It was my own attempted version of “Super Saturday” this week. I had planned for it a while ago. It’s no secret I was after a sub 18 5k and have been using track races to try and get that extra edge. It was the last of the MAC champ races, moved to Linwood after Strathclyde being cancelled, apparently a flat, fast two lapper. If the conditions were right and after my 18.11 last week then maybe, just maybe, I could give it a right go. But being the usual old fool that I am I had entered the Lanarkshire LAAA senior 1500m champs to be held in the afternoon as well. I know. Numpty. I wasn’t totally daft, would only do that if I got through the morning with no repercussions. Got along to Linwood and conditions almost perfect. Had a wee recce of the course and very little wind as mostly enclosed by trees. Part Tarmac, part trail, very interesting course. Watched all the MAC runners come along and said hellos to various others including Steven Hill and his lovely wee girl Isla, ex MAC man and fellow Buddie Mick Hydes, the returning Ian Goudie and we lined up for the start. Neil from Hamilton there as well and told me he was going to tail me around for a sub 18. Shhhhhhh man! We don’t do pressure anymore. Stood there on the line. Going through my head “if you think you are beat then you are”. Guts or glory. If I blew up then it doesn’t matter. And we were off…..
Cammy away like a rocket along with a young fella in a Scotland West vest. Mark P and another couple of fellas in hot pursuit. I was in 6th or 7th with Neil and Marcus alongside. Through the first tight corner out of trouble. All good. First k out the way and moved up to 5th and done in the mid 3.30s. Perfect. Over the next couple of k saw pace going up and down but knew that was probably due to GPS with the trees and tight bends. The top 4 were way ahead as I completed the first lap, and I also had a wee gap on Neil and Marcus behind. Felt OK but knew I would have to work myself to try and get near the 18. My target for 4K was 14.30 and went through in 14.38 but again thought GPS could be out, so didn’t panic and anyway still on line for a PB if nothing else. Legs were getting like jelly but tried to keep it going, got to the last turn and around 400 metres to go. I was well under 17. I had a chance. Started counting down in my head. 16 41 elephant 2 elephant etc. Gave all on empty legs. The legend videod the last section as I got myself to that line. One check of the watch to see if head and watch are in correlation.
The Linwood photo shows I have gave it all.
Watch showing 17.53.6. Wooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaahhhhhhh! Project sub 18 smacked on the Arse. Got my position 5 token and took it over and got it and my barcode scanned and then the long wait for the official results.
And man it was a long wait.
The results were published and I wasn’t in them……
Now you are having a giraffe. A big giraffe. With a funny face. And stilts. My sub 18 not existing. My MAC club champ Division 1 silver null and void. Karma biting my bum for dancing about on the finish line . I admit I’m a drama queen. Over reacting. Ready to chuck it. To be fair Linwood parkrun sorted it for me as quickly as they could. And I was reinstated.
So there it was. After a long year of head battles I’d skelped the bahooky of the 18 minute 5k. To be fair I never expected to ever do it. The track has helped me find that wee bit of speed. 17 minute 5k runner. I was, in fact am, and I don’t say this often, really proud of myself. Thanks to all at Linwood. Great event that will go from strength to strength.
So went home and soaked my old legs in the bath, it’s the thing that works for me. Then off to Wishaw for stage 2. I had to be honest had a terrible 1500m on Tuesday. No disrespect to anyone in that race but I got it all wrong. I had looked at the field for this one earlier in the week and there were 2 guys I expected to be well away from the rest of us, but after that it was an open race for bronze. My big dream was the sub 18 and a bronze today. Part 1 was in the bag. I was aiming for the second. I also knew that my legs would be heavy, and to get bronze I would have to be under 5 again. Was all going to be about the first lap, see how I felt. I was there early to declare and watched a lot of the races with the MAC youngsters. Inspiring stuff. Had a good couple of chats with William and Alan, and was wished luck from a few more. Only had a few jogs, no point in making myself more tired. Did a lot of stretching instead, and a few wee jogs. The Legend and the miniature Paula came along to offer support. The legend took this picture of me after I tried striding…. aye not looking promising….whilst the Law boys all talked tactics in the background, or was it Bobby Hill’s dress sense?
No pressure though, was all for fun.The hard work had been in the morning. We lined up ready to go.
The gun went and my legs didn’t. I was last straight away. Not the plan. Straight away the 2 fast guys had gone and I was at the back. I had to go out into lane 3 to get myself back up and settled just behind third place, happy to see where my legs were after the first lap. There was to be a 3 way battle for bronze and I wasn’t fazed. Decided to stop looking at my watch after 300m when through in 57 , where I wanted to be. Legs felt ok. Moved up into third. Like a Jedi ,Stuart Gibson came into my mind “In running confidence is everything”. Upped the pace. I wanted this. The top 2 were well away, didn’t care. The 45 year old, more than 10 years older than the next oldest in the race was after the bronze. 4th stuck with me for a bit, but as I went through 800 the thought of only 700 to go felt easy. Last lap and I wasn’t going to get caught. Wasn’t allowing it. Over the line some 100m ahead of 4th and 9 seconds taken off my PB in 4.48. THAT is what I should have done on Tuesday!
I know it is a daft wee county event. But I hadn’t won an individual race medal since about 1989 when I was a junior. 27 years and my first senior medal, as a 45 year old. It took a wee while for the presentation, I know presentation! I was excited. So I took a daft 448 picture. The fella in second got fed up waiting and left, so was only myself and EKs winner left for the presentation. They offered to just post the medals out, but after I told them I had waited 27 years for this they relented, got the results sorted and I got my podium moment.
So there we go. A perfect day’s racing for me. The type of day I could only dream of last winter when injured and wondering if I’d race again. I was asked what the song would be for this one. Had a few in my head, but here is one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands. Bellshill’s Teenage Fanclub and their first single, “Everything flows”. Sometimes you have one of those running days where indeed everything just flows right, and this was mine. Wish I could bottle it.
So hit a few big aims. Where do I go from here? I haven’t decided 🙂 No pressure. Just enjoy. I will keep working hard. I will have good days, I will have bad, but man believe me, you will all get days that feel like this, where it all goes to plan. Confidence. Hard work. Bit of luck. We will never get near the big guns, or run records, but we can all hit those targets we thought were too much. Keep enjoying it blogpeeps 🙂
Thanks to Jim White and Tracey Lamont for the pics. Thanks to all the volunteers and organisers of Linwood parkrun and the LAAA track champs. Tune in at http://www.facebook.com/markgallmac