The usual disclaimer at the start to pre-empt the naysayers. It is just a hobby, a bit of fun, and that goes for both the writing and the running. I am not claiming to be a world-beater and just like to record the wee achievements that I manage to do for myself.
So last time out I had managed the bronze at the 3000m indoors after a less than ideal few months prep. The back was agony, the legs in tatters, and the hamstring tighter than a resident of Greenock but the fighting spirit from the wee baldy irritant was intact. I really hoped that things would settle down between that and the next of the indoors, my attempt at an 800/1500 double, but sadly it wasn’t to be. Even though the hammy calmed down the back got worse and after one intense session of 1ks at the club it was a case of reigning things in to just try and get to the starting line. Easy track session of 100s indoor with the lads in the very short window that the Emirates was open for the plebs, then one wee session of 2 400s amongst about 150 rampaging youngsters at EK track just to see if I could manage my proposed 800 pace. Just got away with it even doing the slalom round the weans, but very uncomfortable. Keep it to myself though, it’s a championship and we play our daft wee games with ourselves pretending people actually care and show no weakness. I know no one actually cares but I’m doing no one any harm, let me play my wee games and get excited.
I think the last time I doubled up at 800 and 1500 I was still at school, so this would be the first time doing it in colour. I know I am not in the shape of last year and having missed so much I concentrated on getting my speed closer to where I would like it to be at the expense of my endurance. I have made more than a few mistakes over the last few months training wise, but we live and learn, even at my age, but I recognise that and hopefully can sort it out in the coming months. Come the Saturday I still hadn’t decided what I was going to do. One event and give it all? Both? Even looking at the fields I couldn’t make up my mind, I felt I had an outside medal chance in both events, but after a bit of soul searching I decided that I wouldn’t decide until the day :). Simply I was going to go out and give everything in the 800 which was first, and if I got through that I would give the 1500 a go too. My former MAC clubmate and now Cumbernauld athlete Stevie Allen was the hot favourite for both events, he has dominated middle distance for the 50s over the last few years and for a reason. Clever trainer, clever racer, and a real talent. In my opinion, which I know counts for nothing, he is more superior over the 1500 and there would be daylight between him and the rest, but over 800 the gap wasn’t as huge, so maybe a chance of getting a tow round and who knows what can happen from there.
Get to the Arena and good getting a catch up with a few folk. A lot of nerves about, mine going binky bonky as usual, but I get a warm up this time, though staying within the confines of the Arena this time just in case…. I’m stretching, striding, jogging, and all that malarkey and Stevie is just standing there eating. He is looking cooler than a fridge full of cucumbers. Very casual prep I thought, and 20 minutes before race start the start lists go up, Stevie has decided to focus on the 1500 and withdrawn from the 800. I had heard that he had had a few injury problems but didn’t expect this. Suddenly the race tactics go out the window. Refocus, replan, this race is now open and it’s anyone’s for the taking. I’m not the fastest in the race, my training buddy Paul has that honour. I’m not the fastest finisher, Colin from Giffnock has medalled in the 400m, so what to do? We were to be combined with the 45s race and I knew Cammy would be a mile away in that. Dan from Garscube, also in the 45s, would be around 2.10 2.11 I would think, so the equivalent of Stevie. I wasn’t confident enough to go out hard from the start. I wasn’t confident enough that I had the fastest finish. Take it fast and Paul will sit on my shoulder and try and outmuscle me at the end. Take it slow and Colin’s 400 pace could see him though. Whether it was sensible or not I decided I was going to take it out from a distance, maybe 300 or so out. I was confident that if I kept it not too fast and not too slow I could do a 65 last 400 like I had practised on the Thursday night. In my head it was the right thing to do although I know it isn’t how 800s should be run. You don’t negative split them, its daft. OK I’m daft, but I thought it was the best chance of Marko’s dream, a Scottish track title that didn’t involve jumping over daft barriers.
We are off and Cammy straight away off the front. He is looking for sub 2.05 where I am looking for 2.15 and with all due respect I am not interested in him. Last time I raced 800 Paul went away off the stagger ahead of me and dictated the pace, this time I wanted to do it. I nipped ahead and settled in behind Dan.
The pace is ok, though through the first lap in 35 (2.20 pace) possibly too leisurely. Paul on my shoulder like I expected. It was going to have to be the element of surprise and I simply couldn’t let him go first. The crowd behind Paul as usual, cheers for him from all over the stadium, I think I hear a shout for me and it gives me a wee lift. There’s a wee video here that shows the last two laps. Watch it if you want, I’ll follow it with spoilers.
Through 400 in around 70, Dan just ahead, Paul just behind. I’m not trying to race Dan, really I’m not. I know this title is either mine or Paul’s now and I get to 350 and decide it’s time. I up the pace and already wonder if it’s too early. Dan of course won’t let me past so I am running in lane 2 but think I have caught Paul slightly by surprise. The bell goes and I try to get past Dan again, he is outmuscling me, 150 to go I try again, Dan too strong. I don’t care about you Dan! I just want lane 1 to try and keep head of Paul! 100 to go and I can only blow it. 50 to go and lactic kicks in. The legs are heavy. I am treading water, and Dan looks to the side and strides for home. I am praying that Paul doesn’t get by but I manage to hold on and get over the line in 2.15, my last 400 of 65 doing what I had hoped it would.
Somehow wee baldy had become the Scottish 800m M50 Indoor champion. Now before the usual people start I know people who could have run and beat me didn’t, but you can only race against who turns up on the day. It was a right good race and on another day Paul would have got the win, so I am proud of how I ran.
Quite a big bit about the 800 then, the same for the 1500? To be honest no. I gave it a right go, I really did. Stevie went away as expected as we were in with the 35, 40s etc . I tried leading the chasing group going for the silver but I just didn’t have the legs and endurance. About mid way through Paul burst away taking Cammy with him. I tried to respond and couldn’t, was simply nothing there, and the rest of the race was spent just trying to keep ahead of my clubmate Justin. The video shows a different type of finish but they still felt sorry for me and gave me a bronze. Absolutely dead on my feet. Well done to Paul, showed great fight, strength and experience and deserved his silver.
So really proud of my day, 2 medals, one of which was a gold. Our wee training group, called tongue in cheek I have to say “The Incredibles” picked up 7 medals from 7 races, delighted for GG getting gold in the 400 800 M55 double, Forbesy taking the M65 1500 in a British record, Paul Mac with his two silvers above, and me with my gold and bronze. A good day out. So hard work, hard racing, good results and the end of my indoor season. The lads still have a few races to go including the British but I’ll go work on my endurance now ready to hit the outdoor season. Thanks for reading, and for those of you being cynical about the indoor running and the Masters you are entitled to that. But it gives me a buzz, it gave me a target, Elaine and the boys thought it was great and my Mum said that my Dad would have been proud. That’s good enough for me.
To finish off, there isn’t a song called Marko’s dream that I am aware of, but everyone called Mark was some point called Marky Sparky or similar in their school years, so for all the Marks out there with the dull name but that wee light in their head here’s Teenage Fanclub with Sparky’s Dream.
Thanks Martin Kay for the videos, and Justin Carter, Ross McEachern and Kim Forbes for the photos.