Chippenham River Run 5K Race Report. 3rd July 2013

My once-a-year 5K race has rolled around again, on 3rd July 2013. I really should get around to doing a Parkrun and then I wouldn’t feel the ridiculous pressure of it being my ‘once-a-year’ chance to get a PB.

Fortunately I had read something just that morning about pre-race nerves. It said something like “if you’re feeling nervous, remember you’re the only person putting the pressure on yourself. If you really don’t want to do it, then go home!” It was quite a liberating thought and made me feel much better. In my mind I wanted to beat last year’s time of 27:45, and my 10K time from the previous week suggested I could run 5K in 26:39. I confess, I had 27:45 written on my hand in biro so I could check my time as soon as I finished

It was a warm and sunny evening as I arrived at the Olympiad sports centre, and I collected my number without issue. I made my way to the start area, and milled around with the other runners. There were a number of groups of runners from local running clubs and I did feel rather on my own. I think I was missing my running partner from the last 2 years.

The informal Start Area
The informal Start Area

I had a little warmup jogette and found a railing to hang onto to swing my legs around in some dynamic stretches. I always feel rather silly and very self conscious doing these so I naughtily skimped on them and made my way to the start mêlée. A friend spotted me at this point and we had a little chat as we waited. The course goes right past her house, which must be a very strange feeling!

We heard the race director shouting “3 – 2 – 1 …” We never heard “Go” but the masses pushing forward told us it was the start. As in previous years it was a mad rush for the first corner, where the course narrows from open grass to a single track path. I think I timed it just right this year as although the first dash felt way too fast, as I settled in line on the narrow path I was running with runners all going at the same pace as myself. It felt fast but do-able so I basically just hung on. At the slope where the route zig-zags up to the cycle path we all slowed down, and the guy in front of me actually slipped as he turned the gravelly corner. I slowed down even more as I’m a coward and I did not want to end up on the floor as well.

The cycle path was slightly shady which was a relief as the evening was proving to be very warm and muggy, and then we were off the path and on the streets heading downhill back towards the start. I was starting to feel tired and hot at this point, and had to keep giving myself updates to keep going. I was telling myself I was half way, I only had a mile to go, just round the corner….

We left the road and headed back on the ‘single carriageway’ path. I unfortunately found myself behind a handful of runners who slowed down at this point. I was torn between gnashing my teeth in frustration, and being grateful for a chance to catch my breath. I managed to squeeze past them as soon as the path was wide enough, and headed over the grass to the finish line. My legs were shouting loudly at me, my heart was pumping, sweat was pouring off me, but did my best approximation of a sprint finish and made it to the line.

As I stopped my Garmin, I saw the time – 26:45. I’d taken a whole minute off last year’s time. Another new PB? YES PLEASE!

Replace my 5K PB? Don’t mind if I do!

Juneathon day 20. Race Indecision

After the winter’s Marathon training, and autumn’s inevitable half marathons, I decided this summer was the time to try and improve on my 10K and 5K PBs. Currently these stand at 58:35 (from 20/11/2011, on a pancake flat motor racing circuit), and 27:46 (from 12/7/2012, the only 5K race I run every year!)

So just before Juneathon started, I headed off to the Runner’s World website and started searching for races within 10 miles to me. Whooh! Talk about being spoilt for choice!

Sunday 9th June – Chippenham harriers 5 mile road race

Monday 10th June – Westonbirt 10K

Wednesday 12th June – Springfield 5K

Wednesday 19th – Specsavers Longest Day 10k

Thursday 27th June – Great Chalfield Manor 10K

Wednesday 3rd July – Chippenham 5K River Run

Wednesday 10th July – Springfield 5K

10th August – Lacock 10K

11th August Castle Combe 10K

31st August Malmesbury 10k

Sunday 15th September – Chippenham Half Marathon

Sunday 22nd September – Malmesbury half Marathon

I asked on Twitter which 10K should I enter. The wisdom of Twitter spoke “The flattest one” – Choose the flattest 10K  Thanks to @LaraineWynjones for this great advice – she blogs over at  do pop over and say hello!

As it happens, life got in the way and for all sorts of reasons I couldn’t do most of the races. However today I entered the Great Chalfield 10K next Thursday, and the Chippenham River Run 5K in July. I’ve also entered the Chippenham Half Marathon in September.

I was hoping that entering 2 races would count as my Juneathon activity for the day. Or the two hours I spent allotmenteering this morning. Just in case neither was enough I also managed my first plank for 1:30. A new PB!

5K PB! Woo hoo!

Woo hoo!

So after nervously panicky all of Wednesday about the Chippenham harriers 5K River Run, I am more than pleased to announce it all went well. Very well. Really well. Astoundingly well, actually.

To cut a very long story short, after frightening myself with a pace to aim for of 9:12 minute miles, I actually managed to average 9:00 Minute Miles, My last mile was run in 8:51 – never had a split that began with an 8 before!

Total time was 27:46, which is a shiny new PB (last year’s time was 30:20 and I remember being so gutted that I’d not broken the 30 minute barrier).

My lovely running partner also got himself a sub 30 PB, although I’m afraid I did abandon him (sorry!)

Now I really must concentrate on some longer runs, ready for the two half marathons on consecutive weekends I have planned for September. Don’t think there’ll be so many splits starting with an ‘8’ in those!

How (not) to mentally prepare for a 5K race

So if, like me, you only run one 5K race a year, obviously there’s a lot resting on this one, short race. The chance to set a new PB that will last for a whole year is the one that springs first to my mind. So, no pressure then!

Looking determined at last year’s River Run

So here’s how I’m approaching this momentous day. Which is, in fact, today. At 7.30pm.

First of all, I go to the wonderful McMillan Running website, and plug my recent 10K time in to their pace calculator. So for a 59:26 10K, Mr McMillan predicts that I can run a 5K in 28:36:38. He also helpfully tells me this means I have to run at 9:12:36 minute miles.

At this point, I find myself, mouth open, thinking “9:12??????” Best put the kettle on and have a think about that. You see – this sounds fast to me – seriously fast. Sip tea, and think positive thoughts.

Okay – have had inspiration. I know I ran a fast 3M training run recently, which was under 30 minutes (yay!), so let’s have a look at the pace I ran then. This route slopes down for the first mile or so, and then has a long slope in the second mile. I wont say hill, because its not that steep, but its enough for you to recognise its uphill. Ah ha – splits of 9:19, 9:49 (the slope!), 9:14, 9:19 to finish.

Feeling a bit better now. Warn running partner by text that pace to aim for is scary.

Check on website starting time of race, look at photos from last year and remember that there’s actually quite a lot of running on grass, and paths. Oh, and with the recent very wet weather, maybe a River Run is not the best race to be doing?

Give myself a good talking to again, and decide to stick to the recent advice I read on ‘how to pace a 5K race’. It was basically “Start out as fast as you can, and then just hang on for the finish line.”


I think I was a bit keen entering this one …

So I only run one 5K race a year, and I was keen to enter again this year as I’m determined to crack that sub 30. Think I was rather keen, as you can see from my race number above!
Sadly, not a chance of it being my finish position, but if if I beat that 30 minute barrier I won’t care. Its a lovely route, along the river in Chippenham, up the cycle path and back through a housing estate. Last year’s problem was that the path is narrow in places so its difficult to pass people. Myself and my running partner weren’t paying attention before the start either, and as we chatted most of the field shuffled in front of us. We won’t let that happen this year! Mid July is the race – fingers crossed!