Thursday, 29 March 2012


I feel like I'm dead on my feet these days. I'm knackered. Spending half my time shuffling along like a zombie – no signs of life – vacuous of all energy and zest for life. Thank god I work beside [un]civil-servants, at least I can blend in.

Maybe it's the, decidedly, unseasonal warm weather that's getting to me? I don't know.
Since my run in with the maniac orthodontist the other week I have broken my "habit" of hot chocolate and biscuits last thing at night. It was a real bad habit that I adopted six years ago when I gave up another bad habit - and now that I have knocked it on the head I want to steer clear of getting sucked back in - BUT I've actually lost a bit of weight since then and I'm starting to think I don't really have the energy reserves that perhaps I should? Who knows. And to be honest even if it is a lack of energy reserves I’m pretty sure a nutritionist wouldn’t recommend hot chocolate and custard creams.
One obvious answer could be the increased mileage lately. I’ve not had a week below 50 this year – the last three weeks have all been 70+ and the two before that 60+ (this too might account for the weight loss).
Reading a really good Swedish thriller at the moment about a hunt for a hit-man with a penchant for playing Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” while he cleans up after a job. Great stuff, but last night I had to pack it in after a couple of pages (or “screens” I suppose in these days of ereaders) because I kept dropping off.

Nothing major planned for the weekend (though maybe I should spend some time “panic-buying” petrol, pasties and stamps). I’ll try for one last long run then start the taper on Monday. Rest might do me a bit good.

 Although I’ve had my new toy for about a week now I’ve still not had as much time as I’d like to play about with it – so that might be something to keep me occupied. First impressions of the hardware are good (including the ability to switch to “glorious mono”)– but I’ve yet to be convinced about the software. It’s “ok” but Itunes is a tad “clunky” on Windows (Tip: If you go to: Control Panel > System and Security > Administrative Tools then select Component Services > Services (Local) and change AppleMobileDeviceManager.exe from auto start to manual it seems to speed things up – a lot. Create a shortcut and just start this before you connect the Ipod).
However, I have got a new “skin” for it – as I believe the kids call them. Basically a silicon case to keep it nice – essential for a hashy bustard like me! I chose one that would take me back to my own “yoof” – proper walkmans and “mixer tapes”. Those were the days!! Nowadays we complain about “only” having 50 albums on our mp3 players. Christ I used to be happy with two or three C90’s, that would do me for weeks. God only knows how many AA batteries I used to get through too!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


The first club run on a Tuesday, after the clocks go forwards and the light nights are here is always a satisfying time.
After 5 and a bit months of being "limited" to the confines of the town run it's always nice to get out and about. Push the distance a little. Explore the countryside. The town run (as we call it) is OK, but because its the same route week in and week out the emphasis is almost exclusively on speed. Every week turns into a sort of time trial. That's all good training I suppose, but it does get a bit repetitive (and the legs, quite often, are a bit "empty" on the Wednesday after).
But never, that I can remember, has it ever been such ideal conditions as it was last night! Unbelievable. Never mind the clocks going forwards an hour. It was as though the whole damn calender had been put forward by about 4 months. It's like going straight from March to July.
A stunning night for a run through John Muir and then back via the chicken farm. This ten miler was the order of the day for most last night, though some did choose to lengthen it a wee bit. Ran with Ian last night and while the pace was kept relatively high it was nice to crank it down half a gear or so.
Trying to enjoy the nice weather while I can. This is Scotland after all - can't even rule out snow yet!

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Bit of a busy weekend.
Yesterday we went along to Pencaitland to take part in the very low key Pencaitland 10k.
The race is organised by a local play group, or some such, and as such the emphasis was a bit more on the "fun" than it was on "run". Though I was heartened to see a few more club runners taking part this time.
There was a "zumba" warm up session ... which I declined to participate in. Choosing instead to go a couple of mile warm up run with the two Ian's and take the opportunity to water some of the shrubs in the ground of the big house.
The route itself was really nice - just the sort of thing I enjoy training on - but for some reason hate racing on!!
Anyway, young Mr Crichton was taking part. He's finished a busy season of cross country races, has just had a "rest" week and was looking for something low-key that he could run "under the radar". Even taking it easy he was off like a rocket.
Quite a few climbs, sharp bends, gates and crossings on the route. Nothing too serious but enough to break any rhythm you may have. Still happy with my 37:16 though.
I did say it was very low key didn't I? It's the first prize giving I've been too where the organisers had to ask the runners who was the first lady across the line! I'm not holding out much hope for the results being all.
As I'd hoped there were big biscuits on ribbons instead of medals. Great. At one point I went back into the hall to get my long sleeve top. Only to find Anne deep in conversation with a couple of kids while she decorated her medal with a tube of green icing!

Dunbar "bookended" the run with Andrew coming in first while Keith defended his "lantern rouge" admirably, still keeping enough in the tank for his trademark sprint for the line.
Went back to Ian and Jane's afterwards for coffee and scones - very nice, but had to leave sharpish as we were off last night to see Tord Gustavsen at the Queens Hall (and bloody excellent that was too).

This morning with the sun beating down on me like it was a July day I headed off over the hills via Crichness and Harehead etc for a 23 mile circuit. Just tried to keep the pace steady (not easy with so many climbs) and tried to keep the old ticker in the green "easy" zone. 23 miles and for the first 18 the only other person I saw was Anne who was doing a similar route, but in the opposite direction!
Then at 18 miles, when things were starting to get tough, I got stopped and asked directions by a couple of hikers. Obviously I was happy to help, and they don't know how far you've been... but trying to get started again after a short stop at that distance is really tough. Just a baw hair over 3 hours for 23.
One last weekend of long distance next week before the dreaded taper!

The rest of today will be spent playing with my new "toy" that I got on Friday. A shinny new Ipod touch.
I've always tried to steer clear of "I"-anythings, but it was time for a new MP3 player and the more I looked at what was on offer the more I realised that the Ipod did everything I wanted (including dual-mono playback!).
Loaded Itunes onto my PC on Friday and imported my *ahem* "modest" library of music. Feck me that was running most of the night and a part of Saturday. But now that its in its running pretty well.
I shall use my taper week as an excuse to spend time loading some "bangin'-tunes" on to it, as I believe the youth of today are want to say.
Won't run with it though. I prefer to run, as I did today, with my inner monologue singing along to me on "shuffle mode". There is a part of today's run (and I won't say where - because it's my place) where I always end up singing The Jam "The Place I Love"

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Got hold of the new Brad Mehldau Trio offering “Ode”. Brad’s first trio recording in a good few years and I, personally, think the trio setting is his real spiritual home (there have been some solo works and one for a larger ensemble).

The title track starts of a bit “ballady” with nice slow moving piano and bass line being carried downstream by drummer Jeff Ballards rapidly trickling cymbals. As the theme builds though, both piano and bass accelerate to match the drums before the trio all slow down to bring it to a gradual halt.
“26” has kind of a slow bluesy feel to it. Doubt very much that the “26” of the title refers to marathon distance – but you never know.
Probably the most solidly modern jazz based album I’ve heard from the trio for a bit but there is still a “hint” of “rock” there if you look for it.
“Bee Blues” sounds (to this listener’s less than perfect ears) similar to Thelonious Monk’s style of piano with surprising spaces and hesitations.
It’s modern jazz with a bit of attitude.

Put your feet up – switch the headphones to “mono” (or "stereo" if you must) – grab a mug of java – and get stuck into a big old slice of cake!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Well, it was fun while it lasted. But that's Winter over and Spring, my least favourite of seasons, is upon us.
More significantly the clocks change this coming weekend and we should get more light at nights. Certainly enough to venture forth into the countryside on club nights.
So, last night was the last "town run" for a while and I am now able to pack away my high-viz vest for a few months.
The run started relatively sedately and I did, foolishly, hope that we were going to take it easy and just coast round. Savour the fact that we wouldn't be seeing these streets again for a wee while. But no.. as the miles ticked by the pace crept up and up until the last couple of miles were taken at the usual eyeballs out and frothing at the mouth pace.

Legs feel dead today so I think I'll content myself with a bit of a plod at lunchtime - nothing frantic.
As I feared, now that my gappy-gum-hole is starting to calm down and I'm off the painkillers (have been for 48 hours) all the niggles and aches that vanished while I was "numbed up" are coming back to haunt me. Last ten days or so? Toothy/gummy agony....a diet of painkillers ..... fabulous ache free running. Coincidence? I think not.

There's a side of me - an evil dark side perhaps - that's wondering if a little "self prescribed" regime of painkillers leading up to a marathon would be a bad thing??? Or if anyone out there has some old EPO kicking about that they don't want, I'm happy to make an offer.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


A couple of long runs this weekend.
13 mile up and over by the wind farm and Crichness yesterday then a 22.5 mile bimble today.
Today's run was pretty much like last Sunday's but I added another bit on to the end. Took it a bit quicker as well.
Feels quite good to have some proper mileage under my belt. Gives me a little bit more confidence for the upcoming mara'.
Got a 10k next Saturday at Pencaitland - it's a pretty low key event - but I think I'll make that my last "eyeballs out" race prior to the marathon. It's another trail race, so hopefully even going at it full pelt I shouldn't take too much out of the legs, then I'll try to get another 20+ in next Sunday. Ideally I'd like to do 24 or 25.

The old "gappy hole" in my gums is still acting strange.... After Wednesday's patch up job with toilet-cleaner soaked cotton wool and a small batch of anti-alcohol tablets it all seemed to be getting better.
But then in the wee small hours of Saturday morning it started acting up again - big time. So I was back to the family size packets of pain killers.
Then this morning?.... nothing! All was well.
But all the "stuffing" has now dissolved and/or fallen out and when I look into the cavernous abyss of the gappy hole I'm sure I can see a bit of root still lodged way down in the gum. Not too bad today, so I'll give it a couple more days before I decide whether to go back or not.
Amazing, eh? You don't see the dentist for years ... then you end up going a couple of times in the space of a week!! Whats the chances of that? ("Yes"...think I may have answered my own question there).

Anyway. Hope the tooth is sorted before next Saturday. The last time I did this 10k at Pencaitland, instead of a crappy tin medal at the end you got a large shortbread "medal" on a ribbon. Great idea. Delicious.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Woke up this morning, and for about the third day in a row the pain in my jaw was worse.
Bugger waiting till Thursday. I tootled off to the dentist this morning. Not my dentists...he's off somewhere nice on holiday so I had to pop along the road to the other surgery in town (very helpful they were though)
Guess what? Yes! The big gappy hole in my gum is actually a big gappy hole - that's infected! Bollocks.

Luckily I was only in the dentist for about ten minutes today. Got the gappy hole "flushed out" and then a "dressing" stuffed into the hole. I've no idea what the "dressing" is - it looked, for all the world, like black cotton wool when it was going in, and it tastes like cheap toilet cleaner (I imagine).
Barman's friend and dentist's nightmare.
It would be a brave infection that took up
residence in Shane McGowan's mouth
But importantly it seems to have done the trick.

Oh. I'm also on a three day course of antibiotics, which both the dentist and the chemist were keen to point out should not be taken with alcohol. According to the dentist this is the stuff they give to alcoholics as it makes you violently sick if you drink.......
Oooh... I've not had a drink in over six years, but that's like a red rag to a bull that! "Go on - I dare you".

On the running side. Eating exceedingly large amounts of pain killers appears to have done me no harm at all. In fact my legs have never felt better and my back doesn't feel stiff in the morning.
Probably been running round all "numbed up" doing god knows what damage to myself, and now that I'm [hopefully] off the pain killers all the pains and niggles will come back to haunt me.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012



“Ain’t that a kick in the head”. Well the jaw to be precise. Or, at least, that’s what it feels like.

Jesus-H-Christ on a bike. The post extraction pain is almost as bad as the pain that forced me to go to the dentists in the first place. There’s a big gappy hole in the gum where the tooth used to be.

Now. He did have to spend a lot of time and a lot of force to get the tooth out. The root was deep and, apparently, I have “dense jaws”??? So it’s no surprise that I would have some discomfort/pain.

BUT the big gappy hole has a neighbouring tooth right beside it, and I’m sure that now has an exposed nerve!

I’m eating painkillers with the same gusto that a fatty east Smarties.

The various bits I’ve read on the interweb seem to imply that the pain stage can last up to three weeks!? Feck that. No improvement by Thursday and I’m going back.

Sunday, 11 March 2012


A strange weekend of jaw pain. Stupidity. Long runs and soothing jazz.
The bloody gap in my lower jaw where the tooth used to reside is sore. Very sore. It's taking regular rations of ibuprofen and paracetamol to stop me climbing the walls. The pain is almost as bad as the pain that made me go to the dentist in the first place (almost - but not quite).
Still. Within about half an hour of necking a couple of pain killers its not too bad so I've tried to time my long runs this weekend to my medication. I know a sore moth shouldn't impact on your running. But it does. Anything that causes pain or discomfort will have an impact on how you run. Given that you breath harder when you run and you use your mouth (or at least I do) then the cold air getting sucked in over the wound can get a bit painful.
Anyhoo. Ripped to the tits on pain killers I've managed 9 miles up and through the windfarms at the back of our bit on Saturday. And today I tootled out for a 21 miler.
Started off by heading out towards Piotcox and Stenton. Then went out by the Chicken Farm, West Barns and back up towards home via Doon steadings. However, as I was coming up from Woodhall Dean I noticed that the old GPS was only at about 17.5 - way too short. So I sort of doubled back a bit and put in a slight detour.
Managed in the end to get to slightly over 21. Not a rip-roaring pace, but that was never the point.

Spent part of the day yesterday listening to some Gerry Mulligan albums I'd got from Amazon (a good part of the day to be honest - there's 8 albums). Lovely, mellow stuff.....mostly bop and West Coast Cool. The set is mainly made up of late 50's Mulligan releases and sees him in the company of Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Thelonious Monk, Lee Konitz and (unsurprisingly) Chet Baker.
As mentioned all very mellow, though the stuff with Monk gets a wee bit "angular and tangential"......nice!

Today I decided to "rip" some of these to my MP3 player. And while the PC was chuntering away I decided to do a little research into recovery times after molar extraction.

Oh dear. Most of them advise "no strenuous exercise for three or four days". Wonder if that includes 21 mile runs?

Friday, 9 March 2012


Oh Jeez. Not the best way to start the weekend. Started with a lot of pain in my back teeth last night - and it just got worse and worse as the night went on. This morning it was clear there was no option...After a two year trial separation, instigated at my behest,  I was going to have to reconcile with "the dentist".

50 minutes in the dentists chair this afternoon. Two molar's it would appear were giving me "problems". Two problems that added up to one big frickin' pain.
One needed a filling.
The other? Well, I got two options - root canal treatment ("but we can't guarantee that'll work") or "extraction".
So. I just put on a brave face and, like the late Gary Gilmour simply said "lets do it".
"You may hear a snap - it's nothing to worry about".
OK. So I wasn't too worried. However, when I heard a crunch followed by him going "ahh..." I did have my doubts.
I heard a little plop as something went into the metal tray.
"Is that it?"
"Well... some of it"
So he then had to spend the best part of twenty minutes rooting about (pardon the pun) trying to get the remainder out. At one point I could have swore he was coming at me with a Philip's screwdriver.
At least the dentist got a good workout. He looked as though he'd had a good interval session by the end of it.
Got a bit of a sore jaw right now and not entirely sure how I'll cope with food...

Thing is. I don't fear the dentist. I don't enjoy going, but I don't fear them.
There are some things I do fear however.
Take yesterday, for example. I'm having a great run up by the water of Leith. There's quite a few other runners and cyclists going about.
I run under one of the many over bridges.
I hear a "splash" from the puddle at the side and I catch sight of something in the corner of my eye.... A dirty big feckin' rat. Scuttling along right by my feet.
If there is one thing that gives me the absolute creeps it's rats. I've always been terrified of them.
Which might explain why I let out a massive girly scream and sprinted the next 100 metres of so to get away from it.
I think some of the other runners wondered what was going on. Maybe thought it was some bizarre fartlek session.
Looking at the reading on my Garmin there is a definite "spike" in the heart rate at the point I saw this thing.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


Best thing about working from home? "Working from home".
Next best thing? The ability to get out and go a bit of a longer run.
I've never really found a negative about working from home. But today I did find one very slight drawback. The absence of the office canteen.

I had about five miles of my run left today when I developed a sudden craving for a fruit scone. Not just "any" fruit scone, but one of the scones they sell in the office at Leith. The ones that (on a good day) are about the size of a babies head!
That said, on a  "bad" day - jeezus are they bad! Even that brain-box Brian Cox would be hard pressed to explain the density of them on a bad day. It's like small planets have been sucked into a black hole and "spat out" the other side hugely compressed.
Anyway. It was a "good day" scone that I was fantasising about. I hate when you get an idea like that in your head - especially if its for something you don't have (or don't have easy access to).
The last five bleedin miles into a head wind. Just trying to keep my head down (literally) and just plough on. And all the while knowing that what I wanted wasn't there for me at the end.
I suppose next Tuesday I could buy one to bring home for the Wednesday. But - you can never try to pre-guess a craving. For all I know it might be battenberg or coffee and walnut cake that springs into my mind.
Settled in the end for a bit of Sticky Lemon Cake with my coffee (and very nice it was too).

Weighed myself after my run and noticed that my weights gone down to "daft". So maybe my "craving" was my body trying to tell me something. Or perhaps I should just learn to bake!!

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Well, that's Lasswade done and dusted for another year.
 The day didn't bode well to begin with, with rain and snow. It was also, quite frankly, Baltic compared with the balmy weather we have got used to of late. Not nice. But... a race is a race is a race and if the going was bad it would be bad for everyone else. As it was the crap weather "bookended" the race but for the race itself conditions were nigh on perfect.
We got there with loads of time to spare and collected our numbers. Now. I'm all in favour of a good warm up. But I felt that over an hours warm up for a ten mile race would have been a bit much so we trotted of to sit in the car for a wee bit and try to keep warm as well as enjoy a little moment of tranquil relaxation.

Oh lucky us!! A runner who is obviously a bit of a "boy racer" was parked about two cars down and was kind enough to play his shitty "drum n bass" loud enough for us all to enjoy (or whatever shit it is they listen to these days - Benny Goodman it was NOT!).
Regardless of how much we enjoyed Captain Brain-dead's music we eventually felt we had to do our warm up so trotted off for a couple of miles at a nice sedate pace.
Got back just in time for me to extend my warm up by running down to the finish line and placing an old top and jacket under a tree. Then trot back through the leafy boulevard that is Lasswade High Street towards the start.
Met up with Ian and Rhona at the start line and had a brief natter.
A few words. The bang of a gun. And we were off....
As ever at this race, pacing goes out the window, but I did decide to try to get some time in the bank on the first couple of miles before we hit the hill coming out of the Glen.
Spent the first few miles in the company of Ian and a bloke from Lasswade and we managed to keep in a tight wee group through the Glen and up the hill.
Miles 4 and 5 are pretty fast, so again it's time to get a bit in the bank before you hit the climb out of Auchindiny.

Photo © P Buchanan

A couple of the mile markers were [slightly] out, but I was keeping an eye on the GPS and started to think by about mile 7 that a sub hour was possible.
All the while Rab from Musselburgh was ahead of me (a good bit ahead - but visible) and I just used trying to reel him in to keep me going. It did keep me going..... but I didn't.
Crossed the line in 59:52 - a stonking three seconds quicker than last year. But importantly within my target time of one hour. Came in 10th.

The jacket and top that I had left at the finish were still there and a welcome addition to try and keep warm while I watched others come in.
Down to the registration area afterwards for the welcome sight of trestle tables groaning under the weight of sandwiches and cakes!

So... this week and last have, sort of, assured me that my speed isn't too bad. I know that conventional wisdom is to do a half a couple of weeks before a marathon and part of me wants to do Alloa (if the mara was a week later I would love to do the Heaven and Hell half at Perth). BUT, I'm aware that I haven't done quite as many long runs of 20 and over that perhaps I should, and that time is running out. Week days are limited with what I can do - I really only have weekends for long runs. There's only really 4 more weekends of training before the mara' (I know there are really 6, but even I have a taper of sorts) ... so I might just decide to spend my free time at weekends concentrating on long runs, rather than doing any races....

But, as with all my plans, that's all open to change.

Thursday, 1 March 2012



Well. My plan of having an “easy” week in between the Devilla 15k and the Lasswade 10 isn’t quite going to plan.

Tuesday saw me doing 18 miles (split over two runs) and yesterday saw me, on a welcome day off work coupled with beautiful weather, compelled to do a ten miler. I know I didn’t have to and I could perhaps have taken the run a bit easier, but yesterday was just one of those days where everything “clicks” into place. My company had, generously, declared the day a holiday, the sun was out and it was more like a Summers morning than late February. It was a fantastic day for a run. I simply couldn’t not.

All in all by the time I get to the stat line on Sunday I’m going to have about 60 miles under my belt. Perhaps not the best of prep for what is, after all, a tough race. So. Intervals tonight, followed by a rest day tomorrow and an easy day on Saturday.



To assist in the resting process I’ve just acquired a new offering from Alan Barnes – perhaps the busiest man on UK jazz at the moment (well he is if his prodigious recording output is anything to go on). Barnes has played with almost every musician in the field of jazz and popular music you would ever want to listen to….. and Sting.

A multi reeds man, this new record sees him on alto sax only for a programme of music associated with the late Art Pepper. And a mighty fine record it is, covering the complete Pepper “oeuvre” from West Coast Cool to bop (be and hard), via a couple of beautiful ballads like “Our Song”.

A beautiful quartet recording that sounds wonderful (even in glorious mono). I shall also try and dig out some of my Art Pepper recordings at the weekend.