It's my C25K first anniversary - and I'm celebrating with a new parkrun PB

I very nearly didn't make it to parkrun this morning. I awoke at 8.20am from a deep sleep and with a vague recollection of having switched off the alarm. It was raining. And, yesterday I was at the hairdresser having one of those keratin treatments which means I mustn't get my hair wet or clip it or put it in a ponytail for 24 hours – oh deary, deary me, what to do! Such are the trials of being a laydee runner.

But this would be my 10th parkrun, and also the one that marked my first anniversary as a C25K graduate (4 August). Get a grip, get out there, I told myself. I wolfed down a Rice Krispies marshmallow square with some water, jumped into the waiting running gear, leapt into the car and drove all of the 900m to Sheen Gate car park, from where it is 2km to the parkrun start.

A gentle jog to Richmond Hill and I was there just in time for the briefing. It was a slightly depleted field, which is always a bonus because it makes the start less of a bottleneck, but there were plenty of familiar faces, including a good turnout from the running club I have recently joined. No Danzargo, but after his report of storming up hills yesterday I expected he would be having a well-deserved day off.

So, confession time: I've found the last few parkruns excruciatingly hard. I got a Richmond PB back in May but hadn't been able to equal it – in fact I'd consistently been getting slower by a few seconds each time, despite putting in so much effort I thought I was going to blow an O-ring, so to speak. It felt like my legs were both leaden and on fire, and I was gasping desperately for oxygen all the way round. I guess I was experiencing what they call a plateau.

I decided I would run well within my limits to start with, keeping my breathing nice and steady. I was wearing my temperamental GPS watch, which at least has a decent timer function.

As we galloped down Sawyer's Hill, the watch bleeped (correctly) at the first km mark – 5'12, good going. I was feeling strong. Second km (which is all downhill) was a frankly unbelievable 4'39!

Kilometre 3 takes you uphill across the grass, down again, through the woods by Sheen Gate and onto the final 2km – the Tamsin Trail of Torture. This is where everyone slows down. Things here are not what they seem. It looks flat, even downhill in places, but it is in fact a long, slow, relentless incline. It hurts. I stared fixedly at the crest of the hill ahead and crunched on, even managing to overtake a few people. I'd stopped looking at my watch.

The last km, as ever, was chuffing agony – uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill... please, someone make it stop! But just before Bishop's Pond, with about 400m to go, there was a marshall who yelled out: 'Come on! Well done! Not far now. You're on 23'30!'

Only 23'30? Really?! I put on one final push – there's another downhill section to lull you into a false sense of security before the finish funnel, which is at the end of yet another beastly, sharp incline. I was puffing like a dying fish as I crossed over to the other side...

My time? Officially 25'38, which is a whole minute and eight seconds faster than my last PB! I am really delighted. Plus someone tapped me on the shoulder and thanked me for being her unofficial pacer to her own new PB - very glad to oblige!

I was 15th woman overall, and second in my age group (VW45-49), with an age grading of 62.55%.

I am still not sure of the whys and wherefores of it suddenly happening this morning, and apart from the last km (which took 5'06), strangely it didn't feel THAT hard. But - I have been doing hill sprints, intervals, fartleks etc with the running club for the past five/six weeks so perhaps I am now reaping the rewards. Also it was much cooler than it's been recently, and I felt I'd slept really well, which I'm sure is a factor.

I graduated on 4 August 2013, covering around 4.6km/4.7km in 30 minutes. A year on and I have improved that massively (and have also popped out a few decent 10k times). Though I'm lucky enough to enjoy decent health and I'm not overweight, I'm not particularly sporty, nor am I even really the right shape for running, so this demonstrates what an average middle-aged woman can do with a little persistence.

Don't let the inevitable plateaus where you feel like you're not improving, or even going backwards, get you down. They happen. Just try and enjoy yourself, keep on doing three/four runs a week, mix them up a bit and stick with it – because it's SO worth it!

Thanks for indulging me and reading such a long post, and cool runnings, everyone!


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32 Replies

  • Oh my, oh my, oh my!! What a joyous read that was TT. Absolutely brilliant time - incredible! How the heck did you do that? I mean that is fast. Soooo fast! Clearly the running club sessions are making you so much fitter and technically brilliant!

    I was under strict instructions from Mrs Dan last night NOT to attend parkrun this morning. I WAS planning it, but the past two days I've had this trapped nerve in my shoulder, rendering me useless and pathetic. Apparently running would have aggravated it even more! I will make it there soon though. I mean I HAVE to beat 25'38 now don't I? Hahaha!

    Well done once again. Tremendous result.


  • Thank you Dan! I don't know where it came from this morning, I really don't, and why now... I guess it takes a while to build up?

    I am the QUEEN of trapped neck/shoulder nerves (had lots of physio earlier this year after a car accident/whiplash). Ibuprofen and a hot water bottle on the area is the way forward, and be really aware your posture - the pain can be really draining, and I agree with Mrs Dan, running will aggravate it.

    Better get a move on with that hill training once you're better though - you just got CHICKED!! ;-)

  • Oh well done TT! What a fantastic post and similarly fantastic time. You've worked so hard since graduating and have achieved such a lot. I dream of a sub 30 minute 5k but know I'll need to put in an awful lot more miles before it's even the remotest of remote possibilities. Thanks for reminding me what's achievable with hard work and perseverance. :)

  • Thank you AM - it really is possible! How is you knee? I had a few setbacks myself in the early days (admittedly not all brought on by running, such as abovementioned car accident) but did have a nasty calf strain just after graduating that put me out for a while. WIth hindsight I had not much of an idea how to run properly and I brought it on myself, which makes me wonder if these things are inevitable when one is inexperienced? These days I have noticed muscles and joints getting a lot stronger and more resilient, the more running I do, so it does improve.

  • Thanks for asking, my knee is making progress, due to the ministrations of lovely James the physio. I'm not even allowed to go for a walk at the moment, but have been given the ok to use the exercise bikes at the gym, so I'm not completely idle. It's all about building up strength in my quads and basic core strength too. Like you, it never entered my head when I started running that it was all so technical. We live and learn!!

    Not sure when I'll be fit to run again but am planning to go back to w2 or 3 and build up again slowly and carefully. Have a 5k run in November to work towards and am really hoping to run it all ( if possible) I'm also confidently expecting to be lapped twice by Miles_Yonder as he does the 10k run! :)

  • Happy Anniversary and well done on a new PB. Cracking time :)

  • Thank you Paul!

  • Thank you so much for such lovely words KK!

    Yeah, so the hair... actually I did ponytail it just before I ran, too floppy otherwise. Then when I got home I ran some straighteners through it, even though I couldn't see a kink (that's the advice they give if you sleep a bend into it or it rains on your head before the 24 hours is up). But it was very, very shiny so I wonder if it lowered my drag coefficient?

  • TurboTortoise - great run, great PB, great message for everyone in your post.

  • Thanks c4ts - really hope not to miss you next time you come to Richmond. We'll have to come up with a better way of recognising each other!

  • Woweeeeee TT that is SOOOOOOOO quick! Well done you BIG TIME --- i am inspired once again :-)

    (also thinking i may get a keratin treatment on my hair asap .... for aerodynamic purposes)

    THANK YOU and Cool Runnings to you too!!!

  • Thank you BP! I do like my keratin treatments (aka the Brazilian Blowdry). I prefer to call them keratin treatments because the first time I had one done the receptionist shouted out, really loud: 'Svetlana! Your client is here for her Brazilian!' And I nearly ran away...

  • That is a fast lady, with a very respectable age grading. Isn't it amazing how one year of running can change our whole outlook on physical activity? Madame da Truffe declared after her parkrun PB this morning, (she knocked off 3 whole minutes!!) that it was her "start running" anniversary and the said she was up for a five mile walk. Like most loyal partners, I had not remembered this anniversary, but we used the excuse of her visiting sister, who was exhausted after her first parkrun, and stayed at home reading the paper instead. How many anniversaries is a man allowed to forget?

    I have told Dan he needs to get his finger out and you are showing him the way. Keep running, keep smiling, TT.

  • Thanks Ianno. Three minutes off a parkrun PB is quite something! I reckon the only anniversaries you really need to remember are birthdays and the big wedding one though. Otherwise, what - first date, first kiss, first parkrun? It would never end!

    It is great, this running thing, isn't it - you get back what you put in.

  • well done TT!! thats a fantastic time! i'm hoping to get a sub 30 mins eventually!(i did 33.14 mins today and my PB is 31.15) but i did get up the hills and no walking so still feeling pleased :)

    ......... And your Parkrun route sounds HARD!! Great that you got out and motivated, even with your hair treatment, thats dedication for you :) Happy Anniversary!!

  • Thank you Ali - one thing I'm discovering is one's time depends on all sorts of factors - not just temperature and training but how much sleep you've had, what you ate and drank the night before, etc, etc, sometimes in ways you can't really predict. Hills are TOUGH though so well done on not walking - it's so tempting. Keep on at it!

  • Henceforth she shall be know as TurboTurbo.

    Not very tortoisey now, are you?

    That is fantastic! What a great time, and a great post. Shows you the benefits of technical training with the running club. Well done.

  • Ha ha! Thank you Marky Mark - do you think I should use the back end of an Audi TT as my new profile pic? ;-)

  • Sounds like a fab anniversary run TT and what a stonking great time! So glad you enjoyed it today.

  • Thank you Ully! It was such auspicious timing, coinciding with my first year as a graduate.

  • Wow - what a brilliant run! All that training must have been making a difference and just waiting for you to push yourself. Seems to me though that you did a 7km run today (if not 9 - did you jog back to the car or do you end up closer to where you parked?). Anyway, that 2km jog must have been a good warm up.

    Very well done on that pb and your fantastic progress during the last year.

  • Ah, you are quite right rnb... A 2k very steady (7 minute kms) jog there, and back, although I walked most of the way to the car park, with only a little running. But 9k covered in total... gosh! :-D

  • Loved reading your parkrun journey from beginning to end TT - motivational and inspiring. Congratulations on a fab pb time and for digesting your breakfast bar in time - I'm off to buy a pack ready for my first park run next Saturday! I joined a run club 5 weeks ago, just turned 50 & so may as well just go for it rather than make excuses such as I can'print off my bar code! Enjoy your Tubo of a day :)

  • Thank you jax - yes, just go for it - parkruns are a lot of fun.

    I'm quite partial to those marshmallow squares actually - they are total junk food but light as air, pure sugary energy and really easy to digest, all perfect before a run. Only the marshmallow ones though, I find the chocolate flavour are a bit too much.

  • Ooh that's brilliant - well done TT, and thanks for the pep talk, I for one needed it. :-)

  • Thank you notbad. Though it's easy for me now to give out the pep talk, having 'broken' the plateau. It was a bit of a downer sometimes, just plugging away and hoping and waiting and wondering about a result. But it did happen, at last - this time, at least...

  • Brilliant and inspiring.

    I so so hope I can be in that place - running a year after graduation. Obviously I've never run in the winter but I am so positive this journey will continue.

    Well done on what you've done over all those months and today :-) xx

  • Thanks pinkangel! I'm sure you will still be running in a year's time, if you want to be. I did have a few of weeks off here and there last winter, coughs and cold and other things, and it's not the end of the world, you just pick up where you left it. Once you've been running for a few months your body doesn't forget it that easily. And running in the winter is quite nice, much cooler obviously, which makes a change, and you get to buy more kit ;-)

  • Wow fantastic time ! Congratulations .

  • Thank you Rockette! Congratulations on yours too. Just think, lager, curry, marshmallow rice krispie squares = parkrun PB. What are we like?!?

  • Superb TT - Just fantastic. What a joyous anniversary you have achieved. Richmond Park eh? I still haven't ventured out yet but who knows maybe when I'm back from hols I'll see if I can make the parkrun and spot Dan as well. 25'38 is just brilliant! Hope you are having a well deserved glass or two of bubbly!

  • Thank you GF! If you are local enough you should definitely try out Richmond parkrun. Enjoy your hols.

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