On parkrunday we visited another new parkrun to us, the under-threat from closure by the parish council, Little Stoke parkrun.
The council who are short sighted enough to think that the cost of a few loo rolls (Ok I’m sure its more complicated than that) outweighs the benefits of 300 of its local residents staying fit and active!
Anyway, we arrived with Nikkii and Steve and got the obligatory selfie.
This was designed to be a tune-up race for me – yes I know parkrun is not a race, but what I intended was for it to be run at a race effort, all out, to see what shape I am in.
I’ve not run an all out 5k effort since August in Yeovilton, post honeymoon and well out of shape – mainly because of that very reason. I knew I wasn’t in PB form, what was the point?
So here we were in the exact same point in my training plan that I set my PB at Newbury last year. Could I finally go sub 20?
I treated it as a race, wore my club vest, did a proper warm up… the works. I had a time in mind and I set my watch for it. No rain, no wind. I felt ready.
The run briefing was excellent, and they warmly welcomed all tourists, but unusually we had to walk nearly half a lap to the start which actually meant we started a bit late. No big deal but as I wanted to start near the front I got there early and had to wait for everyone to catch up!
Without much fanfare, we were off. The course itself is a 3 and a half lapper, all tarmac but on some quite narrow paths. It is also pretty flat, though half the lap you are gradually moving (very slightly) uphill, so the second half is ever-so-slightly down. Its not too noticeable until the last lap when you realize you are blowing out of your ass at the farthest point of the course!
The marshals around the course were excellent and very supportive, and of course there was always Nikkii making her voice very well heard! I’m sure whoever was running near me also got a boost from her yelling at me for going too slow!
The first lap and a half flew by and I was on pace for my target. Then I started catching some back markers. Despite the best efforts of the marshals and the briefing to keep them to the right, unfortunately they didn’t so it meant a lot of weaving for the rest of the run. It cost a few seconds but hey its parkrun, a run not a race!
Mile 2 was bang on pace (Mile 1 was ahead) and mile 3 started getting tough, probably because I went too quick in mile 1. As I reached the “peak” of the gradual slope and started going a little downhill my legs turned to jelly and I had to really concentrate to hold it together. I was on target still. I dug my heels in. With a quarter of a lap to go I saw I was within 5 seconds of a time with an even nicer ring to it… I gave it one last effort and crossed the line, ready to collapse in P16.
My watch said 19:20. My target was 19:30 and my old PB was 20:22. A PB by over a minute! (The time was confirmed in the official results later).
I immediately lay on the floor to recover. Absolutely exhausted but utterly thrilled. Not only had I beaten my PB, I had SMASHED it. A guy from behind me thanked me for pacing him – happy to help but it was unintentional! The only person I was racing was myself, and I bloody won!
With a single lap/out and back course with no traffic, I wonder how close I can get to 19 minutes? I hope its not another year away.
The team at Little Stoke did an excellent job. Unfortunately we couldn’t stick around for coffee but if the council come down and see the joy in peoples eyes when they see friends, and achieve their personal goals, and they can see how important this is to the local and national community you would hope they could see no other option but to forget about their objection.
Thank you Little Stoke, long may you continue!