Other Voices – Roon the Toon / Scottish 10k Championships 2022

The hardest blogs I find to write are the ones where I have done well and achieved something.

There I have said it. It is down there in black and white. Or maybe I’ll make it mauve as a limited edition, probably not though as I am not really sure what mauve actually is to be honest. I digress, but most of you that read this don’t really know me. Aye you get into my head a bit from reading this and you see me at races without my specs on when I am trying to make faces out like a modern day Mr Magoo (trying my best to be friendly when people actually terrify me, I do love it though), but where am I going with this? I will try and explain. Currently I am running well for me and after a difficult period with injuries I’ve got myself in decent condition again.

Blog Spoiler Time.

I picked up another national age group medal at the weekend which I am ecstatic about as it’s at an event that I’ve never really mastered or even dreamed about medalling in, but I know that I am not actually one of the top 3 in Scotland at my age group, and probably would struggle to be top 10. Somehow, once again I have sneaked it. I enjoyed every second of being on that podium like an excited wee wean because there’s more than a good chance it’ll be the last time it happens and I do apologise if I annoyed anyone by being hyper on Sunday. Now it is the aftermath and once again I feel like a fraud and all my head is doing is thinking of others who will be saying that, even specific individuals, I can see their wee faces as they rip me to pieces. There were comments I was made aware of after the 5k that left a bitter taste in the mouth and I end up feeling in myself that I am devaluing the events by being on the podium, is that what the others on the podium think too? I can’t make runners who are better than me turn up on the starting line, I can’t take away their injuries, I can’t change their event focuses and make their legs fresher but despite all this I can’t get my head in the position to see myself as someone who should be up there. In a nutshell, that’s me. I will write about this now, but I just have to say I am excitable and not arrogant, I am grateful and pleased with myself but I expect nothing. I stick with what I say. Get yourself in the best shape that you can so that you can take an opportunities that may present themselves. Therapy over, and time to return to the shoddy race reports and barely noticeable Dad jokes.

Last time out I had had a honking 800 then a decent 10k. I had entered the BMC and GAA miler meet 800m and to be honest could not see it far enough. A good chance to see the lads though as, and as seems to be the norm, myself Forbesy and Paul Mac were to be in the same heat. The oldies and the young whippets, it was going to be two races in one. No expectations, no fear, just wanted to have a better run than the two previous. The sun was shining and the wind was bizarrely for Crownpoint not an issue. A fast first 200 like the week before but eased it off and through the bell in around 70. Knew the lads were on my shoulder and kicked off actually ending up involved in the whippets race. Felt quite good and was surprised to see a time of 2.14.68, only .18 of a second outside my personal best. A really decent second lap. If I can find the balancing act of a slightly faster first lap maintaining the second then I’d be delighted but the margins are very tight at 800m, especially when you are as clueless as I am 🙂 Maybe I’m not quite finished with the 800m yet…. well done Forbesy who looks to have broken the M65 British record in the same race.

In my strop from my previous 800s, I had entered the Kilmarnock Roon the Toon 10k which was to double up as the Scottish 10k champs. I had run it once before, having an unsuccessful sprint finish with Baldy Gav and finishing in the mid 38s. Another reason for entering it was to stop me entering the British Masters track champs which were the same day, a few months earlier than last year. My 800s and 1500s not good enough to compete and to be honest although I felt I could have given the defence of my steeplechase title a good go I wasn’t prepared to pay all that money to go to Derby for something I had won before and end up injured again. At the time of writing I am no longer British champion and only got 10 months at it, and am about to similarly lose my Scottish title too but for a wee chancer like me it was a right blast. But no regrets (he says sitting here looking at the results of the British and thinking…. NO! Snap out of it you misty eyed baldy dreamer). Decisions made. Windy Kilmarnock it would be because:

1. It was closer.

2. It was cheaper.

3. I did not have to jump over any barriers.

4. I had planned to do the Brian Goodwin 10k next Friday and this would be a perfect training run.

5. There was an empire biscuit in the goodie bag.

I know. To be fair I had me at empire biscuit as well.

I looked at the start lists and there were some quality M50s in the field so I wouldn’t get involved in any races for medals or anything. I know I said that before the 5k too, but I meant it, good hard tempo, steady to the top of the climb of this flat (? Aye right) course at around 4 1/2k then see how I felt from there. I did expect a course PB and to be honest hoped I could get near 36 again, but would be happy with around 36.30 due to the wind coming out to play like a goth dancing to the Cure, swithering all over the place with its ethereal beauty. Or something. Man I used to love the Cure. I think I’ll put one of their songs on the playlist this week, I’ll think about which one while I put my ramblings down. This was a big race, over 1700 had entered and the atmosphere was amazing. I met so many people that I hadn’t seen in such a long time, and others I had only conversed with online, be it on strava or elsewhere. Honestly, I genuinely am scared of people and if it wasn’t for me doing this blog I would probably be lucky to know a handful of people in the running world, so thanks every single one of you that said hello, you are all magic.

In the starting pen with not a single nerve.

Captain Richie is coming back from injury and knows I tend to be a boring/ sensible pacer over 10k and wasn’t planning anything mad so decided he was going to run alongside me to see if he had a sub 36 in his legs yet. His legs. If you know Richie his legs are bigger than my entire body and limbs at full stretch. I’m a short arse so us running together is like Boo Radley and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. Though a bald Scout. In Vaporfly. Off we go and a good chortle at the first bend as Good Guy Jim, the Legend from MAC, shouts “I’m sticking on your shoulder Gallacher!”. Good craic, and to be honest I would expect him to be as he us training really well just now and I think he’ll be back sub 36 very soon. Apologies this blog is getting long and we are only just round the first bend, I’ll speed it up. I was settling into around 36 pace and wasn’t disheartened when I saw my 50s, club and friendly rivals going away in the distance. Paul from Greenock, Stevie from Cumbernauld, Duncan from Perth, Andrew from Greenock. I had picked my top five M50 before the race from the entry the list and this was four of them and they were all well away from me. No pressure then, just have a run. Trying to find a steady pace but the wind making it difficult.

Church bells play Chariots of Fire. It makes me think of kids with trombones playing Good King Wenceslas at the School xmas concert, but in a good way.  I am not quite comfortable and hoping I settle down soon, but Richie still running with me as I can see his knee beside my eye level. I know there is a double hill out around 4k and as we head out there is quite a hefty headwind. Dropping off 36 pace but not to worry, 36.30 still a target and once we are up that wee climb I can hopefully pick the pace up a little. Out into the country and I feel decent enough on the wee climb, passing a few folk. Look over my shoulder at the wee roundabout but don’t see the Legend, next time I’m sure though. Worst part of the race out of the way, there’s a long drag up the toon later on but nothing too bad. The watch beeps for 5k in 18.12 so the 36.30 is looking a realistic target. Richie starts to move away now, the cheeky sod. Letting me do all the work up the hill and he’ll cruise away the downhill?  Not happening. Except it was, but I started to move through the gears and was back with him again.

We were moving well and were actually starting to pass a few people. Surprisingly I saw two members of my top five and they weren’t that far ahead that it would be ridiculous to chase, potentially could I finish top five? I am now passing some good runners knowing that when I do it I will have to commit or I’ll just look daft. Or maybe that’s just the shorts. I know I am working hard now and there is encouragement from Duncan as I go past. Commit Marko, that’s all you can do now. There are long straights in this part of the race as we run, funnily enough, roon the Toon, so I can see the runners stretched off in the distance. I am working well up the drag and can see a few red and white vests in the distance. Too far away I think but something to aim for. Richie’s knee tells me to give it a go. To be honest I am not actually chasing them down, I am more thinking I want to keep ahead of the couple of 50s I have just passed. 10k has never been my best distance, if I could finish top five M50 that would be phenomenal for me. Dig in Marko, dig in. 2 k to go and the legs are burning but a look at the watch shows I am around 36 pace now, would be nice to dip under. Red and white vests getting closer as I get to the last K. Richie telling me to go for it, I am working hard with a lad called Craig who is wearing a belter of a Soar vest. My head is losing focus as I think how much I’d like that vest, and how I wish I had got the diamond speed shorts but they are sold out now, but I have my yellow ones on instead, people think the yellow ones look daft, but, FOCUS MARKO! …

Do I have time to catch Eve and Justin? Craig now tells me to go for it and I catch up with Eve as we enter the stadium. She is on her way to a massive PB and 3rd in the women’s race in Scottish championships, brilliant, but it’s my blog not hers (Sorry Eve)  and I go past on the outside. I am chasing down Justin and he won’t have any idea whatsoever I am there. Last bend and I cheekily nip ahead, I have done that twice now and don’t expect to do that again. I have finished in a season best of 35.39 after a very strong (for me) second half. Post race analysis of the GPS is showing 10.05k with a last 5k in 17.17. The photo on the last bend here may not be the prettiest but it demonstrates that I left it all out there.

TruWealth 10k Road Race Championships (C) Bobby Gavin

Wee medal, a t-shirt, and my empire biscuit, a happy Marko. Chatting away to people and Duncan comes up and asks if I had finished third. What? I had not even contemplated it. Now I start to wonder. Stevie tells me he was second and Paul had won. No one knows who was third. Surely not? I find the elusive hiding timing van and put my number in. It seems to take an eternity to print out but it’s probbaly about a second. I can’t read it as my specs are in the car about two miles away…  (this is what being an M50 does to you), but screw my eyes up like a mole on holiday in Benidorm and make out the number 3 under category position. The daft baldy man exclaims YYYYAAASSSSSS as people look at him strangely, but again, that might just be the yellow shorts. I’ve somehow managed to get on a national 10k podium and yep, I am hyper. I have been lucky a few times now but it doesn’t get any less thrilling because I simply do not expect to get there. I am not a Stevie Allen. By that I mean I do not enter these events expecting to challenge for the medals. That’s not my background, that’s not where I come from, and back to the start and that imposter syndrome. But hey I enjoyed my moment. I loved being on an actual podium, pictures were taken, I was told to stop looking like a teapot and you know I will treasure that. The podium that is, not the telling off.

It is noticed by the announcer that it is the same three people that were on the podium at the Scottish 5k and to be honest I am gobsmacked that any of these people even noticed who I was. That was a “what?” moment.  I am glad I made the choice I did as this National 10k bronze means more to me than going down to Derby and going for that Steeplechase medal again because it’s something I didn’t think I would and could ever be capable of. There was a twitter post put up by Scottish Athletics which although strengthens my imposter syndrome I will treasure and I have shown it below.

This is pretty cool. Scottish Athletics Twitter.

Yep, I shouldn’t have managed this but I did. So many people have been happy for me and thanks to all of them but it’s up to me to block out the other voices, the ones I tell myself are all around me, telling me what I keep telling myself. If you have got this far thanks for putting up with my ramblings. Thanks as always to Bobby Gavin for his superb photos, also to Kenny Phillips and the Roon the Toon team and anyone else who I pinched them from that I may have forgot. Thanks to the Roon the Toon team for another superb event, and aye the biscuit was utterly braw. The Cure song ended up being an easy one as I wrote, from their 1981 Faith album, and here for your delectation as well as being on the playlist.

Other Voices.

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