Sunday, 18 August 2013

Never mind the Polloks

BMAF 10k at Pollok Country Park

BM stands for British Masters. (I think the A stands for Auld) This race (my first British Masters) was drawn to my attention by Alan Lawson (7 Hills RD) who suggested I might go along and see how I fared among my peer group of aging athletes. I'm not sure if he deserves a thank you, but to be fair he was there running it himself, so suffered equally with the rest of us.

Mr Lawson has a lot to answer for, including that crop top.

I travelled through on an early train out of Waverley with Willie, who had long ago planned to focus on this event. Which is a real shame as his recent foot problems have hampered training and he is only limping a handful of miles a week. Doing this race at full fitness was hard enough – doing it on limited training must be soul destroying but the Jarvinator put a brave face on it saying “nobody made me” and afterwards that he was glad he turned out for it. He had run the same route a few months previously as a bit of a rehearsal, covering the windy course in 36+minutes. It was much less windy today with only a couple of corners where you might look for a competitor to duck in behind. And dry underfoot.

photo Alan Ramage

There were a few no-shows and having run it I can see why: it's not a flat fast course and the opposition is out in force no matter what 5 year age category you are in. When we arrived it was instantly evident that the elderly elite were here and about to kick your butt. My butt. Worse still we were all given the usual bib numbers and then a small square number to pin on the back of your vest with the lower limit of your age category on it. So you could tell when a 60 year old overtook. Nice touch. Room for complete physical and moral defeat. Nobody looked like they had come along to saunter round at the back chatting. Everyone meant business.

my best side (Colin, 130, Paul, headband.)
photo: thanks Alan Ramage

While we stood, a good couple of hundred gathered at the cramped start line, a couple of cars came along and had to be ushered through. I was surprised nobody had discouraged cars further up the park road. And while we're on unusual aspects of the event can I mention the changing rooms and showers? They were suitable for the rugby team they were designed for (although you probably wouldn't want home AND visiting teams changing in the same space, which was about the size of my lounge (small).) And only one toilet! Happily the showers were still hot, long after the warm down but lets say it was just as well these elite old dudes were all very skinny. It was like Schindler's List in there.

photo Alan R

You can see the width of the road in these pics. Imagine 200 competitive people jostling for position. I'm not keen on running when I can't see where I'm about to place my feet until the last moment so I stepped onto the thin grass verge at the side and when the race started legged it up that for a hundred yards. I noticed it came to a muddy end all of a sudden so increased the pace to dodge onto the tarmac to avoid being sidelined into the undergrowth. This slingshot me briefly into about the first 10, a place I should definitely not have been. I let the runners about me swarm past noting at least 2 with 50s on their backs. Then another, 2 more, and yet still more. This was the signature dish of the day and I quickly got used to it – what else can you do?

Andrew was race walking the course.
photo Alan R

Talking of signature dishes, did I see another series of Bake Off just starting? I don't watch because I have little interest in baking and don't think it would benefit my life to develop such an interest. I appreciate a pastry treat as much as the next person – hell yes, but I don't think it benefits Scotland to receive this programme and develop anyone's interest in unhealthy eating. Anymore than you would encourage a programme on how to cook up your heroine more effectively or distill whisky in your garage. Or how to increase the strength of, and tar in, your cigarettes. Because baking is probably killing more people than heroine, cigarettes and whisky all in the mouth at the same time. But is there a warning on the packet? Is there a graphic picture of an obese person on a couch with crumbs on their chest? This is far more important than a nominally ambiguous independence so-called question, yet it is swept under the carpet because there is a porker on the Scottish throne.

George, pb, Paul

photos Alan Ramage

First pal to go past was Greig G up at the top of the first hill. Folk had parked their cars bumped up on the pavement, but fast thinking organisers had a cordon of marshals create a running lane on the road side of the vehicles. Greig and I acknowledged each other – a short grunt between gasps. We ran into the Burrell Collection entrance driveway and I was questioning just how out of breath I should be, 2k into a 10k. Not quite what I had planned. Colin F was next past. I had been hoping he would be running today. He took 15 secs (and 1st m50) off me at the CAAC5 and I (being fitter and faster than in June) was looking for a re-match. It didn't occur to me that Colin would also raise his game. Although he went past he stayed within a tantalising distance ahead. I thought he may run out of steam towards the end but a club mate of his got involved and they both remained that distance ahead despite my efforts. Foiled again!

photo Alan R

I can't quite remember what was next – my mind has blanked it out or I am still in post traumatic stress. But there was a bit of uphill and downhill fairly continuously all the way round. Nothing where you would say oh there's a flipping big hill – you could do reps on that, but I didn't hear anyone say “that was a nice course” either. In fact there was general agreement that it was horrible, a properly horrible experience, in a horrible sauce. I do remember my mouth being dry with all the gasping for air I was doing. And we were going past the water stations way too fast to pick up a drink. I assumed it was for the folk with higher numbers on their back. To maybe help a heart pill down for the second 5k loop.

The course was two 5k laps of Pollok Country Park. There were kilometre markers and I pretended to myself the 7km and 9km we passed on the first lap were actual. Then it was out onto that road and up the long gradual climb past the parked cars again. I can't remember when George and Paul T appeared. Now George I wasn't scared of because I was well ahead of him at the South Side Six, some of which I recognised in all this traipsing about Glasgow. I should have been though, scared, as he gubbed me today. Paul on the other hand: I had been anticipating him going past since the start. He ran sub 35 last year although he was today on his way back from eye problems that stopped him running. Paul (like myself) is extremely competitive. I have only ever finished ahead of him when doing hill races (briefly, before he got the hang of hill races.) Although he was wearing a 55 today he normally beats all the guys half that age in whatever race he is doing. At various points he edged ahead but never so much that I saw his 55. (Despite photographic evidence to the contrary above.) In the last 2km he was making a barking noise. On the long finishing straight I was surprised to edge a little ahead and gave it everything expecting a dozen runners to sprint past. To my surprise I finished ahead of Paul. I was very pleased to learn later he was first m55. Good work!

photo Paul Thompson

Colin F ran a 10k pb if I heard him right. Very good going on a difficult course with a breeze. I was pleased with my own time. I only looked at my watch twice – once at 5k when I was unimpressed with 17.45 (I suppose I was thinking this would make a slow (Cramond) parkrun, when I felt I had just about ended myself in order to do it,) and once at the end when it said 35.30*. I was expecting nearer 36 or more. A couple of things sank in: I had run the two 5ks (if they were measured accurately) in identical time. (Paul, on the committee, said they measured the course again this year and lengthened it to the full 10k). And I was just a couple of seconds shy of my 10k pb. This went quite a long way to offset being beaten by so many folk, in particular Colin again, in general, 7 runners with a 50 on their back. (I was eighth m50)

What I have learned today:
I think along with removing high lard cookery progs from terrestrial tv, we should all have our age groups in little square numbers pinned on our backs.

*The results give me 35.32, fooey.
Results and link to Alan's photos here

1 comment:

  1. Good run Peter. A pair of lighter shoes and you'd have been in the medals. Those BMAF Zimmers are a fanatical bunch, so well done on keeping all of the higher numbers at bay. I see the 'blazers that be' are persisting with the 'Kindergarten Vet' M35 and W35 categories. What's that all about, eh?