There’s a common theme all the way through this blog which takes in two very different disciplines. I can’t deny that for me I have been running really well recently and I am also well aware that with my age in particular I am going to hit that brick wall soon and the progress will stop and I will start going back the way. I started thinking big, because why not? I have hit my season aims over 10k and 5k so why not push the boat out and see what I can do. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could run sub 37 at 10k but now after Grangemouths 36.27 I was nearer 35.xx than I was 37.xx so I could afford to try and fail. The race was to be at Cambuslang, a place that always has some fondness for me as I ran for Cambuslang as a youth, coached by the wonderful Mike Johnston who had somehow managed to get a very average young runner a Scottish vest. Here is a picture of it just for Kev Queenan, as he never tires of seeing it…
Even after more than 20 years out Mike remembered me and has watched me progressing over the last few years, a lovely guy. It was only when I got there on the Sunday, saw the conditions, suffered Tony Mccutcheon’s patter and felt OK in myself that I decided that I was going to give a sub 36 a go.
3.36 a k needed.
Two 18 minutes 5ks, which I struggled to comprehend considering in January I couldn’t get under 18.30 just for a 5k but aim high, why not? I have a course PB of 38.11 but the start and finish have changed since then, apparently a slightly slower course but my memories of it were of a flat course that has now become a true out and back. The red vests of Cambuslang dominated the starting pen as Mike counted us off.
The front guys away rapidly and despite it being a tight start the field spread out quickly and as expected I had company from Richard Cooper, Alan Moss and Mark King, all of whom had regularly skelped my arse over 10k. Would be good to have a working group as we headed down to the river. I forgot about how many twists and turns there were on the course, and while no real hills it was an undulating wee sod. I was guided by my watch the best I could be although the GPS kept dropping in and out due to the twists and turns and although I was pushing my limit I was managing to about maintain the pace I needed even although I had ended up running on my own, not able to keep with the pack in front of me. I knew the turning point would be the opportunity to run around Simon Gold, a contender for the loudest traffic cone in Lanarkshire if not the world, which was at the measured 5k point. My watch beeped a little before that in around 17.54 so by the time I went round Simon I was probably at half way in about dead on 18. All going to plan, and the turn gave me the chance to see that the previous mentioned three were still on my tail.
The out and back.
It can be a harsh beast as you know every step to go back, the slippy bits, the slopes, the turns, and this can play havoc with the head and the legs. 6k still on target, 7k still on target, 8k and I am really feeling it and knowing that the 9th k probably the most difficult of the lot and it’s a case of when will the legs go? Here it comes, 9k and the legs are burning. Although I am catching Cambuslang’s Iain McDonald the pace I know is dropping and it’s no surprise that the watch tells me of a 3.46 k. The sub 36 is gone just like that. So near, yet so far. One wee stumble can be all the difference, it’s a fine line. No regrets but a PB is still on. I latch onto Iain and we work together that last half k or so, the legs burning, the breaking heavy but I’m not putting all this work in to come out with nothing. The watch beeps at the final bend to tell me I have done 10k in exactly 36 minutes (aye very good GPS) but I work as hard as I can and get over the line in 36.11.
Thanks Kenny Philips for the pic
A new PB by 16 seconds and I had worked my arse off for it. I tried, I failed on the sub 36 but if you don’t give it a go then you will never know what you are capable of. A failure but really proud of myself and the time that I did and how hard I worked for it.
A new emotion for me to be honest, to be pleased despite not achieving the goal. Aye it was too ambitious and I know my limit now, but how else would you know your limit? Maybe I will try again, maybe I won’t but no regrets for giving it a try.
With Mr Cooper.
Onto Friday and a similar thing. My first official mile race at the Stirling Monument Mile. I had entered this in December before I found a bit of form and had put my projected time as 5.15 as my best “timed” mile was 5.22 (and that was downhill :)). I had run a split faster than that when doing my 10.09 3000m a few weeks ago so thought now realistically I could run under 5.10 with an aim of towards 5.05. So of course I decided to be ambitious again and see if I could edge towards the sub 5 minute mile. Considering my fastest 1500 last year was 4.55 it’s probably a bit daft. Now I hasten to add I hadn’t done any sort of training for a lung bursting run of this intensity, and tried a couple of laps the day before at the projected 74 seconds pace and struggled. It wasn’t going to happen but let’s give it a go anyway. Start lists out and with the exception of Cumbernauld’s Boab Keenan who was head and shoulders faster than anyone else in the race, I didn’t feel there was anyone else that would be that far ahead of me. Some good youngsters, Wee County’s Mark Sutherland, Dundee’s Gordon Simpson, but all around my level. The hope being that Boab would take the pace out and I could try and latch on. Perfect conditions and I was nervous. Throat dry, legs feeling weak and being drawn in lane 1 didn’t help. Up to the start and feeling nervous. The track quickly goes into 4 lanes and didn’t want boxed in. I remember last time I got drawn in lane 1, at Scotstoun, and I ended up at the back after the start and knackered myself running like and eejjit on the outside to try and get back in contention. This time focus. The gun goes and I am off sharp and hit the front. Feel good, feel fine, the guns goes again. A false start? No one else appears to stop so I keep going. It bangs again and again, people shouting. Aye it’s a false start as the timing hasn’t worked and I have run 100 meters hard and have to go back to the start.
Aw man, the last thing I need.
Red faced I dander back to the start slowly trying to get some breath back while everyone glares at me. I’m not a real runner, I am not used to these things, sorry! Back to the start again., and the same nerves except worse. I’m tired now I tell myself. I’ll get boxed in, fall apart, this is baws. Off we go and I avoid being boxed but after 50 metres Robbie Anderson takes the pace. And he goes fast. At school I was always told a diagram is worth a thousand words so the pictures below show the story of the race better than I can tell. A massive thanks to Bobby Gavin at thatonemoment, PHs Racing’s Kristin Lownie, and teambaldy’s John Brogan for the fantastic pics.
Robbie set off at a good pace with myself and Boab working hard behind him. At the end of the second lap I took it over as the sub 5 was a remote possibility. I worked as hard as I could and Boab the racer bossed it, sitting on my shoulder until just over a lap to go and he kicked off and I had nothing to respond with. I worked the best I could but could’t find a kick coming home in second in 5.03. Again, failed on the big target, but a performance I was really pleased with and a really good time for me.
So there it is.
So many things about my running, ambitions and performances that can be picked to pieces, that the keyboard warriors can rip to shreds, and you know something? I really do not care one single bit. I went out there and ran my wee arse off and gave everything I had. I came up short but can look at myself in the mirror knowing I have no regrets and have two new shiny PBs which I bloody well earned. The one problem with stringing a few decent runs together? Next week at Scotstoun its the GAA Milers club 3000m. Usually in these events I am in the slowest of the races, based on my racing this year I am now in the third slowest, and with a 10.09 PB I am in a race with a 9.30 pacer…. I am the slowest in the field and there is a good chance I will be a distant last but you know what? It’s an honour to get in with these guys, and that’s the way I look at it. No pressure, no expectations, spikes on, heid doon and run. See you on the flip side.
Thanks for reading this tale of triumphant failure and thanks to Cambuslang Harriers and Central AC for a couple of amazing events. A couple of songs this time. A guitar pop gem from the chief Druid Julian Cope, because I did try, and then a classic from the Cure because the big aims did actually get quite close to me, as mixed up as I am. Enjoy, and the tunes are added to the playlist.