Thursday, 31 March 2011


Got very excited yesterday (there’s something that doesn’t happen often).
As well as my new Tommy Smith CD my friendly postie also delivered a couple of “personalised invites” to us! A5 sized and printed on the finest recycled flimsy card known to man.
I don’t know anyone getting married in the near future and no one that I know of has “landmark” birthdays coming up. What could it be?
Alas my initial excitement was ill founded. It’s simply my four yearly invite from the presiding officer to cast my vote in the forthcoming “choose-the-least-offensive-jobby-from-a-big-pile-of-jobbies” contest.

The best part of five weeks watching these turds on the telly.

That reminds me – it’s May that I get my septic tank cleaned.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Karma: `for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful.'

I run... and I listen to jazz ... my two main "thangs".
To help in the pursuit of one I invoke the other... to wit: If I get a PB I treat myself to a new CD.

Now. I have never done a 50k race prior to Sunday. Ergo - Sunday was a PB.
I crossed the finish line keen to get my tired wee legs down to HMV in Perth to see what I could see.
However, we got involved in watching other runners coming in, going to presentations etc. And for one reason or another I didn't get. Bugger.

Monday saw us having a day of rest that didn't take us anywhere near music shops.
Yesterday ... I got an email with a link.... A link to a review of Tommy Smith's new offering. An offering he's offering via his website two months before it'll be offered elsewhere!

It was meant to be....

Monday, 28 March 2011


Like to say I've been waking up with the larks lately. Unfortunately that would be a lie... I've been waking up the past couple of mornings to a mad braying donkey in the field just in front of us.
I do like donkeys, but I also like my sleep.

Anyway. We were up very early yesterday (even earlier, or so it seemed, as we'd "lost" and hour the night before).
I knew there was something we had to do. Oh yes. Travel up to Perth and run 50k - 21 times round the North Inch Park.
Quick breakfast, shower, change, into the car, then off to meet Ian who'd talked us into this race in the first place!

Journey up was fairly quick and uneventful (if only my race could be the same).
We arrived at the North Inch as the 100k runners were just starting their third hour. I was amazed at how fresh they all looked.

Registered, got the numbers (and the very natty tee-shirt that all entrants got) then it was off to the sports centre to get changed.

I wasn't sure how they were going to start us on a course where runners were already going round, but they just waited till there was a clear spell and fed us on from the side. It was all pretty low key and we were off.
GPS watches are not allowed at this event as they are pacing devices and offer an unfair advantage. Fair enough - rules is rules and all that - I left mine at home and stuck to the old stop watch.

two thirds of Team Dunbar
 Luckily with it being a relatively short course (2.38km lap) it was easy enough to get a split time on the lap and try to pace yourself from that.
I was aiming for sub 4 hours so knew I'd have to get in the region of 11:20 a lap. As I say I hadn't really trained for this and was using it more for my marathon preparation.
For the first ten laps I ran with Ian and we were pretty much on target. At 10 laps though Ian cranked it up half a gear or so... I tried to lift my pace to match and almost managed for about a lap and a half, but soon realised that I would not manage the rest of the race at that pace. So I pulled the peak of my cap down a bit over the eyes so I couldn't see him pull away and just tried to settle back into the 11:20 zone.
Ticking off the laps and splitting the race into 21 segments probably helped... I know each lap was actually 1.47 miles but I tried to get my head into marathon mode and kid myself on "hey it's only 21'laps' rather than 26".
Seemed to work and I kept a fairly even pace all the way through.
With so many runners out on the course doing the 50k and the 100k it was hard to tell who was lapping who but it was quite nice to always have someone just in front who you could try to reel in. Though to be honest there is no satisfaction or feeling of achievement in "catching up" with someone who's already ran about twenty five miles more than you.
As for the course itself? Well I don't much like courses that are laps, but as they go that was a picturesque one and pretty easy to run (almost flat).
Weather was ideal as well, with hardly any wind.
Chuffed with my time of 3:55:40 which works out at a sedate 7:36 pace.

The other third of Team Dunbar
 Ian finished one place ahead of me in 3:46:25 in 7th (good enough to bag first vet). I was happy enough with 8th and Anne ran 4:53:55.

Watched some of the 100k runners coming in.
Would I do 100k? No.
Will I do 50k again? I don't really know.. I just feel 26.2 miles is plenty. It took me a long time to get to a place where I'm happy with marathons and, now that I'm there, I don't really want to "move on".

Got home last night knackered. Off today and looking forward to a lie in. Sadly the feckin' donkey had other ideas and started braying again at 5:10 this morning (how easy is to get a shotgun license I wonder?).
Did 4.5 miles today and the legs don't feel too bad.

Loads of pictures at: (thanks to Davie)

Saturday, 26 March 2011


Shoes. VERY important. In fact THE most important part of your kit.
Never mind your "technical" tops, your compression skins, your fancy jackets or your hi-tech-GPS-diddly. If you don't have the right shoes your fecked.

For running at least.

For the vast remainder of unimportant day to day life (aka "work")? Who gives a toss?

This attitude, coupled with my general untidy approach to life (I just kick my shoes off and shove them under the bed) might explain why I ended up going into work yesterday with odd shoes on.

In my defence - at least they were both black. Also - as one was slightly higher than the other I think it's affected my gait .... so that's a ready made excuse if the 50k goes badly tomorrow!!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011



I’m “tapering” this week …. only I’m not.

I’ve got a race on this weekend …… only, I’ve not.

For the life of me I cant give a good explanation as to why I did it.. but I’ve gone and entered a 50k race this weekend in Perth. So the “taper” is really just my usual mileage – but a bit slower to keep the legs fresh.

Am I ready for a 50k race? No – well not to race it.. Have I trained for a 50k? No, but I’m hoping that my average weekly mileage of 50+ since Christmas is enough of a foundation. So why the hell am I doing it?

I honestly don’t know… other than “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. Opinion is divided on how best to train for a marathon – most people follow structured plans. I just “go with what feels right”. And occasionally I think it’s good to run “over the distance”. So that’s what this is … it’s just one of my long training runs, and I shall be pacing it as such.

There’s a cut-off time of 7 hours. The race starts at 10:00… The Italian Corner restaurant in Perth opens at 17:00 – so that fits in just fine.


I’ve done one or two training runs in the past that go over 26.2 miles and, as long as you don’t make a habit of it, I think it can be useful. However, I can state quite categorically that I have no intention whatsoever of “getting into” ultra running. I’ve met some of them that are into that, and I have to say they’re all pretty special.



Only “special” in a kind of Benny-from-Crossroads type of way!

Monday, 21 March 2011



They say your only as good as your last run. Which is a real shame, as my last run was crap… literally.

Feckin’ dog crap to be precise.

Trying to go along the Water of Leith path and obviously stomped in the “mound of the hound”. And managed to “heel flick” it half way up my back leg.


I hate [inconsiderate] dog owners. I’d make the b@stards use it as toothpaste.



Actually the run was quite good. “Negative splits” and all that… think I was just trying to run away from the smell L

Thursday, 17 March 2011



I love new technology, and gizmos and gadgets. They’re great…. Till something goes wrong. And it always does go wrong. Especially if you give it a wee helping hand.

Been enjoying using my new EReader. Great wee device and I’ve got it loaded with quite a few books now.

All the books are kept in a virtual “library” on my PC and a piece of bespoke software controls what I load and what I take off. Or that’s the theory…

Got a bit bored last night and decided that I’d “clean up” the ereader. Take off some of the books I’ve already read. That sort of thing.

But did I stick to using the bespoke software? No I did not.. I know what I’m doing see? I’ll just jump in there with good old windows file manager…select what I want to get rid off and “bosh”..

Only it didn’t quite work out that way… I had also deleted the system files. And apparently they are quite important.


I powered off the device. I powered it back on…. It hung.. Keech. I tried to power it off again… it still hung. KEECH!!. I swore at it, THEN tried to power it off … it still hung. Double KEECH!! When swearing at a piece of technology doesn’t fix it you know it must be serious.

What to do? I thought about looking at the user manual.. But that’s a PDF file on the bloody device!

I looked at google. I found a website by the manufacturer….

“Reeboot”… blah blah blah… “system files”.. blah blah…”firm ware” … blah blah. Yes it can be done, but is “very complex” and should only be carried out by “a competent and experienced user”. Well my recent behaviour ruled me out of that category, but what the hell…..

Had to download a 230mb file and put it on to a 2GD SD card. 230mb at 8:30 at night – even on a fairly fast broadband connection that took a bloody age.

SD Card? I’ve only got one at 2GB and that’s in my camera, so I had to download all the photos from that and then reformat it.

Loaded the new software onto the card.. Then had to follow the “detailed instructions”. Basically this amounted to “hold buttonA while simultaneously depressing toggleB THEN place a paper clip [I kid you not] into holeC for 5 seconds. THEN while still holdingA andB remove paper clip and wait for screen to flash. I followed this to the letter while all the while threatening this little thing with god knows how many types of technological pain and torture if it didn’t behave.

It did J

All my books had been scrubbed though, so had to spend a bit more time reloading some reading material (including the book I’m halfway through).

Hell of a palaver… You know what would be better? Get all the words from an ebook file and somehow pring them onto paper and then bind all the pages together to keep them in order. That’s the future…..

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Yesterdays runs were strange.
At lunchtime through in the DGP my 6.7 mile run saw me go through three types of weather system - rain, sleet and snow - all at the same time! On the plus side the leafy boulevards along the side of the majestic Clyde were void of their usual dole-scum types out for an alfresco Buckfast brunch. It also meant a lack of fair-weather runners and moon-walk training women. Leaving the paths fairly clear for me and a handful of other loonies who venture out regardless.
On the down side, my kit bag weighed a hell of a lot more on the homeward journey as it now contained one set of sodden kit and a pair of sodden shoes.

Obviously I had spare kit for my night time club run. But, quite frankly, I should have just put on the wet gear as it was that wet last night I was soaked to the skin after about half a mile anyway. It was horrible last night ... that sort of fine persistent drizzle that just penetrates anything and leaves you soaked to the very core till even your soul is left like an old discarded dish cloth!

I'm not a fair weather runner. I will go out in all weathers - doesn't mean I have to enjoy it though!

Today's lunchtime run couldn't have been any different though. The sun was out (hands up those that remember the sun). There was very little wind... dare to hope that Spring is nearly here?
Anyway. The better weather encouraged me a bit, so it was on with the trail shoes before heading off into them-thar-hills. An eleven and a bit mile hike, up and round by the wind farm, through the access road they put in through the woods that brings you out just above Crichness then back home via Elmscleugh. Great fun. Great fun - except for the bit of road near the top of the large descent to Elmscleugh. Just where the farmer has an access to his field. The field with his massive pile of manure. The pile of manure that "leaks" and flows everywhere and forms a one inch deep puddle right over the road for about twenty metres... lovely!!

Turning into quite a high mileage week this week.

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Did my LSD today.
Met up with Ian and did a 22.5 mile circuit that took in Spott, Stenton, East Linton, John Muir and finished off, just to make it "challenging" you understand, with a climb up and over Brunt Hill.
The pace was manageable and I didn't feel too bad until the last two mile to be honest, when the climb over the Brunt and then the short sharp climb from the ford up to our house just hit me.
Still. Pleased to get a run in that's in the twenties. I should be doing long runs fairly regularly. And I will be doing just that in two weeks time (all going to plan). But more about that nearer the time.

Sent off an application for the Northumberland Coastal Marathon in August. It's basically the Northumberland Coastal run.... times two! Starts at Alnwick goes north to Beadnell, turns ... and goes back. Not going to be one for a fast time I'm thinking. Hopefully we will get in as it's limited to 60 runners.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Picked up a few new albums on Monday.
I was through in the DGP and found myself flitting between offices for a meeting. The walk took me past a couple of record shops, and...well... it seemed rude not to..
First up was "Europa" the latest offering from Courtney Pine. First reactions? Well I do like it (a lot), but (oh jeeze there's a "but") this isn't like any other Courtney Pine album I've heard.
Pine is not one to stand still and through the years I've been listening to his stuff he's moved from relatively mainstream, though modern jazz, via reggae, sidetracked to calypso, explored a wee bit of that hip-hop nonsense and "mixing" as the youngsters call it and back to a more mainstream groove.
But this? It's verging on the world/folk/classical. It takes themes from all over Europe (and bits of Africa) and blends them together.
Pine foregoes the sax completely on this CD and sticks to bass clarinet, which only adds to the classical feel.
His previous albums have been pretty much like his live shows... he attempts to grab the listener by the neck and drag them onto the dancefloor. This is more of a "sit down, listen to this, think about it then tell me what you think" type of offering.
Previous albums have been instant hits with me. This, I'm confident, well end up like that... but it's a bit more of a slow burner.

Next up was Birdology "A Tribute To Charlie Parker". How many tribute records to Charlie Parker does one man need? Answer.. "All of them"! Bring them on. I'm a sucker for this sort of jazz.
I'm finding it hard to get a lot of details about this offering. From what I can get (woeful sleeve notes) Birdology was a now defunct French Jazz label, now bought over by Dreyfus Jazz. "Birdland" appears to be a "super group" comprising of some of the labels artists and includes Don Sickler (trumpet) Jackie McLean (alto) Johnny Griffin (tenor) Cecil Payne (baritone) Duke Jordan (piano) Ron Carter (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums). The tribute was recorded live in France in 89. One original "tribute" track and 5 covers of Bird classics.
It's good ... but it's not great. In an attempt to offend no one, they've inspired no one. Every track follows the same pattern. 7 piece band for a couple of choruses... sax solo...drum solo..bass solo... and so on and so on.
It becomes like a procession of show offs rather than a cohesive group playing off each others strengths.
Good album ... could have been outstanding.

Last up was the new Denys Baptiste "Identity By Subtraction". It's been 8 years since his last album ("Let Freedom Ring")! For this he's gone back to a basic quartet.
Apparently he didn't want to bring out a new album until he had something worth saying. Well if it took 8 years then, quite frankly, it was worth the wait! A really tight quartet who unlike Birdology give each other ideas and support. High quality, mellow, ballads to the fore on this collection.
One track on the album sounded as though it may be a bit gimmicky - "Harriotts Chariott - A Life In The Bass Line". It's a small interview with Coleridge Goode, bass player for Joe Harriott. In it he explains how he was influenced by the "walking bass" sound of Count Basie's bands and adopted that sound in his work with Joe Harriott. Over the interview the quartet improvise in the background (Rod Youngs on bass is good).
It's not a song... It's not "mixing"...It's not "rap"... but it works. The talking does not detract from the music and the music does not detract from the interview. Quirky, but it works really well.

Monday, 7 March 2011



Jeeze I know it’s a tired old cliché… but it really doesn’t get any easier.

The Lasswade 10 mile race yesterday. One that I really “enjoy”.

We got there with loads of time. Picked up the numbers (despite me taking my entry confirmation for LAST years race!!), met up with Brian and went for a wee bit of a warm up.

“Warm” was not a word on many people’s lips yesterday at the start line. “Freezing”, “Bliddy cauld”, and “brass monkeys” were all in use, but I can’t really recall anyone complaining about being too warm!

A few words of wisdom from the starter. The gun went off… so, so did the runners.

Done this race enough to know that there is no point in “holding back” or trying to get “into a rhythm”. The first two and a bit miles are fast – the couple of miles after that are slow and hilly, so just go for it at the beginning and try to get some time in the bank.

The climb out of the “Glen” is tough, there is no getting away from that, but I do think it’s attained almost “legendary” or “mythical status” with some people doing this race that’s unwarranted. It IS tough, but it’s relatively short and over before you know it.

What I find worse is the climb out of Auchendinny, between 4 and 6 miles. Steep enough to be “tough” and it just seems to go on and on..

By the time I got to 6 miles at the farm steaddings I was at 37:06 But I know that the last three miles can be very quick. Still a chance to get under the hour.

Mile 6 – 7 was a hard struggle, but the last three are, as I remembered, quick. Mainly downhill, but not too steep. Just the right gradient to get into a good “groove”.

Coming up to the line it was going to be touch and go, till I got help from an unlikely source… At about 200m to go a spectator shouted to the HBT runner behind me “go on, you can take him…”. Result? Hackles went up and Mr Hay informed said spectator “can he f***”.

A mad sprint to the line ensured I did in fact beat Mr HBT and just scrapped under the hour (59:55).

Happy to get under an hour. However, I feel that I worked harder on that race yesterday than I have ever done on it so was slightly disappointed to be a wee bit slower than last year.

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Off to a gig last night... Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu, at the Queens Hall.
If I had to describe it in one word? "Excellent".
Towner on acoustic guitar and Fresu on flugelhorn and [mainly muted] trumpet.
A couple of Christmases ago I got the ECM recording they did as a gift and fell in love with it straight away ("Chiaroscuro"). Relaxed, laid back, ambient music of the first order. I'd maybe stop short of calling it pure "jazz" as such, as Towner plays guitar in the classical tradition. The album is almost all originals (Miles Davis "Blue in Green" being the one cover), but last nights gig had an extra couple of jazz influenced covers thrown in ("I Fall In Love Too Easily" was one of the highlights for me).
The time just flew in listening to this pair, and the audience were captivated. Both just sat on chairs on a near empty stage. There was no fancy lighting and very little in the way of amplification, but you could have heard a pin drop.
When musicians like these come to your area .... you go. You can't expect to see them regularly and just take the opportunity to see them while you can, so I'm glad I did but hope I get a chance again.

Friday, 4 March 2011



Bit of “dry skin” on the old face this morning. So, not that I’m one of those there “meterosexuals” you understand, thought I’d bung on a bit of the old moisturiser. Oh yes.

Slather it on… a good skoosh into the hand then a vigorous rub. Not a bit like those eejits you see on the adverts.

Thing is..the “eejits” probably check the tube before applying.

Face now covered in Ibruprofen pain killer gel..

I feel all numb now L.

Thursday, 3 March 2011



Yesterday saw me through in the DGP, but once more up in my “old” office for a meeting - the beautiful Cowcaddens area of the DGP.

So a flat, fast 7.5 miles was in order up by the canal and out towards the ever lovely “Maryhill” district. Don’t know if it was partly the need to get back in a reasonable time (for the meeting) or just a desire to “let off steam” (said “meeting” was not a prospect I was looking forward to), but I managed round quicker than I’ve done that route before. Maybe not the best idea a few days before  a race - but it felt good at the time (and felt like the right thing to do at the time).

Lots of other runners out and about at that time of day. Quite enjoyed it.

Few other “meetings” coming up – so might revisit that route again.