After not being able to run for over a year, I’ve been concentrating on running 5k races and I have been more than happy with my results, managing to achieve a few Personal Bests (PBs) along the way, including a sub 20 minute race at Linwood parkrun (19:50) a few weeks ago, but Pollok parkrun has always been the benchmark as to how my running is going.
Today, Saturday 12th November I ran the undulating course for the 146th time and probably enjoyed more than any other time. My last race had been Moira’s Run in Queens Park two weeks ago when I had a stinker. I just wasn’t up for a race and only participated to show support for the charity and its aims.
One reason that I wasn’t up for the race was the fact that I’ve shifted my focus from chasing 5k PBs to being able to compete in the Chaing Mai Half Marathon on 18th December. I had chalked up my first ten-mile run in fifteen months, on the Friday prior to the Sunday event and my legs were still tired.
In the last fortnight, I’d completed a few off-road and hilly runs, a couple of six-mile runs, an eleven-mile run and an interval training session. I had planned a twelve-mile run for my dog, Jack and me this weekend but when Inverness’s Jenny Bannerman told me that she was doing the Pollok parkrun I changed my plans joining wJenny and another 334 runners for the 405th staging of the event.
My money was on Kenny Richmond to place first overall and Jenny to win the women’s race. For my part, I just wanted a decent runout with Jack.
We set off at 9:33 and managed to avoid the worst of the first puddle as Jack responded to my cries of ‘left, left’. Along the road, into the woods, up the first hill and on to North Road, where my Garmin beeped to indicate that we had completed our first kilometre. I don’t usually look at my watch during races, and today was no different. However, I knew that I was running well and could see Jim Buick ahead of me and Al MacLachlan in the distance. The surprising thing was how comfortable I was feeling. ‘1k down and only 4k to go’ I thought to myself.
I know that both Al and Jim are much better runners than me, Al having completed this course in a time of 17:53 and Jim 18:09, admittedly that was back in 2010 but that was also when I achieved my PB of 20:50. The gap between us has decreased in the last six years and, if I’ve to have any chance of reaching my target times, I need to start competing against these two.
That said, it wasn’t long until Al disappeared into the distance but I did manage, for the first time, to keep Jim in my sights.
I continued to feel strong as I made my way around the two-lap course and, edged on by the marshals and a number of other runners, soon found myself at the 4k point. I was now focussed on decreasing the gap between myself and Jim and as I climbed the final hill I thought, just for a moment, that I might catch him but it was not to be and after Jack stopped briefly with 200m to go we crossed the line four places behind the Edinburgh super vet. I wasn’t shattered, I didn’t collapse…. but I did take six seconds off of my Course PB and placed 32nd with a time of 20:44. My records show that my PB had been run on 13 Nov 2010, it had taken me exactly six years but I had done it. A new Pollok parkrun Personal Best, a wava of 77% thrown in for good measure and recognition of my progress on runbritain, with my handicap reaching a new all-time low of 7.4.
Jim had placed 28th with a time of 20:39 and Al 13th in 20:00.
Further up front, my predictions had been correct with Kenny Richmond crossing the line in 17:04 and Jenny Bannerman placing first woman and fourth overall with a new course PB of 17:42.
Thanks to all the day’s volunteers: Alan DEMPSTER, Angus FERGUSON, Audrey FERGUSON, Ben WILSON, Christine MILLIGAN, Constance TRAYNOR, Craig BROWN, Derek RANKINE, Frances FLOOD, Freya BRADY, Gregor DOW, Heather NAPTHINE, Jack MOSS, John CORBETT, Lewis NAIRN, Martin BELL, Neil J NAIRN, Nick DOWLEY, Paula QUINN, Pauline RYAN, Rhiannon CLOKEY and Robert CARSON.
Special mention to Richard and Keiran Cooper who used the event as a ‘warm up’ for the afternoon’s Tinto Hill Race in their tremendous efforts in raising money for the aforementioned Moira’s Fund. It’s not too late to sponsor them, see here.