Race Report – 2015 Long Bennington Summer Solstice 10k

Fresh from the Woodhall Spa Sprint Triathlon I was certainly not in the days following my first ever triathlon. Monday saw a session at the gym on the stepper and the elliptical trainer with an easy paced recovery run in the evening which felt not too bad. Tuesday however saw me by mid-afternoon in a state of near exhaustion (Perhaps slight exaggeration – very tired is closer). I was contemplating doing nothing at all, but with sunny warm conditions and – for the first Tuesday since 2015 time trials began at Witham Wheelers, – there was barely a breath of wind.

Sensing opportunities to ride windless time trials are going to be at a premium I had a strong coffee and lackadaisically headed to first the cricket club to sign on and then onto the TT start. The lure of a PB appeared to do the trick, for although I rode mediocre at best, I came home in 25:41 – a new PB and first sub 26 clocking. Wednesday saw me feel a touch fresher, but still tired on a gentle, mostly off road 11 mile run around the very pleasant Belton House Estate. Thursday was a day off, which would hopefully see me revitalised for the Friday evening race.

Evening races when there is an F1 race on is always a touch of a risk in terms of being able to participate; thankfully Friday was a quiet day in Spielberg which enabled me to arrive in Long Bennington just shy of an hour before the start of the race. Being a member of Grantham Running Club, the hosts of the race, there was no shortage of familiar faces at the race HQ, all doing a fantastic effort to make this one of the slickest and well catered for evening races I’ve ever attended.

Gravity FM were putting on an outdoor disco and warm up show which, I must admit, didn’t think would work, but actually was really uplifting. I left it though to perform my usual warm up – a 1.5 mile out and back affair, with the return being a series of race pace strides. Everything felt good – aside from a touch of hay fever making breathing a little wheezy, and I went about final preparations.

Helping Scott set up his camera.

Jogging to the start line I felt a twinge in my left glute. I tried to ignore it but was a bit concerned – random aches like this have led to sacrum stress fractures in the recent past. I ran a couple of practice starts and the ache appeared to disappear. After helping Scott on the start line with his camera settings I lined up at the front of the race. This time last year I was at the same start line barely caring less how the race panned out – today I had my race face on and I was keen to do well.

Lining up at the start of the race.

The race gun fired at dead on 7:30 and for a few glorious seconds I actually led the race! For a brief moment thoughts of actually winning the event flooded through my brain. Then Shane Robinson of Lincoln Wellington remembered he is a 31:34 10k runner and swiftly disappeared into the distance, setting a new PB and course record of 31:30 in the process.


The start of the race. Image © Graeme Reynolds
The start of the race. Image © Graeme Reynolds

After the initial frantic dash ‘downhill’ where Garmin was throwing up sub 4:40 pace alerts, we collectively settled down into something more realistic. I found myself third, the orange shirted Daniel Page of Clowne Road Runners ten meters or so up the road and Grantham AC’s Adam Madge sitting on my shoulder in fourth, with a gap growing to the fifth placed runner. On the long flat run on Valley Lane out to Grange Lane there was a slight, but definite, headwind, and I didn’t fancy being a wind break for Adam. I did a deliberate pull out and tuck in behind Adam. I stayed in his slipstream for around 30 seconds but twice I clipped his heels, forcing me to apologise profusely and pull out to retake third place.

At this moment second placed Daniel thought he should play the tactical game and eased up to allow us to catch him and sit behind me and Adam. I was now second, and with the first mile covered in a potentially PB shattering 5:18 I decided to scrap the tactics and just run as hard and fast as I could. The second mile was a fair bit slower in 5:34 but it was then as we turned left and towards Staunton I pushed on again in a bid to try and drop Daniel (Adam by now had dropped off our little group and was fading fast). With the wind now more behind us Daniel took the odd turn to take the lead but I repassed him on several occasions. This battle meant we sped up in the third mile (5:24) and as we passed the official 5k marker I glanced at my Garmin, which read 16:47 – inside my 5k PB!

At this point I was still feeling comfortable and felt I had every chance of finishing second with a sub 34 clocking a real possibility. Then the little ache I’d felt minutes before the start in the left glute reappeared and quite quickly became quite a severe ache. It didn’t really slow me but it was disconcerting and, frankly, a little worrying. The discomfort reached it’s peak as we hit Staunton and turned left again to head back towards Long Bennington. The race’s main drag uphill began and it was there that Daniel was able to eke out a small gap on me. I wanted to push on and go with him but the ache in the glute was just too much to do so.

In third place chasing Daniel Page.

What was reassuring was that once it reached quite painful the level of discomfort stabilised and I was able to run at a fairly decent pace. The fourth mile was 5:31, and the fifth, where I had mentally settled for third place and was thinking more about fending off the rapidly approaching fourth placed runner, was the slowest of the race (5:41). As we began the final mile I could see Daniel ahead making more and more turns of the head, an indicator in most races that he was tiring. I picked up the pace, not only to try and catch him, but because there was the small matter of a PB that was still within my grasp.

We came back into Long Bennington (5:28) and as we hit the finish straight I put on as good a sprint I could with the left glute tightening rapidly. Unfortunately for myself Daniel was wise to my efforts and sprinted at least as effectively as myself (probably more) With a final spurt I crossed the line third.

Sprint to the finish – Third and new PB Image © Graeme Reynolds

The official time would take some time to materialise, but eventually it was given as 34:10 – a new 12 second PB! I was thrilled! I also hurt quite a bit and was relieved to see my regular massage therapist David McKee on hand to help release the back, glute, and Piraformis.

He did a good job of averting a full lock up, but there was no thoughts of a warm down. Instead it was catching up with plenty of other runners and waiting for the presentation where I would receive just my second ever prize (My first came at the Taunton Marathon in 2011, where I also finished third). £25 the richer and with a new PB – a very successful evening’s work!

Third place prize, presented by Ruth Dunstan.


Parkrun Report – Peterborough parkrun #106, Saturday 11th July 2015

The first thing to state is that I’m very much aware that to post a parkrun report in Race Reports is something of a faux pas, the free to enter timed 5k run is very keen to stress that it is not a race – no matter how similar it may feel like being one from the moment you arrive at one to the text message you receive an hour or two after the event telling you your time and finishing position.

From the onset however mentally I was treating my participation at Peterborough parkrun, if not as a race, as a very serious time trial, a serious stab at beating my very old parkrun PB of 17:20, set at Coventry back in 2012. The week’s training had been moderately easy – an 80% effort at an intervals session on the Tuesday, which confirmed I was in good shape and the other session of note a 13.5 mile club run on the Thursday which saw us neck high in crops at one point and then tripping over a poorly dumped roadworks barrier late on in the run.

That last incident very nearly saw me not take part in the parkrun. The Friday saw the right shin quite sore and when that cleared up on Saturday morning I found myself limping a touch with a very tight quad. Thankfully some last minute foam rolling before setting off appeared to alleviate the limp. The drive down to Peterborough was rather blissful, the fact I had the sunroof open and windows down pointed at the temperatures already being warm.

I arrived a little later than planned, which meant after the customary call of nature I only had chance to do a short 1.5 mile or so warm up – which was one loop of the course. The legs felt a bit stiff and the sun pretty warm, but in the last minutes of the warm up I felt the body loosen off and feel ready for the assault.

After the customary parkrun briefing we headed to the start and I made my way to the front, having a final brief chat / excuses tick off with fellow GRC runner Rob. A couple of minutes late and we were on our way. I was pleased to have just in front of me a couple of runners who were willing to take the early pace, and another runner just behind as we eased away from the field. I felt comfortable sitting in third as we completed a mini lap of the lake and headed off on the first of two larger laps. I was chopping the stride slightly but there was none of the inadvertent tripping I was doing at the recent Solstice.

We went through the first mile in 5:10, which is one of my fastest ever miles but felt comfortable – especially as I’d covered 800m earlier in the week during intervals at sub 4:40 pace. We then went over the only real climb on the course in the form of a pedestrian bridge. The climb is just a few seconds but it was enough to cause a slowing on the descent. I decided that this was the moment to push and I took the lead and didn’t look back. We were already passing backmarkers, who had been instructed to keep to the right. Most did but there were occasions when I did have to shout quite loud to get someone’s attention. Thankfully there were plenty of runners who were also shouting to others to keep right, so at no point was I held up.

If this wasn’t a race it still continued to feel like it. The Peterborough parkrun course is held on nigh on exactly the same course as the 5k race held there as part of a summer series, albeit I imagine the parkrun has significantly more crowd support, especially with the enthusiastic cheering of the Peterborough Sweatshop Community Runners, who risked wearing bright yellow t-shirts (And in so doing became a magnet for all sorts of insect life) to give the run a race like feel.

As I completed the first large lap and headed for the final tour, I worked out from the applause of spectators that I had a comfortable gap on the second placed runner – and it was now a time trial to the finish to try and get that PB. Mile two was covered in 5:19 and I still felt fairly fresh. I then hit an exposed bit in terms of the sunshine and wished I’d worn a vest rather than a t-shirt. It was over 20C (40 minutes later when I got in the car the temperature was 23C) and I was having to play mind games to convince the body it wasn’t hot.

The second climb of the bridge numbed the legs and the final mile began to feel like an awful long way. It was here the crowd support and the generous enthusiasm of lapped runners really helped me to the finish. As I took the final left hand bend and began the final 400 meters or so I glanced at my watch and saw it had only recently clocked 15 minutes. I knew a sub 17:20 was assured, it was now a question of how quick I could go. I didn’t register the third mile split at the time (it was a 5:15, but it felt slower) it was an all out effort to the finish chute.

I crossed the line and heard the official shout 16:36 which, to a tenth of a second, tallied with my Garmin time. The tiredness soon flushed out of the body with the elation of a big new PB – 44 seconds for parkrun and 19 seconds for 5k (the Peterborough parkrun course is certified as accurate, apparently).

The fact I finished first didn’t really matter at all – my effort was true to the parkrun ethos that it is a run against the clock and to better yourself rather than necessarily others. That said I couldn’t help feeling that I’d been to many races that felt less like a race than Peterborough parkrun, but today I wasn’t complaining over the rights and wrongs of parkrun. It was a good day.

Trainer Obituary – Nike Free 4.0 V2 (Grey and Yellow) – 28 August 2013 – 20 September 2014.

Nike Free 4.0 V2 (Grey and Yellow)
Nike Free 4.0 V2 (Grey and Yellow)

Replacing a long succession of Nike Free shoes, the Grey and Yellow Nike Free 4.0 V2 were the first Free’s I’d worn that were more minimalist than the 5.0 or equivalent. Any initial fears over their suitability were quickly dispelled and they became a favourite and much worn pair of trainers – amassing 860 miles and just shy of 103 running hours.

Originally intended as a fast run pair of trainers, they proved so comfortable they were regularly used for long runs and recovery runs too. Their shining moment came at the end of July 2014, when, at the Lincoln Wellington 5k, they were a last minute substitute for the Nike Lunaracers that were aggravating an Achilles blister. They raced to a 16:55 PB and so currently hold the distinction for having the quickest average pace for a race I’ve currently run.

Making their swansong at the Grantham Running Club Handicap 10k in September 2014, and run in for the last time on an easy paced 10k run on September 20th 2014, they were retired for running purposes, to be replaced by a black pair of Nike Free 4.0 V2s. 

Despite being heavily worn and with the uppers beginning to fall apart, they are seeing a life beyond the running grave as they are being used on the elliptical trainer while I convalesce from long-term injury.


Race Report – Robin Hood Half Marathon aka Project Sub 1:16:47

The big day came; weeks and months of training came to this. After four years of trying to better my old half marathon PB of 1:16:47, today was do or die, sh*t or bust, all or nothing, hero or zero… The first thing to check, once it became light enough to see outside with a 6am wake up call, was what the weather was looking like. Blissfully wind free was the answer, my number one concern after the last two Robin Hood Half Marathon’s have been spoilt, more so in 2012, by strong winds. The forecast though was for unseasonably warm and sunny conditions, but I wasn’t overly concerned about that – it was all about the wind, or lack of it.

The early wake up and depart for Nottingham was necessitated following my 2013 experience when I’d aimed to arrive at 8:15 (a good 75 minutes before the start of the race), but got stuck in horrendous traffic and had to all but abandon the car with the wife and kids to make it to the start in time. So I and Scott, my travel companion and competitor in the accompanying marathon, aimed to be there at 7:45. The plan worked a treat, the car park easy to get into, which wasn’t the case just 30 minutes later when the queues of traffic began to form.

With 1 3/4 hours to play with before the off, it was a relaxed build up to the race – a walk around the race village, a chat to fellow club mates and a 1 1/2 mile warm up which was unspectacular but did at least see the sciatica related pain in the right leg subside during the run to a point where I figured it wouldn’t interfere with the race. Still, I did one last long Piraformis stretch on completing the run, which I’d like to think made the difference between a nagging ache during the warm up and no aches at all in the the race.

This relaxed build up bit me a bit as I’d not made my pre race trip to the Portaloo and it was now less than 20 minutes to the start. A look at the queues for the aforementioned offices of convenience struck me with fear – they were enormous!  I made a quick scan for what liked the shortest and proceeded to fret increasingly with each passing minute as the queue diminished frustratingly slowly. I finally made it into my cubicle with less than five minutes to the start. I did what I had to do, leaving myself just three minutes to find the start and the first wave of runners where I should have been standing, waiting for the gun to fire.

A frantic run ensued, dodging runners, spectators, bollards, dogs and pushchairs. The starting gun went just as I made it to the opening for the back of the first wave of runners. Without stopping I was suddenly crossing the start line and beginning the race, losing around 15 seconds had I lined up at the front where I’d arguably should have been.

The plan before the race, as practised at the club handicap 10k earlier in the month, was to run with the HR averaging around 172bpm with the intention of running at, or around, 5:40 per mile. This was an ambitious plan which, if successful, would see me finish in under 1:15. All I wanted was to break 1:16:47, the plan being the old trick of go out hard, try and build up a time buffer and hang on as best as possible as you died a slow death in the final miles. I hate racing this way, always preferring to start a little slower and finish strongly, but I felt it was now or never to try this alternate strategy of going out hard from the gun and sustaining pace as long as possible.

Starting a little further back than planned slowed me initially but it wasn’t long before I was into my running and at the pace and HR I’d planned. I passed the first mile in 5:39, the average 169bpm, spot on what I’d hoped for and quite a relief given that a few minutes earlier I thought I was going to miss the start completely.

The Opening Mile
The Opening Mile

It turned out I wasn’t the only one with pre-race dramas. Fellow Kenilworth Runners Connor Carson caught me just after the mile and we exchanged pleasantries as best you can when running almost, but not quite, flat out. It turned out he nearly missed the start too, stuck in pre-race traffic. We ran together through to 3 miles which I was very happy with, I knew that he was hoping to run sub 1:15, although I wasn’t totally sure what form he was in. I went through the second mile in 5:39 (HR average 172), the third mile 5:37 (173 HR average). The conditions at that point were perfect, the roads flat, running well, feeling great. Then, just after three miles, Connor stopped, heading into the awaiting Portaloo. Clearly his pre-race dramas had meant the lack of time to complete the simplest human act had now ruined his race. I felt bad for him but had no time to dwell – 5k was completed in 17:37 and if I kept this up the PB was on.

By the fourth mile the field was well spread out and it was harder to find pocket of runners to run with. I slowed a touch to 5:44 but the HR average was steady at 172 so all I could do was just keep running as best as possible. The fifth mile is a little odd as it takes runners through the large headquarters of Boots the Chemists. It’s sparsely populated by spectators save for the security guards monitoring the property and a few race officials. There was little to entertain but it was interesting to pass a number of traffic speed signs – the ones that flash up your speed, normally as you drive past. For me and the group of 2-3 runners it read 11 mph. This was simultaneously pleasing and disturbing at the same time. 11 mph is usually around the top speed on a half decent gym treadmill. I’ve not been to a gym for several years, but that sort of speed was reserved for the top end efforts that I could usually only sustain for a minute or two. Now I was planning to keep that sort of speed up for 13.1 miles. It seemed a big ask, too big, so I tried to forget that nuance and worked on the slightly more comfortable target of 5:40 per mile, or by now, just faster than 5:50 per mile (The pace required to beat 1:16:47). The fifth mile was the slowest to that point – 5:46, but the final part, when we left the Boots complex, saw the steepest climb on the course, albeit only a crossing over a bridge above a railway line.

Mile six was bad patch as, I’m regularly told by Brendan Foster on any televised distance race, everyone goes through. It was on the run towards the University that I began to flag. Out came the emergency gel, quickly consumed, and it was then I had a little saviour in the form of Coventry Godiva runner Scott Hazell, who passed me, but I was able to cling onto as we headed up the most significant climb on the course, up and literally through Nottingham University campus. It was over the top of the hill and back down the other side where we passed firstly through 10k – 35:36, somewhat scarily just one second slower than I ran the Summer Solstice in June – and then half way – which was around 37:50.

The trip through the campus is scenic but a little tough going as it mostly on dry gravel. Feeling like I was leaving my bad spell I clung onto Scott and ran alongside. We began to talk briefly, when Scott mentioned he was running the marathon and not the half. This took me by surprise – running this fast for 26.2 miles! He was hoping to run about 2:34, so when we spoke we were just outside his target. I decided the best thing to do, with other runners few and far between, to try and stick with him as best as possible, which I managed to do until the half and full marathon courses went their separate ways at around 11 1/2 miles.

At 7 miles that was some way in the future. After mile 6, the slowest of my race (5:54), the feeling that I had rallied was borne out in the mile splits – mile 7, through the campus, was 5:45, mile 8, back on the roads and not the pavement as we had done on University Boulevard in previous years, was 5:43 and mile 9 was 5:51 – but it did feature the last hill of the race, a longish drag up before plunging down to a roundabout and a trip back towards the city centre. It was here I appreciated the quietness of the totally closed roads in contrast to how they’ve been when I’ve visited frequently in previous months.

The tenth mile saw us briefly retread some of the roads we took in the opening miles of the race and it suddenly became evident that I was feeling much worse than fifty odd minutes ago. The legs were heavy, I began to feel shivery, with goose bumps appearing which I took to be a sign of dehydration. The warmth of the day which I’d done my best to ignore now became impossible to forget and it became not just a physical battle but a mental one – pushing body and mind to keep going when it wanted to slow and stop. This was Rotterdam revisited, but time running 30 seconds a mile quicker and closer to maximal pace and ability.

Despite the suffering it was clear I was still running well, 5:42 for the tenth mile, with 57:50 or so on the watch, I had come very close to matching my 10 mile PB. I was now really using the crowd to keep me going, finding it harder to maintain form in the occasional quiet pockets, trying my best to cling onto Mr Hazell. With some relief I passed 5:46 for mile 11 and it was more encouraging that the distance on my Garmin was more or less tallying with the mile markers on course – it had been spot on for the opening miles, lost its way a touch through half way but was now only around 0.1 mile too generous. This I meant I knew that the 5:43 on the average wouldn’t necessarily mean a big PB, but I was confident at least I could get one.

When we split with the marathon runners and onto the footpath beside the River Trent, initially I had the toughest bad spell of the race. A mile and three quarters suddenly seemed too far away. Fortunately the knowledge that I knew this stretch reasonably well from running a five mile race here a couple of months ago – albeit in the opposite direction – helped. Moreover I was catching a runner who was around 30 seconds up the road. I caught him at 12 miles, which was a 5:52 effort. Knowing I had just one mile to run definitely rejuvenated me – doubly so when we turned 180 degrees and ran back on the road towards the finish. We even had tree cover for part of the mile which helped mitigate the effects of the sun.

We turned left on to the grass and finishing chute a little earlier than anticipated and I began a long painful sprint for home. This section was longer than the past two years and it seemed to go on a long time. I didn’t look at my watch at the time but I went ran the thirteenth mile in 5:40 and I was running faster than that as I turned left 90 degrees and towards the finish line. I heard the PA announce my name to the crowd and there was a generous round of applause from the spectators. As I spotted the finish clock and saw it read 1:15:30 I knew the PB was mine and a sub 1:16 was on. I sprinted for all I was worth but at the same time breaking into something of an anguished smile.

I think I passed the finish line at around 1:15:50. I was made up. Then I stopped my watch and looked at the time – 1:15:31 – even better! I’d forgotten it had taken me a little time to cross the start line. I collected my finish medal and bag and happily took the finishing foil – usually a waste in warm conditions, but still feeling shivery, very welcome. I stopped for a moment’s reflection then left the finishing area and found a grassy bank to collapse and slowly recover. Around 15 minutes later I was recovered enough to take a small recovery jog.

I hung around to see my club mates at Kenilworth Runners and Grantham Running Club finish, culminating with travel partner Scott coming home in a new PB over the marathon. I had enjoyed standing at 25 1/2 miles cheering home the runners in the closing stages. It wasn’t long though before we were heading home. That evening came the official results and the great news that my official time was a couple of seconds quicker than I’d though – 1:15:29. That gave me a new age graded PR of 81.09% which topped a highly successful day.

Robin Hood Half Splits
Robin Hood Half Splits
Race Analysis
Race Analysis

Lincoln Wellington 5k – Tuesday 29th July 2014

Fairly fresh from the five mile race in Nottingham six days earlier, I lined up next to an athletics track near the Yarborough Leisure Centre in Lincoln about to take part in the third, of four, races of the Lincoln Wellington 5k Series. Before the five miler I’d not planned on racing here, but the day after I thought it would be good if I could squeeze another race in before my summer holidays and a search on Fetcheveryone produced this golden opportunity to have a stab at firstly beating my 5k PB and, more pertinently, going sub 17 for 5000 meters for the first time.

With that in mind my training was fairly easy post five mile race. The hamstrings took a couple of days for the pain to subside completely but they did. A long run with GRC on Thursday was followed by four consecutive easy paced and moderate mileage runs – the only real effort was put in on an attack on the Minnett’s Hill Strava segment which I was able to reclaim. The only real issues became a pair of blisters on each Achilles, a legacy of the new Lunar Racers worn on Wednesday (And a known issue apparently) and troublesome in certain pairs of my trainers.

I arrived in Lincoln a little later than planned and seemed to faff around for far too long getting ready to go for a warm up – the result of which it was only two miles instead of the planned three. The planned wearing of new Lunar Racers was also swiftly abandoned after just a few meters of running, the Achilles’ blisters far too sore. Thankfully at the last minute I’d packed my old Nike Frees which would be more than adequate for the race. The warm up at least did allow me to recce the course, which would be a small lap of playing fields next to an Athletics track followed by three large laps of two playing fields. The course was near pancake fat, the corners not too tight. All nearly ideal save for a strengthening wind after a warm, cloudy day, which would be direct into our faces for half of each lap.

A small but fairly competitive field lined up at 7:30pm for the start of the race. I placed myself on the front row, but as the whistle blew at the off, I made a steady start to sit somewhere just outside the top 15 after the opening short lap. I planned to race in a similar manner to last week, speeding up through the race and picking off the field all the way through to the finish. I’m no expert at 5k pacing – some like to go off really fast and hang on as best as possible. I tried that at Peterborough at a parkrun last year and found it one of the least enjoyable runs ever as I died a thousand deaths in the final mile. I’ll far rather sacrifice a second or two in the opening stages to ensure a stronger finish.

Steady pace was also a relative term for the Garmin indicated that the first half mile had been run at sub five minute mile pace. I thought, although running well, this was a bit bogus and queried the reliability, once again, of my 910XT.  As we began the start of the first large lap I had other issues to contend with, namely the headwind. Feeling quite strong I worked my way to the front of a small group and pushed on, knowing that this would mean others behind me would be sheltering from the wind behind me. I felt I had no choice; if I wanted a quick time I’d have to do it the hard way.

Also with no km or mile markers I only had my Garmin to use to judge how well I was going. If I could trust it I was flying – the first mile covered in 5:05. Like last week, although working hard, it was feeling quite easy. The second mile was covered halfway through the second lap – Garmin said it took 5:11. As we began the final lap I knew that if I could hold it together a PB was assured. Again into the headwind, as I passed a couple of runners, I could feel them joining the queue behind be sheltering – doing less work than I. This spurred me on to push harder, trying to break the tow, which, save for one runners proved successful. Mile three flashed on the Garmin 5:12. Fantastic! I was on for a sub 16 minute run! A Kenilworth Runners’ club record beckoned!

It would have done were the finish just around the corner, which it wasn’t. It was around half a lap away. A quick look at the watch showed I had around 85 seconds to finish the race in sub 17 minutes. The post mortem of how the Garmin had added nearly 400m to the 5k course would come later, now I just had to run as fast as possible.

Thankfully I had two factors to help. After 20 seconds or so of headwind, the final stages were aided with a tailwind. Secondly a runner, who had been sheltering behind me, passed me and began an early kick for home. Sensing it was now or never I kicked on too and stuck with him, before passing him when I saw a painted mark on the path saying 200m which I assumed meant 200 meters to the finish.

I gave it everything sprinting too and past the finish line (the Garmin had me running the final 0.32 miles at 4:37 pace). I knew the PB was a formality, the sub 17 was close. I looked at the watch. 16:55! I did it! Sub 17 done and at a proper 5k, not a free-to-enter timed run that is the 5k that is parkrun. 49 seconds better than my previous 5k best (The 2012 BRAT 5k at Rowheath), 25 seconds quicker than my parkrun PB also set in 2012).

I finished eighth, 35 seconds behind the winner, and the first, as far as I could tell, to not collapse into an exhausted heap at the finish. I couldn’t decide whether this is because I am in pretty good condition at the moment or I just didn’t try as hard as the others (I imagine it is a bit of both). I jogged back down the course to cheer home club runner Ben, who also knocked a great chunk off his 5km best.

So a fair journey for a short race, but a successful trip. As someone from GRC pointed out, from October last year to now, I have broken PBs at every distance raced with the exception of the half marathon. That will hopefully come in late September at Nottingham. It’s Project Sub 1:16:47!