Roads – the PODfather Stirling 10k 2022

Bless me Strava for I have sinned.

It has been seven weeks since my last race.

I didn’t actually quite mean it to be so long but after an overload of races in June and July the plan was to ease it back a couple of weeks then build up for a few track PB Attempts at the end of Aug/ start September culminating in an all out PB attempt at the Stirling 10k.

Simple eh?

The best laid plans of mice, men and baldy supervets rarely come to fruition though and despite mostly training well it never quite happened. After a bog standard track session, both calves and soleus were really painful and I had to strip it back for a wee bit and ease the block. As each track race came up I had to assess where I was and scratch from them one by one. Since the 3000 itself had me in a field with a couple of Olympians I was never going to go out there unless fully fit, so a 3000, a 5000 and a 1500 all missed as my track season, like last year, came to a premature end. Disappointing, but the thought of multiple laps in spikes on weak calves had me thinking I could end up out long term if I didn’t screw the nut a wee bit. Did manage a wee fitness test over the Drumpellier parkrun trails and finished well for a very rare “first across the line” which was good fun and started building the training up again.

Now age and experience does not necessarily produce wisdom and I am testament to that. I should have probably taken a little more time off and not went back in with the intensity that I did, but I am daft, I know I am, I even look it so what chance do I really have? I blame genetics.

Training squad photo. Some very talented runners of all ages here.

I was going well, enjoying it, and then of course the right calf packed up again when all I was doing was jogging to work from the garage having put my car in for a service. Having to run 3 miles back for my car with every step hurting wasn’t ideal but it’s a well-known fact that you don’t walk through East Kilbride unless you want your shoes stolen. Another few days off, a couple of easy miles fitness test on the Saturday waiting for a ping, and despite knowing I wasn’t in the shape I wanted to be in I felt I’d still be able to give Stirling a go. Probably shouldn’t but I have missed too much racing, just wanted to go out there, enjoy it, and do the best that my legs would allow. The sub 35 I was hoping to go for? Wasn’t going to happen. The PB chase of 35.19? Wasn’t going to happen. The course best I had ran twice of 38.53? More than do-able. I haven’t done many 10ks this year, but the ones I had done had gone between 35.39 and 36.26. 2 under the 36 barrier and 2 over. OK I didn’t have the sharpness I had hoped to have, but I didn’t think I had lost much either. You don’t know until you give it a go though. Conditions were almost perfect to be fair, so if I could go out and get within that range I would be happy, and anything under 36 I’d be delighted with. Darran from Law was back after a long spell out and was going to be a few minutes off where he would have normally been, so who I am I to complain about not being sharp enough to go for a PB? Toe the line, and if I don’t break down in the first k then let us see what’s in the legs.

The minutes silence was respectfully observed and then we were off and the pack was away rapid. I was trying to lock into the best pace I could and for the first 3 k, encouraged by Darran, that was at 3.30k, or 35 minute 10k pace. He was not going to let me plod along and I appreciated that. Did I think I could do this for the full race? Nah but I tried to hang on as long as I could. I was actually in, or just behind, a wee pack of M50s at this stage, trying to hang on to be competitive with them. Scott from PH, a phenomenal runner with a great pedigree, Steve from Fife who had been very close behind me at the National 5k, and Alan from Corstorphine, a friend of mine who had been poised to have a special season until injury derailed him in March.

I was at the cusp of what I could realistically do as Alan strode away from us all, getting an early gap that none of us were going to be able to pull back. Early spoiler, he annihilated his PB for a massively deserved M50 Victory. Great guy, great runner and genuinely chuffed for him. I was hanging onto a group for dear life, in there with Scott, Darran amongst others, but happy to have them dictate my pace as I gave what my wee stumpy legs would allow. At 5k on the watch the Garmin told me I was through in around 17.40 so although I knew the second half would be slower, the sub 36 was a realistic target if I could hold it together. We hit the turn at the magical traffic cone and we run back from whence we came, the encouragement from fellow runners on their way out being amazing. My pack appeared to be slowing, as was the one in front so it was decision time, get carried or try and get my sub 36? I went past Scott and to the front of our group. We soon caught the next group containing Michelle from Springburn amongst others who is really finding her form again, I am in good company but no one taking it on so I had to.

My pace judgement not as good as others had been and although Scott and myself were running and battling hard, and catching others, the pace had dropped from the first 5k.

My only issues with my run were the 8th and 9th ks, my pace dropped with no real reason for it to have happened. Had someone else been taking the pace here I think from a freshness perspective I could have hung on, but doing the work myself I got it wrong and got comfortable instead of going through the pain barrier, but as I say that’s my only negative about the run, I simply needed to be more aggressive. If you want results you need to work for them.

Last k and was able to up the pace and was fortunate on this occasion to pull away from Scott but was never going to catch Alan as he finished 6 seconds ahead of me and I went through the line in 35.39, equalling my best of the season, and a course PB by over 3 minutes. I have to say, I really enjoyed this one.

The racing was really good fun, the head and the legs were active most of the time, and I have shown good consistency. I even lost the sweatiest runner competition, a celebratory hug from PB smashing PAACE legend David leaving me as if I had wrestled with Rebecca Addlington in a paddling pool.* Maybe I will never get near that PB again and my ambitions were too lofty, but running regular sub 36s at my age is something I can be really pleased about, and it was certainly much better and much more enjoyable than my last 10k at the Brian Goodwin. So what’s next? Cross Country trials next Saturday but since the uneven surfaces would probably play havoc with the calves I’ll probably miss it, but I do have another couple of 10ks coming up that I can hopefully enjoy again then it’s head down for the winter. Big thanks to Lewis and his team for a well-run event and for the rubber duck, though Jon has already pinched it. Big thanks to Iain at Cambuslang, Graeme Baxter (G-Bax photography), David Murray & Drumpellier parkrun and Aaron Gabriel for some cracking pictures.

Before I go I just want to put the words “Athletics Trust Scotland” into your head. They can be found at https://athleticstrustscotland.org.uk/. The main things here are :

The Athletics Trust Scotland is a new charity that has been established with the purpose of supporting the ongoing development of athletics in Scotland through fundraising activities. The charity will help people of all ages and abilities across Scotland to participate, contribute and excel in all aspects of athletics.  Working closely with scottishathletics, we are launching the ‘Athletics for Life’ campaign to secure significant investment into a wide range of projects, helping people and communities across Scotland to change lives for the better. Athletics for Life will initially consist of three main strands which will help deliver on our charitable objectives:

  • Transforming lives through athletics and running
  • Targeting medals
  • Strengthening communities through athletics and running

I was asked a few questions about my comeback to the sport and the results were published here. https://athleticstrustscotland.org.uk/mark/ Putting awareness of the trust out there would be a good thing.

Today’s song? “Roads” by Portishead from 1994. The playlist Markgallmac has the album version from “Dummy” which is what I am, and the video is live with strings. Because the race was on roads, and it’s an excuse to listen to this again because it’s gorgeous.

*disclaimer. I have never wrestled with Rebecca Addlington in a paddling pool.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s