Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Getting used to running with a GPS, but I'm now spending more time pouring over the details of the run and looking at the route on various mapping programmes than I am actually running!
I'm also trying to keep on feeding the old JB7 with as many of my CDs as I can. I'm pretty much sticking to my self imposed "rule" of one from the deep recesses of the collection for every old favourite. And the system seems to be working and throwing up some gems.
Found an old Benny Goodman compilation lurking away at the back of a drawer. I remember buying it and being disappointed... I'd thought it was a 1966 recording when I got it, but I was a bit disappointed when I got it home and studied the sleeve notes that it was actually just a compilation of 40's and 50's releases that had been "cleaned up" and augmented by a couple of re-recordings from 66 of his most famous tunes.
Sunday, 27 June 2010
Now I know a lot of people out there have one. So I won't go into details of all the exciting features it has. And I know I tried one out not so long ago when Ian generously gave me a loan of his for a bit. But this time I've loaded the software onto my computer. Its great fun.
Yesterday though I probably ended up doing my 12 mile training run too quickly, as I had the tendency to keep looking at it and going "Speed up. Speed up".
Probably take me a little while to get accustomed to it and stop looking at the display every thirty seconds.
Anyway. It's nice to map runs. Today, for instance a few of us from the club went down to Pencaitland to do the local Playgroups charity "fun run". And fun it was - or as near as "fun" can be running in heat approaching the high twenty's.
The route was nice - mainly off road, woodland pathways and old railways. Though despite being through woods the hoped for shade was not forthcoming.
I've got to say I was very impressed with the course, the signage and the marshalling.
My new toy informed me that the route was in fact 10.35km (but I'll let them off). It also informed me that my average pace was 6:23 and I used up 694 calories.
One touch about the race that I particularly liked was the "medals". I don't normally like medals after races and usually just end up throwing them away (keep the marathon ones). But these were big edible medals!! Large shortbread biscuits threaded onto ribbons. Very tasty - though there goes the 694 saved calories!!
Friday, 25 June 2010
The "Godfather" is, of course, the legendary Stan Tracey "the Godfather of British Jazz", and he was playing not 15 miles down the road from my bit so there as never any doubt that I would be there.
St Mary's Parish Church in Haddington is probably as far removed from most peoples image of a jazz venue as it's possible to get, but for a warm summers evening it's cool interior made a welcome change to the usual stuffy conditions that prevail.
The audience was modest but incredibly enthusiastic and appreciative, and their numbers included representatives of the Rae and Bancroft families of Scottish jazz luminaries.
The show ended with the old standard "Autumn Leaves". Only not as you know it. If these were Autumn leaves they were leaves that had been blown from the trees in one mighty sudden gust and were blowing about your feet in a mad rush of colours! Simon Allen again stole the show here and sounded a little more like Stan Getz than may be wise when in the company of Tracey, knowing his thoughts on that particular sax player.
A wonderful gig and a rare chance to see such a talented player so close to home.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Well bugger me. I was today - for a bit anyway....
Went down to Peebles for the Beltane 10k, hosted by Moorfoot Runners. This year they have changed the course of the race and changed it into a "trail" race, and I think that's what clinched it for me in the "I-want-to-do-that-one" stakes. Can't say I've done that many trail races before. To be honest it's basically like a cross country - only run in better weather!
Got down there in loads of time, registered and went for a bit of a warm up run with Mr Sills. I'd brought my trail shoes with me, but decided that as it was so dry and firm underfoot I could probably just get away with the trainers.
The race started at Kerfield park and went round the park on and a bit times, before heading out and along by the Tweed, into Haylodge, then basically following the route used for the Borders cross country series.
Quite a quick start in the park, but for some reason I found myself up in about the top three, alongside a Gala Harrier and Mr Sills. And then we came out of the park and started running along the side of the Tweed and we somehow went "off script" - I found myself in front! So unused to this strange state of affairs was I, that I dam near stopped to ask if the guys behind were taking the piss.
However, I just decided to keep the head down and get on with it. after about 2k we got into Haylodge Park and my lead hadn't exactly vanished, but I was in a little group of three (me, Ian and Stevie Cairns of HBT).
Through the narrow wooded paths along by the banks of the river until the 5k mark at the turn for the viaduct. And then it happened.... at the 5k marker Mr Cairns looked at his watch, decided the tempo was not to his usual standard, and just took off. Within about 30 seconds he was out of sight. I don't know about Ian, but any dream I ever had of winning just flew out the window.
Still, me and Mr Sills were still 2nd and 3rd "on the road" and just kept up our own pace.
We managed to stick pretty much together through the woods, up a fairly awful hill and back along the pathway towards the bridge that takes you back over the river and into Kerfield Park.
I had a feeling Ian would have a stronger finish than me today, but I didn't really know how far back the 4th runner was and was more interested in working together and running for 2nd and 3rd.
And that is pretty much how it worked out. By the time we came into the park for the final lap before the finish Ian had started to pull away. I risked a look over my shoulder and realised that I had enough on the 4th runner anyway to get 3rd.
38:41 - a few minutes slower than my recent 10k's, but still happy with that given the terrain.
Mr Cairns? Well. I believe he jogged in at 36:01- 2:40 quicker over 5k!
Nice cakes and scones afterwards in the cricket pavillion. The weather was so nice everyone was quite happy just to sit about waiting for the prize giving.
A nice little "paper weight" trophy and a voucher followed by an added bonus. Brians run was enough to give us the team prize as well. So another little paper weight and a bottle of wine. Wine. How come I never won any booze when I did drink? Maybe that's one of those questions that sort of answers itself :-)
A nice race and a nice venue. It's always difficult when a club changes a race route, for whatever reason, but this new route offers something a little different. Your unlikely to get a PB on it, but who cares. A good race that should grow in popularity.
Friday, 18 June 2010
The best thing to do when your running a short, fast and hard race in the evening is to try and have a restful day leading up to it.
So with those wise words in mind, there I was very early yesterday morning running along Portobello prom thinking “Ooh, in 12 hours or so I’ll be racing here.” To be honest though the little run in the morning was really gentle and hopefully just a short session to keep the old legs loose. I am not doing enough stretching these days and suffer quite badly from stiff legs and a stiff back in the morning. What my early run did make me realise though was how hot it was yesterday. And as the day went on it just got hotter and hotter…..it was going to be tough.
Anyway. A “working day” later I met Anne and, after a coffee and cake, we headed down to Portobello for registration.
There was a good turnout from the club last night and we more or less headed out “en mass” for a bit of a warm up before the start after a quick group photo.
I was secretly aiming for sub 23, but due to the heat I was starting to revise my plans.
Anyway, we got back from our warm up. Quick last minute visit to the loo. On to the start line for the usual words of advice from the starter… and we were off.
For about the first forty or fifty metres I felt quite comfortable, but after that it was just maximum effort all the way round.
The first part of the race up towards the turn at the cat and dog home is just a bit of a blur to me to be honest. I know that for this part of the race me and Ian were either shoulder to shoulder, or taking it in turns to try and take the lead, but even in something as short as a four mile race the first mile is still pretty much about trying to settle in and then trying to move up the field (well, it is for me).
Missed the fist mile marker (there was one – but I just missed it), so I was more than happy to get to the two mile marker, back down on the prom, to see that I was managing about 5:40 pace.
The run from King Street, along the prom before turning round for the home stretch is always a toughie for me. There were a group of Edinburgh guys ahead of me and I just set myself the task of trying to get towards them. My breathing was so laboured by this time that I really couldn’t tell what was happening behind me and didn’t dare risk looking round in case I lost time or saw Ian sitting comfortably behind me.
Turned and headed briefly onto the High Street before a quick dodge down a side street and a sharp left back onto the prom for the last mile.
Unfortunately, some of the slower runners (still heading towards the turn) had decided to ignore the race instructions to “stay on the left” preferring to go to their right to try and get shade from the wall.
I noticed that one of the Edinburgh group had been dropped slightly and tried to reel him in. However, my breathing was so laboured that the guy obviously knew it and pulled away slightly every time I got close. Finally managed to pass him, close to the swimming pool, but he really tried to get back and made me work all the way to the bowling club and the finish line.
Finished 12th in 22:20 which cheered me up no end. Another PB this year.
Usual efficient “results board” posted just by the drinks station is always busy – a great way to quickly see how you got on and who’s in line for what prize.
A quick shower and change before the prize giving then we all headed down to Musselburgh for a curry.
I think though that the effort of the run had played a bit of havoc with my stomach and although the food was tasty enough I didn’t quite mange it with the usual relish.
Any disappointing parts to the evening? Well yes there was. A beautiful sunny evening by the beach. Was there ladies beach volleyball on? No there was not L
Maybe just as well though, might have ended up getting about 25 minutes.
Thursday, 17 June 2010
For one reason or other my face no longer “fits” my skull. What little elasticity there once was is starting to fail. I’ve lost weight and the front of my head now has the sorry dishevelled look of a wee boy wearing his big brothers dufflecoat. The use of various creams, lotions and unguents has been recommended to me, but I am off a belief that such things should only be applied on the recommendation of one’s physician – not some silly wee lassie on the cosmetics stall of Boots.
Anyway, my loose and hanging face wouldn’t be problematic if it looked “interesting”. Sadly, it doesn’t. No, apparently (or so I’ve been told), my usual countenance is either described as a “scowl” or simply “sore to look at”. Truth be told though this could be due to the fact that I am a bit of a brumpy gastard.
Whatever. Having a bit of a scowly face can often work to ones advantage.
There are a few things that bring me no joy in this life whatsoever. Among these things I could list: my work, the “Dear Green Place”, travelling on trains and those awful “Chuggers” – those moronic student types who pounce out on pedestrians all full of fake jollity and joi-de-vivre, trying to get you to sign a standing order to donate half your monthly wages to save the lesser spotted Trinidadian Tree Frog, or some such. I really, really hate these people.
So, perhaps the other week the old sagging face came in handy…
All four of the above collided, like particles in a hadron collider to produce one of the worst moods I’ve been in in a long time -It had been another crappy day through in the DGP and I was trying to fight my way “upstream” through the tsunami of shell suit covered flab and pram pushing dole-scum-mums that passes for the populace, in an effort to get to the station on time to get a seat on the cattle truck back through to the civilised East.
I had already been approached by two moronic studenty type chuggers and was trying to bypass a third (a female of the species) when she clocked me and started to approach me and get ready to launch into her stupid routine. Without even uttering a word I simply lifted my head and looked up at this cretin… the effect was most gratifying. Her chirpy, cheery countenance fell, her hands went up surrender-style quicker than a Frenchman’s at the start of a war, and she backed away muttering “Whoa, Mr ‘Angry face’”.
Mr “Angry Face” waited till he had walked round the corner before he pissed himself laughing J
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Among the best of the "old" school are Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Artie Shaw.
So, I was pleased on Monday to find a Count Basie orchestra CD in one of Leith's many charity shops. "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" a CD that appears to be cobbled together from two different recording sessions. One in late 1969 and another in early 1970. 18 Standards, all nicely arranged and all well played. But that's about it to be honest...the band just walk through the arrangements to be honest and no musician seems to be given any solo's of any length at all. It's got a bit of a Friday afternoon - "OK lets get this done and get out of here" feel about it.
It has however, given me a taste to hear a bit more Basie. Not listened to any for a while.
Time perhaps to pick out a couple of real classics. "The Atomic Mr Basie" with the band storming their way through a load of fully charged energised arrangements by Neal Hefti or "April In Paris" from the mid 50's when the band didn't simply "swing", they took "swing", shook it up, redefined it and dared anyone to match them. This album alone is worth it for the title track and Basie's call to the band "... one more time" at the end... only for them to play it even harder and make him demand "let's hear that one more once".
Feel a lot of music about to be loaded onto my new toy and this weekend being declared "Big Band Weekend" in my house!!
Finally we reached a compromise and I just took them out for a wee six mile bimble at recovery pace.
I can't blame their rebellious mood to be honest, I've been asking quite a lot of them lately. A couple of races and then a very fast 7.5 miles in Leith on Monday, followed by a "double session" yesterday - a brisk 6.7 through the leafy glades of the Dear Green Place at lunchtime, rounded off with a fast 9.5 miles last night with the club.
In reality a complete rest may have been in order today, but I've never been one to allow common sense to interfere with my running schedule.
Going for a curry tomorrow after the race. Probably end up face down sleeping in my vegetable korma......
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Saturday, 12 June 2010
Despite the name it's probably closer to 4.5 miles and it's one of those "there and back" routes - but with a difference. The difference being that you turn by going around the titular "Black Rock" by wading out into the Forth and getting your dangly bits bathed in cold water!
First half mile or so is a quick dash through Kinghorn, down on to the beach. Then it's, usually, a nice straight run out over firm sands to the rock. I say "usually" because there was little nice about it last night. Despite it being quite sunny there was a stiff head wind up to the rock. Very tough going.
Got round the rock not too bad, and then, upon emerging from the Forth after those first few strength sapping steps when you feel like your shoes and kit weigh a ton, I just got into quite a nice rhythm and tried to reel in the two runners in front.
The soft sand part as you come off the beach is another obstacle that breaks any rhythm you might have - just before you start the long steady climb back through the village.
The ending is a quick little descent past the local train station, before turning under a viaduct and a lung bursting steep hill to the end (perhaps about 200m). The crowds here though are amazing and really carry you along.
Once through the really well organised finishing funnel you wind your way through the Ship Tavern to be presented with your bottle of beer (so, given my teetotal status that's two bottles for Anne).
Keen to see the results. That's the third time I've done that race - and the slowest I've done it (27:50). BUT, strangely, I think I might be slightly higher up the overall results, so perhaps everyone was slowed down a bit by the conditions. Whatever. I'm not really too bothered. It's one of those races where simply taking part is fun.
Once Anne finished and got her beer we started to make our way back to the changing area. But on the way we decided to "fuel up" with some chips - the food of champions!
Decided that I'm not going to do the Traprain Law race today. In one way I'd quite like to. But a race last night, then that, then the Portobello Prom race followed by next Sundays Peebles 10K trail race might be a bit too much. I do enjoy these short fast races, but I also want to stay injury free.
Thursday, 10 June 2010
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
Last nights club run was a bit of a hilly one. 8.5 miles in total, with the first half taking us out of Dunbar and up “Starvation Brae” before attacking the south face of Brunt Hill and then starting the relatively fast 4 and a bit miles back to Dunbar via Spott and Wester Broomhouse.
A strange night. It was really misty and wet – it looked more like a November night. But still very warm and muggy.
Strange observation…. Well actually it was Richard who made the observation. We both did exactly the same run. Same route, same paths, same fields. So why, given we took about the same time, did he come back spotless while my legs, arse and even my back were covered in mud and …. Well stuff that coos had left in the field.
Must be the way I run – I think in some way I must “flick” my foot. Dam messy whatever it is!
Still. Just what the doctor ordered after spending a shitty day through in the “Dear Green Place”.
Sunday, 6 June 2010
And yesterday's ASICS Haddington 5 was no exception, it was an absolute scorcher.
I was looking forward to doing this race this year. The timing of the Edinburgh Marathon means that I've missed it for the last couple of years, but the shift in the marathon this year gave me a couple of weeks between the races so I thought I'd give it a go.
Met up with some other runners at the registration tent for a bit of a blether. Then a couple of us went for a bit of a "warm up" (as if that was needed).
I know this will be unpopular with some, but I was pleased when it was announced that mp3 players were banned from the race and anyone caught wearing one would be pulled.
A bit of race instructions from the starters and we were off....
Usual jockeying for position during the first few hundred yards of Nielson Park, bit of a lung-busting climb over the bridge past the Tynesdie Tavern then it's heads down and eyeballs out on stalks for the more or less four mile circuit of quiet country roads (though not "closed" roads - hence one reason for the mp3 ban), before the final fast section back over the bridge and into the park.
I'm sure there is a "proper" way to run a five mile race and I'm sure more experienced runners know how to pace it, but I adopt a fairly simplistic approach that can be summed up in one word... "Charge"!!
Clocked the first mile at about 5:45 and just gritted my teeth and tried to hold on. By the first mile I was already drenched in sweat and cooking up. I threw my hat to Neil Scott who was marshaling at about the 1.75 mile point - I really shouldn't have been wearing it. On some sections of the course it was like running through an oven.
For about the first three miles I was trying to chase down the black and yellow vest of a Falkirk runner and finally managed to catch and pass him just about at the four mile mark.
However, I never really got the far away and he got his own back by passing me on the road before the run into the park.
Still. I managed to get 29:24, eighth overall and 1st local club vet. Pleased with the time and happy to add to Dunbar's modest haul of silverware (we got three).
I enjoy these shorter runs during the summer. Just as well really, as I've got a few of them lined up! Still... can't neglect keeping the weekly mileage up so I was out for a longer run this morning. In thick mist and heavy rain! What a contrast from yesterday.
If you were to get most people to list their ten most important jazz figures ever, it's more than likely that these two names will always appear near the top of the list.
Jazz modernists who may shy away from traditional sounds would not deny the influence and impact of Ellington, while likewise those who can't attune themselves to Coltranes later avant garde work would still recognise the defining change it brought about to jazz.
So... you'd think that a collaboration between these two would produce some of the best jazz you've ever witnessed.....
I don't know if they didn't hit it off, or if one (or both) were having bad days when it was recorded. But it just doesn't gel.
To my mind, if anyone, it's Ellington who at least appears to make the attempt to move away from his usual territory and edges towards the modern, whereas Coltrane, here, just plays it straight. To be fair to Coltrane he was in a sort of "fallow" period in '62 and hadn't really got the sound yet that would define his later work yet (A Love Supreme - 1965). Perhaps he was simply in awe of Ellington. I don't know.
Good album. Hell, a "great" album by most standards, but it could have been amazing.
Thursday, 3 June 2010
First became aware of Steve Lodder through his collaborations with Andy Sheppard.
Obviously, since then I’ve become aware of a lot of other stuff he’s done, including working with the late George Russell and John Harle.
Got a couple of albums he’s done “under his own name” as well, including one “Above The Clouds” – duets for saxophone and church organ (with Mark Ramsden on sax) that is exceedingly good and has a sort of ECM-European-classical-churchy feel about it. Very atmospheric – an album more for dark winter nights though for some reason.
And different types of music suiting different seasons is an apt subject for the latest album I’ve got, that also features Lodder on piano.
“Songs Of The Year” by Threeway. A trio led by bass player/composer Ben Crossland and also featuring Steve Waterman on trumpet. 12 tunes that while not exactly linked to calendar months track the changes in the [English] countryside during the year.
As you would expect from tunes dealing with rural settings its all very gentle and peaceful stuff. Sort of “chamber” jazz meets “Springwatch” – but without the cute pictures of baby animals. Very smooth and mellow.
How smooth and mellow? Well this mornings cattle truck through to the D.G.P was not only delayed, overheated and badly ventilated as usual, but was also reduced from the usual six busy carriages to a “cram-‘em-in” three! And I still felt relaxed at the other end.
Now that IS mellow!