Last weekend, I went across the border to try the Coventry parkrun. It was mostly a chance to catch up with one of my oldest (as in the length of time known, and definitely not age) friends, Clare.
She’d never run a sub 30 min parkrun, and you know me, I love pacing! We jogged over to the Memorial Park, which wasn’t too far from her home. The weather was good, and I did wish I was fit enough to actually go for it, but my mind and body are not ready. She told me she had one pace, slow. I was surprised because we were running at about the pace I would have set up to go at to run sub 30 minutes.
I said nothing. *winks*
A lot of running is in the head. I know this only too well, I’m my own worst enemy. Some is more technical, however. A quick chat, and it looked like Clare was starting too quickly, then struggling to hang on at the end. It’s a tactic that has worked for me, but if one thing my illness and injury filled 2015 taught me, it was that it is far easier to work out what pace you need to reach a target, and stick to it. Obviously there are easier and harder parts to races. It’s nice to run at a steady pace, but it’s also nice to be able to use the terrain to your advantage to nick a few seconds here and there. I was running blind here. I had no idea what the course was like, other than it was a two lapper. My plan was to try to stick to the required pace for the first lap, and then do what was needed on the second.
The Bloke was going to join us, and we went to the start area, which was considerably larger, and wider than at Braunstone. It soon filled up, and it felt more like the start of a league race than a parkrun. The race director didn’t have a loudhailer and struggled to make the announcements heard, so we clapped on cue, and I assumed it’d be pretty much the same stuff that we are told at Braunstone.
The start just kind of happened. I hoped I’d started my Garmin at the right time. It was also very, very congested. There was a bottleneck were the path narrowed. The Bloke lost it with the crowd, and went off ahead. Me and Clare were 11min miling at this point. She was keen to push ahead, and whilst we did overtake a lot of runners, I had to reign her in to the steady pace we needed.
The course is rolling. There is some undulation, but it’s long and gradual. Perfect for me. I can’t wait to regain my fitness and form, and to have a proper crack at this one. I reckon this parkrun might be where I get the time I want!
We had a good natter as we ran round. The crowds did start to thin out, but not before Clare had to get round some slower runners. For someone who claims to have one pace, she quickly went up through the gears to overtake! I looked at my watch, and we were 8min miling! I said even said so! I don’t think Clare believed me, and sounding just like Brian, I told her she was and could because she’d now warmed up!
At the halfway point, we were just a bit over 15 minutes, but I wasn’t too concerned as the first km was pretty slow. Without the congestion, maintaining the pace would see us comfortably under 30 minutes. We continued to chat, but by the time we got to the last km, it was a case of keeping Clare going. With about 500m to go, she said she couldn’t go on, so I told her that was her head. She was looking stronger than she thought. She’s got a good running style, and she’s got a lot more to come if she wants to push the pace.
As we reached the last 100m or so, I asked if she had a sprint finish. She said she’d try, and we upped the pace. Not that it was needed, as we were over 10 seconds under that 30 minute time! It’s a huge psychological barrier, and once you beat them, and you know you can do it, it should spur you on. I hope my mate can now see that she can do it, and that she’s a far better runner than she’d let on. I was really proud of her.
As for me, I came away wanting to get fit. Coventry parkrun has PB written all over it. The key would be starting further up, which is the case for Braunstone too. There were twice as many runners, 626, but the set up was like a military organisation, with funnel managers barking orders, and other marshals herding finishers to the area that had been set up for barcode scanning. Each scanner had a table, where orderly queues formed. It didn’t have the same atmosphere as BPR, but it also didn’t have That Hill.
I will be back, Cov.