It’s been 11 weeks since I last pulled on the racing shoes and it wasn’t supposed to be that way.
The plan: In an ideal world I was supposed to come back from the Dublin XC International energised, confident and raring to go, and make an assault on the indoor track season. I had my sessions all planned, and was targeting PBs over 1500m and 3000m which I knew I would need to be capable of if I wanted to compete.
The reality: Had a few days off with a cold. Had a hard week training where everything felt heavy then realised why as my entire right hand side from toe to hip fell apart, being particularly prevalent around the knee. Had the best part of December out with the injury, managed one week’s decent training and then succumbed to COVID, not testing negative until 6th January.
The result:The only PB was eating a box of celebrations. Possibly an M50 world record. I talk about it all in my last wee blog thing. Poor Stevie Wylie was my first company for a run of the year. Think he still regrets it.
So I decided to run the Scottish Masters 3000m indoors championships. On 3 weeks training. Get out the stupor and see what was in the legs, where I’m coming from. Line in the sand and all that. Do my thing for 3 weeks and see where I can get to. I’d been finding it really difficult but thankfully in the week before it things started picking up a little and I had a much better session at the Emirates. Legs better. Breathing better. Head better. I’d chipped away at the weight too and 5 or 6 pounds over the few weeks making a difference. On the Thursday took myself to EK track at lunch for a solo split 3000, do 2 1500s off a generous 7 min recovery to try and gauge where I was. Hoped to dip under 5 mins which meant low 10s over 3000 would be a possibility and ran a boringly consistent 4.55.8 and 4.55.9, but was utterly dead on my feet, the thought of trying to combine two of them together made me want to take up bowls instead. They have nice slacks. And jackets. There was to be no pressure though, of the 9 finalists the top three picked themselves and I wasn’t going to be near them, I reckoned 9.40 would be needed for a medal. There would be others around the mid to low 10s too so I’d get a race, and try and race myself back to fitness. Keep the heid, although to be honest I really was concerned about my endurance.
Things happen in running though just as they happen in real life. Whereas I got my injury in December, one of the favourites for the race unfortunately got his in January while he was flying in training too and had to withdraw. Really felt for him, I’m honest when I say I’d rather run against the best on the day, but suddenly a gate’s open. It’s anyone else’s race for the bronze now to be fair. Why not me? No come on Marko, sit down for a second, why not? I know it’s daft off 3 weeks training but I felt if I could nip sub 10 then no one else barring the top 2 would beat me. Daftness, bravado, whatever but if I could go out at 10 minute pace and tick off the laps then just maybe….? Are the legs there? Is the endurance there? There’s only one way to find out.
My nerves get bad enough even at a parkrun, so making a comeback at a national championships had them in overdrive. I was in a terrible state to be honest, but so were a few others. GG and Forbesy were there to cheer me on and had a laugh at my expense. Fair enough. I calmed down as the start approached and we were to be combined with the 45s, so would be a good solid race. 40 second laps needed. Get in the groove and keep the heid. Off we went and the first lap pedestrian in around 41 42 before the leaders stopped playing cat and mouse and kicked on. I kept my pace at around the 40 solidly, getting a good tow around from Stephen Allan of Cumbernauld but noticed when he was starting to slow and took the pace myself. The lead group were a good 50 metres or so ahead and I wasn’t going to be chasing them. I was the target for the others now and I had to believe in my legs, believe in my pace, and try and break Dino from Aberdeen who I knew was tailing me. If I slipped up at all he would get me. You know what though? I held it together. Solid, solid 40s, upped it a little at the end despite M45 bronze medallist Martin Fitchie ripping me over the last lap to come home in 9.56 and take the M50 bronze.
OK it’s my slowest since 2019, but it’s only 2 seconds slower than I took the bronze in last year. Usually I am the self deprecating king, but I have to be honest and say I was really proud after this one. A few weeks really hard graft and bit of bravery on the day and another national medal, and to be honest with me about to go into my third year in the 50s I didn’t think I’d earn another of them. So aye, no insults to myself here. I know in the grand scheme of the world and Scottish Athletics this is absolutely nothing, but in the grand scheme of my life that was a biggie. Elaine was proud of me and that is pure magic. I did my thing.
A grand day out watching some other great races, well done wee Sammy Walker on yet another world record, breathtaking, and to everyone who went out here and gave it a go, well done. There’s no hiding place on that wee oval.
The tune is a cover of Basement Jaxx “Do your thing”. Funky. Enjoy.