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.