Ran in my fourth ParkRun today. I was really chuffed about last week's run, as it was the second time that I ran 5km in under 30 minutes... and the first that came with an official record!
(I ran 5km in 29:11 nine days ago, but I had timed it myself. Two days later, in the ParkRun, I managed "only" 29:38... but having it be "official" made me very happy!)
In today's ParkRun, I found myself struggling a bit. More huffing and puffing than usual -- actually, a LOT more. This surprised me, as I had imagined it would feel a bit easier by now. My previous run, on Thursday, had not gone well (read Part One of this mini-series) and I began to wonder if I was perhaps in a small rut.
Of course, a 5km run gives you plenty of time for thinking, so I decided to set up an objective scale of 0 - 5 for how good I would consider my performance in today's run. The scale went something like this:
0 = Did not finish the course
1 = Finished in over 30 minutes
2 = Finished in under 30 minutes and over 29:38 (last week's time)
3 = Finished in under 29:38 and over 29:11 (personal best)
4 = Finished in under 29:11 and over 29 minutes
5 = Finished in under 29 minutes
As I was chugging along, trying hard to take deep breaths through the nose (rather than panting through the mouth), I knew that a "5" was impossible and a "4" was possible but unlikely. Honestly, I was pretty sure that I would finish the course -- having managed to not fail a run yet -- but that's about it. It wasn't at all clear to me that I would break the 30 minute barrier again... and I had to remind myself that progress isn't a straight line forward. Taking two steps ahead and one step back is not as satisfying... but it is more realistic.
Towards the end of the last kilometer, the people I had been tracking pulled ahead of me. I found myself unable to give the final boost that we all hold in reserve. However, Laura still had not given the "one minute warning", so perhaps another sub-30 minute run was possible!
I rounded the last corner and did my best impersonation of a sprint towards the finish line. STILL no 60 second warning. What the? Even when I crossed the finish, Laura still hadn't spoken up.
Turns out today's time was 28:36 -- over a minute faster than last week's ParkRun and thirty-five seconds faster than my personal best! Wowza! That gives me a perfect "5 for 5" score for today! Plus, I have broken the [less ceremonial] 29 minute barrier. Holy macaroni!
Looks like the reason I was huffing and puffing the whole time -- and had no reserve to tap into for a speed boost at the end -- was that I was zipping along at pretty much the top of my capacity the entire time. Isn't that a nice surprise!
Four weeks ago, I ran in my first ParkRun, with a time of 34:44. Today, I ran in my fourth ParkRun with a time of 28:36. That's over six minutes faster -- or 21% -- not a bad improvement for four weeks! (Now if only I could keep up the rate of improvement -- it would have me down to 22 minutes by mid-January! *grin*) Looks like my current speed is about 10.5 km/hour... or a 9 minute 9 second mile.
Well whadda ya know? Apparently, like these Speed and Stamina sessions really do help! And proper running shoes make a remarkable difference, too! With my final Couch to 5K goal met (5km in under 30 minutes), I am planning to finish out the year with one Stamina, one Speed, and one free-running 5K each week. Then, come January, it is on to the Bridge to 10K plan! Anyone care to join me?
(See? Isn't this a much more optimistic entry than the first half of the series?)