Monday, 30 April 2012


Today's seven miler was frickin tough going! Is this crappy weather
never going to let up? Last two miles or so of today's run was into a
head wind (and it was bliddy cold).
Wouldn't be too bad – but the long range forecast for this Saturday
(Edinburgh to North Berwick) isn't looking too promising.

Oh well. At least today is "International Jazz Day" (I kid you not). A
day to celebrate the music of the gods and "raise awareness in the
international community of the virtues of jazz as an educational tool,
and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among
people" (sounds a bit hippy-trippy to me). I shall celebrate in my own
small way this evening when I get home – coffee, jazz and a bar of
chocolate the size of a grave stone.
The day is being "fronted" for UNESCO by Herbie Hancock, so I think a
wee bit of classic 60's Blue Note era Hancock is in order.
Great musician Herbie… appeared with many, many great musicians and
bands, Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Wayne Shorter ….. "great" (oh…
and Simple Minds…. "shite").

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Do you like "jazz"? Do you like "piano"? Do you like "solo piano"?
If the answer is "yes" then I defy you not to love the new album by Bugge Wesseltoft - "Songs".
Wesseltoft's work is probably better associated, latterly,  with the "fusion" of jazz and techno music or "nu jazz" as it's sometimes called - an acquired taste that I sometimes like to sample - but it doesn't exactly make up my staple diet.

This new one, however, is a back to basics offering. He takes a handful of well know songs and gives them the acoustic, minimalist makeover.
"Moon River" is transformed to such an extent that, while always remaining recognisable, it's reduced to a handful of notes plucked slowly from the piano then allowed to drift slowly down like snowflakes.

A wonderful album. One to listen to, though, in a quiet period - in quiet surroundings - this one certainly won't drown out the noise of Greggs munching plebs on the train! Some of Bugge's "nu jazz" is probably better for that.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012



It’s “all change” through in the DGP. Sadly not in the work department.

No. It’s all changed along by my favoured running route. By the sparkly blue, gently cascading waters of the majestic Clyde to be precise.

It appears that huge swathes of the DGP are being razed to the ground! “Hurrah” I thought - at last someone with the vision and foresight to try and finish what those brave young men in their Heinkel’s and Junkers started in 1941. Common sense prevails perhaps?

Alas “no”. It’s just part of some sort of “rejuvenation” plan for the East End part of the DGP. I think that means they are trying to tidy it up a bit before the 2014 games. To be honest it’s not the buildings that make the place look “scruffy” – it’s the locals. Why go to the expense of rebuilding the place? Much cheaper simply to pump poison gas into Lidl and Aldi’s!

To be honest, it is a bit of a pain. The run was fairly tranquil – you felt you were out of the city fairly quickly -  and did act as a nice sort of “soothing balm” on the nerves during an otherwise crappy day (as any day in the DGP is). Now it’s pretty noisy and dirty with only a thin hoarding separating the path from a massive demolition site..

Anyway. The run itself? Well, not too bad. Only thing was I didn’t have my Garmin with me today so had to “guess” the pace. Turned out to be quite quick (I still have my “old” stopwatch with me). Out with the club tonight. What with the taper etc, it feels like a wee while since I did two runs on a Tuesday. It’ll be interesting to see how the legs are tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


The weekend AFTER a marathon is always good. The legs should, by now, be starting to recover.
BUT, unlike the taper week, you can get away with low mileage through CHOICE!
Ended up watching most of the London mara on the telly. Only went for my own run after the first were over the line. After I got back I put the telly back on and switched to the BBC "red button" and coverage of the finish line.......THINK I saw a couple of faces i know.

Other than a couple of runs and a bit of telly it's been a weekend spent in the company of Dexter Gordon and Thelonious Sphere Monk .........."great".

Thursday, 19 April 2012

R & R

R & R

Oh lordy, lordy the legs are still stiff and heavy. To be expected I suppose, but I’ll be happy when I get a bit of “bounce” back in them.

Managed to do 51 mile this week (though most of that was the race). Tuesday’s club run was a pleasantly sedate 7 miles or so along Belhaven beach and back through John Muir.

Not doing the interval session tonight – I’ll stand with the stop watch.

Looking forward to my rest day tomorrow and then a bit of an easier weekend (might try about  9 on Saturday and 12 on Sunday).

Apparently, according to the “meedja” there’s a “marathon” (??) race in London at the weekend. Might watch that.

Other than that my plans are pretty simple….. find time to properly listen to the music I’ve got recently. Read a book – “Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the DUrbervilles” – VERY funny, it’s the memoirs of Holmes’s nemesis written by his sidekick Moran.

Oh – I’ll also try to find time to finish off the last of my Easter eggs (though yesterday’s revelation that I need another two fillings really should tell me something).

I might even find time this weekend to enter a few races…….

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Got back from Fort William yesterday after a very enjoyable couple of days.
The trip up was plesant, with a wee stop in Callander for a coffee and a sandwich and a little walk about to stretch the legs.
It was while we were having our stroll that we came upon the Mhor Bread bakery, that had some of the best looking cakes and breads in the window that I've seen for a long time. A couple of cakes had to be bought for later on in the day - but is wolfing down big cakes ideal the day before a marathon? Probably not - so we settled for a couple of massive pistachio merranges!
The second leg of the trip from Callander to Fort William takes you through, to my mind, some of the best parts of the Scottish countryside. I always kick myself that I've not brought some Jan Garbarek music with me to listen to - it would just suit the landscape perfectly.
Got to Fort William by mid afternoon and I was amazed to realise that our Premier Inn was literally within spitting distance of the start/finish line!!
Unpacked and tootled off to pick up our numbers. We also picked up our "finishers" tee-shirts. Now. I know that organisers do this because, quite frankly, they will be busy enough on race day, but I always think it's bad JuJu to get a finishers tee shirt before you've started let alone finished a race. Mine was dumped in the back of the car - "I'll look at it after the race!"
While we were collecting our numbers in the Nevis Centre I saw a poster - "Record and CD Fair... Sunday 15th April". Came out of the centre and noticed that our hotel was also within about 500 yards to a Lidl store - at this point I checked my pulse to see if I'd died and gone to heaven.
Spent the afternoon doing very little. Unless you count eating an enormous, sticky, merrange while watching one of my favourite comedies of all time on the telly ("Passport to Pimlico" - "it's because we're British that we're fighting for our right to be Burgundians!!") - does it get any better?
Evening meal was pasta in the hotel restaurant ... then off to bed for rest. Big day tomorrow.

As we thought the hotel was pretty much full of other runners and I was disconcerted to see how many opted for the full-fat full-on cooked breakfast. OK it's three hours to the start, but that's a bit excessive. Also amazed to see how many choose to wear their running kit to the breakfast room. "You've three hours yet"!
Anyway. Each to their own. We went a bit of a stroll and met a few other runners - then went back to the hotel to get changed!
A bit of a race briefing in the Nevis Centre that amounted to exactly what you get told at every race briefing - i.e. "do as your bloody told", then we all went out to the start line.

The race itself? I really enjoyed the route. The first mile, through the back roads of a housing estate, was pretty uninspiring, but after that it was basically one long undulating road that went out and back. None of the hills were too taxing, but it certainly wasn't that flat that it got boring - just enough "change" in terrain to keep all the muscles working. Very much like Loch Ness.
I don't normally like "out and back" races. Regardless of whether your near the front of the race, or the back, I personally don't like the experience of "running against the tide" of runners on the other side of the road.
Another aspect of this race that I enjoyed, and again this is similar to Loch Ness, is that it's relatively quiet. Where there are pockets of spectators and supporters they are enthusiastic and encouraging.
But, and this may shock some, I'm a bit of a morose, insular type. If I'm working hard then I am more than happy to retreat into a wee world of my own, block out all external stimuli and just get on with it!
So - if your a bit of a Greta Garbo and just "wanna be alone" this could be the race for you!
What did worry me, slightly, was that every mile marker was out. My GPS beeped consistently about 400m before every marker. I assumed that at some point I'd come across a "short" mile and it would even itself out...... I assumed incorrectly.
The organisers had had to make a change to the start finish area, and it would appear had inadvertently added about 400m on to the total (just about everyone with a GPS reported this). Maybe I could have got a sub 2:50? Who knows? I understand and sympathise with runners who missed out on the time they wanted because of this...but, from a selfish point of view, I'm happier to get a "PB" on a route that was slightly longer than get a "PB" on a  route that was short!
It was a really well organised event. And, as marathons go, also reasonably priced. I might be biased because of previous involvement in organising races, but I'm always much more willing to "cut some slack" with organisers at this level. If I'd paid £40+ to a "big name" marathon. I might be a bit upset about extra 400m.
As I say, it's probably easy for me to be unconcerned, I did talk to others who had just missed out on times and I do feel sorry for them.

The prize giving went on for a bit. There appeared to be more prizes than runners! I did sneek out of the hall at one point for a bit of a rummage through the CD fair (got a Scott Hamilton CD - "nice").

Sunday, post race, we went into downtown Fort William to see what "was happening" as I believe the yoof are want to say. "Feck all" would have to be the resounding response! But we did find a nice Thai/Indian restaurant so a nice curry was had. Sorry to digress here - but talking about "yoof speak" I actually found myself using the term "cats" the other day, in a completely un-ironic way when talking to someone about jazz!! "Cats"?? Feck sake Stuart, next thing you know I'll be saying "Daddy-O".

We ended up doing a really pleasant 4 mile "recovery run" yesterday morning along part of the "Great Glen Way" before breakfast.
Another stop off at Callander and a wee visit to my new "favourite cake shop" was in order yesterday on the way home. Lovely.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


Sometimes it just all comes together.
Perfect conditions and the sort of route I like.
2:50:58 - 15th overall & 2nd v45+ for which I got a wee trophy and a "prize" of a towel (?). There was even a cd fair in the hall so a new disc was got.
Best of all? My time was a new PB!

Anne got 3:55.

Good day.

Friday, 13 April 2012


I buy CDs – lots of them.

I own CDs – thousands.
BUT – I no longer listen to CDs. My entire “listening experience” is now digital. I have the Brennan JB7 in the living room that is my main music system and I have an MP3 player that follows me around almost everywhere (except running).
In fact, nowadays I will get a CD home and take it out of the case once and once only. I will “rip” it on my PC (for my MP3 player) and will then transfer those files to my Brennan via a USB data stick.
Is it really worth while cluttering up the house with CDs, which will probably never be used in the way they were intended? CDs are, for me now, simply the physical medium of transporting the music from shop to home.
I am at a bit of a loss right now over whether or not I should get rid of some [or all] of my CDs.
It doesn’t make “rational” or “logical” sense to hang on to them once ripped, but then again, when was collecting ever “rational” or “logical”.
If music exists on my PC, and it’s backed up to an external hard drive, and it’s stored on my Brennan (which in itself is really just another external hard drive) isn’t that “secure” enough?
It should be, but I really get quite worried about the thought of getting rid of tangible “things”. “Things” that you can handle and touch . “Things” that have physical presence and are not simply collections of 1’s and 0’s in a file structure.
Problem with these "things" though is the bloody space they take up. A real problem when you have a "modest" house.
One thing I would want to do though is re-rip some of my CDs. Most are ripped at 192kbps at the moment – perfectly fine for listening to (at the moment), BUT I would probably want to upgrade to 320 before I got rid of them (that way you can always convert down for MP3 use, but still have CD quality).
Not to mention the art work. I know you get “album art” in MP3 ID tags, but it’s not the same. Probably the same argument as happened when vinyl gave way to CDs – the loss of 12” art work for 5” booklets. But now to lose 5” art for what in essence is a bloody thumbnail icon?? It doesn’t feel right.
Should I buy MP3 downloads? Probably fine for “throw away” culture like “pop” music. But I don’t want to be “into” music for a brief while – I want to build a collection.
If I do get rid of my CDs there’s the big question of what to do with them (and to be honest, it’s unlikely). I wouldn’t want to sell them for the simple reason that it’s unlikely that anyone would want to take them all off my hands and I wouldn’t want the collection to be split up.
I certainly wouldn’t want to donate them to a charity shop as I wouldn’t want some salivating, greedy little tyke rummaging through them (someone like me).
I’ve even thought about air tight storage boxes (metal) and simply storing them somewhere. I suppose that even with the MP3s “backed up” in one or two places the CD is still the ultimate back-up. I could probably find space for a couple of crates/boxes out of the way somewhere.
I really don’t know what’s going to happen. I started with vinyl (as we all did) as a youngster, then I had a brief “flirtation” with cassette tapes, then had a shift to CDs that’s stayed with me for twenty odd years. But I just feel that there’s a change a comin’.

Oh. And I still enjoy buying them.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


The madness is kicking in..
"Only" did 4.5 miles at lunchtime today. Jesus - hardly worth getting my shoes on for that.
Last night saw me do slightly longer at the club than I had intended - I did a tough, HILLY, 10 miler with Andy, while I had intended a flatish and moderate 6 or 7. Enjoyed the run mind - up Starvation Brae then over Brunt Hill before heading down back into Dunbar via Pinkerton... Even though the rain was hammering down and we got soaked to the skin.

However, simply because last night's run was longer and tougher, I decided to cut back today and stick to what is in essence the shortest possible "loop" that starts and ends at the house.
I will try and do 6 tomorrow at a moderate pace and then that's me till Sunday (unless I go for a mile or two just to ease the legs on Saturday afternoon). Should end the week with a total mileage in the low 40's, which will be in the ball park of what I was aiming for.

I don't even feel that the carbo loading is going as well as it should. I'm starving half the time and haven't added any weight at all! Do fruit scones count? Maybe I should have two with my coffee tomorrow.

I find myself checking the long range weather forecasts over and over and over again to try and find out what it's likely to be doing on Sunday. As if it matters!! It's going to be the same for everybody regardless of the weather.

I've got the other "classic" symptom of taper madness. Already a bit of a hypochondriac anyway, I'm hyper sensitive to other people with coughs and sneezes at the moment.

Going to try and "occupy" my mind by starting to read Jo Nesbo's "Headhunters". Read a couple of his earlier books and really enjoyed them, so I want to try and read this one before I hear too many people prattling on about the film and spoiling it for me.

Monday, 9 April 2012


How can a four day weekend go in so bloody quickly?
The club's 10k event falling on Easter weekend really didn't help, and a couple of the four days were pretty much taken up with stuff for that (if it was up to me it wouldn't fall at Easter - but it isn't - so it probably will again).

Anyway. Managed to get a couple of small(ish) runs in over the weekend and trying to keep the pace fairly moderate. Try to save the legs for next Sunday.
I am attempting to stave off the more horrific effects of "taper madness" by attempting to eat my body weight in chocolate Easter Eggs. Possibly not the best food stuff for carbo loading but there you go.
Actually, I think I will lay off the chocolate from now till after the marathon. Take an egg with me up to eat afterwards.
I hate the week before a marathon when I'm tapering. There's a negative correlation between the mileage ran and the amount of self doubt. The less you run the more you doubt your ability.
I really don't feel as ready this time round.

Thursday, 5 April 2012



Thursday is usually the end of my [running] week.

Normally it ends on the track at Hallhill with an interval session. Not tonight though. As I’m “tapering” I’ve volunteered to be on stopwatch duty while the rest of them tank about.

A Thursday might be a bit of a strange “end of the week”, but it’s only because Friday is, by tradition, my rest day. But I might go a wee run tomorrow as I won’t get the opportunity for a run on Saturday. Make sense??


Anyway. 53 miles this week. Not too bad. I’ll try cut it down to about 35-40 next week if I can, and most of those will be at “easy” pace.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Well. I did say last week that we could still get snow!
Sort of self fulfilling prophecy. My fault. Sorry.
Weather the last couple of days has been crap - not nice for running at all. I actually enjoy running in snow. What I don't like is running in freezing sleet and hail that's getting blown into your face... guess what we've had these past two days?
Last night's run with the club was a nine mile slog up by Burnhead and over to Pitcox. I had intended to take it a bit easier anyway (i.e. slower). It was "slower" but the effort we had to put in seemed to be disproportionally high.
Then again today. Went out for 11 and I felt like I was getting battered by the wind every way I turned. And, to cap it all, perhaps the largest hail storm of the day decided to make itself felt while I was about halfway round.
Last week it was all tee-shirts and shorts. This week, so far, it's back to running jackets, hats and gloves.

Anyway. Last nights run was quite fascinating. I ran round with Richard. Turns out he's a bit of a walking encyclopedia on the history of the greater Dunbar conurbation.
There's a bit of a wooded area just near Burnhead. Apparently there was a quarry down there years ago and there was a railway that took stuff down towards Spott way. In the woods, once it was described to me, you could quite clearly see the embankment where the railway had run! I've probably noticed it before (I run that way a lot), but have just assumed it was a natural ridge.
It looks as though it was probably just a light gauge railway for carts. But fascinating never the less.
I shall have to stop and have a look sometime, and then try to find out more.

Monday, 2 April 2012


If shoes (“x”) have a lifespan - measured in weeks - of “y” (or measured in miles of “z”) then would 2x=2y, or 2x-2z OR as I have postulated would 2x>2y or 2x>2z.
Bullshit? Probably. Anyway, I have a theory – or rather I’ve heard this before, and I want to see if it’s true. Say, for arguments sake, you get three months out of a pair of shoes that are worn day in day out. Well, if you had two new pairs of shoes and you wore one pair till they were “dead” then moved on to the other – you’d get six months in total. Right?
BUT, the theory I want to test goes, IF you have two new pairs and alternate them, day about, then for some reason you get longer than six months (it might only be a short period).
Is this true? If it is …. WHY?? Does the EVA midsole get a chance to “recover” if it’s not being pounded day after day after day?? Maybe it’s the upper rather than the sole. Perhaps wearing shoes every day doesn’t give them time to dry out completely? Or perhaps, and most likely, its all in the mind.
Whatever, I’ve got two spanking new pairs of Brooks Adrenaline and I’m going to give it a bash.
And to insure that I don’t accidently wear the same ones all the time I’ve got a different pair of laces to put in one pair.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


Two rest days in a row! Bliddy hell that's unusual for me, but yesterday saw us away for the day and time just wasn't really available for a run - so there you go.
Anyway. No ill effects and today I went out for my last long run before the taper starts ("ish).
Did 21 mile today. Twice round a well trod 10.5 mile loop that's one of my staple runs.
Now, I don't normally do a double loop when doing a long run, but because I do this particular loop so often I decided that I should try it twice - but try to maintain the same pace that I usually go at when running it once.
Don't know if it will benefit me at all, but I managed it pretty well. It's quite a hilly circuit (they ALL are round here) and I usually clock about 1:23, but today I went round in 1:24 the first circuit then 1:22 for the last.
Another benefit of doing a double loop was "no need to carry water". I just left a bottle at the start point and had a quick slug when I came round at "halfway".
Sun was out, but it did feel slightly colder today - so another good thing about a double loop; the gloves got dropped off after the first lap and picked up again just before the end.

Slightly shorter runs this week at slightly easier pace.