In December 2015, I accepted the possibility that there would be no more running in my life.
I had walked away from my Great Run Blog and Great Run Local and I had lost my mojo for running. Injury, weight gain and depression conspired to make the possibility seem a certainty.
But then, late last year, I started to work on the Feet For Life campaign and I started to address some of the causes of my knee pain. I saw podiatrists and physiotherapists and started strength training.
I started to see hope.
In February of this year, the organisers of the Men’s 10K approached me to be their Vlogger (I said yes despite having a face for radio, an accent for print and a knee that was for anything but running). I had started my blogging back in 2012 with the Men’s 10K and it seemed quite fitting that I would reunite with them. I set myself a goal of making the Father’s Day Men’s 10K in Glasgow my return to running.
And today, I returned to the Men’s 10K and to running!!
I ran (mostly) my longest distance in almost two years and in each of my pictures, you will see the joy emblazoned on my face . However, having been out for so long, I made some rookie mistakes that most likely impacted on my performance.
Although, does it look like I care too much?
The night before had ended so well. I went to sleep at a reasonable time (for me, at least) and I had resurrected my pre race ritual of laying out all my kit. All my NEW kit from Pearl Izumi.
Yes, in an attempt to be a good Pearl Izumi Champion and because I genuinely love Pearl Izumi running shoes, I decided to break out a new pair, without breaking them in first.
I know. What was I thinking?
Even though Paolo Nutini swears by it, every runner knows that you do not wear new shoes or kit on race day and here I am with even my socks coming straight out of the packaging. Only my trusted Garmin has seen some prior action and it has become more accustomed to tracking cycling activities than running.
Come the morning of the Men’s 10K, I also decided (I have no idea why) to forego breakfast. Yes, I was going to run the Men’s 10K in a fasted state. I regularly cycle to work before eating but running 10K without any fuel probably ranks up there with the decision to allow Donald Trump access to Twitter. It was not going to end well.
It is not like I was doing it for the fat loss (is fasted state training for fat loss now considered as “Fake News”?). I was simply not thinking.
I also was not thinking about the logistics of getting to the start line of the Men’s 10K. As a southsider, I always liked the Bellahouston Park setting and the move across the river and the new route presented me with some difficulties.
With start and finish lines 10K apart (maybe about 6km as the crow flies or the cheat runs) my idea of cycling to the start was not well thought out. Although I like a warm down as much as the next person, I did not fancy trekking back to pick up my bike. And I certainly did not fancy paying £5.00 to take the Men’s 10K Shuttle Bus to pick it up.
Thankfully, my girlfriend has resurrected her own Sunday morning ritual of having to get up early to cart my ass off to whatever race I am doing. I knew that roads would be closed on the north of the river, so I suggested that she drop me off at Govan Underground Station where it was only one stop to Partick and then a 10 minute walk to the start line at the Transport Museum. Genius, I know.
However, I remembered that it was 9am and that for some reason Glasgow has a transport system in 2017 that does not start until 10am on a Sunday. Which also happened to be the start time of the Men’s 10K.
Plan C was to simply drop me off at the BBC where the Bell’s Bridge would transport me over the River Clyde with only a 15 minute walk to the start line. Plenty of time for a selfie in front of one of my favourite Glasgow backdrops.
Men’s 10K Review
I arrived at the Transport Museum in plenty of time, but still somehow nearly managed to miss the cut off time for the bag drop. It could have been down to my dozen pre race visits to the loo that had also made a return to my life, but come 10am I was in my pen and as we were herded towards the start line of the Men’s 10K, my belly began to rumble. Whether this was hunger or nerves, I was not sure, but there was no turning back….mainly because there were 300 men still behind me and we are Glasgow Men’s 10Kers!! We don’t turn, but we do run.
And run we did. For 5K, at least. The route from the Transport Museum is not pretty and underfoot the terrain was not great. I overheard several runners complaining and I momentarily lost my footing. Thankfully, it only only elicited a few expletives and no cries of pain. Once past the deserted stretch of the SECC we ran along the Broomielaw and this was reminiscent of the Great Scottish Run which was my last running event back in October 2015. Back then, it signalled the final stretch to the Glasgow Green finish line while the Men’s 10K route planners had managed cunningly to extend this into a 6km stretch.
At this point, I was still running and still smiling.
The route then took us along Argyle Street and here it became simply quite surreal. It was possible that being near the end of runners we had missed the onlookers and the excitement had died by the time we had arrived, but there was simply no enthusiasm or support, although there was a drunk/drugged/demented guy shouting at our cycling police escorts and urging them to do wheelies.
Sadly, they never. Maybe I should ask Ali Clarkson to teach them some skillz?
Around us, shoppers shopped and there was no encouragement. Maybe they were all angry at us for closing their roads or for doing our bit to improve our health in a city where we are expected to die prematurely. Whatever the reason, the lack of engagement was disappointing.
Just as well then that we had the amazing Men’s 10K Race Crew and Pacers. Dotted along the route and at intersections, where we could cheat by cutting corners and even sections of the race or more importantly wander into oncoming traffic, they cheered us on and motivated us. Even being told by one race marshal at around the 1km point that we did not have far to go, raised a smile even if it did make me reconsider what I was doing.
At around 7km my legs began to feel heavier and my pace became slower ( I really should have eaten something). We had entered the Gorbals and it was deserted. The lack of support certainly affected me and I slowed right down to a walking pace. I noticed that I was not alone. Ahead of me and behind me, others slowed and we took it in turns to run ahead before walking and being overtaken by another member of our team as we made our way through Glasgow Green.
I say team, but at no point did any of us agree a strategy. We would utter words of encouragement as we overtook each others but little else. Every time that I saw one of them gain too much of a lead, I knew it was time to pick up my pace. I hope that my presence helped them as much as they helped me. I would love to hear from any of the guys that finished between 1hr 10 and 1hr 20. Were you aware of our wee group of runners/walkers and did you also use us to keep you going?
And keep going we did.
Soon it was the 9km mark and as we excited Glasgow Green and entered the Trongate and eventually the Merchant City, the crowds started to pick up. We were close to finishing and this meant only one thing.
We picked up the pace!
It was time to pretend that despite our times, we were Olympic standard runners. Every single one of us discovered a new reservoir of energy (no idea where mine came from. It certainly was not from my empty stomach). Our strides became longer and heads were were lifted higher. Our breathing settled and we knew that we had this.
The finishing line approached and I broke into a sprint. And as I crossed the finishing line, a huge smile broke across my face. It had been a long wait for this moment and the Men’s 10K was the perfect setting.
I had done it! Once again, I was a runner.
My time was 1:17:39 . My slowest ever 10K and I didn’t care. The Men’s 10K is not about fast times (ok, maybe for a few it is); it is about having a good time. It is about men of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes coming together to promote men’s health and to help improve our own well-being. All brimming with positive MENtality.
The Men’s 10K might be relatively small compared to the magnificent Great Women’s Run but it is an equally important event on the running calendar and while some of the changes made by the new organisers GSi to the Men’s 10K have attracted some criticism, they are to be praised for ensuring that this vital event continues and for delivering it in such a professional manner (I had my bag returned before I even reached the baggage collection point).
Even if the medal was a tad small (all the better to add to my bag as key ring, mind).
I am back running and I will be back at the Men’s 10K in 2018. You may have possibly guessed by now that this is a big deal for me. Running was a huge part of my life and I have missed it. I will continue to cycle as it is still early days and I also now love cycling, but I will slowly begin to add running events to my diary.
Who knows, I might also need to head across to Edinburgh in November for the Edinburgh Men’s 10K
Will you join me?