Are we there yet? Is the season finished yet? At least there’s a XC lull and it’s back to the roads.
I’ve had my double peak this year and pretty much nailed what I tried to do but even though last week’s XC showed that the tank is about empty but I still have another couple of races to do before I fade back into oblivion again.
Strathaven “Run with the wind” (aye right!) 10k.
National Short Course XC.
Get them over with and relax. Build back up over the winter.
Strathaven 10k is a funny race, a 10k with a net downhill exposed to the elements with its own weather system. If you are a good descender it can really be a great, fast race. If you are a shitebag like me and as comfortable as Humpty Dumpty going backwards on a sledge then not so much, but it’s enjoyable, a challenging one where if you pace it wrong you are in big soapy bubble. Talking of pacing I was back at Strathy parkrun pacing 24 minutes the day before. Through in 23.58 which is fine but a bizarre one where absolutely no one ran with me the whole time until the last 50 metres.
Am I the pacer with BO? The one so ugly that people run slower to keep away? The first one naw, the second aye fair point and maybe, I may be honking of face but I was smelling divine. It was a bizarre experience but job done anyway, and that’s all really you can do. Shouting out splits to myself kept me amused as I ran through puddles like a naked carefree Peppa Pig.
Though fully clothed.
So onto Sunday and as I had said I have peaked already for this half of the season, that three week spell where I ripped my 3k, 5k, 10k and half marathon PBs was planned and executed as well as I could have hoped. Since then I have reduced the intensity and volume of my training and ran some honking XC, so I wasn’t even contemplating PB chasing. Nothing to prove to myself and how do I pace this one anyway? Nah for me it was to go out and enjoy the run and try and race it the best I can. Did consider not doing it, but then I thought of all the races I missed when injured last year so that wasn’t an option. Timewise I wanted to beat my course PB of 38.11 and if possible try and get under 36 again, but wasn’t stressing. Plus I got to see wee Speirsy stressing instead. He has been knocking on the door of the sub 36 for ages now, what a season he has had. He is marathon training, strong as an ox and in superb shape and it was going to be today unless he went mad the first mile downhill. It was great having a natter on the bus and warm up with him and genuinely wishing him all the best for it. Even if I was embarrassing him by wearing a bin bag like a dodgy Toto Ceolo tribute act while we waited in rain and wind at the top of the hill for starting time . I am aware I am showing my age but I’m embracing it these days and don’t really care, back to the race.
The piper was piping.
The bin bag was ripped off like a mad Hulk, or to be more accurate like a bald accountant with a bin bag.
We are on the line ready to go then boom we are off. The banter turns to concentration even when Jordan from Giffnock who was marginally ahead of me at the GSR is almost taken out by the starting tape. Even I haven’t managed that one before, fair play. That first mile downhill is rapid. I go through in around 5.20 and there are a good 20 – 30 people ahead of me. I’m honest about it, I am not comfortable on these downhills. My hamstrings aren’t just like tight piano wire, pianos laugh at me (but only when no one else is looking) and they are actually tighter than piano wires from Greenock and you don’t get much tighter than that. I can’t stride out like others do and it was an awesome sight watching them, although knowing that some would suffer. It’s pretty much all downhill, though with a few sharp ups to mix it up, over that first 4k and I was feeling fine to be honest. I did know what was coming. At 4k you turn a corner and it’s a 2k uphill. Some suffer on this and I started to pass a few folk. A great place for Calderglen’s Martin to cheer us on and take some pics, appreciated 😎
James from Ron’s Runners was indeed on the way to a PB but was struggling on the climb having been a long way ahead of me. The wind had really come out to play and was against us all the way up and would remain like that until the finish, it was tough to be honest, I won’t lie, but I was running steady, it was just like a Sunday at the transmitters. I was exposed in the conditions and on my own so set about trying to catch the group ahead which was led by Jordan and his team mate Michael who had been ahead of me at Vicky Park when I did my 16.57 so a couple of right good runners if I could latch on. Took me to the top of the climb but I got there and then there was 3 or 4k of right good racing. I’d try to push on and Jordan would be back, or Michael would or LTCs Craig, good honest racing and pacing. I was aware of a group close behind too, I had no doubt Speirsy would be there so despite there being a hill with 2 k to go I took it on. Pushed up the best I could then over the top, a mile to go. I wish I had been a good descender but I’m not. I’m running honestly at the front, but I can’t break the cord, hearing the breathing behind me. Round the corner at 500 to go and up the hill, Michael on my shoulder, Jordan right behind. Onto the grass and the long muddy run for home and Michael takes the sprint out. I react and am back with him. He goes again, then I draw level again, he goes again and I just can’t quite match him. We are both slipping in the mud, must be funny for people watching but he just nips in front and stays there until the line. I’m through in 35.37, 10th place, and a second behind him.
My second fastest ever but as I say the time wasn’t the big thing, man I enjoyed that racing. I keep using the word honest, but it was, no one sitting drafting, everyone having a right go to push it on, and respectful with it at the end.
Speirsy through just after in 35.54 for the sub 36, delighted for him, he has done Team Baldy proud this year with the progress he has made. Perhaps not the most modest of fellas at times, but a cracking guy.
With the man Speirsy
A lot of happy faces coming through, mine slipped for a minute when the print out showed I was again 4th in my age group, just missing out on a medal for the third time in 4 weeks, but it was soon back. Always the bridesmaid but as the pacing at Strathclyde showed, I’d be an ugly bride anyway.
The camaraderie and banter was flowing, I was even having a laugh with Hamilton Harriers despite my ban from doing so from 1986 when I left to join Cambuslang. I will probably have to do some serious time for breaking the rules of my transfer if my old coach John Smith finds out, but it was worth it. No medal but soup, the Lentil soup is legendary, spoken of in revered tones. It didn’t disappoint. With it being near Halloween there was also a Ghost Runner….wooooh… when race winner Stuart Gibson’s trophy was given to someone who hadn’t run and didn’t exist, temporarily knocking me down to 11￼ place. If there’s something strange, in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Erm the race organisers, who sorted it.
So there you have it. Aye the relays had the team spirit and this was more of my usual Lone Wolf run, but the atmosphere was great, a really enjoyable event, well done to all at Strathaven Striders 👏. Thanks to all of you who have urged me to keep doing the blog, we will see, but especially Danny Burns for telling me it’s his toilet reading material 😂
My wee song, because I’m glad it wasn’t a XC race. A cover version of a Jonathan Richman classic by the Jazz Butcher, Pat Fish. For all you Roadrunners out there.