Saturday, 28 May 2011


The contents of my stomach wasn't the only thing I lost at the Edinburgh Marathon last week.
Yet again one of my running hats got tossed aside. This time about two miles into the race as I was going through Holyrood Park.

Get ahead - get a hat!

Just decided it was too hot to run with that on and threw it away...Didn't fancy running 24 miles carrying a cap. A decision I somewhat regretted on Monday when the sun burned baldy bit of my head hit the hot shower!

So, my stock of headgear is diminishing - time to restock. We were in Perth yesterday and I went into the local cycle shop there.
At one point I had quite a wee collection of cycle caps. Quite like them. They're a bit more refined and "European" than baseball caps (as, I like to think, I am). And more importantly bright and garish (as I'm not)!!
It's YEARS since I bought one so I was a wee bit shocked to discover that my concept of inflation has become somewhat adrift of the reality of inflation ("for a f***in' hat"?), but then again I think the last time I bought one Greg LeMond was winning the Tour for "team Z". Remember them?

Anyway, found enough pennies in my pocket money and got one. Dam stylish it is too (or perhaps my concept of style has also come adrift from reality). To be honest I don't think runners are renowned for their sense of style.
"Luckily" when I went for a wee run into the windfarms today it was howling a gale and throwing down hail stones - so I got a chance to try it out.

Did it keep rain/hail off head? - check.
Did it keep glasses dry? - check.
Did it keep sun off baldy bit? - check.
Did it make wearer look like a tit? - check.

The legs are getting better - but still not back to 100% yet (no "bounce"), so a nice easy week before next weekends Haddington 10K.

Got a phone call from Mr Brown yesterday. Amazingly I actually had my mobile (a) "with me" and more amazingly (b) "switched ON" (I own a mobile but find it a bit of hindrance in my misanthropic quest for solitude) .
Anyway, he called to give me the heads up. The program for this years Edinburgh Jazz festival got announced yesterday. It would appear that there are a few things that I really fancy.

Thursday, 26 May 2011



Always been of the belief that a day where nothing new is learned is a day wasted.

Well today I’ve already learned two things..

(1) The shower at work has a lock… and (2)….. I really should use it.


Wednesday, 25 May 2011


Still feeling the effects of Sunday’s mara’ (still not got the “bounce” back into my legs). But I’m getting there.

Been a couple of small slow/steady runs, and today went out for 5 miles that, while not exactly race pace, was pushing it a wee bit.
No “big” races planned for a while, but just hope to spend a few months “pottering around” getting a few 10Ks and half’s under my belt.
Haddington have upped their 5 mile race to a 10K – so I want to do that, and I want to do the Portobello 4 miler (especially as I do most of that route a few times a week anyway).

On the non running side? Well, I was at a gig on Friday by The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and Bill Evans (yes. “That one”. )
Really enjoyed it. It was a “gig of two halves”. The first part of the evening was a rendition of Tommy Smith’s Torah. Now. I thought that Bill Evans was there to take some of the workload off Tommy Smith by sharing the saxophone solos (this is a piece of music that goes on for about an hour). But no. Tommy played the whole lot.
I’ve said this before about this piece of music, but it really is epic, and to get to hear it live was great.
Bill Evans didn’t come on until the second half and then he took the lead in another Tommy Smith composition “Beauty and The Beast” (luckily no Disney characters were involved).
While Torah is a “suite” of 5 pieces this is just one continuous piece and soared along from smooth, soprano sax led ballad tempos through to full on punchy tenor led funk. At some points, especially on soprano sax Bill Evans tone reminded me of Andy Sheppard. I don’t know what the technical/musical term for it is, but they both seem to have a thing about rather than filling space with one continuous note filling the same time frame with a series of the same short, rapid, machine gun like note… but it doesn’t sound harsh or brutal.
Anyway, this work was probably about 45 minutes long, but the time just flew in. A piece that must surely be due recording.
As an added bonus, for an encore Tommy had penned a special arrangement of one of his pieces for his new quartet Karma which for this appearance Evans augmented up to a quintet. So after two big band, orchestral pieces, we were given a small combo hard hitting bopish foot tapper to send us off home.

All in all a great gig.

Sunday, 22 May 2011


Well "the Rapture" was a bloody disappointment. Sat about looking out the window till just after six - sod all. Ended up just watching Dr Who like every other Saturday night.
Another reason I was looking forward to is was a nice excuse not to do the Edinburgh Marathon today. Ah well.... might as well get the kit on and tootle off and run 26.2 miles then.

Anne gave me and Neil J a lift into the start and then we hooked up with Ian and Brian so the four of us put our stuff into the baggage bus and went down to our allotted starting pens via a slight "pit stop" (remember - don't piddle in the gardens).
First mile was a bit frantic - but then it's like that at most busy races, with people jostling for position and a bit room (always hand to adopt a "sticky out elbow" style of running here).

I has a "cunning plan" today. Because there was a brisk westerly wind, I knew it was going to be in our favour for the best part of the run - but right in our faces for the last six. I knew I'd lose valuable time in the last six miles and decided that I'd try, without adding too much effort myself, to try and let the wind work for me and see if I could gain some time.

It worked - kind of. My splits for the first 20 mile look quite good (in fact I did the first twenty in about eight minutes quicker than I did the E2NB earlier this month). Even managed a couple of 6:07 miles going out along by the prom and Joppa.

I actually really enjoyed the first twenty miles. But then, oh Lordy, not long after the turn out of Gosford House the wind hit you like a sledge hammer. My times just went to pot - big time. Didn't enjoy the lovely mix of "in yer face" wind and hail stones we got subjected to at one point at the Pans either. You never gain, with the wind in your favour what you lose when it's against you though.

On the return leg and looking better than I felt (Photo - Gordon Eadie)

Other problems today? Well yes. The old problem with my stomach. Ended up having a couple of spews on the trot (at one point getting very close to hittinga cyclist) and one where I stopped at one point and was bent over while I was wracked with dry heaves. It's always just liquid that I bring up. Don't know what's best. I've had a couple of things to eat since the end of the race and it's still giving me bother.

Anyway, enough of this talk. Crossed the line in 2:55:52 which, given the conditions, I'm more than chuffed with. Not a PB, but it's the fastest I've ever done Edinburgh in. Ian met me as I crossed the line (he got 2:49) then we made our way back to the repatriation area via the various stalls where you get your bag and medal etc.
Because the race finished on the road this year (rather than the race course) the organisers weer not wanting friends/family/hangers on and spectators at the finish line, so they set up a big screen at the repatriation area for people to see the runners come in..... great idea if the screen had worked. Perhaps its a big Freeview box that is getting affected by the impending digital switchover? I think they will get a few complaints about that.

Main thing is... that's it done. Hate the taper.... but I do enjoy having a nice quiet "recovery week". Might try to do a wee recover run tomorrow (weather permitting).

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Quite a busy weekend coming up...
Off to see Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra on Friday, then a pasta party at Ian and Jane's on Saturday afternoon, all rounded off with the Edinburgh Mara' on Sunday morning.
Oh... how could I forget.... and the world comes to an end on Saturday at 6pm as well. Which is nice.

Well. To be fair it only starts to end on Saturday afternoon. Apparently that's the time of the "Rapture" when all the goody two shoes get whisked up to "heaven" while the rest of has hang about down here suffering unimaginable horrors till October 21st.... Then the world really does come to an end. Apparently (probably best not pre enter the Jedburgh Half too early this year then).

So. There you go. I'm maybe missing the point a bit, but I kinda hope that the 2% or so who get whisked off to play their harps contain a large proportion of runners who are faster than me in the Edinburgh Marathon (though if they're that bloody righteous why are they out running on the "lords day"?). It might help push me up the overall classification a wee bit on Sunday. Maybe a new category could also be created  "first M40+ unbeliever".

Whatever. It's a brilliant ready made excuse for anyone who doesn't do too well ..... "Ach. It was a bit hot. There was that awful head wind. My legs felt a bit heavy. Oh... and the world was coming to an end round about me."

Strange that there has been little about this in the main stream news. (bit in the Independant). But then again the only bit of the Guardian I read is Doonesbury....

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


The taper is always a difficult time. I don’t enjoy not running.

I can manage a rest day on a Friday easily enough, but I find it hard at other points.
I think one of the main reasons is that running is, quite frankly, one of the few things that I enjoy and gives me any modicum of feeling of achievement.
Work, for me at the moment, is little more than a suppurating wound festering away at my soul. I absolutely detest my work situation right now. The only thing that is positive from work is the money. Problem is my hatred of my work is starting to seep into and affect other aspects of my life and it's starting to get to me.
I know that having a job makes me “luckier” than some, but …..
16 years in the same job.. Maybe it really is time to get out.
The contract I work on is going out to tender soon. Every four years or so we basically have to compete for our own jobs, while a bunch of f*wit civil servants sit about on their fat arses counting down the days till they collect their index linked pensions and sit and tell us how lucky we are.
If I'm 100% honest I don't even know if I want us to win this time.

Rant over…. Went out for four miles at lunchtime. A shorter route than usual up by the majestic Clyde. Just had to get out the office before I damaged myself or somebody else.
Have to try and get my head into a better place.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Due to a colossal wave of apathy that swept over my brain this morning creating a barren lack of imagination in its wake I ended up doing the same run as yesterday. That's twice recently that I've got up on a Sunday and just cant be bothered thinking of a new route.
However, at least while I was out I did feel a bit of remorse and ended up adding on another little loop through the woods and over by Crichness that added about three miles to yesterdays total.

Quite enjoyed it to be honest. It's a very hilly, off road run (mainly), so I don't feel too bad about keeping the pace down.
I like the route over there. I just don't like the wind farm. I am not a fan of wind turbines. They're ugly, noisy, inefficient and cost more to install than they will ever produce ... I think to be honest they just remind me too much of civil servants!
Anyway, just under thirteen miles... and I didn't see another soul. Complete isolation - I love it.

Ended up going back to Knowes Farm Shop today. We were there yesterday for the weekly fruit and veg etc. But Anne also wanted a bag of "Pink Poo", so we thought we'd go back when we didn't have all the weekly food in the boot at the same time. As the great Paul Calf would say... "Bag o' shite"!

Saturday, 14 May 2011


Last week wasn't TOO bad.... Well, work was shit as per...but that's par for the course. I'm talking about real life.
As I intended the E2NB was my last big push and I've started the dreaded taper. Mileage didn't drop that much really, but I've made a concerted effort to keep my heart rate firmly in the "green zone" and just bimble along (even Tuesday's club run was more sedate than usual).
This coming week though will see the mileage drop a bit and, who knows, I might even treat myself to two rest days rather than just the one! Don't really like when I drop my mileage - I always feel there should be a corresponding drop in my cake and biscuit intake (there usually isn't - but I feel there should be)!!
Getting a couple of niggles and twinges, but I'm pretty sure that's just psychological.
My number arrived in the post today, so other than have a moderately relaxing week, all I've got to do is drag my sorry butt to the start line a week tomorrow.
Probably spend the later half of this week keeping a keen eye on the weather forecast. The last two Edinburgh marathons have been unseasonably hot. Don't want that again.

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Oh my. Yesterday's Edinburgh to North Berwick was a tough day out.
Got up early and had a nice relaxing breakfast while listening to the rain pelting off the roof. Hmm, perhaps not ideal conditions for running twenty miles into a head wind.
But by the time we'd showered and changed the sun had come out, the sky's were blue and all was well with the world.
Met Brian and Theresa at North Berwick then got a lift to the start line.
Got to say I did enjoy the "old" start to this race at Meadowbank, but I do like the new start just at the back of the Dog and Cat home too. Reducing the race to 20 from 22 appears to have made it a bit more popular as well.
Anyway, met up with most of the other Dunbar runners (8 of us) for a bit of a natter then went off for a wee warm up with Ian and Brian...... And it's here, dear reader, that things went a bit "sour". For it was then that I told Ian what I was expecting of him during the race. He was to pace me to Direlton and then, and only then, would I "kick off" a bit for a bit of a time. Now, god knows, I'm not an unreasonable man ... I even said to him that if he did this I would repay the complement by "giving him" the lead in the Edinburgh Marathon in two weeks.

I thought we had a "gentleman's agreement".

Anyway, by the time we were lining up to start the sun was out and the heat was on - literally.
For the first five mile or so I felt quite good. Managed to keep to what I thought was a good pace (about 6:20 ish) and I was able to chat fairly comfortably with Ian. Fairly early on we were up near the front and were soon sitting in third and fourth place. We could see Moray Paterson of Portobello ahead but the first runner, Ross Houston of Central, was already out of sight.
We caught Moray sometime after 5 and just tried to keep the pace steady at 6:20 (Ian was doing a splendid job).
One of the "problems" with Edinburgh to North Berwick is that you don't run on closed roads, or for that matter "closed pavements", as a couple of incidents along by "the Pans" reminded us. Once when the driver of a parked car just about opened his door into the path of the runners and another time when a family of day trippers spilled out of a bus into the path of the runners!

My pacemaker and me at 10 miles - photo shamelessly stolen from the Portobello web site!
 Anyway, got to the ten mile mark to be informed by the time keepers that the first runner had gone through about 11 minutes before us!
At about 11 miles Ian's speed crept up, almost imperceptibly at first, until he had pulled away and created a little gap between us.
If I'd had the energy I would have shouted "Oi! What about our agreement?" (well OK, truth be told it was my agreement). And in fairness he did signal that I should catch him up.
Sadly the heat and the stiff head wind had taken their toll and there was no way I was going to keep up, I just let him drift away and hoped that I could get the head down and maintain third place.
Running with someone hadn't felt too bad, but as soon as I found myself on my own I started to hurt. I was also aware on the few occasions that you were sheltered from the wind how hot and humid it was!
Got through Aberlady and then turned the corner at the golf course that signals the start of the hilly section.
I've never really been troubled by the hilly part of this race before - until yesterday.The effort was really starting to tell and the split times were getting worse and worse.. my last five miles were all over 7 (not a well paced race at all).
By Dirleton I couldn't see the runner behind, but I knew there was someone on my tail ... and getting closer.
I'd taken my glasses off at one point early on in the race as they were covered in dried sweat. I managed a look behind and could just make out a runner in a white vest. I couldn't make out who it was, but assumed Mr Paterson had caught his second breath and was rallying.
The bit from Dirleton to the end was agony. My legs were heavy, I felt exhausted and my stomach was starting to play up. All I could think about though was getting to the end. I just kept saying to myself "keep on, this is all you have to do today... you have the rest of the weekend to hurt". Not the snappiest of runners mantra's I'll grant you, but it helped.
Sadly, about a quarter of a mile before the end I was passed. It wasn't Moray Paterson, but Bernard Devoy of Portobello who looked, quite frankly, just too dam comfortable and obviously has a better mantra.
Still 4th overall (in 2:13:55) is the highest up the classification I've ever come in this race - so I can't be too upset.
Ian finished in 2nd place - albeit just over 20 minutes behind the winner Ross Houston who, I believe, got a new course record.
Hung about for a bit at the end to watch most of the Dunbar crew coming in, and then set out on the long slow climb from the finish line up to the sports centre for a shower, change then a bit of a feed before the prize giving.
All in all, a good day out. A painful one, but a good one.

I shall revisit most of the same route in two weeks time for the Edinburgh Marathon. But for now? Well it's the start of the dreaded tapper. In a way I'm looking forward to the taper this time, as it's my plan to reduce the mileage a "bit" - but reduce the effort a "lot". Keep running, just find the time to slow down and  take time out to "listen to the flowers and sniff the birds" type of thing.

Friday, 6 May 2011



This tinnitus is a real pain in the arse (well metaphorically at least).

I’ve been “self medicating” in an effort to ease it. No idea whatsoever if it’ll help or what the “science” is, but I’ve been placing a drop or two of olive oil into the old lugs every day. Just in an attempt to give ‘em a bit of a “spring clean” so to speak. “Extra Virgin” olive oil, by the way, nowt but the best in our kitchen.

Started administering the dose with a spoon but that was just too messy … Then, I tried cleaning out an old nasal inhaler I had and filling that with oil, but the “squirter” bit was odd, or misshapen, and I just ended up “skooshing” oil into my hair… so I got myself one of those wee dropper things.

Anyhow. Seems to be working… the hissing in my left ear is much clearer now J.

Yesterday, saw me reacquaint myself with the many charity shops in the greater Leith conurbation after my [all too brief] holiday. I’ve been going through a bit of a bad patch lately … bit of a “drought”, where I’ve not really found anything. Well it looks like my luck might be changing. Michael Brecker “Time Is Of The Escence”. Three different drummers on this album, but Brecker appears on all tracks on sax, as do Pat Methaney on guitar and Larry Golding on organ. What I’ve heard of it so far sounds promising. I’m not keen on Brecker’s early fusion stuff, but this seems to be fairly powerful, but veering a bit more towards hard bop. A bit of a change for Methaney as well

Anyway. This was at lunchtime…. About an hour after I’d applied my daily dose of oil. Couldn’t understand why the girl who served me was looking at me so funny. Till I got back to work and caught sight of myself in the cludgie mirror – two big “oil slicks” – one down each side of my head and neck! Looked like my brain had been seeping out. Must have missed a bit when I was mopping up!!

I’ll give the CD a better listen to tonight.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


“Chinless wonder weds – half-brother acts as best man”.

“Beardy rag-head buried at sea with all the respect he deserves”*

Never mind all the rubbish of the last few days. How about this for a headline “Stuart Hay enjoys day at work”.
I kid you not.
There’s a fund raising day at work today for the RNLI (a worthy cause). Anyway, as well as the usual bucket rattling, cake sales etc there is a sponsored run. But inside – on treadmills.
The idea being for £5 you get a 40 minute slot to do 5K – or however far you can manage in 40.
Decisions, decisions. “Should I sit behind my desk, or pay £5 and go for a run?”. So, off I trotted.
I don’t know if I was taking it too seriously or the others weren’t taking it seriously enough – but I was the only one who went outside for a bit of a warm up first.
Anyway. Did 6.5 miles in just under 39 minutes.

Not a huge fan of treadmills but it’s a good cause. You really miss the "air" you get when running outside (even on a still day). The sweat was gushing out of me at the end.
Anyway £5 to get away from work and run for 40 minutes? That’s a bargain. In fact if it’s nice weather tomorrow I’d be more than happy to give them £10 and just run from Leith to Dunbar!

* That would be with a leg of ham rammed up his arse then?

Monday, 2 May 2011


Not the "splashdown" landing of the Apollo missions for me, sadly tomorrow will bring a bumpy return to earth a bit more like the Russian cosmonauts bumpy landing on some barren plain.
Yes indeed, that's the end of my time here on the happy and rarefied atmosphere of  "planet-time-off" and its time to start another tenure on planet "why-the-feck-am-I-here?" (a.k.a. "work"). A whole three and a bit weeks before my next 4 day weekend!!
Been a good "week and a bit" though. The weather has been amazing, so the "runners tan" has started early this year. I have noticed however that while on previous years where I have a white band round the wrist, where my watch goes, I now have a stupid sort of white "square" where my Garmin sits!
Did a last wee celebratory nine mile run up and round the wind farms. Really nice up there today - I think the guys who work up there got the bank holiday today so I never met or saw a soul (other than the usual sheep and cows). Strange that while it was warm it's the first run in a good few weeks where I've been aware of the wind. Did make it a bit tougher.
You get good views of most of East Lothian up there...

Sunday, 1 May 2011


Well, had a rest day yesterday. Kind of. I think. I'm not sure...
When does last night become this morning? I mean I know that at midnight Saturday technically becomes Sunday. But if your out  over that particular period do you still call it Saturday night or Sunday morning?

I only ask as I ended up going a run at 3:29am on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Bit of a strange time to be out training I admit.
Sadly Woodhall is blighted by a pestilence... hippy scum. It's a bit of a blight of twenty first century living and hippy scum are pretty much the rural equivalent of their close urban relative the "chav filth".

The *cough* "ancient" Beltane festival - a bit like "Avatar" meets a  Busby Berkeley musical happening
Apparently this is "Beltane" (??) an ancient Celtic festival that's shrouded in mystery and can trace it's roots as far back as the mid 1980's. Wow... that is old. Although to be fair for a hash-addled f* wit with the attention span of a retarded fruit fly that is ancient!
Anyway its an excuse for hash-heads to have a fire and make lots of noise. So at 3:29 (according to my Garmin) I set off for a little trot. Complete with headlight, hi-viz bib and arm lights.
I did this, as I decided that there was no chance of me getting anything near a good nights sleep - so I might as well get my run in now and then "rest" for the remainder of the day.
Sadly in my befuddled state at 3:29 I'd forgotten my inhaler... I'd also forgotten that the batteries on my head light were probably needing renewed so I only eventually managed a few miles (I'd been thinking of about 16). The lack of a torch wasn't too problematic as it was pretty much a clear night/morning. But the lack of the inhaler (or rather the "knowledge" that I lacked an inhaler) immediately kicked in the old asthma.
However, my route did take me past the revelries and I did happen to suggest that they may wish to consider shutting the f* up a bit. Don't know what confused the f*-wits more. Someone coming to complain at 3:30, or someone coming to complain at 3:30 in shorts, hi-viz vest, with a hi-viz bandanna on their head and a head torch!

The above is written after calming down. A previous draft would have contained the words "cattle trucks", "special", "treatment" and "gas". I'll leave it for you to sort it out.

Anyway. Finally got back and managed a few hours kip. Then this morning (yes. it was - this was post breakfast) went for a 13 mile trot. Surprised myself that I managed it quite easily and quickly.
Perhaps a wee lesson there - run "angry".

All quiet ... a bit calmer this afternoon.
Even our neighbourly donkeys were unimpressed by the hippy revelries and, like me, let their voices be heard.