The shoe must go on (feat Strathclyde parkrun and the naked rambler)

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A mixed week, a funny week, a week where I tried to chuck (at least) a training session, a week where I hit parkrun again, and a week where Tommy blamed the trainer (thank you Ewen Cameron for this and more puns ;)) after losing his shoe, yet again, at Chatelherault.

I did a 10 miler last Sunday, my first double digit run since the Dumfries half marathon back in September, and was really happy about that. I forgot the release you get on that type of run. Not ideal weather, but up and round Dalziel estate in Motherwell, part road, part trail, then a circuit around Strathclyde loch to finish. Monday morning and up at 5.30 to go to the gym and do my stretching routine, a wee bit of weights and a spin class. A weigh-in saw that I had lost almost half a stone of my extra injury stone, so all ticking along well. Felt OK as we went into Tuesday and the February time trial and hoped I had done enough training to finish second last again (damn you July handicap, really here to haunt me for good…). The weather saw it cancelled, and just as well for me, as the replacement 10x 2 minutes session saw me toil way, way off the pace. Man I was more honking than the prize horn at the SECCs “Horns and things that look and sound like horns” exhibition.  Never got moving. Not much there in those legs. The mood was lifted by a wee present from Motherwell’s resident designer to the stars, Running Dougie, who presented me with a special buff he had made for me.

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“Media Tart, Serial Blogger”. Brilliant πŸ™‚ Gave me a good laugh anyway, and I needed it. My boys shook their heads at me when I showed them. Circuits and spin on Wednesday, and apart from being too close behind Graeme Kennedy and the shortest shorts in the world I was feeling brilliant. Yes. Couldn’t wait for Thursday’s fartlek. Except there were three groups. Group 2 wouldn’t let me join them. Group 1 included Craig Mackenzie – ran a sub 17 5k just behind Robert Gilroy 2 weeks ago, Mark Paterson – in superb form just now, Strathaven half winner and 36 min 10k runner, Allan Cameron – former training partner of Tom McKean, recently back and flying. Thrown into the mix were the on form Clare Hughes, Coach John, Michael Wedlock, Chewbacca Gray and Solid Robert Pattison. Yep. A horrendous 5 or so miles. I was being dropped off the back quickly every effort. They were then having to wait for me at the end. Ruined session for me and for them. The % of difference in fitness and speed between me and the rest of the group was too big for it to work. Half way in I told John that I would make my own way back and my session was finished. To be fair to him he wasn’t having it, which is just as well, as at that moment I possibly would have jogged back, went home and never came back. We all have the low points, this was mine. I’ve been waiting for something to change, something to kick in but the spark wasn’t there. How long do you give it until you realise it is actually gone? Did nothing on the Friday and decided to skip the Saturday session. More intervals, especially going like the last 2 sets, would have me chucking it, I knew that for sure. Decided to revisit Strathclyde Parkrun, haven’t managed since last June where I ran my course PB of 18.39. What a difference in fitness, speed, belief and attitude since then. Simple aim here, steady running, no heroics and if possible to come in under 21 minutes, as I’d done 21 mins as a split in the SVHC 2 weeks previously. Got down early and had a 25  min warm up jog. The wind was rough, especially the final stretch. Ach what will be will be. Took a selfie of me at the loch so I could look myself in the eyes before I ran. Yep cuckoo. 12670144_10208719481564844_3331233203847050572_n

So off to the start. It was pacer Saturday so a good turnout. Off we went at the start and I nearly fell on the mud. Quality. Tracey and Zola ( the dog) went past me and then stopped for a poo. Zola that is, not Tracey. They quickly went past me again. I was dropping in places from about 10th at the start probably back to about 30th as I struggled to dictate my own pace.  The first k was 4 mins which was ok. The next one we hit the wind on the wind square in the face and I was struggling. It was rough. Up the gravel section of the alternate route and through a big puddle Then round the bend at half way. Into the 4th k and I was averaging about 4.10 and steadily going by people so was on to be under 21 mins, happy with this. 1 k to go and a string of people were in front of me in my favourite place. There to be picked off one by one. The last k was always my best. Strong in the wind, so off I went. And there was nothing there. Ouch. That’s fair enough. I battled with a fella in front of me who was about 7 foot tall. I went past him, and within 50 metres he was back ahead of me. The wind was hurting me and I had no answer. But I got past him again, and only him, and ran steady to the finish. No heroics. Finished in 20.31, 22nd place and 3rd V40. I heard a commotion and my 7 foot rival had fallen face first on the mud at the finishing line trying to catch me. Oops. Or to be fair just before the finish line. He still had to get up and over the line.

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So not my best run ever, but it gave me the boost I needed. Yes 2 minutes outside my best, but my first 5k last season was 19.34 in March and I am less than a minute behind that. Maybe I’m not as bad as I thought I was. Head feeling much better.

Yep a couple of days can make a difference.

So the Sunday run was planned. Myself, Tommy and Kev would meet 30 mins before the rest of the MAC group and do a lap of the loch first to get our mileage up. I wanted at least 11, maybe 12. And we did. In torrential run and howling wind. Didn’t care. Focus on. So almost 4 miles in the bag and we meet up with the rest. Clare looking rough, but not in a bevy way. Doubled over on the couch at the Boathouse. Not looking good. An amnesty claim for missing MAC members to come back had resulted in Steven McCaw rejoining us, so off we went up to Chatelherault. Sadly after a mile or so Clare wasn’t well enough to continue and Coach John and  Nick took her back. Hope all is ok? Up to Chatelherault went the remaining MAC hardcore of Me, Kev, Emma, Tommy and Steven and we decided that we would do the green bridge trail. Its 10 miles from the boathouse, up round and back. The weather was getting rougher, but all sounded good. It was great fun, a nice easy pace over the soft trail and we got to the down step section. Took it more gingerly than Ross Burton sharing a bottle of Irn Bru with Lulu (sorry, needs wheeled out every year that one) and we were joined by a runaway spaniel as we done so, he seemed to have taken a liking to Steven McCaw’s shorts. Eventually we got rid of him before Kev ate him (the spaniel, not Steven) and reached the bottom of the steps where we were met by a flood. I could see island bits in it, so knew it wouldn’t be too deep. Tommy wasn’t having it, he was going to find a better way round. With 4 leaps I was across, the worst bit was water up to my knee. that was Ok. Steven came across, Emma came across, Kevin came across. But where was Tommy? He appeared to be half way back up the hill, climbing over bushes. “The naked rambler” said Kev. Someone mentioned it being like the photos of bigfoot. 5 minutes later he approached the bottom and exclaims “Ma shoe!!!!” It was stuck in a swamp. Right time, wrong lace. He stared at it as we burst into hysterics as if he was expecting it to jump out and onto his foot. It was “sole destroying” for him. Eventually he fished it out, tried (and failed) to jump across a ditch and then he was with us, just before we ran up the Green Bridge Hill. The World’s worst hill. There really is no business like Shoe business. We got 2/3 up the hill then the wind went mental. It really was crazy. But happily I got up without stopping and the rest of the run was uneventful. 13.6 miles in the bag. Soaked through but totally refreshed and ready to do the work needed to get race fit again. A week of highs, a week of lows, but a week better than I would have had than if I was still sitting on my arse smoking 30 a day. I can’t promise that I won’t have another night like I did on Thursday, but for now? I’m in a good place. Later blogpeeps πŸ™‚

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