So this weekend marks perhaps my personal greatest achievement in running (and maybe even in entire life) so far! For those of you who don’t know, parkrun was the origin of my running. Parkrun was what got my dad and brother into running…which eventually lead to me starting. So, in other words, without parkrun, there would be no running in my life (an absurd thought). It has provided me with a roller-coaster of emotions over the years and has opened up many great opportunities for me. Okay, I may be being a bit dramatic but basically, parkrun means a heck of a lot to me which is the reason why this weekend was so special. (see my first ever blog post The Power of Parkrun)
For the whole of 2016, I was pretty much at war with parkrun. Most weeks I would turn up in desperate search for a PB and that magic sub 21. I didn’t get a PB for over 6 months and I HATED it. I would cry after almost every run and failed to improve…until I finally did a special run at a fast course with 20:33 but almost immediately after that, I was stuck back at 21-22. It was pretty darn tough.
Then suddenly, my training finally started to click during last cross country season. I started consistently getting just under 21 at our local course and then one day, I managed an unexpected 20:13! That’s when I realised how close I was to my ultimate goal: sub 20.
After a while, I decided it was finally time. Last week, we had planned to go to my usual course and attempt it there but the conditions were pretty bad so we last minute changed plans to return to our first ever parkrun course: Peckham Rye. We hadn’t been in 6 months and we were really excited to see our lovely old community who we’re really close with. After an enthusiastic and very fast start, I crumbled badly and started to slow a lot. However, I somehow managed to muster a bit of strength and actually managed a PB of 20:06! That settled it. I could definitely do sub 20 and it just so happened that we weren’t going to be able to make the race I was meant to do this week…so it was decided that 1st July 2017 would be the day I did it.
Leading up to the run, I wasn’t super confident. My Tuesday club session had been brilliant but the recovery run was a bit long and fast leaving me lethargic on Thursdays session. I woke up with slightly painful legs but I knew that I still had to give it a shot. It also just so happened that my beautiful new On Cloudflows had arrived and the run would be there first proper test – after much praise from my dad, I was pretty sure that they would definitely give me an added boost!
Saturday morning soon came around, in order to give myself the best chance, I actually bothered to make a pre-parkrun porridge which I suspected would be more beneficial than my usual half-bagel or energy bar/ drink. The pressure was on. My dad had told some of our friends at Peckham the plan and two people actually offered to pace make me! Not going to lie, this definitely made me a lot more nervous!
After a substantial warm-up and a few nervous chats with some of our peers, we were on the start line. I completely had my game face on. Surely this had to be the day!
We set off down the hill at what seemed like a decent pace. To my relief, my legs didn’t feel too bad and my breathing was very steady. We came into the first lap in the exact same “too fast” time as last week but this time, I actually managed to keep my composure. Lap two flew by and, surprisingly, I still felt strong! Then came lap three. This is when it really started to hurt…a lot. I fought to stay alongside my dad but I did slip back a bit. At this point, it felt like my goal was starting slip away…however, the final 800m soon came around and I decided that I wasn’t going to give up. With some much needed encouragement from my dad and my pacer, I decided to go for it with 400m to go. The last straight was agony (particularly as I had to take the long way around a lot of people who we were lapping as I am adamant about not straying off the intended course at all) but eventually, I made to the finish funnel, crossed the line and looked down at my watch…
“OH MY GOD!” was the first thing that came out of my mouth. My watch read 19:20! I couldn’t believe it! I had done it…actually, I had smashed it! I was so so so so elated! I even almost started crying – and I never cry (call me a drama queen but it was just a pretty amazing moment for me)! I also realised that I came 4th overall (which is my highest finisher position by miles! After thanking my amazing pacers (if either of them ever read this, you guys were incredible and I am immensely grateful – including you Dad), we had to hurry off home. Not going to lie but I may have danced around my house to throwback songs for a solid hour afterwards. Best feeling ever!
Times like this remind me why I love running! It was so amazing to have all my hard-work and dedication finally pay off! I finally feel like a good runner (particularly happy to be part of parkrun’s “elite sub 20 women” club) and it has given me a massive confidence boost! A few months…or even weeks…or even on Saturday morning I could have never dreamed of getting that time! That just shows you that you should never put limits on yourself as you can likely achieve things you never thought were possible (cheesy but proven true)! Don’t give up because hard work will always pay off in the end!
I hope you enjoyed today’s blog post! I don’t think I’ll be returning to parkrun for a while now but I am excited to get in some track races – who knows, if I can get sub 19:30 maybe I can get sub 5 1500m! School is also starting to wind down a bit so I will definitely be able to be more consistently with blogging soon- I have some exciting things planned…;)
Thank you all for reading and I hope you have all had a rewarding, enjoyable first weekend of July,
Oh and, if you were wondering, the On shoes were amazing and I am absolutely obsessed with them -expect a blog post soon along with some other exciting reviews 😉