One to Another – a tale of two races

Disclaimer: I was born in Paisley and support St Mirren, it is my birth right to insult Greenock and it is all tongue in cheek.

It’s a topsy turvy world this running malarky.

My last blog seen me on a major high after a 5k PB, a sub 17. My confidence so high going into the GAA miler meet 3000m that I had even been daft enough to throw my name into the hat for the forthcoming Masters inter counties to try and get my first international vest since 1989. Bonkers I know, but you do sometimes have to stretch outside your comfort zone. I knew to be considered I would have to run a PB to even get in their thoughts, but I did believe I could run under 9.45 and towards 9.40. It would be too painful to go through this step by step, you can guess by now it didn’t quite go to plan. My head played up on discovering the pacer was to be doing 9.30 pace and I decided to run my own race. First k where I wanted to be in 3.13 but I don’t know what happened, the next I was through in 3.21 and a group was away from me. I somehow had dozed off, lost concentration, or maybe just didn’t have the legs, I don’t know, but I was so far behind. I worked hard over the next few laps to catch some of the field up with a last k of 3.13 and an extra 5 seconds for racing line luck (I was awful again) and finished in third in 9.54.

Thanks Bobby Gavin at thatonemoment for this pic from the bell as I tried chasing the pack down.

More than a wee bit despondent to be honest, way off where I had hoped and with no excuses except I had run absolutely honkingly. The stench of the run permeated widely through Renfrewshire, small children rushing to close their windows, dogs hiding behind couches and people from Greenock were able to walk about undetected!

It’s been a funny time through lockdown and beyond with changing clubs and just so many other things changing. People I had thought were good friends have just dropped/ cancelled me without a word which is their prerogative but I have been fortunate enough to have made other friends who are there and celebrate the good times with you when they happen but are also there to give the kick up the arse and advice when it’s needed as well. Hats off to wee Forbesy here, watched the race and knew where I had gone wrong, knew what I needed to do, a wee chat to another of his ex International friends and a set of sessions were devised for me to try and avoid the switch off and lapses mid race. These weren’t easy, 30 x 200 at 3k pace with 200 recovery at 8 in the morning was a belter, but really appreciated and I brought these sessions in. A wee road trip holiday with the family, and despite eating terribly (but enjoyably) and having a couple of pints every day for over a week and a half I was making sure I kept the training up too. Fathers Day 9 am and booked into Ellesmere Port sport village track for 5 x 150(150)300(300)600(600).

I know.

Down to Kent and scouted out an abandoned track that made Coatbridge look luxurious, but sharp sessions brought in here, fast 200s then the killer session of all killers, 600 500 400 300 200 all at 800 pace.

It wasn’t all intensity though and I enjoyed some long runs along the coast. But I ran everyday and these track sessions were bringing my confidence back.

Anyway, home on Tuesday and I had an entry in for the SVHC Clydebank 5k on the Wednesday. Too soon after coming back so won’t do it, the fast boys will destroy me,I’ll do another session instead.

Again, the lads with “friendly” advice, we have been through a long time without racing. Normally this close to the masters champs we would have had 10/ 15 races. Use every opportunity to pin the number on, get used to race day atmosphere again and get rid of the rustiness. Aye point taken so along I went and my post holiday weigh in had been favourable, a couple of pounds on was nothing.

I had no nerves which is bonkers. I had already decided that I was going to go out fast and see how long I could hang on there and was desperate for another sub 17 to show the snidey brigade that it wasn’t a one off. Maybe if you run well enough for long enough they will might one day think it isn’t a short course, luck, whatever and you have actually worked hard for something.

Man 50years old and I still look for acceptance or credit from the wrong people, one day I’ll learn, chill out baldy!

Anyway it was a fast field. Great to catch up with the Cumbernauld lads, there were the usual speedsters from my club Cambuslang, a great contingent from Greenock, from Garscube, from all over. Off and through the first k in about 3.15 ish. Ok this is fast, but I wasn’t struggling so made the decision to stop looking at the watch and try and stick with the peleton. There were a few pockets of runners away ahead, but there was another group of maybe 7 or 8 that I was hanging onto the back of. Stevie Wylie was there, I hadn’t run alongside him in a race since about 1986 so this was surreal, John Coyle, the Greenock squad. This was a good group to try and stay with. I won’t pretend it was easy because it wasn’t, a few times I had to fight to stay with the group but I managed and folk were dropping off the back and it wasn’t me, though I think my heavy breathing may have been a little off putting to some. A lap of the 3 1/2 lap race to go and the group down to 4, Me, Stevie, John and James Austin of Clydesdale doing a modern take on Abbey Road though I kept my shoes on. Yes, OK, I am the eggman before someone else says it.

This was a race now, just under a mile to go and not just on sub 17 pace but a chance of a PB as well. Ignore watch, let’s play with the big boys for once, I may never get the chance again. Telling myself if I thought I was beaten then I was, to respect but not fear, with about 800 to go I went to the front of the group and tried a long run for home. The legs were burning. In the heat so was my baldy napper and the breathing was getting difficult but I am so close. Last bend and the watch buzzes for 5k and still 50 or 60 to go. Ooops. Sod the time anyway, race!!

I get there though. I have jumped a few seconds on the group and having stopped the watch its a new PB of 16.38. 6th place and first M50. The last 3k was faster than my track 3k had been just a couple of weeks previous.

Apologies to every one that was there, I confess I was hyper. I was excited, delighted, ecstatic. I must have seemed a right wee heid nip. When I joined Cambuslang I told Captain Richie that I believed I could get down to the 16.40s with a bit of hard work. Don’t think he believed me to be fair 🙂 But I had went under that, I had worked for it, mentally and physically and got what I thought I could do. Two fast 5ks (for me) now, and what a difference from the 3000m. From one to another but with massively different results. So a big thanks to Forbesy and the gang, you don’t know the difference you have made to me, and to my squad at Cambuslang for kicking my arse on those tempos and teaching me how to float between efforts. I’ll never be any kind of world beater or anything resembling that, but for the first time I have started to realise my own potential and at the end of the day that’s all we can do and I feel brilliant for it.

As an asides, the race also appears to have featured a world record for W60 5k by the amazing Fiona Matheson. Breaking records for fun this year, a remarkable athlete and one of the most modest out there too.

The song, One to Another by the mighty Charlatans. It had to be.

The Charlatans – One To Another – YouTube

Thanks to GAA and SVHC for two superb events, Bobby Gavin, Lindsay Theobold and myself for the pictures, and for all of you that have made it to the end of this self indulgent twaddle.

4 thoughts on “One to Another – a tale of two races

  1. I’m rather pleased to not be in your age group Mark – your nailing some beautiful times lad, enjoy it. Currently enjoying the benefits of the NHS’s finest drugs to clear a chest infection, with the intention of gently trotting round the steeple this weekend…..and like I said, “Glad I’m not in yr age group”…. So this time I’ll let you nip on ahead 🏃🏼😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Gently trotting”. I’m not sure you would know how 🙂 You are the steeple master and no doubt I’ll be trying my hardest to hang onto your coat tails again. Will be good to see you, hope all clears up 👍


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