Friday, 29 April 2011


Training's going quite well now and although the vestiges of weariness from London are still floundering around in the legs I am, at last, having the luxury of paging through the various events that are in the calendar coming up over the next few weeks.

The plan is to hammer out some sort of time at next months Edinburgh Half. I know it'll be cool during the run because it starts at 8am. I might still be in my jim-jams. Is it possible to run with a sticky handful of marmalade, toast and a googy egg while rubbing the sleep from your eyes? I ran the course as part of last years marathon. A decent performance would be good for the confidence.

In the run-up to late May's junket around 'auld reekie' and 'the Pans' I fancy the Cheviot hill race on the 8th but can't risk damaging the old legs on the psycho-exocet-type downhilling that I would no doubt find myself adopting to gain a place. There's the Edinburgh to North Berwick but that's going to be too long so, instead, it might be a 10 miler somewhere else. Feels like a long time since I raced up there. A trail race would be ideal. From a quick scan though, it could be the 10k at Gala or the Loch Leven Half. I did Leven 3 or 4 years ago and it wasn't too bad a course. If I do it I'll have to run easy being a week before Edinburgh. In the meantime I've just scrounged a place at the Tees Barrage event this Monday so thats something to look forward to. Nice chaps those organiser people.

I'll leave you with this quote from Julius Caesar ('salad')...'Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; Methinks he trains too much'.

(The photo above was Aggies idea?)

Sunday, 24 April 2011

North Tyneside 10k Road Race

It was hot, hot, hot today at the North Tyneside 10k. The sun was all wrong for snapping the athletes and runners, but persevered in any case with the camera to take a load of snaps.

Looked like Batochir fresh from his top ten placing in last weekends London Marathon from Ian Harding (Both Morpeth). Rosie Smith of Durham City was well ahead at the 5m mark.

Photographs on the Flickr site now (click on right photo for link to the gallery) .

Monday, 18 April 2011

London Marathon 2011

Nipped down with some of the family to Richmond on Friday to stay with friends. We avoided the M1 Bridge debacle. After a convivial night, we made our way over on the tube and train in the mid-day heat to Excel to register for the London Marathon. Plenty of stalls but not many freebies. Having checked out the forecast, I bought a new sleek black cap to wear just in case it got hot. The rest of the guys had travelled down earlier.

Weighted down with bags slung over our shoulders we made our way to Covent Garden where the hotel was. I thought I'd better start the pre race saturation so bought a large bottle of water (at great expense). Dumped the bags, freshened up then wandered around Leicester Square looking for grub in the early evening heat. Not the best preparation before running 26 miles.

Up early on Sunday Morning I had a grapefruit, 2 croissants and coffee, caught the free train and found myself (and club mates) at Blackheath before 8:30am on race day. We got the team photo taken and then sat around for an hour on the grass in the ‘good for age' pen. I saw a few familiar faces including David Daniels, Brian Cruickshank and Steve Marshall. Pinned the gels in the shorts, made sure ipod was working and that the Vaseline was spread liberally into those little crevices. I chucked my bag into the baggage bus and jogged about abit unconvincingly (knowing that I was in a select pen with most guys who were probably faster and more experienced than me). The call went up and we lined up. I then realised I had forgotten my new cap which I'd carefully taken out of my bag and subsequently then placed back into my bag. Nothing to be done. Klaxon sounded and we were off.

I was well back and started easily without the ipod, instead soaking up the atmosphere and cheering crowds. By 2 miles I realised it would be a hot one and began to survey the road as I ran to see if I could find any suitable discarded headgear. I ran across some sunglasses and missed a white cap but soon another green cap was there lying on the road at my feet and I scuffed my knuckles picking it up (without losing any time! -they should try teaching that technique at marathon training camp). I rinsed it on the move at the drinks station and spent the rest of the race wearing it (sometimes you've just got to improvise to survive, especially if you’re bald with the sun high over the yard arm in foreign fields).

I initially ran behind a couple of Colombian runners then pulled ahead. I was having to work a little from 5 miles and spent as much time dodging the bottles scattered around the bottle stops every mile or so. Some runners were launching half full bottles across the sky and I thought 'marathon school' should teach them to slide them along the floor to the kerb like the bikies do.

I was never in a group. It was completely fluid albeit that we were all hemmed in like running bulls at the festival. Herd Culture.

I had the camera phone and took some snaps as I ran. I had garmin trouble early on when ‘gel fever’ meant I kept stopping and starting the buttons rather than just pressing the 'lap time', so gave up early watching my time and pace. The little printed pace 3:10 pace wristband that I thought would be my saviour became a joke. It was too small and too precise and I grew to treat it with contempt for the 26 miles we were together. We parted soon after.

I thought there were loads of Carnethys but a second look suggested they were the Serpentine Club and the same went for a clutch of Dunbar runners who turned out to be from Bracknell - similar vests. By 16 miles my toe was sore and I thought it was a blister so stopped on the kerb to remove my shoe and adjust my sock---any excuse for a breather!

I passed a walking Border Harrier in mid-race and then a few other walkers as things really began to warm up. It was a hot, stuffy sort of heat, probably because of the lack of wind. At 20 miles in need of different stimulation I plugged in the Ipod, and went with a few oldies. It was AC/DC who got the party started. I was tiring now and whatever the plans were, keeping moving and being focused means everything else is abandoned. You become oblivious. At the Embankment where crowds were 3 and 4 deep I came to a crawling runner in the middle of the road and helped him to the side. After chucking the borrowed green cap to the’ grateful’ audience with 400yds to go, I got entangled with another collapsing runner before marshals took over, helping him to the side. The runner whose legs had gone still mouthed the words that he ‘had to finish’ even as he crumpled, such was the spirit of his determination.

I finished in 3:01:30, pretty done in but pleased managing 8 or 10 minutes ahead of where I thought I’d be.

Meeting up with the Wolfpack in the Silver Cross pub on Whitehall, led to the usual race post mortem. Everyone agreed it had been a 'big day out'.

Huge crowds, big scenery and an international festival atmosphere make this a 'must-do' event. Tried to find someone at the end to swap vests with but didn't manage.

Still high on participation. Tremendous.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Adventure Show

Catch the last episode of 'The Adventure Show' now on BBC IPlayer to watch this years Carnethy and a series of interviews. There were some familiar faces on it with interviews and comments from NFR, Portobello and Elvet runners among others, and fleeting glimpses of many others.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


AMcD, targeting a second career finish in the marathon event insists he is ‘brimming with optimism’ as he takes on 50,000 other runners at this weekend’s London Marathon. McD finished easily within 30 minutes of the winner at last year’s Edinburgh marathon and in his words was ‘very nearly close to the podium and comfortably beat off a combined late challenge from the baggage bus and the back end of a pantomime horse’. In that event he spent what he describes as ‘a good while jockeying with elite athletes in the front group just before the gun went off'. After a recent 5km race in Newcastle where he recorded his slowest ever time, the 47-year old is surprisingly upbeat and will be back as the crowds favourite, ahead of many other distressed runners sporting 'interesting' late race techniques.

He said ‘It is 2011 and we have a new season and my training has gone miserably in the build up to London. I started carbo loading in December and now I will now be able to reap the rewards -pass me a biscuit’

His coach, Aunt Aggie, herself a stalwart of the local over 70's zoomba scene said ‘he can expect a steady run to the 10 mile mark and then he’s on his own’, adding ‘who knows, after that things could get wobbly for him..very wobbly. Maybe he looks out for St Johns or maybe he has a few sit downs’.

Edinburgh was a very special occasion for the wee man. He says ‘I felt very positive being sprayed down by a hoodie with a water hose in Prestonpans, but London could be even wetter, especially if I go off course down by the docks. I will be looking out for the other half of the pantomime horse and taking many pictures. Of course much depends on the weather but I think a slow run is possible. I have spent several weeks sleeping in an altitude tent and wake every morning groggy and disorientated just like what I imagine I’ll be like at 20 miles’.

His English remains poor.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Soft cheese at Tebay

Spent Friday doing some work in Alderley Edge. It was a cracking spring day. I had a cheese pasty for lunch and bought some smoked cheese and coffee, squeezing my way out from between all those fancy cars and glamorous folk.

On the way home I opted for the M6 and let my mind slip into neutral as I cruised up past Kendal. I thought I really should do some miles when I get home, but after a 3 hour drive, I thought I'd probably just crash out in a slovenly heap with a can or a mug of tea. For many years now I've been up and down this road, and, as you near Tebay you can't miss the plump, rounded Hills (I think their the Howgills) that I've always thought would be good for a weekend run. I checked the temperature and it was still up around 15 degrees so it didn't take long before I was swooping off the motorway and parking up near the Barnaby Rudge Pub, shovelling on the Walshes which were a bit tight and setting off for a jog in the late afternoon sun.

The wall of noise from the M6 was soon replaced by warbling bird life up on the hill as I climbed the grassy slope before reaching the top and running along what looked like an old droving road perched on the rolling ridge southward. The route was grassy with a lot of damp sedge which, had it been wetter, would have made for a boggy run, but today it was spongy and easy underfoot.

Ran for around 30 minutes before turning back. The path went on ahead to some bigger hills and I think I'll be back and a little more prepared to spend longer on them. The fell shoes stretched as they became wet and I stopped for a few snaps and made my way back to the car, making do with the cheese that had been slowly simmering on the dashboard, a smoothie some time later from the local store in Carlisle and Pete Tong to accompany me on the way home.

Up this morning for a park run. I can't run first thing but it's a week now before London so hauled myself out of bed just to see how far off the pace I am. Scraped in just under 19 minutes so still about 6 or 7% off my usual pace so expecting to finish around 3:15 to 3:20 next week but at least no pain or niggles in the legs and actually looking forward to a nice day out next Sunday.

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Fifty or so miles this week. It was a novelty to run twelve on Thursday evening through the flat lanes of Somerset. The hedges on each side of the narrow road restricted the view and before I knew it I found myself near to Glastonbury. To get there, however, would have added more than another hour to a run that was already slowing so I made the wise choice and turned back to the guesthouse. The flies were out in force.

Friday was spent in Cornwall and then it was back up the road via Gloucester yesterday for a new pair of trainers (as you do!).

I was committed to 20 miles this morning so, to make it remotely interesting, I ran to Blyth to see the local 10k and then plodded back into the wind managing just over 2:20 for the round trip. The last 3 miles were slow but the new shoes were a treat and I didn't realise how 'past it' the last ones were even though there was plenty of tread left on them.

I'll aim for around 50 mile this week with a couple of long runs and the rest made up of whatever comes along. Still lugging around several extra pounds, but not the wallet kind.