Behind the Glass – Strathclyde parkrun, Shettleston OGM and the Scottish Masters 10,000m

As I have said before, running can be a funny business unless you are reading this blog. I’ll try and keep the heavy stuff as brief as I can as I could probably do a 200,000 word thesis on the peculiarities of the Gallacher Heid, but I will save that for open university.

Last blog saw me beating the battle with my head and pulling off the sub 10 3000m and I’m in a really good place. MAC Training cancelled on the Saturday so a few of us from the club wind up at Strathclyde parkrun instead. I’ve done 37 runs there before and beaten the 18 min barrier once in 17.59. I am confident that all being right on the day I can beat that and even give myself a secret target of 17.30. Some right good runners there from Cambuslang and Kirkie so no pressure, no eyes on me, and I could just go out and run the best I could. And you know something? I did. Thoroughly enjoyed it going steady round every k.

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The lead group were away but caught up with Graham McCabe of Kirkie with a K to go, a class runner who toyed with me until 200 to go and then just ran away from me, but despite nothing in the legs to compete with him in a sprint I was delighted with a 17.13, not only a Strathclyde PB but a park run PB in general and my second fastest 5k. The legs definitely getting there again. Had a good cool down with the Cambuslang gang where despite me dropping jokey hints there wasn’t even a suggestion of me rejoining them. It was nice to thrash Richie Carr even though he was jogging two 17.30 5ks one after another as part of a 300 mile training run or something, but the results don’t lie, eh Richie? 🙂 Think the transfer window will close seeing me where I am as even jogscotland refusing my calls, and Hamilton Harriers saying they don’t remember me. Anyway, a couple of pics from the end of the race, when you are hurting don’t give it away, but great finish big Graham.

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Tuesday saw the Track and Field roadshow back on at Crownpoint for the Shettleston OGM and I would be attempting to beat my 18.24 5000m track PB. With the confidence of the parkrun then I should by rights demolish that, again if all went right, and for a wee while I did consider attempting a sub 17, but quickly came to my senses. Was never in the legs. Now you can all go and mark this on your Marko happy charts but I was delighted with how I ran. West End’s Stephen Brown away from the gun as expected but I settled into second just going for splits that would take me sub 17.30 waiting for the other runners to go past. They didn’t for a couple of laps and then they came like an angry mob. 4 runners past me led by Edinburgh’s Rebecca Johnson and John Tubby Coyle. I could have crumbled here as I lost a lot of ground on John and Rebecca, but managed to settle in behind David Hogg of Cumbernauld and along with John’s Garscube team mate James MacLeod. Every time I tried getting beside David he outmuscled me but I kept the head and with 3k to go I was at the front of that particular group, the other 3 now well away, or 2 as John had called it quits for the night. Through 3k in about 7 or 8 seconds slower than I had been on Saturday but feeling better and the sub 17.30 was a reality. I was in no mans land now, had got a wee gap on my group and was distant behind Rebecca but pleasingly I kept the head, fought well and despite the legs feeling heavy I finished well to take 1 min 16 off my track PB in 17.08. 5 seconds faster than Saturday on the road, and genuinely delighted with how I had run.

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Confidence high.

This is where it goes wrong though. Coming on Saturday the Masters 10,000m track. I had done 10,000 on the track last year in 38.50 and said never again, but I entered, stupidly. 7 in my age group but John deciding not for him as he regroups, so 6. Stevie Wylie will win, Dan Scroop has beat me all season, so of the other fellas Tony is in a different race so can’t worry about him during my race. Leaves two guys from the East who seems to have very similar 10k times to mine. Outside chance of a medal if all goes well. Keep it low key, but no, the problem with a few good runs is other people look at it too and suggest you will medal.

Some people thrive on that. I am not some people.

The easy approach to my racing disappearing. I know I will likely have to go sub 36 for a medal but I do believe I can do that after how I have been running. On the day I’m not myself. The forecast is heavy rain and 40 mph winds. I’m finding excuses already. But I’m going to go for it. Nervous enough but two false starts in a 10,000m doesn’t really help. 27 of us with pent up racing aggression on tenterhooks. Or 26 plus me.

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86 second laps for 36 mins. That’s the aim, run my own race. This goes to pieces when on the first lap Scott Strachan goes past. My rival for third.  I up my pace and I am round too fast. Second lap I can’t hang on to him and drop back, still too fast. The group goes away and I am in no mans land with Springburn’s Michelle Sandison. She is sub 36 on the roads so if I can stick with her then maybe I have a chance. The wind is horrific, over 300m in which it was hitting us all over the place, but the laps went by one by one and we had settled into a rhythm just sharper than the 86. My head started playing up, where’s Dan? I must be too fast, he is taking his time, he will run away from me, I have went too fast, there’s over half still to go, I cannot handle this wind. The conversation was with me in my own head, the legs weren’t struggling, the mental aspect of seeing 15 laps to go was playing with me. That wind was brutal. I wanted to drop out, the thought of another 15 goes with that wind. by that stage I was beaten even though I was running strong. The devil on my shoulder was kicking the fck out the angel.

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Half way point in about 17.48 or so, great running, where I wanted to be, but my head told me I had got it wrong and as we got halfway up the home straight I had that temporary blip of total self crumble and jogged away from Michelle and to the side of the track. What the fck was I doing? Straight away I knew I had messed up but I am off the track and can’t go back on. One moment of weakness and it’s gone. Dan is some 150-200m behind. He looks as if he is suffering too. Would he have caught me? Maybe. Was I the only one finding it difficult? No. Had I just blown a chance of a national medal? Aye. Michelle finished in 36.14, Dan in 36.59. Maybe all I needed was a couple of laps in behind Michelle instead of trying to race her. Had the laps to go got into single figures then psychologically it could have lifted the fog. But annoyingly, good or bad I will never know. What’s the worst that would have happened, I would have got beaten. Dropping out? Worse than that. You can’t go back in time but you can make sure you learn from your mistakes and that’s what I will do. Maybe the goldfish bowl of championships isn’t for me, this is mental as well as physical. I do my best without pressure, whereas others thrive on it, we are all different. Maybe the track 10,000 is just too punishing for me. I can’t put into words enough how soul destroying it is seeing the lap markers. As an athlete I admire said to me afterwards, and I won’t embarrass Brian Scally by naming him “The 10,000m on the track is a tough race. The number of laps you have to complete throws that extra mental stress on you as well as the physical fatigue. You need a coping strategy for when it starts to hurt. It takes a few to get it right.” Yesterday I was hard on myself but Brian is right, you can’t just go from a 3k and 5k on the track to a 10k, it is a different beast. I didn’t have that coping strategy. Anyway the keyboard warriors who ignore you when you are doing well but sharpen their CAPSLOCKS when you stumble will do their usual job of character assassination, so no point me joining in anymore. Go ahead, I do not care, because you know something 6 years ago today I ran my first sub 50 10k, a barrier I thought I couldn’t break. I’m now almost 11 minutes faster and sometimes I need to stop and see how far I’ve come instead of dwelling on the little failures. Bad days happen, stick it in the “bumper box of bollocks” and move on. This has been my best running year ever and I’ve loved it, mistakes and all. I will make more mistakes but I had three hard runs this week, the f-up isn’t the one that’ll define me.

I have a couple of songs for you this time, but one has no video sadly. The new single from Scotland’s Lewis Wilson is called “Behind the glass”, the lyrics “You don’t see me as I am, I am a danger to myself” resonating with me for the bad run. The other is the Boo Radleys’ Find the answer within. Self explanatory really. Later 🙂

 

 

Thanks Ruth Allan, Willie Scott and Law & District for the pics.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Behind the Glass – Strathclyde parkrun, Shettleston OGM and the Scottish Masters 10,000m

  1. Hey Mark, Well done at Strathclyde pr & the OGM 5K. Would love a bit of that 5k speed. Had a feeling we’d be aiming for the same piece of track at Carluke and I went off too quick but was convinced the whole run you were tucked in behind! Quite a head game that 25 laps, not to mention the wind!
    Scott S

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    • You ran it perfect Scott, congrats on the silver 👍 your time was superb. Sub 36 was in my head but on the day the bottle crashed. Couldn’t keep with you at all, but that’s no shame 🙂

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