Saturday, 30 May 2009


When I met JR on Wednesday morning he told me he was doing a night run with Jimmy,Geraldine, Ian and Brian on Friday night but of course he was also meeting three of the girls for a morning run up Whinney Hill at Balloch Park. (By the way, he also took in his judo club in the early evening!)
In for a penny, in for a pound, I decided to do both, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The morning run,about 5 miles, was very easy, despite the terrain and muddy going, and was followed by tea and rolls in the CE centre before getting the chores done and resting up for the 10 o'clock meeting at the club. Brian supplied the transport for the main group, dropping his car at Balmaha and his wife, Lesley, dropping them off at Milngavie. Jim had queried the worth of going over Conic in the dark, as it would be daylight when going over in the race, and had decided on an alternative which was to run on the way until going under the bridge at Killearn then making a sharp left and following the road to the T junction on the Stockiemuir Road where he would pick up the Cameron Muir Rd to Caldarvan on the Balloch Horseshoe. For logistical reasons, i.e. no room in Brian's car, and safety reasons i.e. not leaving the old fella on his own in the dark, I would join Jim and give him a lift home from the club where I left my car. Helen, Jim's wife was roped in to drop us at Milngavie and take their car home. Sorted!
We started from the Station car park where JK, Marco, Ian, Stan and Ritchie were gathering and met the other Millies at the official start of the way and into Mugdock Park. The first impression was that it is different in the dark and before we left it, we had made three slight navigational errors but managed to stay on track. The park was busy with youngsters enjoying he fine weather and a reddish crescent moon that was slowly sinking to the west. Brian seemed anxious to set a pace and he and Ian would regularly disappear into the darkness before waiting for us further ahead. Geraldine told us of her working(?) trip to Toronto that she had enjoyed the previous week, and JR told us that we were running at 18hour pace, in other words SLOW DOWN! Like a broken record.
JK and co caught and passed us at the Carbeth huts, where again the residents were enjoying a lovely evening by candlelight and as we descended towards the rough ground near Dumgoyach where another runner passed us with a quick hello and then Peter Halpin caught us and stayed. He was running to Drymen and back to Knightswood for 28 miles. Peter and I have known each other for a few years as we both coached,he at Clydesdale and myself at West Dunbartonshire so we took the opportunity to catch up. Jim had a fall when Peter caught us and then lost the power in one of his torches when it dropped, but neither fall was fatal!. We were still setting a decent pace and soon reached Killearn where Jim and I said our farewells and faced up to a long steady climb to the Stockiemuir Rd, an opportunity to eat and drink as we walked for a while. Across the road going left of the house at the T junction and we were on the road over the moor. This road is sometimes trail, sometimes tarmac albeit very old and breaking up. It is undulating but very runnable and we made good time across the top with views of the Whangie hill and Queens View to the east and the outline of the hills to the west. It will be revisited in order to see the full extent of the views in daylight.
Before long the tree lines and houses around us became familiar and we were descending down into the Caldarvan area and the last few miles of the Balloch Horseshoe, although I still have trouble gauging just where I am in the dark.
And then we were in the Vale, with taxi drivers and drunks looking at us as if we'd just landed from Mars! Back to the car just as Marion drove past on her way home from work, where she has the pleasure of dealing with Glasgow's more anti-social elements on behalf of the cooncil. She had run with us in the morning but I don't know what her passenger thought of the two mad men stripping off in a public car park!
We were finished in 4 hrs and 10 minutes. I hadn't worn a watch and felt the better of it, but the old fella knew exactly what we were doing! I dropped him off, picked up an early edition of the Daily Susan Boyle and some chocolate before heading home for a shower and a kip. Heading out now for a massage then home to watch the Cup Final although I'm not sure what one will be the best to watch.

Footnote; Whilst coming down through the horseshoe I found an SOS note from a child wanting the finder to contact Childline re his mother's cruelty. Something to do with being made to do training runs at age 4 months!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Off My Arse!

This time last night I was sitting at the laptop, no running since Friday and feeling sorry for my self when in the bottom of the screen appeared the wee box telling me I had an e-mail; or as much of an email JR can get his Luddite head round. "What is all this crap I'm hearing. 9am tomorrow for a run!" A summons from the leg end. So I went and got my ears burnt about running slow, walking hills, smelling flowers etc etc etc. Sometimes I wish I was in JD's club!
Anyway we did a slow and I mean slow 5 miles round Balloch Park, followed by tea and an egg roll in the club before I spent the rest of the day cleaning my car and visiting the skips with garden refuge...... last years garden refuge.


That wee box has just appeared again. Wait for this one.........

Join jim robertson's network on Windows Live
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FFS Jim must have a tutor! But if he thinks I'm going on windows live to listen to him he's barking up the wrong tree.

Anyway, where was I? Oh Aye. I ran again tonight with my JogScotland group. And am I glad I warmed up this morning!
I had a query from a villager re her daughter wanting to run the Vale 10k and being worried about whether she could manage. So I told her to be at JogScotland tonight where she could run with my group which has another young lady who is running the Dumbarton and Vale 10ks. A quick word prior to setting out with a group of five found that she trains with a pal on the Cardross Horseshoe, a shorter version of the Balloch one with the same amount of climbing in the shorter distance! Off we went and the young ones simply took off. Marion (a Millie)and I took up a position between them and the two regular members to try and keep an eye on both but eventually, after about a mile, I moved on to the front and Marion dropped back to form two groups of three. And the girls simply took off, dragging my sorry butt with them for about 5 miles round the cycle track and Lomond Shores. Run slower?
Eventually one of them slowed but only because her shoulder was causing her bother. She and her dad Brian are both karate exponents and she has a shoulder that keeps dislocating. A few rotations of the blade and we were off again slowing only in the last mile. Will I manage 10k? Damn right they will and in good times too!
The three ladies of a certain age had taken a short cut through Balloch and finished just ahead of us, and waiting for us was, of course, JR. Sweat pishing off me, his words of only a few hours before brainworming between my ears. RUN SLOWER! Try telling them that!
Anyway, I'm not on Windows Live.

Monday, 25 May 2009

A Poor Weekend

What should have been a busy training weekend has in fact been a disaster.
Another new pair of shoes, again Mizuno Wave Rider 12s, purchased on Thursday having discovered that I could poke my finger through the mesh at the join with the sole on my newest pair and the previous pair having been past safe wearing on roads a long time ago. I set off for Milngavie by train on Friday, running home from there via the WHW and Cycle Route 7 to the Vale where I opted to catch the train home rather than drag my sorry ass over the Carman just to prove I could. Why? I set off with a pretty full rucksack, plenty fluid, plenty snacks and a skip in my step. But ended up with a hamstring that was pulling with every step, tight calfs that also felt they were about to snap and so many negative thoughts in my head, calling into doubt my ability to run 95 miles in one go in just 4 weeks time.I know that I have yet to recover from the Fling; and running in so much sand in Portugal probably didn't help. I've again taken two days off,I'm still feeling my calf and my lower back is suffering too. My pace was deliberately slow and the trip took me 4 and a quarter hours; as close to race pace as I could manage without running backwards!
JR is always on about learning to run tired and he exhausts himself every year before tapering and getting his strength back, but I am firmly of the belief that I should listen go my body, and stay as fresh as I can no matter what I'm training for. Having said that I've probably erred on the side of caution too much and I definitely should have done more mileage. My longest run has been the Fling and although I'd have liked to get a lot of miles in this weekend, I don't think I have enough time left to recover if I do a lot now or next weekend.
So it's down to getting running again, tapering from now and getting as much recovery in as I can before deciding whether or not to run the WHW race. If I'm not enjoying my training a week before the race then I won't start. As there is no reserve list left I'm not doing anyone out of their place so I'm under no pressure there. I know from reading the blogs that I'm not alone in struggling at this time so I will give it till the last moment before making my decision.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Back To Reality

So the hols are over and reality has sunk in. I don't think I considered any of my runs on holiday to be good runs although they were enjoyable simply because they were different in every respect - surface,terrain, weather,you know what I mean. However I wouldn't be honest if I hadn't admitted to myself that I was still trying to recover from the Fling. I remember going to Troon for the 10k a few weeks after last years FLM and having a stormer of a run, only to find I was about 3 minutes outside what I would normally run. This year I was away when Troon was on but I don't think I would have considered running the way I am feeling.
The club run on Tuesday was a bit of a Curate's Egg, good in parts. Nice easy start on the club favourite run to the Arden Roundabout and back, then the pace picked up when Brian hit the front, only for him to get a phone call (WTF) from his mother when we got to Duck Bay, Richard kicked on as I eased off thinking Brian would catch up and we reaced the turn well spread out. There were 6 of us and as we turned Brian put the boot down at Duck Bay and I went after him. Not clever. By the top of Cameron Hill I was gubbed and it was all I could do to keep him in sight and stay ahead of Garry.
Finished knacked and after a shower, headed to the pub round the corner for a few cokes while we said cheerio to members Jan and Rob; off to be Kiwi's and as I type this they are sipping champagne in the Airport Hotel as they are now homeless in Scotland!
Wednesday night was my usual easy run with my jogging group, reduced to five due to another five running on the Thursday night at the Helensburgh 10k. We did a five mile run on the Cycle track to Dennystown and back via Renton. Made it easy because a) I'm knacked and b) two of the girls were struggling. However the younger of the two is only 14, she's the daughter of WHW entrant, the aforementioned Brian, and after running away from me on Tuesday, he took his daughter round the Dumbarton 10k copurse in 55 minutes. She can't run the first two Polaroid 10k's as she is 15 and eligible on the day before the Dumbarton Race. She looks a terrific athlete and hopefully she will enjoy the sport and progress to a good level.
Thursday night was the first of the Polaroid series 10k races at Helensburgh. I decided to run the 3 miles down,run round the course as a spectator, supporting those Millies and JogScotland members that were running and run home, hopefully managing an easy 10 miles or so.
I made the mistake of popping into the school to see who was there and ended up blethering tomore than a few friends. One of them is Debbies pal Sarah, who turned out at Milburn earlier this year for a few sessions and is a member of Garscube. She kindly invited me along to her post race bar-b-q at the farm shop and tearoom that her family run only a mile and a half from where I live. Hmmmm. Temptation!
Watch the race first Davie then decide!
So I set off along the course putting on my waterproof jacket as it was raining when nI left the school and it ALWAYS rains at the Helensburgh 10k!Of course it didn't rain again!
Got to West Montrose St. before being honked at by Debbie and, a squeezed-into-the-back-seat-to-make-room-for-Cairn, Marco. Debbie telling me she had failed to tell me I was invited to a BarB Q at Sarah's. Never mind, better late than never!
Great race and PBs by husband and wife Colin and Julie from my jogging group although Julie had fallen and finished in a crumpled heap. Welcome to the great sport of road racing!
I then ran out to Ardardan Farm shop for the barbie and found out that the runners constitution can handle some strange concoctions and still function. I had a coke, a burger, pasta and potato salad, then more pasta and declined the cheesecake and other tempting puds! Enter Debbie and Marco........ "Mmmmm Davie you really don't know what you are missing" "Davie this is soooo good"
So I had some. And it was good. In fact it was brilliant. A mile outside Cardross, on the left just before the Crematorium. 10am - 4pm everyday except Monday, I think. Go. It's that good!
So Rob said "How are you getting home. You won't run it after that!"
Watch me. The fastest mile and a half since August! And no puking!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Training in Portugal!

And did you miss me? Yeh? When I was away? I took my picture down before leaving as I didn't want anyone doing a Gary Glitter and hanging it on their wall! And Mrs Mac said I didn't look much like it anyway!
So the lovely picture postcard town of Alvor in the Algarve. 3 mile beach and two mile trail on the sand dunes behind made for some nice runs, but to go longer I was forced into the back country where the going was hillier and just as sandy. Only trouble was that the trails tended to dead end at remote farmhouses or fruit farms. And the dogs! Every where you go there are dogs. Every garden has one and they stay out all night and bark at anyone passing. It was about 4 days before I got a decent nights sleep.
My first long run saw me in the village of Monte de Alvor, I found a wee track that promised much and after a few hundred yards I was set upon by a pack of about 5 wee yelping ankle biters that were firmly of the opinion that I was going no further. Even the pup joined in! Discretion being the better part of valour I retreated, knowing full weel that it's the wee ones that bite, and a mile further on came to another dead end at the back of an orchard of sorts. An English couple were tending the good earth, accompanied by two very large German Shepherds! And guess what.....
Now I've got one of them of my own and Cher is the loveliest natured dog in the world, unless you are a stranger coming to my door. That's why shares in ADT have fallen in price. So her Portugese cousins decided to see me off and ran towards me teeth bared. Well trained beasts these, though, as they retreated immediately they were called and I was able to trot on - with skin intact.
My time with JR was invaluable on these runs. The ability to keep going, knowing not where I was, just navigating by the sun, occasional glimpses of sea and sand and the scent of ripening vines........ bliss. When I'm with JR it's grey skies, moorland and the scent of cattle feeding, and shitting, stations.
Another long run, on the middle Sunday, took me along the beach, round the dunes, past the harbour, onto the trails and eventually, past the legendary Penina golf course, through Portamao, and back to Alvor via trails and roads that passed some of the loveliest houses I've ever seen. When I win that lottery you can all come and visit!
It really is a beautiful place and, if you haven't been to Portugal, get out there. Really friendly people, great food, restaurants and bars who really look after you. Watched the Old Firm game in the Sportsmans Bar run by a few ex footballers and who walked in but the newly crowned Champion of the World (no not a boxer) John Higgins, with former champ Graham Dott and Stephen McGuire. All of whom featured in my Daily Record that morning (printed in Spain) featuring their predictions for the match. Had a laugh at halftime showing them that Higgins (a Celtic fan) had got it all wrong! He left soon after to find an Irish bar, but Dott stayed until the end as befits the man who took the world trophy on a lap of honour round Ibrox when he won it.
Got back late on Monday night and I'm now contemplating my first run of the week at the club tonight after which we are heading to the pub to say farewell to two members Jan and Rob Knight who are off to pastures new in New Zealand, where Rob has a new job following his retirement from the Royal Navy.