MCR Marathon Blog W10/20: the unbearable lightness of PBing

Last week I wrote all about how I felt like I thought I might be coming into form. Well this week I know that I have, and I’m writing all about what it is like to acheive a personal best.

A personal best can be many things. It is the first time you get out for a run, the first time you run for a certain distance without taking a walk break, the furthest distance you’ve run, the first race you complete. For most people however when we refer to a PB we mean the fastest time that we have done in our running career so far.PB

Starting off as a runner, particularly if it is the first thing you are doing to get fit, it is very easy to record a series of faster and faster times very quickly. Equally, if you are running and getting older, say you are 18-21, you will be developing physically and times will come without having to feel as though you are putting in much work.

But as you get older, run more races, it becomes harder and harder to do so. Painstaking hours of planning must be put into training plans, deciding how much or how little to run, what speedwork is neccesary, how to ‘execute’ a race. Then the hard slog must be put it in, hours on the road, pain in the lungs through repeated efforts, agony in the legs after hill, after hill.

Sometimes personal bests can surprise you. Running this weeks Parkrun I wasn’t thinking that it was going to be a good day – the legs felt very heavy. The bonus of a 5K run is that it is easier to surprise yourself than on a longer run where a personal best has to be planned. On the first lap I was dragged around trying to bridge across to the front three in the lead, and although I never caught them they were always close enough to make me want to keep pushing.

Personal bests are significant whatever time they are. I remember when I was starting off running and I went under 20 minutes for the first time – I was ecstatic. Since then ambitions have changed, but the sense of acheivement is the same.

After the second lap on Saturday I realised I was running hard, and on track for a personal best. But the time you want never feels in reach right up until the end. With the finish line in sight and less than a minute to go you realise that it is there – that feeling as a runner is absolutely brilliant, a feeling of elation which must be as thrilling for Dennis Kimetto breaking the marathon world record or for the thousands of Parkrunners PBing every weekend.


So now I have gone under 18 minutes for the first time. I was thrilled, and I was glad I remembered to thank the runners in the front group whose presence allowed me to chase down that time. With the Liversedge Half Marathon next week and now being half way through the training block, I feel confident about what I’m doing in training ahead of Manchester.

This week:
57.2 miles running
174.6 miles cycling

Happy running,

MCR Marathon Blog W7/20: mechanicals and il fait mauvais

Il fait mauvais et aussi trop froid.

After a first week of decent cycling commuting, week seven of my training for the Manchester marathon took a turn for the awful. The Monday morning commute was horrible – cold, wet and windy – and then I got a puncture seven miles in, half way-ish from work. I’m rubbish at changing tubes at the worst of times, but I was cold, wet and shivering, and was obviously going to be late for work. With not much pressure in my rear tyre (I really need to upgrade my mini-pump) I set off again, and whether it was another puncture or just not putting enough air in, I had a flat again 2 miles from work. I wasn’t bothered to try and replace it, so rode the final two miles in on a flat.

I’d bought a new track pump to keep at work a week ago, but hadn’t bought it in yet. I got the train home, as I still couldn’t get enough pressure in the rear tyre for that journey.

Day two was interesting in different ways. My gear shifting had been a bit funny – probably as I don’t clean/lubricate my drivetrain enough. On the way home something happened – only 2 miles in – there was a loud clunk and my rear cassette shifted into the highest gear and wouldn’t shift. This meant I had to do the entire journey home, and quite a hilly one, in the highest gear. I just about managed it, but was then off the bike for the next two days for a simple repair job – the cable connecting the rear derailleur to the shifter had shorn straight off.

I got through all of the scheduled running miles this week, but it was very cold, sometimes snowy and rainy, and sometimes very icy. Saturday’s Parkrun put this all together in one place. Heading off up there it began snowing, and the pavements up there was slippy all over the place.

I got there only just in time for the pre-race briefing, being told that the route had been changed slightly due to slushy icy paths, and warnings to take it easy. To be honest we didn’t really need the warning, as it was almost impossible to find any part of the route that was dry enough to run fast, and all of the corners had to be taken carefully.

The weather meant that quite a few of the faster guys that usually turned up skipped the run. Around the first lap I realised I was in third, and the two guys in the lead were a short bit ahead of me. I knew one of them from running club and, modesty aside, knew that I was faster than him. The rest of the race was annoying, as I could never find any dry path to close that gap, and to be honest just shouldn’t have let them get away at the start. In the end I finished 3rd – my best finish in a Parkrun and I think in any race. Although it was one of the worse 5K times I’ve run for a while, 19:51, it was great to get a ‘podium finish’.

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So another week down, and trying to make sure that I rest properly as well as train properly…

This week:
51.6 miles running.
93.1 miles cycling.

Happy running,