This blog was supposed to eventually lead up to the Linlithgow 10k, but man I have not had the inspiration and since it is a month late it will also include the West District XC relays. I know, aren’t you all lucky. Hills, mud, drama, prizes and a general malaise. Something for everyone/ no-one (delete as applicable). The blogs really write themselves when you are going well, but when you are struggling? Not so much. Time slips away, rather like me on that first hill at the cross country relays.
I guess I have to set the scene so please, indulge me, it’s my blog. I need to follow on from the last blog, as it’s my wee story in my head that needs to come out, like a strip of the Broons where they all storm round because the Bairn misheard Granpaw (it was a tin of coffee paint, not a big tin of coffee, you stingy Dundonians).
So where was I? Aye last time out it was August (August!) and I had won the British Masters Steeplechase Championships despite being injured knowing it could make me worse. And do you know what? I was right, and it did.
My old body was wrecked.
Prior to it I had been struggling for a while and hadn’t hit the training I had been doing prior to my golden patch in June and July. The steeplechasing had shown me my core wasn’t strong enough. Hip flexors, glutes, abs, groin, piriformis all sore, all painful, and affecting other areas. Every run hurt and hurt badly. I couldn’t train and had to scratch from race after race. My running less frequent and the intensity gone, couldn’t shake off the pain. The only thing that kept me going was that my head was happy with my decision I had made. No regrets. I had hit my targets, made my deal with the devil but never got to do a guitar solo with Ralph Macchio (aye this one is for the children of the 80s). I digress but man, it was still tough. Everything eventually calmed down with the exception of the piriformis which was (is) making things tight all down the back of the right leg. I have suffered here before. I can run on it, as long as I stretch, but my mobility is restricted. My speed restricted. My stride restricted. But at least I can run again. I eventually went back to the club and on the Tuesday runs the group I usually lead out are leaving me for dust and I can’t even hang onto the back. The Thursday efforts sessions? Spat out the back on the first effort and the remainder in no man’s land. As I say I have missed races – the last of the track, the Scottish 10k, my fitness and speed getting worse each week, genuinely feel in worst shape I have been in in years. Did a 10k TT myself at Strathy in perfect conditions in just under 38 minutes while my friends and rivals did the Scottish 10k at Stirling. I had been aiming for a sub 35 at Stirling. Doing high 37s showed how off the boil I was. After completing my first full weeks training in months I decided to do Strathclyde parkrun. Ran solid following Andrew Potts who was having a stormer and finishing well in third but was lucky to just dip under 18 minutes in 17.58 with not much more to give. In June I ran 16.47 and 16.38 for 5k, so really, really off the pace I had been hitting. It is important to note that this is all matter of fact. I am not moaning about it, I knew I was taking the risk to do the British champs and the inter counties with an injury, and I genuinely have no regrets.
This is where I am, this is my current form and although week by week things are getting better the pain is there and I am a long way off where I was. Linlithgow 10k came around and I didn’t want to scratch from this as well. The two Pauls were doing it too, Paul the Younger fresh off a superb 36.41 PB at Stirling. He would be way ahead of me on that form so no pressure at all, the M50 race would be in his pocket, so I decided just to go out and run it. Now for those of you unfamiliar with Linlithgow 10k it starts in the town centre and finishes alongside the palace. The midpoint of the race sees you run round the loch. Lovely stuff. The rest of it? There may be some climbing involved. It’s what they call undulating. It is not a PB course, that is for sure, unless maybe you are a mad mountain man that wears buffs, and only buffs, but let us not think of such people.
Bizarrely the sun came out with a vengeance as well and with no drink stations due to COVID it was going to be an interesting one but you know, I can’t complain with how I ran. I kept it steady, worked hard on the hills and coming in on 37.45 on a course like that, in that heat in the shape I am in? More than happy. For the bulk of the race I had run alongside the winner of the female race, Rebecca Burns of Edinburgh AC, and got to channel the cheers that she was receiving from a good crowd along the course pretending they were for me. It did help you know, wee daft delusional baldy fool. But again fortune smiled upon me. Confident from Stirling, and rightly so, young Paul went out hard but found the heat a challenge. Having been around 20 – 30 seconds ahead of me at one stage I caught him around halfway as he suffered and indeed my finishing position of 13th overall was also first M50 and the unexpected cheque through the post was a good contribution to a new pair of spikes. Imelda Marko strikes again. I am sure Paul will get his revenge next time and was good to see the “maturer” Paul winning the M60 event at a canter; he will do some real damage to the M65 category in a few months’ time. So aye, really enjoyed it, but a lot of work to do.
And I tried, I really did, but in training still nothing clicking.
Hit the track with boys from the club and was being left behind. Nothing was sticking. Head and legs suffering and it was no surprise that I failed to make the Cambuslang Masters A team for the West District XC relays, and was actually fortunate to make the B team. I went off first leg for the B team and at the top of the first hill was behind the C and D teams. Nothing there, including fight. Cannot help the legs but the head a different matter. Sort it Marko. Woke up after about 2 k on what was a very challenging hilly course to finish well, but my time of 15.02 way off where I should have been running. I know my head had me beaten before I even started here but I am ready to take it on again. Any regular readers will know that in the last set of relays in Motherwell colours my team finished 4th in both the West district and Scottish relays so it was no surprise that despite the Cambuslang A team being victorious in the Masters race my team finished 4th. Being the 4th fastest M50 on the day was just coincidence, or was it? What is it about number 4? Is it a sign from the Gods of the bald? Is it because we were running on a golf course?
Anyway, that is me about caught up. Next race is the Scottish Nationals XC relays and this one has a M50 championship as part of it. In the last week I feel things starting to come together a bit again, but it could be too late for selection for the Cambuslang team. With such strength in depth there is a very small margin for error. There is a good chance I have blown my chance as only a 3 man team (the way the lucky 4 numbers game goes I am likely to be 4th choice) but if selected I’ll give all I have.
It will get better, I believe it will, I will put in the work so that it will. It took me months of hard, hard work to get in my form of June and July and I will try and get there again. If it takes time then I have time, because I am hungry again.
Today’s song going onto the playlist. Written and performed by my musical hero Pat Fish aka the Jazz Butcher who sadly passed away last week. Bizarrely even though he was a hero of mine, he was a right good fella, said hello to me at gigs, watched me on Pointless and was also supportive of my running. I know. You wouldn’t get that from Limahl or that Mumford fella. A real nice guy taken away far too soon. This single was released the day after his death and will be on his final album. Peace Pat x