The Storm – SVHC Scottish Masters Relays 2019 and a wee surprise

You know the saying.

“It is a wee baldy middle aged man’s prerogative to change his mind.”

There may be paraphrasing involved but it’s my blog and my baw so deal with it 🙂 I wrote a blog last year about my feelings about club loyalty and not getting along much and feeling on the peripheries when I was there and again, if that’s how I am feeling that’s what I will write. I have tried more and more to make one session a week, the Tuesday one where possible and I have enjoyed it, mostly running with the same group. And I actually have enjoyed it, so you get a three part blog and you get three songs, you lucky people.  Anyway, sensitive heid aff, there are always going to be people who aren’t going to like me, even detest me, and that’s just how it is, doesn’t mean it has to affect everything else. I renewed my MAC Membership. With all that in mind for the first time in a couple of years I put myself forward for a relay event for the club. The Vets (Over 35s, not Laura Muir, James Herriott and their pals) relays are at Strathclyde park and I know it well. 2016 saw my first go at it in 24.24, and 2017 saw me smash that time with 22.28 despite a “tumble” that saw me dislocate my finger which still gives me grief to this day. I know over the last month or so I have been training well and enjoying my running so thought I may be in shape to go for a course PB. I was delighted to be selected for the MAC B team but a bit wary to be running the first leg along with all the whippets. As it tends to be the fastest leg it would be heid doon and just go for it. I did my Thursday Track club (only member  – me :)) based on locking into a pace of going sub 22, why not aim high, and arrived on Sunday while not exactly up for it I was devoid of any nerves. It was a cold cold day, Polar Bears walking about with Pretty Green parkas on and the wind starting to come out to play but the first thing I noticed was the warmth. Aye I know, hippy crap coming from the baldy man, but it was true. The atmosphere was amazing right from the word go. No doubt that as soon as the club vests were on and the toes on the line the racing faces would come on but the atmosphere was great. Banter flowing, friendly hellos, chats. Mr Shy Anti-social had actually missed this. Again I am repeating myself, but the amount of times I have wondered if putting my blog out there was a wise thing, especially after the internet hardmen set up upon you, and here I am on race day so glad I did as it gets me involved in all the camaraderie and banter. Otherwise would I have the nerve to go talking to people? Not a chance. So it was brilliant talking to you all. To the race and I won’t bore you with usual step by step run, but I had a right good one for me and my level. The wind against us as we went out the first couple of K, but the advantage of leg 1 is that you can get into groups and there’s an element of shelter. I probably went out too fast but I found myself in a group along with runners who are usually ahead of me and basically worked my arse off to keep with them as far as I could. Cambuslang’s Tony McCutcheon and Dave Thom, PH Racing’s Martin Butcher, Ayr’s Calum Macdonald. All better runners than me but why not give it a go? Home advantage and no fear. PH Racing’s Kristin Lownie was taking the Ladies race by the scruff of the neck and leading our group on. All around the course there was encouragement from fellow runners, some warming up for their legs, others just along to spectate and cheer on.

Brilliant.

Managed to safely manoeuvre Gallacher corner/ Strava’s “finger banging” section without incident and hanging onto Dave for dear life. Up “Wee shite hill” and round the head of the loch. I made my move to break free, just in time for us to come back into the headwind for the last k or so. It was rough. Felt like I was running into a wall but ran as hard as I could, managed to fend Dave off, and finished the leg in 20th in a course PB of 21.38, 50 seconds and 12 places better than my last effort. Very pleased with that. Congratulations straight away from Kilmarnock’s Robert Lindsay who knew I’d had a better run as I could see his back for the first time, though from a distance. Again the atmosphere and encouragement was brilliant, this picture summing it up for me.

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Did a lap of the loch in reverse as a cool down having a great natter with Hamilton’s Jim Breen watching the racing and had a rare old time. Genuinely can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a day’s racing so much. I need to get rid of my irrational fear of racing and just get out there and enjoy it like I did. Now I know the weather wasn’t the best and particularly for the guys on legs 3 and 4 the wind got worse, but I like to take positives and my positives from this one were a course PB, mixing it with guys who are usually way ahead, and I ran the 48th fastest leg this time compared to 98th fastest last time. Team finished 22nd which was good going.

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Embrace the positives.

Apart from that I won’t read too much into it. First leg always the fastest, the wind got worse, I had home advantage, I had a day where it went right for me. Don’t worry I don’t think I am any kind of Golden God, but it’s nice to get a wee confidence booster and add another personally good run to my list. We all know how quickly that can change so enjoy the good ones when they happen. For everyone that ran here’s a wee song for you, from the World of Twist here is the Storm, and the 12″ at that.

Now the next day. Monday, saw me receive a wee bit of good news. As you are no doubt aware a lot of sports firms have what they call ambassadors who are people that they think can help the profile of their goods or events. Most of these tend to go to the same group of people linked to the same PR firms which can be quite annoying and in many cases a totally wrong fit.  On occasion I will apply if I see them advertised and it is something that interests me like last year with Trailfest when I covered their Solstice Series, amazing fun and really got me into trail running and I have been to Trailfest events since.

That I have paid for (I’ve got a receipt and everything, and a buff).

Anyway when it was pointed out to me that Premium running sock brand Balega were for the first time looking for a Global team rather than just US and South Africa I was interested as I treated myself to Balega socks when doing my marathon long runs as they told me they would prevent blisters and they actually did, so they were on my “I like you” list. A couple of months ago I filled in the online form and promptly forgot all about it until Monday when I got the congratulations email to ask me to be a part of the team. I had been honest and said what I wanted to do for them was not just stick on their socks and appear on Instagram with my top off (you really don’t want to see that) but I would rather utilise the connections I had with local races and internet forums to let more punters try the socks out for themselves and spread their word that way, rather than seeing Mr Cheesy Funbags on instragram. Anyway I had forgotten about it and then wondered why my blog had started getting hits from SA and the US, but I was getting checked out. They must have looked at the wrong posts as apparently the Balega Impis (Zulu for warriors) are handpicked based on “performance, excellence, harmony, creativity and community” so it’s nice to know that my wee blog does something right and struck the right chord. I don’t know much more just now, but hopefully I will get the chance to follow through on my suggestions and have already suggested to a local race Guru and hope we can do something. I get a badge though which is nice and all that.

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Have another song, you’ve been patient. It mentions sock, so it’s allowed.

Part 3 and I was out for a run at lunchtime on Wednesday in the ice, just an easy recovery run. Had been a tough morning in the office, get out for 30 minutes and clear the head. Out of the corner of my eye I see a man in black speed up and run towards me. Not Will Smith. Not Johnny Cash. A bit of fear creeps in. He’s alongside me now. “Hi Mark, I read your blog.” Nearly peed myself with relief and laughing. I spent the next 3 miles in the company of Neil Green from Giffnock North, a lovely and very talented veteran runner. Three easy miles over the ice in Calderglen Park nattering away to someone I had never met and thoroughly enjoying their company. I headed back to the office, Neil carried on. This, ladies and gentlemen, like part one about the relays, is why I keep doing this blog. I don’t care about awards and freebies etc though I’m delighted about the socks, but it’s about this aspect. I think if you are honest then people will be honest back, so thanks to everyone this week who has put that running smile on my face. Have another tune. For the man in black.

 

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