First race of 2016

Well 2016 has got off to a great start for me.  Inspired by the Portobello Promathoners on New Year's Day, I headed to Edinburgh parkrun on the 2nd for my first run of the year.  As I mentioned in my last post, my focus has been on getting miles in rather than speed and so this year I want to focus on speed and getting more races under my belt.

We ran Edinburgh parkrun on Christmas Day and my time was 32:22, with an average pace of 10:17 min/mile.  This was a substantial improvement on the only other time I raced it to complete my couch to 5k programme in a time of 33:50.

With my new focus on speed, Owain agreed to pace me round and we agreed that I would aim for sub 10 min/mile.  Given my last run was only a week ago and averaged 10:17s, this felt quite an ambitious target.  

When we got up on Saturday morning, the forecast looked great as did Davie Black's live report and Owain opted to race rather than pace me round.  To be fair, I did give him the option which he willingly accepted.  We knew there would be a slight wind, which for a change would be in our faces going out and on our backs heading home.

Mandy and Owain

When we left the flat, the rain started, getting heavy pretty quickly so we had to have a dash back to the flat to swap my glasses for contact lenses so that I could at least see where I was going.  I'm glad to say when we got to Cramond, the rain cleared for us starting and after much deliberation I opted to run without my jacket.  

Once we started, I tried to settle in to a nice rhythm, focusing on my own breathing and pacing.  I had meant to change the screens on my garmin as I tend to run with my average pace showing but forgot so was able to have a sneaky look at my pace.  Heading out the wind was noticeable but wasn't too bad and I was able to keep my breathing under control.  Normally by the first few ks, the field has petered out but it seemed to be really busy and I even had to shout to those around me to watch for the front runners coming through as the runners heading out with me seemed to be taking up the whole prom.

A quick sneak peak as I approached the first two k markers showed that I was on pace, both showing an average of under 10 min/mile.  So far, so good  A quick check at half way showed the same. In the back of my mind, I was concerned that I would tire as I wasn't used to pushing it but as I approached the 3k marker I was pleased to see I was still averaging sub 10.  By this point, I was glad I had opted to run without a jacket.  Having battled in to the wind on the way out, it felt really warm with it on my back.  The stretch from 3k to 4k is always the worst for me so I knew I just had to focus, but was feeling myself beginning to tire.  I had a quick look at my watch at 4k and it was hovering around 10 min/mile.  I know I have a strong finish, Owain always says this is the only time I actually race, but I wasn't sure I could hold the pace for the final k.  Not far after the 4k marker I saw Owain and he gave me a shout which helped my focus on relaxing and making sure my breathing was under control.  As I approached the trees to head along the finish straight, I had another glance and saw I was still hovering around 10 min/mile.  A welcome shout from Jacqueline, one of the marshals, gave me the determination to push but it felt that I was going slower rather than faster with the finish line seeming an eternity away.  Finally, I was there and as I crossed the line I looked at my watch to see my average pace clocking in at 09:57 min/mile.  I did it!!  And on my own without needing a pacer. My finish time was 31:16, over a minute faster than last week!  Woo hoo!

I know to many this will not mean much but to be back under 10 min/mile feels a massive step for me.  This is the first time I have raced sub 10 min/miles since September 2014.  For my 5k, the ultimate aim is to get back to running sub 30 minutes.  This is an average of 9:39 min/mile so to get back under 10 min/miles is the first big step to getting there.  Onwards and upwards for 2016!!

Mandy Williams

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