The start of the year has been a bit of a washout.
Not so much the weather, though that has been poor by any standards. I am referring to my own meagre efforts at training.
Since the ‘Lock Up The Year’ half-marathon on New Year’s Eve morning, I had managed one 5k trot in the local park, and one swim. I then had a miserable head cold which paid a visit to all the family. I wasn’t exactly bed-ridden, but it left me with no great desire to run.
This morning, I was feeling a good deal better, so decided to do the local parkrun at Castletown. It was a cold start to the day, and I arrived a little late so the warm-up routine was somewhat abbreviated. And as I discovered halfway around, the course has changed.
It is no longer a simple two-lap course, which is fine on two counts: firstly, the original course seemed to be about 5.1k long. Not a disaster, but certainly for those with a keen eye on the minutes and seconds, that extra bit could equate to half a minute. Secondly, the revised course includes more of the paths that make this location so attractive. The only downside is you no longer pass the magnificent façade of the main house, and the last stretch to the finish is slightly uphill. But these are minor details. Parkrun is still a wonderful example of everything that’s good in the world, and it can only happen with volunteers. If you don’t currently do a parkrun, find one. If you do already, volunteer. If you do that too, then you, sir or madam, are a legend. I doff my beanie hat to you.
There is a certain palindromic numerical convergence going on today. I have finished in the 20+ places a good few times. 22nd twice (today, 23rd). My first time at Castletown was 22:22. Today, my time was 22:22. I ran a 22:22 back on 25th January, 2014. And it was my 22nd parkrun in total since I began running them back in 2013. 31st of August to be exact, when I clocked in at 24:06. I have steadily shaved off a few seconds here and there, and my current PB (set in Griffeen in Lucan) is 21:31 in October of last year.
I’d love to get that under 21 minutes by the end of the year.
There was one landmark moment for me, which happened in May of 2014. I had completed 8 parkruns and had not managed to dip under 22 minutes. I also had another target in mind. Back in 1980, at school, when I must have been 12, I ran a 5k race in 22:09. My parents still have the little A6 card (rather faded) certificate on the cork board in the kitchen. I have no idea what condition the 12-year old me was in those days, but I know I was fairly keen at running, and had a few plaques and medals from various community games over the years.
They do say parkrun is really a run against yourself. So I guess a 48-year old me is entitled to chase down a 12-year old me (though I was a couple of years younger when I reached that particular milestone).
Anyway, as they say, it’s all about the pace, ’bout the pace, no trouble. So I have put together a really simple chart. Use as you wish. There are lots more of these online, with a lot more detail. I just wanted a simple one. I hear a lot of runners saying things like “yeah, just did a 6 miler there, knockin’ out 9 minute miles…”
I generally work in kilometres. That’s simply down to the way I have SmartRunner set up on my iPhone, which I don’t use much in any case. I don’t own a Garmin.
Hopefully, this marks the end of the sniffles and muzzy heads. By the end of the month, I shall be in possession of a training programme for hardman.
That, as they say, will put manners on ya’!