I’m happy to say I’ve set a new 5K course PB by running 22:55 at the Hampstead Heath parkrun! This was the first time I’ve run sub-23:00 at Hampstead and I broke my PB by about 20 seconds. I am so incredibly ecstatic to have finally broken through what seemed like a barrier for the past several months and I’m so excited to see what’s to come. This was in the middle of hard marathon training, and I was really concentrating on building distance rather than pace!

To be fair, I think that part of the reason I got a PB was because we had switched back to Route A…after a year of running Route B. The elevation was still the same but the one significant difference between the two is that you start on an uphill for Route A (rather than downhill) and you finish on a downhill (rather than a brutal uphill)! It was honestly so heartbreaking on Route B to have 400m to go, but so much elevation it might as well be 1km . With Route A the downhill really helps motivate you to finish on a sprint!

I decided to just go all out from the beginning. I figured if I blew up later on, at least I tried. My mantra for this one was “go fast and hang on”! When the run director shouted “go!” I did just that and sprinted off. With all the excitement and adrenaline pumping I felt almost as if my legs were getting ahead of me but I tried to keep up as much as possible. Once the path flattened out a bit, I let my legs go and settled into a steady pace.

I wasn’t really looking at my watch during this run. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be running fast anyway so I tried to focus on how I was really feeling instead of worrying about pace. 

I kept this up until the halfway point when I decided to try to pick it up a bit. I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to pick off a few runners on some of the hills. Hills are usually not my specialty but I think I’ve gotten strong enough where I can really charge up them.

I tried for one last surge and as I was coming up on the finish I stole a glance at my watch and knew I was going to break 23 minutes.

I crossed the line at 22:55 and was thrilled with my time! I feel like breaking 23 minutes at Hampstead has remained elusive to me in the past 5Ks I’ve done here. It always felt in reach but either conditions weren’t great or something was off and it didn’t happen but today it felt easy. I know I had more left in the tank and I know I probably could have run even faster. I still need to practice on maintaining the uncomfortable pace in the 5K runs. I think I’m still a little hesitant to reach that point but I know once I do, I’ll be able to really see some improvement!