Sunday 8 February 2015

Dartford parkrun 29 - ghost car

The three central Dartford running clubs have each agreed to host their own 'takeover days' at Dartford parkrun. This means they will run the entire* event and supply all of the day's volunteers. The days are a great opportunity to showcase what each of the clubs has to offer - all three are very different.

The first of these takeover days took place at event 29 and the club in question was my first claim club 'So Let's Go Running' (SLGR). SLGR is the newest of the town's clubs and gives runners the option of running with them as a run england group or to take that extra step and become fully affiliated. It is very well suited to beginners or those returning to running who are looking for a friendly and inclusive group of mixed abilities to run with.

raising the flag [photo: tony miller]

With myself, Richey and Adam all being SLGR runners, the day started in exactly the same way as any other Saturday. One slight difference was that instead of all three of us setting up the course, this week Richey stayed at DpHQ in order to get the start-finish area suitably decorated in a black and orange theme and to distribute his motivational signs to the marshals! As we made our way around the course the early morning frost disappeared and the ever-so-slightly icy patches in the puddles melted - everything was good to go.

A few weeks earlier at event 26 I took on the role of pacer for the first time and made the mistake of relying on my Garmin GPS running watch to accurately pace me around the course. Even when it felt a little too fast I stuck firm trusting the pace and splits that were reported. I eventually finished 32 seconds ahead of my 20 minute target time.

a very black and orange pre run briefing [photo: dani]

The lesson here is that using latest technology is not always the best way to pace. So instead of using this method again, this time around I had decided to run it by feel and to provide some reassurance to me I decided to wear my simple stopwatch and cross-check it as I passed through each kilometre point around the course. To give me the opportunity for further reassurance I also made some notes on the 500 metre points between each kilometre just in case.

I had (am?) been suffering with a bit of a dodgy knee and at 8.30am I was convinced that I was going to give the run a miss. However, I had really been looking forward to pacing again and as the runners started to gather near the start line I took the plunge and decided to run. I opted for the role of 25 minute pacer. In the end there were four of us on pacing duties - at 24, 25, 27 and 30 minutes.

that looks like the face of someone who is happy to be running [photo: brian page]

Pacing at 25 minutes let me run at a nice, easy pace and came with the advantage that the kilometre splits are very easy to remember (5 minutes per kilometre pace). Another reason for wanting to pace right in the middle of the pack rather than at the front is that there are so many more opportunities to actually help other runners with their pacing or to perhaps give them a visual marker/target to help them to run new personal bests.

After the run briefing we were sent on our way and for the first time in my Dartford parkrun history I didn't go tearing off with the front-runners. It was actually really nice to hold back and run as part of the pack. I was a little worried during the opening section as I found myself running behind the 27 minute pacer, Dawn. Plus the 24 minute pacer, Adam, was nowhere in sight!

limette viking with her motivational sign [photo: richey estcourt]

However it felt right so I stuck with the pace I was moving at. I moved past Dawn so we were in the correct order and hit the 500 metre point just a couple of seconds ahead of my target pace. The next few 500 metre splits all remained just a few seconds ahead of pace. By the time I reached the halfway point I was about 7 seconds ahead of target even pace (12.23).

In order to get around the course in 25 minutes at an 'even effort' I took into account that there is a slight loss of time when the dirt incline is tackled on the second lap. This is why I was keen to be a tiny bit ahead of an even pace at this stage. Once the incline had been taken care of I brought my pacees through the 3.5 kilometre point bang on target time (17.30).

bringing it home with almost perfect pacing [photo: brian page]

All that was left was to hold the same pace as we progressed through the last 1.5 kilometres. The 4 kilometre point was reached and I was within a second or two of the target split time. This remained the same at 4.5 kilometres. I crossed the finish line in a time of 25.04. It works out that on average I managed to run within 1 second per kilometre (0.27%) of my target time so I can't really complain at those odd few seconds.

It looks like I may have helped one or two people to a new personal best, but it's hard to know for sure as the conditions turned out to be so good that they may have run a new best anyway! Once the results had been processed I saw that a total of 53 runners (out of 117) ran new pbs. Also running at this event was John Leonard - he has also completed the #7weeksofparkrun challenge (and then extended it into #iloveparkrun) and he was here to collect his D as part of the #parkrunalphabet challenge so it was quite special to have us both running at the same event on the same day.

me with john and limette viking [photo: brian page]

After the run I went around the course with Adam to pick up any course signs that hadn't already been gathered and then we all had tea in the Dartford Harriers clubhouse. It was a pretty perfect Saturday morning if you ask me.

*ad-hoc support may be given by the core team (access to kit storage and results processing)

Related: My full course description (updated to include a new feature at the train station)

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