Parkrun #17 – Saturday 20th September 2014 : Pacing it right

I have been enjoying the slower parkruns, and not having any pressure to better my times. Obviously, I could use the runs as tempo runs, but the day before my long slow runs, and with the niggle not totally banished, I didn’t want to risk another breakdown. I offered to pace my friend, Louise, to a sub 30 minute PB, and after a few failed attempts at being there at the same time, we had our first crack at it.

I had a plan already worked out, but knew that there are quicker and slower parts to the course. Lou had asked to try and aim for 29 minutes, and to see if she could achieve it. I have my Garmin, and a good idea of what pace was needed but I wanted to have some idea of where we should be, and made myself a reminder.

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Conditions were ideal for running. It wasn’t too hot, or too cold, and it felt fairly still. It was overcast, meaning no sun to get in my eyes, or to warm me up too much during the run. We lined up, a fair way further up than Lou would normally start, and at 9am, we set off. Even though we had started further up the field, there were still far too many slower runners to get by, including one woman who seemed completely unable to run in a straight line, despite having a clear path in front of her. Every time I tried to get past, she veered in front of me, and I allowed my usual frustrations to take over. At one point down the first mile, we hit 7:45 min/mile pace. Lou looked comfortable, until she looked at her watch, which I’d told her not to do. Luckily, unlike one of my own runs, I was in control, and the speed we’d reached was temporary, and we would be easing off and consolidating shortly.

We were about on target by the time we reached The Hill, but we would need a strong climb not to lose too much time. I was really proud of Lou, as she ran strongly up it, a part of the course most of us dread. She ran well coming off it, and back down the long descent, and we ran that section faster than we had the first time round.

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As we reached the finish, I urged Lou to give everything she had, and to beat me. “This is the one an only time I’m letting you finish ahead of me, next time, I’m racing you”, I said, hoping to give her that final push. She crossed the finish in 29:02, I was a second behind. She had taken over a minute off her PB, and had been stronger in the second part of the run. She has so much more to give, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before she runs under 29 minutes. I hope that she has the confidence to push herself, but I enjoyed the pacer role, and would do it again. I was proud of her, although she did look at her watch far too much!

Sadly, it seems there are a couple of running friends who have lost their running mojo. This probably deserves a post in its own right, but I’d just want to say to them that you can only push yourself so far, and for so long. You have to take time to consolidate what you have done. Sometimes, we need to step back a bit. Two steps forward, and one step back will still see progress; reversing the trend won’t. Seeing other runners progressing may be frustrating, but we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else. At some point, they will hit their own wall, and will be looking at your progress. Instead, focus on what you have achieved, and where you were when you started your running journey. You will have come a lot further than you think, so take pride in your achievements. 😊

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