Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Just finished downloading and editing my pjcs from the weekend and I've posted them on Picasa for you to view.
see them at

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Supporting Millies (1)

How it started

It’s all the fault of one member of Milburn Harriers! Patricia Duffy turned 50 this year and wanted an appropriate occasion to mark the milestone. Most people attaining the big 50 get drunk, have a cake, party or massive holiday. Or threaten suicide. Or all of the above. That’s what Patricia did. Or worse. She told Jim Robertson.

Jim for those who have stumbled upon this blog is a repeater offender in the sado/masochistic sport that is ultra running. He has 11 West Highland Way goblets and is threatening to complete the dozen, (Then it’ll be the baker’s dozen!) So he came up with the gem of running 50 miles (or just a little bit more) on the Highland Fling race from Milngavie to Tyndrum. “Right”, said Trish that’s what we’ll do.

“What’s this ‘we’ Kemo Sabay?” as Tonto allegedly said.

“Well, Jim and Christine and Ali and Geraldine. We do everything as a team.”

“OK. And we’ll rope in Steph and Jim who can form an A Team with Geraldine. They’ll do it no bother and the rest of us will give it as much as we can. It’ll be great fun.”

So all Millie Flingers can blame Patricia, and Jim, for what transpired over the winter. And for the pain, suffering, blasphemy, prayers, angel’s blessings. And the fun they had on Saturday 26th April 2008.

Over the winter, two separate training schedules were drawn up. One by Steph for the A team and the other by JR for the others. And they were adhered to religiously, to such an extent that when JR said a run would take most of the day, it did! And some of the night! And involved everything from walking, running, crawling, stargazing and, on that famous occasion rescue, by Lomond Mountain Rescue.

Only two members of this club within a club, Steph Johnston and the aforementioned JR, had any real experience of ultra running although all had completed a marathon and hill races. During the build-up, Jim Mckenzie and Geraldine Currie ran marathons, at Dumfries on 23rd March and London on 13th April respectively, pointers to the fact that training was going well. Respect for both, as your humble blogger also ran London and would not contemplate doing the Fling so soon afterwards as his legs are still like a pound of mince.

Steph is the club “hardman of the hills” and had run the Carnethy 5 during his preparation. I accompanied Steph and Jim on one of the early long runs. The first stage of the Fling, but in both directions Drymen - Milngavie- Drymen. The strategy of running the flat and downhills and walking the uphills had been decided on and seemed to be working for them although Jim had a touch of trouble with his knees.

On a later run with them they were both running well and I considered their chances of completing the race to be excellent. Mind you, they wimped off at 12 miles leaving me to do the last 10 of my final long run of marathon training by myself.

The following week Jim broke 4 hours for the Dumfries race, a personal best by some margin. If nothing else Jim, your time gave me hope for my own race three weeks later.

Geraldine and I had shared one early long run, just over 11 miles on the Balloch Horseshoe. That was on a very icy morning and at the top of the Horseshoe I happened to notice that her hair had frozen. She looked like the snow princess! Cold but dry, it was probably one of the better weather runs of her preparation. Occasionally taking off for cold weather training in Aviemore she stuck resolutely to her training.

Other runs that were important to their training were the increasingly longer runs on Tuesday nights where club runs normally reserved for the summer due to being pitch dark in winter became the norm and led to strange bruises as we ran into brick walls unseen in the darkness.

JR’s group meantime, began to turn up early on club nights and had about an hour of running under their belt before the rest of the club started. Mind you it led to some scary moments when we met on the country roads around the Vale!

And so the training went on, with worries over lack of training, lack of confidence and lack of sense being raised on regular occasions. Those of us sensible enough not to have entered were quick with advice about training schedules, offers to run on training sessions and amateur psychology (or was it Psychiatry?).

Soon a meeting was called for the final briefing……

Coming next in Supporting Millies (2)….

Peanut oil massage, soup, red wine and racing.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

A New Outlook On Running

First of all let me say a few things about myself. I am a retired police officer whose main pastime is either running, coaching, or spending too much time aimlessly navigating through my PC. And if I get past Solitaire it has been a weel spent few hours!
I am a member of Milburn Harriers down in the Vale of Leven the main town of which is Alexandria. That's it on your map just at the bottom of Loch Lomond. Suffice to say we're spoilt for scenic training routes, although many are tough, muddy and sometimes not too appealing when you're on your own. Great when in company though and weekend runs around the lochside and further afield are a staple part of most member's schedules.
"The Millies" train on Tuesdays and Thursdays leaving the Alexandria CE centre on Main St about 18.10 or ten past six at night! We're a mixed bunch, mainly vets (masters) and our activities range from road and cross country, through to hill running, marathon and ultra.
Indeed this very Saturday 7 of our members will be tackling the 53 mile Highland Fling from Milngavie to Tyndrum. For my part I'm driving kit, food and essential supplies including my massage table and oils. I'm also taking my kit, in case I have to run with anyone struggling to finish. Having run the London Marathon just two weeks ago I'm still suffering from the wear and tear that has followed, but that isn't stopping two of the club "Flingers", Geraldine who ran London and Jim who ran Dumfries Marathon from taking part. The training runs these two and the others have put in over the past few months puts the marathon into the category of a wee training run!!!
I will be posting my experiences of supporting the club runners as soon as I can after the race.

I also spend a lot of time coaching young athletes at West Dunbartonshire A.C. and as a jogleader with JogScotland, Alexandria group. I get a lot of personal satisfaction from both of these groups which are at opposite ends of the athletics spectrum. The young athletes are, in the main, enthusiastic youngsters with terrific potential. I have been fortunate to be involved with some terrific young athletes who have medalled at Scottish championships,Scottish Schools as well as district and county level. JogScotland started in this area about six years ago and hundreds of previously sedentary, mainly overweight, unfit adults have benefitted from the various groups in West Dunbartonshire as well as the many groups throughout Scotland. Many of these joggers are now members of Milburn and keeping up with them is the main reason I'm as fit as I am! They have gone from complete beginners, some of whom struggled to do the first session of 30 sec jog , 30 sec walk x 10, to regular runners in local 10ks, half marathons and even the marathon. Recently a group of them spent a week walking the west Highland Way a 96 mile all terrain walk from Milngavie to Fort William.
I'm also a member of the Dumbarton Area Local Athletics Partnership (DALAP) an organisation encompassing most of the local clubs, West Dunbartonshire Sports Development, Argyll and Bute council, schools and Scottish Athletics. Through that and just getting the profile of athletics in this area raised by any and every means available to me and others, I just want to get people out running. It's a great sport and the benefits are beyond just being fit and healthy.
I must say having got this down I'm looking forward to keeping it up to date with whatever I can post. Speak Soon!