The usual disclaimer because unfortunately I have to, with keyboard warriors quick to jump in and tell you that you’re rubbish. This is my own wee blog and I know my aims and achievements are modest and perhaps even count for nothing to anyone except me, but to this wee bald rapidly approaching 50 ex heavy smoker it’s a lot. Perspective.
At the start of the year I was asked a few questions about what I wanted to achieve this year. My answers were simple – to enjoy it, to try and get a decent 5k and 10k in again, and to try and beat my Strathclyde parkrun PB as it has stood since August 2016. 2 1/2 years ago. You know what it’s like when you start out, beating PBs all the time, but you start to plateau, age catches up, you really have to work for anything. Since that PB of 18.11 I had ran a further 22 times at Strathclyde Park with my closest being 18.25 in June 2017.
Maybe familiarity breeds contempt who knows. January of this year saw me do my fastest for a while in 18.30, in the same week I smashed my 3k PB, so was this as fast as it was going to get? Was 18.30 a new barrier now because that day I had left everything out there so was it feasible to try and get another 20 seconds quicker? One thing that my wee wins at the Emirates and Ayr had done for me were to give me a bit confidence as that’s my worst running attribute. Everyone knows it. I decided to try and do some track sessions aimed at 5k and 10k on my own on Thursdays at lunchtime from work as I really wanted to try and get myself in shape to try and attempt a sub 18 again at the Nationals In May at Edinburgh. All my splits have been aimed at a sub 18, and although finding it tough on my own I have managed to hit my markers. But we know training and racing are different things. That’s all I can say really, when you are enjoying running you train better, and when there is confidence there too you can really get that knife between your teeth and go for it without fear of failure. Since I had no races this week I decided to go to Strathclyde and try a faster parkrun. 18.30 the aim with a big aim of getting under 18.20 which I felt I could try as I was feeling fitter. I also knew the splits for 18.11 were 3.38ks so worth keeping an eye on just in case. Had felt really nervous on the Friday night thinking about it and was actually relieved when I turned up on Saturday and it was windy as it put any daft thoughts of going for the course PB out of my head. Met Paul Kernohan of Cambuslang who always finished ahead of me so would give me target to try and keep in touch with. On the starting line and was met with the sight of MAC and G72 Triathlete extraordinaire Nicky Miller who is deep in his marathon training. Sub 3 coming up and one of the group I love training with on a Tuesday night. Flying.
Talking tactics with Nicky and Paul at the start, the tactics being “on you go lads”.
He had already run 18.15 this year and was looking for a sub 18 today. A few speedy looking tourists here as well and what would be would be. Marty Strachan of West End Road Runners wasn’t there but was in huff for not having had a mention in the blog yet so I reminded him I don’t do requests. In my head. The head actually felt good, I was going to run my own race, go by feel, keep an eye on the watch without letting it dictate and go for a season best. Off we went and a group of 5 were away like rockets containing 3 tourists, Paul and Nicky. I couldn’t and wouldn’t compete with the 3.10k pace they were hitting and was happy to let them go. Through 1 k in 3.35 which was decent for me but I felt comfortable. Well behind the first 5 though who were starting to split up, first 2 away, then the other 3 working together. I was on my own but it’s fine. Through the woods and into the open and for the first time the wind hard against us. I was running reasonably steady, the second K in 3.38. Half way and I was a long way behind even the second group with Nicky probably a good 20 – 25 seconds ahead. Gaun yersel mate! Brilliant running. Level head kept for me though, despite that tough windy section I was through the 3rd k in 3.40. If I kept the head and the legs then sub 18.30 looking good but I knew the last 1.5k into the wind back was going to be a toil. Round the wee wooded part and Paul was within reach. no offence to him but didn’t care about him. I started to believe that 2016 mark of 18.11 was an outside possibility. The wind was tough but through 4k in 3.34. The wind was tough but I wasn’t for admitting defeat just yet. Having passed Paul I was closing in on Nicky and another runner but again didn’t care about them. 18.11, 18.11, run under 3.40 for the k and it’s on. And I ran hard. 700 to go and Nicky just in front of me stepped to the side. Confusing, but was to be for another day for him. I was running as hard as I could now and looking at the clock. 18.11 looking in the bag as I was running 3.35 pace. Maybe… just maybe…. at the 200 to go thing and I started sprinting as hard as I could trying to count down the clock. The watch beeped 20 metres out. I forgot about Strathy and it’s extra wee bit…. Ach blew it I thought, but over the line in 4th and my watch saying 17:59.5.
Oh wow, where had this come from? I knew what parkrun was like. When you are pacing you end up with a faster time, when you are racing it’s rounded up, or maybe that’s all just to spite me 🙂 No matter what I wasn’t bothered. A Course PB. One of my A aims for the year hit in February. Maybe even two as the second was looking good with the timekeepers shouting “Sub 18” at me. Don’t get excited, wait and see, wait and see, but hyper and delighted with my run. Paul came in just behind and we congratulated each other, he making progress and running 50 seconds faster than he had the week before. Over for the important part, making sure the token registered, ah the satisfying beep, then back to see how Nicky was. He had felt a tightness and was taking no chances with the marathon coming. Once he gets that out the way he has a 17.30 in his legs easy, no question. And that was that, I sat in the car and composed myself then had a cool down in a bit of a daze as to be honest, when I gave myself the target of that almost 3 yer old PB I didn’t expect to do it.
Dazed, confused and sweaty
I didn’t expect to ever run under 18 minutes again having only done it twice for 5k since I started back, as Ewen says to me though train hard but believe harder and this is what I did this time. I got that knife between my teeth and I went for it this week. He also says if I talk myself down I am f@cked, which is the same as If you think your beaten you are, so I agree.
So blogpeeps today’s wee sermon is just that. Don’t talk yourself out of things and say you are too old, too fat, too unfit, too bald, too untalented. Get that knife between your teeth and give it a go, and if you fail? At least you tried. If you succeed then you have earned it, and my God you deserve it, and you can have that self satisfying glow. This week I got a 80.07% age grade WAVA thingy, only the second time I have been over 80. To all of you this means nothing. To me? I can still surprise myself and that feels good. Enjoy it, work hard, and don’t write yourself off.
Get a knife between your teeth. Have some McCarthy who morphed into Stereolab and who I got drunk with at King tuts.
Thanks all the team at Strathclyde parkrun for another fantastic event.