I’m pretty consistent when it comes to my Parkruns. My PB for nearly a year has been 23:23 and I always finish within 20 seconds of that.
And every week I try to beat it. I look at my watch, I do the maths, I think it’s possible, I push myself… And I finish 20 seconds over or 15 seconds over, two seconds over (twice!) and even one second over. But try as I might, I could not beat that damn PB.
The other week, I wasn’t quite feeling 100% for Parkrun. My right ankle was aching a bit, my stomach was playing up a bit and I was very tired, having woken up at 3.30am. I didn’t have high expectations of smashing that elusive PB. I would just run and see how I got on. If I came in at under 24 minutes, that would be fine by me.
I discovered about the time I got my PB last year what a difference it makes to start near the front of the pack and push yourself as hard as you can at the start. I run fast until I’m exhausted, then I regulate my pace. If I started at my regulated pace, I would lose that extra minute or so from pushing myself hard at the start.
On the morning of the dodgy ankle and dodgy stomach, I wasn’t really concentrating on the announcements. I hadn’t moved forward. It was too early. I didn’t realise the run was starting. So I had to run as fast as I could from near the back.
It was game over, there were was no way I was getting a PB.
I hardly checked my watch and I certainly didn’t do the maths. Although I did ensure I was in front of the woman in my age category who has had the cheek to beat me a couple of times.
But the stomach didn’t bother me, nor did the ankle or the tiredness.
I crossed the line. I looked at my watch. It looked suspiciously like I’d got a PB.
So did I smash my PB? No. Did I beat it? Yes, by one whole second.
Apart from the PB, the other stats were that I won my age category (as I usually do), I was 77th out of 423 runners, but was only the 10th woman across the line. It’s amazing how much these things vary – a few weeks ago I ran 20 seconds slower, but was 3rd woman overall.
But a new PB is a new PB and I was on top of the world.