I’ll never go backward, I’ll always go on…
I want more, give me, oh just a little bit more!
The two weeks run up to Scarborough was far from ideal. A 6km run on Tuesday, was followed by a visit to the dentist on Wednesday for the first half of some treatment, then moving a freezer and back for a 9.54km packrun GPS. Not a good idea as it seemed to shift the anaesthetic into my temple and didn’t feel well afterwards. Broke my pre race no alcohol fortnight after just 3 days.
No run on Saturday as I was Run Directing at Watergrove – a special day as it was the 10th anniversary of the first ever parkrun. I had planned on Saddleworth Edges but a combination of feeling like I was coming down with a cold Friday/ Saturday plus wet conditions meant that I didn’t want to risk a fall a week before my main target race of the year and I played safe.
Sunday was a leisurely 10.2km as I still didn’t feel 100%. I ignored the growing feeling that things were going wrong at the wrong time, positive attitude fobbing me off that the extra rest would probably do me good. No run Monday/ Tuesday for same reason.
Another painful but anaesthetic free Wednesday visit to the dentist – and that was just the bill! – but at least it was followed by a loop down memory lane around Formby with a nice steady 8.8km, visiting some familiar streets. Got myself up to race pace for a km which got me down, as how the hell was I going to mange that for 10x the distance.
The unswerving positive mindset soon won though as I put it down to post dental / low food / humid air and it was just a flat run in coastal air to stretch legs. No matter what, I would be running a PB on Sunday, the question was not if, but ‘How fast?’
Just to sabotage my attempt further I then spent Wednesday night / Thursday lumping kitchen cupboards around the country. Friday’s easy 5k revealed more than a couple of aches.
Saturday was a return trip to Sewerby parkrun, with its contrasting fantastic views, cliff tops, gardens, and woodland. Resisted the temptation to go too fast and kept it comfortable but still was well under 24 min target at 22:29 GPS. After a wander around the grounds, we went for a drink in the fantastic refurbished cafe. My parkrun fleece was good enough to qualify for the 20% off to parkrunners, another few visits and it will have paid for itself!
Followed that up with a too long walk around Filey Brigg just to tire legs out, and broke the pre race alcohol ban again with a beer.
So everything was set, I fiddled about trying to predict my pace the evening before, unsure of my best pace options. Realistically 3:55/ km would be sufficient to gain a pb and hopefully squeeze a few seconds on the return, but doubts over the sandy bit, the slopes, the wind around the headland may mean I’d slow and just miss out.
If the past two weeks hadn’t gone so badly, I’d hoped to be in pb smashing shape and head out at 3:50 pace and hang on for as long as I could, but surely that was not an option now. What if’s swirled around as I fell asleep…
Woke up early the next day and peeked out to see a clear sky, felt sluggish but we got down to the Spa early enough for a triple warm up. An easy warm up, rest, a slightly harder warmup and then a stretchy warm up mixed with some short hard sprints. Feet iffy, legs good, body ok, head buzzing with the atmosphere, perfect weather, amazing views, and I was wearing sunglasses – some days were made for PBs – TODAY!!!
I decided not to worry too much about the first km – anything would do, but by then I needed to get it in around 3:50 pace and stick to it. A clean start amongst the mad rush, breathe, just concentrated on my breathing, slow and steady. Legs felt quick, but most around were gasping for air already, I was barely breathing above normal.
It was on, as I went through km1 in 3:46, a little quick but manageable to recover from, from video evidence up to somewhere around 120th position. Crowds had settled down but I was still overtaking, eased slightly as I picked out my pacers ahead and eased my way towards them, caught a group with a speedy looking girl around km2 – 3:48 still a little quick, eased slightly still amazingly comfortable and breathing very easy.
A Scarborough pair came past and I decided to follow, felt I had slowed but km 3 in 3:47 said otherwise. This was too fast, sub 38 pace, still comfortable but surely unsustainable. Only 9 seconds ahead of max planned pace but this could be costly.
I kept trying to ease and finally managing to achieve that with a 3:51 for km4, steadily picking up places as others faded. A cup full of water over my head and I was refreshed as I finally started to feel the effort, km5 in 3:51 – 19:02 for 5km to match season best time (and official 5k PB).
Soon after we turned, the spring tides had brought up sand onto the path but managed to avoid the worst of it before we headed along the dreaded beach hut section – I always suffer here – but this time a narrow path had been cleared through the sand and km6 only dropped to 3:58.
I was really feeling the fast first half now and struggled through km7 in 4:03, partly in fear I would blow up, partly calm knowing that 4 min pace would still be good enough for a PB. Slowly came round and worked hard again to close a gap ahead and km8 was back down to 3:56 after swapping places a couple of times got a tow around the headland, had a think a few times about an overtake but resisted and went through km9 in 3:50.
Head was struggling to work out what I needed to get under 39mins and with a slope up plus an unknown extra safety distance, meant it was looking unlikely. Scarborough guy came through that I’d passed at 3km with a couple of others, and I knew I had to go with them. We mopped up a few more and a small group of us switched about as we all pushed the pace along, some got dropped and then finally I had to let some go on the final slope to save enough for the finish run in.
Once past the roundabout I tried to push for the line knowing it was close, but just couldn’t seem to accelerate so settled for sustained slightly raised effort to the line – 39:00.0 on the watch, but chip time 38:57 GPS. Job done, PB smashed, just, knocking 20 seconds off –not by as much as it could have been, but leaves a little slack to improve on next year if I stick to the plan.
A nice afternoon wander around Scarborough and a few beers to celebrate afterwards topped off the weekend. Even managed to make the official race video a couple of times!