We got to race again. Indoors racing for us oldies had been banned since before xmas but we were getting to go again even though we had missed a few events. Indoor racing where you share a lane was a contact sport apparently, I’m guessing they must have seen Graeme Gemmell running. The cancelling of events hadn’t really affected me as my auld legs were giving me serious gyp and my fitness was a real issue. Hamstring, calves (x2), piriformis, back pain. All appearing and reappearing which was literally a pain as my training when I could string it together was going well. Managed a 17.37 parkrun which was my fastest for quite a while so starting to make inroads again so of course the week before the Scottish Indoors I find myself battling a dodgy hamstring and back pain, just getting no let up at all. It was touch and go whether I would run or not but got up on the Sunday and decided to do it as, to be honest, who knows if the races could be cancelled again.
Just go out and do the best I can and if I do rubbish I have my excuses and I’ll stick to them :). The good thing was I didn’t expect to be near the medals anyway, it was a great wee field. My training partner Paul Mac, fresh from a well earned bronze at the British. My club mate Stevie, a multiple Scottish champion, who is utterly flying just now. Paul from Greenock fresh off weekly miles of over 100, runners from PH and Perth again with multiple national medals. Having been so long without a race my nerves were horrendous but calmed a little once I got to the Emirates and met up with some of the Cambuslang lads. Now you know I am irritating, it’s what I do, but I was genuinely irritated here.
A bit raging and I wasn’t the only one and I’m afraid I will have to mention the elephant in the room.
Our race was down as being race 4, a combined M50 and M55 race. That’s great, us oldies then have our routine to warm up including running, stretching etc. With the first race being 12.30 we reckoned we would be on at 1 ish, so out a wee run outside as nowhere to do it in the Emirates and back in the Emirates about 12.10, which would give me time to stretch before going to the assembly 15 minutes before race start. Except as I entered the arena at 12.10 I heard a tannoy call to say that the M50 would now be going with the M35s at 12.30. I had 5 minutes to get changed, get spikes on, stretch and get to the assembly area. My club mate Mark who was in the same race hadn’t heard the tannoy call but I told him to get his arse down there and passed word out to make sure Stevie and Paul got there.
Now I am grateful to all the volunteers and to Scottish Athletics etc for putting these events on, but you have to remember this is a championship event. We may be old, masters, veterans, past it, whatever you want to call us, but this matters to us. No one quite knew what was going on and people were rushing to get there, into a different race than was expected and way earlier than expected. Warm ups and race plans out the window. One of my competitors in the race actually missed the start as the tannoy can’t be heard right in the warm up area. He was there, and had travelled a fair distance to be there, but didn’t know of the change. It’s not fair to be honest. Preparation and training go into these events for all ages and this shouldn’t happen at a national championship final. Last word on it, I am not ungrateful but I was really annoyed and so were a lot of fellow racers.
So yeah, we, the over 50s, were for some reason put in a race with sub 9 minute 35 year olds. My gameplan was straight out the window as these boys were whippets and would pull the faster of the boys in my age group round so I wouldn’t be able to “put my foot on the ball” and try and dictate the pace and make it a race rather than a speed session. Even on the starting line a few of us older ones were told to go a row behind the younger runners as we “weren’t going to be breaking any world records anyway”. But had to try and refocus the head and get on with things which on days like this is a difficult enough task anyway. We were off and straight away the whippets stretched the pace.
Through 1k in about 3.14 which is PB pace for me. Through 1500 in 4.52 so the pace being maintained but I knew I couldn’t maintain it for the duration. Thankfully the shouts for Paul had stopped so I felt I had broken the elastic, it was all about getting home now as best I can. I was way behind the group in front and looking across the arena I could see both Paul and Mark so it was going to be a case of dig in and grind it out.
I was counting each lap off just trying to get into a zone, a rhythm. I knew I was slowing, but it’s self preservation. The top 2 M35s lap me. Keep the head. The legs are burning and heavy, my back is agony but it’s in my hands.
I grind it out, I find a bit of mental strength that I am proud of and get myself round those last couple of laps which are burning on the old legs and get over the line in 3rd place in a time of 9.54.17, less than a second slower than my fastest time of last year. Is it the greatest race of my life? The best run of my life? A resounding no on both, but is it one of the most satisfying? Oh definitely. Bad preparation from niggles and injuries, not warmed up or stretched prior to race, in wrong frame of mind, but I had the mental resilience to get a national medal and complete my set. This average wee baldy moaner now has a gold, silver and bronze, and for someone of my limited ability that’s a major achievement.
Well done to the victorious Stevie and the rest of my club mates who ran so well on the day. I’ve always wanted to be in one of those Cambuslang photos where they have medals. It may never happen again, so I enjoyed it.
We carry on. Masters indoors 800 and 1500 in a couple of weeks if I can get running again. I’ve been in pain since Sunday so I’ll see how things go. Thanks to Andrea Gavin, Bobby Gavin at thatonemoment, and me for the photies. The song? Whisky Dream by Glasgow’s own Love and Money, as a lot of that race, particularly the last few laps, did go in a real haze. Edit to add: A big congratulations to Alastair Walker and Fiona Matheson on breaking the world record for their age groups at the event. Two amazing athletes and genuinely nice people too.