In normal times this is a series of runs along a section of coastline of our little peninsula, happening each month from March to August. I have had a go once or twice and it is very popular. With a nominal fee, hundreds of people have pegged it from Leasowe Lighthouse to bag a personal best on their 5K times.
I know you can do Parkrun each week and that in itself is a brilliant concept. But this is the seaside, and it hails good weather (hopefully) and it’s a bit more official with time tags etc.
However, what with the big worldwide lurgy, it was cancelled in 2020 and replaced by virtual 5Ks. And this year, at least for the first few, it’s in the same format.
Last year I didn’t partake at all. I can’t remember why, but this time I thought I might use it as a way to see how I’m progressing, if at all. It’s a good distance the 5K. It allows beginners something really tangible to aim for and it gives the gazelles a chance to almost sprint.
I’m neither of the above, and I would say that I’m in my most happy place when I’m pootling along at a longish distance. But even for me, it’s good to mix it up and get out of that comfort zone.
This is the second Seaside Run of the year and this month my aim was to pretty much follow the route I did last month, to compare them. It wasn’t ideal: a loop that was nowhere near the seaside and finishing with a long upward incline. But I gave my all then and I wanted to do it again. Only this time, after a mile’s warmup.
Now this is not a normal inclination for a slow plodder who uses the first couple of miles of any run to do the ‘warm up’. I had a dread that I’d be too knackered for the real thing. But I knew that I had all those long runs in my legs and I was sure, well, pretty sure anyway, that this would help get my lungs going.
With the warm up done and a few nominal ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ drills (running on my toes, running backwards, running sideways, skipping, etc), I gave myself a minute or two and then hit the Go button on my running app.
This is a route that wasn’t going to yield any negative splits. The first bit is mainly downhill, and the last bit is mainly uphill! I wanted, therefore, to bag the time in the first gravity assisted part, but as I went for it, I had moments of panic that I was going too fast and I would have a blow-out. Luckily, if accidentally, I hadn’t lined up a podcast and I ended up with music. It was the Taylor Swift album, Folklore, which is not known for speedy beats, and I tried to breathe as deeply as I could with it to push away that anxiety.
Plus, every now and then, I’d sing (very softly)‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, or ‘Henry VIII I am’. Strange choices for a non-Royalist but they helped me work out if my breathing was okay and therefore, if I could keep going. It was more of a gasping whisper than a song but it gave me enough confidence to know I had enough in the tank.
As I said before, several times, the final mile, is an uphill, pretty much all the way, and unsurprisingly, there were zero attempts at singing, whispered or otherwise. But it was the last mile and I put everything I had into that climb. Yes, it was way slower than my first mile, but it was definitely the fastest I’ve done that section in a very long while.
My average minutes per mile squeezed under 10 minutes which is a terrific result for me. I was looking like a fish out of water at the end, desperate for oxygen, but was very, very pleased with myself. That warm up, and a round of porridge this morning certainly helped. But it will be a hard act to beat next month!