Polaroid Series race 4 – Vale of Leven 10k

….or this week’s Blogroll according to Sean McQueen. Yes it was a less than ideal preparation for the final race of the series. Wee steady run with the club on Thursday night, just a 5 miler and although the legs felt fine the rest of me just wasn’t there. Couldn’t put my finger on it. Then on Friday I spent the afternoon with excruciating stomach pains and unfortunately Saturday had me, and I will try and spare the gory details, being best friends with the toilet. It was that bad that I weighed myself on Sunday morning and had lost almost 3 pounds in a day, nothing I ate until the Saturday evening stayed down and I was quite frankly knackered. Not ideal prep, and had it been any other race I wouldn’t have run, but it was important to me to try and keep my streak going and complete the series, and my challenge.
So Sunday morning feeling a bit rough to be fair. Managed a cereal bar. It stayed down. Woo hoo, result. Got picked up by Ewen and Sean, who, along with Eddie that we picked up, soon made me the butt of all the jokes. Yes, I did mean that pun. We made the run through to Lomond Shores where it was a bit chilly, but the rain seemed to be keeping at bay. We met up with Peter and got our picture taken at the start of a different race for no reason whatsoever.
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Marcus turned up as well and it got windy and started to rain. Thankfully it stopped just before race start, conditions almost ideal. I had the briefest of warm ups then it was up to the real start. A downhill stretch out of the shores. The hooter hooted as hooters are prone to doing and off we went. A very frustrating first k. I couldn’t move and got boxed in. Went left, went right and couldn’t get through. Tried to be polite but eventually went through the tightest of gaps with elbows out which I don’t normally do, and was able to start striding, but just before we got to the hill. Ah yes The Hill at Balloch park. I had heard about it. Not the steepest hill I have ran but a good 1k long. You know, hills I am not too bad at, but today there was nothing there. The legs were weak. Marcus had flown past me and that blue vest of Lothian was haunting me yet again but I just tried to run up it, and blank out all my negative thoughts that were plaguing me, telling me where I could drop out. No, today was all about completing, dropping out not an option. About an hour later (or so it felt) we reached the summit. And there was a descent straight away. I actually descended pretty well, or as well as a wee bald 44 year old with a dodgy back can. Told myself that the worst was over and I may as well try and run steady the rest of the run. And that Marcus wasn’t going to get me today. Kilometres 3 and 4 were pretty decent before I slumped a little in the fifth, but I still hit 5k in under 20 mins in 19.49. A lot slower than Clydebank, but being below par I was happy with that. The plan simply was to get home in the second 5k in under 20 mins to do another sub 40. A big ask the way I was feeling but worth a try. I managed to latch on just behind a group containing Bella RRs Henry Merriweather. I remembered Henry from my first Pollok parkrun with MAC where he encouraged everyone up the hill, and again today, after we had done the long stretch along the canal, and once we started rising back up the road he was full of encouragement for everyone again. Which we needed, as the heavens opened with 2k to go. The rain pouring down hard and the wind in our faces. Usually the last 2 k is my best section, but with nothing in the legs and against the wind and rain it was a real slog. Thanks Henry, you helped me get through this section. Henry pulled away over the last k but I was happy enough with my final section. 

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Photos thanks to Daren Borzynski

My final 5k was in 19.36, another negative split which I was very happy with and a final time of 39.25. To pull my second fastest time of the series (and since my return) on the most challenging circuit of the series despite my wee lurgy was pleasing. I had my first top 100 finish in 87th place and was 18th over 40. Despite Marcus’ best efforts (and a great PB by him) I was first MAC finisher for the first time ever.

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Over the course of the 4 weeks I have brought my PB down from 41.14 to 38.59 with every run under 40 minutes. Had anyone suggested that to me prior to the series start I would have thought they were either on drugs, or were Tommy Sneddon, or even both. I wasn’t even sure if my injury prone body would last 4 races in 4 weeks, but it has and if anything I think it has benefited me. My season now over (unless I do parkrun next week), as in less than two weeks I am off all inclusive on a fortnight’s family holiday to Catalonia and being an accountant will get my money’s worth and expect to pile on the weight again and be unfit again. Next batch of races planned for August to give me time to get in shape again although my club have arranged a club champs 5k race for just after I’m back, that one I will rain check on.
So Polaroid Series conclusion. Magic. I will enter it next year. I have loved the weekly buzz, the friendly competition, the friendships, the internal challenge, the differing routes.
My lasting memories:
Helensburgh: Breaking 40 mins for the first time, made me realise that I WAS progressing and hadn’t stagnated. The confidence booster of that night meant a lot. The windy 3k stretch. My wife and kids being there to see it.
Dumbarton: Flat and full of elbows. I felt I ran sub par and got a PB. A definite PB course for many if you can keep out of bother. Racing conditions were perfect.
Clydebank: Sub 39 despite a bit of wind. Whilst not aesthetically pleasing a great, fast course. The best race I have run, by far, since I started back.
Vale of Leven: The hill. Being piped in and out, lovely touch. The satisfaction of finishing the series. Good to see my old pal Brian after too many years, great run from him in 36 mins.
I have to say the organisation at all the races was superb. The speed at which we got our times confirmed was second to none. I have literally no complaints. Except the rain over the last 2k. I blame FIFA. Cheers all the MAC boys, especially Ewen who did the whole series with me. I am now away for a packet of Munchies.

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