I finally achieved a goal I had for a while. I was never sure if I could actually get below 17 minutes so I’m happy that I managed to break what was, for me anyway, a fast time. I’d decided this summer that I’d try and do a few more Parkruns to see if I could break 17 minutes. I’ve never ran more than two Parkruns in a row and my last one was in January. I had been running regularly (I ran the Limerick Marathon this year) and added in a bit more specific 5K training. My first attempt was in the Poppintree course which is a fast course. Unfortunately it was unbelievably windy (despite being June). I managed 17:09 which was a PB. I knew I was well on course for my time as if there hadn’t been a near gale blowing I would have been below 17 minutes. The following week I ran in St. Anne’s Parkrun. This is also a flat course and the highlight of the two lap course is the perfectly smooth and long final straight (it’s almost 720m according to Google Maps). The wind was back to normal Dublin levels (a slight breeze) and it was warm. Again another runner went off at a fast pace and again I could use him as an incentive to keep pushing myself around the course. I didn’t look at my watch much just kept myself as close to the limit as I thought I could. It was clear that the lead runner, although the gap had closed fractionally, definitely wouldn’t be caught. With about 300m to go I realised I was going to make it under 17 minutes. I really dug in and pushed as hard as I could to finish in 16:49. Obviously I was delighted with the time as I was well under my target.
Recently week after I went to the Waterstown Parkrun. I did something very unusual for me. I went into the lead almost straight from the start. After about 50m I felt that the general pace was too slow to have a chance at getting under 17 minutes so I decided to take a chance and go into the lead. What I didn’t realise was that the course was quite hilly with a lot of turns. Thankfully there was a lead bicycle (who kept about 20 metres in front of me so he wasn’t pacing me) to guide me. It was a strange feeling running at the front. I felt like I was being chased down by a pack of wolves. The fear of being caught spurred me on and made me dig deep on some of the hills. I finished strongly in a time of 16:39 which was actually a course record (to be fair Waterstown isn’t one of the more popular Parkruns so I’m not getting too big headed about that).
My last Parkrun, a couple of weeks ago, was again in St. Anne’s Park. This time I thought I try and head off in the lead again and see what happened. The conditions were good, warm with not too much wind. I was delighted when I made it home in 16:14. I’m really happy with my 5K progress and now will try to get under 16 minutes if possible. The key for me has been doing specific 5K training. I try and run 2.5K flat-out then stop for about a minute and then run 2.5K flat-out again. My pace in both parts is slightly higher than for a full 5K and this seems to prepare me for the increased stress (especially in the lungs) of running at a faster pace.