I had hoped to be able to run a sub-30 5K by the time I hit 40, but as the big day drew nearer I realised that the chances of that happening were slim to none. Still, that wasn’t going to stop me from trying to improve my time!
On Saturday I completed my final Parkrun in my current age category with a time of 32:50. Not a PB unless you take off the 30 seconds logged for starting further back than the start line, but a decent enough time for me, especially considering I stopped and walked for some of it.
Being used to training on the flat route along the seafront, I find the gentle inclines of the Parkrun a bit tricky sometimes. So, as I don’t turn 40 until tomorrow, I decided to go for another run in the park this morning to get some practice in. I don’t usually run in the morning or in the park other than at weekends but I’ve taken a couple of days of annual leave from work so the opportunity was just too good to miss.
I headed out at around 8:00am. The temperature was quite cool but it was dry and there wasn’t much wind, so I figured I would see if I could beat my PB of 32:25. My main strategy was to try to achieve negative splits for each kilometre but I wasn’t going to try any quick bursts as I wanted to make sure that I could cope with the inclines.
The strategy worked well for the first three kilometres but, as usual, my pace dropped a bit in the fourth. I realise that this is probably due to the fourth kilometre being mostly uphill, so I was pleased that my average pace only dropped by a few seconds.
By the final kilometre I was feeling pretty exhausted, but a quick glance at my Garmin confirmed what I had hoped. If I could maintain my pace, I might just about beat my PB. So I pushed on.
It wasn’t easy keeping the momentum going, but with a nice downhill slope about a quarter of the way through the final split, I was able to pick it up a bit. I relaxed, focused on my breathing and let my legs do what they had to do. Then my pace picked up.
I don’t know how it happened. I think the breathing helped, but there was also the fact that this would be my last chance to get a PB before I turned 40. I knew I wasn’t going to get a sub-30, but I needed something. So I pushed on, trying to go faster with every stride until my Garmin finally beeped to let me know I was done.
And boy was I done! I was exhausted. But it was worth it. 5.01K in 32:01 and a new PB for yours truly. And if I take away the extra 4 seconds that it took to press the stop button, that makes it 31:57 for 5K.
The best part though, and the part that really shocked me, was that I ran that final split in under six minutes – my goal pace for a sub-30 5K! I don’t think I’ll achieve the sub-30 anytime soon, but it’s nice to know that I can achieve the pace that I need and hold onto it for more than just a few seconds.