Last night at the time trial I was pulled up about claiming my 18.57 last week as a PB considering I ran faster when I was a teenager. Fair enough, but as I have said before, I spent 20 odd years not running and my body, as well as my age, were very different. Anything that I have run since I started back at the age of 40 I regard as a PB now, I’m a totally different person. Back then to be fair there wasn’t widespread chip timing and 5K and 10K races for my age group. Parkrun didn’t exist, nor did Power of Ten and Runbritain. I was asked about my PBs from back then, I knew my track PBs and that was it, with the exception of a couple. I did find that I had run 17.04 in the Cambuslang xmas handicap 5k with a stinking hangover in the ice (cheers Scotland’s runner) but am 99% sure that wasn’t the fastest I ever ran. I was thinking about this and remembering the piece I wrote a couple of months ago that I got slaughtered for called “Disappointments” and I promised to redress the balance, so here we are on the flipside, like I promised, and successes or achievements.
Now these aren’t big achievements. It’s not big championships, or international victories. It’s wee things that I remember, and remember fondly, some from my early years, and some from recent.
The Scottish Junior Championships at Meadowbank in 1989 and I finish 4th, but 3rd Scot in the 2000m steeplechase in 6:21.42. The top 2 got selected for Scotland. Stephen Wright of Aberdeen who won it cracked his leg on the last barrier but got up to finish. He withdrew from the international due to his injury and his break was my break. It only happened once and will never happen again but wearing that blue vest of Scotland is something that fills me with pride to this day. I still have the vest and tracksuit. It was only last year I was able to fit into them again….
Token then and now pic, in the 26 year old vest.
I had run the Glasgow Schools XC champs in 1st and 2nd year placing 5th and 2nd and then sadly there was a teacher’s strike affecting extra curricular activities for a couple of years. When it came back in 1988 I had to sit my Modern Studies prelim at 6 in the morning to be able to race but I made up for those years out winning the 4 mile XC race at Pollok Park by some 30 seconds in 21:55. I don’t ever remember nailing a race as well as that one in my entire life and led from gun to tape. There wasn’t a medal for winning, but a gold badge to put on your blazer.
My first title I have spoken about on another blog entry, as I did with the Men’s 10k in 2011. 55 minutes of sheer pain, then the bug bites me again. 9th in the jogscotland 5k race at Bella. I couldn’t believe I had got top ten in a race again, mental stuff.
There was a non descript school’s 800m race at Kelvinside where I was probably 30 – 40 meters off the leader with 150 to go. Someone from my school shouted something at me. Can’t remember what it was except it wound me up. I sprinted after the fella. I was gaining but didn’t think I would catch him until he slowed down 10 from the line and started waving. Boom! Dipped him on the line. His old fella ripped him to pieces. Being a cocky wee sod back then, when it came to the 1500m later I took the pace on after 400m and waved to the guy as I went past him. I think I mumbled something about his Daddy watching. Sorry about that whoever you are. Hope I didn’t ruin your running career. I enjoyed the double though ;). I think my best times for the 800 and 1500 were 2:00.30 and 4.13, it was certainly something like that. I did the mile once as part of the Cambuslang team for the McVities mile challenge thing. Seem to remember doing it in about 4.40 but again, time has passed.
Other notable victories (there weren’t that many, I was great at finishing 4th which is still my lucky number). Lanarkshire 1500m on a few occasions. Lanarkshire League 3000m where week after week it was myself and Mark Hand from Law battling it out. Memory suggest I used to run about 9.10-9.20 for 3000m, always pulling away from Mark on the last lap. I think he now beats me by a number of minutes…. Blantyre fun run 11 miler, winning the under 18s as a 15 year old in 77 minutes. Finished the next year in 67 minutes, so obviously expected to win it again. Nah. Was beaten by a Hamilton teammate called Stevie Wylie for the first time…. I wonder what happened to him. (Obvious sarcasm here as Stevie also followed me to Cambuslang and has won, I believe 9 individual Scottish senior titles. I was once in a pub quiz in Alloa and we won it, partly due to the question “How did Stevie Wylie make the Alloa news this week?” His half marathon victory was my case of beer victory, cheers mate 🙂 ). There was a third in the Scottish Unis 3000m steeplechase but the disappointment of timing 10:00.03 in the inter districts for it. Hamilton mini marathon. Finished third behind Motherwell’s Jamie Houston and Gordon Robertson one year, but won it the next. Where I didn’t get a prize as my coach at Hamilton had complained the 5 miles was too far for my age group. I was gutted and the race was scrapped.
I have been club champion of Hamilton Harriers, Cambuslang Harriers and of my school. As proud as I am of all them I would trade all of them in for even a bronze at Motherwell. That’s how much it all means to me now. It’s a slog now, it’s difficult. I didn’t appreciate things back then. I got a 4th in the MAC XC and that’s the closest I’ll ever get. I won one time trial but struggle now to get top 5. So that’s some successes. And even talking about them feels like a different person. I can’t relate to those wins and those times. I can relate to the elation of getting that sub 19 5k. I can relate to the challenge of trying to go sub 40. These are the races and times that mean something to the mid 40s me, so yeah, I am claiming these 21st century times as PBs. I would feel a fraud to suggest I could run a flat 2 minute 800m now, so that’s my deal. I’m at peace with it, so don’t let it bother any of you. Back to my moaning in the next piece, see you soon.
EDITED: Thanks to my old coach at Cambuslang Mike Johnston who sent me the following:
Amazing what you can find when you do a wee search :
Cambuslang youth bests for 1988 Mark Gallacher 3rd with 2.06.4 for 800; Mark 2nd with 4.19.3 for 1500; Mark 2nd with 9.25.6 for 3000 and 1st for 2K chase 6.36.
1989 25.1 for 200; 55.0 for 400; 2.03.6 for 800; 4.16.3 for 1500; 9.22.5 for 3000; 6.21.42 for 2K chase and the 10.00.2 for 3K chase that you highlight in the blog. Not a million miles away, thanks Mike.