I’ve been ParkRunning for most of this year now – did my 24th today, in fact! My Personal Best time (PB) had been 28:16, which I’d recorded back in June, when I was in serious training for the Lisburn half-marathon. But ever since then my times had got worse.
So in an attempt to stem this downward tide, I joined Jog Lisburn. These fabulous folk were following the Couch to 5K programme, as the vast majority of them were getting ready for their first ever 5k run. Training was 2 nights a week, rain or shine, and even on dark nights we found routes in Wallace Park which still had some illumination. That, coupled with ensuring I didn’t overdo the booze on a Friday night, brought about some improvement. And I knew I was fast last week, but it wasn’t until the official results were published that I discovered I’d only been ONE second off my PB. One miserable second!!!
This annoyed me. I started trying to work out how I could monitor my speed and pace while I was actually running. Could I create a playlist that lasted 7 minutes per lap, maybe? I wasn’t keen on a watch type device – I already run with a dog which occupies one hand. So I explored what functionality there might be on MapMyRun. And I found Voice Feedback.
I set it to report every 0.25km, and tell me total time, average pace, average speed, and current pace. I tried it out walking the dogs, and again at Wednesday night’s training. I was really keen to do well this week, as I’ll miss the next two Saturdays, and the one after that is scheduled to be the mass Jog Lisburn event.
I got a good night’s sleep (though I still get a real adrenalin rush of nerves before an important run), and had a superfood breakfast of Berry Bircher. That’s overnight oats with flaxseed, goji berries, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranate seeds, cinnamon and manuka honey. Yummy carbohydrates!
The weather forecast had been ominous, with yellow warnings of rain and strong winds, but it turned out to be dry, cold, and just a bit breezy. I had no excuses.
I did my warm-up lap, and my stretches, peeled off my outer jacket, wrapped my headband under the iPhone holder so it wouldn’t be slipping down my arm, selected my jogging playlist, waited for the whistle…..and pressed START.
I’d worried that the frequency of the voice-in-my-ear I’d chosen would be too much, but actually it was just about right. It’s obviously relying on a GPS fix for distance and hence speed, so these aren’t error-free, but the elapsed time is bang on, and I knew I was aiming for a 6 minute first (short) lap, and 7 minutes for the 3 longer laps. To acheive a new PB, I’d need an average pace of under 5:36.
I flung myself down the hills, remembered to keep my knees up, stretched my stride, glided in between each footfall, and didn’t fight the hills. The marshalls, many of whom are fellow Jog Lisburners, cheered me on at every corner. About half way through the last lap, I knew I was going to do it, and do it well. Knowledge is power. I sprinted up to the finish line and crossed it in 27:25.
One of the great things about ParkRun is all the statistics that it holds. This brilliant PB moved me from #499 to #465 in the Best 500 Times table, and from 245 to 202 on the age graded table. Best of all, I’m number one on the female points table!
You want to see the mile-wide smile on my face……..