Wednesday, 26 August 2009

I was I'm Back

The optimistic post previous to this was as a result of demand that wasn't really backed by performance. However,things went fairly well as long as I stuck to the flat roads and trails or gym and swim sessions. But no substantial improvements other than the ability to guess JK's time on the Devil of the Highlands. My prize is in transit and I received an e-mail from Debs tonight saying she is in possession of said prize.
On Monday I went to try a serious session of resistance work. Serious in that I hadn't done much recently and took my son and heir to keep an eye on my session.
The session ended suddenly with a serious dizzy spell although I recovered enough to manage some swimming and aqua jogging and a sauna.
However an attempt to run some hills at the club was an abysmal failure and I didn't do anything today.
So. What's the problem? I'm gubbed, that's obvious but why?
An e mail arrived from Jennifer Cuthill giving me the results of blood and urine tests from the WHW race. Most being reasonable, but one was alarming. Not from a health point of view as the notes explained that a hugely elevated reading for muscle breakdown was not harmful in itself,even if accompanied by severe muscle pains as long as they resolve themselves within a few days and you continue to pass urine normally. That's fine, I was not experiencing any muscle problems and could pee for Scotland. However, my reading was 29,490 as opposed to a normal reading of under 210. That's an elevation of over 140 x normal.

Did anyone beat that?

I may be wrong but I think I'm entitled to a longer rest!

Meantime I've put on a stone in weight. And unless a certain Mr Steele is also putting weight on I reckon I'm now as fat as a WHW family member can be unless retired for a generation or two!!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

I'm back! Under Orders to Say so.

I managed a pain free run last night. About five easy miles with little undulation but enough to motivate Jim to demand a post with the title "I'm Back". Woke up this morning thinking that perhaps we celebrated too soon! I've been running slowly for the past the past couple of weeks and spending some time in the pool, aqua-jogging and swimming,in the gym gradually building up my quads and loosening my SI joints. Never thought I was getting anywhere until last night!

I've been a real couch potato, armchair sports fan and one thing I inherited from my old man was my ability to spend hour after hour watching sport, even cricket!

However my sporting highlight of the week, overshadowing even Ennis, Bolt et al., came in an e-mail from an old mate, Crawford Inglis. It took two parts. One, his delight in the achievement of his 9 year old son Callum completing a 26 mile sponsored cycle in aid of a cancer charity; Glasgow Universities annual Bikeathon that helps fund research at the Beatson and related establishments.
Crawford is a two times cancer survivor who is tireless in his efforts to fight this horrendous disease. My wife is living with Hodgkins Disease and his support when she was diagnosed was a tremendous help to me and my family.

Yesterday, whilst driving and listening to the radio, I heard a mention of Lance Armstrong and a peloton riding through the Gleniffer Braes. "Windup" I thought until an e mail and this photo came into my in-box.

Yep, the bold boy's hero was staying in Paisley, whilst here to watch U2, and asked for Crawford by name and requested his presence at the front of the peloton as company for the great one on his ride through the deepest, darkest suburbs of the town whose name must never be said out loud.....ssshhh.... Paisley! The highlight of Crawfords cycling life, I would think, and just reward for someone who bravely fought the disease - and continues the fight on behalf of those suffering and those yet to suffer.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Devil of The Highlands 2009 - a spectators view

I rose early on Saturday morning to head up to watch and take photos at the Devil which started at Tyndrum at 6am. As JR had an entry, I was going to offer to support him, as his sainted wife Helen had probably had enough of him at the Fling and the WHW and in any case they had had the grandkids for the past week or so. Jim hadn't recovered sufficiently from the big one,though, and decided to withdraw. However, race organiser Garry Milne asked him to support a couple of runners and he agreed to do so. He offered to give me a lift up, but as I wanted a bit of independence to take my photos, I decided to take my own car. Little did I realise that his two charges were Mark Leggett and Helen Johnson (1st lady) both of whom ran sub 7 hours!
In my last post I instructed all readers to SMILE a request that was met with a comment from the WHW RUNNER to the effect that he rarely had anything to smile about when running ultras! However, I managed to get one out of him at Bridge of Orchy so he'll have one to cherish!
After the race briefing, where I managed to speak with most of the familiar faces running, the field gathered at Brodies and set off on the dot of 6am.
I had no intention of entering and running the race, and indeed struggled to get any pace on the short run I had at Glencoe, but I really did envy them as the first section is amongst my favourites. After a pit stop I drove after the runners and managed a few long distance shots as they climbed the hill towards the rail crossing. Thomas, Neal and Caroline were amongst many who had stopped on the big layby north of Tyndrum to shout their encouragement across the glen. Driving on to Bridge of Orchy I parked south of the hotel so as not to further congest the checkpoint and after speaking to JR headed off on the trail above the railway for my next set of pics. One of Richie shows why he is such a terrific runner. He levitates!
Debbie and John were both having good runs and Ian can take smiling lessons from Debs any time!

As I left to go to Glencoe disaster struck. Placing my camera on the roof of the car whilst I took my jacket off, I promptly drove off without retrieving it. I heard it slide off and on examining it found the casing scraped and cracked. Worst, it would only work intermittently, sometimes not operating, sometimes not auto focusing, and, when flash was used, only getting a white screen. Fortunately, it worked a bit better when in sports action mode, so I used manual focus and managed to take reasonable photos the rest of the day.
On reaching Glencoe ski centre I ran to the top of the ridge onto Rannoch Moor managing to run quite freely on some sections but on rougher patches my knees sent the usual signal to the brain and I only managed about 35 minutes running - and I didn't get far. Did meet the leaders though and the only question I was asking was "Who will be third?" as the first two already had a lead of over 7 minutes as they passed me, although Paul Hart had a slight and inconsequential lead over Craig Stewart when they passed. I changed and drove down to Kingshouse where I met the Kynaston/Consani/Lohendorf/Scott supporters and managed to get a few photos although some were deleted due to lack of focus. John Foley was on his knees looking for an earring Aileen had dropped - he later found it in some clothing - and I promised him I would confirm he was looking! He reckoned Aileen wouldn't believe him!
Debbie looking really strong at this point and seemed to be having the time of her life running this race, and John was looking strong too although he would have a rough patch soon.
I reached Kinlochleven just after the leader (Craig) had gone through and saw Paul Hart about a couple of hundred yards behind. Grabbed a bite to eat before deciding that it was getting too busy in the streets and to head over to Fort William to await the leaders rather than going to Lundavra where I reckoned one less car would be one less bit of hassle for those with a need to be there. So I went to the finish and took photos for about an hour after the first finisher Craig Stewart.

I had a blether with a few supporters including Vicky, BH of second place Paul Hart. I've enjoyed reading her blogs over the past year as she recovered from injury and set about re- arranging her PB list. She ran at the Helensburgh 1/2 marathon this morning setting a cracking time at what I think was her first attempt at the distance.
Then JR appeared withgn the news that Helen was well ahead
of Debs in second place

with Aileen fading a bit to third, and that was how they finished.
Quite a few runners made the journey north just to watch the finish, including Marc Casey of Dumbarton, Davie and Sharon, Stevie, Adrian and others.Brilliant support for the race and the runners that I'm sure they appreciated.

Photos here

Due to technical problems (my incompetence) the last photo (Aileen)
appears first.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009


Three re-unions to talk about. One was a very brief one with my training shoes as I set off this afternoon to see if a longer run tonight would be on the cards. Initially successful as my first steps did not involve searing pain through my knees or lower back, singing hamstrings or deep seated pain in my bum, I was soon reduced to a slow shuffle as the very short run wore on. I had stretched, exercised, cycled, aqua-jogged stair climbed and swam to little avail, but I just felt that I could get me along to jogscotland to run with one of the beginner groups. So that's what I did. About 20 minutes was all I managed although I did speed up a bit on a grassy section, but, what the heck, every journey begins but with a single step. I'll try again tomorrow. Hopefully things will gradually improve.
The other re-union was in the west end of the big city, Byres Rd to be precise. I was going with two of my former colleagues to meet up with an old colleague who had left the Strathclyde force 19 years ago to join British Transport Police, retired as a Chief Inspector and was currently on holiday from his new home in Perth, West Australia, where his wife is a paramedic. Colin is from Benbecula and, although a much reformed character, used to drink as a native born. We shifted some amount of booze back in the day, as did Billy and Jim who were with me. Surprisingly, call it age, not a drop was drunk as we met in one coffee shop, lunched on Pasta and finished up in another coffee shop. As soon as we settled into the first round of beans the volume went up several notches and the Queens English became a thing of the past as a few well chosen adjectives and verbs ensured an x certificate. When we went into the restaurant I asked the Maitre d'- ok the burd at the counter, for a table as far from decent people as possible as things would get more and more raucous. "Sorry" was her reply, "we don't use that section at lunchtime." That was a worry as there was a table of nine and ten-year-olds on a birthday outing very close. Not a problem. They made such a racket that we old fellas decided to cut and run after lunch and one round of cokes. No coffee. Couldn't wait to get away from the place where today's generation drowned out our loudest indiscretions.
We moved to another coffee shop where we continued "All Our Yesterdays". Unbelievably, four of Strathclyde's former finest had no alcohol whatsoever. No wonder the drinks business is going down the tubes. All you whisky connisseurs better lay down a good cellar. Diageos shares are about to plummet.

I also had a wee family re-union as the Hall clan of Irvine descended on Cardross in order that Darren and I could go to the pub next door to thank the staff and customers for their contribution to my fundraising on his behalf. The pub has an occasional Jazz Sunday, and on the last occasion they raised over £300. It was on the Sunday of the race so I didn't get back in time to say thanks that day.
Current total is over £1700 and there may be more to come as a few pledges have yet to be redeemed.

Finally, good luck to all on Saturday's "DEVIL OF THE HIGHLANDS". I hope to be up there taking a few photos. JR is providing back-up to a couple of runners but I'll take my own car so I'm not tied to him and I can get about that bit quicker. Remember to SMILE folks!