February 13th 2019

Today I completed my one and only running goal for the year. I have really enjoyed running so far this year, and part of the reason for that is because, unlike previous years, I am now running to have fun, rather than to beat any arbitrary targets.

That being said, there was one arbitrary target I set myself for this year (and I also set the same target last year). But I didn’t expect to have already completed it just six weeks into 2019.

This year I wanted to run a 5km race in under twenty minutes.

Today I ran a 5km race in under twenty minutes.

19 minutes and 56 seconds, to be precise.

At the start of 2019 my personal best time over 5k was 22:27, and in the last two weeks I’ve knocked two and a half minutes off that time. I didn’t even know it was possible for me to run a sub-20 5km, but the more frequently people told me that I was easily capable of it, the more I began to believe them.

And so, a few weeks ago I wrote in my boss’s “big book of destiny” (the scrap pages at the back of her notebook where she writes our running targets) that I’d commit to a sub-20 5k this year. I didn’t expect that I’d be putting a huge tick next to that target so soon, but I’m damn glad about it.

I was only really aiming to go sub-21 today, because last month I went sub-22 for the first time, so it seemed a natural progression. And so I set out on today’s 5k race intending to average a pace of 4:15 min/km for the first 4 kilometres. I needed 4:12 to go sub-21, but I know that my last kilometre is always well under 4 minutes, so I’d make up lost time there.

And boy, did I.

My actual splits, if you’re interested, were as follows: 3:56, 4:09, 4:02, 4:05, and 3:48.

So, every kilometre was comfortably under the 4:15 target pace I’d set myself, with a predictably fast first and last kilometre. During the second kilometre I was faced with a particularly strong headwind, which slowed me down a bit, but did wonders for my mental resiliency.

You see, the 5k race we do is an ‘out and back’ race, which means, obviously, that once you’ve done 2.5k in one direction, you turn around and do it in the other direction. What that means, obviously, is that the headwind on the first half, turns into a tailwind on the second half.

And so, although I thought the 4:09 second km had scuppered my chances of going sub-20, I noticed after the 4th kilometre ticked over that I was in with a shout.

My watch was just a few seconds past 16 minutes going into the last kilometre, so I basically just had to hold my nerve and go sub-4 on the last kilometre.

And I fucking did it.

And I was blowing out my arse when I crossed the finish line, but I fucking did it. And do you know what? At no point during the entire race did I think “I can’t do this” or “I have to stop” 

Because I knew I could do it.

I’ve beaten my only target for the year and it’s not even March yet. I guess that means I can take the rest of the year off, right?

Until tomorrow, absolutely not.



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