I have to be honest, I feel like a bit of a fraud even doing a blog on this today. It’s about a 10k. I know people who at the weekend did a 53 mile ultra, the London Marathon, medalled in the European Duathlon championships and full kudos to all of them. I marvel at what these people can do, and I have the cheek to complain about a few wee hills, and you know what? That’s exactly what I am going to do. It’s the next installment of the (drum rolls a plenty, come on batter those sticks!) 2015 Motherwell Athletics Club Road Racers Championship and Leagues and was to be a hilly Balfron 10k. I had heard a few tasty stories about this course and a wee peek at the profile on mapmyrun showed those stories to be correct. This was not to be a PB course, and was going to be a test for my back, for my early season form and for my heid. Since a lot of the real runners from the club were going to be doing big races at the weekend there was a chance of getting a few points on the championship board. I got there bright and early, a lovely wee drive through Killearn, Blanefield etc got parked and up to the school. The first thing I noticed was how well organised it was and how friendly the volunteers were, a credit to the race. Got my number a decided to take a wee look at the first/ final k or so as it is an out and back course. Start downhill meaning finish uphill, I took a wee pic at this stage just to give a wee idea. I didn’t realise that this pic was going to be nothing in the grand scheme of hills in this race. The sun was scorching at this stage, I was wearing the Dickson shades and taking on plenty of fluids and went back to the school to see who else was here. Found a few MAC folks but no Ross. He hadn’t tried to arrange a lift until half 9 on the Saturday night and had given up a bit too easily. Part of me was happy that I could gain points on him, but part of me annoyed as I wanted him to pull me round the course, and I was interested in what he could do after upping his training efforts. As I said to him on Facebook messenger, what a plum! Myself, Nick, Emma and Craig went out for a warm up and the heavens opened. Hail stones the size of Tommy’s head. Wind building up. Sun gone. We watched as the poor tail runner in the 4k race fought the wind, rain and hail up the final hill. Oooft. Thankfully by the time we started the rain was down to a drizzle. I got myself relatively near to the start as it was a narrow start and it was a race after all. This decision may come back to haunt me but that’s for later. The start as I expected was rapid. Pretty much a k downhill and I was down in 3.43 and that was me showing some restraint. In the back of my mind as I went down was that I was going to have to come back up, second k had a small climb then the second part and the bulk of the 3rd k was downhill again.I was through 3k in 11.45. Mentally already in my head I knew I wasn’t going to do the last 3k in the same sort of time…. the perils of an out and back. By this stage Nick was well away from me as expected, and with the windy and undulating nature of the course I had no idea how close Emma and Marcus would be to me. Marcus is flying just now, improving a lot with every training session. I had a suspicion that he might beat me today. The remaining 2 k to the turn were very up and down but I got to the turn in 20:24. Well on for a PB if I kept the pace, but knowing the hills that faced me on the way back very unrealistic. The turn was exactly that, you turn around and run back the road you came. And as I turned I saw Marcus. Right on my tail. As the sun came out slapping hard on my baldy napper there was still a bit of racing to do. The next 2k I ran pretty well in about 4:05 pace and was feeling good. Time was irrelevant, it was a race, if I could keep steady I knew I could keep ahead of Marcus. Then 7k was complete and the hill of doom appeared. This was steeper up than it felt coming down and it went on for over a kilometre. I was toiling, those around me were toiling. I made the conscious decision here, rightly or wrongly, to take it easy up knowing the distance still to go and that I was racing. In retrospect I am disappointed that I didn’t just go for it, I was scared of the failure of blowing up and being passed by Marcus. I should have been positive and went hard up that hill and had faith in my ability. You don’t take the chances you don’t reap the rewards. A 4:40 k followed by a final 2 in 4:14 and 4:06 giving a final 3k of exactly 13 minutes shows the difference.
I looked over my shoulder on that final stretch and knew I was far enough ahead of Marcus so didn’t hammer it, didn’t sprint at the end and finished in about 41.32, only 18 seconds outside my best. Aaaaaarrrrrgggh. A bit of fire in my belly and that was there for the taking. The head was the problem here, not the legs. Even worse was discovering that although I had raced the right way to ensure I beat Marcus, he had started a good bit further back so it looks like his time was quicker. There is a bit of dubiety but I have been told that for the club championship the chip times count and not the finishing position. So he actually beat me and my tactical running over the last couple of k counting for nothing. I should have went for it and the consequences wouldn’t have mattered if I HAD blown up. Now I don’t make the rules but surely a race is a race? I was annoyed with myself. It’s only a point, but it’s still a point. Maybe Marcus would always have run quicker today (there’s no official times as yet, so it’s not confirmed) but maybe we should all start in the same place and race properly. I could have gone faster I’m thinking. Anyway, on reflection. A very challenging race, but one that I would do again. Good course, well organised, good goodie bag and fantastic volunteers. Myself and Nick posed for a picture so he could get in the blog and prove to his Dad that he isn’t a let down to the family. Second reflection. While I am still confident that I can beat my 10k PB this season I no longer have the confidence that I can go sub 40 for 10k and sub 19k for 5k. At the moment something just isn’t there and while I am going to work harder to try and get my aim, for the first time I think I have set the bar too high. Possibly doing the 5k in Edinburgh on Wednesday night but not where I want to be mentally and physically. I knew that the highs of the Tom Scott week would be matched by a low soon after and it’s all about how I push on from here. Let’s try and get through this.
Thanks to Sharon McCrudden and the Balfron 10k for the “action” shots.