I had a break of 10 years before coming back to running, I rejoined North Shields Poly and soon slipped into the role of a 10k runner. As a senior most runners focus on 10k’s and the young fast Whippets in their teens and early twenties race on the track.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been struggling to get any training done, I seem to have a good session then followed by a few days of running lame. I’m getting sick of limping around Durham, but I have my wedding and Honeymoon to look forward to and I plan to rest on Honeymoon so for now I’m ticking over.
So far this summer I seem to be hearing a lot about 1500’s and it’s giving me a real buzz. My friend Guy Bracken has run the fastest 1500m for a 50 year old this year, Markhim Lonsdale from Gateshead Harriers is running some quick times, Ross Murray is on fire and on his way to the Olympics and Laura Weightman has just won the Olympic trials in a very commanding performance. So as a failed 1500 meter runner I have felt inspired to put my spikes back on.
I felt like a fish out of water. I’m used to turning up at local 10k’s, jogging around a bit, having a bit of a chat with my mates before racing. Before I even start a local race I have a pretty good idea of where I’m going to finish before I’ve even started. However on Monday I was the second oldest on the night, I was probably the heaviest by a fair way and certainly the least experienced. Other than my 1500m a couple of weeks ago the last one I did was when I was about 17.
The youngsters were stretching and doing drills, you don’t see that at the local races, in fact my stretching is also called fastening my laces (who says men can’t multi task?).
The races are time graded so I found myself in the C race. The race was mostly under 20’s and under 23’s then myself and Tommy Brannon 41 and 44. We must have looked really out of place, but this is what I wanted, mix it up with the youngsters and get a fast time. I ran a 4.21 at the masters race, so I was thinking that a 4.18 was likely and if I had a good run then a 4.15 was a possibility.
I’m good friends with Keith Lonsdale (Markhim’s Dad), during the day we had been talking about the likelyhood that we might be in the same race. Keith was laughing saying that Markhim would have me, it would be a battle, epic, like a rocky movie! He then went off to polish Markhim’s spikes. It was all good fun and it continued when we got to the track. Markhim was in the D race, I was relieved, might save my embarrassment at getting beaten by a 13 year old.
Markhim ran a PB, 4.17! He had thrown down the gauntlet!
My race started and we set off steady, I was boxed in but the pace was good and I was getting dragged along nicely. There was quite a bit of pushing and shoving, I’m not used to that but I was enjoying it. The laps passed quickly and I was getting some great support. There was a lot of Durham City Harriers out watching as well as that the Wallets, Lonsdales, Wilkinson families and other regulars from the shop and of course Clare too. As we approached the bell I was stuck behind two runners running shoulder to shoulder, I ran into the third lane and kicked.
The last lap of a 1500 hurts! My lungs were burning and my legs were on fire with lactic acid, but I pushed on. There was a few of us together coming down the home straight, 50 meters to go and my vision started to go, I lost feeling in my fingers but kept pushing. I crossed the line 4.13!!! Keith came running over to show me his stopwatch, I couldn’t believe it.
Now don’t get me wrong, 4.13 isn’t a great time, I’m not going to go to the Olympics with a time like that but it’s pretty good for someone who doesn’t train for 1500 and it’s a good time for a vet 40, in fact that ranks me 6th in the UK now.
After the race I was on a massive high and really struggled to sleep that night, I had run pain free, my first in a while, I did think that perhaps that was it back to pain free running. No such luck! I spent the rest of the week lame. On Tuesday I went down to the track to do a session, I thought to myself, “well it was only 1500, how tired can I be” as it turned out Very tired was the answer. The session was 400,800,1000,1200,1000,800,400 I had a stinker.
As the week passed I hummed and harred about what I was best to do, the sensible thing would be call it a day and start again after our Honeymoon, however on Friday night I noticed that it was the North East Masters track championships. I nearly always work a Saturday, but as it was my Stag do on Saturday I was off, so after about an hour of thinking about it I decided to give it a go.
We went through 400m in 68 seconds, we were free of the other runners, Kenny was in third. We got to 800m in 2.21, I made my move, I kicked as if I was doing a 400m, I surprised Tommy and broke away. I had a decent lead and held it to the bell, I tried to pick up the pace again but if I’m being honest I was probably only maintaining the pace.
One more effort down the home straight and I had won. My time was 4.17, not bad, it was windy and the early pace had been slow so I’m content with that.
So it’s been a good week, a 1500m pb a 6th ranking in the UK and a North East title, not bad for a lame runner. I’ve really enjoyed my foray into track running again and I really fancy having a track season next year. I think that I have fallen into the trap that a lot of distance runners do. I go from cross country to road year in year out, the same mileage and the same sessions, I think at the minute I’m feeling stale and burnt out. So next year I’ll break the year up and see what these old legs can do.
This summer we have the Olympics in London and the public are more interested than usual, lets hope that some of the local lads and lasses that were at the BMC on Monday see Ross Murray and Laura Weightman at the Olympics, these are local athletes competing at the highest level, they have both taken part in the local BMC events. If they can do it, so can others!