I didn’t believe that I had the pace to keep up when he passed me. He slowed momentarily. When the runner in the blue vest picked up his pace again I decided to start giving chase. This was going to be a fast 5k.
You never know how good a run will be until you start. At least, that’s what I’ve found. I only planned on running a couple of miles at a leisurely pace. I never expected to be a second away from achieving my personal best.
Only when I found myself chasing down a runner just out of my reach did I find out how quickly I could go. On course to registering my second fastest 5k, I achieved my quickest mile split. The best part was that I didn’t even realise it. The second mile, downhill and chasing hard, gave no time for over thinking or worrying about anything other than running as hard as I could.
I never got the chance to thank the runner in the blue vest but he unknowingly spurred me on. As he passed me he didn’t speak and I was never quite close enough to strike up a conversation. If only I had the chance to run with him for the last mile I would have easily achieved a new personal best. It wasn’t to be but I learned a valuable lesson.
Putting My Foot Down
At least half of the run was downhill, but even so, my pace was far quicker than usual. For a while, I have been working on my stride length. I am heavy footed and clumsy. At 5ft 4in and 9st 5lbs I know shouldn’t be. But I am. Focusing solely on the runner ahead of me, I didn’t once think of my cadence or stride length. My cadence was a healthy 179 steps per minute over the course of the run, five in excess of my usual 174.
At a guess, I was eight strides behind my target for at least a mile and a half. Closing the gap was hard but surprisingly enjoyable.
Turning Back: The Final Mile
Looking at my splits over the course of the run it is easy to see where I turned back for home. The moment I stopped chasing the runner who had become my pacer for this prolonged effort, my pace dropped. No matter how much I cursed myself to keep going for one last effort I couldn’t sustain the pace that my target had set. Much like when being chased by a dog, knowing that the chase is over brings relief and everything around me slowed. I surged back in the opposite direction.
I surged back in the opposite direction. My Garmin showed I was on course to match my personal best. With a little more training I am certain I would have been capable of sustaining my effort just a little longer but when I passed 5k, the display on my watch showed me that I’d come up just short. Until next time.