Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Work is getting me down at the moment - more so than usual that is. And it's not just me, my co-working "contractor" colleagues are all feeling it.
Working on the "outside looking in", as it were, of the Scottish Civil Service is a depressing enough occupation (they call themselves "The Scottish Government" but I refuse to pander to their stupid whims - Government is legislative what they achieve can barely be called "admin").
Working "for" them rather than "with" them probably stands you in good stead for a hobby in campanology .... you spend your working day surrounded by bell ends!

Anyhoo. Life goes on (and on and on and on...). As does the running!
Went out to Balerno on Monday for the Rigg Race - a six mile "dash" that more or less goes up for two miles, along for two then (yes you guessed it) down for two!
It's been six years since I last did this race and I was looking forward to it. It forms part of the Balerno Kids Gala or some such and as well as seasoned club runners you get quite a few locals joining in.

Started off very fast (as per..) and kind of knew that if I was going to make time on anybody it would have to be in the climb. So eyes down and dig in...
You always seem to get a couple of young lads who absolutely bomb out of the park and up the hill - only to end up spent and knackered half way up. Problem is they sort of pull everyone else at the front into that sort of pace, so it was a bit jumbled for the first mile.
However, by the time we got to the top I realised I was in second place with only an HBT runner ahead, with the lead out car in front of him - slowly getting further and further away.
On the "mid section" of the race there are some horrible long straight sections. I hate to see too far ahead of me to the next runner and also know that the runner behind obviously has me in his sights.
I was "using" spectators to try and judge the gap between me and the guy behind. I'd listen to their claps then try to judge the time before they started clapping the next guy.
I thought I had a fair we gap. Going along the top it was:
clap .....................................................clap

However, on the downhill sections I knew I would be "weaker" (almost everyone comes down hills better then me).
By mile five we were down to
and by the time we got into Balerno it was
So, by the time we got back to the entrance to the park and an old boy walking his dog came out with "keep going lads" I knew he must be right on my shoulder.
Dug in for all I was worth and manged to keep him off, just.
The HBT runner was Bill Townsend who came in a good minute and a bit before us. I got over in 34:28 and Euan McIntosh of Armadale came home three seconds behind.

Because it was a "school night" we didn't hang around for the prize giving so I don't know what I've won (if anything). Got home and we were having our "tea" when the phone went at quarter to ten. A bloke from the organisers. Ooh I thought, he's going to tell me what I've got. But "no" it was Mrs Hay he wanted tell her that she was first in her category!!

Legs feel really "bashed up" after the race though so a gentle run was on the cards last night at the club. And I won't be going to hard today either.

Last night there was a "reflexologist" at the club, dishing out free consultations and foot rubbing to those that are into that sort of "thang". As I'm a pretty carefree, chilled out sort anyway I declined.

Sunday, 27 May 2012


This "Spring Clean" madness has gone far enough.
Not content with simply tidying up CDs and stuff I've moved on to the outside of the house. To whit...painting external woodwork. And all on what must surely be the hottest weekend of the year!
It said on the tin of paint that in bright sunlight "dilute the first coat with 25% water". I didn't need to - by the time I'd done about half a window frame the sweat that was trickling down my arm and into the pot had diluted the stuff enough!

Still make time for a couple of runs though. Yesterday was just a 7.5 mile bimble on my own. Then this morning saw me meeting up with Ian and Andy for a 16 mile route that "meandered" through the Lammermuirs - over by Crichness, through the wind farms, through a couple of fields towards Aikengall then back.
VERY, VERY hot and tough going.
Just about ran over a little adder at one point. By the time I'd got Ian and Andy's attention the slithery little sod had slid into the side of the road.

Hope everyone who was doing the Edinburgh Mara' got on OK today. There was a little bit of coastal fog/mist this morning. With a bit of luck that held out for a wee bit and kept the temperatures down.
It isn't a lot of fun when you train all winter for a race - just to get scorching conditions on race day.

Thursday, 24 May 2012



Oh yes. Indeedy. Spring has sprung, and all the little flowers and buds that have lay dormant these past few weeks of pissy weather have now exploded releasing a veritable cloud of pollen. Don’t know how they “measure” pollen, but I think/feel as though we are getting about an average months worth of pollen in a few short days. I swear I could almost see a yellow “haze” rising from the fields of rapeseed yesterday. Cranked up the antihistamine dosage.

Anyhoo. It’s also a time for spring cleaning. I don’t do it as often as I should, but there’s something cathartic about throwing out some old crap (it also makes room for new crap). Not throwing them out (perish the thought), but yesterday did see me put a large consignment of my CD collection into storage boxes ready to be …. well “stored”, obviously. I’m not too proud to say that as I closed the lid on the first of the boxes after packing them carefully and caught sight of “Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Rodgers and Hart Songbook” a little tear came to my eye (might have been the bloody rapeseed mind).

I read a good quote on a jazz forum the other day. It was contained within a discussion about what’s best....vinyl, CDs or MP3s (and if MP3s what bit rate). Basically the quote was along the lines of “the jazz is the message, the media is just the messenger”. Sage words indeed. It probably only works as an in “joke” if you know your Art Blakey though.

I don’t think I’ll ever get round to ripping everything I have – hence I don’t want to throw it out. But I do have the vast, vast majority of it ripped to play digitally.

I also have an external harddrive (1TB) that I have my music backed up onto. However, I am going to get a second drive and have two back ups. So that’s belt, braces and a bit string to hold my breeks up!!

I am also going to switch to buying downloads rather than CDs…. Never thought Id see the day – but there you go.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

High Wood

Oh lordy, lordy - it's bloody hot.
Thought I'd try out my recently (re)discovered woodland run today. Never realised, when we were out looking at it just how hilly it is.
Ended up doing four laps. Each lap is about 1.4 miles and its more or less 0.7 climb and 0.7 descent, so I dare say if you take it hard up hill and then "recover" on the descent it could make for a fairly good hill rep session.
I took the short way there, then came back via the road that follows the pylons up to the wind farms, then back down the hill via Weatherly.
It was a good excuse to wear the trail shoes today. My legs have been very "heavy" lately so getting a chance to run in these on softer ground might help them a bit.
VERY in depth discussion last night after the club run about "barefoot" running and "minimalist" shoes. Apparently it's the new thing - Billy Minto could be quids in if he put his mind to it.

Anyway. All in all about 8.8 miles. More than enough on a day like this.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Over the moon to wake up to good weather today. May really has been pants (so far at least).
Did a nice steady 13 mile run this morning. Sunny, but not too warm, little wind and - most importantly - dry!
Quite enjoyed it. I had thought about going further. But then again - I've nothing major lined up in the near future, so why not have a week or two of "quiet" weekends?

Yesterday after we did the usual weekend shop I went for about 9 miles up by the windfarms.
Then came home and tried to ignore the telly. There were, I am led to believe, a couple of "soccer" games on, but the boffins at Cern with their Large Hadron Collider would be hard pressed to find my tint spark of interest in those.
I am also trying, but failing miserably, to get excited by what appears to be an endless procession of white-shell-suited joggers bimbling along with a burning cheese grater.
I really am looking forward to the Olympics* - but all the build up and brouhaha? No it ain't doing it for me.
 Went for a bit of a walk this afternoon. Up by the woods close by to our bit. It's been a good few years since I've been there, and for the life of me I don't know why.
It's fantastic. As I walked round I immediately got into "recce mode" for a wee run. I think I've found what might only be a one and a bit mile circuit through the woods. But what a nice circuit - and all "off road". I really only stuck to the very well defined paths and roads, but there appears to be quite a few bits where you could deviate off and maybe add a couple of bits on.
I reckon that if we take into account the short run there and then back, if we were to do four of five circuits it would make a good short training run.

Shame there isn't any parking nearby. It would make a great wee cross country route.

My mood was improved during my wee walk by listening to a new acquisition - Arild Andersen "Green Shading Into Blue" Bass, drum, piano and reeds. Possibly one of the "lightest" Andersen recordings I've listened to, Juhani Aaltonen on soprano, tenor Saxophone or flute has a real "folk" quality to his sound. Very reminiscent (to my mind) of some of John Surman's stuff. A nice accompaniment to a walk on a sunny day!

* Well, OK not all the Olympics, but at least the athletics, the cycling and the beach volleyball.

Thursday, 17 May 2012



Don’t know if there was anything in the “mud” I got all over me yesterday. Or, if it’s something I ate, but my stomach has been “troubled” today.

Left a nice sort of Jackson Pollock inspired piece of pavement art along by the seafront today. Drew some disgusted looks from dog walkers L. Dog crap, it would appear, is perfectly OK but a wee bit spew? Shocking.

I’ve also got Art Blakey in residence in my head tapping out the first few bars of “Blues March”…. again and again and again…..

Maybe got a bit of a bug.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Went down to the club last night looking to do between 8 and 10 miles max...
So... 12 miles later we got back to Hallhill after a route that took us through John Muir, over the railway at the bridge near Knowes, up towards Biel, along by "wounded knee" to Pitcox then back via Eweford.
A nice night for it to be honest and the pace wasn't too bad.
But the legs were tired and empty today so it was a reduced run at lunchtime. Still going to end the week with a mileage in the high 50's though.
Should cut back a bit for a wee while.

Anne asked me the other day, then Ian asked me last night, if the fields of rapeseed had bothered me during the race at the weekend. I didn't even notice them to be honest.
Unlike today.... there's a couple of fields of the stuff very close to the house and I could taste it - never mind smell it- in the air, as soon as I stepped out the door today.
Not much fun running along with a streaming nose (antihistamines beckon I think).
I'd went off road today. Both to give my legs a wee rest and to try and keep the pace down. What I hadn't banked on was falling in mud! Then forgetting about the mud and wiping my runny, hay fever nose with my hand. Got back and my face was all snot and dirt. Probably explains the strange look I got from our postie.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


USE 1 - Running.

Loch Leven Half yesterday. A run I have been "looking forward to" for a wee while, and one that I haven't done for a few years.
The journey up there was uneventful and we were there in plenty time to get our numbers and chips, chat to other runners and then make our way through Kinross High Street to the start line just on the outskirts of some industrial estate.
A bit hanging about, an apology for a slight delay, a bit of banter from the boy on the microphone and then we were off.
A bit like my last couple of to a pretty quick pace, and I spent the first couple of miles in a small group that included Ian S. The first two and a half miles is fairly flat and straight and we could see the eight or so runners ahead of our group slowly draw away.
Once we turned and got to the foot of a long gentle climb I found myself pulling away from the group, and soon found myself in "no mans land".
I hadn't planned on taking water at the first drinks station (at 5 miles), but the heat changed my mind. CUPS !! I hate trying to grab a drink from a cup on the run. Ended up with just a spit of water in the bottom of the cup - ah well.
Once past this hill its down for a bit before the turn into Scotlandwell and a few other small villages.
The climb between Scotlandwell and Kinnesswood is a bit more "taxing" and it was here that I first noticed the runner ahead of me (in a yellow Kinross vest) was dropping back a bit. A target for me to try and reel in.
It still took me a hell of a long time to reach him though but I did catch him at about 10 miles.
The route has changed this year and the last couple of miles take you onto a cycle path that brings you back into Kinross.
Once I'd passed the Kinross runner I noticed a Portobello runner ahead (Gareth Green) and I decided to try to catch him. I did catch up with him at about 12 miles and we jostled for position for a little while. However, Mr Green had a much better finish and left me just before the 13 mile mark.
Got in at 1:20:03 knackered but happy with my run. I'd managed enough to be second vet over the line. However, as the first vet over the line was Grant Wilkie in 2nd place overall the "first vet" prize dropped down the rankings to me (I'm not proud - especially when cash prizes are involved)!!
The new venue for the race - some Community Campus - was very nice indeed with superb showering and changing facilities.
Really enjoyed the race, but I'm now looking forward to a couple of weekends with nowt on. Going to try and have a bit of a "quiet" week this week then get back into the LSD runs next weekend.
Toying with the idea of the Balerno Rigg race at the end of May.

USE 2 - Euthanasia.

Got up the morning and padded downstairs to make the breakfast. Went into the "utility room" (back lobby), and there beside our plastic crate that we put our recyclables in was a wee mouse going through it'sdeath throes .
It had obviously been feasting on the poison I put out for mice and had made it this far before it "kicked in". Now. I don't like mice (not in the house anyway), but I don't like to see things suffer.
Tried battering it with a broom - still twitching away. So a good solid "blattering" with the heel of a Brooks Adrenaline did the trick.

I've been reading a lot of crime fiction lately and stuff about crime scene investigations - they always go on about blood "spatter analysis". Never really pictured what they meant until this morning!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012


Bliddy awful stint at the dentist yesterday - four filings in one sitting.
The pain was excruciating - I wouldn't even wish that on Alex Salmond*
It wasn't the drilling and poking and scraping and pulling that gave me pain. Oh lord no. But he had his radio tuned into Radio 2 all the time - one hour of being forced to listen to Steve Wright - Jesus the deafening sound of the drill came as a blessed relief.

Anyway. Because I had my dental appointment I was working when I normally go for my run on a Wednesday. So I ended up going for my run really early - "stupid o'clock". It was really nice - though I'm not sure that a six mile run twenty minutes after a bowl of Weetabix is ideal training. The sun was out, and so were the woodland critters! Saw hares, rabbits, deer and a fox. Just the right time of day I suppose. Really peaceful and relaxing.
So relaxing in fact that I clocked my HRM at one point and saw that I was ticking over at 67 BPM !! That must be wrong surely! My heart rate is usually above that just when I'm sitting reading the paper.
It was wrong - a new battery in the strap and today I'm back up there at a "steady" 150 - that's more like it.

The "arsehole factory" - producing top quality arseholes since 1996

My HRM isn't the only thing that isn't "working". Strike today in the "arsehole factory"..... apparently those ungrateful sods "the public" are simply so stupid they don't realise that they should be willingly handing over more tax to shore up the pensions of these remarkable people.
Are civil servants detached from reality? Where else would you get to strike, picket on your employers property (well it is raining), come in to use the loo and get to come in and pop along to the (heavily subsidised) Costa coffee franchise??? Don't even have the brains to take their "official picket" bibs off!

* "Yes" - I would!!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012



Despite being through in the DGP – and there being feck all else to do at lunchtime, I have decided against a “two-run-Tuesday”.

Instead I’m going to save my legs (or what’s left of them) for the club run tonight.

In retrospect my intention of doing E2NB and then a couple of LSD runs was foolish in the extreme. My legs feel absolutely dead right now.

And on top of that I’ve got a sore head. Not a “headache” – no, no. Sunburn! My baldy pate has been subjected to a severe grilling. Bliddy agony in the shower yesterday and today L During the race I discarded my buff cap/bandana type thingummy as I was starting to heat up…… bad move.

I’ve obviously taken more out of myself than I bargained for on Saturday. And, I’ve only gone and entered the Loch Leven Half this Saturday, so I want to be at least partly race fit for that.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


Edinburgh to North Berwick yesterday and, similar to the mara a few weeks ago, the weather was kind to us. Clear blue skys, a bit cool but most importantly, for this race, very little wind.

I have two "techniques" for running - "a" try to pace it and "b" go eyeballs out and try to hang on.
Now. Over the years I've never really got the hang of "a" so while I only ever used to use "b" for 10ks and perhaps the odd 10 miler I've started to use it for longer distances - but never really for a 20 mile race.....Until yesterday.

We got down to the registration at Portobello bowling club after a bus journey in from Innerwick and a wee walk down from Milton Road. Strangely while we were on the bus I saw a white van that had signs in the back windows overtake us - "Caution: Runners" "Edinburgh to North Berwick Road Race Sweeper Bus". I saw this as a sort of cruel reminder that the E2NB is the only race (yet) that I've ever abandoned. Possibly the lowest point ever in my running "career".

Anyway. I had no intention of ever repeating that. Once we got our numbers, had a natter with some of the others from the club etc we headed down to the start line.
Usual banter from Barry the starter ... and we were off. Off at an alarmingly fast pace - so it looked as though it was to be technique "b"!
I ended up in the first ten miles or so in the company of Rab Watson from Musselburgh, Bernard Devoy from Portobello and a guy from London Heathside. At one point we did three consecutive miles all under 6:00 pace.
It was one of those situations where I don't think anyone wanted to be the one to crack, but if somehow we had all brought it down a bit I think we would all have been happy enough.
Going along by Longniddry bents I was aware that I was creeping ahead a little, but didn't dare to turn around to see by how much.

Just outside Aberlady I saw Stuart Symington who kindly handed me an energy gel which seemed to give me a little "lift".
The climb into Gullane wasn't too bad - but the climb out of Gullane towards Dirleton was murder. I just gritted my filling-riddled, chipped, teeth, and tried to dig in. A couple of people had already informed me that I was third on the road.
It was at this point though that Pete Buchanan chose to cycle past and inform me that I was "a god of running"?! If I hadn't been hurting that much I think I would have started laughing my head off! If I'm a "god of running" then there must be a hell of a lot of atheist runners out there!

The "Oh-my-god" of ruinning.
Sadly at this juncture, just as we turned into Dirleton my new found devine status took a bit of a nock as Iain MacDonald of Edinburgh AC passed me. At first, when I caught sight of the white vest, I was convinced it was Mr Devoy. Down to fourth but still first vet. I was determined just to hang in. I passed Neil J from the club and his daughter who had set up a water station for the runners just outside their house. I was that focused I can't even remember of I acknowledged them (sorry).
The last two miles were just a painful slog. I ended up running on the road as I was convinced I was going to trip over some of the massive tree roots sticking up out of the pavement.
Came into the finish in 2:05:15. If my face looks painful in this photo I can only say - it was like this from mile one!

A new PB though - so a good day out. In years gone by I would have "celebrated" with a nice bottle of something and a few cans. Instead I can see an eight album box set of Ahmad Jamal records that I've been hankering after ...."nice".

I had plans to do a bit of LSD today. The reality, this morning, was a four mile slow and painful recovery run.

Friday, 4 May 2012


Didn’t take part in the interval training last night. Well.. what I mean is I didn’t run, I stood with the watch. Along with Frank. While the rest of them went off for a “5k pace judgement” run. It’s interesting to see that almost everyone, when having to run without a stopwatch or a GPS, ends up running quite a bit faster than they think they are going.

Perhaps I should have run last night, because if there’s one aspect of my running that is definitely crap it’s my pacing! Anyhoo – I’d been out for a 7 mile trot already so I didn’t want to overdo things.

Look forward to every weekend, but this weekend is a bank holiday one so its three, rather than two, days away from the “arsehole factory” that is the Civil Service. Planning to do Edinburgh to North Berwick tomorrow and then a couple of LSD runs on Sunday and Monday (hope the bliddy weather heats up a bit).

My general health is giving me cause for concern just now. I’ve got an appointment for two (“maybe three”) fillings at the dentist on Wednesday. Three of my back teeth in the lower right side. But. Since that appointment was made I’ve only gone and broken a tooth on the lower left now!! That’s one trip to the dentist I’m definitely not looking forward to.
Then today in Waterstone’s I was standing “reading” the dust jacket on a book (one I have already, but yet to read, as it happens). When a complete stranger felt the need to comment “you need longer arms”! Yes. Fair point, perhaps it is time I got my eyes tested again – there are two “positions” that I am comfortable reading. With the glasses on and the book held as far away from me as it will go, or, with the glasses off and the tip of my nose brushing the page!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


I'd be a liar if I said I was looking forward to the Edinburgh to North Berwick race on Saturday - I'm not.
I feel as though the runs are all getting "better", it's just that I'm not really "there" yet. I've still not got my "bounce".
Maybe it's the weather. It really is depressing. I've said before that I'm not a Spring/Summer type of guy - but even I appreciate a wee bit heat at times - a bit warmth in my bones.
I honestly don't mind the crisp cutting cold that you get in the winter... but this is just a damp, dank, depressing sort of "chill" that just seeps into you.

I think the day of the Lochaber marathon was about the last good day we've had.

I'm working from home today.... and at one point I found myself sitting here typing away wearing a scarf and a woolly hat. That's just wrong on so many levels! I think there's a sort of pig-headed stubbornness that makes me refuse to put the heating back on! Anyway, I caught sight of myself in a mirror and the stubbornness got washed away in a sort of tsunami of self contempt - the heating went on!!
A hat and scarf - indoors - in May!! It's only one small step away from hibernating on the sofa wearing one of those god-awful blankets-with-sleeves that you see.

To warm myself up a bit I've been off to sunnier climes - I've been listening to Keith Jarrett live in Rio. Enough to warm the cockles of anyboy's heart, that.