“Running from an angry mob might have been worth a few seconds”

Today’s needlessly attention seeking title is brought to you courtesy of a Facebook comment response following Thursday evening’s run. But I’ll explain that much later.

The purpose of this post is to retell the story behind an excellent 5k run.

The back story begins a few weeks ago when England Athletics announced that all licensed races would be suspended until the end of June. This meant that our races at Media City in Salford and Box Hill were cancelled and postponed respectively.

The postponed event diary for 2021 is already filling up quite fast actually but on the positive side there aren’t many events left in 2020 to get cancelled. The next one is the Great South Run which is a fair few months away at the moment.

So Thursday night was supposed to be the start of a chain of races. We had a plan to run 25 races this year but we’ll postpone that a little while now I think. Thursday was Media City, then drive to Liverpool for the Rock n Roll 5k on the Saturday and Half Marathon and Mile events on the Sunday. Possibly another event the midweek after if we fancied it.

We thought though we’d mark the Media City date with a strong 5k virtual race effort.

So the run itself..

The graph of my run pace tells a story. Especially when I say that I ran the whole thing pretty consistently. Those little downward spikes are where I had to slow down due to outside factors. In one case at about 1.8km through no one’s fault. I just caught a pair of people at a very narrow bit of path. The dip just after 4k was a turnaround point so that’s ok too.

The other two though were solely down to buffoons. There were a lot of them out that night, clustering in their evidently enormous household groups (plus the statutory one person outside their household of course). There were also couples who felt that the entire path belonged to them and them alone. Fine in itself but if I was unlucky and came across someone coming the other way, I’ll do the right thing and stop or slow down.

But it would be lovely if people paid some attention to their surroundings. We can dream.

There were the odd occasions where the aforementioned buffoons attracted gestures and one or two who got barely audible abuse and swearing but I wasn’t sticking around for a reaction. Indeed on Facebook later that evening I suggested that if I had got one the resulting angry mob might have improved my running pace further.

Anyway, idiots aside this was actually just a very strong steady run. The first kilometre went through in 4:52 and the pace held at that level with kilos of 4:59, 4:57 and 4:54. My heart rate was creeping up but at perfectly manageable levels. It felt hard and I was working but had a little bit left for the end of the run. I accelerated a little to a final kilometre of 4:43 and finished my 5k in an amazing time of 24:25. My fastest since September 2017.

I have to say I’m delighted with it. I was expecting my return to running after a couple of weeks of Facebook-mob induced quarantine was going to take much longer but the reality is, at least over this distance, my form is right back where it was, although having said that I initially thought my training had been set back 2 to 3 months so maybe I’m just in that range. Have to see what I can do over some longer distances now too.

The route I took is one that will always have some resonance with me. It is now used as the route of the Corporate Cup 5k but back in 2015 it was the venue of the middle event of a weekend Festival of Running. A “10k” (actually shortened to about 9 due to flooding as I recall) on the Friday on the west of the island, 5k along the seafront on Saturday morning then a half marathon on the Sunday. That year I was a bit injured so I’d entered the half and withdrew but did the other two and at the time the 5k was my pb and the first time I ran 5k in under 25 minutes as well.

This time I was 20 seconds faster than that and while my PB has since moved on, to beat that first great 5k just under 5 years later is really pretty special.

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