Monday, 30 December 2013

RUT

Entering week 2 of the festive holidays and I'm getting pleasantly stuck in a nice sort of self imposed "rut".
Long breakfast while watching another episode of Breaking Bad....run (min; 10 miles)...coffee and snack....telly...computer...another episode of BB. All the while getting down to some new and old favorite jazz tunes. Why can't it be like this all the time? About the most pressing thing I have on my mind at the moment is...will the postie deliver season 5 of BB before I finish season 4?

I say week 2 of the "festive" holidays but, truth be told, as far as I'm concerned the "festive" season is over. I can't really get into the whole two-day, tartan bedecked, teuchter inspired, hogmany fest that sees Scotland plunged into an alcohol dependent state of lock down. I't a crock of shite.

I enjoy getting out running at this time of the year. Though the weather, while never stopping me, hasn't exactly been kind this year. We seem to get one calm, blue skied day every three days or so. While the remainder are defined by wind and torrential rain.
I'm sure most homes, with two or more runners in, are the same but our kitchen seems to be strewn with shoes in various stages of "sodden" crowded round the heater, running jackets hanging all over the place and kit resting on top of the laundry basket for a while because it's even too wet to go in it!

I've been a bit "troubled" by a pretty constant sore head over the holidays. Nothing too bad. Just a niggle. Too much chocolate and coffee? Perhaps.
But then, I've also been having a bit of bother reading the subtitles on the telly etc.
God alone knows why it took so long to dawn on me...my "spare" specs that I've been wearing for a few weeks are about 4 years and 2 prescriptions old (I sat on my "good" specs)!
Need to get that rectified soon. Do opticians have "January sales"??




Friday, 27 December 2013

ITS WHAT WE DO

Well that's the two day food fest over...so it's time to get back into a more sensible regime.
Not easy when everywhere you look there seems to be jars and boxes of sweets stored away.
Ah well. Just be strong and resist (sort of).

Still managing my self imposed plan of ten miles a day. Finished my run today and the weekly mileage on the old Garmin had just tipped over into the 70 mark.. so all is well.

I love this time of year and I love getting into this sort of a routine. Long leisurely breakfast .... ten or so mile run...coffee and cake ....then the rest of the day filled with getting myself acquainted with my new jazz acquisitions and reading.

Managed to time today's run so that I got caught in the worst of the wind and rain when I was about half way round. Is there a nicer way to spend a day off then getting soaked to the skin and frozen stiff? Well...yes probably, but if your a runner it's "what we do". Got strange looks from a crew of council workers who were out trying to clear a bit of flooding on a road down by Innerwick Castle (blocked drain I think). They were all decked out in their bright yellow waterproofs and boots. I came round the corner in a pair of shorts and a flimsy Gortex jacket and just ran through the patch they were trying to clear. Unusual though to find a five yard long, three inch deep stretch of "flooding" and their wasn't a BBC film crew to capture the horror - probably all too busy "down south".

We had a couple of weeks "break", while we caught up with some specifically "festive" DVDs and telly programs, so it's also nice to get back to our "Breaking Bad" fest. Now onto season 4 and looking to buy the last two box sets fairly soon.

Got a 10 CD box set of Paul Bley albums so I'm trying to get through that. It's a set of his work that he recorded for the "Soul Note" and "Black Saint" labels in the eighties and nineties. Nothing too "out there" in this collection.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW

Out today for 13 miles. Didn't do too well .... and the reason I didn't do too well was the very reason I went out for a bit of a longer run in the first place.
I had, you see, two options. I could go out for a bit of a run - or I could sit in the house and watch the endless feckin' rolling news reports about the end of the world (A.K.A "a bit of wind and rain").
Now. I don't want to belittle the plight of anyone facing Christmas without power. But FFS could the BBC be anymore over the top? Even the fictitious newsreaders in that bloody awful "end-of-the-world-disaster-movie" The Day After Tomorrow were a bit more calm and relaxed than the BBC.

Is it just me, or do the media have a tendency to "over egg" it these days when there is moderately bad weather? And just because this is all happening the day or so  before Christmas you'd be forgiven for thinking that it really is the end of the world. Doesn't help that with the usual BBC bias it all seems "so much worse" because it's happening "down south".

Anyway. Made running a bit more difficult today. Decided to head over by Spott, Burnhead and Pitcox before heading back up Starvation Brae into a head on gale. Once or twice I nearly came to a complete halt.

Still it felt good to be out fairly early. I don't feel so guilty afterwards as I loaf about the house. Got a few books I've been saving till the holidays and decided to make a start on the latest Rebus by Ian Rankin ("Saints Of The Shadow Bible"). Fantastic stuff.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

THREE LITTLE PIGS

Out for the same 11 mile run yesterday and today.
I'm a man with a plan at the moment.
The plan is simple. That's me off work now till the new year (6th to be exact), and I plan to go out every day for ten miles or so. No doubt Christmas day's run will be a wee bit shorter - but I'll just tag on a few miles here and there in the days before and after.
Not only does my "plan" allow me to [hopefully] fill my face over the festive period without too much damage, but it SHOULD mean that I will end 2013 having done 365 runs.

I've been very luck the last two days - I've managed to find a nice window in the weather to do my run.
Maybe a bit windier than I'd like but what the hell.
Weather forecast isn't exactly great for the next day or so but I'll just try to adjust to the conditions.

Decided today that I was going to take a camera with me on my run. There is a field about 5.5 miles into the run that is home to three [not so little] pigs. Every time I pass it brings a smile to my face.
They seem to be quite inquisitive and, I think, must associate "people" with being fed, as every time I pass they come trotting up to the gate.


Thing is there used to be four of them! But latterly? Only three. There used to be a really big one with ears that flopped over her eyes :-(

I hope all you people out there who are NOT enlightened vegetarians feel guilty as sin on Wednesday when your tucking into your chipolata sausages covered in bacon!!

Friday, 20 December 2013

GIVE US A CLUE

Last nights club night was a good night. Instead of the usual intervals, "coach" Ian had promised us something "festive".
Hint's were given that a "quiz" of sorts would be involved. I must admit that I was a wee bit cynical (no change there then), and had visions of 400m intervals being punctuated by "Mastermind" type general knowledge questions. Or some sort of running based derivative of "Pointless".
It was neither. Each participant was given a list of questions all with a Dunbar theme and we had to run around Dunbar to find the answers before heading back to hand in our sheets to quizmasters Ian and Frank.
You could find the answers in any order you wanted. So I spent a couple of minutes looking at the questions before heading off on my quest.
There were questions about the Bleachingfield, Belhaven Brewery, Black Agnes etc. etc. Anyway, I "planned" my route and headed off full of intentions about "not taking it too seriously"...... till I was about two minutes in and the old competitive chip kicked in.
All in all I think I maybe covered about 4 miles (wasn't wearing my GPS) and the pace wasn't too bad. Though constant stops to fill in my answer sheet kinda' broke the pace a bit.
Got back to Hallhill to find a few folk already back - so it was pretty obvious I hadn't won. And then found out I'd got an answer wrong anyway! Question - "What year did they start playing bowls at Dunbar Bowling Club?" - my answer 1913. No. That's when they started playing bowls at West Barns Bowling Club. Not only did I get the wrong answer I probably added about a mile on to my route just to get the wrong answer! Muppet.

Anyway. Good way to end the years club training.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

WIND

Well. My plan to take the pace down a bit has been thrown a helping hand this weekend. In the form of gales - "howlin' gales" to be precise!
Oh Lordy. Yesterday's run was the worst - only a nine miler but the route I had [foolishly] chosen saw me head out with the wind in my back - nice. Only to then turn and face four and a bit miles of slow, ponderous, drudgery as I fought my way home - at time I felt as though I was running on the spot. Should have tried to head out into the wind then try to get the wind in my back for the return trip!
It was also, despite the wind, unseasonably warm. I'd foolishly worn a jacket and by the time I got back I was cookin'.
The wind "peaked" yesterday though. So this morning's run - while still uncomfortably windy - wasn't quite as bad. Managed about 12 today.
The hardest part of any run in this weather is the ten yards from the shoe rack to the front door ...once I'm out of that section it's never too bad.

But I did say I would slow down a bit - so I shouldn't complain too much. Soon be on holiday and I plan to go out every day for about nine or ten. Give the weekly mileage a wee boost.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

BIT OF A WEAK WEEK

I’ve wondered, for some time now, if I am what you might call a “justified hypochondriac”. Quite often I “feel” as though there’s something wrong…and more often than not I’m correct.
I feel at the moment as though I’ve got some digestive “problem” that’s hovering about the periphery, but refusing to become “full blown”.
Other than a slight feeling of nausea, and one brief, but horrible, episode of projectile vomiting on Monday's run up the water of Leith it’s not really coming to much. I always thought that this norovirus didn’t really come in “gradations” – I thought you had it, or you didn’t – now I’m not so sure.
I am wondering though if it’s affecting the running. Not had a very good week. I’ve been trying to keep the pace down this week anyway but even so, I feel as though I’m really having to push harder this week (even to get round slower) and the heart rate readings are all a bit up. I have though been taking “sensible precautions” – I’ve been out running with a wad of toilet paper under my hat!
Whatever it is I wish it would sod off. Strange thing though is that it isn’t affecting my appetite much!

Monday, 9 December 2013

STARLESS AND BIBLE BLACK.


Got home on Friday……..and the power was on!!! Hurrah! AND – much more importantly my septic tank overflow pump hadn’t “tripped” and was still chuntering away quite happily.

 

Saturday morning brought some sad news though… Stan Tracey – the Godfather Of British Jazz, had passed away on Friday afternoon.
He was 86 and hadn’t been keeping well for some time.
So Saturday was a bit of a Stan Fest’ in our house. With my music player constantly playing some of my favourite Stan Tracey albums.
As some might know I’m not a huge fan of the modern habit of getting festive too early, but I made an exception and even gave last years “A Childs Christmas” a spin.
Sad to think there might never be a “new” Stan Tracey album to look forward to. However, with a bit of luck there might be some unreleased stuff out there.

 

Sunday was the club’s annual Festive Half and 10k runs, and I had, as usual, elected to give the half a bash.
The morning dawned dreech, windy and surprisingly mild. Conditions were not ideal.
Got down to Hallhill to be greeted by the sight of Santa, Mrs Claus and two reindeer already in the building ready to go. Great that so many turn up in fancy dress for this event (maybe next year).
The run itself was tough – VERY tough. Wind in our faces all the way out to the North Berwick road, then the long drag up to Lawhead.
At least on the way back I was able to push it a bit and get the pace up. 1:24:24 - happy with that.
After the race it was back into Hallhill for soup and sandwiches. Good fun.
Best bit about it? Well…as far as I’m concerned that is the last “hard effort” run I intend to do between now and Auld Years night, when I’m planning on doing the club’s Black Bun Run.
Up till then, and certainly over the holidays, I’m planning on distance, but at a nice easy pace. “Best laid plans” and all that.

Friday, 6 December 2013

ARSE


Got home last night to find out we were without power! Quell surprise Scottish Power’s robust and hi-tech infrastructure had once more succumb to ferocious weather conditions.

I’m not really sure about scientific measurements for wind strengths etc. but it seems that any time the wind exceeds the ferocity of a coo fartin’ up a vennel our power is off.

So, we dodged about a cold dark house for a while before tootling off to the club. It was the first Thursday of the month – ergo the clubs 5k handicap race. Something to look forward to.

Got down. Got into the changing rooms. Started to get changed…..

ARSE !! I’d been a run earlier in the day – only to leave my shorts out to “air” on the back of my PC. I forgot to pick them up before I left work.

Two choices were open to me. I could go “Spartan” and run around the greater Dunbar conurbation with my tackle out. Or I could help Frank with the time keeping.

Sad to say time keeping won out.

Got home to find the power still off. So after about ten seconds of consideration we headed back to Dunbar and the comfort of the Pine-martin for our tea.
At least when we got back I was able to boil water on the camping stove to fill a couple of hot water bottles.

Got up this morning….still powerless! Feck.

So early into work today to get a shower before everyone else came in.

Wouldn’t have felt so bad if the shorts had perhaps combusted and burned the arsehole factory down – but no such luck.

Yesterday was not a day to remember fondly. As for today? Well its not over yet. I don't hold out much hope for Scottish Powers latest estimate of power being back on by 4pm. I also have this deep rooted dread that when the power is off for any length of time it's going to "trip" and flood the pump in the sceptic tank....... NOT how I want to start my weekend.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

LET IT BLOW


Tuesday’s club run was a bit longer than as of late.
A few of us decided to go to the “other side” of the A1 and try a nine mile run rather than the six mile town run. The idea being that if Sunday was a race (XC – Peebles), then Thursday is the monthly 5k handicap and next Sunday is the Festive Half there is little point in throwing a fast paced six miler into the mix, as the town run always turns out to be pretty close to race pace anyway.
My weekly mileage has been dropping a bit lately anyway, so even a slightly longer run was welcome. I don’t know why a drop in mileage should worry me – I don’t have anything major planned for a while - …but it does. I get used to doing about 60 miles a week in the summer, and when it suddenly drops away I feel a bit bereft.

 

Out for a run this morning at “daft o’clock”. The wind, while VERY blowy, was nowhere near as bad as the apocalyptic ferocity predicted by the weather man.
It never ceases to amaze me though to see so many daft buggers trying to use umbrellas in high winds like that! Even if they didn’t blow inside out, or crumple, as they so often do, the rain is coming at you horizontally anyway!
Strange that while I was buffeted and battered along by the wind and struggled at times to keep myself being blown off the pavement, I really enjoyed the run! It was perhaps the slowest time I’ve ever gotten for that short route (Leith to Seafield Roundabout and back) but that really didn’t matter. Normally along that route I pass quite a few other runners, loads of cyclists and quite a few walkers (with and without dogs). But this morning there were hardly any – and yet everyone I did pass seemed to be more eager to acknowledge each other this morning.

 
Must be getting into a [very slight] festive groove....my Ipod started playing Dexter Gordon "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" ............and I didn't press next!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

[BREAKING] BAD HABITS

This is getting to be a bad habit.
Looks like this is going to be another Sunday without wearing [proper] clothes.
As is our want on a Sunday we had a nice long leisurely breakfast. A nice blend of filling my face with croissants....looking at the Sunday paper ...and watching another episode of Breaking Bad. We're now half way through season 3 of BB and I am absolutely gripped! Am I the only one who's favorite character is Hank, the brother-in-law DEA agent?
Anyway. After our BB breakfast it was a quick shower then into the running gear and down to Peebles for he third leg of the Borders XC.
Went for a bit of a warm up with Ian and I was all too aware of tree roots and slippery rocks along by the river. I was, to be truthful, a bit nervous about the wisdom of doing this run. But, as so often happens, once you actually get into the race your mind just "closes down" on negative stuff like that and you get on with it.
An absolutely beautiful route. A riverside trail that takes you along by a nice converted castle, a picturesque viaduct crossing, a few nice paths through the woods and a lung-busting hill! I was trying to run all the way up the hill, but when I saw the guy ahead of me was "a" walking and "b" pulling away from me, I decided "sod it" and just walked as well.
Perhaps one of the longer routes in the series at about 4.3 miles.
While I enjoyed it, I'm quite happy to leave the "lumpy runs" aside for a month or so.
Anyway. Had to hang around till the end to collect the results. Then got home and processed them and put them on t'internet.
So... Given it was the back of 4 when I finally got round to having a shower and as it was already pitch black outside I thought ..."what's the point"? A pair of joggies and a fleece it is. If I'm honest I probably feel more "at home" in running gear these days anyway.
Time, I fear, to slip into that dark funk that is a Sunday night before a workday!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

GOATS



An informal meeting of East Lothian Jam Makers.

Andy - dressed for the weather.
Did the Goats Gallop on Sunday and, by my reckoning, had a fairly good run.

Conditions were near perfect. A little bit of a chill - but nothing too bad. There was, however, quite a bit of ice on the boggy section near the top that I had fun cracking my way through.
 
I had forgotten how long the drag up from Longyester to the foot of the “proper” climb up Lammer Law really is. A couple of miles of stony, uneven ascent – and the race pretty much goes straight into it. Certainly got the old heart rate up.

The drop down to Hopes Resevoir wasn’t that bad this year…still came down like a big nancy though. The heather on the side of the cliff was very lustrous this year and while I was having to lift my feet quite a bit to get through it, it did offer a bit of purchase on the hill and, I dare say, would have provided a nice soft landing if I did fall.

Once I was down onto the flat along by the reservoir I was able to put the hammer down a bit.

Finished in 1:00:45 – slightly quicker than two years ago (wasn’t there last year). So happy enough with that.

It’s a very informal event and it was nice just to meet up and chat with others before and after the run.

One more run “off road” coming up (Peebles XC this Sunday). After that I’ll be sticking to roads, or at the very least well defined paths, try to get this toe problem sorted out.

In fact. Until Portobello on New Year’s Day I’ve nothing in the pipe line. Might try to drop the pace a wee bit as well. I won’t have a “rest” as such, but perhaps a bit of a quiet month won’t hurt.

Friday, 22 November 2013

REST

Bit of a tough week (running wise).
All runs have been short(ish) but all run at a high pace.
The pace of Tuesday's club "town run" was set by Nick who went off like a bullet. Ended up being the first sub 39 of the winter - way I felt afterwards it can be the last of the season as well for all I care.
Last nights intervals was a bit of a change. Instead of the usual set distances we were simply to run at full-pelt for specified times (6min, 4x4min and 5x2min) with 90 seconds "rest" in between. Probably ended up running further (and faster) than a usual session.
The interval session was "enjoyed" by most as we were kept keen by the knowledge that we were going out to the Royal MacIntosh in Dunbar for a meal afterwards. And very nice it was too.

So.... Today I was off work - HURRAH!!! Even with my planned Christmas leave coming up I've got some days I will have to "use or lose" so today and Monday are the first of those.
I had planned to go a wee run.... but, as I say, all my runs this week have been pretty tough (all in my "Blue" or "Red" zones) so a bit recovery was in order and I decided to go for the "ultimate recovery" - do nothing.
But the time hasn't been wasted. We went off to North Berwick for a little wander about this morning and some rummaging in one of the charity shops there came up with a Mario Rosini album ("Be My Love"). An album of solo piano - mainly standards/covers but a couple of originals as well. Pretty nice stuff.

I've also been playing about with old technology today. I've got a pretty old netbook that has been running Windows like a broken pram. Other than drag it along to the odd race for doing results it's been used for nothing lately. So. I took Windows off it altogether and I've installed Linux on to it. What a difference!
I'm not saying it's ultra fast - but lets just say the originally you could turn it on and then have time to make, pour and drink a cup of coffee ... now you'd probably just have time to fill the kettle.
If you have an old or slow PC I'd recommend it. Oh... it also comes complete with its own suite of software - and its Free!!

Monday, 18 November 2013

GALA


Thought I’d give the second leg of the Borders XC a go yesterday.

A very windy and fairly tough nine mile route round the wind farms on Saturday had convinced me that my foot wasn’t too bad.

Got down to the start at Gala swimming pool to find a good sized crowd of runners already milling about.

Nice to see that among the good sized crowd there was quite a contingent of Dunbar runners among them.

While I was doing a wee bit of a warm up I was trying to remember the route, so that I could explain it to Nick. I knew there was a fair bit of climbing and I had vague recollections of one section where you run along one side of a wall..through a gate..then double back along the other side of the same wall. But could I accurately remember the route? Could I hell. Turns out (in defence of my failing memory) that it’s actually been a few years since I last did this race. It further turns out that we were in Gala back in February for this race and that the reason I didn’t run it was that I was in an office doing the results – I’d completely forgotten that (which is a searing indictment on my failing memory).

Anyway. The race itself… Decided that I’d start round about the middle of the field as I wasn’t sure how my foot would hold out and I didn’t want to push it. As it was I felt fine. I think once you start racing, anyway, the adrenaline kicks in and a lot of niggles etc just seem to vanish.

I had got my version of the route completely wrong when I was explaining it to Nick – but, in my defence, I think I still got the general “idea” of the route. There was a wall – there was a “there and back” – just not the wall I thought it was!!

Ended up, for a lot of the race, running close to Nick, Craig and Willie Jarvie.

One point, that I did correctly remember, was a long steep(ish) down hill section. God knows how but I just favoured a sort of heel strike motion and went for it!! Most of the route was more of an “extreme trail” type route. Couple of burns to cross though – but I decided to take them pretty sedately rather than risk aggravating my sore toe.

All was well with the world until, about a quarter of a mile from the end, I put my foot deep into a patch of mud. The putting the foot in was OK, but as I pulled it out I got a sharp pain in the “injured” toe.

Managed to get going again and was fairly happy with my run overall.

Try and have a fairly easy week then see how I’m feeling for HELPs annual “Goats Gallop” on Sunday.

Friday, 15 November 2013

TEST


Tried an “experiment” last night….. Still not convinced that my foot is completely “tickety boo”, so I thought I would try it out – encased in my Salomon’s – on Dunbar’s pitted, gnarly, lumpy, ploughed up, 415m obstacle course that passes for our 400m grass track.

Didn’t feel too bad. But I was aware of a bit of a niggle (which I’m not currently aware of when out on the road).

Quite a tough session too, consisting of 600m - 800m - 1200m - 1200m - 800m - 600m.

The idea behind such “testing” was/is that if the foot didn’t feel too bad then I might try the Gala XC this Sunday. Thing is though even our crappy grass track cannot quite emulate the type of terrain that’s likely to appear at Gala, and even pushing it at training you can never quite emulate the type of effort you are likely to go for in a race.

So.. still not sure what to do. My main problem is, is that if I miss Sunday’s race there is no way I can then “get in” four races out of the six to qualify.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

ON DAYS LIKE THESE


One of my favourite films of all time? The Italian Job. Absolutely love it.

Like most people I know the plot and script inside out and almost every frame of that film is an iconic image in it’s own right. The Quincy Jones soun
dtrack only adds to the overall package.


So it was nice, while out running along by the Water of Leith to see someone had paid their own bit of homage to the great film by “recreating” the final scene.

Obviously, being Leith it was a bit of a “low budget” recreation. Instead of the beautiful, twisty, roads of the Italian/Swiss border it was down by the old slipway near Coburg Street and instead of a patriotically liveried red white and blue luxury coach it was, as I say, a rusty old white transit van.

But the care that it had been ploughed through the metal safety barriers and then precariously balanced over the water’s edge was breath-taking. How the driver found room down there to even get the speed up to crash through the barrier escapes me.
 
For some reason, for the rest of my run (which had to be diverted – the police had the path under the bridge at Great Junction Street taped off) I ran to the strains of Matt Monroe singing On Days Like These. In fact given the look I got later on from an old dearie out walking here dog there was possibly some "seepage" from the old inner monolouge as it belowed out the lyrics of Days Like These!

Ended up having to run up by Ferry Road which was way too busy for my liking and the pace of the run did suffer because of it. The run was also shortened a bit.
 

Monday, 11 November 2013

BUSY DOING ....WELL VERY LITTLE


My “plan” for the weekend had been to do 11 on Saturday and about 16 on Sunday, but for some reason this turned out to be 11 on Saturday and “ah feck it 11’ll do” on Sunday as well.
I was suddenly washed over by a deluge of “whats-the-bloody-point”?
Don’t get me wrong I actually enjoyed both runs. Beautiful crisp clear day yesterday especially – bit of frost on the ground – smell of damp leaves all around. Great.
But I’ve nothing major planed for anytime soon, so there really is no need, at the moment, to overdo it with the long runs.
It’s just that when you’ve been training you get used to it, and in the weeks immediately after the event you kinda feel guilty about not doing long runs.

 

The rest of my weekend was spent on important stuff. Like watching Breaking Bad, ploughing my way through a new Art Farmer six album box set (the most rich, warm tone ever to come out of a flugelhorn) and start reading a new Robert Goddard book. So. Telly, jazz and new books - all pretty vital stuff I’m sure you’ll agree.

Anne was locked up in the kitchen most of the weekend – something to do with Terry Wogan and bairns.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

SENIOR MOMENT


Went a run this morning at daft o’clock. Lovely.

Got back. Showered. Dried myself (obviously). Got changed into my work gear. Started work. All good so far.

THEN I realised I was still wearing the chest strap of my heart rate monitor!!

“Senior moment” or what?
 
Mind you. I suppose it could do with a clean anyway.

Monday, 4 November 2013

LAUDER (and a bit of Avant-Garde).


Running is a bit of a pain just now. Just as the rest of the running community skips happily into the cross country season – I go and hurt my foot.
Decided on Thursday that I would try a little bit of off-road to see how I got on. I was running home from Dunbar to the greater Woodhall conurbation and decided to go up and along the path that runs up from Doon Steadings to Spott Home Farm. Even going fairly gingerly it was painful.
Not exactly an “Oh-my-god-I-can’t-go-on” type of pain, but definitely an “ouch-ya-nippy-bustard” type of pain. Certainly enough pain to make me decide that Sunday’s opener of the Borders XC at Lauder was going to have to be scratched off my dance card
A great shame as “a” I really like the course, “b” it’s a Dunbar championship race and I wanted the points and “c” I wasn’t looking forward to going down to Lauder and thought that if least I’m getting a run out of it, it won’t be too bad.
This year the committee of the BordersXC decided to “cap” the number of runners. It was also decided to take entries on line rather than try to cope with hordes of runners on the day. Lauder isn’t too bad as we get access to a nice building, whereas some registration was previously done from a parked car – not an easy task.
Anyhoo. I had set up the online entries. It was popular. Entries went like hot cakes Some people didn’t get in. Sadly some who didn’t get in  got miffed/disgruntled/petty/fractious about the whole thing.
I was heading down to Lauder expecting at least one run in with an unhappy runner and possibly a confrontation with an entire horde of ‘em.
And it didn’t happen J Hurrah.

After a completely shitty week at work tending to the needs of brain dead, f-wit, parasitic, civil servants I really wasn’t in the mood for a run in with a cretin. So it was a great relief, as the morning went on, to realise that I was worrying unnecessarily.

The end result of the day couldn’t have been better. It was a good turnout, the weather was perfect and the course lived up to expectations and provided the runners with all you could wish for in a cross country race. There were hills. There was mud. There was ice cold water and there were muddy slopes to climb. Those lucky enough to be running seemed to enjoy it.
I just jogged along to a part of the course I thought was picturesque and took some photos (that I will share soon – honest).
Came home, rattled out the provisional results then went for my own run – on the beautiful flat(ish) roads around Innerwick. As I say the foot is fine on the road and I actually felt I was going round at a good pace and putting in quite an effort. Though that may have had a bit to do with the fact that my chosen run took me through a wooded area – right at the end of the run and I was eager to get there before the light was lost.

On Saturday I bought a new disc – John Coltrane and Don Cherry “The Avant Garde”. Recorded in 1960, but not released till 1966 it’s a bit of a gem. Coltrane had actually stopped recording with Atlantic by 66 and this was pretty much a release made up of previously unissued material.
My jazz “listening” has, I have realised, changed over the years. A lot of what I would have shied away from some years back I now really enjoy and find quite accessible. This offering was “avant-garde” back in the day, but it’s probably bordering on the main stream now. It's mostly the group playing Ornette Coleman tunes and one remarkable version of Monk's Bemsha Swing.
Charlie Haden on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums make up the group.
Not background music and it really needs to be “listened” to – but very rewarding.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

CUMBERNAULD


Dunbar sent three of their finest (and me) to Cumbernauld on Saturday to fly the flag at the National Cross Country Relays. And, for the second year running, I was first leg. My least favourite position in a relay race (my “favourite” position in a relay race is actually loafing about, at home, on my sofa, and ignoring the fact that the event is on at all).

First leg is too much like a bog standard race for my liking. A mass start where, within a few seconds of the gun going off, you get that sinking feeling as you watch a barrow load of “proper” runners storming away from you.

Still. There is nothing left to do but get the head down and get on with it – fifteen minutes, or so, of eyeballs-out, lung bustin’ fun. !!!!”. Anyway, even further down the pack the battle between 69th and 70th place is often just as exciting as that between 1st and 2nd.

My approach to racing never really lends itself to report writing after the event. I don’t always catch sight of my surroundings, I seldom find time (or breath) to “chat” while I’m running and even my friendly little “inner monologue” stops it’s whimsical musings to concentrate on screaming at me “keep breathing…… your heart isn’t going to pack in yet….run faster you worthless f***er".

None of the above is hugely problematic when writing a report of the cross country at Cumbernauld however, as it’s possibly one of the blandest, least inspiring routes known to man. Find a large grassy field with a bit of a hill in it…snake a 2.5 mile piece of red and white tape through the field – that’s pretty much it.

Surprised myself by finishing about a minute quicker than last year though (though last years was a good bit water logged and muddier).

Handed over the metaphorical baton to Andy S running his first event of this type before he then passed it down the line to Grant and Andy A. All in all it wasn’t a bad performance from a team of vets of various types.

 

Borders XC starts this weekend. But I’m still not certain if I’ll run. It’s quite a hilly and challenging course and my sore toe still isn’t happy when taken out of the comfy, supportive confines of his road shoes.

Friday, 25 October 2013

HALF A SESSION (IS BETTER THAN HALF OF NOTHING)


A slightly reduced session, for me, at last night’s interval training.
While everyone else was tankin’ around doing 800m six times I settled for half a dozen 400m. I always find it’s the Thursday interval session after a big race that the real pain kicks in and I decided just to half the session last night and hopefully half the pain.
My toe hasn’t been entirely comfortable since the marathon, but I’ve kept all my running limited to nice flat road surfaces.

Last night I wanted to try out my trail shoes again and I wanted to run on something lumpy and uneven …. So what could be better than the grass track at Hallhill? Dunbar should count itself lucky. There aren’t many running clubs with a track that can be used for both interval and cross country training! If only someone would come up with some sort of large machine for “rolling” all the bumps and lumps out of a grass area L

Anyway. The trail shoes were not too bad, but I’m not entirely happy with the quick release pull tight lace efforts. Think I’ll take those off and put on a pair of traditional laces instead.

Got the National Relays tomorrow and do not feel up for it all. Still not 100% after the race.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

YORK


Saturday saw four of us (Ian, Richard, Anne and me) get onto the Dunbar Team Bus (Anne’s Punto) and head off for the Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. Jamie, the fifth member of the team, was making his own way there.



Weather conditions were decidedly poor, but the spirits were high and Ian had brought along a CD of the Olympic opening ceremony music to “inspire us”.

Pre marathon conversations are always pretty strange, “guarded” affairs – everybody has a time they want to get, but most people play their cards pretty close to their chest – just in case. I honestly didn’t know what to make of my chances. My last marathon had been about 19 months ago. The longest period I’ve had between marathons. However, I was going to try and improve on that time and, at the very least, wanted a sub 3.

My mind was firmly fixed on my big toe after injuring it at Livingston. A quick, completely informal consultation with Doctor Neil the Thursday before had suggested what I think I already knew – I might be harbouring a bit of a fracture. It’s not sore all the time – but if I move it or bend it certain ways then …yes it is! I’d done a couple of six milers during the week… but there’s a big difference between that and a full marathon (obviously).

Anyway. We dropped Ian off at his mum and dad’s and popped in for coffee then headed off again to drop Richard off at his sister’s.

We then checked into our B&B and had a short stroll round York then went out for a very sedate two mile run (to loosen off really).

Saturday night was taken up with a visit to an Italian restaurant for some carbo loading – then early to bed.

So. What of race day? Well. It was an early start. Up at the crack of dawn for a breakfast of croissant’s and cereal before the short walk from our B&B to York Railway Station to get the shuttle bus that would take us to the start at York Uni’.

Using the university campus as a start and end for the marathon was a fantastic choice. It’s spread over quite a large area and the building that was being used for the baggage storage area was massive – there’s not many marathons you do where there is ample indoor space for waiting and meeting.

We met up with Ian and Richard and, once we had dropped of bags and made our trips to the loo, headed off to the start area.

Luckily, we met up with Jamie at the start.

I was in start zone 1 with Ian and Richard and Anne and Jamie were just behind us in Zone 2.

A few words from some bloke off Emmerdale, a few words from Cricketing-Umpire-Legend Dickie Bird…and we were off.

Straight out of the uni’ campus and before you know it you are going through one of the “Bars” in the city walls (gates) and you are into York proper – a quick run along one of the main streets, a quick run past the Minster ….and you’re back out of York and into the suburbs, before heading into small country lanes.

For the first part of the race, I just tried to settle into a pace I was happy with and didn’t even think about the toe.

The support along the route was great. Everyone seemed to be very enthusiastic about the whole thing (maybe they don’t get much in the line of entertainment in Yorkshire). The organisers had printed runners forenames on their numbers so I appeared to get equal numbers of shouts of “go on Stuart” and “well done Dunbar”.

Sad to say though I did find myself subject to a bit of racism as we went through one small village. Obviously someone recognised the name “Dunbar” and I was accosted with a shout of “Go on there Jock”!!

Got to half way and felt good… dreams of a PB were starting to linger in my mind.

But – me being me, I’d overcooked it in the first half and by about 22 miles I was starting to slow. It turned into a bit of a battle just to try to minimise the losses. It was at about 22 that I remembered I had a couple of Percy Pig sweets with me and had one of them – that seemed to help a bit.  By 23/24 my toe was beginning to hurt…but I honestly couldn’t say if that was pain from the injury OR the fact that my foot was starting to swell slightly (as you expect doing a mara’) and I’d tied my laces a bit tighter that I would normally do.

It didn’t help that at 25.5 miles there was a particularly nasty “sting in the tail” and we were brought into the campus up a horrible steep little climb (though the last 400m was a nice downhill).

Really pleased to get 2:56:30 (chip time). Later on I was surprised and delighted to find out I was 39th overall and 4th V45-55 (been more delighted to have been 3rd mind).

This was one of the best organised marathons I have ever done. I can't recommend it highly enough. The route and the scenery were great. Just the right amount of water stations etc (every 3 miles – I didn’t use them all), great crowds, friendly marshals. The route is very slightly undulating - even if the wee hill at 25.5 was cruel. God, even the weather was beautiful for the race. Saturday had been grim and Monday was grim – but the day of the race? Against everything the weatherman warned us about it was beautiful! The sun shone for most of it and it was mild(ish).

The only disappointment for me? Well. I’d wanted the bloke from the Plusnet adverts to start the race! But apparently, I was told, he is touring in Saudi Arabia at the moment. Ah well. Still got a picture of me next to a cardboard cut-out.

Ian, Anne and Jamie all had good runs. The stand out marathon though came from  Richard who proved to have proper “tough of the track” potential by not only surviving severe cramp but falling into a ditch – and still finishing! He came back into the baggage area covered in mud and looking more like he'd done a cross country than a marathon.

No complaints at all about the race – but one tiny observation and, sadly another instance of [institutional] racism....
The results. Only English running clubs are listed – so while we all appear on the results our club isn’t listed. No big deal, but I don’t know if this will affect our Power of Ten entries.

Anyway. Once we all regrouped we got back onto the shuttle bus to get back into town, before heading off at a hobble for a few drinks and a bit of a chat about our race (even those without tickets!).

Later on, on Sunday me and Anne met up with Ian for a curry.

Yesterday dawned wet and gloomy and it saw us (i.e. me and Anne) out for a gentle 3.5 mile recovery run around town before breakfast. Really enjoyed going through the streets and along by the river before it gets busy.
A visit to see Anne's mam and brother

No trip to York would be complete without a trip to Rebound Records (obviously) and a few choice discs were bought.

 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

WE'LL DO YOU PROUD

Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon. 2:56:30.
Happy enough.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

TOE


Well. My toe is definitely still sore. Not “agony”, but sore.

It’s not too bad when walking…… I can feel it a wee bit when running….but it is very sore if I curl the toes in (the foot equivalent of making a fist, if you get my drift).

But as I don’t curl my toes in when running I’m hopeful that I’ll be OK on Sunday.

Might pack a couple of extra painkillers in the shorts pocket before the race (as well as a couple of Percy Pigs).

It seems to help if I lace my shoes pretty firmly (and I am guilty of normally keeping my shoes a bit too loose).

Certainly the runs I’ve done so far, this week, haven’t been too bad. As I say, it does hurt if I have to stop suddenly …. So the numpty cycling on the pavement this morning, who just about ran into me, didn’t exactly get a cheery “good morning”. If you are younger than, say, nine and have a little bike with stabilizers and glittery streamers coming from the handlebars you can just about get away with cycling on the pavement. Anyone else? Grow up.

Monday, 14 October 2013

LIVINGSTON


Sunday dawned dull, grey, damp, windy and gloomy. It was, in other words, cross country weather.
I had agreed a week or so back to put my name down as part of a Dunbar team who were going to compete in the East District Relays at Livingston.
Anne was going along as photojournalist for the day and we picked Ian up at his work, just after 12 to head along to Livingston.
Livingston is, to my jaundiced mind, about as far west as a person can travel before crossing that sort of cultural boundary between civilisation and the outskirts of the Third World.
We got to Livingston to find Grant and Nick already there and waiting with the numbers. We procrastinated as long as we could, before finally giving into the inevitable and headed off to the park, numbers on, ready for a bit of a recce and a warm up.
The course was quite “nice”. Mostly paths to be honest and had more of a “trail run” feel to it than cross country. Undulating without being overly hilly.
Grant, Nick and me did the entire route as part of our warm up. Ian, who wasn’t running until the last leg, decided to hold back his warm up for a wee bit (no point in warming up too early if you have to hang about for ages).
The route was very well marked and at a few points someone had even gone to the trouble of painting white all the tree roots that were sticking up out of the path. They looked like ribs sticking out of a decomposing body in some freshly disturbed shallow grave.

Anyway. What of the race? Well. I was second leg, after Grant. The handover appeared to go well and I was soon passing a couple of guys who had started just before me.
Then at about 1.25 miles it all went tits-up. I fell. I don’t know how or why I fell, but fall I most certainly did. Luckily I was back on my feet and running again in a matter of seconds. But I was aware of quite a pain in my right foot. The big toe of my right foot to be exact. Still with the adrenalin pumping I just kept the head down and got on with the job in hand.
Finished my leg having managed to “claw back” five places for the team and, happily, both Nick and Ian managed the same.

The toe was sore most of last night and quite sore this morning. Strangely though, by tightening my shoe as much as I can I managed a wee run this morning at stupid o’clock without too much discomfort. The only time I felt any pain was when I had to stop quickly when I came up to a road crossing.
Fingers crossed – if I take it easy between now and Sunday I should be OK for the marathon.

Friday, 11 October 2013

TAPER OFF INTO A BIT OF A RANT


This tapering malarkey isn’t really working for me. My weekly mileage, though down slightly, isn’t hugely different from the last couple of weeks, and the pace hasn’t seemed to drop that much either.
The “carbo loading” however, appears to be going well (in fact – I started that six months ago)
Still. I did have a bit of an “easy” night last night. As I’d been a wee run already on Thursday I offered to stand with the watch at last night’s interval session.

You’d think that simply standing there shouting times and words of grumpy encouragement to others would be a doddle – but it was bliddy freezing cold last night. By the time the runners were finishing their last lap I could hardly make out the times on the watch as it was shaking so much in my icy, wind-chilled hand. Have to see if the club funds would stretch to a nice eiderdown coat. Or one of those fleecy blankets with sleeves – the kind that fatties slouch about in when they are loafing about on their sofas and filling their fat gapping maws from a vast bowl of nachos resting on their fat gut while watching “Strictly” (as I believe it is known) on a Saturday night.

I hate “Strictly” with a white hot passion. I do not, have not and will not knowingly watch it. I would rather be forced to sit in a stuffy, unventilated room watching blow flies hatch from the wounds in a freshly slaughtered Labrador puppy’s head than watch that offensive bilge. I say “knowingly” watch it, however, as the BBC seems to be hell bent on pumping this televisual effluent into every program it produces. You turn on the radio – they blither on about it. You turn on the “news” – they blither on about it. You open a paper – they’re blithering on about it. Every individual involved in the production of this crap should have a petrol soaked tyre put around their neck.

I shall endeavour to take it a bit easier next week. Quite looking forward to a relatively “easy” weekend to be honest. A steady 12 miler tomorrow and then one leg of the East District relays on Sunday should fit the bill. Other than that, the weekend is reserved for getting acquainted with some recent jazz acquisitions. I shall not be watching strictly.

Monday, 7 October 2013

CHEERY FRONT OF HOUSE STAFF


Saturday was the club’s annual “Doon Hill” race. As per usual I’d been drafted in to help out with Registration and Results.
Registration is quite an important task as it’s the race organisations equivalent of “front of house staff”. It’s the first person runners have contact with and your always keen to set a good impression by having someone cheery, friendly and keen to help.


Unfortunately we don’t have anyone like that at Dunbar … so I have to do it L

"Naw, naw...pre-entry only pal."
I’m usually set up in one of the smaller rooms in Hallhill. But this year, for reasons that are beyond my ken, they put me in a squash court. A large, sterile, cold, blank, featureless, three sided concrete box with a fourth perspex wall separating me from the rest of humanity. I felt a bit like Hannibal Lecter…
Still. Once the runners started to turn up it wasn’t too bad – in fact the space perhaps worked better than the usual arrangement… Which no doubt means that if we WERE to ask the Hallhill [mis]management  team for the same next time they would no doubt find a reason why we couldn’t get it and send me off to a small changing room or something.

The race went well and some pretty good times were posted. For those who want more details of the actual race please see the reports on Pete Buchannan’s blog and the club website (eyes right for the appropriate links).

Managed a wee 8 miler myself when we got home.

Yesterday was my last “proper” LSD before the mara. I had intended to do 24, but ended up doing just 22 (couldn’t be bothered tagging on an extra 2 I’m afraid).

East District XC Relays this weekend coming. That should stop me from doing any daft last minute LSD at the weekend. After that, it’s just the start of the dreaded taper.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

PARANOIA


Why is it, that in the run up to a mara’ I always feel less prepared than the last time?

You would think that as the number of marathons completed starts to add up that your confidence and readiness improves…. With me, at least, the opposite seems to be the case. I just don’t feel that I’ve done the volume of long un’s prior to this one.
Saturday we see me pretty busy helping out at a race - so Sunday is my last chance for a real bit of heavy duty LSD before York.

My paranoia also affects my health. Especially “Autumn” marathons… I appear to be working in the centre of a plague pit at the moment. Everyone seems to have a cold/sniffle/flu or whatever. I always end up going a bit “later day Howard Hughes” in the build-up to the race. Terrified of infection.

The new manifestation of the “madness” this time round is that I am continually “cleansing” my hands with that alcohol gel stuff. I once read that Paula Radcliffe used to wipe the handles of shopping trolleys with that stuff, before she used them, to try and keep clear of infection before a race – maybe she too has been to Lidl in the Kirkgate. Though, to be honest when you see the clientele in there flu and cold viruses are the least of your worries.

Monday, 30 September 2013

NICE DAY FOR IT

Saturday dawned beautifully. There was hardly a breath of wind and the sun was shining – and, as luck would have it, at this time of year it doesn’t get too hot. Perfect conditions then for the Two Breweries.
Luckily though I wasn’t doing the Two Breweries. Done it once and that’s more than enough thanks all the same.
No. All I had planned for Saturday was a brisk 9 miler prior to going out [Christmas] shopping for the day.

Sunday though saw me a bit more in proper LSD mode and, after a nice breakfast and an episode of Breaking Bad, I tootled off for a long run and a bit of a ponder on how easy would it really be to "cook up" some crystal meth? Don't like my work and I'm currently looking for a career change.

Ran towards Stenton, via Burnhead etc. before heading back via the “Chicken Farm”, Dunbar and the cycle path that goes along by the cement works. Added a wee bit on at Innerwick, as it looked as though the run was going to be far too short. Even allowing for that it still ended up just a fraction under 22. To be honest there were two reasons I added a wee bit on at this point… 1. The run was going to be too short without it…and 2. I was pretty sure that if I’d ran the way I was originally planned I was going to get a telling off from the guys in the police car who’d sat and watched me crossing a dual carriageway with a central reservation barrier. See?? There's me considering a career as a drug pusher and in reality I'm worried about getting a row for crossing the road - it's not going to work for me, is it?

I had hoped that It was going to be closer to 24 and, unlike last week, a large wave of “can’t be arsedness” swept over me towards the end and prevented me from adding a 2 mile loop on at the end. Still, if time allows, I’ll try to get out for one more 22+ type run this weekend coming,  then give a bit of thought to the dreaded taper.

What I will have to give a bit of thought to is the purchase of yet another pair of shoes. Jeeze – I’m lucky to get three months out of a pair just now. I really like the support and cushioning I get from the Saucony Pro Guide 4 – but the uppers are complete crap. I seem to end up with holes in them in no time.  Maybe a bit close to the mara’ though to be trying out new models and styles.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

ANTITHESIS

Few things in life are better than a day off work at [relatively] short notice.
And that happy place is exactly where I find myself today. We're getting some stuff delivered to the house - somebody has to be in - it can't be Anne - and I don't need too much persuasion to keep clear of my work.
Anyway. Thought I'd take advantage of the time - and the nice weather and head out early for about 14 miles.
Decided, yet again, to give the Salomon's a spin and headed off through the Lammermuirs for a bit. Set off at 7 o'clock.
Quite cold when I set off and I was happy with my decision to wear a long sleeved top for the first time in ages.
My run took me down and through a couple of small dips and valleys and it was fascinating to look down and see mist settling in the dips. You feel the sudden "dip" in the temperature as you run down into it and then when you come back out the other side it's amazing to suddenly find yourself in bright warmish sunshine again.
About half way I had to stop for a minute or two as a sheppard on a quad bike was moving a flock of sheep from one field to another. Fairs fair - he is out working while I'm just out playing. It did mean that when I got going again I had a bit of a "hill start" but nothing too onerous.
And, other than the bloke, his dogs and his flock of sheep, I saw no one for the whole time I was out.
Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, absolute peace and quiet - the complete antithesis of work.
For what was really quite a hilly trail run I was happy with the pace and the way I felt.

I shall spend a part of the afternoon making something special for Anne's tea tonight .....so that'll be pasta then!!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

TIRED LEGS ....AND TIRED JOKES.

There's nothing quite focuses the mind on training than receiving your marathon number and associated paraphernalia through the post.
And that's exactly what happened yesterday - our postie brought our numbers and chips etc for the York Marathon (4 weeks today!).
Yesterday's run had already been planned and was a nice 12 miler with my new "favourite" shoes - my Salomon trail shoes. Up over by the wind farms and a loop and a bit of High Wood.
Today? Well... it really did have to be a long run, and I wanted the pace to be "not too slow" (not exactly hammering along either mind).
So, I had a plan - there is a "loop" that  often do that is about 11 mile - if I do the loop twice that would be 22 mile (the distance I was aiming for). Also, and this is the bit I was banking on, because the 11 mile loop is so familiar I generally have a "pace" that I do it in. If I could keep the pace for the two loops, that would fit the bill. Rather than carry anything to drink I was also able to "hide" a bottle of water about half a mile from the house that I was able to have a drink from at the half way point.
Other than the weather being a bit hot and windy the plan pretty much came together.
I was going to be slightly short of my target, so I threw in an extra wee loop at the end. Up the access road for the wind farms towards Weatherly and then back down to our bit.
This had the added advantage of throwing in an extra "tough" bit just at the end when I was starting to flag a bit.
Ended up at 22.5 mile in 2:53. Felt good pretty much all the way round, though my legs are a bit tired now. Three more weekends of that type of run, and then treat myself to one week of taper just before the race (maybe go for 24 next week).
I wish I'd done a Spring marathon this year. By the time I do York it'll be about 19 months since my last one. Long enough for doubts to get in an niggle away at your confidence.

This afternoon we were out foraging. Oh yes - it's that time of year when I get to recycle one of my tired old jokes......
Anne's been in the kitchen this afternoon doing an impersonation of Bob Marley ... she's "jamming".

Whether this batch will prove worthy of any awards at next years flower show will have to be seen. Smells nice though.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

BOOM BIDDY BOOM....


So how disappointing is that?
Got my results back from my ECG results. Apparently it’s normal.
Fekin’ “normal”? “NORMAL”??
65 to 70 miles a week! I was holding out for “exceptional”.
Ah well. Just have to make do I suppose....

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

TRIOS


I can’t remember the last time I got a new album that I’ve listened to so much.
Got the new Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow album “Trios” the other week and I just can’t keep from playing it.
Not only one of the best pianists on the go, Carla is possibly one of the best composers and arrangers that contemporary jazz has.
This is a “re visit” to some of her own favourite and best loved works – most, originally done for big band (or at least larger combo’s), they are here pared down for trio.
My own favourite Bley composition gets a play – “The Girl Who Cried Champagne (parts 1,2,3)” (catchy name eh?) and this version is wonderful. Coming in at about 14 minutes and not a second too long. There is a section in part 2, on the version of the song that appears on the Album “Fleur Carnivore” where Karen Mantler (Carla’s daughter) plays a long, slow harmonica solo … it’s one of the most atmospheric and haunting bits of music I know of.
On this version Mantler’s solo is replaced by a solo by Swallow on electric bass – and jeeze it still works.
At 77 it could be thought that Carla is starting to “reflect back” on her past works – and that might be so. But I really hope she has a lot of years’ work left yet – I prefer to see this as an exercise in simply taking stock of what’s been done and perhaps making the odd wee tweak here and there.
I’ve always been a fan of Andy Sheppard and sometimes get a bit “frustrated” that he doesn’t bring out too much material of his own (though when he does it’s generally excellent). He seems to have become a sort of “serial collaborator” these last few years and rather than his own albums he’s to be found working with others. The more he works with Carla Bley the better….her work seems to bring out the best in him.

Doubt I’ll get the chance, but I would love to see this trio live.

Monday, 16 September 2013

STIRLING


Well. When we woke up yesterday, it was to strong winds and heavy rain – as predicted.
Though, to be honest, the weather wasn’t quite as bad as the apocalyptic conditions that the BBC had been gleefully forecasting the day before. I think ever since Mr Fish famously dismissed the impending “hurricane” of 1987 the BBC have been want to be over cautious.
Anyway. It wasn’t ideal 10k conditions. But that was tough, because that’s exactly what we had in store. The Stirling 10k to be precise.
Got through in good time and picked up our numbers and chips.
Met up with Nick and went into the nearby Sports Centre to pin my number to my vest and fix my chip to my shoe. Then we headed off into the storm for a bit of a warm up.
Met up with Theresa and Brian as well. To discover that Brian had developed an Autumnal Lurgy and had made the decision not to run (always a tough decision to make, but probably the right one).
After our warm up we got to the start pretty much just in time. There’s never really any preamble or announcements with this race – just “bang” and your off. Never managed to get as close to the front of the start as I would have liked though.
The first couple of kilometres are pretty uninspiring as you seem to dodge round roundabouts and do a sort of circuit of a rather non-descript industrial estate. As my start hadn’t been ideal I got a bit boxed in and I seemed to spend a lot of time here trying to get past people and get up towards the front a bit.
Soon thinned out a bit though and I seemed to find my pace and just settled into it.
I’m sure one or two people passed me, but it seemed to be the sort of race where I was picking people off most of the way.
Out over a wee pedestrian bridge, a bit of a “country” lane, a “u-turn” round a traffic cone and we were heading back.
All the while the rain seemed to have either let up quite a  bit, and the wind didn’t seem to be bothering me too much. Till about the 8k mark, when the road starts a slight climb and the route heads back into the industrial estate. I did feel my pace start to slow a wee bit there, but I just tried to keep my head down and get on with the job in hand.
Happy enough with my time (36:23). Given that the conditions were much better last year, I’ve also got to be happy that I was about 20 seconds faster this year.
Nick wasn’t too far behind me, so we hung about to watch the others come in. We were joined by Brian who had enough time after the start of the race to grab a coffee before the runners started coming back in (an eminently sensible thing to do in those conditions).

Anne had a good run – OR SO SHE SAYS – Her timing chip “fell off” during the race so her time will not appear in the official results. She claims that Nick, Theresa and Sheila all saw here out on the route. All I will say is…….I never. But then again because of the rain I was running without my specs J
Strangely enough, Nick – who I did see – hasn’t turned up on the results either.

 

My next three or so weekends are going to be dedicated to long un’s now before the main show in October – the York Marathon.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

TAG


Who is daft enough, in Scotland, in September, to host a barbeque at half past seven at night?
Welcome to Dunbar Running Club!!
Last night was out turn to host the last race of the 2014 2103 Summer Series. A 5k run round John Muir Country park followed by a BBQ in the “picnic area” later on.
The race itself seemed to go well. The route was a pretty straightforward double loop of a 2.5k circuit round the park.
Given that I was pushed for time to set out the course, the markings this year, rather than the traditional big arrows on poles, were a series of arrows spray painted onto the ground – NOTE: water based temporary road marking paint was used!! Got a few less than friendly scowls from some of the local dog walkers as I jogged round with my tin of bright yellow road marking paint spraying big arrows. What is more bio degradable? Water based paint or dog shit? And more importantly – which is least offensive?
Sadly none of the runners noticed my “tag” – a couple of big yellow smiley faces were sprayed along the route as well. Though to be fair it would be fairly difficult to associate a smiley with yours truly.
Finished marking the route out in just enough time to collect my stopwatch, whistle and clipboard and get the race started at 7:00.
From a timekeepers point of view a two loop race is quite nice – you get to watch everyone go by twice. Makes the time between the start and the finish go in so much quicker.

 
Luckily, Frank had turned up early and already had the barbeques smouldering away by the time we got down.  A small bonfire in the centre of the area not only provided a wee bit of warmth from the evening chill, but it also cast enough light (just about) for a late evening gathering. And, as luck would have it, the rain that had troubled us early on in the day was replaced by a nice dry warm evening.

The series has been pretty good this year after being “re-booted” [as I believe young trendy media types are want to say] by Sandy Wallace. The old idea of handicap races being replaced by straight ahead races that are then gender and age graded.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

NO SWEAT


Strange few days.

Saturday’s run was another “trail” run up and round the windfarms at the back of the cottage. Second chance I’ve had to wear my new Salomon trail shoes and, now that I know where to “tuck” the flappy lace bits, I’m mightily impressed with them.

Sunday was to be a bit of a 20 miler with Ian R. So I got out the bike for the first time in months to cycle down to his house to meet up and start.
The run itself was quite good. A wee bit more off road than I would have done on my own – but all good training. While I generally like training on my own it is nice every now and then to get out for a longer run with a training partner for a bit of a blether. Being in company also encourages you to try and keep the pace up a bit when you might normally slow down a bit.
So the run was fine. But the cycle home? Oh dear the niggle in my left knee played up a bit. Quite sore. Luckily it had settled down by Monday.

Monday was a bit of a strange day too. I had to go to the Roodlands Hospital to get “fitted” with an ECG machine for 24 hours. I’ve had a couple of occasions in the past few months when my HR has “spiked” quite alarmingly (220) – and it’s NOT my HRM playing up – taking my pulse confirms the rapid fluttering. However, it soon plummets back to normal and I can get going again. Anyway. I had assumed that this was related to, or symptomatic, of my “issues related to a failure to keep calm”. But apparently no…the doctor thought this was "separate to" rather than "related to" those issues (reassuringly though; my feelings of hatred, loathing and contempt for Civil Servants are, according to my physician, perfectly healthy and normal).
Anyway. Got wired up with the ECG and was told to “go out and have a normal day” and that included “have a run”. Good show. But I was then told – “oh, but don’t get the machine wet – so no showering. And try not to get too sweaty..”
So… Go a run, but don’t have a shower afterwards, and don’t get sweaty. Not an entirely satisfactory mix that.
Monday’s run was therefore a steady 6.5 miles round about Innerwick with heavy grey wires dangling from below my tee-shirt (the box of “gubbins” itself was put in a  bum bag), all the while attempting to will my pores to remain closed. Needless to say the pores didn’t obey orders and issued forth sweat, meaning that a bizarre sort of stand-up sponge bath had to be taken after the run.

The box was removed yesterday and returned to the hospital. All I have to do now is await the results.
However, it did mean that I was completely unencumbered for last night’s club run. No more dangly wires.
Last night’s run…when we were joined for a nine and a half mile route by Andrew Crichton. Andrew was “taking it easy” which by my standards roughly equates to “eyeballs out” pace.
A very good pace and, regardless of what the doctors come back and say, if I can keep up with him there can’t be that much wrong with me …………………. I hope.