My 5th outing at the Bellahouston 4k Cross Country, and the first time that another Westie has turned up, with a very welcome appearance from John Quinn (no relation to Robert Quinn as far as I know).
Paul Thompson of Helensburgh is normally my benchmark at this type of race, but unfortunately he wasn't here today. So instead I conjured up 3 main aims for the race:
- To start smoothly without spiking my heart rate, and then slowly move up the field
- To hang onto Jeff Farquhar of Pitreavie and maybe just pip him on the line
- A third and slightly irrelevant goal was to see if I could match the fastest woman's time.
So, I deliberately didn't go right on the startline, but stood further back a bit behind Stuart Gibson and Michael Gillespie who I knew would be starting faster than me. When the gun fired I was immediately blocked and boxed in for a while, which helped to limit my pace to 3:07/km pace for the first 200 metres.
I then had the satisfying experience of passing a constant stream of runners during the first lap until at 1.4km I realised I had suddenly caught and passed Jeff Farqhuar. This wasn't really my plan, and as soon as I passed Jeff I wondered if that was a good move, but tried to focus on chasing after David Henderson of Greenock Glenpark who was only a couple of places ahead. I felt sure I would catch David, and I also thought that I'd done enough to get away from Jeff.
Neither of these turned out to be true since I faded in the 3rd kilometre dropping to 3:37 pace and getting passed by Jeff and caught by a young Shettleston runner, or perhaps I caught him and then he rallied, it was all a bit of a blur by this point. Anyhow I latched onto the young Shettleston guy stride for stride which was dragging me closer and closer back to Jeff. We both jumped by an Inverclyde runner who appeared to have nothing left, then with 400 metres to go I decided to go for it. At 250 metres to go there was sharp turn through a gate that killed my speed, and at that very moment the Inverclyde and Shettleston runners both came barreling past with an unbelievable turn of pace. I tried to follow suit realising this was exactly what I needed to catch Jeff, who was still a comfortable distance ahead.
With 60 metres to go, Jeff appeared to be coasting to the finish so I tried to go past with such pace that he'd have no response. Once I'd passed Jeff I still had 50 metres to go of sheer effort and panic. I wasn't prepared to take any chances that he'd found a sprint finish, so I lost all form and charged for the line with arms thrashing. The Inverclyde guy stopped dead on the line right in front of me, so I hurtled past him into the funnel.
I have no idea why runners stop before reaching the funnel, unless they specifically want to get the time of the person they've just beaten, which makes no sense to me!
So, the outcome was that I did indeed pip Jeff by 1 second, and finished the race in 58th position but as 2nd V40 (a long way) behind Robert Quinn. I also managed not to spike my heart rate at the start by deliberately getting boxed in. I clocked 13:49 which is miles faster than I've run the Bella 4k in the past, and my first time under 14 minutes. It was a different course today, but in fact it was more twisty than the other course.
Elspeth Curran of Kilbarchan successfully defended her title, which was no big surprise given her outstanding current form. I was expecting her to be at least 20 seconds faster than me, but checking the results at the end I noticed she ran 13:49, the exact same time as myself. I was therefore quite pleased to achieve targets 2 and 3 with precisely no seconds to spare!