May the Forth/ Hang on – The Scottish 5k champs 2018.

Disclaimer: What you are about to read is a blog by myself about myself. Spoiler alert – in this one I surprise myself and my previous self deprecation style blogs go out the window. I have said it before, I know that my results are poor to some and good to others, but humour me with this one and see what it means to me 🙂 

This blog is one of the ones that has had so many working titles. The ones I used and the ones I didn’t have all been added to the playlist here . Markgallmac playlist, stick it on shuffle. A few tunes will appear in this blog as we go along. I trust that meets with your approval. Since this race was on the 4th of May at Cramond then it’s a no brainer to have this one May the Forth – FRC May the Forth by the Futuristic Retro Champions. Sadly not on youtube but an off kilter piece of killer scots electro pop. I prefer the remix to be honest and that’s the one thats on the playlist. The other is Hang on by Teenage Fanclub, that’ll be self evident later.

I won’t lie here and be straight to the point. I have been training well. Last Saturday’s parkrun had given me a lot of confidence. I am currently running with no fear and stress and I hope that can continue. Being that close to 18 minutes had me sitting thinking. Well I wonder…. (aye cue the song, great excuse to shoehorn this gorgeous Morrissey/ Marr ballad in. I actually hated this when the Meat is Murder album came out, now I find it almost perfect.)

Where was I? Aye well I wonder what I can do on Friday night at the Scottish 5k. I have professed my love for this race before in the pages of Run ABC Scotland.


I have PBed both times I have run it, read these if you so desire 2015 2016. I missed it last year as my recovery from the London Marathon hadn’t been great but this year I have recovered well after Manchester, I am running well, I am training well and I am most importantly enjoying running. Let me set the scene. 2016 my big aim was to go sub 18, and I managed it, just, in 17.54 in my last 5k of the season at Linwood. I had a few comments thrown at me then that it was short, the same that I got last week about Victoria park. Last year my fastest 5k was 18.24, so my form had been poor but now it was coming back. Well I wonder. Could I get a genuine sub 18 5k? To be honest I didn’t think I was quite there, and looking at weather forecast of wind etc. I thought aiming for my course PB of 18.10 would be more like it, but my strength right now is that I don’t have the fear of failure. This isn’t arrogance that I don’t think I will fail, ooft no it’s totally the opposite, it’s accepting that there is a good chance of failure and not caring if that happens. The morning of the race and I made the decision. 3.36 kilometre pace would get me 18. 3.35 would get me 17.50 with a buffer as it always seems slightly long due to racing lines. I was going to aim for 3.35 pace for as long as was possible, and if the legs went then so be it, comments from keyboard warriors that tell me to accept my limits and abilities and not chase my dreams are water off the back now. Aye Paul, applaud yourself, you did affect me at the time so put your Royale Crown of Twatdom on and rejoice, but I genuinely don’t care about you or your ilk anymore. People all week were telling me I would go sub 18 but a combination of refusing to stress, believing that Vic Park was indeed short and my real time was nearer 18.20 thanks to public opinion had me turning up at Edinburgh in fine fine fettle. One of the great things about doing this blog and being admin at Running Friends Scotland is the amount of people I have been fortunate to meet at races. Friday was amazing, great to chat with so many of you and I refuse to name you all in case I miss anyone out. It all had me at ease and I was loving the atmosphere. Kev was finding it all quite amusing the amount of folk I was saying hello to, so next time everyone say Hello to Kev. The wind was there as usual but wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I was bizarrely relaxed.

Club vest proudly on. Aye I’m a MAC lad again fair and square.

Adios tied securely. I do love my new Adios.

Signal on the Garmin. Phew.

Best of lucks handed out. As in handshakes, no trinkets.

Around 500 of us staring ahead, waiting for that buzzer, tension building in the air.

Buzzzzzz. And we were off.


3.35s. Going for 3.35s. Faster than usual but I feel it in the legs. But the early pace was rapid. The pace was at 3.20 but getting carried along. Last year I would have clammed up, slowed it right down and been a wimp but I went along for a wee bit before bringing it down a little gradually. Through the first k in 3.27 ish and it felt ok. Was never going to do that the whole race but it was done and just had to deal with it. The field was already spread out at this point. The front guys were at an electric pace. I could see the club vests in the distance of Cammy and Chris among others, and already the Legend was pulling away, a man on superb form just now. He was to finish in an immense PB of 17.15. Second K in 3.33, still slightly fast but I had about 7 or 8 seconds of a buffer as we really started to feel the wind. Now there was a headwind, but compared to how it HAD been we had got off lucky. The sun was shining down, the legs were OK, the wind wasn’t bad, the confidence was up. Stephen Duffy of Hamilton came by with some encouragement and I know he is a 17.40 runner so wanted to try and keep him in touch. I knew I would slow down a little here but through the third k in 3.37 was fine. Through 3k in 10.37. My best 3k last year was 10.34! The legs are ok, yes I’m working but I’m not dying. 2 to go and really needed to dig deep. Stephen was getting away but was still in sight. His vest was my elastic band here, had he got well away I had nothing to pull me.

Yes he was getting away but still visible and despite the hard part of the race when you go by the finish knowing there is still a good 1 1/2k to go I managed to keep my form only slowing down to a 3.39k. It was on. 200 meters or so to the turn then that 800m stampede for home. Could see the other runners who had already made the turn, the Legend and Craig neck and neck, amazing stuff. My legs were really feeling it now, I can’t lie, but I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse. Needed to hold my form and I could do it.

Hang on.

Hit the turn alongside PHs Scott Love, with us running hard alongside each other. Last check of the watch and the countdown started in the head. I had no energy for a sprint but was winding it up well, I knew it was on as long as the distance wasn’t way out. I expected an extra 5 seconds or so past the 5k but still thought I had done enough to get there. Focus on the line, counting the seconds, can see the line, to be honest I know the sub 18 is in the bag now and it is all about how much. Can I get that 17.54 now and put the “Linwood is short” naysayers out my head? Gave it my all and I thank Bobby Gavin of for this amazing picture of my finish. Shows me giving it my all (support him by looking at his site and buying your pics)


Over the line and stop the watch. It shows 17.49. Delighted. Utterly chuffed to bits. Even if it is rounded up or whatever I am still under the 17.54. Course PB. 5K PB. Get my confirmation from the timing van and it’s faster in 17.48.


Now when I get home and do  my own wee research and it’s a WAVA age graded score of 80.90%. I have never been over 80 before, even when I did the 17.54 two years ago. See? I warned you this was going to be a smug blog but I am genuinely really happy with myself. Last year I thought that I had plateaud and would never get near 18 again, so to go faster and without having done any speed work is so pleasing for me. I know that it could all end in tears tomorrow again but what a difference by following simple things, #projectworkhardenjoyracing is working dividends. Not stressing is working dividends. Not fearing failure has worked for me. Now I know I was surrounded by PBs on Friday but they can all write their own blogs 🙂 This MAC squad had a multitude of them, well done team!


So the season kicks on with no specific aims now. I will try and run to the best of my ability and take some risks along the way. I will try and keep enjoying it and most importantly try and avoid the stresses that derailed me last year. The job change is helping as I can leave my work in the office now, it doesn’t follow me about like a black cloud and I have a boss who is supportive of my training. There we go. No complaining. No self deprecation. No moans. No floundering haddocks. And I can stop right here, right now, and say “Done it!” because I went out there and I did a run I can be proud of myself for. 47 years old and running faster. So have this tune. Teenage Fanclub, Hang on. Because I hung on, and because it’s a beauty. Enjoy.

Bonus tracks: I did do some thinking about this run, constructively ,so have the Charlatans, and some Audio Bullys because if it had all went wrong I really didn’t care.

Enjoy the tunes and thanks Bobby Gavin for some amazing pics.

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