Sunday, 28 April 2013


Off to Perth today for the Heaven and Hell half marathon.
Yesterday was a beautiful day - ideal running conditions, but then - as seems to be the way of things these few weeks past - the weather took a bit of a turn for the worst during the night.
So this morning we got up to dark clouds and a wind that could be said to be "brisk" at the very least.
Even those feckin' useless roadside signs were warning drivers "caution high winds" - a startlingly expensive way to declare the bleedin obvious. I've been of the belief for some time now that a few strategically placed flags or windsocks would serve the same purpose at a fraction of the cost.

Anyway.. Got up to Scone Airport where they actually DO have a windsock and it too confirmed the bleeding obvious - only in a cheaper and much more attractive way.

Collected our numbers and had a bit of a chat with some other runners. Julie Oswald of HELP and Wull Hynd of Moorfoot were there. Me and Wull spent a wee while exchanging details of injuries and niggles.

Me and Anne left the registration area in plenty time and went for a bit of a warm up along towards the start and continued for part of the course before doing a U turn and getting back to the start line in time to get ready.

A few words from the starter...a quick 3-2-1 and we were off.
And once more I found myself in the unfamiliar position of "right up there" following the lead cyclist. I didn't dare look round, but I knew for the first couple of miles I had Mr Hynd and another bloke not far from my shoulder.
The first part of the race was fairly quick, with the wind behind us. In fact the first hill didn't really bother me too much.
Because I was in front I actually found myself coming down the hills a bit quicker today than I'm usually comfortable with.
At about the 7 mile or so you turn to start the second "big" hill. Jeeze - the wind hit you right in the face as soon as you turned. In fact there was a stiff head wind for the remaining 5 miles or so.
Managed a wee look behind me on one of the hairpin bends going up the hill and I was quite surprised/pleased to note that there was a bit of a gap between me and the next runner.
The top of the hill is also the last water station. I didn't bother with a bottle as all I wanted to do was keep on going. I was terrified of even losing time drinking.
The last long straight two miles or so is hell. A couple of times I looked back and thought I saw the guy behind me closing the gap - turns out it was just cyclists following the race!
Crossed the line in 1:23:22 (by my watch). Only a little quicker than my last go at this race - but given the conditions I was more than happy (delighted in fact, given I'd won). Possibly the slowest "winning time" they've had, but I care not a jot.

I'm placing my recent good fortune squarely at the door of my "luck cat's eye, road stud". Christ... even when I don't have any injuries I might keep rubbing it on my legs!!

Quite a good result for East Lothian in fact. Julie was first lady and Anne got first in her category.
In fact Anne "won" twice, as she will get to drink the bottle of wine that came as part of my prize.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


My iffy knee is definitely (well….maybe) on the mend.

Vigorous and frequent massage of the ITB and quadriceps with Anne’s obscene roller and my cat’s eye road stud appears to be paying dividends. Coupled with slatherings of Poundland "cooling" white Tiger Balm

Still get a little bit of pain if I go upstairs two at a time (as I usually do), so I’m limiting myself to one at a time.
Worryingly though, I get a sharp pain if I kneel down and try to get up too quickly. Solution? Correct – don’t kneel down and get up quickly J

I’m sure the really clever thing to do would be to continue with the massage – but rest for a week or two.

But, like just about every other runner, when did "clever" have anything to do with it?
If I don’t get out running I lose my happy-go-lucky, carefree, jovial outlook on life. Couldn’t have that. I also need to keep running to negate the harm done by my current fixation with boiled sweeties (what genius first thought of blending blackcurrant and liquorice??). I've also developed a bit of a liking for Lidl's bakery, giant cookies.
However. If I was looking for a reason to be happy I need look no further, today, than Googles homepage. Today is the 96th anniversary of the birth of the finest singer EVER.....

Sunday, 21 April 2013


A beautiful morning yesterday. You could almost have been forgiven for thinking it was Spring.
As luck would have it we were off to Musselburgh to look at/discuss/order new fitted wardrobes for the bedroom ... It's all part of Anne's ongoing campaign of gentrification, to upgrade our place from "howf" to "cottage", a process I fear will ultimately end with the removal of the scruffiest thing in the house (me).
Anyhoo. Given we were going out, I went for an 11 mile run early on. Really enjoyed it. Pace was fairly brisk.

Today was to be a long-un, and by the time I got home the Garmin was just off the 18mile mark.
I'd decided I was going to go up and over the wind farms, through towards Bothwell Farm, down onto the Duns - Gifford Road then back up and over the hills via Harehead.
Decided to do this as I thought some of the hills I'd end up running were pretty similiar to the those of the "Heaven and Hell" half marathon - which I'm wanting to do next week.
Unlike yesterday though, this morning's weather was back to it's 2013 default setting of "shite". Wind and rain battering into me head on for about the first six miles or so. I even passed some snow still clinging to the hills in a couple of places.
If it wasn't for the odd, sparse clump of Daff's when you pass a cottage or two you'd be hard pressed to know it was Spring at all.

Got back from my run and managed to catch a wee bit of the London Mara' on the telly. Glad to see they had good weather for it. Usual BBC coverage (they never let you down) - as soon as the elite runners are finished it's straight back to the end of the bunch and the people dressed as hippos and what not's. I'm not saying they don't deserve air-time (they do), but why couldn't we get a bit more of the club runners coming in?
And as for Mo Farah running half the race "to get the feel of it" - not sure about that.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


……    soaring proudly and majestically through the clear blue skies. Finally released from this earthly bond, upwards and upwards yet, it flew, free from care. Before gravity’s inevitable cruel grip clenched it back from its bid for freedom, and spinning wildly it crashed back to ground….. somewhere inside Seafield sewage works! L

My favourite [loose fitting] Adidas running cap. Bollocks.

Ah well, at least I have an idea what to buy with my prize voucher from Saturday now.

Monday, 15 April 2013


On Saturday we decided to go along and have a go at the Pencaitland 10k.

A very low key affair – organised as a fun run by the local PTA, or some such, to help raise funds.

This was the third time we’ve been and I enjoy the route and the friendly feel of it.

As it was Saturday turned out to be the best day (weather-wise) that we’ve had so far this year. Beautiful conditions.

Turnout was bit down this year, but there were still a few people milling about the start and we had a bit of a natter with Steve and Jamie from Musselburgh before heading off for a wee warm up.

Again I decided to give the “zumba” warm-up a miss and just went for a last minute pit-stop.

As for the race? Well a bit of a novelty for me – I found myself in the lead from start to finish ! J

Never meant for it to happen – it just did. Maybe my surprising “victory” is the result of massaging my leg with my “lucky” cats-eye. Perhaps I should keep it with me and have a go before all my races.

The course was really good this year. Same as last, but the cooncil (or somebody else) has been clearing the paths and flattening parts of them. And, despite the crappy winter, there was only really one small muddy section.

The route is probably about 90% on foot paths with only a couple of road crossings, and at each of those I was lucky that there were no cars coming along.


Sunday – and thankfully it was a return to normal service with the weather. Went out for a bit of LSD in the morning. Only to get drenched in the rain and hammered by the wind… but at least it was warm(ish). Maybe Spring is on its way.

Friday, 12 April 2013


Back to "proper" interval training last night. First time we've been able to use the track this year.
One mile warm up then 4 x 800m followed by 4 x 400m.
When I'm doing intervals on the track I always find the first 200m or so "easy". I feel quite fresh. My legs feel good, my lungs are not too bad and my heart rate is "manageable". I always think to myself..."if only I can get round the full 800m like this - it'll be great".
But then every time, without fail, I get to about 200m and the hurt just starts to pile up.
Enjoyed it though and the knee didn't give me any bother.

Keeping up the DIY massage though - even at work.
Obviously you wouldn't want to sit - or stand - about your office and massage your IT band with an obscene looking wooden "roller".
God no - that would be stupid.
So much better to use this.....

.... It's a road stud. A "cat's eye" if you prefer. Just like an old fashioned heavy glass paperweight.
Brilliant. Just the job.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


I have been bothered these past few weeks with a sore knee.
Or, to be exact, the bit just directly above the knee ... at the front. Especially if I bend down, or kneel down ... its quite painful when I stand up again. It wasn't exactly painful but I was also "aware" of it when going up stairs.
No bother when I'm running...that's tickety boo.
But, like most people who run, any pain - in any part of the leg - even when not actually running, is probably caused, in some way, by the running.
Did a bit of a search on the web and read loads of stuff about "patellofemoral pain". Now, for those who don't know, "patellofemoral pain" is a very complex term that can best be described as simply a way for GP's to define "oh - you've got a bit of a sore knee", in a way that sound knowledgeable and without us coming out of the surgery muttering away about "six years at medical school just to tell me that"?

So... I garnered all my knowledge about legs and muscles and tendons and stuff and figured out that most of the "fibrous bits" that connect at the top of the knee at some point link into the big "IT band" that goes down the outside of your thigh (see? who needs medical training).

I also know that you can (a) Pay a masseur/sadist/witch-doctor to "work on" your IT Band or (b) get a roller and do it yourself.

As (a) usually costs about the same as a couple of CDs and always ends with the statement "can you come back next week to part with more of your cash" I wasn't keen. It had to be (b) - But I don't have a roller.

So.... This obscene looking contraption (belonging to Anne !!) has been lurking about the house for some time now. It's some form of massage roller (so I'm told anyway). Decided to throw caution (and indeed dignity) to the wind and started using it a couple of days ago.
By Jove! It's working! Stand there giving the old IT band a good roll for ten minutes of so (from hip to knee) as well as the muscles in the front of the thigh.

Trying to do some stretches as well.

Monday, 8 April 2013


"Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead"

Oh happy, happy day!!!

Sunday, 7 April 2013


Busy day yesterday. Twas the club's annual 10k race. So it was a bit of an early start to get ready, go down and help with registration... then try to get the results done.
All in all it appeared to pass off well (even if they did run it the wrong way round - at least it was still 10k!). Importantly, for the runners, the weather and conditions were ideal. Beautiful blue sky, not too cold and hardly any wind - not had many days like that so far this year.
The weather, I think, helped push up the entries a bit and we had a pretty good turn-out of two hundred and seventy odd.
For the first time, too, we had a "family fun run" for kids of all ages (3 - 65). They got special "biscuit medals" - an idea I would like to see adopted in most races!
Once I got home and got the provisional results published I managed to get out for a wee 10k or so of my own.

Then today? Well, weather wise at least.... "normal service has been resumed". It's grim, dank, cold and grey. Even got snowed on at one point during my run today.

I enjoyed my run this morning though and felt quite good for all of it. Which may, or may not, be because of my breakfast. At the weekend's I like two mugs of coffee with my breakfast (decedent or what?). I also take my coffee fairly strong.
This morning, though, when I went through to make my second mug I couldn't find my usual instant stuff (the spare jar wasn't where it should have been). However, we have a jar of "instant" espresso powder (I can hear coffee purists groaning at the very thought). "That'll have to do" I thought.
So .... if an espresso is small and you need one spoon, and a mug is BIG, how much to use? Thought I'd err on the side of caution and bunged in five spoons.

Jeeze. Flew round my run today. At one point I looked at my heart rate on my watch and wondered if the sensor was in fact on my chest - or if I'd left it home near my hi-fi ...with some Art Blakey records pounding out! Didn't really feel like I was pushing it too hard today, but still went round six minutes quicker than the last time I did that route.

Strangely enough, I'm waiting on my friendly postman delivering my new acquisition - a 10cd box set of 19 Art Blakey albums. My recent flirtation with my Hank Mobley box set has given me a real taste for some classic Blue Note sounds again.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


Ended up doing my interval session on Thursday without my shorts on (Oooh-err missus).

Sadly I had left my trusty shorts in the office, to "air", on Thursday – draped over a PC to get full advantage of the warm air from the fan.

I saw a bit on the telly at the weekend. That bloke Paul Hollywood was talking about his dad, who would place "bun essence" near his baker shop's extractor fan – the smell of buns wafting from the shop would entice in customers. Based on the same principle, I often wonder if the smell that emanates from my PC will entice others to sporting endeavour. Can't say I've seen any evidence yet (it does however, bestow upon me a little more "private space" than is usual in an open plan office).


Anyway. I'd left the shorts on my PC…over a four day holiday. As luck would have it no one had stolen them. Sadly they had failed to combust and the office hadn't burned down. Pitty.


Not the first time this has happened. Think maybe I should leave an "emergency" set of kit in the car.

Monday, 1 April 2013


.....of a white Easter.
OK it's not exactly Arctic conditions. But we have had at least a snow flurry every feckin' day of this holiday.
After a leisurely "holiday-paced" breakfast this morning I went out for a ten mile run.
Decided to go up by the Crystal Rigg wind farms. The works access roads were all fairly clear, but it did feel a bit weird running along the roads with large "banks" of snow and ice either side of the road - where they had been ploughed.
Gave the impression that you were running along a sort of bobsleigh track.

Managed about 37 miles over three days, so..... not bad. Now that the clocks have gone forward I'm going to try and throw a long run on a Wednesday night into the mix. Quite enjoy getting out straight after work. The alternative is sitting watching telly - and that's a frickin' joyless task these days. Thought I'd give that series "The Village" a try last night.... god alone knows the BBC have been bangin' on about for weeks..... That's an hour of my life wasted.

My consumption of "seasonal" bakes has gone from bad to worse. On Saturday it was Christmas cake. Today? Why. Mincemeat Pies - what else? The weather is Christmassy - so why not my diet?