Virtual 10k at Felixstowe

I’d been feeling that some sort of goal in between the Victoria Park 10k in November and the Tarpley 10 mile at the end of February would be useful to keep focus. We didn’t find anything conveniently located that quite met our needs and fitted in with our other commitments except repeating the Victoria Park race, and so we decided to stay local and do a 10k at Felixstowe, incorporating the Saturday morning parkrun as part of it.

Stephen’s view along the Prom as he takes a quick breather after his parkrun, before running on to catch me near the far end.

Coach Stephen is keen for most of my long runs to be slow, but with an occasional harder effort. Today he wanted me to aim to break my previous PB which was a slightly daunting task, but the training had gone well, the plantar fasciitis had pretty much cleared itself up, and I was willing to give it a go.

We treated it as much as possible like a race, with the water and nutrition gels planned out ahead of time – though with perhaps not quite the “buzz” of a race (especially in the second half, after the parkrun first half). The day dawned chilly but bright, and we decided I should wear my long-sleeved top – always a tricky decision as I feel very cold when hanging around waiting to start, but quickly feel very warm once I start running.

We set off with the parkrun – Stephen ran on at his own speed so that he could be ready to serve as a water station later on. It felt very hard work right from the start. My intended pace was 8.50/km overall. Every time I had a walk interval it obviously made the average pace slower, and I found I was struggling to run fast enough to push the pace back any faster than 8.51/km or 8.52/km. This was quite draining, but I kept pushing on as much as possible, and shortly after reaching the 2nd turnaround of the parkrun course, at about 3.9km, Stephen rejoined me with the water bottle.

I had my nutrition gels, and was also experimenting with a small amount of nutritional flapjack-type bar, as people do say having nothing but the gels on a very long run can upset their stomach. It was quite hard to chew and swallow the food bar during a one-minute walk break, but otherwise it worked well.

We continued on to the end of the parkrun where I ran through the finish funnel and passed my token to Stephen to scan on my behalf so that I didn’t need to break off my run. He caught me up shortly after, and we continued. We chose to run a bit further than the official parkrun turnaround this time as the footing was better towards the north-east, with less sand and gravel underfoot – either because less had been blown over the promenade or because that end had been swept better. As a result, when we eventually went back past the parkrun start (now completely devoid of parkrunners) we only had 1 km to go.

Working hard – about 1.5km to go

I was continuing to struggle to push the running intervals fast enough, but had managed to drag the average pace back to 8.50 or 8.51 / km, so was on track for the hoped-for PB. With this to spur me on I made the final turnaround, and completed the 10k in 1 hour 28 minutes 20 seconds, bang on the 8:50/km target, taking about 30 seconds off my previous best time.

Victorious, and ready for breakfast

After some breakfast at the Boardwalk Café we returned home, where I was presented with a ‘virtual 10k’ medal which Stephen had kindly obtained for me (but forgotten to bring with him!).

Although they ached a little, my legs were not nearly as bad as they were after Victoria Park, where my calf muscles took 3 days to be able to walk normally again, and I didn’t suffer any DOMS this time – hopefully signs of increasing strength in spite of the perceived difficulty felt during the run. And as Stephen says, it shouldn’t be easy to get a PB, otherwise you probably weren’t trying hard enough the previous time!

So the next major milestone is the Tarpley 10-mile, though with some minor milestones along the way including what will be my longest ever run on each of several occasions as we gradually ramp up the distances.

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