Drive the Pain – Grangemouth Round the Houses 10k 2023 featuring the British Masters 10k

So my last blog had me on a high, Scottish 10 mile champion for the over 50s. Still sounds daft, but it is what it is. They gave me bling and I got to claim £50 from Soar as a milers club benefit for a PB.  A PB at age 52, heehee, I bet they are raging. Back to the grind of the marathon training though and the head down. A good weeks training finishing off with a tempo parkrun as part of a long run (18.03 over the trails without breaking sweat felt really good)

and onto a 21 miler to close off the week. High to a low.

Worst run ever.

The stench of that run permeated throughout the West of Scotland and beyond.

One where the head beats you and turning with 7 miles to go into a head wind all it takes is one stop to destroy your run. One stop becomes two, which becomes a habit for the rest of the run and a week’s hard graft is forgotten about as every doubt creeps into the head. It wasn’t even 21 miles to be honest, to add insult to injury I miscalculated my ks to miles and it was 20.97 miles. I was honest about my run on twitter and got a kicking, sometimes I do need to button it as honesty not always the best policy 🙂 To be fair to myself I channelled the bad run and it fuelled my Tuesday session of 16 x alternate paced 1k MP+10, MP-10. Session hit, felt good, back on the horse and dander back up.  Club session on Thursday and markers hit. Good weeks training which was to be concluded with a wee 10k race as my plan had suggested.

My plan.

Something I cobbled together myself from various sources, but it’s on an excel spreadsheet and has different colours so I can call it a plan.

Back to the 10k. I had done it a few times before. The Grangemouth Round the Houses 10k. So called because it goes round a track, through an industrial estate and into some parks… I am sure there was a house somewhere but maybe I am just being facetious. I once got lines at school for being facetious to a prefect. When I (truthfully) told him I didn’t even know what facetious meant they were doubled and I was hauled in for a row from the half teacher/ half choirmaster who was in charge of the prefects. He really did not like me, maybe that’s why I can’t stick that Gareth Malone.

Gareth Malone, yesterday. Bowtie model’s own, probably has a walk-in wardrobe full of them.


It was to be the British Masters 10k again too. Last year I had finished 5th M50 and although Cambuslang had won the team prize it was a 45 -54 team and I had finished well out of the counters and I’m a year older now. There are more and better runners that have come into the age group, so last year’s scenario wasn’t going to change and I am more than good with that. Go out with no pressure, run hard and if I blow up then so be it. The last two races here I had run 36.27 (my first sub 37 at the time) and 36.26, so after running 36.16 for the last 10k of the recent 10 miler I was fairly confident that I could run a course PB and possibly go back under 36 again. I also thought I could maybe go faster than that and had a secret “A” aim of 35.30 which would be a good position for me to be in this early in the year, and indeed faster than I had ran since pre Covid (excepting the Great Scottish run 9.85k, but we don’t talk about that). Wee session of 5 x 5 mins at the club at 3.33k pace and held the pace so not an entirely unrealistic target.

Though I am more shy than that wee thing that holds a hairy coconut, it’s always good to meet new people through this running and writing malarkey, and I had a good chat with Tim from Edinburgh who is back in the sport after a spell out. He has some pedigree, he really does, and made it clear he intends to take my M50 Steeplechase record and since he is about 10 feet tall with a stride length so long that Evel Knievel would struggle to get over it on a motorbike I can more than believe that. Conditions were decent for Grangemouth, just a slight wind and nowhere near what it had been in the past. No excuses for not getting the head down and seeing where I am.  

My first 3 k and I averaged about 3.30 so going a little sharper and although it wasn’t comfortable I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse, that’s always a bonus (I’m sure “hoffic guy” lies in wait hoping it happens). By now the groups were forming and I was trying to hang onto a group that included Cammy and Fitchie from Cumbernauld, both who have kicked my arse in the past, so I am in good company. I know Cammy looking to string 3.30s together for as long as possible, and personally I thought he was a strong medal M50 chance, so if I could keep in touch with him then I’d do ok. Through the park at 4k and 5k and the pace starts to drop. A wee bit of a headwind and we go through 5k somewhere in the mid 17.40s. 35.30s still on then if I could maintain the pace, but a 6th k of 3.37 and it’s a case of assessing where I am.  I keep this going then sub 36 could be a struggle. Fitchie is moving away, I am on Cammy’s shoulder, and not as far away as expected is a Cambuslang teammate that I expected would be part of the counting team. 4k to go and decision time.  Continue as I am, probably come in under 36 minutes, course PB, and go home satisfied but in a very meh way. Alternatively, a kick on from here could potentially get me in a medal scenario. I don’t know where I am in the M50s, I know Paul from Greenock and my club mate Justin are a good bit ahead. I expected Cammy to be 3rd and I am right on him. I refuse to look behind in case there is a procession of old men ready to go past me,  and a potential team medal as well is maybe 50 to 100 m ahead. What do I have to lose? Here is where my head is at – ks 4 to 6 mean I am not going sub 35, I am not PBing, 35.30 not currently likely either. So let’s just race this and see where it goes. If I blow up then the world carries on, and Mr Hoffic gets his chance to be a keyboard warrior. And that type of thing I do not care about anymore. Game on. I go past the Cammy group in pursuit of Fitchie and am aware someone has come with me. Don’t look back, only ahead.  I catch my Cambuslang teammate and move ahead, I draw level with Fitchie and we take shots each pushing the pace on, driving the pain. And yes, it was starting to get painful. I am still being tracked, I know it. “Come on Tim” comes the shouts from the Edinburgh contingent on the sidelines.

Aye I am in a race all right. Even if I am in 3rd for the M50, 4th is on my shoulder and who knows who is directly behind him. Don’t look back, only forward. 2k to go as we take the turn back towards the stadium and you can get an idea of who is relatively close. Wee look over (but not back), I think I have enough of a gap on Cammy but there’s a stream of runners. I am guessing Tim is still on my tail. Running hard into the slight headwind, driving the pain. I can now see Justin in the distance but he’s never a realistic target, too far ahead, it’s all about keeping ahead of the chasing pack. Turn into the park with just over a k to go, Alan roaring at me that Justin only 15 to 20 seconds ahead. Great to have the shouts, and so appreciated, but I am already giving everything and have stepped up the pace and there’s no further gear to move. Quick watch glance, 35.30 a real possibility. The PB of 35.19 is an outside chance, though I’m aware that the course always comes in long. Head down and fight, fight, fight as we come round the back of the stadium. No one is going to come past me. I know that now as my marathon training strength has me shifting a solid last k. I enter the track and Justin not far ahead at all and I see the clock just change to 35. PB is on. I give everything I have to get over that line, I really do, there’s nothing left in the tank as I finish in a new PB of 35.07 after a big negative split, in bronze position only 4 seconds off silver, and as part of the gold medal team.

Aw Marko, so close to second, so close to the sub 35, what if…..? Nope no what ifs today. I had given absolutely everything and was totally chuffed to bits with my performance. A 10k PB at age 52 is bonkers really. I had raced (what is for me) well. I mixed it up with some right good runners. 100% satisfaction with no whatifs or mehs invited to the party. Even went out the next day and did a decent enough 23 miler with only one stop for water, and the only other stops for traffic to exorcise that long run demon. I was in a British Gold medal winning team with Iain Reid and Justin Carter, two runners I have looked up to for years.

With shoe twin Cammy

That is crazy stuff there. So the topsy turvy world of marathon training continues. I confess to having another wobble last night where my head had me doubting my ability to do the distance on the day and for the first time questioning whether to withdraw or not, it passed but the ups and downs will happen. On the day it could all go wrong for me, but at least the training has me fit, and PBs at 10k and 10 mile at age 52 with a wee bit of bling like a Lanarkshire Mr T can’t be sniffed at at all. No regrets, head down and see what happens.

Thanks to Lesley Ross, Justin Carter, Bernie O’neill, Colin Feechan and Drumpellier parkrun for the pics. Thanks Jim Hendry for the finish video. As usual, I have no doubt forgotten folk and I am sorry. The song. From their Lovegod album of 1990, which I have been playing, a lot again recently thanks to them reforming for some shows it is Bellshill’s Soup Dragons with “Drive the pain” because man, I had to. It’s on that there playlist


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