. 17th position. Pooped.
Lessons learned: I’m not as fit as I was 2 years ago. Not efficient anyway. I perhaps need to introduce speed work into my training at some point, before expecting to be able to run fast from start to finish. I can afford to set off gently and then get quicker as I go, rather than blowing up ad getting slower. I should wear road shoes and see how much comfier it feels to run fast on hard ground.
I will have to have another crack and see what happens. After I tackle Trail Rush and after an examination of all the facts. Houghboy is frustrated.