Wednesday, 27 November 2013


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.