Keith Rooney and the pain of last week’s club championship. Thing is, you can’t PB every time, can you…?
“And I died a slow and horrible death…..”
The words ricocheted through my mind as I toiled one last time up Rake Lane, eyes firmly focused on the grafting figure of Dave Young, just ahead. He seemed to be labouring too; duly slogging out the miles in that sweat-bathed, bruising, bear pit the Clive Cookson seemed to have become.
These were not my words, of course, but belonged to one Nick Pearson, expressed on the occasion of a less than successful venture to Hartlepool’s park run. But, here, now, wracked with pain and half way up that long, sluggish mile climb to Murton Village, they seemed the most apt words ever uttered on this cruel and uncompromising sport of ours. Yes, pain and how to manage it.
There are different sorts of pain, of course. I felt the pain of the lady runner as she crunched into the seat just ahead of me: the squeal of surprise, the sharp exhalation of breath; she folded and flopped. I couldn’t stop to ask how she was – racing’s not a communal sport – and had to press on, though the thought did flash to mind: “what a bloody stupid place to put a seat!”
Yes, pain. The adrenalin didn’t seem to have quite done the job this time: the burning glut at the finish was testimony to that, but I have to concede, this time , it was as much about the emotional variety. My pride was wounded. Since Blyth, when I finally secured that magical sub 40 finish, I’d expected to successfully build upon that as the racing season progressed. But the NT had come and gone leaving me empty handed, robbed by the cruelest of head winds, that was the general consensus: ” you can knock a good minute off that”, I was reliably informed.
Well then, it was to be the Clive Cookson – had to be – 39 mins in the bag. As we swung onto Murton Lane with its painter-pleasing vista of Earsdon church spire peeping out from the early summer foliage, I knew it wasn’t to be. I was thankful, I’d bumped into Dave however, and the boom, boom, boom, boom of his elephantine step signalled a renewed onslaught from behind. We pushed each other hard. It was brutal. Neither of us was in fine form, but like a pair of old work-worn sheep dogs, nipping and snapping, we seemed to strain every painful sinew to get that slight lead. We’d already passed a stumbling and out of sorts Adam Wood and now our madcap caper brought us into Phil Scott’s orbit. For a big guy, he was moving well; still looking for that elusive and yet intoxicating sub 40. By close of play, he would be 40 seconds closer.
Hardly a sprint finish, or fine performance, but every cloud, so they say, every cloud: a course PB by over 2 mins, 11th in my age category, 108th overall and up by 40 places from last year. But, there was no sense of euphoria, nor satisfaction during the post match analysis. I dug into the flapjack and snatched conversation from the exuberant buzz round about: Marr sub-40, Colpitts sub-40, the ever-green Badger proving once again, what a phenomenal vet he is – man! Does he ever hibernate! And of course, Alasdair and Huiey, the club’s young guns, going from strength to strength, not to mention cruisey Cairns, winning stuff seems to be all in a day’s work to him. Somewhat subdued and lost in thought, I left, post-presentation. I don’t know, running’s a funny old game and galloping around the streets is definitely a game for the young, but, all one can do is pick oneself up, soldier on, and stay focused, and as a wise head once said; it’s the bad days make the sweet ones all the sweeter……