By Ewan Smith
I've written about Buchlyvie a couple of times before and it hasn't changed. It's an out and back route with the first and last K on the road with the rest on a flat forestry track. While I remember running along breaking the ice on the puddles one year, it certainly doesn't require trail shoes and this year I ran in Saucony fastwitch which is as flat a trainer as I run in.
Despite running it every year, I've never had much success there; I had yet to manage sub 40 there and for the past 4 years I've been second senior vet. When I entered, I was hopeful of better this year but things had been a bit struggly in the weeks before it. On the day however, I got up to discover that the niggles had mostly disappeared and I set off feeling positive.
It's a race that usually attracts some decent runners but a glance around the start line gave me the feeling that there weren't as many as usual and so I found myself near the front. However, I knew that the front runners were in a different league from me so despite the downhill start, I resisted the temptation to go off too fast. Though the first K was quicker than target pace, I was happy enough given that it had been mostly downhill As I moved on to the forestry track I was still running at 3:45 but it felt comfortable.
By the 4K mark however, I could see my pace dropping slightly but it was still on track -as long as I held on. The turn came and for a while my pace picked up as we headed back up the long straight. I was also cheered by the fact that none of the front runners looked to be as old as me (though tbh no many do). But I was on a slow slide; by 7k the pace was obviously dropping and the guy who had been behind me for a while drew level then passed me. By 8K I was seriously wondering if another "almost" race was on the cards. I hung onto the idea that if I could make it off the softer trail and back onto the tar, then, even though it was uphill I might just manage to pick up the pace. And so it proved.
Finally I crossed the line in 39:22 ( 4:26 after the winner!) sub 40 and first old fla. It had only taken 5 years. While I'm pleased on the whole, the drop in pace needs to be worked on. I don't really think I went off too fast so my latest theory is that I lose form as I start to tire and so improving core strength needs to be the focus. When that is to happen – given that I have been clever enough to sign up for 4 races in the next 6 weeks – is another story.