Tuesday, 30 August 2011


Before going away my hols' I took some medical advice from Val.
Keep the dressing off the knee to give it some air and let it dry.
So. I packed my trendy blue cotton "Lofty shorts" and tootled off to Bruges looking every bit the trendy young "Euro poseur"!!
Problem is. My knee didn't really want to play by the rules and instead or drying up and healing went into weeping, gushing, suppurating mode....... big time. At times I could feel it running down the leg, while at others I forgot about it, but would wonder why "foreigners" were looking at me in awe. "Yes" I thought "I am indeed a trend setter". Then I would look down to see the mess of a leg dangling below the shorts and the reason for their gaze would become all too apparent.
I was wandering the narrow cobbled medieval streets of Bruges, looking like some latter day plague victim - complete with weeping boils. I ended up walking around with a collection of paper napkins from various coffee places, that I could use to mop up the mess.

However, on the plus side - it didn't stop me running! Nothing serious, just a couple of five mile "jogs" up by the canals.
We managed to find a fairly good route the first day there and just stuck to it. Within about a quarter of a mile from our hotel we could get onto a cycle/pedestrian path that runs alongside the main canal.
The first day we went about 5:30 in the afternoon and although it was quite busy it was still manageable without too much bother. Other days we went out before breakfast and it was very peaceful.
There are a few windmills along the route and Anne decided that running up to them would provide some good hill reps.

The runs all went surprisingly well and I got no bother from the knee at all. I did, strangely enough, get a bit of pain from my hams and niggles in my hips, but I put that down to the change in my gait these past few weeks.
Main thing was I was "back out there" and at the very least keeping the old heart rate in cake burning mode a few times (always handy when your on holiday).
Back home, but still off work, so I intend to up the mileage a bit and try to get back to where I was before the fall.

Going out with the club tonight. See if I can manage to stay upright.

Sunday, 28 August 2011


Bruges. Lovely place. More culture than you could shake a shitty stick at.
They do love their chips, their chocolate, their beer and their waffles.

In fact they love them so much they can hardly bear to part with them - to which ends they only reluctantly sell them to others after attempting to dissuade you by pricing them beyond the realms of reason.

The one thing I definitely didn't expect to be bothered with in Belgium is mosquitoes. Fat, squealing, blood sucking little feckers who come out at night to torment you.
Saw this crowd on Thursday in a park. A group of biddies with samurai swords! Don't know exactly what they were doing and didn't want to get too close to find out.


Haven't added anything for a wee while (well just over a week).
But what with being away in Bruges and having my mind firmly in "planet holiday" mode I've not really been thinking much about computers and t'internet etc.
However, it would be greatly remiss of me not to mention last Sunday and the Northumberland Coastal Marathon.
Obviously with my knee still giving me "jip" there was no way I was doing it and I travelled down with the sole intention of spectating. I'd like to say I like to do that when I can't run... I'd like to - but it would be a dirty big lie.
Anyway, went down to watch and ended up going round for most of the route with Jim who was down to support Val.
The route looked quite scenic - but almost all off road! Not my cup of tea at all and suddenly missing out on running it didn't look too bad.
Anne ran the way Anne runs best... find a pace and stick to it. And it seems to have worked.
At one point when she passed me and Jim (at, I think, about 16 miles) she was second lady and had appeared to have a good lead on the female who was third.
At this point I went back to the finish line while Jim continued to go to various parts of the course to meet Val.
By the time I got to the finish Ian was already in (in third place).
I was away taking pictures of some boats on the beach when I happened to look around the corner from the finish line... and there was Anne coming towards the line. I had a quick look back to see if the girl in front of her was in - but no, she wasn't.
I manged to get back just in time for a photo.
Turns out she caught the girl in front (obviously) and passed her.
First Lady - not bad at all.
Don't know if it means she'll want to go back next year and "defend" it or not.

After the race we headed back to the Red Lion for the prize giving.

Saturday, 20 August 2011


The recovery seems to be going pretty much "to plan".
Thursday saw the removal of the stitches - "Thank you lord". Well.. thanks to the nurse who actually took them out to be more precise. Certainly a lot less painful coming out than they were going in.
The nurse, however, was a shade concerned that one part of the wound hadn't fully closed yet, so she put on a couple of those strip things to keep it held together. Then a nice big dressing on top of that. As well as a load of dressings to take away to that foreign when we go (and a second emergency supply of antibiotics in case it flares up again).
Don't think I''ll need the second batch of the antibiotics as the first seem to have worked and the leg is now looking much more like it's former self - all finely honed, athletic and lithe.
In fact - it's actually looking a lot better than it previously did and a lot better than its left sided partner in some ways, due to some "grooming"..
I was so fed up of ripping out my leg hairs every time I changed the dressing, that my right knee, lower thigh and upper shin now sports a dam alluring "Brazilian" as I believe the term is (Oooh err missus).

Been years since I shaved my legs! Used to do it fairly regularly in my lycra clad, two wheeled days. Not because it helped me any, you understand.. I just liked it!

Anyway. The strips to hold the scar together lasted all of 24 hours and came off yesterday with the plaster. BUT the wound appears to be holding together quite well and there does appear to be a bit more mobility to the knee. I even ran/jogged all of ten yards across the road yesterday and stairs no longer pose the challenge they once did.

MIGHT try for a little jog or two when we're away. If I can find room in my luggage for shoes, shorts and a top - hardly any room among all the dressings, pain killers and stand by second course of antibiotics.

Off today to help out at the Haddington Half, looks like a nice day for it. Then tomorrow I'm away to watch 4 Dunbar runners do the Northumberland Costal Marathon. It's nice when you find runners who, when injured,  enjoy finding the time to support others..... Sadly I'm not one of them.. I just stand there full of seething jealously and resentment (petty, but true none the less).

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


OK. So the general ache, pain and "hotness" of the leg inflammation has died away. As has almost all the swelling and discolouration.
Though with regard the discolouration it's sometimes difficult to tell as most runners have ridiculous tan lines (second only to cyclists).
And speaking of cyclists - anyone who's had to change a big sticky plaster on their leg three times a day or so will tell you why cyclists shave their legs!
I hope that its a good sign, but I've now become more aware of pains around the wound itself. I hope this is due to the healing process. Find out tomorrow when I have an appointment with the nurse - supposedly to get the stitches out, but given the amount of crap that's still seeping out I doubt that.
Decided to try a bit of an ice pack. Would it stay on? Would it bollocks.
And so... I give you, in the spirit of Heath Robinson, my impromptu "ice-pack-holding-on-device".
You will need:
One knee (sore)
One small sandwich bag full of ice.
One "Buff"
One bulldog-clip (large).


The instant pain relief has helped me enjoy a few lovely jazz acquisitions that have been made these past few days. Top of the list has to be Eberhard Weber's "Little Movements" that has an early version of his truly beautiful tune "The Last Stage Of A Long Journey".... "Hmm ..jazz [n]ice"

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


As Ren and Stimpy would say "Oh, happy, happy, joy, joy".
Not getting much news to cheer me up at the moment, so what little I do I grab with both hands ... and this bit of news is a belter.
Well. OK it's only a belter if you like jazz, think a gold platted statue of Stan Tracey should be put up in every city and happen to think that his 1965 album "Under Milk Wood" is possibly the finest piece of music ever to be recorded.
I noticed on a trawl of t'interweb that Stan is doing a small tour.. just before Christmas. Sadly he's not coming north of the border.
The tour is a live performance of a new piece of work entitled "A Child's Christmas In Wales"...based, like "Milk Wood", on the Dylan Thomas work of the same name. I would love to hear this live, but to be honest there isn't much chance of getting to any of the gigs.
BUT... fear not. A quick check of Clark Tracey's website informs me that this has already been recorded and due for release in October!
One for the old Amazon "pre-order" I think.

45 years for a follow up album is a bit of a long time....

Monday, 15 August 2011


In an attempt to cheer myself up at the weekend we watched a travel film to aquaint ourselves with this years chosen location for our holidays....

"Bruges? F***in' Bruges? There's f*** all to do in f***in' Bruges, I'm f***in' tellin' ya."

With a bit luck they might be filming midgets. :-)

Sunday, 14 August 2011


Well. Took every one's advice and phoned NHS 24 yesterday.
After the recorded introduction of useful key pad activated options ("press 1 if you have a bit of a sniffle but fear it may be Swine Flu...press 2 if you're currently standing by a pub pay phone with a knife sticking out of your chest, press 3........."etc.) I was put through to a very helpful human who took my details.
She informed me that within 3 hours a doctor would phone me back. Well hurrah for that I thought at least it's not immediately life threatening.
As it was a doctor called back within the hour.
I told him the symptoms while he "Ooohed" and "right...I see"'d before telling me ... "Sounds like you've got an infection.. can you get the Roodlands hospital in Haddington for 7pm"?
Yes I could.... and I did.
At the Roodlands I was taken straight away and checked out. In fact.. I turned up slightly early and was taken early!! Great service.
Didn't take a lot of checking to be honest as by this time I sported one finely honed athletic leg (the left) and one that looked like a bright pink sausage balloon (the right).
The nurse cleaned up the wound and re-dressed it and I was provided with a weeks supply of antibiotics.
A bit early yet to say if they are working or not. The swelling did seem to go down a bit over night, but I keep thinking its swelling up again as the day goes on (or that maybe thats just my paranoid imagination).
Either way. I'll see what it's like tomorrow then call my own GP if it's no better.

Saturday, 13 August 2011


Never been what you might call "easy going" or, god forbid, "cheery". But this knee injury is really getting every grumpy fibre in my grumpy body to go into sensory overdrive.
I am feckin' fed up .... BIG time.
It just is not getting any better. The wound still hasn't completely sealed and the knee and lower leg are swollen and red.
I'm lucky if I can bend the leg any more than about 10 degrees and simple things like getting breeks on and off is problematic (least said about going to the cludgie the better).
I know its only been 4 days. Christ alone knows what I'll be like after a week.
Any other time I've been injured I can at least do something else like swim or cycle to "take the edge off". But given that I can hardly walk that's a non starter.

Went into work on Thursday and it was Hell, just couldn't get comfortable or concentrate and even noticed that blood was coming through the dressing and through my trousers (lovely).
Ended up working from home on Friday. Still sore and difficult to concentrate...but at least I could be misserable in the comfort of my own home.. and wear baggy joggies!

Got an appointment to get the stitches out on Thursday, but I'm even having doubts that will happen... What looks VERY unlikely is me starting the Costal marathon a week tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Feck. Feck. Feck. And "feck" again.
Every bloody year without fail (or so it seems).
Out with the club last night on what should have been a 10 or 11 mile run through John Muir, up by Pittcox and over to Burnhead...
Only for me it ended at 6.14 miles. Which is the exact point that I fell and split my knee open.
I knew straight away it was a bad one.. because I looked down at the knee cap just in time to see the large "flap" of flesh slowly cover itself back over the "raw" bit.
Don't know what brought me down. Honestly, I have no idea. One minute I'm running along fairly happy - trying to keep up with Grant, who was setting the pace. Next - I'm flat on my face. It was quite a narrow path (actually a one-tyre-tred-width of a "road" through a field), so it may have been that I caught the raised side and knocked one leg with another? I've no idea.
It was fairly obvious that I wasn't going to be continuing last night! So Grant cut his run a bit short and went back to Dunbar to get his car and take me back to Hallhill.
There Val put her nursing skills to good use and told me to get along to the Rooldlands in Haddington. They don't technically have an A&E there - but if your lucky they apparently sometimes clean up minor injuries.
Anne gave me a lift and off we went. They did clean it up - but only enough, after examining it, to get me to the A&E at the Royal. I was told by the Roodlands that "stitches were inevitable".
So, back into the car and off to the Royal Infirmary. Not my idea of a good night out - and not Anne's either!
Had to wait for about two hours before I was seen. That in itself doesn't bother me (they are busy people after all and a cut knee isn't life threatening). What does bother me are some of the "types" in the waiting room that the staff in there have to put up with (with a hell of a lot better grace than I could ever muster).
Got seen by a doctor who seemed to be in his element lifting the "flap" with pliers and scraping out all the grit and mud. "Well there's no damage to the muscles or tendons .... Look, you can see them!". Thanks, but no thanks..
Nine or ten painful attempts to put in seven stitches later and I was "good to go" (he pulled the thread all the way through twice and lost his loose end to tie!).
I really thought I knew what the answer to my question was going to be before I asked..."Eh. I'm supposed to be doing a marathon a week on Sunday...."
I thought the answer was going to be a simple "No. Your not". However, he reckons that if I get the stitches out (next Thursday), if it doesn't open up, if I don't fall again (no promises there) and if I don't bend the knee too much during the marathon I might be able to do it!
Problem is his idea of running a marathon may not be mine.. I might be able to jog round, but do I really want to? Also, we're going away on holiday the day after the mara.. do I really want to risk doing anything that might hinder that?
Either way. Next weeks Carfraemill to Gifford run is off my dance card. Bugger!
Didn't get home and in to bed last night till the back of two. Suffice to say that's another club night with no tea at the end of it!

Bloody sore today though. So loads of pain killers for me. And cake! And Chocolate... then back down to non-running "starvation rations" tomorrow.
Might try a wee walk later today - see how I get on.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Today is/was/shall be the last long run before the Coastal Marathon and I'd arranged to go out for a run with Ian - 20 miles.
Given that we are doing a coastal marathon Ian had, quite wisely, picked out a route down by the - well, down by the coast.
What neither of us had counted on was the rain. Jesus H Christ, it wasn't just raining ...this was really RAINING.

"Rain" - on the off chance you
didn't know what it looked like.

But lucky for me my new gortex jacket does the job and keeps the rain off my arms and torso....sadly what it keeps off the torso simply runs down the jacket and into the shorts then once they are fully saturated it simply pours out of the shorts making me look like some carefree incontinence sufferer.
Ah well. It was the sort of rain that after about five minutes you were soaked through anyway and not going to get any wetter.
While the quickest part of the run, the first few miles up through Spott estate and down to the coast were in some ways the worst as the "pathways" are somewhat overgrown right now with jaggy nettles. Both legs now have a sort of reddish, blotchy, corned-beef look about them.

After that though it was pretty straightforward running from Whitesands along the coast, past Torness and along to Cockburns Path, though the running on sand is always tough on the legs. Legs already tired from a tough week. As most of the route was sand or trail (or both) and it was probably good training for the race. My choice of wearing road shoes probably didn't help and I did feel myself slipping a couple of times. Maybe wear the trail shoes for the race - though for 26 miles I think I'd be happier with a bit more cushioning.
At one point my right calf started to tighten up quite a bit - not good. I hope its just a throwback to Wednesday's race (might slather it in Tiger Balm just to be on the safe side though).
At about 13 miles we crossed back over the A1 just at the Cockburnspath roundabout and off the beach/trail combo and back on to the road. Ian was keen to extend his run a bit and headed back after a mile or so and back down towards the coast but I'm afraid I opted for the familiar and, to my mind, more pleasant roads to get me home.
Heading back through Innerwick the rain made an unwelcome "full-on" return, and the last couple of miles were a fairly joyless, head-down-and-just-get-on-with-it type of running. The sort of miles that provide no satisfaction other than adding mileage to the weekly log. Got home just as the Garmin ticked over to 21.
All in all a good run.

Friday, 5 August 2011



According to a report just published, one third of (cough) “adults” uses a “smart” phone.

I disagree (Quelle surprise!). A tiny fraction of adults use smart-phones.

The rest appear to be slightly over evolved primates who stand around in the middle of pavements jab, jab, jabbing away at their shinny jab-screen, with the bemused slack-jawed expression of some curios chimp poking at an ant hill with a stick.

Either that or sitting about on their fat arse boring everyone with the details of their new “app” that allows them to check the mean average temperature in Katmandu – very feckin’ handy.



Can you download an “app” that warns you that there’s other users on the pavement? That way you could shift your glakit fat arse every now and then.




Not a fan of these things really.

Thursday, 4 August 2011


Last night was the North Berwick Law race.
There seemed to be a very large turnout this year and the nice weather had also brought out a large number of spectators. Just before the start of the race though a bit of mist rolled in and the top of the law was briefly hidden, making it look even more imposing than usual.
Really good fun this race. Well, “fun” is a relative term I suppose and it is fun once it’s over.
Had what I thought was a really good start and took the first mile, to the foot of the law, quickly but comfortably and passed quite a few runners who had belted off too quickly and were paying for it already.
The climb up the law is punishing. Bend over, walk up and push down on the knees type climbing. The only comfort is that everyone is doing the same. You may lose a lot of time on the climb, but you shouldn’t lose too many places…
Unlike the descent. Oh lordy, once more the trademark Hay “big girl’s blouse type hippity hoppity” descent let me down badly, with runners queuing up behind me to get past!
Got back to the flat and felt good… for all of twenty yards or so, then I felt my calf muscles start to tighten! Lost count of the number of times I’ve had to stop on this race to stretch out cramp.
As luck would have it, Mr Rowland chose this very time to pass me! However, I didn’t stop and the “nearly-cramp” wore off and I passed him again on the road near the swimming pool.
Managed to get up a fair bit of speed coming back through the park and found myself in a group of three (me, a Norham runner and a bloke in a yellow vest) heading out of the park and onto Quality Street. The atmosphere when you come out of the park and back onto the road is amazing at this race. The roads are great.
A young girl was counting off the runners as we came out of the park and informed Yellow Vest that he was 19th, I was 20th and Norham was 21st. At which point Yellow turns round and says something along the lines of “you’re not getting 19th place”! Well…. “red rag to a bull” and all that. Me and Norham just cranked it up a bit and started to pull away until the three of us were in a sprint to the line, which ended up Norham 19th, me 20th and Yellow 21st (if only he kept quiet).
My watch clocked 23:13 which is 1 second slower than my last outing two years ago.
Went for a couple of drinks afterwards and then had a “weegie salad” for tea (chips). Perhaps not the ideal diet, woke up this morning and felt like I was going around with a lead weight in my belly.

Been infected, badly, today by an “earworm” -  one of those bits of a song or a tune that get lodged in your brain. I’ve been listening to a hell of a lot of Roy Hargrove’s stuff lately and his album from 1991 with Antonio Hart “Tokyo Sessions” has one of the best versions of Monk’s “Straight. No Chaser” that I have ever heard. A real pounding, funky, blues style version with a march like drum accompaniment  from Masahiko Osaka that is so like Art Blakey. Always liked this tune, but this uplifting cover really puts a smile on my face (so it must be special J ).

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


A wise man once said "if a picture paints a thousand words, then why can't I paint you..?".
Well. I had one of those moments last night.
I happened to find myself in the "Stoneybank" area of the greater Musselburgh conurbation. An area I know (or knew) quite well, as it happens - it being the ancient seat of my particular little branch of the mighty Hay clan.
I'd like to say that very little has changed since I left. I'd like to - but it would be feckin' lie. There's bugger all that I remember of it left. Bits I recognize? Oh yes. But as I remember it No.
Still. That's the way of things.
Anyway - I digress. I was in a little deli in Stoneybank. Yes! A "Deli"!! In Stoneybank! Christ. When I was a kid if a shop had both types of bread (plain and pan) then it was posh.
Now this deli, as well as "exotic" foods and breads also had a great many beers. Beers from all over the world.
I went in.
I browsed.
I didn't see anything... so I asked. "Excuse me. Do you have any alcohol free beers?".
And that's when it happened.. Words I am afraid are inadequate to convey the look on the shopkeepers face. It was, at once, a combination of pity, contempt, bewilderment, loathing, and a good dollop of bafflement thrown in for good measure. Imagine the queens face if somebody grabed her handbag off her - then had a dump in it. Her face would probably look a bit like his...
"Alcohol. Free?. Beer? Without Alcohol?.... Why?"
"I like it and I like to try different kinds."
"Different one's go with different food"
The excahnge didn't quite get as far as him asking me to leave, but it was obvious I was not what you might call representative of his target core customer demographic.

Sadly, it's an exchange I'm somewhat used to. Thing is I do like a beer with food. Just the one and always alcohol free. But it is a real bugger to source. Yes. You can get Becks "Blue" damn near everywhere (except Stoneybank), but it's expensive and very dry. Now "dry" isn't always a bad thing, but I don't want to drink it every night.
I know what people will think/say... "if you don't drink. Then why do you want beer? Why not just have juice or water?" Well. Sometimes I do, but you don't always want something too sweet. Who knows perhaps after years of the "real" stuff I've just got overly used to it?
Whatever. I like it, it's on the market, I'll drink it. But it is hard to source. So I invariably end up stocking up on different sorts when I find them so that I've always got a supply.

So. As John Coltrane once remarked, a full four years before Julie Andrews came along and ruined it, These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things.....

Becks Blue: The market leader (probably). A bit dry for my liking.
Kaliber: Not as easy to source as you'd think and one of my favourites though probably a tad watery.
Bavaria "Regular": Nice, everyday drink, goes with anything. Maybe a little bit sweet.
Bavaria Wit: I loved wheat beer, so finding this was great. Full of flavour and very fruity.
Kombacher: A relatively new one to me. Lovely stuff. Not as dry as becks, but nice and crisp.
Erdinger Alkoholfrei. The business. The daddy of them all. I love this stuff, but it's a bit hard to find (so I usually get a crate when I do find it). It actually tastes exactly like I remember wheat beer. Keeps it's creamy head for ages. Only down side is it might be a bit too gassy. As an aside the makers actually market it as a sports recovery drink and sponsor marathons and tri's. Got into a bit of a habit of having one the night before a marathon... with a shed load of pasta obviously.
Cobra: Don't have any at the moment, but another good one. Nice with a curry (unsurprisingly).

Thing about all of the above is, they should be cold, and as most lager drinkers would tell you, if they're honest, is that if you chill them enough all lagers taste pretty much the same anyway.

The irony? The little shop that's now a "Deli" was, many moons ago, a regular "licenced grocers" .... where I first used to buy drink as an under age drinker! :-)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011



Through in the (cough) “Dear Green Place” today, so I did my usual 7 mile run up along the banks of the sparkling blue waters of the majestic Clyde at lunchtime (god, how I miss it so).

Quite enjoyed it. I’m not running tonight with the club (stopwatch duty at the Summer Series) so I decided that I could afford to “go for it” with my lunchtime run. Tried to push it as hard as I could.

It also helped that it was raining – though still a bit “muggy”. At least the rain keeps some of the dross indoors, glued to their tellies and the Jeremy Kyle show, glugging away on their two litre blue-plastic bottles of jakie-juice.

Anyway. Don’t know if it was the knowledge that it’s my only run today, or the fact that I could, for once, run in a straight line without playing dodge-the-jakie-with-the-devil-dog, but I clocked a PB for the route. Saw a lot of other runners today and at one point even ended up running for a mile or so with a bloke who works in an office a few streets away. I think a few people were taking advantage of the park being relatively quiet.

Might go for a gentle wee recovery run tomorrow at lunchtime, before having a go at the North Berwick Law race tomorrow night.