Thursday, 11 May 2017

Race Report: PPRC 5k Summer Series Part 1

My first proper race! I can't quite remember how I came across this series, probably Facebook, but after I signed up I found out that my new friends Ke and M were taking part, so I'd have a nice group to hang out with before and after the race. The day before race day, though, I made a terrible mistake: going to the beach with my flatmates. It was only about 15C, but apparently that's too hot for my skin! The back of my neck, arms and legs were pretty scorched, but somehow my face was okay. Upon trying on my race shorts I found that the hem rubbed on the worst part of the sunburn, and for a moment I thought I'd either have to not run or struggle through in itchy, crispy agony. I applied copious amounts of Sudocrem and moisturiser and hoped for the best. 

Miraculously the Sudocrem did its job, and by the time we left the flat the burn had mostly healed (or had just become considerably numbed). Hurray for evening races! The race venue was at the same place as the parkrun start, so it was only a fifteen-minute walk away, and the BF and I jogged about half the distance to warm up. We registered and collected our race numbers, and just as we were attaching them Ke and M arrived. After they registered we gathered in the cafe with Kr, another runner from the EDS run last week, and chatted until we were called to the start for a race briefing. Unfortunately, there was a group of women near me talking all the way through the briefing and I couldn't hear a word the race director was saying, but I knew the vague route and I could always just follow the person ahead of me. 

The route followed the seafront along the cycle path that stretched alongside the main road, around the back of the civic centre, city library and residential area, around a small playpark and back again. I ran with M until just after the library where she stopped to walk but urged me to keep going. The first mile felt like I had gone out a bit fast and my garmin confirmed that the first split was 9:50 min/mi, quite a bit faster than my usual 10:30. I kept pushing with the hope that I could go sub 30 for the first time! 
I saw Ke coming the other way shortly after entering the residential area, and the BF as I entered the lap of the park. Running with people I know of different paces is a big motivator for me, as I can concentrate on trying to spot them rather than how tired I am! I lapped the playpark and started up the small hill, looking out for M and Kr on the way back. At the 2 mile mark I was getting pretty worried that I hadn't seen M, but she suddenly popped up beside me and started pushing the pace harder. 

The wind from a few days ago had caused the path past the library to be covered in sand, and by this point I was pretty tired, but I checked the garmin and saw that a sub 30 was still achievable if I pushed myself. The finish was in sight and only about a kilometer away. The downhill from the civic centre to the main road gave us a boost, and I felt pretty strong despite my shoulder being a passenger on the pain train. We approached the finishing straight and I felt that I still had some energy left, so picked up the pace to pick off a few runners in front of me. I stopped my watch and saw that I had a time of 31:25, which I was a bit disappointed with, until I noticed the course was a little too long at 3.2 miles. 

I met Ke and the BF in the crowd and had a look through my goody bag, which consisted of some vouchers for gym trial periods, half price beach volleyball court hire and some aloe vera gel which was ideal for my sunburn! We regrouped with M and Kr and got our free burgers and beers, and called the photographer over to take a group photo.

The Team!

I was pretty interested to see whether I has gone sub 30 for the actual 5km distance, so I connected my garmin to Strava as soon as we got home. I had achieved a PB by a looong way, but sub 30 wasn't to be quite yet :(

I only need to cut 14 seconds off my time! Sub 30 is definitely in sight, and I'll be so happy when I finally achieve it. 

A bit of a funny thing though: when I went to find my results online, they'd put me down on the men's results instead of the women's; someone remind me to get a name that isn't gender neutral! Otherwise it was an awesome race and I'm totally taking part in the next race of the series too.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

May the Fourth Virtual Race & New PB!

This week has been pretty busy so far (although I seem to write that every week), especially over the last few days; on Wednesday I had to give a presentation, Thursday I had a 3-hour coursework online test, and Friday I handed in an essay. Between working and revising, I managed to get in a pretty good speed workout on Tuesday, which consisted of:

5 minutes out, come back faster (10:00 min/mi out, 8:20 min/mi back)
10 minutes out, come back faster (12:30 min/mi out, 10:05 min/mi back)
2 minutes at 70% effort (~7:40 min/mi)
1 minute 80% effort (~6:40 min/mi)
30 seconds 90% effort (~5:30 min/mi)

Speed workouts are so hard but also so fun and satisfying! Afterwards, we walked to the beach to cool our legs down.
Sea ice baths = the best ice baths

Remember the runner I met at Bideford parkrun? He got in contact with me through the media of Strava to invite me to go running with him and about 15 others as part of a virtual "May the Fourth" virtual race to raise money and awareness for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, to be run on the Swansea parkrun route on Thursday. I entered the race online, and even though I was convinced that I would be the slowest there, I was feeling pretty optimistic about how I would do. 

Once I got there, I found K (Bideford parkrun guy) and he introduced me to M, who had organised the gathering and had EDS herself. She held a briefing and explained that she wanted the evening to be about the running and the social, not about EDS, and some of the non-runners took some photos before we set off. I settled into pace with the BF, M, and another runner whose name I didn't catch but had a really nice Welsh accent. Most of the way around I listened to them talk about the races they had done in the past (including one where M ran a whole half marathon with a dislocated arm), and at the two-mile mark I felt pretty good considering the average pace was a little faster than I usually run a 5k.

 At about 2.5  miles I mentioned how if I could run the whole way round without walking it would be the first time on this route and I'd probably get a PB, and M replied that it was a plan and they'd help me achieve my goal. In the last 0.3 miles I was absolutely dying and really wanted to stop, but the finish was in sight and I knew walking wasn't an option. M and the other runner really encouraged me as I put on a burst of speed, and as I stopped my watch on the finish line I was astounded to see my time was about 32 minutes for 3.2 miles, meaning that I had beaten my PB by about a minute! Strava confirmed when I got home that my 5k time was 31:02, which I am so proud of and very grateful to my new friends for encouraging me- without them I definitely wouldn't have run the whole way.

Afterwards, everyone met in the cafe and we talked to a load of lovely people; I'd love to keep in touch with them all. I submitted my evidence to POW! Virtual Running and hopefully my medal should come in a week or two.

Saturday was parkrun day, and I completed it in 31:27 without walking, which proves I definitely am capable of running the whole distance now :) The first race of the PPRC Summer 5k Series is on Tuesday, and this will be our first proper race, and good race day practise before the big one in September. My goals are:

Achievable: run the whole way, don't die
Would be nice: Go sub 31:00
Would be incredible: Go sub 30:00

I'll write a race report and let you know how I did!