Imposter, charlatan, pretender

And so onto my second run of the morning. As I’d said in my Antrim parkrun blog Iverene and I had planned to keep on running afterwards to get some more miles in our legs as part of our half marathon training.

Because we were already in Antrim I’d suggested following the same route as the 10k last Saturday, albeit leaving out the Castle Gardens portion at the start/finish as we’d already done it earlier.

I also wanted to experiment running in heart rate zones, which would have meant running slower and with a fast parkrun already in our legs this seemed the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

So, after a short walk just to loosen up, we went out onto the Randalstown Road and set off. As we walked to the start we noticed these directional arrows had been placed all around for what appeared to be a race taking place later in the morning.

Most of the arrows seem to be pointing towards the gardens so we assumed that we would avoid the race and not get caught up in someone else’s event. After all, we were running away from the gardens, along a busy road and towards Shane’s Castle.

Convincing ourselves we were fine we started running … really slowly. It was a tad difficult trying to keep it right down and not have my Garmin constantly buzz me that I was outside my preset range but, by and large, we managed it.

As we were running along we noticed a few more arrows for something called ‘The School Run’, and they all pointed in the same direction we were going. It seems this was an event organised by a local primary school.

Oh bugger. We were only following exactly the same course as the race! Oops.

Because we had set off around 15/20 minutes ahead of the race we joked that we were ‘winning’ and quite enjoyed the novelty of that for a while! It was also funny to see the bemused looks of the marshals dotted along the course. They cheered and encouraged us as we approached and then looked slightly puzzled that we weren’t sporting any numbers on our shirts!

We wondered how long it’d be before the front runners caught us which, as it turned out, wasn’t for quite a while, almost until we reached the castle.

By that stage I think we had long since abandoned our plans to run within a specific heart rate. We were having a laugh, and whilst we thought we were running slower the stats later proved otherwise. But it felt good, and it felt comfortable, even after parkrun.

Getting to Shane’s Castle I stopped to take the pictures I didn’t pause to take last week because I knew a PB was a possibility, and at this point a few more of those in the race went past … again we received a few bewildered glances and, again, it was amusing.

We were imposters. We shouldn’t have been ‘in’ this race but, yet, we were.

This continued for the remainder of the run back, and we started to play along a little bit – encouraging other runners, thanking the marshals for volunteering etc. … slightly naughty, I know, but entertaining.

As we got back to the Castle Gardens – where the race also concluded – we decided to follow part of the exact route to the end, before turning off for a slight detour so as to avoid the finish and risk causing untold confusion, although this also led to a bit of concern for the volunteers so we stopped with a couple of them to explain that we weren’t competitors looking to cut corners … it was all good natured though.

In the end we did five miles and, looking over the splits later, I noticed that we were getting progressively faster than longer we ran. So much for slowing it down.

It was huge positive, though. We had done this after parkrun and had run eight miles in total whilst feeling quite comfortable, which was simply fantastic.

All told, a highly successful morning and another indicator that I’m continuing to improve and get fitter. Indeed, apart from the deliberately slow opening to the run I was actually quicker than my 10k run last week! I find that amazing.

Relive my run


Antrim parkrun 10.02.18

Remember that klaxon from my blog last Saturday? Do you still have it handy? Then go and give it another long, satisfying honk for me because I’ve only gone and done it again!

After setting a 10k pb in the Born2Run event a week ago I was back in Antrim for parkrun and, just like seven days ago, I bagged a personal best … and this was every bit as unexpected.

During the week Iverene from my club had asked if I’d be interested in going to Antrim to do parkrun and then go for a longer run afterwards. We’re both training for the Larne Half Marathon (although I’ve got one before that) so I was only too happy to go and get some decent miles in our legs.

Arriving in Antrim we met up with Parveen, also from my club, and off we set. I immediately felt very comfortable and tried to keep pace with Iverene. She’s slightly faster than me but makes it look so effortless whereas I tend to trundle along. My plan was to follow her as much as I could in the hope that I could record a decent time, I had no designs on a pb at this point.

The first kilometre was faster than I would perhaps do on my own but I felt ok. The same applied to the second km but, again, I wasn’t in any real difficulty.

Iverene started to pull away from me at this point but I still kept her in sight and, on occasion, began to close in before she got away again.

The third and fourth kilometres weren’t bad either and, by this stage, I knew I was doing ok and, like last Saturday, began to calculate mentally what I’d need to do even though I didn’t really expect to succeed this time.

Despite starting to feel tired I put a push on and went as hard as I could over the final kilometre, almost matching my split from the first one.

I knew what my pb was and when it passed at 4.97km I was disappointed with myself for twice stepping gingerly over the one big puddle out on the loop part of the course. Sure it was only a bit of water and mud, why could I not have just run through it like everyone else?

I was disappointed but not overly annoyed. I’d still recorded my best time for quite a while and had taken four minutes off my only other visit to the Antrim parkrun, I was happy enough with that but made a quiet promise to myself to come back soon to try and better it next time.

It was all fine. I chatted with Parveen and Iverene for a while, comparing runs etc. before Parveen headed for home and Iverene and I went to the starting point of our second run of the morning.

I was content. I’d had a good run and I’d improved. All was well. I thought no more of it until we were travelling home and the results text came through. I let out a little yelp (followed by a more vocal celebratory ‘roar’) as I scanned it and saw the words ‘new PB’.

Wait. What?

That couldn’t be right. surely I was a few seconds outside it. But, no, there it was in black and white – I’d beaten it by 13 seconds! What can’t speak can’t lie.

I’m guessing what happened is that because parkrun isn’t chip timed I misjudged when to start and stop my watch, and this slight variation between what I thought and what the timing volunteers did accounted for the difference. After all, they know the course a lot better than me.

I wasn’t going to argue. I’d broken a parkrun pb that had bugged me since November 2015 … in fact, I’d been recording slower and slower times so I had thought any chances I had to better myself had long since gone.

Relive my run


Combatting my fears

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy my club run tonight.

My knees and calves are starting to feel the strain of four weeks of intense exercise, and I pulled out of going to the Monday morning Saints and Slimmers ‘wake-up’ class because a lot of it would have involved being on my knees and I wasn’t really sure how much more they’d take.

So, with some trepidation I started to walk – perhaps waddle might have been a more apt description (!) – to club and, thankfully, things began to loosen up. I was only ever going to do the 30-minute session tonight because I remembered late this afternoon I had a class to attend straight afterwards … Body Combat as it turned out.

Anyway, as I said, it was jusr 30 minutes tonight. Almost immediately my legs felt good, all the earlier stiffness just evaporated and I settled in to enjoy a comfortable run.

We were told in advance we’d be running up Princes Street so I knew to save myself for it. The last time we went that route I didn’t exert myself up the hill, just taking it really easy, but tonight I felt so good that I knew I couldn’t resist attacking it – which I did.

But it felt different tonight. Normally I just go hell for leather up it, and stuff the consequences … but, tonight, I was more measured and composed, starting slowly and building momentum whilst at the same time saving my energy for the little kick at the top.

The rest of the run was well within my comfort zone. I wasn’t interested in going faster, I was just enjoying myself and, perhaps, relieved that I was able to do it in the first place.

Afterwards, instead of joining the rest of the group for the cool down, I ran the ten minutes or so it took to get to my Body Combat class only this time I had my kitbag on my back which made things more awkward.

Having said that, running with the bag has clearly helped me because I feel much freer without the extra weight and that has translated into an improvement in my recent runs. I don’t like it, but it appears to be a necessary evil.

In total I did 5.4km tonight. Not a massive amount but plenty considering I went straight from my run to an hour-long class!

Relive my run