Sunday, 9 June 2019

St Christophers TT, Newton Mearns

I've managed a couple of Parkruns in the last month.That's progress. Parkruns are the litmus paper for my running form (and also the climate) at the mo.
There was a toasty humid 5k Parkrun in late May. I finished in 20:22. Not great; not bad. Yesterday, again at Blyth, I ran 21:29 in an adversarial northernly and a grim, driving, salty rainy deluge. True, one half was running with a huge tailwind, but running into rain like that reminded me of the Ben Nevis Hill race in 2009. That was awful. A proper test of application. It found me wanting...and not wanting more. 
What I really want to report in this blog is my mental 6 hour round trip to take part in a time trial in Newton Mearns on Wednesday to ride 10 miles on a course bathed in rough potholed tarmac, long challenging drags and piss poor weather. What was I thinking of? As a (delayed) reaction, I was booked in for another 10 mile test today near Thirsk, but I've come over all Mike and Bernie Winters and forfeited my £10 entry fee and cancelled. That said, Ive saved a 3 hour drive and £40 in fuel by not travelling. My heart wasn't in it. I've simply not being doing the miles. Not been doing the time.

Newton Mearns is a place I lived beside but never visited back in the day around the time when Radio Clyde were established, when Runrig were formed and when we were relative newbies in the EU. My spatial geography of Glasgow is very poor in spite of my two years as a young teenager living there.
I arrived at the Fairweather hall in good time. The sky had been looking ragged and angry for an hour or two and as I unpacked the bike I chatted on with a fellow rider, Lorna Sloan of the Fullerton Club, who was off two before me. She looked older and I wondered if I might catch her. I was glad for once to don my velotoze shoe covers; at least when it poured my feet would remain dry. I was off no. 32.
I rode the two miles in the light drizzle to the start and then spent 10 minutes doing a couple of efforts to try and get my heart rate up. It was unconvincing. Lorna appeared at the crest of the hill and gestured that she had punctured. No ride for her tonight. A portly looking bloke was making his way back from the startline as the rain began to come in. Another puncture victim. The rain was washing fresh gravel onto the road. Small streams appeared in places cutting across the tarmac. The potholes were filling up nicely.
I took off my training top and was counted down. It took around 3 miles before I caught sight of the chap in front, my minuteman, Alex McPhee of Dooleys. The occasional car or bus came past spraying us lightly as the rain continued. I thought I was catching the bloke McPhee, but it was a slow business.
I maintained my focus on the leg back but clocking 15 minutes for the outward leg, I knew the overall time would be slower than a snail on dope. Sure enough, a late 26 minutes was the result and as I collected my wet trackie top I reflected that at least I'd got a ride. I finished toward the top of the bottom of the field again 28th out of 40 odd who finished. I commiserated by stopping for a small fish supper from Hooks fish bar somewhere along a busy road and got home around 12:15am after negotiating a series of night time road closures.
On the positive side, I've entered July's Sunderland 5k which is always fast due to the first 800m being downhill and today I managed a slow and steady 12 miles in the sun taking my weekly mileage up to 24 miles.Happy with that, thank you very much. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Smooth(ie) Operator

There were no after effects after a tentative 2 mile outing yesterday and I added 4 miles today at noon in the warm sun. It was all good. It's the first bit of running I've done for 10 days and is a welcome alternative to the bike. Just round the block, you understand. Somedays, it's a bit of a bind to clack around the house in my shoes and plates rounding up my gear and various accessories.  I like the idea of alternating between running and cycling.
Anyway, summers here at last. Anybody else wondering where all our swallows have gone...? 
Galvanised by my new fad, a morning smoothie, I made my cycling time trial debut last weekend on the Sedgefield course in Durham. The course is an out and back dual carriageway affair. I have driven past it for years on my way to and from Teesside and it has never struck me as being that flat....and it was no different on a bike. In a modest field, I was Number 7 and was off just after 2pm. Number 4 was a woman riding for Swift.  Number 5 was a big bloke with all the kit riding for the police cycling club. However, at the start he got into all sorts of dramas as his chain came off 30 seconds before the off and he eventually pulled away half a minute late. This must have disturbed Number 6 who had barely time to get himself settled before he was dispatched. I watched this unfold in front of me, unruffled.
I was keen to do a sub-26. The conditions were reasonable but there seemed a wind creeping around. I couldnt quite establish in my warm-up what direction it was blowing. Regardless, I was counted down and was sent on my way and shortly after getting onto the dual carriageway I saw Number 4 pulling off the course. She looked like she'd had a mechanical.
Within 3 miles I caught Number 5. I then swallowed up Number 6. Passing riders ahead of you is always good for morale. However, having completed 5 races this year, I am under no illusions about my own ability - you just pass the slower riders and crack on. After 8 miles I heard the whirr of a disc wheel and number 8 came past. I was steaming up again in my own shades, but the drip-drip-drip of sweat from my cap never materialised. Was I not trying hard enough?
The return leg of the race involved a slow uphill drag and that, combined with a cool headwind and heavy sky made it a proper battle in the last 2 miles. Remarking to myself on a little taste of sick in the final mile, I tried in vain to stay in touch with Number 8 and finished in 25:22.
In a field of 47 and with 40 odd faster riders in front, I left before the presentation. I did have time for a chat with Number 4. She used to run 35 minute 10k's. I also took advantage of the tea and cake facilities at Cedarfield Hall, the race HQ.
I havent seen the results yet.
On my return Aunt Aggie demanded all the details and after digesting the data, has made it clear in no uncertain terms that I need to get hold of a disc wheel and skinsuit so that I can creep up on riders and whirr whirr them into submission. Maybe she's right.  Maybe she's nuts.
June sees me at Thirsk and Newton Mearns, continuing my quest to shave seconds off a two wheeled crusade that means nothing much to anyone in particular.  The good news is that I have pushed the smoothie boundaries from one to two a day and I'm now fully enjoying the fruits of my labours (get it...fruits, smoothies, yeh...maybe I'll just get my coat).

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Inna me khaki suit an' ting

I making good progress through 'Red Platoon'. Its subtitled '12 hours in hell', a story about the over-running of the Keating military base in Afghanistan.  Having recently finished Andy McNabs 'Bravo Two Zero' and 'Line of Fire' I have immersed myself of late in books with a military flavour. I almost finished Conrad's 'Heart Of Darkness', a novella very much of its time (1899) and a novella that is raw and reflects late Victorian attitudes to colonial Africa with all its warts. No wonder the human race is knackered.
Its a long weekend and I am not racing. I have a new floor to lay in the hall and will no doubt find anything and everything else to do rather than apply myself to the task. Its unseasonally cold out there with a northerly blowing the pink cherry blossoms off the trees in a swirling mass of colour and fragility. I might manage the club ride today. Better wrap up warmly.
I have only managed one run last week and will need to consult a physio about my defective calf. Moses had one; but it was golden. Like silence. They will do a bit of squeezing and kneading and suck their teeth as they weigh up my predicament like staring at the seized engine of an old car. They'll recommend a series of exercises. It's dull doing exercises. Maybe I should get back to the weights. Maybe I should just buy 32 inch waist trousers and enter the ballot for next years London marathon, run slowly and get shouted at for being at the back.  I do need to watch my weight if I'm going to make another trip to the Alps on the bike this summer. Not a good look wobbling up the Alpe d'Huez bulging out of my tight lycra with a sweat on. Blubbery Mass.
I had hopes last weekend of keeping the time trial momentum going on a course in Coxhoe, County Durham at the Houghton 10m TT, but it was a bleak day and the course wasn't a patch on the one I recently set new fast figures on in Irvine. My time crept just over the 26 minute mark. Thirty third out of sixty. Not too far down the list. I think a few riders found it a tough day out. At the end they gave me a time of 23:16, and it took me the drive home, wrestling with my conscience, before I emailed them to set the record straight; 23:16...that's like someone giving me a time of 32 minutes for a 10k. In my dreams. Can't believe I actually had a dilemma about doing the right thing. I initially viewed it as a victimless crime. No one was going to miss out on a prize, so whats the harm? The Time Trial organisation have a 'Power of Ten' type website where riders performances are listed and riders ranked, so I had to come clean. Uptown top time trial ranking. Althea and Donna. Wonder what theyre doing now. Nah pop, na style...
I left it late but entered the Cleveland Coureurs 10 mile event being held on the 11th May on a course in Sedgefield, Tony Blairs old stomping ground. I saw a picture of him last week and he looks old. I'm no spring chick myself, mind. I had considered paying the £79 for the Highland sportive Caledonia which is on later this month. I have a subscription to the Scots Magazine which reminds me of my roots while I'm down here in deepest England. The glossy wee magazine that puts a positive spin on all things scotteesh had an article on the event last month and it also contained a 20% off voucher, but its too pricey and with an early start on a Sunday morning, I would need to find some accommodation or sleep in the car.
Anyway, news is a bit thin on the sporting front, but I'll keep you posted. I had a look through all the related blogs and it seems many folk cannot maintain a blog for any length of time. Its a pity. I enjoy reading about all the comings and goings. Maybe I should start doing the twitter thing or instagram instead.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Velotoze Dramas

I have been reflecting on my blog since last weekends 2 part affair. My blog was originally a diary about my sporting life. It was, I suppose, to be about being a runner. A runner with something to say; some news to impart. But life is dynamic. We are all changing. All the time. Ageing. Some more than others. All of us have to adapt to changing circumstances. So the blog has to change accordingly. I'm not the same sporting personality I was 10 years ago. Not even a year ago. Don't take my word for it, just flick a couple of tabs and read my blog from 2009 or 2017.
At the moment, my physiology says 'you're struggling to run, so do what you can'. So I paid another twelve quid a month ago and entered the Stockton sporting course time trial.
I love cycle racing; always have. To a lad like me cycling was always much more glamorous than running...all that man stuff...gears, oil, kit. But the truth of it was (and is), is that I am a much better runner than I ever was a biker. Cycling just caught my imagination more.

I arrived in Bishopton at 8:30am. The sign said it was 8 miles to Darlington. I parked up in the quiet village main street and pulled the keys out. I opened the car door and sat there. The pigeons cooed. A paper-boy in a blue hoodie, hood up, trudged his way down the street wrestling with the various door arrangements and porch apparatus. Sunday papers are mega these days. All that Brexit shit. Most of the curtains were shut. A black cat sat on a low wall. It didn't move. It was either being pensive or was, I thought , a bit bored of Bishopton.  Which was a pity: Feline so disillusioned so early in the day. The main street was old, monied and the houses all different styles. In a courtyard a horse peered out of its stable door. 

I assembled the bike and then rode up to the village hall. The numbers for the event were laid out across a low table and I signed in and picked up my number.  It was a low key affair. As I rode back to the car, the misty damp and still conditions suggested that it might be a reasonable day for a ride.Not much wind.

Digging through my modest kit bag, I realised that I had left my club cycling vest hanging on the bedroom door. I had worn it yesterday for my easy 25 mile Saturday wander. However it never reached the washing machine as it didn't smell. Well, not too strongly. Dreadful personal hygiene, I accept.
As a result, I opted for my club tracksuit top. I was already resigned to wearing tights due to the cold, so no great drama. There was no chance of a personal best.
I put on my cycling shoes, then fannied about with my Velotoze overshoes. These things are impossible feet condoms. Fourteen pounds worth of prophylactic white latex that are supposed to give your feet an aerodynamic edge. They do my head in. I regret I thought I was even fast enough to need them. I tore one of them a little in pulling it on. Would this pin-hole rip slow me down???

All kitted out it was time to crack on. I pretended I wasn't 50 something.  Manning-up, I lined up with the minimal of warm ups and sat behind Nicola of the Boompods club, a top Women's amateur club.  She turned and apologised for her rear flashing light. I just nodded. I had the temerity to think it wouldn't be a problem for me:  I passed her after 3 miles and then passed another two riders. The clagg was down but I was pushing on, grafting. Full quad action. I passed another two riders after 5 miles.  That was five. WTF. The course was very country lane 'up and down'. I was working hard. I had my neoprene gloves on and some amber shades below my helmet and I was generating some heat. Another rider was caught and passed and it was all getting a little surreal. However, I was sufficiently well informed to know that (in relative terms) they put all the slower riders and duffers at the front of these events and I was one of them. Maybe one of the better duffers, that's all (harsh, I know).
The 10 miles came and went and I already had a bagful of scalps. However, from mile 10 to 16 things became a little shaky. I had evidently been writing cheques my legs couldn't cash and my field of vision began to reduce and my perception of the road became all Ken Russell. My amber shades began to fog and I pulled them down a little, peering out above the top of the rim like some Victorian School teacher. Trying to maintain an aero-dynamic position, my head was down, but my eyes needed to see the road and after 15 miles I was transfixed, staring ahead out of the top of my sockets. Was I holding on too tight (as they say)!!. 
Thankfully, reality dawned at 19 miles when number 30 ( a rider that started 8 minutes later than me) came past. He overtook me like I was Mrs Marple on a shopper. The final nail in the coffin was for me to realise that at 22 miles, with my brain reeling faster than a slot machine on auto-pilot, was that this wasn't a 21 mile time trial. How long was this event? I was in a bad-way. I don't even know why I put a hyphen there? The road was getting all wobbly. I had buried myself, my vision was fooked and, mentally, I was down to 10 pence and a packet of space invaders. At 23 miles the finish line arrived, announced by a small collection of fluorescent anoraks with clipboards and I was done. Completely.  Cream Crackered.
I rode back to the car and peeled off my gloves. They emanated small clouds of steam. The good news was I finished 23 miles in 1:04. Only 24th out of 30. The bad news was that I still had to extricate myself from the Velotoze bastard things wrapped around my shoes. The question was ' did they give me an edge?'. The answer was  'only if you're Geraint Thomas'.
Well done to Stockton Wheelers for putting on the event. I caught up with a proper cyclist and bygone star Paul Curran afterwards. He's got a bike shop in Stockton and he's looking at a couple of my wheel sets to sort them out. 

Monday, 1 April 2019

Spring Weekend Part 2: Tom Scott Road Race

We were happy to leave the sub-standard hotel in Glasgow on Sunday morning. The streets were quiet and the sun rising as we made our way to Strathclyde Park in the sleepy hollow that is Motherwell. Thankfully, there were no obvious after effects from my sporting achievements the previous day. We had met the dark destroyer and speedy joe for an Italian on Byres Road the night before. It was chocka. Plenty of disposable income and appetites in evidence.

We arrived at race HQ in good time and Missus Mac went in for the numbers. With a field of just over 350 athletes, the Tom Scott 10m road race is a high profile run. Broadly comprising 2 laps around the lake and with only 1 incline, it has the potential to deliver fast times. My recent training runs have, however, gone poorly. The work in the gym and on the bike have affected my legs somehow, perhaps tightening the ligaments. The flab has also been hard to shift. Nevertheless, I was keen to get my 2019 running (or jogging) account open and 10 miles seemed like a daft enough idea. It was make or break. Having finished Andy McNabs Bravo Two Zero in record time (a really enjoyable read), I was steely in my determination to see this test through.
We set off at 10am. A long line of runners stretched out in front of me. The wildlife in the lake seemed to take this rampage in their stride.  I noticed the presence of a few Hawks vests, but I've not renewed my membership this year and was wearing my Morpeth vest.
I plodded along for the first 3 miles clocking around 7:10min miles. I was aware of the seemingly inevitable tightening of my right calf after 4 miles and the pace dropped to around 7:40min miles. The very warm conditions brought out swarms of mayfly which at times were pretty unpleasant as we wound our way around the lake. I was surrounded by a couple of Perth runners, one from Dumfries and a local Motherwell runner, but I was losing speed as I prayed for the mile markers to come. My stamina was definitely in question, but my resolution wasn't.
At eight and a half miles I had a stabbing pain in the calf and walked it for a wee while, before resuming the final stretch of the race. To be honest, I probably didn't lose much time and finished in 1:12min. All in all, satisfactory.
As I sat on the grass eating my Tunnocks Log and swatting the flies away I mused how antithetical the experience had been compared to my ride yesterday. Maybe I'd best park the trainers for a while.
Next weekends hilly time trial at Darlington will, no doubt, bring me back down to earth. Maybe best to focus on what I can do. Better all round for the morale.  Happily the rest of the team did well and I retired late in the day when we got home to write a less than complimentary review on the hotel in Glasgow and, conversely, a glowing one for the hotel in East Kilbride.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Spring Weekend Part 1

We’re just finished the family spring training camp. This year due to the organisers lethargy and indolence, we ended up spending 3 days in Pitlochry, 2 days in Glencoe (Clachaig), and a night in East Kilbride. Well, it was the posh end, at least. The training programme has been, at best, ‘ad hoc’. This is a result of age and activity related niggles. However, I’ve managed a few jogs and two good bike rides, albeit that they were only 40 miles and then 20 miles in length.  The weeks entertainment largely involved starting the day with an hour of ‘Cheers’, walking in the countryside in our new boots, less than 4 units of alcohol on a night and an early bed. As an encore, I found myself number 23 for the ‘GTR back to life 10 mile time trial’. Race HQ was Eglington Park in Irvine. I was hoping to pick up where I left off last year in reducing my p.b. of 25:59. The course hosted the Scottish TT champs last year. It’s a ‘there and back’ affair on dual carriageway. No tricky roundabouts to battle with meandering shoppers in their chokey cars or lorry drivers using you for target practice.  All finger nails, oversized sunnies and exhaust fumes. Checking the details on the Friday, I advised Mrs Mac that there was also a Parkrun at the Park at 9:30am, so she could stretch her pins while I galloped down the highway on two wheels.

 We arrived via Kilmarnock at 8:40am and I picked my number up. I unloaded the bike out of the car and stripped off to my gear. It was dry and cloudy but not much wind. Ideal really. I had managed 34 lengths of the hotel pool the evening before. I’m not a swimmer and had spent a turbulent night in a room which was too hot. Waking in a weary demeanour, I was, therefore, resigned to a ride which might be disappointing. I had decided to wear shorts, so spent 20 minutes carefully shaving my legs. It was all going really well. I was wielding the orange BIC with aplomb. However, during the last few strokes I cut into the yielding flesh just under my knee and was rewarded by a steady stream of blood easing its way down my hairless calf. Carnage. Shaving cuts are not painful but they seem to release a disproportionate amount of blood and as I tried to staunch the flow with bleached white toilet paper, the contrast between the red and white in the little handfuls of used paper discarded around the floor made it look like Boris Karloff had been making a toilet check.

Anyway, I digress.  Back to Irvine. Trying to stay on a positive vibe, I strapped on my black smooth ‘go faster’ helmet and attached the flashing red rear light to the bike. I dispensed with the rubber overshoes – trying to squeeze my feet and shoes into these aero-dynamic monstrosities is an exercise in tedium and I didn’t have the patience. I was off at 9:23am and managed the shortest of warm ups. I approached the start and took my place. I set the garmin going 5 seconds before the off and I was off. I was almost immediately onto the slip road and joined the dual carriageway thereafter. The omens were good. The tarmac was smooth and the road surface in good nic. The bike wheels whirred. My quads wore an 'engaged' sign. At 2 and then 3 miles, I glanced  at the garmin perched on the handlebar stem.  It read 27mph. I was thundering along. Could this really be me.  At four and a half miles I clocked and then passed the bloke in front. I was on full gas. But this was fast, even for me. Knowing that I could never maintain this speed, and mindful of a probable headwind on the way back, I didn’t give a hoot:  I just kept the momentum going until the roundabout at the turn.
head down. Pushing. I careered back into the slight headwind. I told myself I wouldn’t get this chance again. I wouldn’t get the day again. The miles came and went. A few cars passed.  The sheer speed began to melt my extremities and I noted the drip, drip of sweat onto my nose. 'Captain, shes gonna blow'. At the end just before the slip road, I finished in 24:11, a mighty p.b. I had also finished 58th out of 95  finishers which meant a mid-table position. Deep joy.  I warmed down by pumping the air. I spent the next 10 minutes pinching myself. I did 23:50 when I was 18, but that was in a local time trial in Teesside and in the days when blogging hadn’t been invented.  Needless to say, after loading the gear back up and checking the results board, we celebrated Mrs Macs Parkrun and my result with a mint choc cone at Vanilla Joes in the town. 

Tomorrow is the Tom Scott 10 mile running race around Strathclyde Park. That’ll be a different kettle of fish altogether.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

eel be beck

Its been another quiet month as I take three steps forward and two steps back. The weather has been freakishly hot. Its not a good thing, no doubt an indicator of grimmer things to come.

I haven't taken full advantage of the bone dry and toasting conditions but managed 30 miles a fortnight ago and 20 miles last week before I pulled my calf. This latest set back was no doubt brought upon by the resumption of weight training. Ham string curls, leg and core work. The gym work was advocated by the physio who has pronounced me 'cured' from last years adductor tear. He doesn't want to see me again. In celebration, I have, like a muppet, entered the Cleveland Wheelers 20 miler time trial. It not a flat affair so I will just ride the road bike, rather than my TT bike. When I ride a bike I am very animated off and on the saddle constantly. I suspect riding the TT bike and holding a fixed position over 30 miles in Stirling last year was a contributory factor to my demise late last year.

Most of the posse have entered the Tom Scott 10 miler round Strathclyde Park at the end of March. Its only 12 quid so as I will be up there anyway as Als taxi, I might as well have a jog around. I tried the Newcastle Park run last Saturday and fell in with the other 837 runners who turned up on a calm but very mild morning. I finished in 22:20 and was happy enough given that the calf began to tighten at 3k. The dark destroyer was first lady home in 19min. I knew Linds (daughter number 2) and who we'll call 'the dark horse' was running the Southend park run on her hols and she landed in 21:37. With the youngster getting over a cold and nearly cracking the top 20 in the Scottish National XC, I have been relegated to 4th fastest in the group. Sure is heart warming when you're kids all beat you. However, as Arnie says 'ee'll be beck'.

Friday, 1 February 2019

Blubbery Mass

I'm back on the beat. Back pounding the pavements. It is, indeed, good news. There was a wee period late last year when I thought my life as a runner was at an end, but last week the physio advised that things were shaping up well and to keep up the pilates and 'moderate' outdoor activity. I didn't tell her that I'm not capable of moderate. As this week has been slack, I took her up on her word. well, nearly. Yesterday I was happy to deliver a 6 miler with an average of 7m:50s miles. Steady away. This morning brought a great dump of snow and I horsed out the door for a slow and very serene 7.5 miles through the woods. Great for the soul is running in the snow. Good to hear a woodpecker in the woods. I love a good polar vortex. I think I'll manage 30 miles this week. No speed, but at least I'm making inroads into reducing the blubbery mass that's gathered around my lower torso. Might even be able to get my trousers back on in a week or two.  Might have to renew my running club membership. kerching.
I am not at all sure that pilates once a week is sufficient. I am, however, not following the exercises the physio has set with any discipline, so I need to knuckle down.
I bit the bullet last week, dipped into my savings and ordered a pile of bike parts online for the Roberts frame which has been sat on the floor for a year now. Several bike shops have closed down in the last year or two which is a pity. I got the Chas Roberts frame resprayed in Leeds 12 months ago. With my injury in August and a couple of friends succumbing to cancer last year, I don't think I can sit on my laurels and take my health for granted. So I am planning a few bike rides this year. There is also great chatter among the family about a running and ice cream trip to Chamonix. I don't object. Its a lovely place. God knows whether we will be able to fly there, however. If so, no idea what paperwork and money stuff we'll need. Its a reet boogers muddle. We should get Marie Kondo in to manage the imminent departure from Europe. If nothing else, at least it would be tidy. 
Having finished 'The Loney' (2014:Andrew Hurley) 3 weeks ago, I finished the biography of Alf Engers, top time triallist in the 60's and 70's yesterday. I'm not one usually for biographies, but it was a good read. A superlative cyclist. His battle with the cycling bureaucrats of the day was interesting. I have now dropped onto Mackay Brown's 'Glenvoe' (1972). Another charity shop buy.
I have scattered a rake of birdseed and dropped some wee apples under the hedge in my toetee back garden. I have finished my anchovy and balsamic rocket salad lunch with a yogurt for afters, so better get on with some work this aft. catch you later.

Friday, 4 January 2019


The holidays have been set against a backdrop of Supertramp.  I have re-discovered the band and some of their great stuff on Youtube.  I can report that I have negotiated Christmas and New Year 2018 with the usual fraught difficulty. I tried to have time off, but largely failed. I tried, in vain, to restrict the pressie distribution list. Still too much retail ambushing and manipulation on offer and I was consumed with the annual guilt and worry. The invites for Christmas dinner at Chez Al were rather more difficult to come by than last year. We still ate late though and the guest dogs behaved with unreserved contempt for my kitchen furnishings, managing to quietly masticate their way through some of the overhanging table cloth and a couple of discarded napkins. They wont be sated until they have seats at the table. Rascals.  

There's been no running for months now and New Year was marked by its continuing absence. The two youngsters did manage to attend the Guisborough Woods fell race on the 27th. One with Salomons, the other armed only with road shoes (hardly armed, more saddled). One won. The other was pictured on the deck at the bottom of a muddy incline awkwardly entangled with another unfortunate. A new pair of Salomon Speedcross arrived 2 days later for her, but they arrived too late to save the need for a prewash and subsequent setting for heavy soiling. In fairness she still came back with a bottle of wine, so not all bad.  It might not be long until the 3 of them are all running, with Linds' rocking up at park-runs now and making light work of her previous PB's.  Could make for a canny running team.

It was a late night on Hogmanay. This left me groggy on New Years day morning, a state I have studiously avoided for the past 10 years or so. In the early afternoon, some of the family attempted the Morpeth 11k. Once again an observer, I took my guest up to the top of the main race climb with some pots and pans and we contributed to a small and satisfyingly intrusive incident of noise pollution. It registered point two on the Richter Scale. The British Geological Survey were unimpressed. Its something that certainly needs to be worked on, but it was a hoot, banging all that steel together and shouting as the runners sweated and frothed their way past us. After the prize giving, we managed to get out to the pub for a couple of hours. Heaving as usual. An early bed marked an end to the festive tomfoolery and confirmed, once again, my onward grumpy slide into the world of humbug.

I have been trawling through websites in the last few days for some new bike kit. I have been clocking up around 80 miles a week utilising a local 20 mile circuit and the mildest weather ever for December. Just about all the bikes in the ally-stable are afflicted with a well-overdue need for maintenance. One bike came back from a loan with a stuck seat pin, 2 wheels are buckled on another and last time out I had to stop to check why the chain on the Wilier was jumping. Turns out the several of the teeth on the chain-ring are blunt. Not good for a bike that's only 4 years old and has probably only done about two thousand miles, if that. I am certain modern day components are inferior to the older stuff. However, as I'd like to get back to the Alps this year, I need to get out on something, so some money needs to be spent and some repairs and replacements made.  In the meantime, 'The Loney' is keeping me company on the reading front after my latest sojourn into Sci-Fi with 'Earth Unaware'. Who thought that was a good title!?  I did get Alf Engers biography for Crimbo though, so that'll be the next stop.  Anyway, I'm off the dentist just now. Time for a man in a white coat to check out another set of blunt teeth.