Setting the pace

Having been invited for a lovely family lunch at Ma & Pa’s house with my sister and her family (including 9 month old Caitlin) and my grandparents, I quickly decided to invite us to stay overnight so that I could fit in a new parkrun as it’s been a little while since I undertook some tourism. Sadly Hastings isn’t up and running just yet so I opted to head over to Eastbourne as my research suggested that it had the potential to be pretty quick.

Last week I set a new PB at Cranleigh of 21:42 and I was somewhat bullish in my assumption that the hill and muddy bits probably add about a minute to your 5km time.

As luck would have it, Eastbourne appear to regularly offer up a ‘pacer day’ in which volunteers offer to run at pre-determined paces to inspire as many personal bests as possible. There was a really good turn out this weekend, in fact it was apparently the second time (in 171 runs) that the attendance has gone above 200. Eastbourne offer both a winter (footpath-based) and summer (more fields) route and they should have changed over by now. However, it was still a little too muddy so they decided to run on the winter course. Fantastic news.

Having been introduced to the pacers, it was time for the good ‘ol 3..2…1… GO and off we went. The start heads across a very small strip of grass and it was a bit ‘elbows-out’ to try and ensure that I was as close to Ian, the 21 minute pacer, as I possibly could be. We appeared to be in good zone and from what I could tell, there was about six or so runners around me and a few trying to keep just ahead of the small group we had formed. I focused purely on staying on the shoulder of the pacer and gave little thought to how fast I was running. I was surprised when the first mile beeped on my watch and I glanced down to see 6:40 flash up on my Garmin and I took stock of how I was feeling: strong, and breathing well. Someone behind me was breathing hard, and I wasn’t convinced she’d hold onto the group for too much longer.

At the turn around point I lost the pacer by a few meters and found myself pretty much in a group on my own. I didn’t panic and aimed to make sure that I lost no more ground. At this stage two runners were still with the pacer, and I was pleased to see that I hadn’t lost time as my Garmin confirmed a second mile of 6:43. I comforted myself that the pacer had just sped up a little and the target was still firmly in my grasp. The other two runners dropped off one by one, and I caught the pacer with about a quarter of a mile to go. The headwind was strong on the final route back to the finish, and I just kept thinking that I wished the pacer was bigger to offer a little more shelter. With the finish just around a few more corners he urged me to come through and push on as I was looking strong. I almost caught the runner ahead on the line, but she just edged me out.

Unlucky for some, I crossed the line in 13th position and I stopped my watch on an amazing time (for me, at least).

BOOM!!
BOOM!!

Pre-surgery, my 5km PB of 20:58 had been set at Guildford in August 2013. I know I had thought Cranleigh might add a minute, but when I ultimately realised that my sub-21 target would surely mean an all time PB I wasn’t sure that was likely. So to stop my watch on 20:46, beating that Guildford time by a huge 12 seconds, left me absolutely buzzing for the whole day.

How's about that for consistency. Perhaps because the only hint of a hill was a tiny bridge.
How’s about that for consistency. Perhaps because the only hint of a hill was a tiny bridge.

So there you have it – not simply a new PB following knee surgery, but the best 5km I have ever run!

Thank you so much to Eastbourne parkrun for hosting a great event, and lets not forget the combination of Cranleigh parkrun and the GGAC who are combining to make me stronger!!

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