My first sub-24-minute 5K

Hackney Marshes Parkrun

In the marsh…

Last weekend, we tried a new Parkrun: the perfectly flat Hackney Marshes Parkrun. I had a great run, but without the context of the route, I was too conservative. I finished well, but I knew I could do better.

So this past weekend, we went back and I totally smashed it! Not only was it a personal best by a significant margin, it was my first ever sub-24 minute 5K of my life! I finished the 5km route in 23:34. I was the 11th female overall and 1st in my category. It was literally all of my soul to run that fast, but it felt great. My personal best before this was 24:12 so I absolutely smashed that record set over a year ago.

There was a time when a sub 25-minute 5K was the holy grail. I chased that goal for years and when I got it, I thought I’d reached the pinnacle of my 5K running performance. I never thought I would run a sub 24-minute 5K. I know for some of you long-legged, super-fast people out there, this is a pretty average time, but for me, this is super fast.

As with every accomplishment though, it’s followed by weird period of anxiety for me. That’s probably why I didn’t shout about this PB on Instagram all weekend or make a big fuss over it the day it happened. I was thrilled of course, but then I started worrying that I may never be able to top it. I continue to tell myself that’s nonsense, but there is a part of me that believes that might be the case. And sadly, that turns a very big accomplishment into a weirdly sad moment for me.

That said, I do love that I’m still pushing the boundaries of what I thought was possible even as I get older. With every passing year, I have vague sense that this – whatever it happens to be at that moment – will be the best I’ll ever be. It’s nice that running doesn’t seem to fall into that category. The idea that I could continue getting even better is especially inspiring to me.

Hackney Marshes Parkrun

Me and the dirty Parkrun sign

Rather than worry about how I’ll beat that time, I decided to take a more analytical approach. Aside from the flat course, what other factors contributed to the great run?

My pre-run meal was nothing special. Porridge and coffee. Same old. The night before I had two glasses of wine and some tapas at a Spanish restaurant. Not what the experts would recommend I’m sure, but nothing too out of the ordinary for me for a Friday night.

I was totally worn-out from a busy week at work, so I was tired, but because of that busy week at work, I missed two of my usual workouts the week leading into this run. That meant that I went into Saturday’s run on two very fresh legs. The last workout I did was Tuesday morning! So, I had three full recovery days in between. A good lesson on the impact of proper recovery and running performance.

Or maybe it was a total fluke and I’ll spend the rest of my life chasing that same time. Who knows. Either way, it feels good to see a number that starts with 23. Thank you Hackney Marshes Parkrun!


  1. Tina February 6, 2019 / 1:36 am

    Yay!! You’re my hero 🙂

  2. Darren Smith February 6, 2019 / 10:12 am

    Congratulations, I’m chuffed for you.

    • thoughtsandpavement February 6, 2019 / 11:31 am

      Thanks Darren!

  3. Shanna February 6, 2019 / 12:23 pm

    Wicked !!

  4. Dave Pearson February 11, 2019 / 12:09 pm

    That’s fantastic! Well done and I am sure you will beat that PB time and again!

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