Wednesday, 2 July 2014


OK unless you haven’t guessed…this blog is all but dead and buried.
It MIGHT come back at some point … or it may get posted to on the odd occasion when I feel I have something worth saying.
I just wanted to let you know as there is nothing worse than blogs that just die and wither on the vine. There is, for example, a blog that I myself follow, that details the writters attempts to quit and stay off the booze….. that hasn’t been updated since April now and…well you fear the worst don’t you.

However, I have not entirely given up on writing pish on t’internet and my musings can now be found on the “Book Of Faces” © where I have a "page". Simply point your internet machine towards!/stuart.hay.7927
There you will find my never ending words of love, admiration and respect for the tireless lads and lasses of the Scottish Civil Service, my hopes for a sunnier, happier Scotland under the benevolent, paternal care of Wee Eck and reviews of my favourite Heavy Metal and “Hip-Hop” combo’s.

Tara for now.


Thursday, 22 May 2014


Where to begin?
Been “off line” that long – at least “blog wise”. I’ve probably been spending far too long posting musings and trivia on that massive “book of faces” thing.
All of the non-running, non-jazz aspects of my life (i.e. “work”) has been pretty much “Double D, Double S” (Different Day Same Shite).

Running has had its ups and downs. Did the E2NB the other week and had one of the most unsatisfactory runs I’ve had in a long, long time. Basically setting off WAY too quick…… starting to feel the effort at about 15 miles and then spending the last 5 miles trying not to lose too many places to runners queuing up to pass me. A classic schoolboy error.

Lost my “mojo” a wee bit after the race to be honest. But you just have to learn by your mistakes, “pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again” (as Frank sings).

Saturday past saw me return to Falkland for the National Trail Championships. Never been a fan of “off road” running, but strangely enough this was one of the races I enjoyed most last year, so I was keen to get back. I can't understand why this race isn't much more popular than it is. Little over 100 male runners is not a lot for a National race.

I don’t quite remember the hills being as steep as they were! Even I couldn’t muck this one up….there is no pacing to worry about and “split times” are irrelevant. It’s just a case of bomb off as fast as you can, speed up until it hurts and then hope to god you can hold it at the pace for 9 miles!!

It was a damp, warm and humid day with a pollen count that was off the scale (am I the only one to feel it more this year?). Not ideal for an asthmatic with pollen allergies and I did find my breathing a bit laboured at a few points. With the effort I was putting in I was as they say "blowing out my arse"! Sadly for the Gala runner following me up the first hill this wasn't just a metaphor!

Happy to see that my time was only 5 seconds down on last years.

I will have to write again soon(er).

Monday, 14 April 2014


Quite a few Dunbar runners headed off to St Andrews yesterday for the St Andrews Running Festival. An event which offered a choice of half-mara, 10k or a dinky little 5k.

To say that the organisation of this event had been shambolic would be a bit of an understatement.

The route was changed from a nice sounding 13 mile loop that took in a small part of the iconic “Chariots of Fire” beach, to a 4 lap route that took in the beach 4 times, back to a 13 mile loop…only to be put back to the dreaded 4 loop option on Friday last week.

The start time of 10:00 was changed (again on Friday) to 9:15 – no biggie, perhaps, but when you’ve booked a bus and tried to judge your arrival time so that you wouldn’t have to leave Dunbar in the middle of the night, it was going to cut it a bit fine.

We also had tales of runners who had paid their entry (were on entry centrals lists) who “could not be found” on the organisers records.

We were treated to emails that tried to be TOO informative – the route was changed due to eight marshals succumbing to bouts of diarrhoea and two managing to get tickets for a football match (and hence unavailable). I don’t need to know that.

Anyway….. Our coach driver got us there on time and we were greeted by the sight of a massive queue for registration. A strange “system” appeared to be in place whereby runners who had already collected their numbers on the Saturday, still had to register and sign in on the race day !!??!! Very strange.

Finally got our numbers, and chips, and set off for what would be a very short warm up along the beach.

Got back to the start with seconds to spare just before the off.

I’d been a bit worried about the state of my legs after the previous weeks mara, but once the gun goes off you just filter out such thoughts and get on with it. I was a man with a plan…… Get away from everyone else as fast as I could then clench my teeth and try to hold on to any advantage I’d got (an OK[ish] plan for a half or less – madness for anything longer). I was also a bit concerned as I’d had my own wee bout of illness on Saturday night/Sunday morning and hadn’t even been able to face breakfast when we got up at 5:30 (see above about too much information J ). Would a half on an empty stomach be wise?

With the race being 4 laps I was already passing slower runners as I came towards the end of my second lap (their first). By my third and fourth lap, the relatively narrow paths were pretty congested with slower runners. Most people were OK and moved when they heard someone coming up behind them. But one of the “problems” was that I kind of “lost sight” of the two guys ahead – I knew I was never going to catch them, but it would have been nice to gauge how far ahead they were getting. Likewise, once or twice when I looked over my shoulder I couldn’t see the guy who was behind me as he was “lost” in the crowd.

It wasn’t “great” that the loop brought you through a busy car park (no marshals) and you had to run through the line of runners queuing to get their numbers for the 10K.

Anyhow… Came across the line in what I thought was third. Only to be handed the prize for second and to be told that the chap who had been leading for a good bit of the race had “blown up” and dropped way back. As I say because I was passing slower runners for most of the last two laps I obviously never noticed.

Got “changed” into some warmer gear and headed off with the other “half mara” runners to the wind swept beach to watch and cheer on the 10k runners. Nick – who had already done the half decided to “do the 10k” (unofficially) “just to get his 20 in for the day!!

The 10k was a simple two loop repetition of the previous four loop half. Originally, according to the organisers info, both races were supposed to be held at the same time (over different routes) which was part of the reason we chose it as a club “day out”. Ah well…..

After the 10k (which was only 50 minutes late in starting) it was pretty much back on to the bus and off to Anstruther for “chips” (never my first choice in foodstuffs).

All in all a good day out despite a pretty poorly organised race.

Monday, 7 April 2014


Maybe I should have carbed up a bit more.

An alcohol theme to the prize giving - Anne was delighted.
Well. Sunday's Lochaber marathon was another text book example of "how NOT to pace a marathon".
Honestly. I've not even looked at my mile splits myself and I certainly won't be sharing them with anyone anytime soon.
By about mile 4 I was 5th on the road and I held that till about mile 15.
The weather was atrocious. The rain had started about an hour before the race and never really let up all the while we were out. The wind wasn't too bad to begin with, but you could feel it picking up as the miles ticked by. Never a head wind as such. It was more the type that just seems to attack you from all directions (except from behind). One "problem" with the rain was the fact that I decided not to wear my specs - they end up worse than useless in the rain. I can see well enough not to miss signs, marshals etc. I just kept my head down and my eyes fixed on the road ahead and tried to avoid pot holes etc.
At one point I really thought I was on for a PB but, as I say, by about 15 I got passed by a couple of guys and it dented my confidence.
Then by about 20 I got passed by another small group (down to 10th).
Either I picked it up a wee bit, or one of that group was suffering even more than me, because I caught him at 23 - ran with him for a couple of miles, then pulled away at 25 to come in 9th in 2:55:35.
Anyone whos done this race knows there is a small hill at about 25.5 - nothing long and not really too steep - but a real bustard of a thing when you need it least. Thankfully once you get to the top of the hill the finish at the shint pitch isn't too far away.
Once back to the finish point I nipped over to our hotel (about 400m from the finish line) and put on a warm, dry top and jacket, grabbed some dry stuff for Anne and headed out to watch some others come in.
Anne looked a bit "wobbly" at the end and looked as though she had been through the mill but was pleased with her time.
After a shower we headed back to the sports hall for the prize giving.
Delighted to get 1st MV50 and happy that Anne got 3rd FV50 - though less than impressed to notice that regardless of place all the ladies trophies were a good bit bigger than the males. On top of that my prize of three bottles of ale will go to Anne as well.
Out for a nice curry after the race. Anyone not familiar with downtown Fort William on a Sunday night will delight in watching the traditional pass-times of drinking in the street, smoking AND shouting obscenities - and that's just the teenage girls!

Out today for a nice slow four mile recovery run before breakfast.......sore.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Another Tuesday night and another fast run round the leafy suburbs of the greater Dunbar conurbation.
Surely next week will be the last week, this “season”, for the Town Run! This winter I think I’ve done more sub 40 minute runs than usual. Pace just seems to be pretty frantic every week. All good training – but bleedin’ hard. Certainly I feel it a bit more than I used to on a Wednesday for my daft o’clock run - heavy, tired legs do not a nice run make.

Anyhoo. Got races coming up. Two weeks on Sunday till the mara. Jeeze it just seems to have crept up on us. A real emphasis on the “L” in this weekend’s LSD I think. The week after that it’s the St Andrews half. And I’ve now put my entry away for that perennial favourite the E2NB (please god … a nice day with a nice stiff tail wind for that one).

In an attempt to shape up my flabby gut I’ve started adding a new routine to my exercise regime. To wit…..”the plank”. Seems like a sure fire bet for a hernia to me – but we’ll see how it goes. Good thing is you don’t need kit, equipment, or anything really to do it.
Waiting for the kettle to boil? Plank.
Waiting for the shower at work to heat up? Plank.
TV news depressing you? Plank.
Bored shitless at work? Plank.

Monday, 17 March 2014


Tried something a bit “unusual” for me yesterday on my LSD.
Nothing spectacular … but I turned off the sound on my GPS. I kept on the autolap feature, just turned off the “beep” every time it clicked over another mile marker.
I also did a circuit that I’ve dome many, many times before..but I ran it the “wrong” way round.
Instead of what is normally a large 18 mile clockwise route I did anti-clockwise.
Don’t know what got into me to make these changes, but I’m glad I did. Too many runs can get over familiar and too many runs can end up becoming a race against the clock – not always an ideal thing with LSD.
So yesterday I just set off and tried to keep it “comfortable”. No focus on pace – no focus on a heart rate range – just “comfortable”.
Even without the “beep…beep..beep” of the autocounter there is a tendency to look at the watch at various “landmarks” and think “Ooh 1:34 – I’m usualy at this tree/gate/road/barn by 1:32, better pick it up”. By approaching the route differently I was disassociating myself from that kind of thinking.
It was like a new run – only on familiar roads. Quite enjoyed it. Added a bit on at the end to lift it up to 20.
One more weekend (maybe two) of long runs before the taper for the mara.
Be nice to get a weekend without howling headwinds though.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

KB5 or =VLOOKUP($A2,register!$A$1:$F$245,2,false)

Saturday saw us head into "The Toon" for the King's Buildings 5 mile race.
Done this race before, but it came as a bit of a surprise, when looking through my log, to discover it was six years ago. I thought three or four!
Anyway. I couldn't completely remember the route, but I did know it was hilly. Add to that yesterdays horrible winds and it was always going to be tough.
We got there in loads of time and put ourselves through the rather strange "registration process". You paid for your number (fair enough), and THEN the runner had to go to a row of laptops and negotiate their way round a rather badly designed "registration form". The whole thing had a bit of an "internet cafe" feel about it.
Anyway. Met a few folk and had a bit of a chat before me and Nick headed off for a bit of a warm up that took in the first mile and a bit of the route. I had forgotten just how much of the first part of the race was run on pavement alongside a pretty busy road. With the amount of "street furniture", wheelie bins and shop signs around it was going to be tricks and passing opportunities were going to be limited at the start.
Our warm up took us to the bottom of the first real climb and it suddenly came back to me what the route was like (and not in a nice way).
Anyway. We jogged back to the start in time to shed jackets and tops and get into the start line with everyone else.
Being hosted by a university team there is quite a young crowd at this race.
A few words from the starter..a whistle..and we were off.
As I'd feared, the start was a bit of a guddle and I wasn't in the best position, but just tried to keep the head until we got to the foot of the climb where I knew the pavements widened out and the roads were a lot quieter (you can pop off the pavement and use the road here).
For most of the climb I was running pretty much shoulder to shoulder with Willie Jarvie of Portobello, and we could see Rab Watson of Musselburgh ahead.
Once up the hill we were running along by the Braids Golf Course and it was at this point that the cross wind was at its worst. Got ahead of Willie here, but I could not tell by how much as I didn't dare look behind me. I just kept the head down and tried to reel in Rab (didn't happen).
A fast downhill section along by Liberton and I think at one point my GPS was clocking 5:30 pace.
The last section, however, is a slight uphill and I suddenly became aware of WJ right behind me. Then passing me...Then pulling away. Just didn't have anything left to answer.
Still. Pleased with my time (28:59 by my watch) and happy to see that it was a bit faster than six years ago.
Have to wait on the results to see how I got on.

Back in the hall at one point I was sitting waiting on Anne going back to the car to get some change for a coffee. There was a young girl at a laptop - obviously doing the results. I was trying not to look as I know how frustrating it can be to be trying to do results and have someone looking over your shoulder! But when she shouted over to one of her pals to ask him if he knew "anything about Excel" I couldn't keep quiet. Turns out she hadn't put absolute references into her VLOOKUP and she had also missed out the "false" statement that makes the statement look for an exact match.
Bloody students eh? Got to wonder what they teach them these days :-)

Today, being Sunday, it was a day to worship at the church of "Oh God, Make Me A Better Runner" by doing a bit of LSD.
My planned 20 mile route got changed halfway round when I met up with George Gilholey and ended up running with him for a bit. Quite enjoyed my run with George.

Legs were a bit "heavy" today. Plan this week is to keep the mileage up but keep the effort low.

Sunday, 2 March 2014


Decided to forego my usual day of rest on Friday and head out at daft o’clock for a wee run towards Cramond (again).  Didn't go into the village itself this time, but just ran out to the “roundabout” and back. Made it about 11 miles, but ran it at quite a brisk pace (keen as ever to get back to the Arsehole Factory).
Saw Ray Harris on my way back – I assume he was on his way to uni’.
Friday night was the club’s annual “do”/dinner/prize-giving-type-thing. So it was a quick trip home from work….bit of a rub down with a damp cloth…and into my “finery”.
Much food was eaten and quite a bit of drink was had as well – though none of it by me. Food was “OK”, though I do suspect that the chef perhaps over stretched himself a bit and had to enlist some family members to help him out with the rice and sauce for the vegetarian option of sweet and sour – to wit - his “Uncle Ben”. When you've been vegetarian for about 29 years, when you hate potatoes (in all there horrible forms) AND you still think everyone else's steak and chips look better than what you've got - you know its bad.
The main event was the handing out of prizes.
I got a lovely shield for being “bloody minded and doing more championship counting races than anyone else" (or something).

Yesterday I ended up doing a basic 9 mile run.
Today though I was determined to do some proper LSD.
It was a beautiful morning. Not cold – just “nippy” and beautiful blue skies. Thankfully there wasn’t the wind that has plagued us for most weekends lately (perfect conditions for those of to Lasswade today).
Started off going out towards Oldhamstocks then home back through Innerwick. But on the last leg I cut down towards Aikengal and then did a u-turn at the farm and then home. Ended up doing 20. Not exactly a fantastic pace it has to be said (but that was never the point).

Five weeks today to the marathon … so runs like that (or better) at least every weekend have got to be my target.
Thinking about doing the KB5 next Saturday so my LSD will have to be Sunday next week as well.
This logo is better than the one on our club vests!!

Brian and James share a candlelit moment.

Sunday, 23 February 2014


Mud, mud, glorious mud.......
Loads of the stuff. Thick, gloopy, claggy, cloying mud.

The National XC's at Falkirk yesterday. And for the first time very (I believe) Dunbar men had scrapped together enough names to get a mention in the team results.
So..despite my earlier protestations (see last post) I joined the rest of us "happy few..." on the muddy fields of combat.

I'm sure I heard at one point that there was a record entry this year and certainly the place was packed like a can o' worms.

Spot the hypocrite enjoying himself.....
Five sixths of "Team Dunbar" (Andy was temporarily decamped in the HBT area when the photo was taken).

A recce of the route, with Nick, confirmed that it was going to be tough. Even at that stage, with a few races to go, the route was well churned up and it could only get worse.
Three lap races are strange. I don't really like them - they play with my mind. I always find the middle lap the worst. First time it's "new" and your trying to find your pace and get into position. On the last your just pleased to think "this is the last time I have to climb this..." etc. But the one in the middle? Every bit of hurt just seems to yell out "see you again soon.."

Anyhoo. After our recce we still had time to see the women's race and managed to jog between sections to catch Rhona and Anne a few times.

The men's race started with the customary mass charge up the hill, a sweeping bend and a short descent before heading off around a pond. The first mile or so of a race like this is very difficult to negotiate and your pretty much boxed in.

Spent most of the race shoulder to shoulder with Ian R. Now I know Ian has always got a strong finish and the only way I can ever beat him is to try to make time at the start of a race....and I certainly wasn't happening yesterday. So it was inevitable that towards the middle of the last lap he started to slowly pull away from me. I felt I was just struggling to hang on and get round while he starts to look fresher towards the end of a race!

Happy enough with my time (48:59 by my watch) and happy enough to be  apart of it.
And my foot? Well it did hurt a bit towards the end of the race, but luckily the route was so bloody soft there was little chance of injuring it by landing on something hard.

Team Dunbar did quite well, but I don't think many of the bigger clubs will be worrying too much about us getting a team together for next year!

Today I went out for about 17 miles LSD. And god was the wind bloody awful. The fact that my mile "splits" range from about 6:30 to 11:00 (head on up an exposed climb near Cocklaw) gives an indication of how bad the wind was.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Still getting the odd “twinge” from my foot – but nothing too bad as long as I stick to the road.

So. With that in mind I am more than happy (for a few reasons) that as far as I am concerned the XC season is over! A few from the club are of to Falkirk this weekend for the Nationals. I wish them well but won’t be joining them. I’ve decided that I would get more out of a bit of LSD than standing around watching others.

Even on Saturday past; when me and Anne were out doing a recce of the XC route at Dunbar I got a bit of a pain when my foot went down into a bit of a rabbit hole.

I did just under 13 on Friday last week as I knew that the weekend was pretty much going to be busy and hence a bit of a write off as far as my own running was concerned. As it was Sunday wasn’t too bad…. By the time we got the results done, the prizes handed out and Hallhill cleaned up it was getting on a bit and, if I’m honest, I could easily have gone home and just forgotten about a run. However, I had arranged to meet Ian about “three miles in” to my usual 11 mile loop. Once a commitment is made to meet someone it does give you the required incentive to get the shoes on and get your arse out the door.

Meeting up with Ian and running part of the loop with him was good for another reason. I have a tendency to be “lazy” when I’m out training and will often “bimble” round (generally this isn’t too bad a strategy as Tuesday’s and Thursdays club sessions are my “tough runs”), but meeting up with Ian pushed the pace up a bit for that route. So although I “only” did 11 at least it was a quality run.

Yesterday and today I have managed between 12 and 13 miles a day.
Going into this marathon in April feeling very badly prepared. I don’t feel as though I’ve managed to get enough long runs in, and with “only” six weeks to go it would be easy to try and over compensate and do too many in a short time. I can't remember the last time I followed a "plan" before a marathon. I've certainly never followed one "to the letter", as I know some runners do - I prefer to try and just follow the "spirit" or the "essence" of a training plan - but so far this year I don't even feel like I've even done that
So I won't even say "plan" but my "hope" is for at least a 20mile run this weekend.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


We had thought about doing the “Frostbite Trail Race” in Falkland on Sunday.
Thought about it for a couple of weeks. But there was a pretty large part of me couldn’t be arsed if I’m honest.
The thought of the journey through to Falkland and then the journey back – all for a 5k trail race appeared to be “a bit of a waste of time”. Time, perhaps, better spent on some LSD.
Said it before. I enjoy the smaller races but I really need to do the LSD at the moment for my mara’.
Anyway. We had arranged to take Monday off work anyway (my new employer has a generous “use it or lose it” approach to leave and it’s getting to the end of the leave year anyway). So… we could do the “little” race and then get out for a bit of LSD on Monday.
So there we were on a cold and windy Sunday morning in Falkland. To get to Falkland, leave the M90 onto the A92 turn off onto the A912 and then keep going till you reach the 1950’s.
This was the 4th in a  series of 4 short trail races (all run over the same route). The venue was familiar to us, from last year’s SAL trail race championship race, but the route was new to us (even though there was a tiny bit of “overlap” on one of the farm roads).
Me and Anne had been round most of the route for a bit of a warm up, when we met up with Brian and Theresa, so me and Brian headed off again for another wee recce.
A couple of burn crossings and a couple of fallen trees to jump/vault/climb over made it a bit “cross country” to my mind. Not really sure on the distinction between “trail” and “cross country”. To me it's all the same - lumpy, muddy and awkward.
Anyway. Obstacles always look worse on a warm up or recce. It seems to be that when your racing and the adrenalin is going you hardly give them a second thought.
Got back to the start area and removed excess gear and got down to shorts and vest – only to be told that the start was getting put back by 5 minutes … so a quick jog around the start area was in order to keep warm.
Back in line we got our instructions and then some strange ceremony took place where we all had to “pay homage” to a toy squirrel and then “death” and two of his minions walked through us telling us we had all “sold our souls” (must be a Fife thing).
By the time we had done a couple of circuits of the park and headed off towards a nice stretch of farm road I was in about sixth or seventh place. It’s a two loop circuit and the first time round I managed the burn crossings and tree obstacles no problem. I also knew that there was about a half mile stretch on road coming up and managed to get the head down on that section and moved into third place.
The course was great to be fair. Mostly on really nice paths and trail and was incredibly well marked out. There also appeared to be a load of spectators cheering us on.
It was on the third burn crossing that I felt my “iffy” foot “go” again. A real sharp pain.
Managed to keep going and managed to hold onto third place by the end.
However once the race was over and the adrenalin stopped flowing the pain just got worse.

Yesterday’s run (on the road) wasn’t too bad but I feel I’ve almost put it back about a month or so. Really scunnered about this as I did think it was getting a lot better. Actually starting to wonder if it’s a tendon problem rather than a bone – but the last thing I want to do is go to a doctor … all they will say is “stop running”.
So… the intention is to hang up my off road shoes for this year at least until the marathon is over – just stick to the roads. I’ve put my name down for the National XC at Falkirk, but I’m afraid I’m going to be a “no show” for that.

Saturday, 8 February 2014


Out for a wee walk on Friday at lunchtime - it's nice to get some "fresh" air into the lungs and some clear space into the head after a morning in the Arsehole Factory.
Anyway. We (I was with Mr Brown) were headed down Leith Walk when we noticed that "Elvis Shakespeare" had an offer on - 25% off all CDs. Not my favorite second had shop in Edinburgh and their jazz selection is limited to say the least ... but it's always worth a look.
Came across a CD by an Irish tenor sax player, who I havent even heard of - Richie Buckley. But soemthing about the CD must have "called out to me". I had a quick check of the sleeve notes. Orlando Le Fleming on bass and Lew Soloff on trumpet. Both very good.
At £3 I thought it might be worth a punt (£2.25 once the 25% was off).
God am I glad I did!! The track "Waltz For Stan" was a bit of a clue as to Buckley's "leanings" (Getz obviously).
I was/am/will be a fan of Stan Getz. But obviously by the time I was "into" his music he only had a few years left. This album is so reminicent of some of Stan's later more "ballady" works. It really is like listening to a "new" Stan Getz album.
Possibly one of the most exciting "cheap" discoveries I have made in many a year.

I must seek out other works....

Monday, 3 February 2014


Trying to get the miles in.
Friday had seen me do a bit of a different run. Got into the Arsehole Factory at daft o’clock and headed off via Granton towards Cramond. Don’t ask me where I got lost or how I got lost – but lost I did get. The plan had been to run out there – a quick loop through the village – and back. But somehow I got lost in the bustling, busy metropolis that is Cramond. To be fair, coming from Woodhall anywhere with a street light is pretty “bustling” by my standards. The zig-zaggy line generated by my Garmin makes for interesting “reading”.Ended up managing to retrace my steps and got back to the factory pretty much before the Arseholes clocked in for their daily “grind” or whatever passes for “grind”for your average Civil Servant (I say “average” but in reality “average” is pretty much an unattainable, aspirational goal for most Civil Servants). Planned on 10 - ended up doing about 12.5

Did 16.5 yesterday. Conditions were not ideal ('twas a tad windy), but after witnessing the conditions that the “old folks” ran in during the National Masters XC Championships the day before at Hawick, I couldn’t really complain. Hats off to the winners on Saturday (obviously), but hats off to anyone who even ran in that – it looked completely brutal and for once I was fairly happy to be stuck in a wee room with my laptop “number crunching” the results.
Plan yesterday, in any case, was LSD with the emphasis pretty much on the “S” so perhaps getting buffeted and slowed down by the wind was no bad thing.
Did a loop that took me over to Oldhamstocks and back, so it was a fairly hilly route too. Please to see that my pals the pigs were thoroughly enjoying this weather and seem to be more than happy that their field is one massive mud puddle.

Thinking about doing a 5k trail race in Falkland on Sunday. Could be a laugh - BUT it's yet another day from the weekend spoken for, so if I do decide to do it I really will have to get out for another long run next Sunday.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Off for my six-monthly session of thinly disguised contempt and ridicule this morning. Or as it is sometimes better known – my dental check-up. I’m convinced that, irrespective of gender, dentists would make ideal wives… there is nothing that they can’t find fault in. Do you floss? How often do you brush? How long do you brush? Why don’t you use an electric brush? Why do you brush up and down? Why don’t you hold the brush at 45 degrees. It’s feckin relentless.
Unfortunately, because I did have a dentist appointment, I was unable to do my “daft o’clock” run today. I shall have to try and make up for it.
My preparation for the marathon in April is not going well. Not going well at all.
Desperately need to get some long runs in.
What I DID have time for this morning though was a really good listen to the new offering from Arild Andersen, Tommy Smith and Paolo Vinaccia, “Mira”.
I know we are only four weeks into a new year, but this really could be the record of the year. Real gentle Nordic “folk” type ballads for the most part. I was listening on my Ipod while I walked into Dunbar (in the dark) and the wind howling through the trees actually added to the overall effect. It's mostly, very reminiscent of what I think of as "classic" ECM type jazz.
You know how Nordic TV is often better than ours and Nordic crime fiction is often better than ours? No real definable reason - it just "is". Well this is the same.
One "cover" among the album of originals - perhaps the best cover I have ever heard of Burt Bacharach’s “Alfie”. This is Alfie, as I’ve never heard it before. The trio seems to take the song apart like a tangram puzzle, then rearrange the parts into simplistic but beautiful patterns. Different from the original, yet still constructed from, and recognisable as,  the same components.
This version may finally be enough to place the last nail in the coffin of that awful version, of what should be a wonderful song, by Cilla-Bloody-Black.

Friday, 24 January 2014


Our 400(ish) meter track at Hallhill is in an appalling state right now. It’s lumpy, uneven, muddy and generally bereft of grass in large patches. We still have interval training on it, though in effect what we are doing is the equivalent of trail running round a roughly 400m long sheep track – a sort of thin, bare, muddy line that at one time used to follow a white line in the grass. What used to be “the inside lane” now has the distinct feel of a shallow trench. It’s surprising that “Time Team” haven’t turned up to look for old WWI relics.

Still. It’s what we have…so we use it. And the effort put in to a session, if done properly, is just as great – so the rewards should be the same. Last night session was a fairly tough one (1 mile followed by 6 x 1000m) and it ended what’s been not too bad a week.

Managing to keep the weekly mileage up above 50 – which isn’t too bad for a working week, but I’m aware that I’ve got a marathon in only ten weeks – so I really should be pushing that up a bit and getting some quality long runs under my belt. Not always an easy task when you’re weekends are “spoken for” with XC races etc.

XC at Berwick on Sunday, so I’ll have to try and get a long run in on Saturday.

Got a few days leave that I have to “use or loose” before the end of February – so using one and taking a long weekend. Might try to get in a decent run on Monday as well then.

Sunday, 19 January 2014


I really DO try to keep up the mileage and just haul my lazy arse out of the doors regardless of the weather. After all, you might as well train when its crap weather because you never know when you are going to have to race in crap weather!
But there are times it really is a drag. I’ve been “troubled” by a wee bit of a winter cold/sore throat type thingumy since about Wednesday and it appears to have affected my mojo. I know I should be out there clocking up the miles, but all I want to do is loaf about, reading, listen to Charlie Parker albums on the old gramophone and fill my face with Mars Bars.
But…. I’ve put my name down for the Lochaber Marathon in April…times drawing in and all the crap …best get the shoes on and get there.
Yesterdays 11 mile run wasn’t too bad. Got soaked through to the bone, but I seemed to get round ok. In fact, the worst part of yesterdays run was standing in the kitchen trying to get off all the cold wet gear, with numb hands, after I got back.
Today? Well today was just horrible. The rain was worse. The wind was worse. And as for my “mojo”? Well. It appears to have gone missing in action – alongside my “will to live” and my “joie de vivre”.
I had intended to do 16 miles today. The plan was to set off towards Crowhill, then turn up by Cocklaw, Oldhamstocks and then home. Sadly by the time I got to Crowhill my enthusiasm had drained out of me. I got to the bit where I should have gone left …..I headed right and back for home. Feeling miserable, cold and slow the last thing I needed added to the mix was guilt. But that is exactly what I got - guilt. Not quite as bad as the feeling you get if you pull out of a race and get branded with that awful “DNF”, but I started to punish myself with thoughts of “quitter” and “loser”.
So.. when I got to the end of Innerwick top road, rather than turn at Primrose Cottages for home I got the head down, turned right and set off for another loop past the caravan park, along the Market Road and back through Innerwick.
Because I did one part of the route twice I ended up passing the same group of cyclists twice. Once at Crowhill, where they had all stopped while one of their number sorted a puncture and then again later on down at Innerwick where they had stopped while another one change a punctured tyre. At least I wasn't alone in my misery.
Got home wet, cold and miserable, but at least I’d managed 15. Not the 16 I had planned but a lot better than it might have been.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


Strange how quickly we become “reliant” on technology. Wasn’t able to run with my Garmin last night due to a bit of “operative malfunction” (I’d previously left it turned on in my kit bag and the battery had drained).
Now last night was just the usual “town run” with the club, and I’ve done it so often that I could just about run it with my eyes closed – though with my history of falls and tumbles I’m not about to try. I know where all the mile markers are and, using a “standard stop watch” I should have been able to pace my run. But without that all important “pace” reading and without those comforting “beeps” to confirm another 1mile lap chalked up I just felt like something was missing.
Strange thing is though, that without the information I think I maybe under estimated how I was doing and just kept pushing harder and harder.

It did help last night though that the conditions were perfect. A beautiful, still, clear night. Cold but not freezing. Unlike this morning’s Daft o’clock.
One of my usual routes – so nothing really different there. However, as I started there was a light spattering of rain, and as the run progressed it just got heavier and heavier and then..heavier still.
Today I did have my Garmin, and as the rain got heavier and heavier it kept telling me the same thing – “speed up and get out of this”!
By the time I got into the Arsehole Factory I couldn’t possibly have been any wetter. The only real downside of all this is that my little corner of the office now looks like Widow Twankie’s wash house.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Obligatory "Selfie"

The weekend that follows, immediately after, a return to work from a holiday always seems that much more important. Or is that just me?
Anyway. This was quite a good weekend.
Yesterday saw me go for a bit of a “trail run” for my training run. Up towards, and through, the wind farms at the back of us that scar the Lammermuir hills with their ugly testament to ineffectiveness (a bit like a metaphor for the Civil Service really).
Got home after the [nearly] ten mile romp and luckily JUST noticed the Amazon package that the postie had left under the doormat. Luckily as it included a new solid state SATA drive. These drives are a bit more robust than “normal” hard disk drives – but I’m pretty sure their robustness does not extend as far as having a runner rub the mud from his trail shoes over them!
I’ve been toying with the idea of getting one of these for a long time – not for my computer but for my Cocktail Audio X10 music player. One of the things I like about the X10 is that there is an easily accessable disk drive so that the storage can be easily changed/upgraded. Fancied a solid state drive as “a” there are no moving parts (so no sound) and “b” read/write times should be a bit quicker.
Only took 5 minutes to insert the new drive. Sadly it took about three hours to restore the shed load of music I already have.
New Toy
Seems to be working fine though.
Today we were off to Paxton House for the fourth leg of the Borders XC (the fourth leg but only my third race).
Got there with loads of time to spare so, after a few “hellos” to folk, I headed off for a bit of a warm up.
The route is a very scenic distorted figure of eight. One large loop followed by a shorter one.
Just finishing the large loop and coming back towards the house when I met Nick, so we headed off to do the large loop again. By the time we’d finished that it was getting fairly close to start time, so I just left my jacket etc. under a tree and went off to the start.
Race itself went well and I found myself working my way up through the field for about the first half of the race.
The terrain was fairly firm and dry. Nothing slippy to worry about, and even the one [small] burn crossing wasn’t akward.
Managed to get tenth place overall and third in my category – so all in all a fairly good day out. Doing the results for these races does pose one problem … you have to hang about to the bitter end to collect the paperwork before you can head off home.

Any other “events” this weekend? Why yes.. We finaly got round to watching the last of “Breaking Bad”. Marvelous stuff indeed. Won’t spoil it for anyone BUT …. If you like BB and you enjoyed the comedy Malcolm In The Middle (also with Bryon Cranston) then watch the “alternative ending” on the last DVD J

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


Getting back into a “normal” groove. Returned to the Arsehole Factory to find it pretty much the same as it was when I left it before Christmas. The only slight change being that the canteen is a heck of a lot quieter in the mornings and the piles of scones on display are a bit higher – this I put down to all the office fatties (of which there are plenty) being on “New Year resolutions” at the moment. I’ll give it two weeks and then it’ll be back to normal.

Getting up to the sound of the alarm going off at insane o’clock isn’t filling me with joy, but getting out for an early morning run again is quite nice.

Yesterday saw me off towards Seafield and a return trip that took in what accounts for the first part of the Portobello Promathon. A strange experience running along there so soon after the race (sadly the pace wasn’t matched).

This morning I decided to head out by the Water of Leith and down towards Granton. It can be quite nice going along by the Water of Leith cycle way in the early hours. Quite a lot of cyclists, a fair amount of other runners and a few dog walkers. Generaly try to acknowledge the other runners with a wee "hello" (pace allowing - if I'm really tonking along and out of breath I might just manage a wee wave).

While I’m still fitting in runs the mileage will [sadly] be down a bit this week. Going to try and keep it at at least 50 a week though. Whats left of January and a good bit of February is rapidly filling up with "commitments" that will keep me away from long runs at the weekends. Have to try and just fit in long un's where I can.


Sunday, 5 January 2014


Back to work at the "Arsehole Factory" tomorrow.
Ah well it was good while it lasted. 17 runs in 16 days and 172 miles covered.
Out this morning for a last hurrah - a 14 mile circuit of Burnhead, Pitcox and down towards the A1. Went out at my "usual" Sunday time of about 9. It was beautiful. Blue skies, crisp, hardly any wind and just a hint of frost on the ground. Weather that encourages you to get moving and get the blood pumping.
There has been a decided lack of cold weather this holiday. A shame really. Maybe sounds daft, but I like getting out and about when its like that.
Which probably means that my return to confinement behind a desk will probably coincide with a switch to bracing winter days.

Don't know what I'm going to miss most when I'm back at work...the chance of getting out a longish run - when I want to rather than when I can "fit it in" OR the "binge viewing" of Breaking Bad! Jeeze I've only got another six episodes to go and that's it. Six more - cant I stay off work for another day or two?

Thursday, 2 January 2014


Quite a pleasant start to the reference period we refer to as “2014”. My last race of the period we referred to as “2013” was the Black Bun Run. 35 Dunbar Runners, friends and family gather on “Auld Years Night” for a 1.5 mile dash through West Barns and back. The fact that it was the last of the 2013 club championship counters may have had some bearing on it, but it did feel a bit more competitive this year. Anyway… I gave it my best shot and was rewarded with a “pb” for the course of 8:27 which actually gave me a bit of a lift; 2013 was a good year for me apart from one thing … a definite lack of PBs. So, to get one now, albeit on an “unofficial” race seemed like a small victory. Anyway, there were still two runners a good bit faster on the night so well done to them.

After the run, and a few drinks in the Masons Arms (or whatever it’s called these days) we went to Brian and Theresa’s to “see in the bells”. A great night with lovely food and for someone to invite someone who is so “anti-New Year” was a generous act! Now… as a jazz fan I know very little about “pop” music, as I believe the kids call it, but even I was amazed to discover that Ian Sills did not know that Dougie Vipond was, and indeed still IS, the drummer with popular beat combo “Deacon Blue”…. “Yes Ian… that Dougie Vipond…Yes. The one off the Adventure Show… Yes..the one from Landward”.

Got home in the wee small hours hoping to get a good nights sleep before the Portobello Promathon the next morning. Hope, however, suddenly vanished when I realised the Woodhall Hippies were having a “do”. An outdoor “do” complete with light shows and amplified music. The night time hours were therefore passed in fitful sleep, assisted by and MP3 player under the pillow with the soothing sounds of Coleman Hawkins being piped into my brain via in ear earphones, while I dreamed of Dougie Vipond and Gene Krupa taking it in turns to “battle it out” on hippies craniums. 

Anyway. The first morning of 2014 dawned and after the, by now traditional breakfast and episode of Breaking Bad, we got into the car and headed off for the race.
Got there with loads of time to spare. Met up with Nick and then had the “luxury” of having enough time to do the whole course as part of our warm up. The sun was out, the sky was a beautiful blue and there wasn’t even much of a wind. Perfect conditions.
Anne heads off for a warm up.
By the time we got back from the warm up there was quite a crowd mingling about the (ex) Bowling Club. It’s always a good chance to exchange hello’s and happy New Years and what nots. I really like this race. I’m sure there are other races up and down the country with the same feeling to them, but when you are in the midst of a period that “celebrates” excess and over consumption etc. there is something cathartic about something as simple as a race.

Tried to get myself positioned relatively close to the start as I’m aware it can get a bit crowded going through some of the bollards on the first leg out to towards the Dog and Cat home. A few words from A Jackson, a quick blast on his whistle..and we were off.
The first section of the run is very familiar to me as it takes in part of one of my work based runs of choice. However, a furtive glance at my Garmin assured me that I was going a fair bit quicker than normal (given it was a race – that was a good thing).
It’s pretty much a case of “head down and keep working” on this run. Little chance to take in surroundings etc. I was surprised though, after about two miles or so, to pass Rab Watson of Musselburgh. Turns out though he was having a bit of bother with his calf and “normal service” was restored at about two and a half miles when he passed again.
New Year - same old ugly running style.
I’d had Pete Buchanan in my sights for a good bit of the run as we went out towards Joppa and managed to catch him up not long after the turn point. From there all the way back we ran pretty much neck and neck with odd turns by each of us to pull away. I had tried to count the “SV” marks on numbers of the runners in front of us and [wrongly] though we were racing for 2nd and 3rd SV place (we were in fact going for 3rd and 4th). With about 200m to go however Pete pulled away quite decisively, and I just didn't have anything to answer with.
Still it undoubtedly helped me get a PB for that race.

So. Last year ended with a PB and this year started with one too. Can’t be bad.

More of Bob Marshall's photos HERE

Pete's blog HERE