The Majestic Head? or the National Road relays 2016

Disclaimer: these are the views of me. I know I rarely make sense.

Today was a funny one. I have trained well this week. I’m feeling better than I have since my injury problems started last August. And today I was delighted to be back in the real action for the Scottish National Road Relays at Livingston. Couldn’t wait all week to get that Motherwell vest on again in a real race, representing my colours. Was hoping I could get near my 19.45 from last year, and if I ran well enough I hoped to get near 19.30. Woke up this morning though and just did not feel the buzz anymore. I wasn’t even nerves either, which I am used to. It was something totally different. It was an actual fear. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to put on the vest, the shorts, lace up those shoes, despite all those months out. Whit? In retrospect I was simply race rusty and scared of what was going to happen when I tried to run the first leg with all those whippets. I don’t remember feeling this way before. Got to Livingston, had a wee warm up with Cammy and Clare who were also doing first leg and got to the starting line, via Mike Johnston who informed me my yo-yoing weight was going back in the right direction again…. Cammy went to the front row and I hung back towards the back. Didn’t want to get in anyone’s way and cause a pile up. There was zero confidence today, simply the fear. The head was out to defeat me today and it was winning.

Bang and we were off, down the downhill stretch and round the corner to the first climb. I couldn’t get moving, I had got myself boxed in and wasn’t confident enough to get myself out of it. Clare came past me at this point looking in good shape. She has had a few weeks of injury since Cambuslang, but I knew if they kept at bay she would run well. Just now it looked like a repeat of Cambuslang where she had gubbed me. I wasn’t moving well at all. I was stuck and already telling myself it was going to be a bad run, making excuses in my head. About a K or so in and we passed coach John who encouraged myself and Clare, who was probably about 20 metres or so ahead. Round a corner and something just clicked. Sometimes a wee friendly shout can bring you out of yourself. I saw a gap on the right and ran hard , got myself out the boxed in position and got past Clare, and started running hard. Up the curly flyover. I waited for the Clare to come back but thought at least I would try and run hard until it happened, 2nd k was in 3.50, much better and was feeling ok. I could sense the claret vest just behind me, but as we got to a downhill section I stepped aside to let Clare past, as I’m cautious on downhills due to my back problems. By she went, except it wasn’t her, the vest was brown and it was Shona McIntosh from Hunters Bog Trotters, a very good runner, so no shame, and head back up. Boom 3rd k in 3.51, consistent and still feeling good. Got great encouragement from the Cambuslang crew at this point, Simon, Mick and David I think, and man this really helped me as I was still battling my head. 4th k in 3.54 and the run for home along the river. My yellow shoes can be made out behind RHCs Paul Thompson in the pic below as I actually started racing.

I was passing quite a few people in the last couple of K and knew I was on for a sub 20, even though the last section is uphill. 500 to go and I went for it.

Round the corner and uphill to the finish. Heard a lot of encouragement, a hell of a lot of encouragement. This lifted me yet again. Saw a young Bella fella in front and went for him and actually sprinted past him to the finish. My first sprint finish since the Dumfries Half marathon last September I think that was? Man it felt good. Looked at the watch and 19.02. 43 seconds better than last year, and a season’s best on a very undulating course. A right good last kilometre. Nearly a sub 19? Oooft. Not expected. I had won my battle against my head and came out the other side better than I was expecting. Stu Ogden hit the nail on the head for me: “go re-read your last blog Mark..” All mouth and no trousers me, pontificating without practising what I preach. We all have days like this. What have I learned? The value of encouragement. Keep doing it blogpeeps. To everyone you know. I forgot how much it can change things when the chips are down. And secondly, as Simon Gold says never underestimate the power of the mind. The rustiness now gone. I need to look forward now. I am back where I wanted to be, but didn’t expect to be. A sub 19 this season is now do-able with a bit more work, and touch wood no injuries. But before that it’s the Tom Scott 10 miler. 1.07.53 Last year. Can I dare to dream to get close to that? Later blogpeeps.

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