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.

Sunday, 25 September 2011


Down at Norham today for their 10k.
Lovely route, but hilly and not a route for a PB. Met up with the other Dunbar runners who were going down and headed off for our warm up. I always like races that start in nice rural areas .... lots of opportunities to water the local fauna and flora!
Warm up over it was back through the village to the start line to get our instructions from Les and we were off.
This was my first race in almost two months and, if I'm honest, I was quite nervous about it. It's all good and well doing training runs and thinking your doing fine, but you never really know until you get out there and run a race.
Got a bit of a fright when I realised going through the village that I was in second place. Not my natural habitat, but the natural order of things was soon back in place as a few runners, including Grant, passed me.
At the first mile mark I was running with Darin Dougal of Moorfoot and by running together we managed to pick off a few runners until we were running fourth and fifth overall (Grant was in third).
And that was how it pretty much stayed all the way to mile five, at which point cooperation started to give way to the race instinct and we were trying to get away from each other.
Today was my day and I just managed to get away in the last 100m or so and claim 4th. My time of 37:00 was a bit slower than last year, but then again it was windier this year.
And because Grant was third overall first vets prize went to me.
Good runs from some of the other Dunbar runners with Susan getting 1st female and Mrs H getting first vet over 45. Ian was 6th overall as well, and that gave us enough for the men's team, while Susan, Anne and Jane got the female team prize.

My favourite type of prize Fopp currently have a load of  releases on the Original Jazz Classics label on sale ..... "Hmm. Gerry Mulligan meets Johnny Hodges.....west coast cool meets mainstream swing... crazy, but nice".

Easy week ahead. Shorter distances and less effort than other weeks. Save the legs for the marathon next week. Might just do 5 miles or so at recover pace tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 September 2011


Getting a bit of pain just now in my right leg. Well, my buttock if I was to be honest. Or if rather than simply “honest” I were also technical then I’d say its my “Gluteal muscle group”.
Whatever, its sore. Sore when sitting for any length of time and sore when I try to run quickly - which is a slight problem when I’ve got a couple of races coming up.
Anyway. I have identified three possible causes of this abnormality:
One. After my recent knee problem my gait has changed a bit and the other muscles are “compensating”.
Two. I need new shoes. I don’t seem to get hellish long out of a pair of shoes these days (three/four months), but given that that can add up to about 700+ miles it isn’t too bad. Certainly looking at my current pair the right shoe is showing signs of degradation/wear.
Three. I lack sufficient panniculus adiposus of the buttocks (that’s “fat”) and sitting for long periods of time is causing pressure on the muscle.

So, to be honest I think one and two are the most likely, but to err on the safe side……. “One” keep on keeping on and hope it goes away (along with more stretching/squats/lunges). “Two” new shoes bought and ready to try out before the races. “Three” More Cake!!!

Of course it may be none of the above. It may all be down to the involuntary "spasm" my right leg keeps getting when I'm sitting watching the news and have to reign in my basic urge to put my foot through the telly!! A Liberal Party Conference and an SNP budget .... testing times indeed.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011



Some may, by now, have deduced that I am not overly keen on the commute through to the DGP. I don’t believe in an afterlife or anything like that… but Im pretty sure that if there is a hell then it will be approached via an hour long commute on one of First Scotrails stinking trains, the bowels of hell will look a lot like the Queen Street “selection ramp” and Satan will be a weegie Civil Servant.

There are however a couple of coping mechanisms that can make the journey, certainly not pleasant, but at least tolerable. Namely a bit of music and a good book.

These days I just carry my ereader with me. If I finish one book … well I can just pick another from my “library”. No need to lug more than one book at a time.

I hate being stuck on a train with nothing to read.

Which is why I decided, when I read about the Guradians great bookswap, that I’d take part and get rid of a couple of books I’ve read and don’t want to hang on to.

So this morning I slipped a couple of books onto seats and tables in a carriage of the train before slipping into the next carriage to sit.

The books I chose to leave? Well a couple of the series of “Railway Detective” books by Edward Marston. Hopefully a little murder on the railway will make someone else’s journey a little less like murder.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


At half past nine this morning - exactly - just as I put my shoes on to go out for what will hopefully be my last long run before the mara' .. the heavens opened. It started positively piddling down.
The temptation to say "feck it". Bung on the kettle for another coffee and just watch the Great North Run on the telly was massive.
However.... I'm made of [slightly] stronger stuff. So with a bit of a moan to myself I went back upstairs, grabbed a rain jacket, and headed off regardless.
Started off by doing a sort of circuit of the windfarms before heading through the forest to Crichness then out on to the Duns Gifford road and back via Harehead.
Slow, hilly, muddy and wet. Oh.. and windy in parts.
That's about as much as I can say for it to be honest.
Not a great run. Not a bad one by any means.... but not great. I wanted to do 21 but by the time I got back to the cottage my GPS was only at 20.5. The temptation to just stop was over powering, but I bimbled on for another .25 - did a u-turn - and got home just as it tipped over to the 21.
One small highlight in the run though was my new running "buddy"...... Percy Pig!!
Been a vegetarian for 27 years now and the one thing I do miss is jelly sweeties, so I was over the moon when M&S brought out a vegetarian version of their Percy Pigs (Veggie Percy has a green ear.... Oh and he doesn't contain gelatin either).
So. I decided today, as a bit of an experiment, to take a couple with me on my run and see if they help.
I've always gone for energy gels when I'm doing a marathon, but to be honest I'm not all that convinced about their effectiveness.
These sweets will (a) give me a wee bit of a sugar rush, and (b) they do contain a fair bit of carbohydrate.... so who knows?? Might even manage a marathon without spewing ... that would be nice.
Got on fine with them today, so I'll take a couple with me in two weeks for the mara. One at about 18 miles and one at 24...

Friday, 16 September 2011



Went out for six miles this morning. Early doors. Thought I might enjoy it – I didn’t.

God, it hurt. I suddenly remembered why a rest day on a Friday is a good idea. Especially Fridays that follow Thursdays where I’ve been out a run and taken part in a fairly rigorous track session at night.

This morning I felt like my legs had sacks of coal tied to the ankles.

But it brings my weekly total up to about 75. Got a long weekend coming up, so hope to do a couple of long un’s.

Strange thing happened last night. I was walking up to the Waverly station and as I walked past the Omni Centre at Greenside row. As usual it was busy there. Within a period of under a minute, four people had come up to me to enquire “are you the Real Radio renegade”? WHAT???

First time I just thought it was a loony. Second and third time I started to think “Aye. Aye. Something’s going on here”, and by the fourth time I was all geared up to tell them to “p*** off” – but seeing as it was a bloke about six foot tall and four foot wide I just smiled sweetly and contended myself by saying “no”.

Now I don’t know who the “Real Radio renegade” is but if his face is as bitter and twisted as mine is after a day at work then even I feel sorry for him!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Quite a morning already.
What were you doing at about 5:55? Having a nice coffee? Still tucked up in bed? Enjoying your breakfast?
Me? I had my head stuck down the septic tank overflow chamber again!
I don't know what had gone wrong this time. The pump appears to be working, but I've "tweaked" the float switch so that it comes on a bit earlier. I suspect that the socket (left of the tank) hadn't fully dried out at the weekend - tripped - and then over filled.
Have to keep an eye on it. But not a nice way to start the day at all.

Then a little later on I was upstairs working and happened to look out the window...
That certainly shouldn't be in next doors garden. Fatso the cat? Yes. A big coo? Definitely not.
Anyway. Got out and opened the gate at the side of the house and managed to "herd" her back through into the field where she belongs (can you "herd" a single coo?).

And despite a terrible moment when she took a shine to Anne's flowers under the window it all went well and she's back with the rest of the gang now.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011



Well. That was a bit of an anti climax.

All my hatches were “battened” in a downward position and all my shutters were… well “shut”. The great storm that was to be the tail end of Hurricane Katia didn’t quite live up to the apocalyptic prophesies of the met office or the gleeful doom-mongers of Transport Scotland.

It was “windy”. Yes. But then again it’s Autumn and we live in Scotland – it’s supposed to be windy!

You got the feeling though that BBC Scotland had spent ages getting ready and weren’t going to allow a non-story slip through the net. So we got the usual images of leaves literally being blown off branches (“Oh the humanity”), eejits with umbrellas, and a couple of west coast numpties getting a soaking from a big wave at Saltcoats by standing within three feet of a sea wall during a high wind at high tide (amazing).

Actually quite enjoyed being out in it for a couple of runs. Very windy, but surprisingly mild.

That said, I’m looking to get out for a couple of long runs soon and hope the wind dies down a bit before then.

Saturday, 10 September 2011


The weekend didn't quite get off to the start I had hoped for...
Early on, the German Biscuit and the cafe crema was delicious. The jazz reviews in the Guardian were "so-so" this weekend (too many vocalists for my liking), but the Red Garland Trio on my hi-fi were keeping the old spirits up. It was the start of my two days "me time" and I was approaching a state that could almost be called "mellow".
I'd even started a little housework" and then it all went pear-shaped. I noticed the trip switch on the septic tank overflow pump had gone.
A quick change into my cruddiest of cruddy clothes and a trudge to the foot of the garden confirmed my worst fears. I could smell the bloody thing before I was even half way down the garden path.
The hose had become detached from the pump...the chamber had filled ...the switch had become submerged in water and the trip had..well.. it had "tripped".
Job one is to empty the tank (by hand) to get the liquid level below the switch. Well, actually step one is to chap on the neighbours doors and ask them not to run/flush any water till I'm finished. The problem is - where to empty it? Can't put it down the bog as that would only go back into the tank and I'd be there all day!
There's no natural "run off" or we wouldn't need a pump to take it way, and I'm not draining it away in our garden!
I ended up just dumping it on the grass verge at the side of the road. One of my manky hippy neighbours lets his dog roam about there, so with a bit of luck the mangy thing will catch something (that would be natural justice).

"I've dropped my screwdriver?"
 Anyone who has ever fancied living in the country and sharing in the "rural idyll" should be made to put their head down a septic tank for five minutes ... then see if they still fancy the idea.

Imagine, if you will, a really hot day. Your about to run a marathon. You join the back of a very, very long queue for the portaloos. You're nervous about the marathon. Your tummy is all rumbling and churning (so is every one elses). Remember its really really hot. You finally get to the front of the queue and step into the portaloo....... have you been there before? Well that doesn't even start to describe what the smell is like cleaning a tank out!

Anyway. Got the level below the power switch and managed to fix the hose onto the pipe (the old hose clip had eroded). Took a few goes to get the switch completely dry and stop tripping.
Had a long hot shower once I was finished. Didn't quite get to the wire brush and Detol stage, but I really need a good scrub to get the memory of the smell away.
Not a nice start to the weekend.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011


Another Wednesday ... another painful run.

Had one of my usual "two run Tuesday's" yesterday. To start with my legs were still a bit tired after Sundays 25k run with the club (very enjoyable though) and I had toyed with the idea of not going a run at lunchtime. Given that it was absolutely piddling it down through in the DGP, and howling a gale, I really shouldn't have bothered.
However, as anyone unlucky enough to, not "belong to the tribe", but work with/for civil servants will tell you - they are a load of feckin' "psychic vampires". They don't suck the blood out of you. I wouldn't even go as far as to say they even suck the life force out of you... they just, sort of, slowly tap into and drain away your "innate ability to give a feck".
"I want 'something' done. Trouble is, I don't even have the brains to explain what 'something' is, never mind write a specification. It's all just a bit of a vague idea really. Probably do it all on computers these days don't they? So I'm going to get 'someone' to write me a specification for what 'something' is. Then I'll get 'someone else' to put all that into a tender (god forbid "I" should try that). Then I'll get them to put the tender out to 'people'. After that I'll ask 'another person' to look at the returns and award a contract - following me? Then - and here's the clever bit - once we've employed 'somebody' to do my important 'something' we'll get 'somebody else' to keep and eye on the contract and make sure 'somebody' is doing 'something' correctly. Otherwise the minister won't think I can do my job ... and we don't want that. Do we? And even if things do go wrong ... there's always a big chain of people between me and 'something' who can take the blame. As long as my pensions alright."

I have to get out at lunchtimes. I don't for one moment mean that everyone should go running at lunchtimes (my routes would be too busy for one thing). But I will never understand people who can sit at their desks every day.

So a fairly fast paced 6.7 mile up by the windswept desolate banks of the majestic Clyde was in order. Lovely. As per usual during the monsoon season the natives retreat to the relative comfort of their high rise hovels to while away the dreary hours watching Jeremy Kyle and flick through the JD Sports catalogue searching for inspiration for their next court appearance outfit (Reebok is soo last year).
I really enjoyed the run. Though to be honest I'd have preferred if the wind was going the other way (it was against me coming back). Soaked to the skin and the shoes were sodden.

So, last night when I got down to the club I was all in favour of a nice moderate 6 or 7 miles.
Which will be why we ended up doing another fast paced 11 miler! At least this time it wasn't raining (and I did have a change of kit). To be fair there are not going to be too many weeks left where we can get out into the country for longer runs so we might as well make the most of it.
BUT we ended up going through John Muir - twice- and that was like a quagmire in places.
My shoes, that are three months old, looked like something Time Team would excavate from one of their digs by the time we got back.

I know "opinion is divided" on how to treat shoes, but I just got rid of most of the excess muck this morning then bunged them in the washing machine. Don't know if it affects all the bouncy E.V.A stuff and "engineered" gel pockets and all the other "scientific" doo-dahs, but at least they look nice again.

Anyway. Hard run on Sunday and two hard runs yesterday. So today was a slow six mile run that could probably be described as "recovery" pace.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011



Do they do it deliberately? Do they lay on “special” events just because I’m having to come through to the DGP?

This morning in Waverly Station , the weary travellers last breath of fresh East Coast Air before being herded through to the Queens Street/Treblinka “selection ramp”, young ladies were handing out sample bags of jellied sweeties.

Those who are blessed by angels and never/seldom have to travel on the filthy, putrid, disease ridden cattle trucks operated by First Scotrail may have an idyllic notion of what it’s like. They probably imagine a lovely amble through beautiful countryside with the gentle rhythmic “ratty-tat-tat, ratty-tat-tat” of the train lulling them to sleep and the gentle soothing voice of WH Auden whispering his “Night Train” in their ear.

It’s not. It’s hell – and the face of hell is a fat, sweaty, adenoidal mouth breathing gut-bucket, shovelling a burger into his fat sweaty face at 7:10 in the morning then settling down to gurgle his delight as he masticates his free bag of sweeties. Well – given the noises he was making I can only hope he was “masticating”!

One of the few times that I’ve almost been thankful for tinnitus.

Friday, 2 September 2011


Yesterday I said "the club re-starts its monthly 5k handicap tonight. I'll give that a go - it's usually a good indicator of how the training is going."
Today I say "not terribly well". About 30 seconds slower than the last time and a good bit off my handicap time. Felt like I was giving it all I had, but just couldn't chase down the runners ahead of me.
As a form of penance I tried to push myself a bit harder today on a nine mile route and did manage to get the pace up a bit.

Four weeks on Sunday till the Baxters Mara. Better get a plan together.

Got a 25k run with the club this Sunday. That'll do as a start, but need to get a few long ones under my belt. The September weekend is coming up fairly soon, so I might try and get a couple of good runs under my belt then and also try for the Norham 10k the week before the mara as a wee sharpener.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


Been out running every day since my return from holiday. Not as high mileage as I would like, but some fairly good runs none the less.
Including Tuesday's club run that turned into a nine mile route at a fairly high pace (well higher than I was originally looking for). A pace I couldn't quite keep up with. At one point I got a bit of tightness in my calf and I had to stop and stretch. I'm just attributing this to the change in my gait during my time with my bad knee.
Today I went out for my run early on and did an eight mile circuit that took in Innerwick.
Later on we were out to do a quick recce of part of the course that the club is running on Sunday. I knew the part of the route all too bloody well, but Anne wasn't quite sure and wanted to acquaint herself with it. So the two of us went a wee jog by Pitcox and Biel and along the part that I now call "Wounded Knee".
Now that summer is over (thank feck) the club re-starts its monthly 5k handicap tonight. I'll give that a go - it's usually a good indicator of how the training is going

Meanwhile on planet "jazz"... When we were away I got myself a 4CD/8 album box set of Kenny Dorham sessions. Lovely stuff. Late fifties hardbop from a, not necessarily underrated trumpeter, but an often overlooked one. I hang my head in shame that my collection of Dorham albums was until now woefully small and I'd been a tad reliant on "evaluation" copies of other peoples collections. So this collection, that comes in at just under £8, is a great deal.
Most of the sessions here are your traditional bop quartet or quintet combos of piano, bass and drum joined by one or two horns, one being Dorham on trumpet obviously. But there are couple of albums thrown in that change the mix a bit. "Two Horns, Two Rhythm" sees the removal of piano from the combo and the quartet here is just trumpet, alto sax, bass and drums.
The other unusual album is "Jazz Contrasts". It's Dorham's contribution to the ubiquitous "with strings" album stage that all horn players seem to go through - but with a twist. Instead of being joined by an entire string section the quintet are joined by Betty Glamann on harp (on this set Sonny Rollins is on sax). Less "boppish" than the other entries in the box set and a bit heavier on ballads (as are most "strings" albums) but this is a really nice album. A beautiful version of "I'll Remember April" that runs to just over twelve minutes and isn't one second too long. Too fast for a ballad, a bit too languid for bop (at times) ... but a speeded up bossa, Max Roach is on drums and drives this one like a train.