As someone who loves running in wild and lonely places, hills and dales, rough moorland, remote islands or mountain ridges that thrust rocky peaks into the clouds, I had to ask myself today "What the heck am I doing here?" The 'here' in question was the manicured surrounds of the Princess Mary Athletics Track where I was attending the Yorkshire Veterans Track & Field Championships. Rarely have I felt so out of place. I was the proverbial duck out of water, square peg in a round hole and other cheeky things I could think of. For starters, I hardly knew anyone beyond three members of my own club - Longwood Harriers A.C. - so unable to do much socializing. Worse still, there were none of my contemporaries to chat to or compare notes with. I was the only MV80 so it was rather pointless me being there at all. After all, I wasn't actually going to WIN anything. Moreover, I hadn't raced or trained on a track since the British Masters T&F Championships over five years ago so I was a little rusty - to say the least. And lastly, my charming neighbours maybe thought they were rocking me to sleep with their wild music blasting through the wall into the wee small hours. I got up at 1.30am in search of ear plugs to stifle the cacophony, but I could still feel that awful hammering beat.
|Three Gold medals, another to come after engraving|
I was a little nervous going into the first race over 400m but I managed to complete it in a fairly respectable 86.63, a time that would easily have won me Gold in this year's British Master's Athletics Federation Track & Field Championships in Derby.
The second race, over 800m, took place only 15 minutes later so I'd hardly chance to catch my breath before I was lining up again. My fast beating heart was not at all happy, and neither was I! Usain Bolt doesn't have to run two different races in quick succession, let alone four in one afternoon. But when the starter's pistol went off it was as if it had fired a great shot of adrenalin into my flagging muscles and from lane No.2 I tore off round the first bend in pursuit of my pace-makers in the outside lanes, like a terrier after half a dozen bolted rats. They pulled me along well and I crossed the line in 3.25.58 - again considerably faster than the Gold medalist in the BMAF T&F Champs this year.
I wasn't at all happy about my heart rate, which was going through the roof, but I'd 1¾ hours rest before the 1500m. I reckoned the best thing to do was to keep moving, albeit slowly, and also to keep warm and re-hydrate. My brain told me to give the 1500m a miss - but it was over-ruled! I decided to run it, if only to pick up another Gold medal, given how it had cost Yorkshire Veterans Athletics Association £297.00 to supply and engrave all the medals. From the start I took it easy, very easy, cruising along at the rear of the field with no desire whatsoever to catch my Longwood Harriers clubmate a few metres ahead. This was her last race of the day, I still had another to run. I crossed the line fractionally inside 7 minutes, in 6.59.38, which I'm told is reasonable for an MV80.
The last race, the 200m, was one in which I expected to do well - but I hadn't bargained for just how much the previous three races had depleted my energy levels. Nor did it help coming only 15 minutes after the 1500m. Given lane No.1 I'd a bird's eye view of the other runners, which is what I like, and I was off to a good start round the bend. Along the finishing straight I caught the MV65 in lane 2, Edward Wagner of Skyrac, but he was determined not to suffer the ignominy of being beaten by an MV80 and found another gear to finish a tenth of a second ahead of me. My time was 37.87 - which would only have given me Silver in the BMAF Champs. (Actually, I can run 200m faster than that - but not after three other races).
So, I came home with three Gold medals - with another to come after it's been suitably engraved. In truth, they mean absolutely nothing to me. I didn't win them because I'd no competition in my category, I merely acquired them. If I'd known there wasn't going to be any opposition in my category I wouldn't have bothered to enter. Anyhow, thank God it's all over. Now I can get back to my beloved hills - and some PROPER, more relaxed and enjoyable running.