I happened to be in Dublin, Ireland for the first weekend of September and figured I should make use of there actually being parkruns there, the free weekly 5k races. I had done my first and only parkrun back in January 2016. It was fun, but since we do not have them in Belgium, I did not have the chance to do another one since. Dublin has a few, so I quickly decided I should partake. I chose Brickfields for no other reason than that it was easily accessible from where I was staying. Luckily, the login and barcode I still had from that previous parkrun works at every parkrun in every country.
Through summer I had slowly pushed my weekly distance from about 70 km to 80 km. At the end of July I also started adding some T (Tempo, Threshold, LT, whatever you want to call it) and R work as defined by Jack Daniels. Nothing too radical. My 80 km weeks I tried to split up as follows: off, 12 with R, 14, 10, 14 with T, 10, 20. Since the parkrun is on a Saturday morning, I moved every run in that week forward by one day. The parkrun came at the end of a third 80 km week. After three such weeks, I plan in a recovery week. For the parkrun itself no special accommodations were made besides dropping the R work and moving the T work to Tuesday.
The course is pretty flat and no too sharp corners. You do their loop four times. At the end of the fourth one, you turn onto a final straight to the finish line. Mapping it out myself, I feel like it might run a bit longer than the usual 5 km and going by my watch afterwards, I am inclined to fully believe that.
Goals and Strategy
I had taken a look at some previous results in order to come up with a goal. Depending on the week it looked like it could be impossible for me to “win”, a certainty for me to “win”, or a nice battle. In all cases, the “podium” seemed easily attainable. I use quotes since there is no podium or prizes and they refer to the “winner” as the “first finisher” to avoid the idea that all the rest would be losers.
I decided I would just start and hang with the top few, then evaluate how hot the pace was. I was mildly worried I would explode anyway due to being at the end of a third high week, but I was OK with that risk in order to have a fun race.
The girlfriend and I had flown into Dublin the day before and tried to be in bed early enough. She was not going to go to the parkrun, but it helps that we were both tired from the work week anyway. From where we were staying I just had to jog a few kilometre. Perfect as a warm-up. I did that and a loop of the route to have a bit of an idea.
The park had a toilet which I quickly used before going to the start area and keeping warm with some dynamic stretches and some strides. The race director held a little speech with the usual warnings as well as asking for first timers or people from abroad. After that was done, he said the sub 20 people should probably line up at the front and then started the race without much ceremony.
I started from the first row, if you can even call it that, and went out at a tempo-ish pace. By feel of course when you are just starting. I figured there would be some sort of group forming at the front quickly enough. I felt just one person a stride behind me on my left, but figured that was plenty.
Maybe 100 metre into the race however, it felt like that person was fading. Another 100 m further, I realised nobody was close. I looked behind me and saw a kid quite a ways back already, who must have been the one right behind me. I was all alone and there was still about 4.8 km to go. A bit demotivated, I settled into a sort of T-effort and realised I would not be racing much today.
In the second lap I started overtaking people, but there tended to be enough room to do that safely. I was not in a hurry anyway. Some people yelled encouragements at me, I tried my best to reciprocate. At some point a volunteer took a (blurry) picture of me. I did a moose sign when coming closer in hopes she would take a picture, but instead she just started laughing.
I cruised on like this to the finish line and “won” my first race. It would have felt more satisfying if some competition had shown up. Still, I had fun.
Their results have me at 19:19, which matches up with my Strava. The second place guy finished over two minutes behind me. The third place guy almost three minutes, but his age grading is better. I still have a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully.
Since my watch (and earlier mapping) indicate a distance of over 5 km, I figure it is worth pointing out that Strava says I ran an 18:46 5 km en route to this result. If that is true and for the manageable effort I put into it, then I am quite happy indeed with my current progress.
After the race I went and ran some more in order to reach my 20 km distance goal for the day.
My fall goal has settled on a half marathon on 4 November. Not much has changed since the description in that blog post. As for races I decided against a race during conference week in Madrid at the end of Phase Two’s third high week. Instead I will be racing a 10 km race on Sunday 7 October, that is, at the end of the recovery week, and I will drop the VO2max workout from the week that follows it to compensate. This will be a decent test in terms of running on somewhat rested legs, but the terrain is hilly and, at times, muddy, so that will not help a good time. Most of all I would like to destroy my time from last year, when I raced it despite being rather sick still.