Today's parkrun in Telford had an Armed Forces theme in support of Help for Heroes. The course had to be moved at very short notice as the park management had omitted to tell our run director that the car parks and start point wouldn't be available but the volunteers did a cracking job of re-organising so that the parkrun could go ahead.
I woke up feeling really groggy. I'd decided to cycle there (about 5.5km) and haven't cycled for about a month so it felt like hard work as the route is mainly a gradual uphill slope. I'd mixed a High 5 drink as I couldn't face brekkie and hoped it would keep me going for the cycle and run. On arrivng, I locked my bicycle and got dressed up in my camo tutu (over my running capris!) and camo visor - I had several appreciative comments so it was worth making the effort. I was still feeling rough so had no expectation of getting close to my PB time of 32:14 but I couldn't resist pushing myself a bit as we set off. Disaster struck and one shoe lace came undone, in spite of having double-tied it and tucked the ends under the laces. I stopped and re-tied it and several people passed me. There goes any chance of a decent time, I thought, but my friend (also in a camo tutu came past and shouted "Keep Going!" so I made an effort and just got on with it. I gradually caught up and started passing people - more people than I've ever passed on a park run before. This felt rather strange.
My friend Jim (over 70, ex military and has run since he was 17) came into sight - he's been a great encouragement and has helped me improve my running recently by setting me targets on our long run - he tells me I'm not allowed to stop until such-and-such a landmark and I do as I'm told ! I knew that it I could catch him I would get a decent time so that was my target. Before I got to him, I passed a running club friend who I knew had a PB of 30.01 - I felt a bit guilty because she's almost always ahead of me and I've always paced my runs by trying to keep her in sight ! I was very very gradually getting closer to Jim and I think I eventually got past him at around the 4km mark. "Well done, keep going" he shouted. I always do as I'm told so I kept pushing - I actually pushed a bit too much and had to walk a little bit to get my breath back but then I got to a point where I knew it would be downhill almost all the way and got back into a rhythm. I still didn't feel great and my legs were tired, my breathing sounded awful like a horde of zombies but I tried to concentrate on a breathing rhythm of 1-2-3-4-5, breathing in for 1-2 and out for 3-4-5. I was still loud though !
At last the finish was in sight and I could hear some rousing military music playing - I managed to speed up a very little bit and glanced at my watch as I crossed the finish line. I could barely contain my excitement - 29:14 !!! I knew I'd beat the 30min target by the end of the year but not so soon and by knocking 3 minutes of my previous PB. I've bounced around telling everyone in an excited squeak ! I wonder if my tutu was a go-faster model ?
I waited around with my flask of tea to cheer the people at the back, including a group of army cadets on their first parkrun and the brave man at the back wearing full bomb disposal kit (weighing 35kg I think). He did a great job and managed to run across the finish line smiling. It must have been a relief to get the kit off - it would have been horribly hot in there.
After helping to clear up a bit, I cycled home speedily, still on a rush of adrenaline.
I bounced in the front door "Guess how much I knocked off my time ?" Beloved thought for a bit then "34 seconds ?"
"No" I said triumphantly "3 minutes!"
He looked gobsmacked "3 minutes - what were you f**king around at before then ?" he said. That made me laugh - he was impressed though.
I still feel unwell though but my previous PB was done when I didn't feel well too. How strange. I've also noticed I've got a blood blister on my bottom lip, from when I tried to drink from my bottle while cycling to parkrun, but smacked myself in the face instead !
I suppose the real test will be if I can match that time on the usual course