The usual disclaimer: Running, like many sports, is all relative. What is a good run to me can be a bad run to others and vice versa. This is my blog and these my views. Cheers blogpeeps.
After a week where I couldn’t even put weight on my right leg due to back pain let alone run it was a suitably impressive cocktail of drugs that had me able to line up at the start of Tollcross parkrun for the latest instalment of the (breakbeats and mariachi trumpets and Welsh choirs) 2015 Motherwell Athletics Club Road Racers Championship and Leagues. Two runs in 2 weeks wasn’t going to have me at my best, pretty much 2 months of recurring injuries had me where I simply wanted to get round. I was fortunate enough on the day that I got a pace and stuck to it so was happy enough on this hilly course to finish in 6th overall and first v40 in a time of 20.45. Good win by Craig with Nick in second. Two minutes off my best but job done as far as I was concerned, and I got some cake. Double win. Token group photo as below.
So my road season has ended the way that it started, back injuries and feeling old. But ooooooooft in between them man I had an awful lot of fun 🙂 . The season had massive highs, it had crushing lows, the highs higher than I could have dreamed of, and the lows rawer than I expected. May as well have a wee look over my second year as part of Motherwell AC.
My first year had seen improvement beyond my wildest dreams, 5k from 22.05 to 19.30, 10k from 46.30 to 41.14, half marathon from 1.52 to 1.32 but back at the tail end of 2014 I made a wee list of my targets. From my blog https://markgallmac.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/history-part-12-cross-in-the-country/ :
Aims for next season (and I know that these are mostly unrealistic):
5k: 18 mins 59 secs
10k: 39 mins 59 secs
Half marathon: 1 hr 29 mins 59 secs
MAC Cross Country Champs 2014/5: Top 5 finish ( 1 race to go)
To be honest I will just be happy to keep relatively injury free and enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed this year.
Seems as good a place to start as any.
I started off the season with a best of 19.30 and put a marker down of 19.34 in my first outing in March in the club champs race. The Road relays were done in 19.45 and I started to stress about whether I would ever trouble 19.30 let alone the sub 19 I dreamt of as I felt I was going backwards, especially with the back niggles I was having. Strathclyde parkrun saw me chip away at that monkey and record a very hard fought 19.26, before a clandestine midweek trip to Edinburgh for the Scottish 5ks saw my favourite run of the season and the one that changed the dynamics of my whole racing year. Coming a matter of days after a terrible 10k, I stripped it all back to basics, got rid of all my fears (I was the only person there from my club so for the first time this year I didn’t look behind me) and went for it. Sprinting against that wind as I saw the clock ticking 18.51 18.52 18.53 18.54 and getting across in 18.57 was the greatest feeling, bar none, I have got from my running since I started back.
I never believed that I could run under 19 minutes. That was a huge moment and filled me with so much belief. There is that one moment that defines every runner’s year, and this was mine. It was only April and my biggest aim of the year was done. I subsequently bettered this in my next 2 5ks, 18.39 at Strathclyde and 18.23 at Victoria Park, so in the one season an improvement of 1 minute and 7 seconds. A 6% improvement. Had I not got injured at the start of August I genuinely believe I could have smashed that again, my 3k times at that time were pointing towards it. I hope I can get back into the same shape next year and give it another go.
My first of these was a honking run at Balfron. My head was in the wrong place and I was looking behind instead of looking ahead. I was only 20 seconds outside my best but knew I should have done better. After my Edinburgh 5k I entered the 4 race Polaroid series and my season’s 10k dream was reached in the first of these as I took 1 min 34 off my PB running 39.40 at Helensburgh. The elation here was second only to Edinburgh. I never looked round even once. I ran hard, confidently, finished strong despite 3 of the last 4 k being into a headwind and BELIEVED that I could do it. What a change. Every race in this series was run under 40 mins, the highlight being at Clydebank where I gave everything in the last kilometre to finish not just sub 40 but sub 39 in 38.59.
Sadly my 10ks for the season ended here with proposed runs and PB attempts at Paisley, Stirling and Strathaven ruled out by injury. Disappointments aside an improvement in the year of 5%. If I can get fit again I KNOW I can bring that down.
Aim failed. We all know about Haddington (if not read back, you’ll have a good laugh at me.) I ran Dumfries injured and finished it in a pleasing 1.42. I actually ran 1.34 in training 2 weeks before Haddington and felt brilliant. The sub 1.30 is still an aim but if I want to beat that it needs more respect than I gave it this year. It’s not a big deal to me as it’s clear it isn’t where my strengths lie. Had I not done any halfs this year would my season have been different? Possibly, as I have been toiling ever since. Food for thought, maybe 10k is the max I can race (But that said I do fancy running Alloa in March.)
MAC cross country champs.
Aim was top 5 and I was 4th equal, alongside the previous year’s winner. Almost got taken out by a flying tent at the Nationals which was emotional.
As a first season in 20 years goes it was ok. To be honest I was pretty honking at it. On grass I was fine, ran as well as I expected. In the mud I was terrible. Couldn’t get to grips with it at all. Even Bambi was laughing at me. I hope I can be in shape to do the nationals in February for a bit of “fun” but the rest of the season I guess will be missed as I try to get back in shape.
Keeping injury free and enjoying.
I will give myself a half here. I got a good injury free stretch and loved it. When I was injury free I kept improving. The aim is to get back to that level again. I have the winter to take my time and get there. I’ll give it a bloody good go. There is no greater competition than against yourself.
So those were the documented aims. 3 1/2 out of 5 is not at all bad. What else happened in the season? Managed to set a 10 mile PB of 1.07. Had a great sprint finish battle.
In hindsight delighted with this, wish I could have stuck 3 miles onto the end and done a sub 1.30 half marathon 😉 Had two goes at the 3k on the green, running 10.30 and 10.21 (official time 10.25?).
Really pleased with my speed on these, and really, really enjoyed them. I’d love to do a few more of these. The 10.30 was followed up with my 18.23 5k, so being 9 seconds faster a month later would have seen a faster 5k eh? Getting injured 2 days after it I guess I will never know, but again let’s see what next year can bring. The club time trial saw me bringing my summer course time down from 25.41 to 24.34.
This was consistently brought down over 6 months and it is unfortunate that I got injured after 6 races of 10 while 8 points clear at the top of the Time Trial League. There are still 2 races to go at the time of writing but I will be fortunate if I am able to run in any of them, and I would probably be a good couple of minutes off my time. Really pleased with my performances, but a little disappointed to miss out on a medal after going so well, but it’s over the course of a year for a reason. In my division of the Road Race club championships with one race to go it looks like I am going to medal, so I am very proud of that. In hindsight doing the half marathons in this probably killed my season, but the racing I did over the first couple of 5ks, and in a ten miler way out of my comfort zone, rank up there for me.
So that’s the year that was. What are my thoughts? I didn’t know if I could progress again after what for me was a great improvement in 2014, so I have by far exceeded any realistic expectations. 13 PBs in one year is not too shoddy. There’s been great help from so many people from within MAC and it’s also been a pleasure getting to know and have friendly rivalry with people from outside MAC as well, being through this blog, at races, on Strava or on the Running Bug. I have really enjoyed my running this year. I know what I would LIKE to achieve next year, but with my fragile back who knows if it possible. I’ll do as last year though and put it out there. Why not? Ladies and gentlemen, here is my 2016 road racing wishlist, split into band A (Ultimate Dreamland and would probably retire if I achieved them) and B (Very difficult but there to aim for). C shows current (latter day) best. I have just received my annual London Marathon rejection, so unless I am fortunate to win a place in the club ballot I will be deferring a marathon until another year.
3k A 9.59 B 10.15 C. 10.25 (10.21)
5k A 17.59 B 18.15 C. 18.23
4 mile Summer TT A 23.59 B 24.20 C. 24.34
10K A 37.59 B 38.29 C. 38.59
10 Miles A 1.06.59 B. 1.07.29 C. 1.07.53
Half Marathon A.1.29.59 B. 1.32.44 C. 1.32.45
Polaroid 10k series: Would again love to do all sub 40
Tour of Clydeside: Would love to get in shape to do all races in the one week
Motherwell AC club champs: To not give a flying feck about it and run stress free
To run a real track race for the first time since I threw my spikes at Alex Naylor in a stroppy huff at Grangemouth in 1990.
To run alongside the River Seine in Paris.
To keep running for fun.
Pressure on then. Wouldn’t have it any other way. My running, like my blog, is all about me. If I can keep pushing myself I’ll be happy. Remember, when you are out there, on that open road, be yourself, no-one can tell you you’re doing THAT wrong. Until later blogpeeps, keep running for fun.