This week is Week 7 in my GloHealth Fit4Life 52 Week Training Diary. The Dublin Marathon is at the end of Week 26 so there is a good bit of time to train yet. This week was my first time doing four runs/races but i had to run today, Sunday, to achieve that. A very interesting weekend running it was too.
Yesterday was my 45th parkrun on a lovely sunny morning which i nearly missed as i slept in. I started slow again, its my new strategy, but i might have been a bit too slow because i got blocked in and maybe lost a few seconds needlessly. Once we got to the top of the first hill, i started to increase my speed, passed out a lady i recognise who often finishes at the same time as me and who usually completes the run in less than 27 minutes. I reckoned that if i stayed ahead of her i should come in around the 26.5 minute mark, unless, of course, she was having an off day. Maybe i should buy a proper running watch!
The marlayparkrun is a lovely route and goes through three sets of woodland – wonderful and shady on a sunny morning. At about the 3.5km mark, the second hill makes it presence felt, just when you were properly getting your second wind. Then its through the woods again before emerging at about 4.25km and running back along the first few hundred metres, downhill this time though. This Saturday, I was feeling pretty good and moving nicely, i had passed out quite a few runners. A little earlier, coming through the woods, three runners had got away from me as they upped their pace a little and i couldn’t match them. They were still in view as we turned the last corner. I suddenly heard the feet of a runner coming up behind me fast and determined not to be overtaken by anyone else that late in the run, i started to run faster. But the following footsteps got faster too and sounded like they were getting nearer. I was about to slow down and concede the place when something inside me refused to give up and next thing i was sprinting. I passed out two runners ahead of me and the sound of my chaser fell away. My momentum had brought me to with a few metres of the three escapees, another little doubt entered my mind, “i can’t keep this pace up for another 40 metres or so”. It was a morning for ignoring my mind and i kept sprinting passing out the triumverate. My lungs were gasping for air and my heart was beating so loudly i was sure everyone near by could hear it. By the time my barcodes were scanned i was feeling better, did my stretches, (thanks to my physio for the expert advice) and home i went to check my time; 26:33, five seconds slower than last week but i feel i’m making proper progress.
Mainly thanks to the parkruns.
In the evening i went to a party in a neighbours house – great party, lovely neighbours, awesome food and drink and i stuck to my recently adopted vegetarian and non-alcoholic life-style – with only a few regrets.
This morning was promised sunny and dry and i planned to run a Mid-Summers Day 5k in another of my favourite urban parks, St Anne’s Park in Raheny. I awoke, late, to the sound of torrential rain. If i hadn’t made such a strong decision to run four times this week, and, of course, if i hadn’t told the neighbours about my plans for today at the party last night, i would have rolled over and blissfully gone back to sleep. Instead, i consoled myself with the thought that the rain would be warm, dragged myself out of bed, fed the pets, ate a slice of toast, my stomach is always a bit dodgy, or rather a bit more dodgy, on the morning of a run or race. And off to St Anne’s Park it was, windscreen wipers at maximum throttle.
St. Anne’s Park Raheny
But there was no-one there – no-one and i wasnt even hugely early. I eventually met a young lad wandering around looking for the race too. We took comfort in each others presence, we hadn’t imagined the promise of a race. Then i spotted a notice saying that there was a change of route and to go to the clubhouse of the local, organising, athletic club, Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club.
Fortunately, my new young friend was a member of that club and knew the way, so off we went and signed up. “How many are you expecting“, i asked, being nervous of the possibility of a small group of fast runners who would leave me standing. “About 50″, was the, almost, reassuring response i received. My new friend to the rescue again, showed me how to get to the new location for the race, which was on some lovely quiet streets not too far from St. Anne’s Park. Two minutes to go and i counted about 25 runners, most of whom looked like serious athletes. Too late now to abscond. “This is a 2 Mile race“, was the next, unexpected, announcement i heard. This was turning into a very interesting morning – my first ever 2 mile race – which meant it would be pretty fast.
The race had a dual purpose, one of which was to honour the memory of a former chairman of the club and his daughters were there to do the count-down – a really nice touch for a Father’s Day race.
And we were off.
And about 20 runners disappeared over the horizon as i slowely moved up the gears. I really had no idea how fast i could run a 2 mile race, or indeed, how fast i was running – see above comment again about the usefulness of a runners watch.
I knew that there were a few runners behind me but my main effort was aimed at keeping the last runner in front of me is sight so that i would know where to go. Turned out is was a straighforward 1 mile lap and as i passed the timekeeper, he called out, “7 minutes 54 seconds”. I allowed myself to be slightly impressed, a sub-8 minute mile on a pretty flat course. Naturally enough, my second mile was a bit slower and i came in at 16:35. If i could improve my fitness enough to maintain that for another mile i would achieve one of my long-held targets of a sub-25 minute 5km – this was turning into a good morning. Even the rain was enjoyable, it was such a warm and humid morning.
Prize-giving was under the nearby trees and, having learnt a little from Scott Jurek, i decided to stay to give my support to this hardy group of runners and organisers. The morning hadn’t finished providing surprises though. It turned out the race was also part of the 1916-2016 commemerative events and, given the relatively small turn-out, there was a plaque for every contestent. I was so proud when my name was called out and i received my impressive plaque, proud to be a runner, proud to have participated and contributed to the event and proud of the runners and organisers everywhere who keep the show on the road, or in the park if it goes to plan.
What a wonderful weekend.
Keep embracing life my friends