ARRRRRGH! ANDY SMASH!!!
So, how did that 5k PB attempt go?
5k PB envy
Looking through my 5k PB history, I have put the following numbers together:
- 2012 – 15x 5k PBs
- 2013 – 10x 5k PBs
- 2014 – 3x 5k PBs
- 2015 – 0x 5k PBs
Would 2015’s lack of anything end this week?
4x 800m at 5k pace
Wind was almost non-existent for the first time in ages, but wet and humid conditions took its place. The air actually felt chunky enough to be cut with a knife! Once I reached Edgbaston Reservoir, the heavens also opened up to dampen everything. At least the paths would be quiet!
4x reps were all I wanted to keep my body ticking over until Saturday’s Parkrun. I was bizarrely feeling pretty strong going into this session, with the warm-up feeling particularly comfortable. Had Sunday’s race had a distorting impact on my perception of effort?
Pleasantly, 3x of the reps came up a smidge faster than target pace and the final rep was precisely on target. In fact the reps largely managed to surpass those that I completed recently on the track under better conditions.
Here’s the Garmin data for the session.
To a lot of folks, tapering for a 5k seems a little odd. For such a short distance, some would argue that it’s not necessary. My 18:51 5k PB was achieved through a short, sharp taper with no running of any sort for three days from Wednesday through to Saturday. No specific 5k training happened leading up to that PB either; only a weekly fartlek run that covered a variety of paces.
If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Come Saturday morning, I was primed and ready to roll. Training had gone to plan, and I’d even dare say slightly better than anticipated. I’d even made sure I was loaded with the optimal amount of beetroot juice for that extra edge!
I reached Wolverhampton Parkrun with about 40 minutes to spare – plenty of time for my entire warm-up routine and more. I had fond memories of West Park, where my previous visit was just over a year prior and generated a PB. Why West Park? The course profile is reasonably flat and the terrain is a beautifully paved tarmac path. If I were to nit-pick, the total elevation gain is comparable to Cannon Hill’s latest course, but spread out over three mile long laps rather than throwing most of it at you in one go.
It was a little odd turning up to an event where I didn’t know anybody from Adam. Not necessarily a bad thing because I used the nervous energy to keep me on my toes. My one foe for the day was to be the strong gusts of wind that blew. The apartment complex I live in is particularly susceptible to wind, and the previous night was an absolute howler for noise.
1-2-3 and we were off. Congestion was bloody awful from the very start due to the course quickly narrowing into a series of left turns before we hit the main park path. The nemesis for the morning introduced itself to me by smacking me around with a few gusts. Still feeling fresh from the taper, I adjusted my effort to combat the wind resistance to stay on target for just a fraction faster than the target 3:45/km.
The congestion fully dispersed within the next few hundred metres to leave me running on my lonesome. The faster guys had all taken off ahead, and the lead girl was slowly putting more and more daylight between her and me. An older chap crept up from behind and slotted himself in just before me. I took the opportunity to draft behind him for some shelter from the wind, though this proved rather challenging because he was moving at just slightly faster than what I was happy to commit to. The first km was pretty much exactly where I wanted it at 3:40/km.
The second km became a tough slog despite a few more runners joining the fray for some much needed company. Thick tree cover caused my Garmin to become erratic with its measurements, flitting from being on target pace to several seconds down in the blink of an eye. When the second km clocked in at 4:01, I knew it was game over. All week, I had done some rough simulations on paper and the slowest split I could tolerate and still hit my goal was 3:55; any slower than this and it would be too much to make up even as part of a final fast split.
I lost some of the fight inside and everything started to get on top of me. The remaining 3km would prove to be a major suffer-fest.
Whilst the third km was slightly faster than that before it, the fourth km was the slowest of the morning by a long shot. A combination of reasons, but mainly down to fatigue and dodging and weaving through slower lapped runners. The last time I was at Wolverhampton Parkrun, there was only some congestion within the last 800m or so; clearly the popularity of the event has risen in twelve months.
A guy with heavily tattooed arms joined me for the final lap of the park. He pulled away ever so slightly, but did me a favour by clearing a path through the crowds and I simply followed. I was blowing hard and doing my best steam locomotive impression, wanting it all to end. The short, sharp rise at the end of each lap was upon us and we both put on a cautious kick, filtering through the crowds at the same time. The other guy had one more gear to shift into and pulled away on the home straight to create a sizeable gap for the line.
I finished in 19:11; about where I expected it to be given the conditions. Disappointed and dejected, I trotted off on a cool-down and the guy with the tattoos joined me. Turned out he’d pulled off a 19:05 PB in the process of gunning for a sub-19 finish.
Various folks have said not to over-analyse the outcome; the same conditions would have yielded similarly slow times at Cardiff Parkrun or on a track. I still can’t help but feel like I’ve been cheated this year by all manner of things conspiring against me.
Here’s the Garmin data for Wolverhampton Parkrun.
11 canal miles
The theme of dodgy conditions continued into my long run on Sunday. The entire out stretch towards Bournville was into a stiff headwind – the waves created in the canal further reinforced how strong the wind was with no let up. I didn’t even bother to run by pace and took no notice of my Garmin.
Once beyond half way and looped back on to the canal towpath, I expected everything to be hunky dory. Nope! The water in the canal once again confirmed the head wind had turned itself around and hit me square on.
As I approached the tunnel leading back into the city centre, I spotted a cyclist just a bit beyond the entrance on the other side; I sped up to make sure I was safely in the tunnel first, but the cyclist took no notice of this and entered anyway. Being a small chap, there’s usually enough room for me to squeeze past cyclists and other canal users once inside, so not the end of the world. The guy was talking on his phone and had sunglasses on, so clearly his attention was elsewhere to explain why he’d taken no notice of me. As we crossed paths, he had the nerve to say, “Yo! When you see me coming, you make room for me because I ain’t bumping my cell phone in this tunnel!” A few choice words from me and I made sure I barged my shoulder into him as I passed. I’d hoped to knock his phone out of his hand and leg it; the tunnel’s too narrow to quickly turnaround on a bike, plus he’d have been scrambling for his phone whilst still wearing his sunglasses. There was less than 800m until the next exit to street level, and fuelled by the adrenaline from how pissed off I was, he would never have been able to catch me.
Here’s the Garmin data for this run.
Completely unrelated, but I also managed to give myself a second degree burn on my right leg due to an accident in the kitchen. The perfect way to cap off a craptacular week of running!
It’s a short one this week from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:
You must run at least one race in your lifetime that finishes on a track
Seriously. It’s really something.