Glasgow parkrun: 4 months on

It’s quite hard to believe that it’s over four months since Glasgow parkrun started, and I thought it was perhaps time to write a bit of a personal reflection on how things have gone.

Quite simply, it’s been stunning. We’ve been completely taken aback by the enthusiasm and uptake of the event since starting. We always knew it’d be quiet in December, and would pick up a bit more as the spring kicked in (and Glasgow’s spring 10k’s approached), but it’s surpassed even our most optimistic projections.

Some stats illustrate this: Our first event had 44 runners, but the proximity to christmas meant numbers dropped until January: Event #2 had 24 runners, #3 22 and #4 25. I look back at those events with a strange fondness, as we were learning so much about running the event, but the numbers feel almost, er, pedestrian. You see, since January, we’ve not really slowed down. 10th January say 81 runners, 28th February 114 runners, and the 28th March 153 took part. So with 18 events under our belts, we’ve had 644 runners take part, with 1490 separate runs totalling 7450 km. An average attendance of 83 participants each week, with the average run taking 24:11, and the average runner taking 38 seconds off of their course time over the duration of the event.

We’ve had a our fair share of problems. We had to adjust the course twice, first to move the start/finish away from a persistent puddle (ironically it’s not made much of an appearance since then!), and secondly to take account of a formal course measurement one of our runners did for us. But the new course has a much wider, downhill start section, and better accommodates the larger numbers we’re now seeing Our ‘best’ problem was actually only last week, when our timing device had a problem that meant we didn’t record the first 11 participant times. Thanks to the quick thinking of Frances, we soon got back on track. Best of all, everybody affected understood and wasn’t too bothered by the inaccuracy.

Glasgow council, and in particular the management at Pollok Park, have also been incredibly supportive. I recall our first meeting, and was worried there was some concern about what we were proposing. Perhaps they found it difficult to understand what motivated a couple of chaps to want to put on a free 5k race every week. I recall a few frowns, and certainly was a bit concerned they weren’t ‘getting’ it. We had a good few hoops to jump through to get the permits, and it was certainly quite a difficult process, but we got there in the end, and all the better for it. All the risk assessments came good, and covered us. The managers are enthusiastic, and we’ve been delighted to report to them that as a result of our event, many participants are coming back to enjoy the entire park and the Burrell Museum. Plus they’ve got a regular event taking place at a quiet time of the day.

Speaking to other park users I see when out and about putting up or taking down the signs, almost everybody is supportive of what we’re doing. The park is, after all, very quiet at 9.30am on Saturday mornings. Dog walkers are probably the only ones who are adjusting their habits, but all our participants know to respect other park users and yield to them. So far, so good. We take our respectful use of the park very seriously.

But by far the best part is the sense of fun and community that is building up around the event. I think it’s a bit of a puzzle to people when they first hear of it. They perhaps think of more ‘formal’ races, with their pinned on numbers, serious athletes, and entry fees. Once you get in on the running scene, they’re friendly enough of course, but new comers are often put off by them (I know I was). They’re just a tiny bit intimidating, at least until you start to enjoy them. But with parkrun it’s different. Here we have a free event that you can just turn up to once you’ve registered. It’s deliberately sociable and enjoyable, and it’s run by runners, taking their turn to volunteer on the day.

Somehow, there’s a real ‘magic’ to parkrun that brings participants together, and enables previous strangers to start chatting to each other in the post-run registration queue, or coming along for the post-run coffee. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen as much chatter at a local race, from and between elite runners and newcomers.

Announcing the Glasgow parkrun

I’m delighted to finally be able to announce the launch date of the Glasgow parkrun: A free, weekly timed 5k around Pollok Park. This joins the 10 other parkrun events that take place around the UK, and is the first parkrun event in Scotland. 

The provisional start date we’ve agreed with Pollok park management is Saturday, 6th December at 9.30am, outside the Burrell museum. The all important sociable coffee and chat follows in the Burrell cafe. The parkrun occurs every week at the same time. Plenty more at: 

If you want to take part in this, or any of the other parkrun events, you just need to register with parkrun before your first event: – It’s a one-off process. No need to repeat each week. 

parkrun’s are run entirely by volunteers, so please get in touch if you’d like to help. You might be racing later in the day, want to give something back to the running community, or be recovering from injury and want to stay in touch with running friends. 

We’re particularly keen to get names down for the first few weeks as the event establishes itself. See the Volunteer tab, drop me an e-mail, post a comment, or speak to me in person. 

A bit more on the parkrun idea follows below.


Richard Leyton and Iain Brown, Event Directors 
Continue reading “Announcing the Glasgow parkrun”

Two years of running

It’s a little over two years since I first went for a tentative run-walk in Pollok park, and I feel the need to look back a little. It started as something simply to get fit, and the very last thing I expected to get out of it was a new interest, passion dare I say. As I start thinking of realistic running challenges for the season and the new year, it’s helpful to look back at my progress so far.

I remember the first tentative session, doing (I think) 30s of jogging and a minute of walking, using the only thing I could find to time my bursts of activity, my mobile phone. I didn’t realise it then, but I’d chosen a slow steady incline in Pollok park to get going, which I hate to this day when it features in a local 10k. I also only had an old pair of trainers. As soon as my friend Sharon discovered I’d started running, I was under strict instructions to get a proper pair of shoes, and excellent advice it was too.

What I remember most about the early days was the delightful feeling of steady progress. Feeling confident about going that little bit further, or running for a bit longer before taking a break. Using a park with lots of options meant I could ‘tack on’ a bit more, or add in a loop. I was soon doing a 5k distance, and after a few months often getting around without stopping. Then the pace slowly came, and time soon became a target. But each small improvement helped create a virtuous circle that fed back into my enjoyment and encouragement.

My big mistake in the early days though is no doubt common to many new runners. I wasn’t realising the benefit of mixed sessions, specifically running at an easy pace more often. I was largely just running the same course, and feeling if I didn’t push my time slightly each time I wasn’t doing it right. This became glaringly obvious when I got the best running gadget out there, a Garmin 305 GPS device. It included a heart monitor, and the first thing I did was go for a ‘normal’ run, and look at the data. It told me what I probably realised, but didn’t face up to: I was pushing far too hard all the time. So I slowed down, and used some of the training options and features, not least getting used to running at lower intensity.

With that came rapid progress, and soon ran my first 10 mile distance as part of my half marathon training was completed in the not-too-shabby time of 1hr 32m. My 5k times were also tumbling, and ran the Bella 5k in 23:41. I then managed to get around the Glasgow half in 1:52:36 – the culmination of a year of training. Raising £3,500 in the progress for The Prostate Cancer Charity felt great too.

But when you hit big targets – which completing the half marathon was for me, it’s easy to get demotivated. I’m always a bit puzzled by the huge number of joggers out in the parks before big races, who vanish the week after. It’s akin to a yo-yo diet: Hit the target, and return to old ways. So I take the view that if you’re going to try and do something, make it a fundamental change to your way of thinking. I’d already got in that mindset, so the next obvious step for me was to join a running club, in my case, the Bellahouston Road Runners. I’ve not looked back since, and times have fallen further still as a result of the excellent coaching and excellent support and encouragement of my fellow bella’s.

If my first year of running was a lifestyle change – taking up regular activity and steady improvement – my second year of running was about getting serious, and improving my times. My 5k time is now 20:59, and my 2008 Glasgow Half marathon time was 1:36:46. I’m very confident my target of getting a sub-45 minute 10k (my PB is 45:01) this year too, having just missed out on it earlier. I just want to find the right course to do it in: I have a habit of choosing difficult courses, which makes getting a PB a little bit harder.

Frances deserves a medal too for her support. I suspect she, like a good few other people, thought this was just my latest thing, and I wasn’t going to stick at it for very long. She’s since helped out with marshalling, and gives the impression that she enjoys the chance to get out and see a bit more of the countryside and fiddle about with the camera and take pictures.

As to the year ahead, it’s likely to be about stepping up to bigger challenges, primarily to do a marathon in a decent time. Whilst I’m realistic about my slim chances of getting through the ballot for London, my club does get a few places allocated which I’ll apply for. Failing that, there are plenty of events around the country, and Edinburgh is currently appealing. I’m also hoping to keep the progress up, as I don’t yet think I’ve hit the limit of what I can do, or – at least – hit the limit of what I want to do. The commitment and effort required to push times to serious competitor (ie. winning awards at local events) level may be beyond me, but most serious competitors have been running for many more years than I.

I took part in the George Cummings relays (Club writeup here) at the weekend, and whilst I wasn’t the slowest (Indeed, I pushed my WAVA (a distance/age independent measure) to it’s best ever at 64.81), I did have the 4th leg, and consequently achieved a first in my running career and was the very last runner to finish. It was certainly a very good field, but I was somewhat struck by the less than complimentary ‘snoozing’ noises coming from one group of runners cooling down as I approached the finish. It certainly says more about them than me, but coming last was a useful experience nonetheless. It reminds me of that school-days adage that “it’s not the winning, but the taking part”, and I’ve discovered that running

2008 Glasgow Half Marathon

2008GlasgowHalf83I took part in the 2008 Glasgow Half Marathon yesterday. One year on from my first half marathon, a very different runner was hitting the streets of Glasgow. My goal last year had been to run it in a reasonable time, but primarily to get around and justify the sponsorship I’d managed to raise. It was an unknown quantity. But as I enjoyed myself thoroughly, I decided to take my running up a notch and joined a running club.

So a year later, I’d managed to run the Helensburgh half marathon in my buildup, and completed the clubs winter handicap championship (coming second, no less). The Glasgow Half would be the last race for me to complete the main club championship. A total of 15 races over the course of a year.

I’d been training as hard as I could, but hadn’t managed to get quite as many decent long runs in as I’d needed, and this showed in Helensburgh. My goal there had been to get around, but I still managed a time of 1:41:23, a full 11 minutes improvement. I was chuffed to bits, and deliciously close to a 1:40. So that became my target for Glasgow. “Get safely below 1:40”. I figured a 1:37:30 target time would be sensible, but largely dismissed any suggestions of anything faster than that.

The day dawned, and despite heavy rain in the North of England (which had, I think, been expected to move further north), nothing other than grey clouds and a breeze hit Glasgow. Nice for a change, but perfect running weather. I took no chances though and took all the appropriate precautions (close inspection of the Helensburgh photographs will reveal why), and headed in to town with Frances (who was going to dart around the course and take pictures).

After a brief warmup, I joined the starting area. I was in the white group (ie. the first section to start). Last year I was in the green area (third group to start), so felt like quite a step up. Ahead of us loomed St Vincent Street, which seemed to get steeper and stepper as the start time approached. The course was different this year due to road works, so we had an incline up St Vincent Street, over the M8 to Finnieston, then up an off-ramp and onto the M8.

Whilst trying to ignore Jimmy Saville who seemed to do nothing more than wave, the start seemed like quite an anti-climax, and after the usual big race jostling (reminding me why I prefer smaller club-run races) it was off up St Vincent Street. I’d largely written off the first couple of miles given the inclines, but the first mile bleep gave a time 0f 7:29 – nicely on target. A relief, and I’d been feeling a lot better than expected (all those hill training sessions paying off!). The second mile was even better, but probably too fast: 7:05. Perhaps because there was a bit of downhill along the way, and the crowds were easing out a bit.

After last year, when I found it all very interesting, the run over the Kingston bridge (M8 bridge through Glasgow) felt a bit of a silly diversion, so I was glad to get off the bridge and onto the flat straight that led through to Paisley Road West. Mile 3 at 7:02 was another speedy split, so eased off and found a more reasonable pace, but still fast at 7:12, but seeing Frances gave me some encouragement and passing some fellow club runners I’d been eyeing as a target perhaps helped too. Mile 5 at 7:30 was a little under pace, but a few windy corners, and I wasn’t too bothered. More than enough ‘in the bag’. Time for a wave as I passed through Bellahouston Park, where Frances’ brothers Brendan and Paul, who were with my nephew Nathan (looking very confused as to what all these silly people were doing). But I did manage to get a bit confused by the changed water layouts (a feature of the race).

Mile 6 at 7:18, and Mile 7 at 7:23, and feeling very comfortable, but not wanting to push some as I knew Pollok Park was coming up, and it *always* catches me out, despite doing most of my training there and knowing it’s inclines inside out. Through the park saw Mile 8 at 7:31, which was better than I expected, and Mile 9, just as we exited at 7:33 (missing Frances’ parents and assorted uncles and aunts, but hearing them). They’d changed the exit from the park at the last minute (as far as I can tell), so a nasty incline was inserted by the Burrell collection, but pleased my times weren’t too affected. I’d also passed a Fetchie (Alex) from the 1 mile challenge a few months back suffering from stitch. Something I’d never experienced in a race, but come mile 10 (07:30) I was starting to feel a bit in my left side. That said, it could also have been trying to drink water. I knew I needed some, but struggled with it. So mile 11 was at 7:34 pace. This was through the dull streets into town, so whilst the end was almost in sight, it was ‘dig deep’ time.

Another sighting of Frances around the 12 mile mark (7:27), and just over a mile to go. Whilst by now feeling really rather tired, I managed a 7:13 (thousands of people lining the finish straight must have helped too), and I was across the line in 1:36:46, a full minute faster than even my most optimistic time prediction, and very safely under my target of 1:40. That said, I’m not looking forward to the finish-straight pictures that are usually available, which will probably have me pulling a very odd expression!

I’d largely made good progress throughout, and didn’t really lose too many places once I’d taken them. I fell in with a few people along the way. I was quite glad to see a chap with loud headphones disappear off into the distance. Grrr!!! Similarly, the chap with the very noisy breathing/nose-blowing (what was that noise! Sounded like a dog sneezing…), I was glad to get some distance ahead of him! It’s amusing what can annoy/inspire you to push that bit harder whilst you’re running!

Along the way I was boosted by the support from the Bellahouston Road Runner supporters. Many of the club runners who weren’t taking part in the Half (many did the 10k earlier) were along the route crying out names or just “Come on Bella!”, which really made a *massive* difference. If there was a club-supporters championship, I’m pretty sure Bella would be up there at the top!!

Chuffed to bits with my time, and delighted to have finished the season in such fashion. I’m deferring thought of targets for next year for some time, but already eagerly looking forward to the next few races. I’ve a 10 mile race next weekend down in Cumbria (where I’m away for a short holiday), and am looking forward to finding a decent 10k somewhere to mount an attack on my 45:01 time!


* Full results
* 2008 Glasgow Half Marathon pictures (Bella Selection), courtesy of Frances
* 2008 Glasgow Half Marathon Pictures, the full 245 picture set, including Beagles!
* Norman’s writeup
* Ian Goudie pics, plus a special mention for being the loudest supporter!
* Jim’s pics
* Captain Caveman’s pics selection

Bella 5k (2008)

Last year I entered The Bellahouston Road Runners 5k, and it was my first encounter with what would become my running club. Little did I suspect last year that I’d be helping marshal the race this year! So a brief write-up…

I had been planning to run the race, thinking I needed to complete the race to fulfil the short race criteria for the club championship. It transpired a race back in February down in Greenock had counted, and given marshal volunteers were a bit thin on the ground, I decided I’d give up my race (and pursuade Frances to help out too). To be honest my focus is on the Glasgow half marathon at the moment, so was a bit tired from a long run I’d done yesterday, so no bad thing.

I was happy to help wherever it would have been useful, and that meant assisting with the timekeeping. And sandwich making. Frances and I made four platters of sandwiches (The club has a reputation to upkeep when it comes to home baking) on Saturday afternoon, almost all of which seemed to get demolished after the race.

I also got the dubious honour of starting the race. The megaphone was a bit of a disaster (it didn’t work very well at all), so club coach John took over by shouting with his far more impressive voice the various bits and pieces we needed to announce. Glasgow’s runners were spared my witty banter and planned motivational speeches 😉 ! But having 250 pairs of eyes staring at you as you start the race (with a lovely loud air horn) was something I’ll not be rushing to do again! Terrifying. The 15 minutes of peace and quiet after the start were soon over though when the lead runners returned (A winning time from Paul Sorrie of Shettleston Harriers, in 15.28 was impressively fast).

My job was to assist the time keepers and race-number recorders, and arrange for results to be shipped back to race HQ by hoodwinking club colleagues who’d completed the race to take results back (or do it myself). The 3-4 minutes between about 20-24 minutes was pure adrenalin, and only one nasty backlog, which my timekeeping colleagues did exceptionally well to get through. No major disasters ensued (Full results are available here), and I’m told it all went well.

My friend Keith (unattached at the moment, but mulling joining a club) recorded an impressive 18:56 time on what was his first ever 5k, and some excellent performances from many of the clubs members, including a sub-20 watch time (which is probably more accurate when you account for delays in crossing the start line!) by group-B coach Jonathan.

Back to the Palace of Arts (so named after the Empire Exhibition of 1938, and nothing whatsoever to do with sports) for prizes, food, de-stressing and a good natter.

A fun morning all said, time keeping stresses aside, and I think Frances even enjoyed herself marshalling out on the course, although not sure it quite made up for the lack of lie-in this weekend (a work related early start on Saturday didn’t help either)!

See also:

* Norman’s write-up
* Ian Goudie’s write-up
* bedlam-g
* Full results

Helensburgh Half Marathon

DSC_2435Things have been rather busy the last while, and the only subject I’m feeling keen to write about is running! Normal service should resume soon. But in the meantime, this morning we had an early start to head off to Helensburgh for the Helensburgh Amateur Athletics Club organised half marathon.

I should say up front that I had mixed feelings about the event. I was mainly entering it to ensure I completed my running club’s championship criteria – As I’d left things rather late (and am leaving marathons to next year), my choice was limited by the time I got around to choosing. Helensburgh and Glasgow half marathons. Mainly though I didn’t really get around to doing the necessary training, so my goal went from pushing my PB too far (which I figured I’d leave for Glasgow in early September) to simply getting around in one piece. In fact, I didn’t get much running done this week at all other than the Monday club session: I wasn’t feeling 100% in the middle of the week either.

So we got to Helensburgh with enough time for a couple of quick trips to the facilities, and I got a very short warmup in. Just before everybody started gathering for the start, the sun seemed to appear from nowhere, and I started worrying whether I should have put some sunblock on. I needn’t have bothered. After the start, the sun disappeared. And it then wasn’t very long until the rain started. And didn’t really stop for the duration. A short sharp shower would have been quite nice, but this just kept on coming!

Despite my talk about ‘just getting around’, I figured I’d try for a 1:45 time. My previous PB in Glasgow last year was 1:52:38, but since then I’ve joined a running club and seen my times tumble. It was what you might call a ‘soft PB’. So figured it was reasonable to aim for something, and see how I went. Mindful of my friend Sharon’s supportive text last night about taking it steady and overtaking towards the end being a lot more fun, I settled in to a comfortable 7:45/mile pace, and figured I’d keep at it. I was pleased that my pacing meant I was able to catch up and pass a good few runners. The rain saps a lot out of you, but despite that I found myself feeling pretty good all the way around. Passing runners was good fun, but it didn’t last – a group soon formed towards the end section in Helensburgh where we were all passing each other over and over again.

I’d picked up a water bottle along the way, and hung on to it. No bins and my hatred of littering meant I couldn’t lose it in good conscience. So when Frances suddenly appeared on the other side of the road, she snapped this rather amusing picture of me throwing it in her direction so she could find a bin. Some gratitude for her efforts on my part! My excuse was I’d not seen her (my glasses were soaked!), and somehow finding a bin had become quite a focus for me! An DSC_2357amusing action shot will no doubt ensure I don’t forget my rudeness either!

The 3-4 miles through Helensburgh’s back streets were tough. Long and straight streets with very little going on. Returning to the front and seeing the 12 mile marker was therefore a huge relief, and I felt good enough to pick the pace up a bit more, and start picking off the group I’d settled with. Of course, they weren’t letting it just happen, so a great race ensued. Best of all (for me!) I managed to keep at it. Rounding the final corner to see the finish line was a huge relief, but one of the other runners had something left in him and passed me. I congratulated him briefly… Normally I’m a bit hopeless at sprint finishes…

But somehow I ‘dug deep’ and found a chunk of energy. Thoughts of hill sessions in the gloomy winter flashed past me: I’d been in worse pain and had less energy than I had then, so figured what-the-hell… So my very first sprint finish! DSC_2432 And, it seems, I won!. Wow. Chuffed to bits.

My fellow running club members had some great performances. With an out-and-back course, it meant we could see our front-runners doing extremely well. Not had the official results yet, but looks like some superb performances were put in and some great results throughout the field.

My watch time gave me a time of 1:41:27, but there’s a bit more in that given I didn’t stop my watch for a while (too exhausted from the sprint!). My official time was 01:41:23, so a PB of 11 minutes was *waaay* beyond my expectations given my minimal preparation, and given how good I actually felt at the end, plus a bit more training, I’m starting to feel quite really confident of pushing below 1:40 in Glasgow next month, especially if it’s a bit dryer 🙂

Certainly a great end to a great event. Whilst the weather was far from helpful, the course is superb, and the organisers and their wonderful marshalls deserve a special Thank You! In dryer conditions it’d be really quite something. The views over the lochs and *reasonably* flat course were all great. Thoroughly enjoyable, and a great result.

Now, if only I’d remember to put some plasters on…

Some additional items:

* Picture highlights courtesy of Frances. Complete set.

* Fellow club runner Ian’s writeup.

* Fellow club runner Norman’s writeup

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.

MHFS 10k – 2008

This was a significant race for me in a number of ways. Most importantly last year it was the first race I ran after I took up running (here’s my 2007 write-up), but more recently it was a race I’d taken on to beat my PB in, as part of the XT Wings Challenge. It’s also my most local 10k race – running through Pollok park, which is right besides my house, and where I spend most of my time training.

The race is certainly going from strength to strength, and over 2,500 runners took part. Still a way to go before it reaches the 12,000 in the Ladies 10k that I helped out with last month.

My late write-up of the race perhaps belies that I didn’t finish the race in quite the way I’d hoped. I certainly didn’t beat my PB of 45:01 from this years Jack Crawford 10k. In the end I managed a time of 46:23, which was some way off.

I certainly started off quite well. The first couple of km were in my target pace range (around 4:25) – 04:20 then 04:25, and a bit slower at the 3k mark (04:33). But still reasonable. It’s very easy to set off too fast (something I’m particularly prone to do), so was keen to keep it under control. Unfortunately, the 4k mark (04:44) marked the start of the long slow incline into Pollok Park, and that drained me. I couldn’t make up much time down “Sarah’s hill” (as the club call it), I was just enjoying the easier downhill rather than pushing, so my times went to 04:51 at 5k. It pretty much says all. There wasn’t much hope for me to beat my PB at this point, and I found it difficult to get close to my target pace at all. 6k at 04:40, and 7k, the exit from the park at 04:47.

But disaster struck when I had my first shoelace incident during a race. I’m normally very careful to tie my laces. Not too tight as the tops of my feet hurt if they are, due to their slightly odd shape. So that took a chunk of time, so 8k at 04:45 was probably actually quite close to my target. 9k at a pace 04:45, and the final 1k felt a lot longer – there’s a difficult incline at the start of the park entrance, and it’s a lot further than you think to the finish line. Last 1k was at 04:37 average pace. So my average pace was 04:39 throughout. 9s off the magic 04:30 I needed to stand a chance of beating my 45:01 PB.

Reasons? Well, most likely I didn’t do enough consistent longer train runs in the build up. Plenty of short, faster runs/speed session work, but I perhaps didn’t get out for longer runs enough in April and May. But I have a good excuse for at least most of April :-). But not much of one for May 🙁 It’s also a tougher course than I’d given it credit for. Perhaps complacency too given I do most of my training on the roads and paths that the course uses, but it’s a different kettle of fish when you string them together and try to run them at pace. I also was a bit foolish by going for what turned into quite a tough training run on the Friday just before. I hadn’t planned to, but whilst I was very pleased with the results, it really would have been better to have taken it easier so close to a race.

One of the problems I do have is maintaining exertion for longer periods at a higher heart rate, and building endurance is something I really need to focus on. I’m a bit of a whimp, and find it hard not to think negative thoughts when I really need to be “digging deep”. The winter training helped with this, and probably played a big part in my previous 10k PB.

But I still very much intend to get my PB down if at all possible this year. I just need to find a flatter course and ensure that my mileage is up. Oh, and that my shoelaces don’t get untied!

But to put it all into perspective just one year ago I completed the race in 53:56. This year’s time of 46:23 is 07m33s faster. My average pace was 05:23 compared to 04:39 for similar effort. With a focus on building endurance (I’ve entered the ballot for London 2009, so hope to see something along those lines!), who knows what next year might bring. As ever, it’s not all about individual results (although those are nice!) but the journey that counts, and even when you don’t hit your targets, you still learn a lot, and that’s all good 🙂