Wednesday, 30 January 2013

SAGE WORDS

Last night's club run was a very wet and windy affair.
Didn't help that I turned up at the club "pre-soaked" and covered in mud, as I'd cycled three mile down the road to Ian's before the club - in my running gear.
By the time we were just setting off for the Tuesday night run, I already looked as though I'd run a particularly muddy XC.
Anyhow. Prior to setting off I had made an announcement in the changing room. It was too wet to run with glasses - within a few yards they'd be covered in water and useless. No I was going to go "sans specs". I'll be fine.
This was met by sage words along the lines of "you know what your like - you'll only go and fall". Sage words that I pooh-poohed.

Outcome? Yes you guessed it - I only went and fell. Jesus-H-Christ. Twice in just less than a week (same knee too). I know that route like the back of my hand, so I'm utterly convinced that that bit of pavement is new!
Fair bit of blood and quite a lot of road rash. Tried to bluff it and make out it wasn't too bad - feckin' agony in the shower though.


Sunday, 27 January 2013

BEST LAID PLANS

Friday started with a plan. I was going to go to work EARLY, go a wee run, get back to the office, shower, then start the day. Because of the crappy weather, I'd had a fairly low mileage week and was keen to make up the difference (Friday normaly being a rest  day for me).
So we set off a few minutes after six am - me kitted out in running gear.
My. What a brilliant plan..... Well, it would have been if I hadn't spent about an hour and a half trying to dig the car out of various drifts.
Lycra and Gortex is all good and well when your running. But I do NOT recomend it for digging in blizzard conditions.
By the time we managed to get back home I was in agony with the cold.
Luckily a plough came along later - so we did get to work.

Yeserday, the thaw had set it, but the roads were slippery with ice and slush.

Today, I managed 15 miles and the only real danger was trench foot from all the water running down the road. A very rapid thaw indeed.

Best part of Friday? Home made pasta - Ravioli stuffed with Veggie Haggis, in a creamy whisky sauce. Burns Night - sort of.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

IN THE CITY


Got a new CD the other day. Gilad Atzmon "Songs of the Metropolis".

Bit of a “concept album”. The idea being that every place has it’s own “sound identity” and these 9 songs (mostly ballads) are Atzmon’s interpretation of the sound.

With the exception of one song called “Somewhere In Italy” all are easily identified – Tel Aviv, Moscow, Paris etc.

The only UK location is “Scarborough” which is pretty much a riff on Scarborough Fair”. Though why he chose Scarborough  is anyones guess.

I’m impressed that most are ballads as there is a nice slow, melancholic feel to them – I’ve always seen cities as places to get lost in a crowd. “Isolation on a grand scale” if you will. A feeling of alienation.

I really like this album – except – “Berlin”. It’s only two minutes long, but to me it’s a cheap Kurt Weill-esque, Bierkeller sing-along. All other 8 songs are fairly contemplative and original (albeit, as I said Scarborough is built on a theme). This one is just clich├ęd and grates.

But…two minutes out of an hour of great music? Just delete it from your mp3 player I guess. You can either walk about and listen to the authentic city "sound identity" or you could listen to this. I know what I'll go for.

THAW

Well. At least the thaw is starting.
All the snow came off the roof this morning…… at the one time.
Took our guttering and external light with it… :-(
Oh joy.
With all the work going on in the cludgie, and all the associated “gubbins” currently scattered about the cottage, I’m starting to feel like my house is being slowly dismantled round about me.


Made up for it by going for a bit of a longer run this a.m. at “daft o’clock” again. Managed to stay upright for the entire run, so at least that’s a bit of progress.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

I DO NOT THINK YOU WANTED TO DO THAT...

Out for my run this morning at the crack of "daft o'clock".
Hi-viz bib over the jacket, head torch firmly attached to the old noggin and off I tootled.
Decided that a moderate 9 miles would be today's task (bit of a tough session last night at the club).
The great thing about going out early doors is that the normally quiet roads round here are positively deserted.
Normally I can go out very early and not meet a soul.

So why, the very morning that I take a left turn a bit too sharply on an icey road and end up clattering down on my side and knocking my knee, is it that old club stalwart John Landels just happens to be driving out of the same turn? Ended up flat out on the deck about two feet away from his car!

Honestly, when you make an arse of yourself the last thing you want is an audience. And the very last thing you want is an audience of fellow runners.

Luckily there was no real damage - just a bit of bruising and road rash (oh. and a hole in my [previously "good"] running longs). Just bounced back onto my feet and headed off again. Think the mixture of shame and andrenolin kept me going.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

[NOT A] STRANGE PLACE FOR SNOW

An unexpected "working from home day" today.
Courtesy of the weather! Snow to be exact.
It's a strange thing. Dunbar can be clear. The A1 can be clear. Even Innerwick can be clear. But rise above sea level just that little bit extra towards Woodhall and, suddenly, your in winter-bloody-wonderland.

Dug the car out this morning at 6 o'clock and we attempted to get onto the A1.
Only made it about a quarter of a mile down the road before Anne was forced to abandon the attempt.
The high winds overnight had blown soft snow off the fields onto the road and the road was covered in fairly impressive drifts.
Went home and emailed work to say I couldn't make it.

Very understanding about it. So I've taken about a hundred and forty more pictures; all from different angles that I intend to email in every day between now and July. "Oh yes, the snow's really bad up here."

Sunday, 20 January 2013

SNOW

Thoroughly enjoyed today's run.
Winter is here - big time.
The snow, in some parts, is as high as my knees and the temperature is as low as a civil servant's IQ.
I decided to don grippy trail shoes and went up the back and round some of the access roads in the wind farms.
Ended up doing just under ten miles. Pace was very sedate, but that belied the effort that was put into the run. When you are running for that distance through predominantly soft, deep(ish) snow it does get a bit tough.
At one point I was passed by a tractor. I think the farmer was up with feed for the sheep. I decided to try and follow along in the ruts that he had created. However, it was probably harder running on this compact, uneven rut, so I ended up just plodding on through the snow.
The windmills looked quite impressive against the dark, leaden sky and as I looked at the blades I was amazed to see that each one had a thin white line along its length where the snow had been driven into it. I briefly thought someone had been up with paint and put "go faster stripes" along them.
The wind seemed to be picking up as well, and in one or two spots the snow had drifted across the road to about knee height.

Picked up a bit of a cold last week and, as these things do, its taken up residence in my chest. So today's run was sponsored by benylin, Ibuprofen and Beechams Blackcurrant flu drink. Lance would be proud of me.

It's ideal weather for sitting watching telly. We are happily ploughing our way through a DVD box set of series 1 of the killing at the moment.
I try not to watch too much telly and I often end up way behind what's currently popular. I'd heard so much about this that I was really pissed off that I'd missed it. So when I saw the box set for £2.99 just before Christmas I had to get it (one of Leith's payday loan/pawn shops/semi-legit "fences" ). Great stuff.
Another two series after this one - but I'll hold off till I get them at a bargain price as well (assuming there's anywhere left on "High Street UK" to actually BUY any DVDs!!).

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

BATH - SINK - CLUDGIE

A strange week (so far).
We've got builders in "doing" our bathroom. Or that was the plan.
The first day was spent in demolition mode as tiles were ripped off, the wash hand basin (or, if your common, like me, "sink") was taken away and my bath was hauled away. Thankfully, the cludgie has been left till the last minute.
Yes, tired of the old "bath-sink-cludgie" combo that "dates" so many bathrooms we've opted for a new ...err..."bath-sink-cludgie" combo. So - it'll all be worth it in the end (or so Anne tells me).
And then the problems started .... The removal of the bath revealed water. Lots and lots and lots of water - all sploshing about under the floorboards. Big puddles of it resting on the concrete floor.
Now. I'm not a technical type, but even I was will to hazard a guess that it shouldn't be there.
At first the fitting for the overflow on the bath was blamed and we thought that water from the overflow had simply gone down the back and was pooling.
So, he dried up the water....and it came back.
The there were two options. "A" a pipe is damaged ...or "B" your foundations/concrete floor are damaged and water is getting in from an external source (have I mentioned the pond at the side of the house?)

Luckily after two pretty sleepless nights, loads of worrying, a few lifted floor boards and the draining of tanks etc it looks as though it's "A". Thank feck, as the cost of repairing "B" is pretty much the equivalent of "knocking the house down and building it somewhere else". The theory is that at some point a nail has gone through a pipe. While not ideal, obviously, sometimes this can have no effect at all...until you move the pipe (What? Like shift the bath that the pipe is attached too?).

Today saw the first signs of stuff going IN to the "new" bathroom rather than stuff simply coming out of the old one.

Anyway. Because we have someone in working I've been going my runs at "daft-o'clock" to make sure I'm in and around when they are.
Monday's run was a pretty quick 9 miles (well, as quick as I want to go early doors with a head torch on).
Yesterday's run was fantastic. 6:10am in the snow. A bout half an inch of lovely, fresh, powdery snow. Not too much to make you feel like your wading through sand, but just enough to give you a really nice grip. Also running in snow with a head torch on is great - everything really comes to life.
Last night, though, when we were out with the club, what snow that was left had been pretty compacted and then frozen. The run was pretty slippy in a few places and care had to be taken.
So today I headed up into the hills. Up round by the wind farms. Wonderful up there, the snow was a few inches deep and made for an enjoyable run. Just a shame I couldn't have a bath or shower at the end of it :-(

Sunday, 13 January 2013

PAXTON

Off to Paxton today for the fourth leg of the Borders XC series (my third).
I was wary about this race. Not because of the terrain or the route, but because the previous day (and this morning) my stomach had been decidedly "iffy". I'm not a medical man and don't know how best to describe symptoms - but despite eating solids the contents of my stomach all had a decidedly "soupy" outcome. Not nice.
I was concerned that perhaps my system had been embraced by the deadly norovirus. However, it would appear that it hasn't been fully embraced - perhaps it's just had a little "cuddle"!
Went for a little warm up and felt fine, so I decided that the race would probably be OK. I did however "take precautions" and had a wad of tissue paper under my hat - just in case I had to shoot away off course! Luckily it wasn't needed.

The run was thoroughly enjoyable and had everything you could want from a cross country. Especially if you wanted mud. There was lots and lots of mud. Shin deep, claggy, globby, squishy mud.
Felt I had a good(ish) run and my position was pretty much what it's been in every other leg of the series.

A good turnout again today from Dunbar and everyone seemed to do well.

I'm off work for a week! Hurrah! I enjoyed my Christmas/New Year break that much that I've decided to have it all over again!
No...that's a lie. In reality, we're getting a new bathroom fitted, I've got leave left, so I'm off to let them in/make tea etc. I hope the guys who are coming to do the work like jazz .... it's going to be a bloody long for week for them if they don't.
I shall however, take the opportunity to try and get a couple of long training runs in (they can put radio 1 or whatever on when I'm out).

Feel like I'm starting to get a few races lined up to train for now; albeit a bit in the future. I'm signed up for a 15k trail race in February, intend to do a 50k in March, will probably do the Lasswade 10 .... and we are already signed up for a marathon. The Plusnet York marathon - in October. Jeeze 10 months away. But glad I did sign us up as it sold out in three days.

So. Loads of time to start the training, but I think I might make an early start on the carbo loading .
Saw this in Knowes Farm Shop yesterday and I couldn't let it go.
Now that's the only sort of January Sales that I care about (come to think about it, my diet might explain the stomach symptoms).

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

HELLO DUCKY

Decided that I would run round the wind farms today.
Been a while since I've been up that way. Most of my runs lately have been over by Innerwick way.
It's a bit of a horrible start this run. Basically within about 10 meters from the house your into a pretty steep climb.
I really don't mind hitting hills once I'm a bit into a run, but I'm not too happy about starting runs on them (maybe if I'm warmed up I'm OK). My last three runs have all been a bit quick though, and I deliberatly wanted something today that would keep the pace down.
Anyway. The hill levels out after about a quarter of a mile and you run along a nice wee road with a wooded area on one side and a flat field on the other.
For a few years now there has been a "puddle" in the flat field. But its got bigger and bigger and has been a permanent feature now for about four years (cant remember the last time it fully dried up).
So. When does a "puddle" become a "pond"? Is there some sort of definition based on depth, or area?
I don't know. But I, personally, think this now qualifies as a "pond".
So. There I was running back from my 9 mile circuit round the wind farms when I noticed this little character.....
Who put that there? Pretty hard to tell from the photo, but it's about the size of a football.
Cracking! Made me laugh anyway.
And I don't run with a camera. But on this occasion I had to go back to the house, grab my camera and jog back.
Wonder how long it will be there? I don't know how you tell the gender of a duck (rubber or otherwise) - but I'm calling her Amy.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

ALL GOOD THINGS.....

Back to the daily grind tomorrow (for a wee while at least). Bollocks.
Been trying to keep the old brain in "holiday mode" as long as possible, but these last couple of days I must admit that thoughts of my return to the "Arsehole Factory"* have been seeping back into my consciousness.

Anyhoo. Decided to go for a 14 mile run today. And very nice it was too. Over by Spott and Pitcox again.
Passed by quite a few "MAMILs" as I believe they are called (Middle Aged Men In Lycra). Sir B Wiggins has a lot to answer for.
I don't understand today's cyclists. There appears to be some "movement" away from bright, reflective, "safe" clothing, towards black. Got passed by a mini peleton today, and I don't know if they were cyclists or ninjas on their way to their next assassination - black leggings, black jackets, black helmets and in a few cases black glasses . When I was a regular cyclist it used to be the thing to wear lurid gear - the brighter the better. I remember going out on my bike in tops and leggings that, quite frankly, would have made Timmy Mallet puke! Orange leggings, a nice lurid blue, yellow and pink "Team Z" jersey and a nice pink safety helmet (and if it rained I always had a lovely lime green jacket scrunched up and tucked under my saddle).... mind you, all that didn't stop me getting hit by a car once. I remember still the drivers initial cries of "I never saw you!" as being a bit unlikely (b.t.w. he was coming out of a junction and I had right of way).
Take it from me; being told you look a twat may hurt your pride - being hit by a car simply hurts!!
A man for who the word "Twat" was created.
You would never tire of punching that face.
One rest day in the last 16 days and an average of about 11 miles a day. All in all it's been a fairly high mileage holiday. The mild, but annoyingly windy, weather has probably helped. Can't help feeling though that its going to get colder before long.

* The Scottish Civil Service - churning out high maintenance/low quality arseholes at the taxpayers expense since God-knows-when.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

PROMATHON

I could get used to this lifestyle; morning training runs, followed by prolonged periods of...well not a lot to be honest. Or to be more precise prolonged periods of not a lot - with Quality Street thrown in!

Did the Black Bun Run on Monday night. Slightly over 1.5 miles of eyeballs-out effort from the Masons Arms in Dunbar to West Barns and back.
Ended up trailing in behind Grant, and 1 second down on my time of the last two years!

Tuesday morning saw us away to Portobello for the traditional New Years Day "Promathon" - a four mile dash "there and back" along the sea front.
Always a big crowd for this race. Slightly down on last year, but still a good turnout. The "new" registration venue (the indoor bowling club) was a nice feature this year and it offered a comfortable warm shelter to meet up with others before the run.
As for the race? Well, again my descriptive powers are going to let me down. I honestly don't pay a lot of attention to whats going on around me while I'm racing. It's always just a case of "heads down and get on with the job at hand". Especially shorter distances like this. At least with halfs and mara's you can get into a rhythm and something getting close to a "comfortable" pace.
Photo by Bob Marshall. Many more HERE

By the end of a race like this your lungs ache, your heart should be pounding like Gene Krupas bass drum, your mouth has that horrible "metallic" taste in it, and if your like me you probably can hardly hear a thing because the increase in blood pressure has set off your tinnitus. Yes indeed - "running" we only do it for fun!

I knew when I saw my time (23:04) that I was down on last year. Strange thing though, my position was slightly "better" (22nd rather than 29th last year). Don't know whether to be happy or not. But knowing me, I think I'll settle for "not". Did too few interval sessions in 2012 and it's showing!!



In years gone by I would have been "up the toon" twixt Christmas and New Year fulfilling my obligation as one of the demographic group known as "50 quid bloke". That band of happy middle aged souls who prop up the music industry by, as the name suggests, spending upwards of £50 in one visit.
Don't do that anymore. I think it all dates back to one year when a visit to a "vodka bar" got a bit "over exuberant". And, while I do like him, that years purchase of about £50 worth of Thelonious Monk records didn't really sit well with the resulting two day hangover. Trust me. If you want to "get into" the music of Monk - don't try it with a hangover! Or if you want to shop for jazz and drink - shop first!!
Anyway, this year "£50 bloke" has been surfing the interweb. Managed to grab a right mixed bag so far this year (and I'm not finished yet). Best so far? "Red Rodney Returns" -  a session from 1959 by the bebop trumpet legend. The "returns" probably refers to a short absence from the scene while he was serving time for drugs misdemeanors. Other than his early stuff with Bird all my Red Rodney stuff until now has been from his later years (1980's onward) so it's nice to get something like this.
I've also picked up a few albums by Nat Burchill. A sax player from Manchester - heard him first on Mathew Halsall's albums. Really laid back Coltrane/Sanders type of sound. Nice.