Never Give Up – the Sri Chimnoy Scottish 5k championships 2022

Disclaimer: This is my own personal blog about my own wee achievements. Occasionally things come together and I get a good result. If that happens I will celebrate it here to remember how it feels, because believe me, there are enough bad ones.

The 12th May 2019 and it’s a hot, sunny day in Coatbridge. It’s the Monklands 5k at Drumpellier and with 400m to go I come up on Cammy’s shoulder not long before we hit the home straight. Darran is a good 30 seconds or so ahead and is taking the comfortable win but I am mixing it with my then club’s Golden God. I go past him but without really committing and with 200 to go he comes back onto my shoulder. I watch on as he runs away from me. I didn’t blog this part then, but I had shown too much respect and didn’t believe I could take him on over a sprint. I still podiumed but I felt deflated. Imposter syndrome, it’s never far away, it’s always there. And it’s all in here. https://markgallmac.com/2019/05/14/seconds/

There’s many a long run I have gone back to that moment in my head. Am I the only one that goes over previous races and insults myself? Really? Ah ok. No wonder the sheep look at me funny. Getting beaten fair and square is fine so why lack the courage to give it a go? I did that day and in my head as I run over those hills I want the chance to make amends because it still eats at me. It’s now Friday 6th May 2022 and the Scottish 5k champs. There’s around 400m to go and one of the hot medal favourites is maybe 30 or 40m ahead. My confidence isn’t great just now and my head and legs are arguing. “Take him on!” “No I’ll look like an idiot, I have no right to take these folk on!” “You’ll regret this, it’s Cammy all over again”. Deep breath, finish line in sight, running out of road, but let’s give this a go…..

Anyone who has read this blog before will know that after my ridiculous steeplechase escapades of last year I have suffered continual niggles and injuries. I couldn’t put any training together of any note. All on/ off. Got some speedwork in for the indoors but my endurance a mile behind. As I have mentioned before I was recommended Carla Molinaro’s SCY and in particular the Yoga for Runners. I now do this once a week and have managed 2 months solid training. It’s working for me. The area around the glutes, hips, piriformis? I have movement back and very little pain. I am running as niggle free as I have since my return so a big shout out to Carla, thank you. Week by week I am getting stronger, fitter. Not there yet but on the right road. Any other year the approaching Scottish 5k champs would be an A race for me but this year just a step along the road. I am not an arrogant runner, man I am the opposite, but last year my 16.38 would have had me mixing it with the medallists. This year’s best so far of 17.25? Nope, not a hope. I’ll keep chipping away though and this an opportunity to do so. All going well I can take on my course PB of 17.17 but if I fail then fine, as long I come out of it with no regrets. The only stress I was feeling about it was whether I could make it there on time after attending my Uncle’s funeral, and the choices of going to the pub in Paisley to talk about old times or firing through to Edinburgh to race wasn’t a difficult one. No offence to anyone, but my autistic traits leave making small talk with people I don’t actually know far, far scarier than facing the gauntlet of wind and marauding Fifers in Alphafly that Cramond was going to throw at me. Fire up the cheat shoes, squeeze into the tight shorts and get the lucky Balegas out of the drawer, let’s go run and have a wee bit of fun.

The sun was out but the wind was being naughty. But it always is at Cramond. It’s tradition, expected, just like me getting annoyed with people’s comments on social media after I try my best but that will come later . We were going to basically get just over a k with the wind behind us, a wee loop, 2 ½ k into a headwind, then the final turn and 900m of welly with the wind behind us to finish.

For the medal challengers and time seekers it was about strategy. Gung ho and you could suffer in the middle stages. Out too slow and difficult to make it up. Like any championship event the calibre was high even if not everyone was toeing the line. You can’t make people race, it’s not compulsory though that would be quite amusing. My team mate Stevie who has been winning everything at M50 this year was sadly missing with an injury and I was gutted for him, but looking at the start list and seeing the likes of Paul Monaghan, Gordon Barrie, Stevie Allen, Michael Fullerton amongst others who were regularly kicking my arse, then competing for a medal wasn’t going to be on my mind anyway.

Toot toot went the tooter and off we tooted and the pace was rapid. I tried to just go by feel and let myself be carried along but should maybe have put time in the bank before the wind like others were doing. I hoped to be low 17s but 3.25 for first k and 3.31 for 2nd in the better of the conditions wasn’t going to achieve that. Ks 3 and 4 were into the wind and dreams of sheltering behind behemoths into the wind went out the window when I found myself at the front of a group chasing down people that I shouldn’t really have let get away. David from Pitreavie, Rab from PH, great competitors but if I am getting fitter they shouldn’t be 40 50 metres away. A 3.38 k here and although it sounds bad I was actually swallowing people up. 3k in 10.34 not impressive but let’s just enjoy the racing now. The 4th k and the strongest wind and in a wee group with the Claw from Bella amongst others. I have no idea where anyone in the M50s are at this stage (I later found out I was sitting 5th with a mile to go) but I could see Stevie ahead. Catchable? Doubt it, but he is a person with a winning mentality. If he is there then he is in or around the medals. A k to go, 4k in about 14.07 and the last turn approaching, that last stampede for home on it’s way.

I am definitely closing, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t recall seeing any of the others I had mentioned so I assumed that at least Paul and Gordon were ahead of Stevie. Could I be bold and make a play for what may be a potential bronze medal? I am now motoring well. Nothing is niggling. It’s me, my head, my legs and 400m to go as I pass people and people pass me.

It’s Cammy time again. I am going for it, this time though I know that I have the element of surprise. He doesn’t know I’m there. He wouldn’t expect me to be there there nor should he as I am never anywhere near him. 200 to go and I am flat out. I am gaining but running out of road. I am alongside my running buddy and rival Paul from Inverclyde who isn’t going to let me past. On the grassy stretch to the finish. Paul goes to Stevie’s left, I go to his right. Last chance Marko, no regrets. I find the finish from nowhere and somehow manage to throw myself in front of Stevie and Paul. I hope so anyway. I think I have just edged ahead on the line. I’m on the deck anyway, that was fun. Some good wee pics of it here.

You know what? even have some videos, on the first look at 1.44, on the second 3.12.

I still have no idea where I have finished though. I am sans specs and like Mr Magoo can’t find the timing van. I annoy people with my excited chatter as I say I might have a medal chance but am not sure. I then find the van. Oh big shiny van of destiny, let me key my number and you can tell me my future. “Ah Mr Baldy of Cambuslang Harriers,” it exclaimed, “you shall indeed be embracing the podium and shall be looking respendent in the colour silver!” In reality it showed a number 2, but you get the gist. I exclaimed excitedly, I have no decorum I am afraid. Second in the the National 5k championships!

Big respect to Paul Monaghan of Greenock who had got his tactics spot on to win the title. He’s having a fantastic year. Every time I sneak one of these results it means something to me. I think every one is a one off. It excites me as I know that there is a good chance that it could be my last. I know I don’t have the talent of most of these guys but, I have said it before, all you can do is get yourself in the best shape you can and take advantage if the opportunity presents itself. Me? I think it’s great that people like me can have the moments of glory. I don’t think it devalues the event, I think it adds to the charm. I personally don’t think it’s shameful if someone like me has a run above themself and gets a memory they can savour forever. It was a great atmosphere after the race as I waited for my wee medal. People were pleased for me, chuffed for me. I was the same for them. Happy faces. Great atmosphere. Team picture with my club.

I was dared to join the Motherwell team pic as I hadn’t photobombed a team pic for a while but thought I’d get my baldy napper split open and settled for Pitreavie instead, my honorary East Coast club.

It was great to catch up with old Motherwell friends though, thank you.

I got my medal. It was presented to me by my old Cambuslang coach Mike Johnston who had been such a positive influence to me as a youth runner. Full circle. Brilliant.

I have taken up too much of your time already. I am chuffed with myself. This wasn’t a niche track event. I didn’t get carried by my team and all those other things that get thrown at me. This is one of the biggest road races in the Scottish calendar and I reached a podium that I did not think I could ever or would ever reach. You’ve got to give me that one. Big thanks to Adrian and his Sri Chimnoy team, Scottish Athletics and all involved in this fantastic event, it’s amazing having it back. To finish? my takings from the evening. Never give up, run to the line, respect your fellow competitors, and don’t let others bring you down.

The song by the marvellous Pat Fish. Its apt.

Big thanks to Bobby Gavin (thatonemoment), Jennifer Beattie, John Coyle, Richie Carr, Linlithgow 10k, Steven Birrell for the pictures.

One more wee bonus song because I can. Putting the song here stops me having the rant, and that’s a good thing:)

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