This was my first free weekend for a long time, so I went along to my local "parkrun" at Bramhall park. The parkruns are a series of 5k races up and down the country, which take place every Saturday throughout the year. They form an impressively professional set-up with full results service that gets people of all abilities out there running, for no charge whatsoever. Results to the second and photographs are up on the website within a few hours.
The last time I ran this (or any short race, for that matter) was on 1st November 2008. I noticed a distinct change to the park around the start/finish area after my 6-month absence. Where there was once grass is now compressed dirt due to the weekly trampling by hundreds of feet. I could not believe how popular the race has become now. Hundreds were there to put themselves through their paces.
5km, or 3.125 miles, may be ludicrously short but the intensity gives it a unique toughness of its own that I never get to experience on the ultras, where I am always holding back and saving myself for the hours ahead. For a change, today I got to run flat-out and finish on the verge of throwing up. I have not trained once at the Harriers this year and my preparation in the 24 hours leading up to the race was, let's just say, 'unprofessional'. Naturally I assumed any semblance of speed would have deserted me. I finished in 21:30. I could not remember my previous fastest time on this undulating course. I found out later that I got a PB by 16 seconds. Furthermore, my average and maximum heart rates were markedly lower. My short daily runs to/from work must be doing more good than I ever imagined.