A Million Miles – Bella Invitational and Monument Mile 2021

I raced.

I did.

For the first time since March 2020 I pinned a number onto my vest and ran a race. Not quite straight but it was a good attempt. My first race as a V50 since I managed to get old in the duration. The last time it was the claret and amber of Motherwell AC, this time it was the red and white of Cambuslang Harriers, it’s been a long time, a lot has happened. I tried to do the Monument Mile last year but got injured a few weeks before it, the hamstring giving up and leaving me contemplating running, life, the universe and why Emmerdale was always on. You know the score, I changed clubs, went back to my spiritual running home and within 6 weeks I was stopped from going after COVID regulations changed again. It was 5 months before I was able to get back again. In that time, like many, the whole essence of running was gone. I found it difficult. Plenty of miles but no purpose. No plan. No quality work, but in decent enough shape until March and April where four weeks missed or interrupted due to back and calf problems. The diet got poor again and shares in Toffypops went sky high.

A big thanks though to my track training squad who kept me going through this even though we couldn’t train together until April, but a great group to be a part of, I can’t put into words how much these guys kept me going. Aye we haven’t had much chance to really do anything but I was given a purpose, a kick up the arse, some good craic and some pointers on how to improve my track running. They laugh when I say it, but I do look up to them and if you can enjoy it while training hard then for me what else do you need? Now it was coming too soon but the Monument Mile was a month away, too soon to do any damage but it was an aim, focus and purpose. I still felt that I could get near 5 minutes after my 5.03 of 2 years ago and 5.07 on the virtual road last year. Not as fit but I was getting there, my general endurance is decent and my speed improving and I think I am training wiser. Back to the club as well so a chance to improve my speed endurance but only a couple of weeks of that isn’t going to make a big difference to be honest. It was coming 3 or 4 weeks too soon but wee Forbesy had me grafting, 400 reps, flat out 300s and 600s etc. He was destroying me. But great fun. We all knew the mile was coming too soon but we were enjoying seeing the week on week improvements as we headed into what we hoped was going to be a season. The week before the mile we were fortunate enough to get invited to Bellahouston Harriers invitation mile and gratefully accepted to let us know if we were able to handle the distance or not. Nerves? Oh aye. Kicking in. Hitting harder than a tackle from Billy Abercrombie (told you I was old). GG had picked up a wee niggle but myself and the two Pauls agreed to take a lap each around 79/80 and see how we felt for the last lap. And you know something? It went to plan.

The video below shows the general gist but we hit the markers for the 3 laps then upped on the last, 5.10 for me and the two Pauls through on 5.11, Forbesy actually only a second off his Scottish record. And he didn’t even break sweat. Big thanks to all at Bellahouston Harriers for this.

Bellahouston Harriers – 1 Mile Heat #1 – YouTube

Looking good for Stirling then. The distance wouldn’t be an issue, though upping the pace? Of course it would be but final wee track session and ready to go.

It’s the week before Stirling and my nerves are going crazy.

I know.

It’s a hobby, it should be fun, I’m a nothing and no one cares how I do or even knows I’m there. I wish I could shift this but hopefully as racing picks up I’ll be able to calm it down a bit. Watching the forecast and day by day it’s staying the same. Wind and rain, wind and rain, wind and rain. It wasn’t changing. Still got my focus, need to try and go for that sub 5, death or glory, still not sure of tactics but knowing I had to give it a go. Got along on the night and it was impeccably organised. Felt safe, secure, distant chats and waves to people I hadn’t seen in such a long time, amazing atmosphere. Forbesy so relaxed he fell over a bag in slow motion and stayed there. As we warmed up the wind picked up, it was getting worse, though falling down a hill as we warmed up was my fault only, only me. As we got to the warm up area the gusts were stronger, the wind was relentless and wasn’t for going away. It soon became clear that times weren’t going to be the focus tonight. Pointless and what would be would be, was going to to be all about straight forward racing. A bit of fun, blow away the cobwebs and try and avoid last because I was convinced that’s where I was going to finish. Elaine knows I was worried all week about it. A race full of whippets and Masters medallists. As it happens I wasn’t last, and I promised the person that was last that I wouldn’t mention it. Happy GG? The plucky former marathon runner had battled against his inner demons, his injury and the elements and that was victory enough. Yes, that was victory enough. Anyway where was I? Aye the race is here on youtube if you want to watch and it was actually a really good race.

Monument mile 2021 race 13 – YouTube

It was a funny race. The wind was crazy and that home straight…. ooft. The support from fellow runners and in particular my Cambuslang club mates was amazing though.

There were breakways, swallowed back up, I was left behind and caught back up and at the bell I was where I wanted to be in third.

I got my only mention here on the commentary with them saying my teeth were gritted and I was hurting, but at least I existed! I thought about taking it out at 350 to go but lack of confidence stopped me but I still felt ok at 300 as Murray from Lothian took it out. Working hard but still controlled.

I was slow to react and Martin from Cumbernauld was away, Andrew from Central flew past making his move. I was simply caught cold. Inexperienced at 50, sheesh man. 200 to go and I managed to find another gear though I am in 5th with Forbesy right on my tail. 150 to go and I am in contact with 3rd and 4th, 100 to go and in 3rd place, and I work hard to overhaul Murray but by then Andrew is well clear. He has got his tactics spot on and deservedly won in 5.06. I am second in 5.08 and despite the time being well out what had hoped for the week before, on the night that was bloody good going, and more importantly I had raced and raced well, and had loved it.

Raced well I said. Or so I thought. Forbesy’s wife Kim then proceeded to rip me to pieces for my “lack of tactical awareness”, my tendency to wander out of lane 1 and general inability to hug the line. That’s me told and lessons taken on board. Paul finished in 5.11, a second outside his Scottish record in conditions like that, he would have smashed it on a calm night. I really enjoyed it though. Was a pleasure to have my track squad all in the same race. Friends, but competitive when we cross that line.

Massive thanks to Michael Wright and his team for such a great evening, the chat from all around was about the buzz of the evening, times not there, no one can control the weather but great friendly competition, and being streamed on youtube for friends and family to watch, brilliant. A well recommended event. Hopefully some more track coming up as I decide what I want to do this year but first and foremost hopefully looking forward to sustained training now with both my track squad and with Cambuslang, I know I have a lot more to come. At my age though even if the times don’t come down any further then as long as I enjoy it like Friday then not a problem. Its amazing being back.

Edit to add: amusingly Power of Ten have me now as the 5th fastest all time M50 Scottish athlete over the track mile. Accurate? Of course not. Funny and responsible for putting a smile in my face? Oh aye 😂

A funny stat. Today.

The song, OK it was only two miles but its felt like a million to get there. Another one as I show my age. I was 16 when this came out in 1987, the Wedding Present.

The Wedding Present – A Million Miles – YouTube

Thanks for the photos – Bobby Gavin at thatonemoment, Paul Forbes, The Monument Mile, Kim Forbes, Scott Mason, Bellahouston Harriers.

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