Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Scottish National Cross Country Relay Championships, 23rd October 2010

Thank you to Chris Upson for the photos used in this article.

I went into this race off the back of the two training weeks described in my last two posts. I had a real desire to put my below par run at Rouken Glen to bed, the reason why the previous week's training had been jumbled about so much. I wanted to be as fresh as I could be. There was a tinge of regret that my last outing saw a demotion to the 2nd team but I had been given 2nd leg which I was happy with.

Such was my focus, I passed up the chance of a nice wee Friday night out at Whitemoss Athletics Club's dance, instead being in my bed asleep before 11pm.

What's it called?- Cumbernauld, as the saying goes. Cumbernauld Park has not been a happy hunting ground for me. I've had various bad racing experiences there. Something that always draws me to it though is the fact some scenes from the 1980s Bill Forsyth film, "Gregory's Girl" were filmed there. I believe the residential area leading to the park was also a filming location. The school, Cumbernauld High, wasn't. Abronhill High was used.

Having reported to headquarters (club chairman David Cooney), I wandered down to the park with David Munro and Chris Wilson. I'm always happy to chat with folk pre-race. When it comes to warming up, I'm more individualistic. I prefer not to get involved in other people's warm ups. Some like to go round the whole course. I prefer not. I tend to limit things to a 5 minute jog maximum, some stretches and strides. I feel you need the energy when racing. I'm usually also too nervous to do any more anyway. I will warm down with anyone for as long as they like.

As the senior women's race raged on and the senior men field of around 130 teams got underway, I walked/jogged the first and last 300-400m sections of the course. It was muddy in patches, firm going by Cumbernauld standards. In our 1st team, Stewart Orr was maintaining a top 10 place with 2nd team starter Jack Hamilton not far off him.

Before I knew it, I was in the start pen and setting off. I don't know what it was, I had a real aggressive determination to do well. Stewart came through 9th with Jack a close 13th, near enough for me to attempt a contest with the next 1st teamer, Stephen Wylie. I must have started quickly since I heard my Dad telling me to slow down. Passing someone in the first 100m was quick I suppose. Going up the first hill, there were a few of us around including Conor McNulty of Kilbarchan and Central's Alex Hendry. The fellow red and white vest was also there. I decided to take my chance early on at a downhill stretch, picked up the pace, passed Wylie and two others (not the two previously mentioned), took the tight right turn and bounded up the hill, attempting to run hard off the top. That might sound a bit like my High Point hill session. Situations like that are a reason I do it.

As the race wore on, my target changed from bettering Stephen's time to totally upsetting the apple cart and bringing the 2nd team in ahead of the 1st team. Stephen is a vastly experienced athlete though. He would not let go. Every time I got a shout, it was followed seconds later by a "come on Stevie." When an athlete came alongside me, I worried that it was him.
By some miracle I got down to the finishing straight and through the funnell without being passed by a red and white vest. There were a lot of twists and turns, up and downhills along the way. I was pleased with my time of 13:18 for the 4km, delighted to be quickest in the club on the day and totally elated to discover later in the evening I was 18th quickest overall. Where on earth did all that come from?

Despite feeling like death warmed up, I managed a 12 minute warm down round part of the route in reverse while cheering on other club members and one or two of my former Calderglen teamates. Robert Gilroy took 3rd leg for the 1st team when the natural order was restored. In saying that, 18 year old Bobby Bristow, who I gave 9th place, put in a gallant effort to keep us in 10th. On final legs, Iain McCorquodale brought in the 1st quartet 5th and Jamie Reid earned 7th for the 2nd string. The 3rd team was 23rd, aided considerably by Chris Wilson who did 2nd leg, taking over from Alistair Cambell, gaining 33 places in the space of his approximately 13 and a half minute run.

Inverclyde won the race from Shettleston and Central.

Back home, I wasn't quite satisfied so went out another 7 minute jog warm down. I decided against a Saturday night out, instead contenting myself with a beer or two at home prior to my 12 mile run the next morning mentioned in my last post.

If I can keep something close to this going in the future, I will be a happy man.

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