It really has been a while since my last blog, and it’s been a mixture of not really having much to say and just being disenchanted by the whole expressing myself malarkey. I just felt here that I had to put this one down in writing to remember how I felt as it ends well for me. The usual disclaimers here, it’s my blog and we all have different levels of what is a success, a good run, whatever, but it’s my baw here and my rules 😎.
My plan is over the winter months to get a bit of fitness back again. I’d turned the corner post injury and knew that despite my still disappointing diet I was starting to improve again. My plan simple. I’d try and get a Tuesday club session in, a solo lunch track session in, a long run, and a parkrun as my core sessions. Anything else a bonus as life rather hectic. I worked out that if I did a parkrun each Saturday then I’d start the New Year on number 50. Nice wee aim so let’s do it. No 45 and paced 25, coming in spot on 25. Nice. No 46, 8 December, 4th in 18.41 pursued by the boy Ello smashing his PB just behind.
No 47, ran a tempo with Big Bad Brian with both of us nattering on the way round and dipping under 20 annoying people around us. No 48, the half jaiked one. The morning after my works night out. Ewen had to drive me there and I was still half asleep. First mile in 7.01, last one in 6.00 and a perfect progression as I woke up more after every k.
Was happy with how I finished, track work starting to pay off. No 49 and a trip to Ruchill. A hilly one of three laps, and lapped progression of 10th to 5th to 3rd and a cracking sprint finish again to 19.11.
Happy with that. New Years Day and the planned 50. 18.30, my fastest in ages, and a pleasing last k in 3.25. My fastest at Strathy in a couple of years. Despite my festive munching I was finding a wee bit of form again.
Which brings me to the main part of this blog. For the third year running I had entered the British Milers Club GAA Scottish 3000m indoor champs. The last two years I had to drop out due to injury and lack of fitness but this year I felt it would be a good winter training tool.
Now I’m old.
I’m also not very good at 3000, getting slower each year and not having been under 10.30 for a couple of years now. I think I put my time in as 10.35 and our race was to have a 10.30 pacer. I haven’t won a race since 1989 😂. We were the first race. I looked at the field and did the usual sad thing of checking out the opponents on power of ten (am I the only sad one who does this?😂). Online tools suggested my 18.30 would equate to a 10.35-10.40 3k, so I was where I thought I’d be. I reckoned that would get me certainly in the top half of the field and if I ran to the best of my ability top 5 a possibility. As the week went on I started to have the lack of confidence play with my head, I’m too slow, start slow or die, and remembered my tattoo, It’s hard to forget really If you think you’re beaten you are etc.
New year, new heid. If I faltered and the legs went who would care apart from me? I was going to last as long as I could with the pacer. I had to believe I had a chance of the 10.30s, and if all went well get under that 10.34 of two years ago. I decided at that point that if that went to plan I was going to go for the win. Whit? I know. As the great philosopher and blog critic once said “don’t be hoffic and think you are better than you are”.
But sod him, for the first time in 30 years I actually thought about trying to win a race.
I turned up to the Emirates and walked in and instantly went to jelly, and then to the toilets. I hadn’t felt nerves like this in a long time. There were people there to watch that had paid to get in. The marvellous Scott Martin of Kilmarnock took time out to put me at ease, giving me tips about hydrating and the difference in breathing indoors (thanks Scott) and I had just about calmed down when I went to the warm up area and was jogging alongside Eilidh Doyle who was running just before me. Could hardly breathe. Throat burning already. John Coyle’s turn to calm me down and I resume my warm up. Alongside Laura Muir. Aw man, this is so not me. Trying to stride and feeling weak. Away in fairy land. Nerves horrendous. Time to head to start area, you can tell I’m nervous as Mr Shy starts babbling to everyone and anyone. Steven from Airdrie looking in the mood. Andy from Giffnock and Alan from Lothian who I thought were the ones most likely to be up there. Suddenly we were up there and ready to start. I’m on the inside. Two plans here 1. Don’t get boxed in 2. Don’t go out too fast. Bang we are off. I start the watch purely for Strava as I wasn’t going use it for the race. Later found out I’d missed the button 😂 15 Laps to go and I’m in behind the pacer. Going to plan, keep the heid.
The crowd were roaring, what a buzz, thankfully I fed off it instead of crumbling. The announcer was saying my name. Wow. Couple of laps in and still behind the pacer who was bang on pace. Could see Andy out the corner of my eye. He was aiming at 10.30 he’d told me so I couldn’t afford to let him go.
Lap 3, 4, 5 and I’m still there on the pacers shoulder but I am starting to detect that Andy and Alan are falling maybe 5 10 metres off the pace. I’m tempted to make a move and overtake the pacer and go for the win but confidence not there for that. Dig in. Follow the plan.
The crowd roaring. I hear shouts for me. I hear the announcer mentioning me and my age 😂 Focus. Laps going in now. Starting to lap backmarkers.
Half way through.
Lap 9, and we have a gap.
Lap 10 and the pacer steps off the track.
I thought he’d be there until the last lap but here I am, 5 laps to go, 1k to go, on 10.30 pace maybe 15 20 metres ahead and not knowing if the legs would last. Doubts creep in. “If you think you’re beaten you are”. No, going out fighting. I feel strong even if I can’t breathe.
The crowd are roaring.
My name being repeated over the tannoy. I know if I get to 400 to go in the lead I should have the speed to keep ahead. 4 to go, 3 to go, a lot of running in lane 2 as I start to lap people.
Last 2 laps and working hard.
The bell rings, I’m in lane 2 and 3 lapping people and running my wee arse off. I’m 150 metres away from a race win and possibly a good time ( I had absolutely no idea of the time as I’d concentrated for 4 laps on maintaining pace. ) Savouring it as I sprint hard to the line , the crowd cheering me, the announcer announcing me as the first winner of the evening. I hit the line and start the watch instead of stopping it as I hadn’t started it before the race. Cue Bobby Gavins picture of a confused me 😂
But the clock had stopped along with me on the track. A new PB in 10.18.89. Andy in 10.30 and Alan were in next, then a superb battle between the females in the race. The crowd still cheering, the competitors all caught in the moment, congratulating, encouraging those still running. Seriously if I could bottle that 11 minutes. I have never experienced that buzz before. The unexpected win and the first in 30 years, the plan being executed and working, the whole thing of the crowd, the announcer and my body responding all together was so so sweet.
I know it was the first race of the evening. The slowest. The diddy race to the real championship athletes. Over the course of the evening runner after runner in my age group went faster but for the ordinary runners like me who don’t get their glory days this race itself was a real thrill, one that makes all the training worthwhile. I train for me, to try and be the best I can for myself, and not to try and win things so when you get the rarity of a win like this it’s quite unquantifiable as far as the emotions are concerned.
It’s simply an evening I’ll remember for a long long time, and to be honest I didn’t know if I had another PB in the old legs.
Thanks to Scottish Athletics and GAA and the British Milers club for a fantastic event and the crowd who fuelled our runs with their cheers. Big thanks to (I think) Lewis the pacer. Top running 👍 Thanks to Bobby Gavin, Andrea Gavin and Paul Forbes for the pics.
Here’s the tune for a glorious winter. Harmony laden and melancholy yet uplifting. If you listen to it you’ll thank me 👍