We can’t stop what’s coming – the first 800m race since 1989.

​​​Disclaimer and background: As the lurgy continues to ravage my house I found myself with a bit of extra time. So I am writing a blog entry in 2 parts. One on the Sunday, the one after the Wednesday race. It’ll be as disjointed as an episode of River City, with less believable characters.

The lurgy. An unforgiving beastie. Jon was struck first, then Louis. Elaine was already ill, so I was of course next to drop. Hit like a truck on Tuesday and sparing you the details my body was soon emptier than Greenock Morton’s trophy cabinet. At the risk of sounding like Craig David I was laid out for the count on Tuesday,  and Wednesday,  I started feeling more alive on Thursday.  Club fartlek that night, and ooft I was weak, but to be expected. Friday off, then my first track session of the year on the Saturday. Now being a veteran in running standards doesn’t mean I can’t be naive and I have been. You know I did my first marathon recently. I won’t mention it again… Anyway. I have no idea how long it takes an individual’s body to recover. And I have been desperate to get back to the short stuff. I think my last 800m race was in 1989 where I ran a PB of 2.03 behind Victoria Park’s Frank McGowan at Crownpoint in Glasgow, but why am I telling you this ancient history? Mr Naive assumed I’d be in great shape after his marathon and entered an open graded meeting at Livingston. It’s next week. I entered the 800m. Based on my 1500m from last year I put forward an estimated time of 2.25. I am currently slower than a week in the jail. 2.35 unlikely let alone anything else. So marathon legs that are hanging about, hamstrings tighter than Barry Manilow’s face, a few days vomiting bug, a lack of speedwork, and the enthusiastic youngsters and hardened track masters are all trained up and ready to let themselves fly at frenzied pace around the track. Now I have two options. The sensible option, simply withdraw. Build up slowly. But where is the fun in that? I was having a wee natter the other night to my old running buddy John Quinn who has just passed his coaching badges and will be a great asset to athletics. He has more faith in me than I do. I won’t go over the full chat but here are some key points:

“you haven’t scratched the surface of what your capable of. Kick on my man because you know it too !! Sub. 17.10 5k is no issue, if you train properly. ( I think you don’t know what you’re capable of yet !!). You get to that and you will kick on. Decide what you want and how much you want it and then map out a plan how to get there. Training plan tailored to a target pace is so important – your ultimate goal !!!  Just remember you need to “overload” and also recover. These are the basic tenets of any endurance performance training programme and they depend on the individual and the event. By overload, I mean you need to regularly take yourself above your target pace in whatever context !”

OK. There are people out there who already think that I aim too high for myself and should accept my limitations, and who will be ready to pounce on my every mistake. And of course that can stop you. The mind is a powerful thing. But in myself do I believe I can run faster? Even at the age of 46? Forgetting about my times up to Junior level, but looking at the times from starting back as a 40 year old. I believe that if I train right and have a bit of luck then I CAN beat my times over 1500m, 3000m, 5K, 10K, Half marathon and full marathon if I am ever daft enough to do another one. I should be well under 18 by now at 5k, not just a one hit wonder. I feel I should be sub 38 10k. 1.25 half marathon. Should. I have said before I think you know within yourself when there is nowhere left to go. Am I deluded or underachieving? You know if I am deluded then let me find out for myself and not let others persuade me I am.  So what’s this rant saying? Yes I am going to run. And if we want to achieve for ourselves, hit our targets, push ourselves on then quite simply we can’t stop what’s coming. Yes it is going to hurt. Yes I am going to get days or nights where it goes right, and where it goes wrong, and yes it has to start somewhere, and that for me is in an 800m race at Livingston where I stand to be humiliated. Or do I? In my wee opinion no. Humiliation really is where you are expected to succeed and fail badly. I am going to try and move myself on so being humbled and humiliated will be totally different things. If I am found to be irritating for giving it a go then I will take that anytime. I know I can do better, I just don’t quite know how to get there yet 🙂

Yep mid blog song this time, and the song that inspired this very blog. The return of Matt Johnson and The The, with Johnny Marr on the guitar. This is sweet.

First step taken, 10 x 300m at Wishaw track. Wet, manky, tough but done. 12 miles solo today. Pace not upped yet, but not going mad too soon. Spikes looked out. 2.25 not realistic but I’ll go out and run my best, harm no-one and see what happens. 2.30 and I will be delighted. My path, my story, my risks, my head. I’d like to justify John’s faith in me, so it’s time to get out that comfort zone. If it all goes wrong it’s his fault 😉 See you Wednesday.
It’s amazing the difference a few days makes. From all that fire in my belly on Sunday Wednesday has arrived like a damp squib. I look back at my ramblings and what am I talking about? I am a veteran who is getting older and the times will start going backwards. The self-delusional feelings taking over again. Another heavy legged run on the Tuesday so going through on Wednesday in self-preservation mode. I have said it before and I will say it again. The head is a mysterious beastie. The Legend has been running track all year including indoors and he was coming along too. He is flying just now at all distances. Got to Livi with support from Elaine and the boys and had a couple of miles jog with the Legend. Legs heavy. Breathing a real problem on a warm warm night. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, more terrified. The races were announced and I was in race 5, alongside the Legend. Aw naw. Conditions perfect, up we stepped and boom away…. Footage below courtesy of Elaine.
Aye look at that start. Stuck on the line again, in last place for the first 200m. The pack were way rapid. I’m not capable of that! Already the head telling me I would be last. What will be will be. Aim for sub 2.30. Try and get close to 2.25. Don’t let the Legend’s elastic break as he was running really well ahead of me. He has a best of 2.25 so if I could keep in touch I’ll get my 2.30 at least. Legs feeling it. Barry Manilow’s face again singing songs to my hammies. But somehow through the bell in about 71 seconds. Got to 250 to go and moved past the Legend and thought let’s try and kick for home. Aye very good. The kick didn’t come and the Legend was back past again at 150 to go. Battling with the legs and head and trying to keep in touch and somehow got back on his shoulder again, he came back at me, we are catching the runners ahead as we battle. Great ding dong battle. I stretch as best I can, seemingly too much and almost topple over 10 yards out, combination of over stretch and tired legs and the Legend edges back ahead on the line, great racing with a new PB by 4 seconds for him in 5th place in 2.21.4, 6th for me in 2.21.54. Man that was tough, but really good fun.
Now I won’t lie, no one likes being beaten by a club mate and friend and there’s a target on Jim’s back now, but delighted for him smashing yet another PB and I take a lot of positives from my run. Much faster than I thought, and although my old sprint finish was non-existent I was happy with the fight I showed. Could easily have chucked it but I gave it all I had.  For a first 800m in 28 years I will take it. I may not be very good at track but I really enjoyed that. Had a good chat with Cambuslang’s Chris Upson who had also run 2.21 in the previous  heat, cheered on Clare Barr in her heat then home for a Chinese. A big block of racing coming up that I’m not in racing shape for, but let’s go out there and enjoy it and see if I can race myself into decent shape. See you out there 🙂

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