Wednesday, 29 August 2012


I don't want to be here. I want to go back......

Got back yesterday after 11 days in Italy - Lake Como, in the north. Fantastic place and fantastic weather.
I knew before I went, that a holiday in Italy would provide me with the opportunity for good food, good cakes, good coffee and, while I eschewed it, good wine [note to self.... God forbid that there is reincarnation ... but, if there is, "next time "go to Italy THEN go on the waggon. Muppet].

The hotel was very nice. Though it did seem to attract the "club 58-70" set. On the plus side, you can pick up some good tips from these old biddies... When you visit the breakfast buffet start with a couple of sticky pastries on the plate. These provide really good "anchorage" for everything else to be piled on top of. Also, if you start with sweet then build your plate up slowly towards savoury you can simply eat your way toward the cakes at the end. I saw one plate that was an engineering marvel. It had cake at it's core, then a sort of layer of bread, followed by a layer of cheeses, before being rounded off by a sort of "skin" of sliced meats draped over it.
Spent most of the holiday "wired" on caffeine and sugar (cakes and ice-cream). Though luckily we did do a fair amount of walking so damage limitation was maintained.
Went out our run early every day (before breakfast) and managed to average 5.5 miles a day. Nothing too strenuous - but then again it was a holiday! Found a couple of really nice wee runs.
We could either go into the back streets of the village and "explore" some of the lanes and roads. These had the "advantage" that while the runs were fairly short they did include some pretty long and steep climbs, so you really felt you were getting some work in.
The other run was altogether more scenic. Along by the lake front to the next village and back. If you went your run early you also missed the majority of the traffic that built up during the day.
We were not the only ones to take advantage of the quiet roads and saw loads of "proper" road cyclists while we out and about. Especially at the weekends.
In fact, after our run while we were having breakfast in the hotel we would look out to see people swimming in the lake. The place would be ideal for triathletes.
Couldn't understand why one day a "peleton" of about five guys, all on identical bikes and all decked out in identical kit, cycled by and shouted at us "hey - liqui-gas", till Anne pointed out that they were all dressed in Liqui-Gas Domo gear and I was wearing a Liqui-Gas Domo cycle cap.
Temperatures were tipping the low 40s by about midday though so only the really hardy - or the very foolish were out running then.

Back now though to rain and wind and cold... Have to start building the miles up again. Looks like the gortex jacket will have to come out of the bag again.

Thursday, 16 August 2012



Nylon may be OK in a shower. Gortex might be hunky-dory in a downpour. But when it comes to rain of biblical proportions – as witnessed during last nights Carfrae Mill to Gifford run, there is only one truly waterproof “base layer” that’s up to the job…….”skin”.

Not only is skin waterproof but nature has seen fit to cover us in such a way as to provide natural channelling and run-off technologies. Bothersome rain simply runs down the neck, follows the contour of the spine before channelling itself down the crack in your arse.


A really, really great run. And despite the weather, which was grim, I really enjoyed it.

The bus left Gifford to take us to the start shortly after the rain started. As we sat on the bus clad only in tee shirts and shorts, it just got heavier and heavier and then a wee bit heavier (just for good measure)

We got off the bus and took what little shelter we could against the gable end wall of the hotel. But we had to set off sometime and eventually we did. First few miles were a bit quicker this time (I think) – not that anyone was “racing” as such, there was just a general feeling that the quicker we got back the quicker we would be out of this foul weather. At least it wasn’t cold. It was wet, it was windy but it was warm. Too warm even for the best running jacket I would imagine.

One casualty of the weather though was my sight. Even with the peak of my hat pulled as low as it would go to try and get some protection my glasses were useless. So by the time we got to the top of our climb at Threep Law I’d removed them and was running along with them in my hand.

The result? Well, surprisingly, because I couldn’t really see all the bumps and holes and tussocks and what-not’s I actually came down the hill a lot quicker than I usually do.

Got back to Gifford just as my watch tipped over to 1:14, so I was pleased with how I’d run. A few of the others were “holding back” mindful that they have the Haddington Half at the weekend.

A very nice meal in the Tweeddale Arms rounded off a great night.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Out tonight running (well, there's a novelty). Off to do the annual Carfrae Mill to Gifford run organised by HELP.
Really looking forward to it. Didn't manage last year (thwacked knee) and could only bimble round the year before that (thwacked rib), so this year - all being well - I can really enjoy it.
Out with the club last night and did a nice quick nine mile run - so I'm even feeling confident that the whole hamstring/glute/arse thing is behind me (think there might be a pun in there).

Then tomorrow it's the last leg of the East Lothian "Summer" Series, followed by the traditional BBQ and prize giving. In fact tomorrow it's unlikely I'll get a run in myself, so I might "change" over rest days and go out a run on Friday (may not get a run in on Saturday either!!)

So. Other than Friday night there is not a lot of time to pack and get ready for my hols.... So I've made a start. A start on the important things!

To whit...what music to listen to. Loaded a whole batch of Italian Jazz onto my MP3 player. I've got a whole hutch of stuff by Miles Davis inspired trumpet player Enrico Rava, a batch by the younger Paolo Fresu, the piano is played admirably by Steffano Bollani and a guy I'm really just getting to grips with Enrico Pieranunzi. But it's not all Italian musicians (oh no), there's some Italian influences as well... Chet Baker, "with 50 Italian Strings". Now, I love a good "with strings" album as much as the next man.... but this really isn't one of them ("good" that is). It's about as cheesy as a quattro fromaggi pizza, and yet it still has a certain light weight cheesey charm about it. I've got The Modern Jazz Quartet "No Sun In Venice" and for the stereotypes to beat all stereotypes - The Theme From The Godfather by Jazz Jamaica All Stars.

And for reading? Well a couple of Donna Leon Inspector Brunetti books have been put on the ereader.
Clothes and crap like that can just get bunged in a backpack on Saturday morning.

Sunday, 12 August 2012


Last nights tea was timed to perfection - timed that is not to clash with Mo Farah's 5k race (we watched the race then had our tea).
Two Saturday's in a row of really great telly. It's been a great summer really - three weeks of the Tour, a weeks "rest", then two weeks of the Olympics.
But sadly all good things come to an end and, as of next week, telly once more caters for all the vacuous, lard-arsed, dullards out there with the return of the truly awful X-Factor, *cough* "Celebrity" Big Brother and it's ilk. Not to mention the soaps... surely watching them is just natures way of telling you to go and stick your head in the oven!

Anyway, one argument could be less sport on the telly = more time left for actually getting out there and doing some!!
Managed to time my own Sunday LSD to get me back in time for the second half of the mens marathon today (great race from Kiprotich). My run was a 15 mile jaunt through the wind farms to Crichness then back and taking in a wee loop of High Woods. Mostly off road and very hilly. Just under two hours and 15 miles. Felt good. Used my newly repaired trail shoes again and they are still holding up well.
Noticed yesterday that my "new" [5 week old] road shoes are showing pretty severe signs of wear on the extreme outside of the heel on the left sole already, so I might give them some "preventative" maintenance with the shoe goo already.

It's not even Monday and I'm looking forward to Friday already!
Finish work this week and tootle off to Italy for my hol's. Definitely taking my running gear with me. No idea at all what the running will be like where we are going - but surely we'll find some sort of route. Nothing too strenuous, just enough to provide some damage limitation for the cake and pasta overload that I'm planning.

Once the holiday is over I really need to assess what I want to do the rest of this year. Really fancy the Jedburgh 38 mile race, but don't know if I'll have the time to build up the distance.... we'll see.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Off last night to Musselburgh to do the fourth race in the East Lothian Summer Series races.
A nice 4.4 mile dash round "The Grove" by the side of the Esk, under the A1, up towards Cowpits, into Inveresk then back down into The Grove and back to the start.
While me and Ian S were doing a little warm up run we suddenly became aware of a load of young lads sprinting in the same direction as us - turns out that one of the local football teams (Musselburgh Windsor??) were out training.
Amusing that as we turned to go back for the start of the race the coach shouted at us "why are you stopping? Oh! Your no' one of ours...."
Started off WAY too quick, trying to hang on to Willie Taylor (first mile at 5:41). Didn't help that as we got to the first mile, or there abouts, Musselburgh Windsor had decided to spread themselves over the relatively narrow path. I managed to find enough breath to below a warning to them - to which most of them complied. One young scamp however felt the request was best responded to by mooning me!! Charming.
By the time we got to The Cowpits I was starting to flag a bit and Ian S caught me.
The dash down from Inveresk back to The Grove is a fairly gentle drop and offered me a wee chance to catch my breath.
Managed to get back without incident and I was fairly content with my time (26:27).
Not the one we saw........
After the run we were all having a natter. Generally just comparing notes, having a bottle of water and getting our breath back.
At first I thought I was seeing things, but a group of cyclists came along the path we had ran on about ten minutes earlier - led by a bloke on a Penny-Farthing! Not an original one - this looked new(ish), with a tubular frame and "proper" hubs and rims etc. Amazing.. yet another of those moments when no one had a camera (or the sense to use it anyway).
A wonderful, slightly bizarre, sight.
Invented by a Brit in 1871 it was a fitting tribute on the day when Chris Hoy put the lid on a fantastic week of cycling.

Thing I don't get is ... the riverside path along by the Esk is really overgrown at the moment and once or twice when I was running I had to duck to avoid low branches - how the hell did he get round on that thing?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012



A lovely day today for a wee trip to the beach.

I decided to slightly extend today’s run, so rather than just turning back at Kings Road in Portobello, I followed the prom (tiddly-om-pom-pom) all the way along – as in the Portobello race. Up at the Joppa end onto the High Street then a quick duck back down Morton Street and back along the prom until rejoining my usual route.

Knocked a normally 5 mile run up to about 8. Thought I’d go  bit further today as there is no “club run” tonight as such. Off instead to do the latest East Lothian Summer Series race in Musselburgh – a nice four and a half mile dash round the Grove and into Inveresk. Looking forward to that.

I probably shouldn’t be running at all for the next week and a bit L. Off to Italy for our holidays soon, and I want to get there in one piece. It’s usually this time of year that I fall and crack/split/thwack/blooter something. August is a “jinxed” month for me.. Knee last year, rib the year before that, elbow one year….spent my hols last year walking about in lofty shorts with a suppurating wound on my knee – not a stylish look – even by MY low standards.

The bit of Italy we are off to (the lakes) is, apparently, where some bloke called Clooney has a house. Don’t know much about him but I believe he used to be a doctor, then tried his hand at films (none of which I’ve heard of – so he can’t have been any good), but now makes a living selling coffee machines (so, a bit like the late, great Gareth Hunt, then). It appears that he’s quite popular among women of a certain age (i.e. “biddies”). Anyway, I wanted to go elsewhere. I’m worried that I get mistaken for him and get hounded the whole time we’re there. . I don’t think the boy Clooney’s a runner though – he’s a bit on the beefy side.

Monday, 6 August 2012


A great weekend of Olympic viewing. Probably spent as long in front of the telly as your average fatty watching soaps.

I don’t want to sound superficial or shallow… I know that the economy is still buggered and the world is generally a shit place to live, but all the bad news will still be there for us in a week or so. I, for one, am quite enjoying getting lost in it all for a wee while.
I imagine that up and down this great land of ours, a nation’s hard drive TV recorders are bulging with a load of unwatched crap – while everyone’s usual viewing is put onto a back burner while the games are on. I for one am now three episodes “behind” with “The Walking Dead” – though to be honest I’ve kinda lost interest in that – the characters are all so unlikable that I’ve started rooting for the zombies.
Still, you cant live all your sporting life vicariously, and I did find time for a couple of runs at the weekend. A nice hilly 9 on Saturday (mainly off road) and a 14 miler yesterday – timed to get me back to the house just after the women’s marathon had started.

But sporting endeavour hasn’t been the only arena of competition this weekend – hell no. Tensions were at a peak this weekend with the annual "Innerwick Flower Show". Team Woodhall was represented by Anne (again) who managed to “podium” three times (when the hell did “podium” become a verb, by the way??). Silver for “scones (cheese)”, silver for “jelly (bramble)”, but best of all a gold this year in “jam’s (other)”. “Tea Loaf” needs a wee bit of practice before next year though…….

Thursday, 2 August 2012



It’s my current mantra – my “mission statement” if you prefer. Or at least it was last night for the North Berwick Law race.

And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Started off quite well back and started relatively sedately.

By the time I’d got out of the park and onto the road up to the swimming pool, though, my leg was feeling quite good so I decided to pick up the pace a bit (and “yes” I was doped up).

Managed to pass quite a lot of people and even got near Ian R and James Addie just before the foot of the law.

Like most others I walk/climbed up the hill. Collected my rubber band and set off for the rapid descent back into North Berwick….

…and promptly fell! Nothing serious, just a bit of “road rash” on the arm - which give the nations current enthusiasm for all things “cycling” due to the popularity of “Sir” Wiggo, is probably quite fashionable just now!! However, it dent the old confidence. I’d made the [foolish] decision to wear road shoes for the race. My idea being that two thirds of the race are on the road and I could do with the support cushioning. What I failed to realise is that while only one third of the race is on the hill that’s where 90% of your time is made up or lost. While the rain hadn’t been as bad yesterday as had been forecast there had been some and the Law was a bit “greasy”.

Not a good descender at the best of times I actually spent time “sledging” down the hill on my @rse! Very undignified.

Then – just to keep up with tradition you understand – I got cramp in my calf muscles when I got back onto the level (always happens to me on this race).

By the time I got the feeling back and got stated again loads had passed me. Saw Brian fly by, but try as I might, by the time I got back I couldn’t catch him.

So… a bit of a “PW” this year I’m afraid, but I’m still over the moon with it (26:02). Given me a bit of a boost to be back out there. Going to have a go at intervals tonight. Not expecting much, but I’ll give it a go.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012


Don't know about anyone else but I'm enjoying the Olympics on the telly.
It's not that I'm sitting there for hours and hours on end watching it. But when I am in the house I'm quite enjoying having it on - in the background, usually with the sound turned off (too much jazz to listen to). It's a sort of colourful substitute for a lava lamp I suppose.
I will, obviously turn the jazz off and put the sound up when something that specifically interests me. Strangely though I'm quite happy to leave the music on and just watch the ladies beach volleyball - who needs a commentary? I don't even care about the score. As long as each match goes the full distance.
Not usually one for swimming but the camera work this time round is fantastic, you really get in amongst the action.
Only complaint?? After about 4 hours of sport it would be nice if the news could concentrate on non Olympic news.

Anyhoo. It's inspiring me - not exactly to "greatness" - but to put a bit more effort into my training.
The hamstring/leg/arse combo has reached a stage where, while not getting fully "better" certainly isn't getting any worse.
So.... going to have a go and drag my sorry butt up North Berwick Law tonight.
It won't be quick but there will be some "Olympic" dimensions to my performance (a) A bit like South Korean and Chinese badminton players I won't be giving it my all. I apologise in advance to any spectators about my lacklustre performance, but I'll definitely be holding back, the aim is to get up and down the Law pain free and comfortably.
And..(b) "Yes" I will confirm the suspicions of any American coaches who may be watching ... I fully intend to be doped to the eyeballs... namely Ibuprofen, paracetamol and slatherings of Tiger Balm... so there!!

Perhaps the main reason I'm doing the race though is that the club are going out for pizza afterwards. Can't miss out on that.