While some might be aiming for an end-of-year personal best at Parkrun, I decided to mark the end of this amazing year doing something I could never, ever, have imagined I'd be doing a year ago - taking it easy by being the 40 minute pacer!
I knew I'd have to be slower than when I was in fancy dress last week, but then, I also had to compensate for taking 33s to get across the start line, a medium incline at the end of the first and second lap, and the first km being mostly an energy-sapping gentle incline into the wind that can catch beginners out (which I know all too well!).
Nerves got the better of me a little - it's not comfortable being 'down' on the clock when you know there's a 'hill' towards the end I couldn't bring myself to drop below the 8min/km. I kept my eyes glued to my watch, tried to not run too fast on the declines, but didn't want to put the brakes on too much. In the end, I was about 60 - 90 seconds too fast - I think.
I have certainly run with 40 min pacers that set out at 35min pace only to realise they were too fast and had to walk - or even stop, or run back the other way (?!). One lady stayed on my shoulder as she wanted to break the 40min barrier for the first time. It was good to listen to her breathing as it helped me to adjust, since we were obviously 'up' on the clock - and she smashed it. Another thanked me for helping her keep running all the way for the first time. She said she glued herself in behind me and matched my cadence (a bit like I do with 'proper' runners!). So, I don't think I did too bad a job in the end!
I'm backup timer on Tuesday, so I will do a freedom run, and then next year I hit the intervals and start to pick up the effort again towards a 10k Resolution run on April. But, I've really loved just enjoying running over Christmas, and finally discovering a proper 'conversational' pace.