As promised in my previous post, here is an update on my racing so far this year.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my training is going really well and thanks to this change in training and diet I am starting to see some fantastic results in my racing.
I've only run 5 "races", one 10k race and four 5k parkruns, since the Reading Half Marathon, but the results have been pretty impressive.
First off, the Woodley 10k run on 13 May 2012. This is my local race and a quick race too thanks to it being relatively flat for most of the race with a nice long downhill down Wokingham Road.
This year conditions were perfect and I went into the race with the goal of running a sub-39 minute race. As I had such great success with the negative split in the Reading Half Marathon, I decided I'd try it on the Woodley 10k too. I started the race at a very modest pace and watched a lot of people race off ahead of me. I started to get a little worried about this by about 2km, but I stuck to my guns and continued at the pace I was going. It wasn't quite as slow as I'd planned, but it wasn't anywhere near as fast as I felt I should be going.
I started to pick the pace up at about 3km and soon realised it was a wise decision to hold off at the beginning as I started passing those that passed me right at the beginning. I felt great and continued to pass people all the way to the finish with me passing a lot of people in the last 3km, which happens to include the only real hill in the whole race.
I think I could probably have pushed things a little faster as I had sufficient left in the tank to break into a sprint for the last 100-odd meters (uphill on grass) and totally obliterate my current "personal best since return" (PBSR). Prior to that race my PBSR stood at 39:42 obtained at last year's Woodley 10k. I crossed the line at this year's Woodley 10k in a fantastic time of 38:45, smashing my previous time by a whopping 57 seconds!!!
To say I was chuffed was an understatement. I was thrilled to bits.
As part of my training, I've decided that the occasional parkrun will be my speed sessions. They're not very long, semi-formal, free and a great way to monitor my progress.
I ran my first parkrun for 2012 two weeks after the Reading Half marathon on 14 April and it was an OK run with me finishing in a modest time of 19:37. This wasn't a brilliant run and I attribute this to being tired from the half marathon and due to the relatively low volume of training in March due to tapering for the half marathon (I think I was a little worried I'd go into the race over trained and in retrospect I think I might have been slightly under trained). Things were a little damp underfoot too.
After a relatively high mileage week of training, I ran the Reading parkrun again a week later (21 Apr 2012) and this time ran a mere 2 seconds quicker (19:35), a far cry from my Reading parkrun personal best (PB) of 19:13, but certainly quicker than I was at this point last year.
Three more weeks of high mileage training and six days after the Woodley 10k, I ran the Reading parkrun again, with no real race plan other than to run by feel and to not look at my watch until I'd finished. I felt fantastic, ran well and smashed my previous parkrun PB by 13 seconds finishing bang on 19:00. On discovering my finish time I was little disappointed I hadn't looked at my watch during the race as had I done so I could probably have dipped under 19 minutes.
Feeling great after the Woodley 10k and this last parkrun, and motivated by the evidence that my training was starting to pay off, I took a week off from parkrun (a few too many beers the Friday night before - my wife's colleagues' fault), upped my training for the next two weeks and then raced the parkrun again this last Saturday (2 Jun 2012), once again going by feel, but this time I paid attention to my watch.
Now this was a spectacular run. I did something I don't normally do at the parkruns: I took a much longer than usual warm up run. Normally I barely cover 1km during my warmup, this time I ran just short of 3km before the run. I'm not sure how much of an impact this had on my run, but I certainly felt great, and ran way better than expected. Are you ready for this? I smashed my previous parkrun PB, set only two weeks earlier, by a whopping 27 seconds and finished in 18:33. I couldn't believe it. I'd totally obliterated my previous time and I didn't feel like I was putting in that much more effort.
When I got home and check my logs, I realised this was not only a parkrun PB, but also an all time off-road 5k PB by 2 seconds. Unfortunately, I know this is definitely not my all time fastest 5k time as I've run two sub-38 minute 10k's (when I was a teenager) and there is no way I could do those without running really quick 5k times. Sadly, I don't have any records of these faster 5k times.
So all in all, racing so far this year has gone really well with 57 seconds knocked off my 10k PBSR, 40 seconds off my parkrun PB (since last year) and 2 seconds off my all time off-road 5k time.
I'm not sure yet what other races I'll be doing this year, but one thing is for sure: I'll be continuing my current training methods and have set myself some new goals to achieve this year. Just holding thumbs now that I'm one of the lucky people who get drawn from the ballot for the London Marathon next year; I definitely think I can do it and do it well.