Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Enjoying my stay here on "plant time off". As per, at this time of year, .... getting into a really calm groove.
If only the same could be said about the weather! Yesterday was a strangely calm day and I enjoyed an almost 13 mile run over by the wind farms and Crichness that was mainly on trail. Lovely stuff. Beautiful blue sky. Perfect post Christmas weather.
Every other day? Howlin' a feckin gale! Jeeze - I was out for 9 miles this morning and just about got blown backwards at one point! That said I'm glad I went out reasonably early on for my run today as it was forecast to get worse as the day goes on... and it is.

Don't usually get drawn into the whole "January Sales" thing. But I got an email from one of the sports shops I've used in the past, to inform me that they had the type of shoes I run in at 50% off (Brooks Adrenalin). Given that I actually do need new shoes right now it seemed stupid not to.
Going to spend some time one day soon going through all my kit - see what I can get rid of. I've a bad habit of buying new kit, but not getting rid of the old stuff. I've a drawer full of new tee shirts that I've hardly had on - yet I seem to wear the same old skanky two or three all the time!
And shoes? Jeeze the "old" shoes that I hang on to after I stop running in them. It's like playing "shoe jenga" in our utility room sometimes. You try to get one pair out and about six other pairs end up falling all over the place.

Monday, 26 December 2011


Happy lad yesterday. Awoke to discover that Santa had left me a shit-load of jazz (as opposed, thankfully, to a load of shit jazz).
Some real crackers in there and I'm looking forward to some quality time getting myself acquainted with it.
Drummers feature large in this years bag. First to get unwrapped came a CD by the late Tony Levin. A quartet date he did in Germany in 1987. The quartet consisted of Levin on drums, Paul Dunmall on baritone sax and Jerry Underwood and Andy Sheppard, both on tenor sax. Not your usual quartet arrangement then and possibly leaning towards the "avant garde".I don't think this will be an "easy" listen, as such, but it should be a rewarding one.
The next drum related treat was a box set of cds by Phil Seamen ("Seamen's Mission). A selection of sessions from the mid to late 50's by one of the most in demand British drummers there's been. This collection looks like a "who's who" of UK jazz, with Jimmy Deuchar, Joe Harriott, Ronnie Scott, Stan Tracey and Tubby Hayes all making an appearance. Looking forward to going through that.
Loads of other jazz as well. Oh... and quite a bit of aftershave, gels, deodorants and various smelly lotions, that, if I were a cynical man, might lead me to believe that not everyone in my family agrees with my earlier assertion that all a chap needs is a bar of soap, a toothbrush and a razor!!

Yesterday also saw me eat a tad more than I normally would. So that, coupled with the strong wind today, made my nine mile Boxing Day run a bit of a slog to be honest. It doesn't help that it's unfeasibly mild for the time of year either! Had on a Helly Hansen top and a tee shirt over it and ended up cooking!
Still, I was out on Christmas Eve, and we both went for a wee 4.5 mile trot yesterday morning, so I'm going to try and get out every day while I'm off. The "theme" for this holidays running is going to be "easy" pace. I', going to try and get miles in without knackering my legs too much.

Friday, 23 December 2011


Sent from my pbone

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


If there's been one defining "feature" about most of my runs this year it could be summed up as "extra effort - less reward".
I know it's a common moan/gripe/constant grumble among most runners, but "it ain't getting any easier".
I've been looking at my log and, with a few exceptions; based solely on average heart rate as an indicator of "effort" a lot of my runs are "as", if not "more", effort laden as previous years. But the "reward" i.e. the times are all slower (albeit very slightly). Runs that I might regularly have done in 40 minutes at 145bpm I'm now doing in 42 at 150bpm for example.
I realise you cant keep improving (it would be nice - but you can't).
In awful moments of self doubt I've even pondered if that "thing" that starts in "A" and ends in "E" with a "G" in the middle might be a factor. But surely not.

So. There are two options open to me (that spring to mind).

One: Reassess my goals. Maybe do different runs/races/events - focus on endurance a bit more and speed a bit less?
Two: Bury my head in the sand and refuse to give into the inevitable. While coupling this blind refusal to let facts distract me, with an increase in the training (mileage and effort). Push my body to destruction and go for one final year of improvements.

Lets face it ... it's two. "Death or glory" - Charge!!

Sunday, 18 December 2011


A wee bit of FC LSD today - with the "FC" being "feckin' cauld"!
A beautiful, cold, icy, clear, blue skied December morning. Just the ticket for a nice, circular, thirteen mile route round by Crowhill, back through Innerwick then finish off with a climb up to Weatherly and a nice downhill last mile back to the house.
It was that cauld today I even wore a jacket and leggings - what a jessie.
Noticed that my road shoes are almost worn flat on the soles - hardly any grip left at all! Going to try and use the trail shoes during the holidays and get off road a bit, but maybe try and get a pair (or two) of shoes in the January sales (if there are any).

Back home and on planet jazz my desire to listen to tunes of a fesive nature is wanning already - and there's still a week to go! I feel sorry for shop workers who have to listen to it all day every day from early November!
Not all Crimbo tunes though! Managed to get a hold of a recording I've been after for ages. Stan Getz and Kenny Barron - "People Time" a double CD that features the best performances from a four night stint the duo played in Copenhagen about three months before Stan passed away in 1991. Exceptionally beautiful music. Stan Getz had such a feathery, light, breathy, whispering tone to his sax.
If Stan was trying to leave a legacy with this recording..he managed it magnificently.
There seems to be quite a bit of sorrow that comes through in the music, but not regret.
The feeling he could put into music was astounding. There is another recording of Stan's from 1971 "Dynasty". This one was recorded at Ronnie Scott's club. During the residence Stan learned of the death of his father and came up with the tune "Ballad For My Dad". Beautiful.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


I saw two shooting stars last night.
I was out for a wee four mile trot. I had decided against going to the club. Yesterday was my works Christmas Lunch and the thought of tanking round the streets of Dunbar with a belly full of food did not appeal.
However, I felt a bit sluggish and bloated so I decided that a gentle trot might be just the thing. So...mindful of the weather I wrapped myself up, put on my head torch and ventured forth onto the country lanes of the Innerwick/Spott conurbation.
First half, with the wind behind me was unbelievably fast - too fast at one point. I was literally getting blown along and, while I like running with a head torch, I'm always mindful about not seeing your footing so I take it a bit easier (four falls in two years after all).
Just as I turned to come home I noticed that the sky was crystal clear and that's when I saw the two "shooting stars" (maybe Billy was right and they were just satellites). Things like that never cease to amaze me. I know its a very common phenomenon, but you just have to be looking at the right place at the right time, so to see two pretty close together was something. I enjoy racing and I enjoy running with others, but I'm equally happy when I'm out running on my own; I love the sense of isolation you get, and darkness just adds another dimension to that.
Shortly after though I was aware that I was losing sight of the stras ahead and the skys were darkening as a massive bank of cloud hurtled towards me. My last mile was run head on into a howling gale with sleet and snow whipping into my face..but the strange thing is that even that was fun.
40 minutes for just over 4.5 miles!

Oh... Talking about the importance of seeing your footing. I discovered a new "adventure sport" the other day. Based pretty much on running (trail running to be precise). But this involves hurtling quickly down a hill on a stoney path and approaching a cattle grid... just in time to look down to check your footing then discover you still have your bifocal distance/reading glasses on!!

Sunday, 11 December 2011


The clubs "Festive Half" this morning. A handicap race that starts and ends at Hallhill Healthy Living Centre and takes in a few streets of Dunbar before heading off road into John Muir Country Park and then a wee loop of Lawhead and Knowes Farm before heading back.
Some runners seem to think the "handicap" is to festoon themselves in fancy dress and further burden themselves by carrying sacks of sweets or ringing bells! I opted for the more traditional shorts and tee-shirt look. (photos HERE)
I set off with Ians "S" and "R" with a 1:25 handicap in mind. For the first couple of miles Mr S set the pace, but for some reason as we were going through the woods in John Muir I found myself out in front and for reasons that I will never fathom I started to pull away.
By the time I got to the road up towards Lawhead I had a plan. Well "plan" might be too much, but I did at least have a "theory". Both Ians are better off road than I am... I had a little lead when we went onto the road.... if I could just crank it up a little and extend that lead I might have enough to see me back through John Muir. I'm not trying to say I'm good on the road - rather, I'm just not as bad as I am on tracks! If I was to create a lead it would have to be there.
So I just got the head down, ignored the digits creeping up beyond the "careful now" level on the HRM and went for it.
Bugger me - it worked! Not first back but still managed to get 1:23:46 which pleased me for a half that's mainly off road. Though I do suspect that both Ians were taking things a bit easier today.

After a few sandwiches and soup in Hallhill we went off to get our Christmas tree. We go to Beanston Farm for our tree. Have done since we moved here 13 years ago and I think it would be closed during the week after work times so it was either today or next weekend. The plan had been to buy it, keep it outside then bring it in and decorate it tomorrow or Wednesday.
"Best laid plans" and all that...... Don't usually put our tree up this early, but what the hell!

Tommy Smith's Christmas Concert back onto the old music player...marvel as Tommy gets "We Three Kings" to SWING...... "great"! The saintly Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas album going on next.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Went out a little while ago for a nine mile run, up round the wind farms at the back.
Fantastic fun. Especially as everything after Weatherly was covered in a layer of snow. Nothing serious at all, perhaps about half an inch deep. Its strange that sometimes I find just a little covering of snow actually improves the grip underfoot. One of the things about running, and walking I suppose, is that you experience the same routes at different times in different conditions - gives them a new perspective and makes them seem fresh again.
Enjoyed running along and trying to figure out what some of the animal tracks were. "Oh yes. Definitely a fox" I thought, as I saw one line of tracks cross the road. Then my eyes followed the track to its end and I saw a sheep standing looking at me! Jack Hargreaves I ain't!!

Anyway. Little or no wind today which was really nice after the battering we've had for the last couple of days.
In fact on Thursday the clubs interval session was cancelled - not often that happens.
Another "victim" of Thursday's strong winds was our electricity supply - which does all-too-bloody-often happen. In fact you know you get a lot of power cuts when you know Scottish Power's "emergency helpline" number off by heart(08452727999)!! Thursday night to Friday lunchtime this time. Not too bad as on Friday we were at work anyway. In fact I was in work early on Friday to get a shower before I started (no electricty = no hot water at home).
Even although we weren't out running on Thursday night we still "kept the faith" by sitting about the house with our head torches on !! Very little on telly that I really want to watch, but I've been getting into that comedy "Rev" that's on Thursday nights. Have to try and catch the repeat sometime.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


Training has a habit of stepping down a gear at this time of year. Not because of commitments or time constraints (though I suppose that can affect some folks training), but primarily because of the weather.
The weather might not exactly dictate what you do, but chances are it influences what you do.
Take yesterday. I was all set for my usual 7 mile run up by the majestic Clyde. However the weather had contrived to make the pathways as dangerous as possible. The snow from Tuesday night/Wednesday morning had melted slightly - only to freeze over again. It was treacherous underfoot.
So... I ended up tippity-toeing half a mile or so along to Glasgow Green and from there just running about the grassy areas hither and tither. I like running on grass that's got a sort of ice covering on it. Nice and crunchy underfoot. Till you hit one of those spots that's deceptively muddy underfoot!!
Quite a few other runners had the same idea and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. Noticed that while the weather didn't deter runners the ned count was way down (no bad thing). Including the tippy-toe run there and back to the office I still manged 4.5 miles.
The speed though was way down on my usual lunchtime run - it was perhaps natures way of getting me to take it easy.
And it was probably just as well I had an easy lunchtime run as last nights club run was yet another eyeballs out session (the more temperate climes to be found in the east are much more conducive to road running).

Then today it was the wind that affected my run. Went out for a 7 mile easy run, so I didn't mind too much when the wind slowed me down - I just let it. Keeping the heart rate steady was more important today than speed.
Not looking forward to tomorrow though (90mph winds forecast!).

Life on "planet jazz" is going through a bit of a slow down as well to be honest. I'm getting to that strange time of year where I don't want to buy/acquire anything too new in case Santa's already packed it away for me. And in a week or so I'll be dusting down my collection of festive grooves (which by the 25th I'll be fed up with and grateful for some new sounds no doubt).
However, being careful about what I get doesn't mean getting nothing (oh Lordy no).
Managed to get a copy of "Super Standard" by The Super Trio. Now, apparently this was/is/should be a Kenny Barron CD, but contractual difficulties meant that it couldn't be released under his name (hence the "Super Trio"). Think the contractual problems actually led to the album only having a short shelf life and its now been deleted by the label but, I believe, it can still be bought from one of these companies that buy the rights to music then burn CDs to demand (I got an out of print Courtney Pine CD that way.... only for it to be re-released a few years later).
Anyway... I like Kenny Barron. Have done since I heard him with Stan Getz in 1989. This is a collection of tried and tested standards all beautifully done, especially Duke Ellington's "Sunset and The Mockingbird" and also "Willow Weep For Me" where bassist Jay Leonhart uses the bow on the upright bass to great effect.
Mostly ballads, though there are a couple of more upbeat ones on here too ("Cherokee" for example) and a cover of Bud Powells "Cleopatra's Dream" that has a bit of a latin groove going on.
Beautiful ballads taken at a slow and easy pace - just the ticket for those times when your thinking of slowing down a bit yourself.

Sunday, 4 December 2011


Down to Peebles this morning for the fourth race in the Borders XC series and even the weather was "cross countryish". Snow!!
Not a lot to be honest (it wasn't lying), but it did snow while we were running and it was just enough to make it feel like "proper" conditions for a four mile trot round a muddy course. It also added a slightly "festive" air to the last race before Christmas (pleased about that if I'm honest - I want my weekends back!).
Anyway. The race itself has a bit of everything. Starts with a large loop around the park, to allow the runners to pick up a bit speed, before shooting them off onto a tricky, narrow, rocky, rooted, twisty path that runs along by the riverside. This narrow section is not one to try to gain a place or two.
After that you find yourself on an open flat plain before doubling back over a disused railway bridge and then into a nice forest trail that offers you a bit shelter from the wind - though punishes you by being a deceptive incline!
Out here into a muddy field, a tricky sharp left turn and then a long climb. The sort of climb that you think "it's not that steep that I need to walk ... but it's steep enough to hurt". Into the woods again briefly, before you emerge into a filed with a long muddy descent.
The last half mile or so sees you approach the finish along a path that is six inches deep in cloying mud with a wafer thin layer of leaf mulch on top for added slipperiness!
Time and place was "so so" (28:57).
Had to stand about till the end to collect the numbers and times from the timekeepers, so I had a good natter with Romie from Norham. 185 senior runners today (with about 280 registered for the series). This event is getting more popular every year attracting more clubs and a better field.

Might not be quite this white now.

Got home and rattled the results off, then went for my shower! By which time the Peebles mud was rock solid, or at least what hadn't fallen into the foot well of the car on the way home was.
As some may know I'm of the opinion that a chap's toiletries collection should consist of; soap, a toothbrush, a razor, deodorant, and bugger all else! Also if these items can be purchased from PoundLand or Lidl - all the better!!
However, I'm not averse to using stuff that belongs to others. Anne's got some of these nylon scrumpled net things (it looks like an old sprouts bag all scrunched up). Anyway, give the muddy legs a good soap then a vigorous scrubbing with one of those things and it soon shifts the toughest of cross country mud! Lovely.

Saturday, 3 December 2011


Long weekend. Had Friday as a day's leave so we did all the usual "Saturday" type things yesterday - grocery shopping, visit to the recycling centre (always a joy) as well as a Christmas shopping trip.
This left today free, with nowhere we had to be and nothing we had to do. So I decided it was high time I got out there and did some LSD. Horrified to see that this is the first real long run I've done since Inverness at the start of October.
I've been managing to keep my weekly mileage "there or there abouts" but, while I do enjoy the cross country, it sort of takes away my usual main training day (Sunday). So when I'm trying to make up the mileage elsewhere its just wee scrappy bits here and there, and I seem to take every short run at fast pace, the cumulative effect of this can be counter productive (I think).
Anyhoo, given that we're off to Peebles tomorrow I thought Id get out there and do a slow long un'.
Ended up just over 16 miles. Over by Oldhamstocks and back. Nothing too taxing but the wind made me feel like I was really working in some places. Should have chosen a better route to be honest, a 16 mile loop that ends into a head wind is maybe a bit daft.
Felt good though to be out there for a two hour run again. Some time since I've done that.
Don't know how it will effect my run tomorrow at the cross country, but I'm just there to make up the numbers really.
My three day weekend is giving me a real taste for the Christmas holidays coming up. Must try to get out for a few long runs then.

It was quite nice Christmas shopping yesterday. The shops were a bit quieter than usual (hardly anybody gets the St Andrews day holiday).
Not like Wednesday, when the public sector showed their anger at the governments pig-headed refusal to squeeze taxpayers more in order to maintain their privileged gilt edged pensions. This anger, it would appear, manifested itself in the largest orchestrated Christmas shopping trip since 1926 with some shopping centres reporting a 38% increase in footfall. Good for you comrades... good for you.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011




Oh lordy. Those “senior moments” seem to be coming thick and fast.

Forgot the shorts last night. No problem in that department today. Favourite pair of big baggy Nike shorts packed last night. BUT.

Just away to get changed at lunchtime and I got called back by a colleague “wouldn’t you be better off with your top?” I’d left it to “air” a bit on a hanger and was half way to the shower room without it.

Came back got the top. Got changed. Went out. Got a signal on the old Garmin… and had to come back in again! I’d forgotten the heart rate monitor.

But the worst has got to be, having chaffing and still forgetting my Vas’ !! God alone knows it’s a big enough tub. I think it’s actually marketed as a “Prison Party Pack Size”. So again I’ve had to “make do and mend”…

Ever been a run with your bits all slathered in Body Shop Hemp Hand Cream??

Quite nice J



Got down to the club last night to discover a lack of a vital piece of kit…..shorts!!

How the hell I forgot to pack shorts is beyond me, but there you go – I did.

Luckily, in the store cupboard at Hallhill there is a box full of “official” club shorts. The box has been there for years. For good reason; theyre crap.

Stylish, cut sides, tight, green, efforts; made from a strange material that’s a mix of polyester and emery paper! But “needs must” and all that – a pair were donned and the run was undertaken.

Any yet again, for a Tuesday, it was run at speed. For a few reasons.. It was “bloody cauld” and the theory was the quicker you went the sooner you’d be back in the warmth. And  the “embarrassment” of being seen in these shorts.

So. The run went well, “really well” if I’m honest, given the strong winds. Felt good while I was out.

Then got back to the changing room to have a shower… “cold weather”, “strange shorts” – I’m sure you can see where this is going!

“Intimate chaffing” doesn’t even begin to describe the injury!! L

Got my proper shorts today, but even so, today’s run might be a bit subdued more a sort of John Wayne-ish shuffle.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Galashiels this morning for the third leg in the Borders Cross Country series. And once more we were blessed with beautiful blue skys and nice weather. Howling a gale mind - but at least it was blue skys.
However, it had rained the night before and the going was "soft" (for "soft" read downright squelchy and mud up to your dangly bits).
Brilliant!! If I'm going to do cross country at all that's how I want it to be!

Now. This is not a criticism - it's an observation. There were a lot of runners from the host club running the race today. Probably more than were marshaling. Which is a shame, because if the ratio had been a bit different, with more marshaling, perhaps we wouldn't have all taken the wrong route and missed out a sizable chunk of what was an excellent course.
Luckily however, everyone went wrong so the results still stand. But is was a shame I was enjoying it and it did seem to be over all too quickly. A couple of climbs that are pretty energy sapping at the best of times, but when your trying to run up hill into a strong wind it just makes it all the more challenging.
At one point a flock of sheep took fright and darted across the runners, right in front of me! I don't think it's correct "shepherding" terminology and would have probably lost me points if I'd ever been on "one man and his dog" but I did bellow at them to "F**K Off!"
A nice fast descent down the side of a field and then along the bottom to the part where we all went wrong.
Runners are, when alls said and done, rather stupid creatures. If one goes astray its fair to say that the remainder will just follow. Which is my defense. I was just following the runner in front of me and the guy behind me was just following me. But when we got to the part where everyone was clambering over a rather wobbly, crumbly dry stone wall even I thought "hang on, this cant be right". I was and it wasn't...everyone ended up missing about a mile out of the course. I also heard, after the event, that by the time 160 runners went over it there was a little less of the dry stoone wall than there was at the start.
At the end when word got round someone suggested that they "make them all do it again". I was up for that.

A very welcome cup of soup and a roll at the end before the journey home and the fun of trying to scrub all the mud off my legs.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


Don't watch much in the way of crime fiction on the telly but I do read a fair bit of it. I know I should watch it and I might invest in the Killing Series 1 on DVD to see what all the fuss is about (though I've probably heard more about the main characters bloody pullover than any actual "crime").
And like just about everyone else at the moment I'm getting into a lot of Scandanavian crime novels.
I enjoy (or am still enjoying to be precise) the Stig Larsson books and I really enjoyed the first book by Jo Nesbo. Camilla Lackberg's "Ice Princess"was an enjoyable read as well.
I've read a lot, though not all, of the Wallander books by  Henning Mankell and have enjoyed those. I did find the first couple a bit "dry" but couldn't make up my mind if it was the way Mankell wrote or if the translator had been a bit too literal. There appeared to be very little in the way of descriptive "flourish" in his books. Rather everything was described quite coldly and clinically.

Anyhoo.. A new series of books has been brought to my attention. The Martin Beck books by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.
A Swedish Detective who like 99.99% of all fictitous detectives has not only murders to deal with but personal "issues".
If the first book in the series, "Roseanna", is anything to go by I think they'll be pretty good. Written in 1965 it's probably a bit "slow" for some peoples tastes. Certainly there's nothing in the way of car chases, shoot outs and they don't have "24 hours to save the president/world/whatever".
Rather; what there is, right at the beginning, is the discovery of a body in strange circumstances. There then follows a long description of the painstaking routine that has to be undertaken to identify the victim, establish motive and then track down a killer.
That maybe sounds a bit boring but it's the way this routine is described and the effect it has on the main characters that make it both plausile and enjoyable. If you like UK crime fiction I'd say that this is between Morse and Rebus (but probably gravitating closer to Morse).
Only another nine books in the series to look forward to. It'll be interesting to see how some of the minor characters develop as well.

Good thing about Scandanavian crime books is that I've a pretty large collection of Scandanavian jazz to listen to while I read it.
My next book I'm reading is set in Tzarist Russia. God alone knows what I'll listen to with that - Oscar Peterson in Moscow??

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Yet another beautiful day - even through here in the DGP.
So a brisk 6.8 miles up by the sparkling, azure, crystal waters of the majestic Clyde were in order. Wonderful. I could have happily just stayed out all afternoon.
Late November and the trees are still full of leaves - all shades of red, brown and yellow. So much better than green!
Not a cloud in the sky, no wind to talk of and, while it's not "scorching", still enough heat in the sun to warm your bones.
Quite a few other runners were out, as well as cyclists and rowers. I think everyone is just taking as much advantage as possible of this nice spell - and who can blame them? This weather's got to break at some point, might as well make the most of it.

Got the Gala leg of the Border's XC on Sunday - what's the betting is piddling down for that?

Sunday, 20 November 2011


I am loving this weather.
I'm a fan of the Autumn - best season of the year by far. And this year it just seems to be going on and on and on.
Can't help feel though that when winter finally does decide to show up it really comes along with a vengeance.
I did a 13 mile route yesterday that I haven't done since late May/early June. And I swear that yesterdays run was nicer. Other than the shadows being a bit longer, for early afternoon, you would never have known it was mid November.

Didn't get a  run in during daylight hours today because I was helping out at our clubs leg of the Borders XC, and even that was more akin to a summer's race than a traditional  cross country. Where's the ice and the hail and the biting cold wind that strips the skin off your flesh that we should be getting by this time of year? Cross country races should be characterised by groups of miserable looking runners all huddled together and wrapped up in layers of gortex and fleece trying to keep warm as much as possible before the off. Today everyone seemed to be in vests and shorts right from the start.
At one point today I looked down onto White Sands beach to be greeted by the sight of dozens of runners paddling in the sea after the race! Now, I'm not saying that a few dozen runners daft enough to go paddling in the Forth is a sign of global warming - but it's still not right, is it?
We should have got an ice cream van down for the day. Could have made a packet.

The route had a couple of changes this year. Some I knew about - some I didn't. We took the runners out along the beach a bit further this year (just for fun). That I knew about (the slippery rocks I didn't).

But I'd been busy telling runners that it was all pretty flat. So it came as a surprise when some of them came back talking about the "hills". Turns out Ian just added a few wee hills into the course to add a bit variety to the mix. Seems to have worked a treat.

Went my own wee run at 5pm and even then it was cool - but not cold. Shorts and tee-shirt weather.
Got a feeling it wont be like this for much longer though.

Friday, 18 November 2011


Today is going to be my first rest day in two weeks (running wise). More than happy.
Decided after last weeks relatively low mileage week to try and up it a wee bit this week; so Tuesday, Wednesday and yesterday saw me out twice a day.
Probably too much. Last nights interval session was bliddy tough going. I was absolutely knackered when I got home.

The last couple of weeks have seen me with a bit of a swollen foot. Just at the front of the ankle. You know the pain you sometimes get if you have shoes too tight over the top of the foot? That's the one.
Bit of swelling and redness just below the cuff of my running socks at the front and, possibly more tellingly, a sort of "squeaky-rusty-hinge" sensation when the foot was moved.
A quick impromptu examination from Dunbars resident GP confirmed what I'd suspected from a bit of Google assisted self diagnosis - tendonitis (or "Anterior Tibial Tendonitis" to give it it's Sunday name).
So, loads of Brufen and lashings of Ibruphen gel for me last week and this. I have also been doing some mobility exercises, which involve me sitting at my desk with the left foot pointing out and using the ankle to manipulate the pointy foot to write the alphabet in the air! This, for whatever reason, appears to work. However, it does get a bit boring so I've adapted it to include "pointy foot" sky-writing of profane messages about civil servants! It's a bit sort of Tourette Syndrome meets St. Vitus's Dance.  Draws some funny looks but it seems to have done the trick.

Going to try and do a bit LSD tomorrow then try and get a short run in on Sunday at some point. Might head off into the hills tomorrow - bit of solitude.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Cant really explain what got into me last night, but last nights club run went off like a race. Harder than a race probably.
Needless to say a "pb" was got for that route.

Madness indeed, because this morning I had to be up and about at "stupid o'clock" to do a recce of White Sands prior to Sunday's Borders Series XC race.
Got a message yesterday from the council to say that "travellers" had moved onto the sight (after cutting down the large metal barrier erected to stop them).
Apparently the council and the police had payed our travelling "chums" a visit and requested that they may wish to "move along".

A typical clothes peg seller.
Why, oh why, can't people just let them be?
 Now. Normally this would be a bit like asking the Greeks if  "they'd consider being good enough to pay back some of their debts. Or at least spending a little less" - i.e. fecking wasting your time.
However, this time the council had repaired the large metal barrier and informed them that if they didn't move then they would be getting locked in within 24 hours.
Obviously, being locked in would deprive them of the opportunity to take their brightly coloured horse drawn wagons onto the country lanes where they would sell their hand carved clothes pegs and hand made pots and pans.
Its worked! They've gone! Thank god.
Didn't fancy holding a race that started and ended in a tinkers camp!

Anyway. After last nights exertions doing another 8.5 mile this morning was a bit daunting. So I took it very easy (8.5 minute pace). First time this winter I've used a head torch as well. Quite enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


Not satisfied with trying to dig up every road in Edinburgh, the cooncil have now moved on to pavements. Specifically the pavement along by Seafield Road.
This is a bit annoying as it effectively blocks off two of the runs that I often do from my office in Leith.
The first is a 5.5 mile route that goes down towards the Seafield junction (formally the Seafield Roundabout) then down Kings Road and back along by the back of the Cat & Dog home. The other route is basically the first route plus a loop of Portobello prom and Joppa added (making 8 miles).
As I say though, this is off limits for the foreseeable future. I probably could still go along but it now involves a couple of busy road crossings and fannying about.
So. Got a choice of one run. My 7 mile route up the Water Of Leith and back via Granton. I do like this run…but 4 days a week? Gets a bit “samey” to say the least.
Also, I find that if I do the same run too often I end up concentrating on time and getting round quicker than the last time. Every training run turns into a  sort of time trial – not ideal.
Still. Getting out anywhere at lunchtime is good. Put’s me in a good mood (or as close an approximation as I can manage).
Speaking of good moods …I thought it was a lovely version of the Johnny Hodges classic “Squatty Roo” as it happens. The lights in the shower going out on me again however leads me to think that not every one thought so L
Hope they don’t look to me for support when they are striking for their gold plated pensions. Civil Servants? Worthless b@stards to a man!

Sunday, 13 November 2011


This morning a group of us went down to Longyester to join HELP in their "Goat's Gallop" race. A beautiful  8 and a bit mile circuit that takes you up Lammer Law before heading down towards Hopes Reservoir and then back.
The first two miles is a steady climb up along a fairly well defined road/path before you head off onto the hill proper and make your way through the heather to the summit and turn around the trig point.
Then comes the bit I really don't like and can never get used to - the drop down to the reservoir. Bloody hell it's steep!
Ian, who I had set off with, had got a little ahead of me by the time we reached the top of the hill. However, by the time I had got about ten yards down the descent he was already at the bottom and galloping off into the distance.
Once down to the reservoir, and back onto road, I was OK and tried to put the foot down and catch Ian again. I was "eyeballs out" and managed a 5:50 mile at this point.... problem was -obviously so did Ian.
Got round a minute or so behind him, in 1:01:01 and was quite happy with that.
I couldn't understand though why we had passed so few runners (the runners set off in waves). Turns out that quite a few got a bit "disorientated" in the mist at the top of the hill and took an alternative route down.

No racing for me next weekend though. It's Dunbar's turn to host a leg of the Borders Cross Country. So I'll be on "running-about-with-a-clipboard-like-a-bad-tempered-old-git" duty.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


My early childhood was spent in the 60’s.
However, it wasn’t the “swinging”, psychedelic, “groovy” 60s of the contemporary, imagined, remembrance that seems to have got itself lodged into the collective psychie.
It was all dark mornings, short trousers, grey woolly socks that fell down your shins and damp duffle coats that smelled like wet dogs when they were drying on the school radiator. As an aside – anyone who longs for the clocks to stay on BST obviously cant remember walking to school between 1968 and 1971 when they tried that particular experiment before!!
My childhood was neither "swinging" nor indeed "groovy".
I think there had been a meeting in Musselburgh (where I was brung up) in the late 50’s and the town council decreed that the “swinging 60s were simply going to cost too much” and it was more fiscally prudent to simply recycle the 50s and go through another 10 years of austerity. Garish psychedelia was not for our town council who viewed anything that contained more than three hues of grey with suspicion anyway. *. Also, as anyone will tell you, the 50s in Musselburgh probably weren’t that much different from the 40s anyway!
Then; no sooner was this elongated age of austerity coming to an end than we were plunged full-on into the 3 day weeks and power cuts of the early 70s.

I only mention this to “set the scene” and explain why Dylan Thomas’s “A Childs Christmas” manages to strike a chord with me. I know it isn’t based in my “Christmas past” but, then again, my own private past always seems a bit more distant and long ago than it really is.

Anyway. The jazz event of the year occurred on Saturday and I got my grubby wee mitts Stan Tracey’s jazz suite “A Childs Christmas”. Fan-bloody-tastic.
The linear notes and the inside photography alone – never mind the source inspiration– make one issue quite clear. This is the follow up album to “Under Milk Wood”. And it’s every bit as good.
It follows a very simple structure. Tune, bit of narration, tune, bit of narration, tune etc. etc..
Now. The narration does really help here, and given that A Child's Christmas isn’t really a massive work the entire thing is delivered in 7 or so episodes, with each tune being a musical interpretation of the episode. The narration is, rather happily, set aside as separate tracks so that they can be included or excluded from your player or “playlist” as the young un’s put it. If the narration had simply been tagged onto the start or end of each track it may have been a bit more problematic.
The music is a lot cheerier and less brooding than Milk Wood (unsurprisingly), but Tracey still uses sparing piano solos to set the scene while childish capers and manic postmen are portrayed by frantic, fast flowing runs on the keyboard that replicate the playfulness of the narrative, while Simon Allen’s sax is as crisp as the snow that covers the town streets. While Andrew Cleyndert on bass and Clarke Tracey on drums get to stretch their legs on the track "Trolls".

The music is sentimental, but not overly Christmassy - if you get my [snow] drift, so this is one “Christmas” album that can be played 12 months of the year (no cheesy sleigh bells etc.). And I’m pretty sure it will be.

* NB: Some of the earlier parts of this post may be fictitious.

Monday, 7 November 2011


First leg of the Borders XC yesterday. At Lauder (hence the photo). And what a belter it was.
Unbelievably nice weather - a little frost and ice - just to remind us that winter's on its way. But the sun got up and the frost melted leaving quite a warm day and just enough moisture on the ground to keep the going good and "claggy"!!
I'd opted for trail shoes for this race, but I think I may have been better off with a more aggressive stud. I was skittering about quite a bit! After a long slow climb along part the Southern Upland Way, towards Chester Hill, you drop through the bracken into a wee valley. Then its along the bottom of the valley over numerous burns and boggy bits before another energy sapping climb up a muddy path (steep this time) and then a short fast dash back into the park and the finish line.
An amazing turnout: 184 runners. Good to see so many at this series (good turnout for Dunbar).
Only 4 and a bit miles but it always feels longer. The hardest run I've done in a long time.
A quick coffee and a bit of cake back in the registration hall before we headed home and I settled down to getting the results onto the interweb (the temptation to "adjust" my own result was always present - but ignored. Honest).

Saturday, 5 November 2011


The weather may be unseasonably mild, but winter is upon us.
This weekend sees a couple of "wintry" events...

First up was my annual flu jab at the doctors. They don't operate an appointment policy. Rather they have a couple of "open days" when all the wrinklies and those of us who are slightly younger but who are deemed to be sickly or to have "weak chests" and what-not turn up and form an orderly queue. Today was such a day.
It's a system that seems to work well and I don't think I've ever had to wait any longer than a couple of minutes to be seen. Today was no exception. In fact it was over that quick that I hardly noticed it had happened. I went in with jacket already off, sat in a chair and was asked by the doctor "left arm or right?". I was just about to say left when the needle was jabbed into my right - no time for mucking about here.
Anyway. Hopefully that's me flu free for another year.
I suppose I'm "lucky" to be one of the groupls who gets the flu jab free, but I think if I wasn't I would consider paying for it anyway. There's enough in the way of niggles and injuries to interupt my winter training anayway without having to take a couple of weeks off laid low with the flu.

Tomorrow sees another indicator of winter being upon us with the first leg of the Borders XC at Lauder. To get in the groove I went for a nine mile bimble round by the windfarm today. Really enjoyed it. A nice cool(ish), bright, calm day.
It really was just one of those days where everything "clicked". Really enjoyed it and felt good all the way round. The kind of feeling you always want on a race day (but seldom seem to get). Maybe there's something benifical in the flu jab?

Thursday, 3 November 2011



Bizarre as it may sound; the light switches for the showers in my office are outside (you have to turn the lights on before you go into the shower room). The shower room has no windows and no natural light whatsoever.

So it was a little disturbing today to have the lights go out mid shower!! I had to finish my shower, dry myself off and get dressed in complete darkness L

What was also upsetting was that I was half way through my blinding scat rendition of “Lullaby Of Birdland” at the time. Been practicing that for weeks now…. Still can’t quite manage some of the high notes yet, but I’m getting there.




Strange too that when I came out the switch was in the “off” position. I’d assumed a light or a fuse had gone faulty. You’d almost think someone had turned the lights off!!

Monday, 31 October 2011



Friday night saw us away to see Bobby Wellins at the Queens Hall, with the SNJO, playing his Culloden Moor Suite and his Caledonian Suite. Neither works, apparently, have been recorded – yet (or at least never released). And what a crying shame.

The Culloden suite was superb. It’s in 5 parts. The Gathering, The March, The Battle, Aftermath and Epitaph. The opening to the Gathering was vintage Wellins and bore, to my mind, more than a little resemblance to the haunting solo opening of “Starless and Bible Black”. But the real wonder of this suite was “The March” that included the entire band stamping their feet in time to the march. It also included a solo by Alyn Cosker that saw him solo on one snare drum using sticks (both ends) and hands to hit the skin, rim and side of the drum. One man, two sticks, two hands… and it sounded like a whole troop of drummers with a roomful of drums! Amazing. Alyn Cosker is really challenging my long held prejudice against drum solos.

“The March” wasn’t a nervous, weary and frightened approach to battle, but was a confident one, that exuded all the arrogant cocksure swagger you’d expect in an SNP election broadcast.

The section based on the battle rather unsurprisingly transformed into a bit of a confusing, multi horned, free jazz cacophony before the “Aftermath” and “Epitaph” sections brought everything back to ground with long plaintive saxophone solos.

The Culloden Suite is a wonderful piece of music and despite it’s title is probably an evocative musical representation of any doomed militaristic campaign.



The second suite was more of a “bits and pieces” affair, loosely revolving around writings about Robert Burns (rather than by Burns). Favourite here was actually the last song “Dreams Are Free” that saw Wellins and Tommy Smith share the work on tenor sax and hammer out some great improvisations between them.

All in all a great gig.

I noticed that this gig was being recorded by the chap on the mixing desk (as I assume most gigs are these days). The Culloden suite was written in the early 60s. God forbid we should have to wait another forty off years to hear it again.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Did the Jedburgh Half today. Tough, tough, tough.
Got down there and went along to get our numbers and compu-chips. Now. Compu-chips. I've a problem with the lace through type - and I only discovered it today.
The problem is that since I tripped and split my knee I've started cutting the excess yards off my laces so that if they do come undone I won't trip on them!! But, because I cut them they become somewhat frayed at the edges. Could I unlace my shoes and then re-lace them easily? Could I bugger. Took me about twenty minutes just for this "simple task". I will need to re-asses what I do with my laces.

Anyway. Got them done at last and went for a wee warm up. There didn't appear to be anywhere to leave a bag so we left ours in the car. So.... my warm up took me past the finish area where I concealed an old tee-shirt in a hedge (something that I could put on at the end to stop getting cold - but if it got lifted I wouldn't miss it).

Went back to the start line and met up with the rest and have a natter to some others that I knew.

I know my hearings bad, but I was standing right up beside the starter and I couldn't hear a word of what he was saying. Anyway, he said what he had to say and we were off.
A fast start, as per usual with this race. Starts on a slight hill and then theres a couple of tight corners through the town centre, where everyone seems to be trying to get a good position.
It's always hard to tell where you are in the field with this half until about the 6k mark when the 10k runners peel off. I discovered I was probably in about the top ten at this stage and looking at the mile splits on my watch I dared to dream that an equal of last years PB of 1:18 was on the cards.
Indeed, it looked fairly good till about the 7.5 mile mark and we turned into a stiff head wind.
By this time I was running beside a bloke from Carnethy and, even working together and taking turns at the front our splits shifted from about 5:50s to 6:20s. No talking was taking place as we were both working flat out.
The hill at 11 mile was a wee bit tougher from previous years (again, because of the breeze) and on the last mile and a bit into Jedburgh Mr Carnethy managed to get away.
Just kept the head down and ploughed on. Felt strange, in the last half mile, to be overtaking some of the stragglers from the 10k race.
Got across the line in 1:20:33 (by my watch). Happy enough.
Stood at the finish line for a bit talking to Theresa, who had done the 10k - I'd seen Brian walking at the 11 mile mark (pulled out injured). As we were talking I noticed the back of a van was open that contains all the computers and "gubbins" for the timing mats.....
Had a wee peek. I think I was 7th or 8th overall and possibly first MV40+.
However when we went back to the registration hall we discovered that there was no "prize giving" as such. Apparently the first three across the line got their prizes at the finish area and the rest are just posted out (i.e the category prizes).
I shall be checking the results as soon as they are published.
The wind obviously didn't bother everyone. Anne was about a minute and a half quicker than last year.

Thursday, 27 October 2011



Bothered by a “hilly” on my run this morning. Not a “hill” mind you (that runs pretty flat). A “hilly”. A Black and red Hilly to be precise.

It was there on the ground as I stepped out for my early morning jaunt up the Water of Leith (“there” being about 25 yards from my office door) – A black and red “hilly” sock.

A sock exactly like the ones that I wear.

Now, a few other people go running from the office – I’m not the only one. So, I have to assume that more than one person could, theoretically at least, own a pair of black and red hilly socks.

But I am clumsy, untidy and feckless. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve lost kit out of my bag.

BUT – I didn’t want to stop and pick it up (it was still there on my return from my run). Who stops to pick up discarded socks in the street? I didn’t want to run carrying a spare sock either – how mad would that look?

I can’t even think if I’m missing a sock, but then again – would I notice? I just bung stuff in and out of the laundry basket without looking (same goes for the washing machine to be honest).

I hope to god its NOT mine – I really like those socks.

I might pop out this morning and, if its still there, hide it away somewhere. Then check tonight and if it IS mine collect it tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I have no idea what possessed me on Monday. But I made the rather foolish mistake of going into my local *cough* "music" shop in the vain hope that they would have at least one copy of the new Stan Tracey offering "A Child's Christmas In Wales".
When will I ever learn? What used to be places where young and ...."not so young" mix and buy music of all genre's and all styles are now little more than slightly more tacky versions of "Toys 'R' Us", where in among the brightly coloured "headcandy" headphones and cute animal shaped "docking stations", tucked away in a corner - just behind the collection of fatties drooling and playing demo versions of "Fat-Arse-For-Play-Station", there dwells their meagre collection of music. Well, I say "music", but this Monday all that seemed to be on offer was the latest arse-trumpetings of Mr Chris Martin and his beat combo "Cold. Play".
Tried two other shops yesterday through in the Third World....same story.

Buying jazz in shops is almost impossible these days.

I have always considered myself a "collector" of CDs. The monetary value of CDs, rare or otherwise, has never really been important to me, but I do like to own a physical CD. I like to have a tangible presence to signify my acquisition of an album - you don't get that with a download.

Sadly I'm now having to reconsider that and redefine what I do as a collector of "music". The vast bulk is still on CD but I'm getting more and more downloads - legal and ....."other".

Sadly jazz fans are being hit on two sides right now. The shops are not stocking what we want when it IS released on CD and even worse a lot of great stuff out there is not seeing public distribution on CD anyway.
Then, just to add to our woes the 50 year copyright laws that should have seen a lot of great stuff from the late 50s and early 60s come into the public domain and become readily available have been changed to 70 years to suit the greedy machinations of leathery-necked-scrotum-faced-god-botherer Cliff "bloody" Richard.
Luckily some dedicated fans are using t'internet to fill the gaps.
Acquired two albums that have never seen the light of day on CD. Both these albums are good quality "rips" from vinyl copies. There's one or two wee "snap, crackle and pops" but nothing that detracts from the music.

Stan Tracey "The Latin American Caper". A big band recording from 1968 that sees Stan in a joyful Latin/Bossa Nova groove. Big band arrangements very similar to Duke Ellingtons Latin American Suite. Duke Ellington a constant influence on Stan. Though to be fair to Stan, his recording pre dates Dukes by 2 years (so did Stan influence Duke?). It also has some really fast and furious piano work from the great man with his trademark clunky thunking chords.
Not his best, but a really nice part of his output. Someone somewhere must own the master tapes! Why hasn't this seen the light of day on CD?

Another one is Tubby Hayes "Tubbs in N.Y." This is a 1962 recording from one of the the British jazz men of all time, that saw him visit NY and play with some of the big name hardbop artists of the day. 49 years old and this has never been put on CD?? Or, at least, not in it's original format. I believe it made a brief appearance on CD in the early 90s as a mish-mashed "New York Sessions" album - before being withdrawn. Vinyl copies are changing hands on Amazon for £227!! Now I would never pay that (don't have a turntable anyway). Again, someone could bring it out on CD. Yes it's not going to shift a huge number of copies, but those who do want it would pay a bit more for it.

If the record companies don't want to bring this type of stuff out on CD then why don't they at least make it available as a download?

So. Until then I'm just going to have to rummage around in the murky depths of the inter web for bootlegs.
I don't want to go underground, and it's hardly a defense, but I feel that it's a "choice" I'm being forced into.

As for Stan's new one? I'll buy that directly from Stan's website. Cut out the middle man and Stan gets more of the money (and I salve my conscience about getting "The Latin American Caper" for nowt).

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Hostilities between me and the virus are pretty much over.
The drugs have been put away again until next we meet.
However, I didn't feel up to any real recreational LSD today so settled instead for 11 miles at pace.
A route all too familiar. Down by Innerwick, through Crowhill and back via Thurston Mains. A "bread and butter" training run if I'm honest - a lazy choice of route.
But I did enjoy it. I felt quite good and managed round feeling quite comfortable.
Met Susan and Brian who were out running part of the same route and stopped briefly to chat.
Probably won't do too much this week. Got the Jedburgh Half to look forward to next week, so there's no point in knackering myself prior to that.

Rest of the weekend has been exhausting and has mainly involved me reacquainting myself with the work of Bobby Wellins prior to going to see him in concert this Friday at the Queens Hall.
Found myself drawn a few times this weekend to the CD "Birds Of Brazil". Could hardly believe its 22 years old. I remember buying it after hearing a track played on Humphrey Lyttelton's "Best Of Jazz" shows. It was my first introduction to Wellins work (I didn't get Under Milk Wood till a few years later).
The album is split into two. The first part is the "Birds Of Brazil suite" for orchestra (in three parts), while the second part is three jazz cover versions for a smaller combo (a quintet I think).
Strange to that I "discovered" while looking at the sleeve notes again that the Birds Of Brazil suite was arranged by Tony Coe. The name would have meant little to me when I first got the CD, but I've become relatively well acquainted with his works since then. Note to self: "revisit old records more often - there's loads of "hidden gems" laying dormant in there."
Both "parts" of this CD are excellent in their own ways, but I'm not sure that they "segue" all that well. Probably best to listen to one part... have a bit of a break...then listen to the other.

The gig on Friday showcases two of Wellins orchestral works: The Culloden Moor and Caledonian Suites.
Never heard any of them before. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, 20 October 2011



The “lurgy” that was lingering took a turn for the worse yesterday – it was time to hit back.

I adopt an approach to the fight against illness that owes a lot to British military strategy during the Great War. Yup, it’s a war of attrition between me and the virus.

The standard procedure owes a lot to the methods used in the Somme. So yesterday saw a continual barrage of the big guns as I relentlessly pounded the virus with everything in my arsenal in an effort to soften it up prior to today’s “big push”.

Benylin “mucus” syrup was quaffed from the bottle (measuring spoons are for girls), Vicks synex was snorted, Lemsip was …well. “sipped” and brufen was necked. Can’t say if it was shell shock from the barrage or, more likely, simply  on cold remedies but at one point yesterday I did get a wee bit disorientated and confused and found myself sleeping at my post.

Anyway, the barrage went on through the evening into the night and the early hours of the morning.

Then today, sometime before sunrise the barrage stopped and I “went over the top”. Seven miles hard….advance towards the enemy. Death or glory!

Lets get the old heart rate up, the blood pumping and a bit of a sweat on…. Its me or the virus.

Seemed to go OK(ish) The old heart rate was up a bit but that might just be the drugs. And a bit like the old Vickers machine guns of old the run was accompanied by the constant “rat-tat-tat” of gallons of phlegm being expectorated along the water of Leith pathway (narrowly missing a passing cyclist at one point – should have had a light on!!).

Don’t know if I fully eradicated the virus, but I at least expect it to petition for an armistice any day now.



Got a bit of a row from Anne for going into work full of the cold. “Think about your colleagues”.

I reminded her that I don’t have “colleagues” I work beside Civil Servants. If I had anthrax or smallpox I’d be at work trying to spread it.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011



Cold season is upon us.

Not the climate or the weather – but the virus. Yes. It’s “lurgy” time again!!

I’ve had a wee bit of a change from the old routine this year. My Early-Onset-Autumnal-Lurgy has only skimmed around the outer reaches of my nose and throat, barely registering in my consciousness, before taking up residence in my chest.

This is, I fear, a slight breaking of etiquette on the part of the virus, but I’ll let it go this time. Normal procedure suggests that it should hop around twixt head and throat for a couple of days or so, before setting off to take up residence in the chest area, not simply barge into the best room in the house like some unwanted, uninvited guest.

Common sense should tell me not to run with an “iffy” chest. But then again (a) I’m asthmatic – an “iffy” chest is par for the course and (b) me and common sense have never seen eye to eye anyway.

To ease me through this horrendous illness, and to ensure it does not evolve into full blown Man Flu, I have bought a jumbo sized bottle of “Chesty Bennolyn” ….. which I’ve left in the house L. Bollox.

On the plus side the “runners gob” is much more fun when you have a bad chest. Loads and loads of throaty ammo J


It may not just be in my chest to be honest. It may be affecting my head slightly – making me a bit woozy and befuddled. Which may explain why yesterday after a nice hot shower after a run at work I stepped out of the cubicle and found out I’d left my clothes out by my desk! No fun having a shower then having to put the running gear back on.

Sunday, 16 October 2011


Seem to have found a recurring theme in a lot of my races this year..
The pain and effort seems to be up on last year but the times are getting slightly slower.
I don't know how you would quantify effort. But I did the Berwick 10k trail race today and it felt every bit as sore as last year and yet my time was slightly slower.

Maybe time to reevaluate the speed/endurance mix of my training.

Anyhoo. Quite a good race. Lovely course. Well signed and marshaled.
I noted last year that I might have been better off with road shoes rather than trail, as a fair bit of the run is on road.  So today that's what I did and when me and Anne did our couple of mile warm up (one mile or so out then back) I felt I had made the right choice. Nice and firm under foot.
The race starts near the car park at Spittal beach and then goes along the seafront, past some houses and shops before a steep climb up to the cliff top path and then a wee loop that takers in a couple of fields before heading through a couple of wee villages and then back.
My choice of shoes looked a good one. Until about 20 yards after where me and Anne had ran up to. Then it turned into a bit of a quagmire and the lack of grip left me slipping about. Luckily, the bloke I was neck and neck with at this point (from North Shields Poly) had made the same mistake.
Very warm today, and what little wind there was always seemed to be against us!
By the time I got to the five mile mark I had pulled away from the North Shields bloke and was third behind Adam Fletcher in second and Ian Harding of Morpeth who was probably back and changed by this time.
Sadly, the route did not follow a bus route and I was just going to have to run to the finish!
Luckily though the last mile was fast and pretty much down hill so I just went tonto.
Got in in 38:23.

Great wee race and one that's a nice precursor to the Borders XC in a few weeks.

Thursday, 13 October 2011



My favourite sports shop had a sale of running accessories today – Lidl!!

You have to be quick in there to get anything before it’s all gone. So I was there for them opening J Sadly so was the old boy ahead of me who scooped up an armful of all the white running socks that had been put out. Still I’m happy enough with black (better colour for the cross country season anyway).

So, I ended up getting a few pairs socks (cos you can never have enough) and a couple of skull cap type thermal hats for the winter! Magic.

And the icing on the cake was the fact that one of “this seasons” colours in the new Lidl range was green. The same shade of green as Dunbar’s colours.

So while I hadn’t intended to get a jacket a new jacket did indeed end up in my basket as well.


Wouldn’t touch the shoes with a barge pole mind.


Oh. And how the four big bars of chocolate ended up my basket is anybody’s guess.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Went out for just under nine miles today. Up into the Lammermuirs and round the windfarms.
Quite enjoyed it. It's not exactly "off road", but what roads there are, are pretty battered and rough works-access roads that tend to get a thin layer of mud on them that seems to last all year round. Save for a few hot weeks in the summer when they turn instead to dusty tracks. So the trail shoes were the order of the day today.
Another nice thing is that I can go out for nine miles without seeing a single other person. Sheep, cattle, deer and pheasants - yes. People? No.
I love the solitude - nothing to listen to except the wind. Well not entirely true.. inspired as I obviously was after listening this morning to Brian Lemons album "My Shinning Hour" I did regale some of the farm animals and wildlife with a lovey rendition of "It's Only A Paper Moon" as I struggled up the hill after Weatherly.
Some people don't think cattle have facial expressions. They're wrong - I clearly made out "disgust", "bewilderment" and "pity" (all from the same coo).
Don't know why but sometimes I find singing helps when I'm struggling. But fear not.. I stopped doing it in races about ten years ago after I passed a bloke going up a hill singing "Mack The Knife" and he told me to "shut the f*** up" (maybe not a jazz fan).

It's one of those damp, dank, dark, nondescript October days today - lovely. You never know really if it's long sleeve weather or not when running at this time of year (or even gloves?).
I opted for the long sleeves - only to roll them up within about the first two miles as I was starting to over heat.
Other than a 10k and a half all I have between now and the end of the year is a couple of cross country races.
In other words "I've nothing specific to train for". So, even if I don't ease back on the weekly mileage (and I might), I'll at least cut back on some of the effort in some runs. Have a wee while where I'm just running for the fun of it (not that it isn't normally you understand).

Sunday, 9 October 2011


My "bounce" is returning a wee bit (literally speaking at least).
Had a complete rest day on Friday (from the running). And yesterday although I did 10miles it was at a relatively moderate pace.
The club had decided that after we had hosted the Dunbar 10 mile race that those of us who had marshaled, or had helped out in other ways, would then run the route. So once the prize giving was over, the last runner had departed, the final large arrow sign removed and the room that we had been using at Hallhill returned to some semblance of order - we all got changed and off we went. In conditions similar to that the runners faced a few hours earlier .... wet, windy and slippy underfoot.
Quite a nice turnout, and we just split into a couple of small groups or pairs and went round the route at a pace conducive to nattering while running. What was a bit strange though, and more than a little worring, was that quite a few, who had been marshaling themselves earlier on, still managed to get lost!!
So today I went for a nine mile run and took the tempo up a little and have to say that the legs are starting to feel a bit like their old selves again.

Bit of a busy couple of days though, so I have a bit of catching up to do with my other hobbies; listening to new jazz (Joe Lovano "Bird Songs"), reading ... and seeing if I can sit for long enough doing nowt whether my arse will take root to the sofa!

Thursday, 6 October 2011


I’ve lost my “bounce” – literal and metaphorical.
Literal? Still suffering the effects of Sunday’s efforts. Been a few runs since then but the legs are still a bit on the heavy and “dead” side yet.
Metaphorical? I’m not sure. Just don’t seem to have any “joie de vivre” right now (maybe it’s lurking down the back of the sofa beside my “raison d'être”). I don’t think it’s entirely uncommon for some runners, after a big race, to go through a wee bit of a downer. But this one just seems to be feeding my old companion the black dog…L
Found one thing that helps (a little).. Dexter Gordon “Daddy Plays The Horn”. Jeeze, I’ve been after this album for ages. Honestly. At one point I even considered buying an 8 CD box set, most of which I already have, just to get these six songs that weigh in at a mere 40 minutes.
This was recorded in 1955 and is a nice “bridge” between Dexter’s earlier pure bebop style and his much more popular hardbop phase associated with his recordings for Blue Note. This doesn’t have the fuller tone of the Blue Note records, but you can tell he’s getting there. More so with the title track which has a sort of bluesy soulful quality to it.
Pianist Kenny Drew gives a really beautiful rendition of  “Autumn In New York” while Dexter swings alongside and Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Lawrence Marable on drums keep the pace. But Dexter steals the show on the Parker song “Confirmation” proving that he was a contemporary of Bird rather than a mere follower or imitator.
The version of Darn That Dream, that was to become a favourite song of Dexter’s, could be used as an example of what late night jazz ballads should sound like. It’s as close to perfect as you could get.
Too often I’ve been hunting for particular records and when I finally do get hold of them (or at least get to hear them) I’m disappointed. Not this time (I even love the sleeve).
If you don’t like Dexter Gordon then listen to this…if you still don’t like him after….well go find yourself a cliff and jump off it.

And here for Ray, and anyone else who may care to listen, is a slightly latter version of "Darn That Dream" from Dexters album "One Flight Up" from 1964....

Wednesday, 5 October 2011



Things to do in those quiet moments…..

Number 1: Using a pen top to scrape out the crusty-build-up from the chest strap of your heart rate monitor.

Monday, 3 October 2011


The 2011 Inverness Marathon was a classic. Well for me at least.
By that I mean it was a "classic" S Hay signature marathon.
The start of the Baxters Marathon is a surreal experience. Thousands of runners get disgorged from a fleet of buses, to hang about in the middle of nowhere listening to Bryan Burnett tell us how excited we are and remind us not to piddle in the residents gardens (Bryan - nobody lives within a mile of the start line). If he told us once he told us a dozen times that "this is the most scenic marathon in Britain". Well, "yes. It is". But only on days when visibility is greater than about twenty feet!! On a personal level it didn't much matter as the heavy rain had made me decide to run without my specs anyway - I like to inject a hint of danger into my marathons!
To be fair at least Bryan Burnett is a runner he's a lot better than some of the diddies I've had to listen to before races.
As I stood there on the line I ruminated on my options for "a race plan"....
I could (a) try to run steady miles and attempt to get a comfortable 2:55 or ...(b) blast off like a man possessed and try to beat my PB of last year.
So. First mile in about 5:55.
Oh yes. It was always going to be (b). In my defence the first mile is a very steep downhill and 5:55 didn't really take up too much effort.
Sadly the weather was not favourable this year. Hardly any wind at all (not like last years lovely stiff tail wind) and the forecast "drizzle" was "drizzling" drops that were, in my untrained opinion, a bit on the big side to be defined as drizzle, and they were coming down with a fierce regularity. Indeed, if I were a meteorologist I'd probably have used the term "pissing down".
Anyway. After the first fast mile I calmed down to a sensible pace and just tried to take advantage of the drops and conserve a bit energy on the climbs - of which there are many (it's a very "lumpy" route).

Spot the tell-tale blood

Things were going fairly well till the hill at 17 mile. This hill isn't steep as such. It's just long. Maybe goes on for about 2 miles? So I slowed down to take it easy. No great rush.
I felt fine going up. Got to the top and thought "ok, time to pick it up again". Could I? Could I feck.
My legs were just spent. I tried and tried to get them to turn over a bit quicker - and they were having none of it.
The last six and a bit miles were the hardest I have run in a marathon in a long time.
The chance of replicating the PB was gone and I really thought the sub three was going to slip by.
I ran in with a bloke who like me had "overcooked" the first part of the run (we'd passed each other a few times).
At about 23 miles we passed two wee boys who shouted something along the lines of "here come the slow coaches". The temptation to stop and kick their arse was immense but we both decided just to keep on rather than waste precious seconds.
Got in at 2:59:12 to a massive cheer....sadly the massive cheer was for the first lady crossing the line just ahead of me.
Not too annoyed with myself but it could have/should have been better (I would have been upset to go over 3).
Normally don't get bother with the old nips, but because my vest was wet all the way through the race I ended up bleeding quite badly. A bit of chaffing in other areas that don't really show up on the photo... dam sore in the shower afterwards!
Good points? Well a £1.25 bag of Percy Pig sweeties is every bit as good as numerous expensive "gels". And it's a really nice "techy" tee-shirt this year.

Watched other runners coming over the line until I saw Anne coming over in 3:51 then went for our complimentary food before hobbling back to the hotel.
Went out for a small "recovery run" this morning. Legs were like lead, but I think just turning them over was the best thing to do.
10k in Berwick in a couple of weeks, hopefully manage to do the Jedburgh half, then it's cross country season after that.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


Well. Last night's club run was probably the last time we will get out a run in the country this side of next March or so (at least without head torches).
I went down to the club all full of good intentions - "I'm tapering, don't you know, just a steady wee six mile plod for me". Though this translated as "Lets go out to the North Berwick Road end via John Muir then hammer it back along the old A1 as fast as we can".
Just over nine miles. Quite enjoyed if to be honest. Though I will do next to nothing now, till Sunday!

The rest will give me even more time to catch up with the shed load of CDs I appear to have acquired this last couple of weeks.
Though my listening "ability" was limited for a while. Due to my Tinnitus I wear "open" over ear headphones, rather than buds (certainly not the in canal type). I also regularly self medicate with olive oil.
What I usually do is mop up all the oily gunk and residue before I put my headphones on to listen to my latest Kenny Barron Trio offering.

Sennheiser headphones and olive oil.... not a good mix :-(
The left ear not only had the usual "hisssssss", but Kenny and the trio sounded, what I can only describe as, "somewhat squelchy".

New set of phones had to be got.