Everyday Stranger – British Masters and Grangemouth Round the Houses 10k champs 2022

Disclaimer: This is just a wee blog of race I ran. Just for me. I find it cathartic to get it out and put it down and then I carry on. Aye I know I’m weird but I’m doing no harm. It’s here if you’re bored and want a 5 minute diversion.

10k racing. Oh man it’s been a while. This one here at Grangemouth was actually my first sub 37 back in 2019, 36.27, the jubilation I felt that day even though the internet told me it was the shoes that done it and the internet must be obeyed.  I did the one at Linlithgow last year but that was a hilly one so was different. Ran it purely for “fun” believe it or not, and it was a grand day out with the lads. This one was to be a flat fast racer of an event and I hadn’t done one of them for a long time, March 2020 to be precise and a PB of 35.19. I was in peak endurance form then, marathon training for the marathon that never was had gone perfectly and I had run the 10k of my life. It must have been round about then I entered this too, but as we know races all cancelled, postponed, cancelled again and finally taken place. I had been due to run the Cambuslang 10k earlier this year but withdrew as knew my endurance was more than suspect, it had been posted missing,  and even though it’s getting better I know I wouldn’t be able to mix it up the way I would like.

But that’s ok.

I had limited on off training during the winter due to injury and other personal reasons and I chose to concentrate on speed for the track and just about got away with it for my targeted aims. To put the endurance cherry on top takes time, and I fully accept that so as the race came closer I was contemplating taking the refund option until I was asked by the club to retain my entry and make up a team for the British Masters champs which were to be held in conjunction. Of course I said yes, I’d do my best and hope that Stevie and Justin ran strongly enough that my below par run as final counter wouldn’t do too much damage. So yeah, nervous and started throwing more endurance work in. As it happens it didn’t matter as the clubs’, or my own, blushes were spared by Kerry- Liam being a very late entry which put me out the counters, though too late to withdraw meaning I could go out and just have a run for the hell of it. Disappointed at first but that didn’t last long, the best runners are the best runners for a reason and those medals need to be earned. When I joined Cambuslang I was well aware that every team place would have to be fought for, I made it for the relays, and here I simply wasn’t good enough. Not even in the same post code. Was almost like a huge wave of stress came off my shoulders. I have had a mad year of going for titles, PBs, medals etc. Punching above my weight probably most of the time but I have had a good run and even if I don’t make it back up there again it was bloody brilliant fun.

But back to Grangemouth, if we must, and great to be there on the day, caught up with a lot of good folk, chatted to a few I hadn’t before and I can genuinely say that this was the first race in a long, long time I hadn’t felt a single bit of nerves before. This coming from someone who feels physically sick at parkrun. This is me before the race, I am smiling, chatting, enjoying it. That’s no right.

I was honest to people. I have no idea how I could do here today. I’d managed a semi decent 5k, then did a semi decent 6k in the last few weeks.  A jump of 4 k is a lot. To be honest I thought sub 38 a realistic target but didn’t know how the legs would be. I’d be happy with a time starting 37, but was going to go out at 36 pace and see how long I could hold on for. No pressure, if the legs go they go, I won’t be letting anyone down, including myself. We are offski and the first k as always is quite sharp, probably too sharp for me so I calm it down and I am soon running around 36 minute pace and although it’s a tough pace, I am relatively comfortable. People are passing me but it’s fine and soon we forming groups. Beside and just ahead of me are some familiar faces, Dan and Lesley from Garscube, Chris from Calderglen, my team mate George, my pal David from Pitreavie along with some fine runners from Edinburgh and PH. This is a sub 37 group if not faster, try and stick in here as long as I can. We take the turn through the first of the parks about 4k in and I am finding it tough. Lesley has pulled away with the Edinburgh contingent and Rab from PH (who had finished one place ahead of me last time here) and David is almost breaking the elastic but I am trying to hang on to him the best I can. 5k beep on the watch and it’s around 17.50. This is not at all bad. Better than expected. Sod this I’m going to have a wee race.

About 100m ahead a lad from Edinburgh has a no 50 on his back. This means he is in my age group so maybe I could have him pull me round and he became my focus. Whatever gets you through. I could feel I was gently moving away from my own wee group and gravitating toward the next. There was Lesley, Rab and another few runners including my no 50 target and I tried to dig in. There was some good wee racing going on. I caught up Rab and every time I went past him he came back past me and we did this for a good 3 or 4k. Cat v mouse. West v East. The pace to be honest was dropping, tired legs combining with over a mile of headwind had a sub 36 way out of the question, but a realistic target was my course PB of 36.27 though I did notice that my kilometre watch beeps and the k markers weren’t in correlation. A K or so to go and myself and Rab catch Lesley who is a long way ahead in the Female masters race and on her way to a much deserved British title. I am not managing to catch no 50 but he isn’t getting any further away so I am taking that as a victory, around 1/2k to go and I finally manage to shake off Rab

and it’s the sprint for home with the watch beeping for 10k when I still have the 150m to go. Aaargh I am going to miss the course PB. Give all I have and I am in in 36.26. A course PB by 1 second 🙂 It all counts eh? I hate to say it but brilliant fun.

A right tough shift but I had done better than I thought. Afterwards all my teammates milling around in excitement after their performances had earned them individual and team medals, and out of 15 racers only 2 of us went home empty handed but I didn’t mind stepping back into the shadows. I sneaked off and left them all to it, they deserve it.  5th in the British M50s for me is a good performance, 28 seconds away from the third of the team counters and I am happy with how I ran and I know there is more to come so all positive. Big shout out to clubmate Kevin Newberry who we youngsters at Hamilton Harriers and Cambuslang looked up to back in the 80s and not just because of his hair (It was mighty hair though). A great runner back then who drifted from the sport but has worked so hard over the last year to regain fitness as he starts again in his mid 50s. A British individual bronze and team gold for the over 55s. Well done Kev, and more to come. This was a great event to be a part of but it is clear to see that the big boys are coming back again. I am so proud of what I have achieved over the last year but the competition is stepping up to a different level now. Will I try and match that? Of course I will but particularly at this age it isn’t easy. I can’t fathom how I got into my 16.38 5k shape last year and have no idea if I can again,  but If I have had my wee shot then all good, Sunday has shown me that I can enjoy it without the top end competitive bite that there has been. As long as I go out there on the day and do the best I can and ENJOY it then anything else is just a bonus. Plus I got a creme egg. Result.

Thanks to Gordon Donnachie, Barry Davie and Stuart Pearson for the pics.

Have a song. No relevance this time, I’ve just been listening to it a lot.

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