Pushing my 5k PB

Last week I took part in the Co-operative Jog Scotland 5k challenge on Glasgow Green. This was two weeks after my club ran it’s annual “Presidents Cup” handicap, over the Bella 5k course. So lots of 5k races to report on.

The Presidents Cup is a handicap, and this was my first experience of such an event. Runners are set off in reverse order of speed with a ‘handicap’ related to a recent 10k time. So we were all entirely consistent to that, all the entrants would finish together. I managed a time of 21:25, which I was really rather pleased with, considering my previous PB was 23:18 at Richmond Park Time Trial in November (write-up here). So in 7-8 months, I’d managed to take almost two minutes off my time (allowing for the fact that the RPTT isn’t as flat as the Bella 5k course).

The hardest part of the race was, as frequently is the case with running, the mindset. As well as all the usual battles that go on in your mind as you’re running, the additional complication was battling the desire I have to fall in with another runners pace. I’ve done it before in races, and benefited from a faster runner, almost as much as I’ve lost out to falling in with a slower runner. With the handicap, the people in front are (theoretically) slower, and so you’re aiming to catch up with them over the distance. Not fall in with them.

All said, it was a great race, and a lot of fun, and I was delighted to get a PB in the process. I find most sessions where the entire club is involved a lot of fun: It’s great to see how good the other runners are, and helps inspire us slower runners. Best of all though club regular Colin (aka Captain Caveman) won the men’s event, and he’s a fellow group B runner, giving us all hope! He quipped to me afterwards that he wouldn’t have come that night if he’d realised we’d be racing, and he went on to win! Marvellous stuff.

Anyway, last Wednesday saw the Co-operative Jog Scotland 5k on Glasgow green. This was a much bigger event – The results page shows close to 1,000 runners took part – and I had a hope I’d push my PB a bit more, even though the course was unfamiliar to me.

After a huge amount of walking about Edinburgh (for work) and all over Glasgow (to dump my laptop bag with my helpful brother in law, Paul!), I arrived thinking I’d done enough of a warmup already! After a quick few re-adjustments (In my hurry to get to the race I’d managed to get my running vest on the wrong way round, *after* pinning my number on! Doh!) and a short warmup, we lined up close to the People’s palace. Gun starts always give me a fright, but I managed to set off at a decent pace. Consistency was my goal, but pushing as hard as I could manage with that in mind.

I got into a good battle over the course with fellow Bella, John. I’d passed him around the 1k mark, but in a storming example of “digging deep”, John barrelled past me on the finish straight like something possessed. He’d been keeping pace with me all along, and did a stunning job to pull out a finish like that. That’s still “advanced running” for me: I feel great to just get to the finish line in a reasonable time!

In the end my watch time was 20:59, and my chip time 21:00, so I’m suspecting a rounding error is involved! A new PB either way, so I’m still absolutely delighted, and it’s given me some real hope I might just about to be able to think about mounting a challenge on the 20 minute barrier *next* year. Best of all, *reasonably* consistent splits (by my measure at least): 04:01, 04:13, 04:18, 04:26 and 04:01. As ever the 3k-4k split proves hard, not helped by a slight incline along the path.

The event itself had a reasonable turnout of fellow Bellas. 13 in total, with a stunning 16:12 and 16:18 by two of our leading club runners. It was won by the Glasgow racing scene regulars from Eritrea (a bit more about their story here, but ignore the bigotry in the comments!) in a truly stunning 14:07.

With a good goodie bag (I’ve got the chocolate stashed in my laptop bag ready to much!), and some great performances, it was a fun evening. Rounded off with a (I think) deserved beer and healthy(ish) noodles at Wagamama, it all made for a great evening.