Ibiza was all inclusive, and being an accountant I got my money’s worth. Put almost a stone on but didn’t care. Magic time. Took me a few weeks to work it back off and find my form again but at the end of July/ Start of August I felt I was training really well. The handicap time trial was on again and I did the 4 miles in 25.42. Another minute off my best. Now one of my major aims this season was to try and get near 20 mins for the 5k. I decided to give Strathclyde parkrun a go on the Saturday. I knew that I started and finished fast typically, so if I could do that and hold the middle 4ks to about 4 mins then I could sneak under the 20 mins. First k 3.45 and felt good, second k in 4 flat, feeling ok, on target, third and fourth in 3.58 and 3.59, I stretched out for home, toiling, thought I’d went out too hard and thought I couldn’t keep it going but went hard to the finish. check my watch. 19 mins 30. 1 minute 25 off my best, and reached my target for the season. Euphoric not the word. This was by far the best I ran all season, and never quite recaptured it due to constant niggles, but this was the closest I felt to running smooth. If I could bottle how I felt that day I’d make a fortune. So of course, on the Tuesday after it, on the final hill rep of a long session my hamstring went. I took a week off and then did some gentle running and decided against all good advice to do the Paisley 10k the week after. Hamstring still annoying but not that bad. There were a few from the club doing it, Alex and Graeme who were mid 30s runners, as in times as both a wee bit older than that. These boys can run. I was with Robert, Kevin and Stuart. We were all about the same level, so was going to be a bit of friendly competition. Kenny and Clare were running too, as well as an old friend and hamilton team mate from years back Chris, who had been running fast 10k over the last year. The first k I went out hard. Robert and Stuart still on my tail, and Robert soon passed me. Robert was flying in training so this was no surprise but as I passed St Mirren Park it seemed right to pass him. I waited for him to come back past me. It was a hot clammy day and in the middle I suffered. Hamstring was tightening up but I managed to hold my form and finished hard in a new PB of 41.14. Smashed my expectation, and was beaten only by Alex and Graeme from the folk I knew, but know I could have done better had I paced it better and if I’d had a better couple of weeks prior. But hey, another best and another target reached for the season. Sub 42 was my big ask, and I’d done it. A good winter and next season I’m aiming to get near that 40 mins….
I had a bit of a honking time trial next up as I wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders. Mentally getting overtaken near the start played havoc with me, and I was quite far down the field and slower than my previous run. My groin pain was coming back with a vengeance and I was undergoing physio, who identified me as being too tight to run. Hip flexors, hammies, glutes, the whole lot. I was given a lot of stretching but was toiling before every training session I did and was taking me a good k to settle. And then a couple of days to recover. I did a 3k race on the track and wasn’t very good. 3rd finisher, but once handicaps were wound up I was second last.
I had to start building up the mileage as I had entered the Great Scottish Run Half Marathon. I parked everything else and aimed for this. My huge aim was to beat 1.45, as I’d managed 1.49 in training, and that included Chatelherault as part of it. Brett and Kevin told me I’d beat 1.40. They were havering. Bought a new pair of Adidas Boston 5 boosts, lovely stuff. Was still toiling a bit. Tried out the new shoes in the time trial the week before and stormed a new PB in 25.17. Clark was faster but he’d went the wrong way and didn’t know as he couldn’t hear the shouts without his hearing aid 🙂 Boom flying! Sadly my achilles didn’t think so I spent between then and the Sunday morning on ice. Same old story. 30 mins before the race started I still didn’t know if I would do it. But the adrenaline kicked in. My MAC Teammate Graham was running. He is a bloody good runner, I think he has even beaten 1.30. I started off well and still had Graham in my sights. Then I lost him. I was going well until got to Pollok Park and started toiling. And Graham went past me. Hey I didn’t even realise I was past him. Incentive to dig deep. I kept him in my sights even though I was hurting and went past him again. He came by me again then another few k on he pulled up. I fully expected him to come back and pass me again so I kept running as hard as I could. The last couple of miles I really struggled. But I got there. I saw the time in the distance and ran hard up that long long straight. I had finished 20 minutes faster than the year before in 1 hr 32 mins.
Graham had had a few problems and had pulled up, but fair play to him, he picked himself up to finish not far behind. Aim 3 of the season done. My face was so bad in the finish that I got Top Gurn race face award in Men’s Running magazine. I was sore after that but didn’t have time to take time out as my final aim of the season was only a week away. I had challenged myself to run cross country for the first time in 25 years. Sod all those time races, it was time to go back to my roots. I didn’t realise just how difficult and demoralising that was going to be.