On Sunday I took a trip to the Jewel of Central Scotland – Grangemouth, with all of its myriad sights and smells. If you’ve never been then you don’t know what you’re missing!
|Red sky at night, a massive amount of pollutants in the atmosphere...|
On Saturday night it struck me that, despite this being the fourth time I’d entered the “Jim Dingwall Memorial Round the Houses” race, I’d never investigated who Jim Dingwall was. Often the person in question is, while beloved enough and having made such a contribution to their local club to merit having a race named after them, a fairly average local runner. Not so with Jim. Although it seems he was also beloved and made a big contribution. But mainly he was a fantastic athlete (which is one stage better than a runner in my book). His list of achievements is stunning. A 1500m PB of 3:45:8. A 10,000m PB of 28:45. (Those PBs were, incidentally, run on consecutive days). A fantastic bushy beard, before hipsters ruined them for us.
But he was primarily known as a marathon man. He completed London 20 times between 1981 and 2003, the last four of which were after major bowel surgery. In 1983 he ran his PB of 2:11:44, which is quite frankly ludicrously quick – almost beyond comprehension for someone like me. According to Power of 10, he is still ranked 37th on the UK all-time list, and (if listed club is used as a slightly unreliable basis for nationality) 2nd Scot (behind only Allister Hutton).
Poignantly, one of his few remaining ambitions was to be the first 100 year old to break 5 hours for the marathon. Tragically, he died in 2005, aged 56 “after a long struggle with cancer”. I don’t particularly want to imagine what pain and misery lies behind those few words.
Back to the race itself, and I didn’t know what to expect. I’d had a couple of short runs (3.5 and 4 miles) in the week before, but this would be only my third run since Lasswade a month before. At the start I plonked myself beside the “40 min target” marker, without any degree of confidence that that was realistic. As the funnel filled up, two young ladies (perhaps 19 or 20 years old) squeezed themselves into a gap which did not exist between me and the guy in front. Although a little irritated, I tried to give them some room. Except we were now tightly packed and there was no way I could move back. To make matters worse, one then said to the other, “have you ever done a 10K before?”. To make matters worse still, the one on the left began to flex each of her legs in turn, which meant that she was thrusting her buttocks into my “gentleman’s area”. Some people might pay good money for that, but I felt more violated than anything. And not in a good way.
Fortunately, I made it away from the start with my dignity (or what passes for it) still intact. Unable to recalibrate my expectations to my reduced circumstances however, I did the first mile in a completely unsustainable 5:56.
Not long after, a lad from Glasgow Uni barged through a gap between me and another runner that wasn’t really on, banging my arm as he went. There was no real harm done, and he did apologise, but I couldn’t help myself from pointing out that “there’s plenty of room to the sides, mate”.
There’s very little else to tell, or at least nothing that can’t be told by this chart of my declining pace.
But that’s not to say I am down-hearted about it. I got round, pain free, and still feel fine the next day. Which is a good result. Get fit, then get faster again.
Talking of getting fit, after finishing I went to collect my t-shirt and goodie bag. I approached a stall and asked for a medium. A lady looked me up and down and said, “nah, you’ll need a large”. Thanks very much – just as well I’m not sensitive about my weight! The lady at the next table had obviously heard that exchange and said with a grin, “extra-large is further down”. Everyone’s a comedian.
Club mate James had a great run, with a new PB of 35:19. Impending fatherhood clearly agrees with him. The winner (at the head of a strong field) got round in 31:00. I’ll remind you that Jim Dingwall’s PB was 28:45.