I had arranged to pace my running buddy, Mags, at Pollok parkrun on Saturday 2nd May . With Troon 10k being on Wednesday, I was happy to do so. We met at the country park in plenty of time to allow for a one mile warm up and some loose stretching exercises before joining the assembled ranks at the Start line. Of course, I also took the opportunity to catch up with and congratulate a lot of other friends, who had competed in the recent Manchester or London Marathons.
Some 462 of us, the largest turnout since August 2014, tried hard to listen to pre race announcements – to no avail, before the 9:30am Start.
This was my 164th parkrun and my 119th at Pollok. With my head held high, I set off with the congested pack down the road at a steady pace and then …. crash, bang, wallop!…. I took a nose dive on to the tarmac but immediately managed to get back to my feet before being trampled by the ensuing herds. “Are you OK” those around asked, as I resumed my pacing duties. “Do you want to stop” asked Mags, “I’m fine” I replied, before regaining my composure, if not my dignity.
As we continued along the early part of the run, I could feel my hip, knee and hands hurting and looked down to see some blood on my grazed hand. I knew that it was only superficial and it didn’t concern me in the least, what did concern me though was, when we reached the 1k point, I looked at my Garmin to see that my fall had turned off the GPS and the watch was displaying the actual time, rather than the time ran. Without letting Mags know, I quickly restarted the GPS as we made our way up through the woods and on to North Road.
I was giving plenty words of encouragement as we climbed the slight hill to the duck pond, where Graeme Gemmell was cheering us on. Down the hill, we continued, where a sharp left took us past Graham Kelly, on marshaling duty, and along the narrow path towards the hills and the half way point. I could see that Mags was struggling a little with the hills, so I advised her to keep her head up and to lift her knees, which was a bit ironic given my earlier tumble!
She was working hard but I knew that our pace wasn’t fast enough for our ‘plan A’ time. Over the hills, down past the supporters at the turn off point, a sharp left and a sharp right and we caught up with Graeme Pert, who was also pacing. I asked him what time he made it and mentally added the difference to my watch time as we passed him and climbed the small hill back to North Road and the second (shorter) lap.
I was now certain that we were behind time and continued to offer Mags support and encouragement, which other runners appeared more than happy to benefit from and gave me the thumbs up. We bustled our way around the remainder of the undulating course, with Mags giving it her all. I knew that every second was a prisoner and I screamed at her to sprint down the final strait, which she did, crossing the line in 23:26.
Unfortunately we didn’t get the time that we had hoped for but she did get her second fastest time, since earning her PB some two years ago and placed 9th woman.
Furthermore, after the results had been published on http://www.runbritainrankings.com, we discovered that this had, in fact, been Mags’s best ever performance, with the event being graded as an SSS of 2.2 and her vSSS being -1.2, enough to reduce her handicap by 0.4 (see here for an explanation).
After we got our breath back and completed our warm down, we chatted with more friends and running buddies, many concerned about my injuries, before rewarding ourselves with coffee in the Burrell Cafe.
Well be back soon but hopefully without the drama.
Terry Jacks Seasons in the Sun (original by Jacques Brel)
Goodbye to you, my trusted friend
We’ve known each other since we were nine or ten
Together we climbed hills and trees
Learned of love and ABCs
Skinned our hearts and skinned our knees
Goodbye, my friend, it’s hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky
Now that the spring is in the air
Pretty girls are everywhere
Think of me and I’ll be there
We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the hills that we climbed were just seasons
Out of time