Monday, 30 September 2013


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


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 that'll be pasta then!!

Sunday, 22 September 2013


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Thursday, 5 September 2013


My weekly mileage is looking fairly good at the moment.
On track for about 70 this week.
I am missing my “daft o’clock” runs a wee bit – but then again I am quite enjoying going for a run later in the day. And it does seem to “unwind” me a bit – no bad thing.

Last night Anne had one of her massage appointments in Haddington. So I thought I’d take the opportunity of getting out of the car at Haddington and simply running back towards Dunbar along the side of the old A1. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe not the most adventurous or scenic route in the world and, while I was on the pavement all the way, there was a fair bit of traffic whipping by.

However, it was a really nice time of night. What little wind there was was in my favour and the evening sun was on my back all the way. With it being a "point to point" training run there was also the nice thought that every wee bit was getting me closer to home.
I love the light you get at this time of year. Everything seems to be much clearer and the views just seem to be sharper and more “in focus”. The views from about halfway between Pencraig and East Linton were amazing. The field that has the standing stone in it has just been harvested. The view of the stone, standing in a newly shorn field, with the circular bales around it and North Berwick Law in the background “almost” made the hard slog up towards Pencraig worth it. I ran the second part of the run cursing myself for not having a camera with me.

While last night’s run was aesthetically pleasing it was bliddy hard work on the legs. But that may have had more to do with Tuesday nights club run being a sort of multi terrain route, only slightly shorter than a half mara’ that was run at quite a pace.

Another good thing about a high mileage week? It is the excuse to fill your face with pretty much what you want (within reason). Last night’s tea was rounded off with a couple of scoops of Anne’s home made coffee ice cream. Brilliant.

5K handicap tonight at the club and then my first day off in two weeks tomorrow. Looking forward to that.

Sunday, 1 September 2013


It's the first day of Autumn today !! Yipee. 'Bout bloody time too. Summer is "nice" but way too overrated.
Anyhoo. It's autumn - according to the weather bloke this morning. But he then went on to add that it's only "meteorologically autumn" - in other words it's simply the start of a new "accounting" term for them. Still if one group of people are happy to pronounce the end of summer then who am I to disagree.
Certainly with the stiff breeze (a.k.a "a howling gale") this morning it didn't feel very summery when I set off for my 17 mile run. A nice steady plod round Spott, Pitcox, Biel, Into Dunbar then end the whole thing off with a climb up Brunt Hill. The "plan" is to doo increasing more every week during September and the first week of October and then have a little bit of a taper before York.

Went out our run today fairly early and then went out "shopping". For a wee while "we" (i.e. Anne) have felt that we need a new table and chairs for the main banqueting room. It's a bit of a shame really as the "old" table is only 25 years old and I feel quite attached to it. Over the years it's been not only where I sit to eat but was, for six years, where I sat, read, took notes and composed essays while I was doing my OU degree. If you get down and cast your gaze over the surface of the table you can see the faint indentations of my notes and "mind maps" that I've obviously written in too heavy a hand. Rather than take down boring old fashioned "linear" type notes, I used to sit with loads of A3 sheets of paper and a set of coloured pens - I would then, at the centre of the page, put a basic concept or idea I wanted to remember and then notes would flow from it in separate boxes linked with various lines and arrows, they in turn would branch out and inter link. Seemed to work.
Top tip: If you think there is even the remotest possibility that you suffer, as I do, from early onset misanthropy then do not study sociology. It will only confirm what you already suspect - society stinks.

I've decided that in future I am going to forego my early morning "daft o'clock" runs and try to focus a bit more on evening runs - even if that involves the wearing of a head torch pretty soon.
A recent discussion with my physician persuaded me that I was having "issues with the retention of my usual calm and placid nature". I shall therefore be running at night in the hope that it shifts the cares and woes of the day from me, leaving me more approachable to those I actually like and care about. Rather than waste my daily dose of endorphin charged post run good humour and jollity in the mornings with a bunch of bloody civil servants.