A two song special this week, because I couldn’t have a happy blog here with a Smiths song as the main one. Doesn’t mean that you escape it because its the Round the Houses 10k race at Grangemouth, that sea of salubrious sunshine.
“William, it was really nothing” by the Smiths eloquently begins “The rain falls hard on a hum drum town, this town has dragged you down.” Here’s the song first then I will explain why.
I spent a few years working in Grangemouth and that time of my life looking back was pretty rough. It always rained when I was at work, making my last cigarette wet. I was overweight, a heavy smoker, having financial difficulties with the feelings of being a hopeless failure of a Dad and partner that goes hand in hand, my sister died of cancer as my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I was struggling with coming to terms with my son Louis being autistic (I was totally ignorant about autism then) and I was juggling all this with the birth of my youngest boy Jon and, albeit later than it should have been, trying to get through my ACCA final exams. This all happened in the space of a year while I was there and while I worked with some good people (and some absolute roasters it has to be said) I am filled with bad, bad memories of my time there and who and where I was at that time.
It wasn’t Grangemouth’s fault, but it didn’t help. I can’t separate it. Bad Grangemouth.
Now this race goes past where I worked. Twice. In my daft wee thoughts wouldn’t it be good while I am running well to go running past that office I used to waddle from smoking a fag with bags of Minstrels in my pocket? Daft aye, but while the dark times can’t be erased we can try and put better memories over the top can’t we? This isn’t for sympathy because my life is brilliant, but back then was a right black cloud that took work to shift. I had pencilled in the race earlier in the year when I was looking for a sub 38 but I achieved that already at Springburn. The Tom Scott had me thinking I could try and beat that PB again but sadly the last 2 weeks were off and on with bad foot pain stopping me training. Off to see Mark at Recover and Repair Massage Therapy who gave me pain like I had never experienced before and although not getting rid of the problem gave me a right good chance of making the start line by releasing the tight tendons and advising me on the daily routine that would help get rid if it. Appreciated mate 🙂 Had a hard run on the Friday fuelled by an old Big Beat playlist that made me go faster than I expected which tipped the scales in my favour and off to Grangemouth on the Sunday. I was the only Motherwell runner there so latched onto the Airdrie squad to form a North Lanarkshire Mafia, cracking lads all.
Seen ten million folk as usual and had a wee warm up. Foot sore, but strapped up and knew would be runnable if I took care. I have been told I was daft running but I would have regretted not doing it. I believe I am capable of running, I have trained for it specifically, and I believe that today I can worry the 37 minute mark. We don’t know what is round the corner and I may never get the chance, or be in this shape again. Daft heid on, 3min 42 kilometres to be done and not a bit of stress in my entire body. Weird. We started at the water jump barrier inside the stadium. Last time I was there I did this.
Thats was another daft thing, but it ended up well, so maybe today would be the same. A second outing for Billy’s Boots (TM Big Bad Brian fae Airdrie) looking resplendently shiny and we were raring to go, a throng of baldies amongst a sea of luxurious locks. Over 700 in the race including Commonwealth medallist Robbie Simpson and we were off. I felt fine, the warm up had worked, no pain and running freely so would be no excuses today unless the legs went, everything else felt fine. Round the track one and a half times then out and onto the roads.
Fast first k as expected. First k in 3.35, too fast aye, but felt ok. Second in 3.39 and getting into my rhythm. Killie’s Connell was going too sharp for me and I let him go and settled into a group with Garscube’s Lesley Chisholm who I knew was a sub 37 runner. Ach let’s see how long I can do this for. I won’t pretend it was easy but I was hanging in there, 3.37, 3.42, 3.42 ish and through 5k in 18.16. That’s faster I had been running 5ks up until February so I was a wee bit worried but no fear, give it a go and see what happens. Into a park and still with groups, Connell just ahead and full of encouragement when I came along beside him.
I knew when we came out the park we were going to face a long drag up for a couple of k, past the stadium before turning back but I wasn’t prepared for the wind. For that whole straight a strong headwind was slapping our faces like Ant Middleton with a spiked fish. Maybe not the right time to decide to lead the group but I have never been the clever one have I?
Was working had with a lad from Shettleston and we were helping each other against the wind. All the way I am doing the sums in my head, sub 37 on if I could keep the legs and maintain my form into the wind. Could see the rocket fast runners coming down the other side from us on the way back to the stadium, knew it wasn’t too far up to the turn, it’s going to plan. Hit the turn, about 2 k to go. Legs don’t let me down now. Started playing the Big Beat soundtrack in my head again, mon the Chemical Brothers, do your stuff. Past the stadium and into the park beats going through my head, just over a k to go. Killie’s Scott Martin tells me the sub 37 in the bag, but the legs are hurting, I am quite frankly knackered. Heid down, maintain pace, into the stadium ground, round behind the track then onto the straight, 100, to go. I go as hard as I can can over the line. The watch telling me 36.28. Whit?????
The official results telling me I am quicker again. Ooft.
Utterly gobsmacked. Another 48 seconds off my PB and not only beat 37 but skelped 36.30s backside with a big stoater of a paddle. I had hoped to sneak under 37 but the extent of it really surprised me. I gave it all to be fair so can’t say I’m not a wee bit proud of myself. A cracking day, I actually enjoyed Grangemouth and it didn’t rain!!! Loads of PBs all around, Smiley Shirlaw with one, Big Bad Brian amongst others, magic stuff. I went home smiling but sore. A track 10,000 next on Friday but not sure if I’ll do it, time will tell. Thanks to Falkirk Victoria Harriers for a great fast event, the stewards were amazing and there was a cream egg in the goody bag (I’m sold). Thanks for the pics Euan from Kirky, Big Bad Brian, Mary Anderson Photography, G-Bax photography and Adventures in Photography 🙂 One final smug picture before I go.
The second tune, the one that got me over the line. From back in the day the Chemical Brothers, and with it being Grangemouth it’s naturally Chemical Beats.