Finding myself stood on a 400 meters athletics track my mind drifted back to the last time I stood on an orange rubberized running lane. Colour changing sweat marks were de rigueur with the rise of Global Hypercolor t-shirts, The Gulf War was erupting and “Everything I do I do it for you” had entered its 15th successive week at number one in the UK singles charts. This ten year old boy had joined (all be it for a brief period) the Wigan Harriers and had started to enjoy the training.
After few weeks at Robin Park I was informed that there was a Fun Run taking place at The Tippings Arms on the following Saturday. Finally it was my time to shine and win my first medal!
Alas, when informing my parents of the upcoming athletic opportunity, my dreams were smashed when I was informed that I would be making the long trip to Stoke to see my Granny on that date and wouldn’t be able to attend. I still vividly remember turning off the M6 on the return trip back to Wigan and watching the runners coming home as we drove down Poolstock lane. My time as a Wigan Harrier was not to last.
Fast forward 24 years and there I was, stood on Stanley Park Running Track in Blackpool on a cool, sunny October Sunday. I arrived in Blackpool with aspirations of running my first Sub 50 10k. My previous best was a 51:19 however several nights of having Jayne shouting “On!” in my ears on gruelling Speed and Hill sessions had filled me with confidence that today would be the day. I soon bumped into a couple of other Harriers Endurance members who had “Booked this one because it was quiet in case we get a sh*t time so nobody knows”. So in the interests of anonymity they shall remain un-named!
After warming up with Nina and Tim, I felt confident as I lined up on the starting line. The gun went and I soon found myself off with the pack completing the initial 2 laps of the track before heading off on the course. A quick look at my watch and the fact that I could still see Nina immediately alerted me to the fact that I had gone off far too quickly. I adjusted my pace, and after running 7:20mm I settled down for my planned 8mm pace. As with all best laid plans, I didn’t follow it and got swept up running 7:20, 7:40 etc.
By the 7th KM I was in bits. I had reached my Tipping (Arms) point. My head was screaming out for me to stop. I thought back to that time many years ago and started to believe it was a sign. That running really wasn’t for me.
It would have been easy to stop, or slow down to a jog. It seemed looking back, that that was what I was supposed to do. However hindsight is always 20:20. You can dwell on the past, or you can shout “ON!” and power forward to the future. Onward to victory!
I finished with a new 10K PB of 48:31. Welcome to the 40+ club.
Oh and those other Harriers that wanted to remain anonymous? Well one of them won their category! 🙂
By Sam Blakeman.