Having got a new Parkrun (5k) PB for an unbelievable FOUR consecutive weeks (after taking nearly a year to beat my old PB), I really thought I’d hit my limit. On my fourth week, I expected to get a PB and finally break the 23 minute barrier. On my fifth week, I really, really didn’t expect it.
I was really pleased to get the whole family out running Parkrun for the first time in about six months. My daughter had made her comeback a few weeks previously, but the boys hadn’t run for a really long time.
I lined up at the start next to the 23 minute pacer and joked to her that I’d have to stay in front of her to smash my PB.
I started off fast, as I always do. I ran fast until I felt like I couldn’t run any more – my heart rate and my breathing were at what felt like absolute maximum capacity. Then I steadied my pace and just kept running.
Not long afterwards, I was aware of a man running right next to me. He kept pace with me precisely, which is unusual. You usually find one or other of you quickens up or slows down. I’d probably run half a lap next to him before I looked up and realised it was my daughter’s friend’s uncle.
My daughter’s friend’s uncle has always been my biggest rival. Last spring, he and my husband spurred me on as we raced each other every week. He always used to beat me right at the end and his PB had always been faster than mine. In recent weeks, while I’d been busy getting PB after PB, he had been suffering from colds, chest infections, hangovers, the after effects of long runs… I’d been finishing way ahead of him. And now my PB was better than his for the first time.
I apologised for not realising it was him, and we kept running.
I looked at my watch a few times and it looked like we were on for a good time.
As we came up to the final hill, I knew we were on for a good time. We were going to do it!
He crossed the line two seconds ahead of me, but I didn’t mind. I wasn’t racing him, I was racing myself. And I’d done it again!
I’d knocked a further six seconds off my PB, finishing in 22:31, placed 95th out of a massive 521 runners, the 10th female and first in my age category.
My ‘running buddy’ runs better when he’s got someone to pace him and push him. I’m good at keeping a consistent pace on my own, but I think having him there just squeezed those last few seconds out of me.
I bumped into the 23 minute pacer, who had seen me finish way ahead of her and asked if I’d rung the bell (which you ring every time I get a PB). She did the honours of taking my photo this week and I got a cheer from various Parkrunners, who were impressed that I was still getting PBs despite having my 50 milestone Tshirt (people generally get lots of PBs when they start out, but then plateau, just as I had done for a long time). They were impressed when I told them it was my fifth PB in as many weeks!
And then I saw my husband finish and, just behind him, my younger son. I was amazed! My son hadn’t run the distance since October and has never been a regular Parkrunner. I thought he might run with his friend, but suspected his friend might be too fast. He finished more than 30 seconds ahead of his friend and with a new PB of 26:25. And he was wearing only one shoe! His trainer had fallen off at the bottom of the hill, but he’d just kept running.
I was very proud of both of us for our new PBs.
To put into context just how crazy my five consecutive PBs are: I’ve done 69 Parkruns over the last two years. In the previous 64 Parkruns, I had achieved just five PBs in total, with times of 25:08, 24:20, 24:18, 23:34 and 23:23.