Running out – LAAA XC and the year that was

So the racing year for me is over.

I’d like to tell you it finished in a blaze of glory, smashing the field as I sprinted to glory in that most prestigious of races, one in the echelons of Athletic prowess, the Lanarkshire X Country Championships. Now I could but it would be a total lie. It was one of those days where there’s nothing really there. Off fast on the 3 lap route and knowing on the first wee climb that the legs are too heavy for it and it’s a case of doing the best that you can do on the day rather than how you would have liked to have done. First lap was ok, second lap 3 opponents went past me, the last lap I sat in and ran on my own although I extended the gap on those behind I never challenged those in front which I’m a bit disappointed in and a 33rd place. 9th MAC finisher and showing the form that will no doubt having me demoted from League 1 in the club champs next year since there’s another 15 to 20 that would have been ahead of me if they had run. Old age is certainly catching up with me and although it wasn’t my worst ever run ever it certainly wasn’t my best either. Whilst I am not great on the roads or the track, Cross Country is certainly my nadir. But I’m still glad to have done it. Nationals maybe in February, but for this year over and out. Thanks to Joe Hoolaghan and Cameron Newell for the pics below.

It’s been a funny old year though and as a whole really enjoyable, and it’s time for the old highlights and low lights reel. Cue the cheery music, bring out the confetti and get the hankies at the ready as first of all it’s those highlights.

I make the point all the time that I know I am not a particularly gifted runner. I’m a mid-pack runner, marginally above mid-pack for my age group, apart from XC where I’m second half of the pack and eating the trailing dirt of the gazelles in front. That’s ok with me as I’m not in it for the bling or for the glory, but occasionally we get our day. Sometimes luck can smile your way and if you work hard enough occasionally you can take advantage of that. I make no bones about it, I was very fortunate to have got a silver medal in the Scottish Masters Track championships for the 3000m steeplechase, but to the same extent I’d trained for it, practising barriers for the first time in 28 years and had got myself in shape to attain the medal standard which I beat by almost a minute. When luck came my way I took advantage and got my first ever Scottish individual medal. Of course it’s my highlight. It’ll 99.9999% never happen again and I 100% never thought it would ever happen.

Next was the Manchester marathon. I took 12 minutes off my best time (and had a London GFA for a week, but that’s another story) when I did my 3.11. Coming back from injury I followed a 12 week plan through the Beasts from the East, the plan worked and I got the sub 3.15 I craved and was utterly delighted. I have no idea if I’ll ever do another as this gave me what I wanted.

I came off the marathon well and ran braver than usual at the Scottish 5k champs. Only my second sub 18 and a new PB in 17.48. I have never felt better in a race than I did that night and don’t know what happened to me after that, just never had the same race in my legs.

Takes me to the lowlights, and I tried taking that 5k speed etc into 10ks and track races and I just couldn’t get it right. My 10ks this year were consistent and with the exception of Blackpool 10k where I was coming back from injury (but still won the V45 prize by over 5 minutes😂) were all under 39 minutes but I really thought this year I could have started going regularly under 38. Maybe that’ll never be and the endurance part of it just isn’t there, so points for consistency, points off for what I still think is underachieving. The major low light was getting injured. I should have heeded the warnings of the Achilles as early as the start of June, but we always think we can run through things don’t we? The poodle incident when I was getting back was funny but unfortunate and the weight gain during injury which I am still battling to get off again is entirely my own fault.

Funny moments? Getting put out of action by a giant poodle is a belter, I admit it. Running 2 miles extra in a half marathon up Croy Hill with a skeleton at Halloween was another. Running in the wilds on the outskirts of Marrakesh avoiding packs of wild dogs wasn’t amongst my brightest moments, nor was making up for it the next day by doing a 10 mile run in the complex by looping bits about 37 times. Falling on my arse umpteen times at Trailfest.

The real highlight though for me has been getting back my real love of running again. From running being a release it had become an add on stresser and an increased anxiety machine, but over the last year I have managed to change my mindset. New challenges like trail races. Track training on my own in East Kilbride. XC spikes back on. But I really have to say a big thank you to you lot out there. It’s been great getting to communicate online over facebook, twitter, insta and Strava, say hello at races, become friends with you and it all adds to the running experience for me, so thank you. Here’s a few pics from the last year and I hope next year can give me some further special memories.

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