Over the past few weeks I have been keeping an eye on the weather in the hopes to have a crack at parkrun before the end of the year. As luck would have it, the weather was too horrible to really facilitate that happening, but New Years day proved to be perfect, and Shepparton parkrun was running a special parkrun at 730 am. The weather was going to be “cool” and I lined up a trusty pacer to get me over the line. As parkrun was going to fall on the Wednesday, I took the opportunity to rest Monday and Tuesday so my legs would be willing and able to move as I desired them to. The only thing on the cards was an easy walk on Tuesday to end off the year. Sam was lined up to be my pacer and after the horrible run we had together last week, I worded him up “Any stink eye, abuse or swear words directed at you are unintentional and I love you, despite anything I may say in the moment”. I was hoping to run 26:30 and gave strict instructions that for the first 3 km I want to keep it steady at about 5:20s. Sam promptly ignored me and sought advice from Coach Chris for a pacing strategy.
We arrived and I did my normal pre-parkrun poo during warm up followed by a couple of strides. I then had a few moments of panic and “why am I doing this” thoughts before we lined up at the start. We went out controlled, I stuck with Sam and felt comfortable. We hit the first km mark and Sam informed me of the pacing strategy as discussed with the coach. No stink eye was given, I just listened and went with it. The first km we eased in then each km in we stepped it up a little bit. The first 3 km actually felt really good, I felt strong and comfortable and in control, as we came around past SAM, Sam told me we were adding some pepper (Insert stink eye), I kept with him, even though I was starting to wear out…At 4 km I looked at the split and it was 5:13, so I knew I was on track to PB, I just had to stick with Sam. This was also the point where I started to have the usual, I can’t do this moments and as I went to verbalise that it came out more as a horrible sounding grunt. I took the opportunity as we came up heartbreak hill on the final lap to sneak another look at the time and I realised if I kicked, I could get under 26 minutes, so I stuck it into top gear and went for it. I crossed the line in 25:55 which is a 50 second PB. I was extraordinarily pleased with that. My first time under 26 minutes and I ran a sub 5 minute km. My training has paid off!!!
We then jumped in the car and went to Cobram to complete the New Years Day double. I like the Cobram parkrun course, its always nice to see the koalas and I enjoy the trail. After my PB though and 45 minutes in the car, the legs were feeling it and it was pretty tough. As the sun came up, it was very warm! Post parkruns, I didn’t do much at all. Couched and napped and repeatedly looked at how nice my splits were!
Thursday morning, I went out for an easy run to get the blood through my legs. The wind, pollen and fire smoke caused all sorts of havoc with my lungs and made it feel much harder than it really should have felt. I ran for 8 minutes and walked for 2 and kept it easy. The body felt ok, a little stiff, but that is to be expected. Did I mention I had run a PB the day before? Friday was a rest day and I have decided I really like rest days! Although, I decided to catch up with some Fairley buddies and it ended up being a little later and a little more wine consumed than anticipated. Which didn’t set me up for parkrun very well. I did make the decision though, that will be the last “blow out” until after Nagoya…
Saturday I got up, the smoke haze was again bad, and it was hot. I kept parkrun reasonably easy, running with Steve and Taren. Again my lungs were cranky with the smoke and as I was running I wondered if I could keep the pace for 8 parkruns….I’m still pondering that question and I will probably answer it in about 9 weeks! I had a tight calf during parkrun so did some quality stretching and rolling Saturday afternoon in the hopes it would be good for the long run.
Sunday’s long run weighed on me a bit throughout the week as the previous long run had been terrible. As it would happen, my long run went so well, it was entirely uneventful!!! However, I was so terrified of having the same thing happen as the week before that I made every conscious effort to avoid it. This started with eating dinner the night before and attempting to get to bed early. I managed the getting to bed early, but the wind was quite extraordinary and woke me up a number of times, meaning my sleep was pretty rubbish. I got up early and had two coffees and a glass of orange juice. I think in the future, one coffee will probably suffice. At 2 km in nature called, then at about 4 km in, I swung by home to drop my jumper off and use the facilities again (This is why one coffee will be sufficient into the future). Sam was heading out to meet the tat runners for his own long run so I joined him for a km to break up the run…I was actually feeling really quite good during the run, my legs felt strong and there was no tightness in the calves. I pretty much just plodded along, and at an hour, I had a gel, then headed back towards home where I was meeting Jacqui and Steve to give them a tour of Tatura. We set off and the kilometers just fell away quickly and easily. Before I knew it, I was two hours in, 18 km down and onto my second gel (full of more caffeine!!!). At 2:29 I ticked over the half marathon mark and was 7 km away from the blissful feeling of being done and couching. We headed around into Cussen park and the head winds were becoming terrible. They were so strong and completely knocked us all about. After this we took the quick route back to my place and I still had two km to go, so I left Jacqui and Steve and finished off the 28. The last two km were probably the hardest two of the day, but I got them finished and was so very pleased to have ticked another long run off the books. Jacqui and Steve were very entertaining. Steve did not fall over at all, although we did get a scare when he dropped suddenly to fix his shoe…I got a nice confidence boost in that it felt reasonably easy to finish it, and a marathon is only an additional 2 parkruns with a warm up and cool down. Easy!!!
My body was pretty sore and pretty tight afterwards, and I was completely stuffed. So pretty well did nothing all day, fortunately for me the weather was horrible and wet and cold so I didn’t even feel guilty for laying in my pillow fort for the afternoon (idea was taken from young William Ryan, who constructed a great looking pillow fort at the Armstrong’s in the morning). If you have not hidden in a pillow fort, I strongly recommend it. Sam then made me leave the pillow fort to got for a walk to the supermarket, moving is good he said, it will help your legs he said….and maybe there is something in that*…But I missed my pillow fort!!
Another week ticked off and I am feeling confident moving into the final stage of training. I now know I will get my Tiffany’s bling and I am confident I can finish my first marathon strong. I just need to stay injury free and tick the weeks off.
*Actually he was right. My body felt pretty good for moving!