Disclaimer: Yes. I know, parkrun isn’t a race. There’s hundreds of them every week and hundreds of people finish first every week. As usual this is all personally relative to me, and not how top runners would feel, but how a heading rapidly towards 50 baldy never-was feels. It’s all about the perspective so don’t come at me with your “it means nothing” grumpiness because today my lovely keyboard warriors I simply don’t care 🙂
My last blog seen me on a massive high. A first race win since 1989 3000m blog and something to kick on from, so as usual there’s always something to bring you back down. They do say it comes in threes and it’s right. My whole family came down with a sickness bug and this time I didn’t escape it so a few days without a run as I was weaker than St Mirren are currently playing against Alloa as I pen this. Still hoped to run the 1500m at the Emirates on the Saturday as thought I still had enough in me but back to work and hit a few problems which resulted in early mornings/ late nights/ weekend working and that one scratched from the list. Then took a bugger of a cold so feeling back at square one with a solitary 4 mile lunchtime run this week to show for things. Ach not to worry, I’m not injured, the fitness and sharpness will come back relatively quickly I hope. Had planned to do the MAC reps session at the weekend but instead decided to take Kev up on his offer of a trip down to Ayr for their parkrun. Christie from MAC was also up for it, the allure of an undulating trail parkrun being too strong for us all. I do like trail. I’m not very good at it and tend to get lost but it’s great fun. There’s a lad I follow on Strava and Insta who wins at Ayr most weeks, and he is a sub 36 10k man so looking at his winning times I knew it was never going to be fast course so ideal for how I was feeling. Into the Kevmobile, touristy pitstop then onto the course.
I had my trail shoes on and my Adios in my bag and on a short jog round a small part of the course saw that the trail was mainly firm due to the frost so quick change into the Adios, a very short warm up involving looking at a hill and thinking “I shall see you later”, a wee natter with Big Alasdair from Ayr who was volunteering and we were off. Once again my watch didn’t work when I pressed it. Hit the button 5 or 6 times and it stopped, so I managed to start it again. Wake wakey time. One fella was away like a rocket but no one else seemed willing to go with him so I let him go and settled into a rhythm knowing a big downhill was coming and I’m not brilliant on downhills being a big feartie. I knew it started off with the downhill, a loop round some ponds then back up the hill so was happy to let rocket boy take the pace. Adrian from Strava didn’t appear to be here this week which was nice of him 🙂 Felt fine going up the hill and already third was slipping off behind me, so started feeling brave/ daft again. Amazing what one wee win on the track can do for you. I got to the top of the hill just behind the lad in front and decided to take it on. The tattooed calf speaks to me (not a cow, that would just be weird) “If you think you dare not you don’t”.
He looked as if he was struggling a little so remembered the old tactic from my youth, when you overtake you increase the pace away and play with their heid, whether you feel fresh or not, and I was away. I knew that 2 weeks out and two wee illnesses would mean I wasn’t going to be firing on all cylinders but I thought if I could go out hard for a couple of k and break the elastic then the folk behind me would start competing against each other and I might just get away with it. I played the “listen to the stewards game” as I looked ahead and at the ground at all times. While the soft trail great to run on there were a lot of roots, twists, turns to be careful of. Anyway the “listen to the stewards game”. They are nice and say well done to everyone. As I passed Alasdair he did the usual and said well done. I listened out for the next time he said it and it was maybe 10/ 15 seconds? The gap was starting to appear. Heid down. Gie it welly. Don’t fall on the slippy corners. And like I usually do on trail runs, DON’T GET LOST!!!
Breathing wasn’t my best with a blocked nose and razor blade throat and any park users must have thought I was dying as I struggle to breath round the tight muddy bends. The tattoo back in my head again, “If you think you are beaten you are”. Nope, not beaten I was going to fight to the end and see how far I could go before the legs went. With the trees all around and all the twists I had no idea where anyone is behind me.
Run my own race.
No announcers or cheering crowds this time. It’s me against the trail and my weary old body. I will never get a better chance to add that no. 1 finisher to my already claimed 2 – 10.
Fight. Fight. Fight.
Run like theres someone right behind me. We come back along the trail towards the start again now and I’m alongside others going the other way. The encouragement and congratulations I was getting from them was amazing. I’m not used to this. I reckon about a mile to go and the legs are starting to feel it.
Down the hill and round to the pond. As I hit the small concrete section my legs are feeling heavy. I’m feeling it. Look to other side of pond and can’t see anyone yet. Don’t die legs.
Fight, fight fight.
Must only be a k or so to go. Away in my wee world I turn right and think ” Not seen this before”. Shite, quick look back and the arrow pointing left. Not this time trail, you ain’t beating me. Retrace steps and back onto right course and it’s the hill. Or the Double hill to be honest. A climb, a flat bit, another climb. Get through this and it’s dig to the end. Kev going the other way tells me I look well clear. My legs eventually tell me enough. They are like jelly at the top of the climb. Self preservation now, it’s in touching distance. 52nd parkrun and a first first finisher in my grasp. Easy round the corner, just a winding path up, a turn and a straight run to the line. All about finishing, I’m sure I’m far enough ahead I can take the foot off the gas. The turn comes and I turn sharply but slowly, no falling. I try to sprint the last section but the legs are gone. They’ve got me home but have gone to sleep in the driveway. Over the line and a wee double fist salute as I forgot to do that at the Emirates and home in 19.41. Hello Mr First token, so that’s what you look like!!!
Sub 20 on that course more than acceptable unlike the eyebrows which I appreciate really need a trim. I took about 8 goes to scan my barcode, I admit this had me fearing it wouldn’t count but at last it went through and I was legitimate.
First by over a minute in the end despite an almost pedestrian last kilometre which was really pleasing as I know the stamina will come back over the next few weeks. Tales of the unexpected series 13. Two runs in a row and I have went for it and that can only be good for the head, the heart and the soul. Going back to the start of this blog and yes, it’s only a parkrun. It counts for nothing in the way of the world. But it made me happy, made me smile and has given me some much needed confidence in myself so that can only be good eh? No matter how modest your achievements are to others if it’s something you’ve gone for and don’t expect to get then bloody enjoy it, I know I will.
Thanks to Ayr parkrun and all the volunteers, a challenging but great course that I recommend highly. Cheers Kev and Christie for the company and to all the fellow runners who gave me a shout out. It’s always appreciated.
The tune? This was all about fight the last couple of weeks. Through illness, through difficult work situations, through a last mile with rubber legs, fight, fight, fight.
As I finish writing St Mirren have come from 2 down to win 3-2. Mon the weak!!!!!
So here’s the Cure below and also added to the playlist you can find HERE, enjoy.