Tuesday, 31 August 2010


It might have been a look that worked for Uriah Heep, but it didn't take long to realise that this years glove collection needs some work if I'm going to cut it as the running worlds answer to Jock Wan. It was so cold on Sunday first thing before we set off for our 2 hour constitutional through the lanes that I delved into the running drawer and stuck on a pair of gloves for the first time since around April. Very stylish with fully vented index and middle finger. They couldn't fail to impress. It was just as well the sun came out and the temperatures rose otherwise my archery days would have been numbered.

This followed a heroic but ultimately a doomed attempt on Saturday to ride to the Bellingham Show to take some snaps of the fell race. I was 6 miles short of the village when I surrendered after battling for an hour and a half with a wicked headwind. The ride back was pretty prompt though making it around 12mph out and 18 back. The group of 3 cyclists in front gave me some added incentive but I didn't make any headway into the 20 seconds or so they had in front of me and I kept losing them round the bends only to get a visual again on the short steep inclines. They then split at a junction. Yeah, oldest trick in the book.

Yesterday after dusting down the old Raleigh frame which I've decided I'm going to rebuild, it was an easy 7 miler in the late afternoon as the sun made a welcome appearance. I might nip out tonight to snap the Blyth Links 10k which usually gets a good turnout. If the wind behaves itself there might be some fast times.

This Sundays Keswick trip to the trail race looks like it takes in much of Latrigg and a slideshow on the website www.lakelandtrails.org/slideshow/Derwentwater/slideshow suggests an old pair of road shoes should do the job. Its quite a big field with what looks like some potential bottlenecks so I'll need to get a bit of speed on early to avoid the masses.
I'll patch up the old gloves before then. Just call me Micawber. When I dug out this illustration, Aggie did a double take, then went all pale. She thinks she's featured in David Copperfield. She hasn't changed a bit.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The daily grind

After a summer of mental cogitation, I accepted my destiny and a fortnight ago launched my bid to win the 2011 London Marathon. My campaign slogan is 'Book now for April 2011 to ensure disappointment'.

There was naturally, therefore, little excitement from the crowd today when the pink slip that is a 'good for age acceptance' popped through the door. They sat still glued to 'Top Gun' or whatever was on the box. I, on the other hand, celebrated in style. As it happened the young 'un was making a plateful of pancakes (or some very flat scones) and wearing goggles and gauntlets, I fought my way through the huddle of sugar junkies to the cooker to salvage what was left.

I'm not sure this 26 mile extravaganza quite fits into my new routine which is to go abit easier on the old body. I've been eyeing up bikes again, furtively looking at cyclo-sportive websites and I had an easy 15 mile ride the other night instead of the usual run. I can still do the longer runs but am reluctant to take the same punishment.

Auntie Aggie was sat in the kitchen overseeing the pancake wars. Pontificating with her usual sympathetic and caring nature she said that this new dogma of mine is just a cop-out. She sat me down next to her newly refurbished commode and spelt it out:

'The simple fact is you feel lazy and you have a confidence problem. Now I'm not gonna sit here and blow sunshine up your ass. A good runner is compelled to look at an event, evaluate the route and his ability and apply what he's learned. Up there in the fells or on the road, we gotta push it. That's our job. Now eat your pancakes'. Stubbing out her Havana, she then put on her spikes and went out to talk to the hedgehogs.

So it could be 26 miles in London in April and a half in Edinburgh in May. There's no reason why I can't combine more cycling with running over the winter and at least I've got 2 decent targets to aim for next year.

I didn't know we had any hedgehogs.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Simonside, Northumberland

After last nights ambush by some good company and a bottle of Shiraz, I thought cleaning the oven at lunchtime was above and beyond the call of duty. Having completed the mission with some foaming spray and 3 Brillo pads which I did well not to come to grief with, I took myself up to Simonside and plodded along the ridge over the rippled flagstone paths, the silver sand covered tracks and through miles of forestry tracks with a few walkers, a deer, a big bird and a handful of young pheasants as company. The route was bathed in some late afternoon sunshine but I was happy to bag 10 hilly miles and some atmospheric snaps over the 90 minute jog.

I've continued on from the half last Saturday and nearly clocked up 60 on the road this last week although its been a real struggle. Tiredness I guess from Haddington. I've got a trail race in Keswick lined up in early September which'll be a good laugh. I've also got myself sucked into one of these Hell of the South runs in November which I expect will be blidy freezin.
There are also some of the long Scottish races like the Two Breweries and the Pentland that I'm toying with at the moment and we'll have to see nearer the time whether I'm up to the longer distances. Some of the lads have a marathon coming up so so I might piggy back on some of the high mileage runs.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Haddington Half Marathon 2010

I had meant to run the Lomonds of Fife race tomorrow, but thought it was about time I got some proper road miles in. I prefer Saturday races anyway. On Thursday gone, when I announced I might run at Haddington to one of the clubmates he said 'you can't just decide to do a half without the proper training, blah, blah and all that', and I was inclined to agree, but life's about getting stuck in, and it was Haddington's turn to see the spiralling vapour trails from my new New Balance trainers.

There was quite a queue at Neilson Park, home of Haddington Rugby Club when I arrived to sign on for the Half Marathon. Earlier, I'd spent the best part of 20 minutes in another queue, taking in the finer points of the rear of a caravan sat in a long snaking line of traffic meandering along the A1, so I had reverted to 'brain in neutral mode', which is, after all, its default setting anyway. The registration was, however, quicker and a more pleasant affair and I was soon scanning the runners to see who I knew.

Around 230 lined up and there were plenty from Edinburgh, this being on their doorstep I suppose. I set off with the plan of trying for a 1:20 or 1:21. The pre-race blurb stated confidently that this was a fast course and that a 1:03 had been recorded in the past (but not by me!). It was a hot afternoon and there was only a slight breeze.

I started reasonably, moving through the first 2 miles in 12 minutes and 4 miles on a 6:18 min/mile pace. The mile markers were bang on and there were a well organised succession of water stations which I was happy to see. We wandered out toward Traprain. We then turned south west down to Bolton where the terrain was a little flatter. Averaged 6:15 over the 2nd 4 miles but collapsed between 8 and 12 to average 6:35 for this last quartet.

I had been yo-yo-ing with Alison Docherty, the smooth running Central AC runner and passed her at 11 miles only to be caught and passed immediately by Megan Wright of HBT, and things got bogged down badly over the final 2 miles when I was passed by another 2 runners including a Dunbar runner. Alison said later that she'd just put in a 200 mile fortnight and was preparing for a marathon. Can't help be impressed by that sort of commitment. I felt tired just listening to that sort of mileage.

I have a strong belief that in races any longer than 10k, that as soon as you can see the finish you should be able to take the shortest route to the line, even if it involves vaulting some cars, running through gardens and squeezing through fences! It's murder running past the finish then doubling back and, in the middle of this fiendish Haddington detour, a Corstorphine had the temerity (but really just the speed) to pass me with 200 yards to go. Thinking I was around 23rd or 24th I wasn't too fussed to chase him and was keener to get over the line before 1:24 which I think I did by one second.

Quick shower, some sandwiches from a terrific spread in the club and a splurge of tea and it was down the High Street for a 20 minute kip in the sun, like the old man that I am! (Finished 20th. Results on Scottish Athletics Site. Not a bad afternoon.)

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Monkey Business

Took Auntie Aggie to the movies yesterday. Given the choice she insisted on watching 'Inception'. She had brought with her a bicycle horn, some spam sandwiches and, these days, is never without her 3d glasses, even though the film was only showing in HD. She says the glasses make her look like Groucho, especially when she waves her fat Havana and shrugs her black, bushy eyebrows. Her well practiced stoop is a legacy of too many years emulating one of her screen heroes Charles Laughton (playing the Hunchback of Notre Dame) in her Anderson Shelter.

As we settled into our seats right at the front, I patiently tried to explain that the plot might be too taxing but she assured me she thrived on psychobabble. The attendant soon relieved her of her horn, which she squeezed at the exciting bits. That initially drew a little unwanted attention to us during the adverts. I thought what the bloke next to her said he'd do with his tub of popcorn, though, was well out of order.

Needless to say the story involving characters in murky goings-on while in multiple dream states was tricky. Aggie seemed quite content as the action developed, but I began suffering flashbacks as the main feature rolled on.

In the film if you die while in a deep dream state you can spend an indeterminable time in 'mind limbo', ageing like an old man, lost in a strange world and mumbling to yourself, a bit like the latter stages of the Pentland Skyline when you cramp after 2 hours in a 3 hour race.

There's an all action chase through some urban landscape with the rain belting down and people staring at you in a hostile manner which took me back to a 10 miler somewhere in 2007 and, later, there was scenes of carnage on a boulder strewn, snowy mountain which had me shuddering and cowering in my comfy seat as I recalled my Ben Nevis Hill Race debacle last year.

The film finished and the credits rolled and I looked around wondering how many of the chattering audience were at the 2nd showing and who was any the wiser. As we groped around for our coats, the helpful girl gave Aggie her confiscated horn back. I hadn't even noticed Aggie polishing off her sandwiches.

As we walked out the door, I asked Aggie what she thought of the film. She paused for a minute, wiped the crumbs off her moustache and said 'One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How it got into my pajamas I'll never know'
Honk, Honk.
(I know. You can't believe you're reading this as well!)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

A warm eight

Dropped off the car for some new bits and rather than sitting around for an hour, I took off north to Woodhorn, down to Newbiggin and along the beachfront (with it's rather unique modern sculpture) before cutting back through the cycle route. It was a warm and steady 8 miles.

Managed to fall asleep this evening though and missed the session so no net gain, but at least I've got some nice brake pads. Next on the list could be the Lomonds of Fife. I might shoehorn in a show race at the weekend but we'll see what's occurring.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Morpeth 10k 2010

300 Runners; Morpeth 10k 2010 road race; 2 lapper: Tranwell Woods; Asphalt; Undulating: Whalton Road; Mostly quiet lanes: Nice conditions; Took camera. Poor light in woods; Nathan Shrub; looking sharp; Timmins just behind with Brown and Kirkland: Dix of Blaydon wins ladies race; Results at http://www.race-results.co.uk/results/2010/mor10k10.htm