Report from Howard Jeffrey:
I headed to Scotland on Thursday as a friend of mine, George Black, who is still breaking world records at 81, had invited me to do the 5K organised by his club, the Giffordtown 5k on Sunday 3rd October. I had done the minimum during the week, hoping to do a ‘fast’ time. You can’t get better in a week but you can get a lot worse. After a short session of speed work on the Friday, my legs felt they had got some zip in them. George lent me his heart rate monitor, one that actually works and I lined up on Saturday to do the St. Andrew’s parkrun at a steady pace. I felt good and imagined myself as the Gazelle-like Rapier of old. The trouble, these days, is that every mobile phone, not only has a camera but a video recorder as well, so the imagination and the reality can be quickly compared. George had videoed a portly gentleman, of a certain age, dressed exactly like me, shuffling along, looking strained! OOPs. On the strength of the video I had to quickly revise my aspirational time for the 5K on the morrow. I had picked a target of 23.00 minutes which was not based upon any science and all the races I have done recently have been in ‘just get to the finish mode’, so I have not been out of the comfort zone for the best part of two years. I came up with a new target time of 24.30, with a view to pushing the 5K, sustainably out of the comfort zone, all the way. Come the race I had warmed up in the sunshine, perfect temperature and a slight breeze. The route is a tarmac road, recently resurfaced, closed to traffic, through the beautiful backwoods of Scotland. Slightly downhill for the first K, then flat up to a cone to turn round at halfway and straight back to the finish. I had got the heart rate up during the warm up and then up to the sustainable level early on which I maintained to within one beat for the whole run, except the last 200m which I imagined was a graceful sprint. Luckily George did not video it, so that is how it must have looked. I had set off about two thirds back in the field at the start, so there were a few targets to aim for ahead. They helped me keep up the intensity of discomfort which is what I wanted and apart from a few seconds gained on the downhill first K and the last K, all the splits were within two seconds. My time at the finish was 24.18. A satisfactory result all round because I don’t think I could have run harder without blowing it.