2019 (Iain)

A few years ago, I attended a Stand Up Comedy course. At the end of the course I performed a 5 minute “comedy” set. You can see the alleged “comedy” below

At the end of the gig a man came up to me to say “I really enjoyed that! You must let me know when you’re performing again”

I was pleased. I’d only done one gig but I’d already gained a fan!

I told my fan that I had a gig booked for the following week at a comedy club. He promised to attend. 

I was a bit nervous before the gig. After all it was only my second ever gig but before I went on, I looked out and saw my fan sitting in the front row. I thought to myself. At least there’s one man here who’ll laugh. I went out and performed my “comedy.” My fan didn’t laugh once. 

Afterwards I went up to him and asked if he’d enjoyed it. “Not really.” he replied “I preferred your early stuff!”

I never saw him again.  

I was reminded of this whilst thinking about my race plans for next year. Nothing has been exciting or motivating me to enter. 

I thought, maybe I should do an Ironman BUT I can’t be arsed! Last years effort and training for Norseman was hard work. I’d rather have an easier year with less pressure. 

I thought, maybe I should do a Marathon BUT I can’t be arsed! I’ve done marathons before and the thought of doing another one doesn’t excite me.

What I really needed was a race that captures the excitement and feeling I get when its the first time I do it. The early stuff!

The only race I’ve never done before is an Ultra marathon. I’ve always been scared of the distance and the loneliness of running for that far and long. 

So as its the only event I’m scared of and its the only running distance I’ve never done before then I knew immediately that’s what I have to do in 2019.

Now I just need to decide which one….

It’s A Stay- (In The Bag) -Cation (Andrew)

I was on holiday last week. Five days in Lisbon during what I would describe as a pleasant summer’s day – 20 degrees, light breeze, some sunshine but just enough cloud to not make it overbearing – but it was also what the Portuguese would describe as the depths of winter, given the number of locals wearing puffer jackets, hats, scarves and woolly gloves.

It just goes to show how subjectively we view the weather. When you live in Scotland – everywhere else is the tropic; when you live in the Med, everywhere else is Scotland.

Before I go on holiday I always make a list of everything I’ll need to bring. If I don’t, I’ll forget something important. Like my passport, which meant I once travelled to Ireland with my bus pass. It got me in, but, when I tried to leave, the border guard said: “A Strathclyde Passenger Transport card is not a proper form of ID”. I said: “It was when you let me in!”. He couldn’t answer that logic so he let me out.

I always include a spot on my list for my running trainers, shorts and a couple of t-shirts. I always think “Won’t it be great to run around foreign cities and explore bits of them that’ll I’ll never see when walking?”

And I always return home with the trainers unworn, the shorts unfolded and the t-shirts still smelling of fabric softener. Good intentions last as far as the white cliffs of Dover.

I think I don’t run when I’m away because I always walk everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, if the place I want to see is not actually in a different time zone then I’ll walk to it rather than get a bus or a train. Because it’s a new place, everywhere is new and exciting. Walking is just another way to get bearings and to discover where I am. And, by the time I’ve walked everywhere, my legs are tired and I don’t then fancy running a few more miles.

Bizarrely, it’s the exact opposite of home. Want to walk anywhere? Nah, take the car instead!

But I also don’t run because it’s sunny. And warm. And who wants to run in nice weather? What the point of training in good conditions when you live in Scotland?!?!?

It’s the same in July when we get one week of good weather. When I look at a blue sky I think I’ll pass on going out for a run.

But I always bring my trainers with me. I like knowing I have the choice. Even if that choice hasn’t been used in any recent holiday. However, next time, I tell myself I will go out for a run. I will put on my trainers and I will explore the city on foot!

Unless the weather’s better than Scotland in which case, nah, you’re alright, I’ll just walk… 🙂

Antonine Trail Race 2018 (Andrew)

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Two bumblebees get out of the car. One of them adjusts his wings and his trainers and then starts to run.

Death stands beside an angel and both start to stretch.

This is the Antonine Trail Race. A half marathon up, over, around and back over Croy Hill between Kilsyth and Cumbernauld. Every year it’s held on the last of Sunday in October and the organisers encourage runners to take part in Halloween costume. At the start line you see a lot of photos, high fives and people not realising that they’re about to start swearing when they hit the first hill and realise how hot it is to dress like a bee while trying to run a mile up a trail.

It was a fantastic day for the race. It was cold but with an almost cloudless sky it was just the right temperature for running.

It starts with one mile on a narrow path so try and get near the front if you don’t want to be blocked in. After the first mile, the hill climbing starts with a mile and half of trail runs and climbing to the top of Croy Hill. After that it’s undulating before a mile long descent down to the canal and Kilsyth marsh. A few miles of flat trails are broken up by an environmentally friendly water spot – there was no plastic cups.

The organisers had warned in advance that the only cups would be “sharing cups” – and they warned that there might be more than just water in the cups after twenty sweaty runners had swigged from it. So, they recommended bringing your own bottle. I ran with a trail belt with a couple of small water bottles. I didn’t fancy sharing anything!

After the water stop it’s a steady climb through the forest around Barr Hill. A few sharp inclines near the top make it a challenging run before another long drop down to the base of Croy Hill and another lap up it – this time from the opposite side.

The good news at that point is that you finish with a final mile back on the narrow paths and with a gentle descent (apart from one sharp shock) and a cracking photo opportunity at the finish as you beat a red devil to the line.

And if that wasn’t enough to recommend it – the organisers lay on a bumper food stall at the finish with cakes, biscuits, bananas, more cakes and selection of gels and liquids.

Roll on 2019!

More info: https://antoninetrailrace.com

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The Hill (Andrew)

There’s a hill near my house that’s smaller than I thought. Every few weeks I like to run up it to check if I can run it faster than before.

The hill is in Queen’s Park. You start at Balvicar Street then run up a 9% slope until you get to the flagpole at the top of the park. It started as a two minute run and over the last 18 months I’ve been getting closer to one and a half minutes. Until Saturday, when I found out it was smaller than I thought because…

… Stava doesn’t use the top of the hill as it’s finish line. It stops it’s segment just below the flag pole. I’d been running an extra 20 metres and it wasn’t recorded.

And if a runner runs in the woods and doesn’t record it in Strava, do they make a sound?

For 18 months I’ve been running up the hill and leaving my final burst of speed until AFTER the actual finish line. I’d been running to the top when the finish line was still on the slope.

D’oh!

Which just goes to show how much I use Strava i.e. not a lot! I like the app to see gradient, speed and matching run times. So, if I run the same route again, it’ll remember and show you how you compare.

But as for segments, I only look at two. Queen Park hill run and another hill run in Stornoway to run up to the War Memorial overlooking the town.

And, looking at that one, I have that one wrong too…

I start running after the segment starts! I run from a gate when I should be running 10 metres before that. No wonder my time of three minutes was so slow – I wasn’t even trying for part of the run.

So, while I can see the appeal of Strava segments, turning the world into a series of races and challenges, in practice, there’s a reason for a start line and finishing tape. You need to know when to run and when to stop.

However, just as Chris Froome would do better if he turned up for the Tour De France in France instead of starting in Japan, looking on the bright side, I can now see that I can do the same and smash my best time just by running the right route next time I’m out.

My first marathon (Iain)

I recently read a post about completing a marathon.

“The marathon is such a huge commitment and is a lot of work. But it is the most rewarding race I’ve ever done. The first time you cross that line is so emotional. The relief, the pain, the tears, it’s a moment that will live with you forever.”

It really chimed with me because when I first completed a marathon I felt none of those things because all i felt was my nipples. That sounds weird. Let me explain….

It took me three attempts to complete a marathon but I’d argue the first two don’t count.

My first attempt was the Edinburgh Marathon. Andrew had entered and trained for months. I had not entered or trained at all yet I found myself on the start line when a spare place became available the day before the race. I only did it to keep Andrew company for the first half of the race. I dropped out after the half way point to catch a bus home.

My second attempt was an out and back course at the Fort William Marathon I ran out but couldn’t be bothered running back as it was a really boring route. I have never done an out and back race since.

My third attempt was the Tokyo marathon. I do not remember much about the race other than it was a bit chilly and not very scenic. Once I’d run down one Japanese road full of office blocks then I’d seen them all.

As I got nearer the finish, I felt a pain in my chest. My first thought was “Am I having a heart attack?” so I did what all men do in the face of a medical issue. I ignored it. I stared ahead and concentrated on making it to the finish line. As I crossed the finish line, the pain got worse. I put my hand to my chest. It felt damp. I looked down. My top was covered in blood. Had I been attacked by a Japanse vampire – Count Japula?  I moved my hand around. I felt my nipples, I screamed in agony! They were bleeding.

I now regretted my decision to run the race in a Celtic FC football top. The thick heavy polyester of the top had chafed my nips like a cheese grater. I was practically nip-less.

Now the panic set it. Maybe I’d need nip replacement surgery! Would Andrew donate one of his to me? If he didn’t where would I get one from? Should I get big or small ones? So many questions!

I didn’t have a replacement top so after the race I got the subway and then walked to my hotel after the race in my green and white and blood top. To this day I’ve never felt the magic of the marathon as every time I finish one I immediately check my nips and thank they lord they are still there.

Lance Drugmonger (Andrew)

Black Panther is a mass murderer!

Bear with me, minor spoilers for the film ahead, but hear me out. I’m a lawyer. I believe in the rule of law: no person or government is above the law. In simple terms, it doesn’t matter who you are, we all have to follow the same laws.

Pretty much everyone (dictators, Donald Trump and psychopaths excepted) agree that this is a GOOD THING.

Now let’s look at the evidence against Black Panther.

  • He’s the King of a civilised country
  • He believes in the rule of law
  • There is a law that someone of royal blood can challenge him for the throne
  • We see at the start of the film that he follows the rules. He accepts the challenge, he strips himself of his super-strength and armour and fights them as equals.
  • We see this again near the end of the film, except, minor spoiler alert, he loses!
  • He then, skipping over some of the details, cheats by taking his powers back, wears his armour again and returns to KICK ASS!
  • But that’s not all he does. He also gathers up an army and kills everyone who stands in his way, ordinary citizens of Wakanda who are just following the rule of law by accepting the legitimate winner of the challenge as their King.
  • He’s a MASS MURDERER!
  • Lock up T’Challa!
  • Kilmonger is innocent!

But he did make the mistake of calling himself ‘Kilmonger’. It’s the curse of nominative determinism. That your name, defines who you are. Call yourself Kilmonger and people think you must be a bad guy. Yet, he only got that name because he worked as a soldier for the US Government. So, he was following the rule of law too. He was a soldier in service to his country. He shouldn’t be called Kilmonger, he should be called Lawmonger, given all the laws he mongers!

Anyways, watching Black Panther got me thinking about performance enhancing drugs because the one big thing that bothered me about the film (among all the other things) was that it accepts Black Panther is a drug cheat. He takes a potion made from a glowing blue power to get super-strength. Kilmonger, it must be said, doesn’t. There’s only one cheat in this film and that’s the supposed good guy.

But is it ever okay to take performance enhancing drugs? Because, while I was watching it, I was thinking that earlier that day I’d taken a couple of paracetamol before going out for a run. I had a sore neck and headache developing and thought the paracetamol would see it off.

Am I as bad a Black Panther? Should I be called Drugmonger?

And that made me look at the film in a whole new light. Maybe, just like cyclists in the early 00s, Black Panther is only taking super-strength cocktails just to keep up with all the other superheroes taking drugs. They’re all at it. Super-serums for Hulk and Captain America. It’s a dirty system and Black Panther could be just as much of a victim as every other systemic drug cheat.

Who’s the real victims here then? The countless people who died at Black Panther’s hand or Black Panther himself?

It makes you think, doesn’t it? Maybe Lance Armstrong was actually the good guy? Maybe, by taking all the drugs, he was fighting to restore his rightful place as the head of the peloton from Eric Tourmonger, the rider who monged (is that the right word?) all the tours.

Whisper, maybe Lance Armstrong is innocent?

(Clearly not).

It did make me think about my own drug taking and whether a couple of painkillers was acceptable or whether, just like Lance and Black Panther, I might, just might, be edging to the dark side.

Just in case, to avoid slaughtering hundreds of my own people, in future I’ll just tough it out. Just call me ManUpMonger! For all the manning up I’ll be mongering!

 

 

 

Alley Alley Alley! Go! Go! Go! (Andrew)

I’m not a thief. I’m not ‘casing the joint’.

I’m not a mugger, though I am hiding in dark alleys.

I’m a runner – but one that’s set myself a challenge to run around Glasgow using as few streets as possible. Instead I’m running along lanes and alleyways, small parks and connecting paths. I’m explo-running*.

*TM Pending (And when I say pending, I mean the trademark office said don’t call us, we’ll call you. Which is encouraging as they wouldn’t want to spend their own money on a call unless they were really keen on the name!)

It started a couple of months back. You get used to running the same streets next to your house. No matter what you do, when you leave the house, unless like a blues guitarist you were born on a cross road, you can only turn left or right. Same road. Same sights.

It’ll be the same for every street around you. You’ve seen them a hundred times because you’ll have familiar routes and you’ll trod the same old steps.

I’ve been in Shawlands for 16 years. I know every street from Queens Park to Harry Fairburn in Giffnock. I’ve run up them, I’ve run down them, I’ve run of the left side, I’ve swapped to the right. I could run some routes blindfolded, but I won’t because I’m not an idiot. I’d veer off into traffic! But you know what I mean. I’ve been there, run that.

Until a couple of months ago when I thought, “What’s up that alley?” And I ran behind some houses on Kilmarnock Road and found an alley of garage doors, back gardens and glimpses of people washing up dinner at kitchen windows. Who then called the cops as they saw me gawk in at them looking for all the world like I’d just been caught trying to jump their fence…

It was new, it was different, and it felt like discovery. I was Christopher Columbus finding a new world… of domestic tasks and refuse bags. Which is not a new world they’d show on Star Trek. Spock never transported down to a new planet to face 45 minutes of marigolds and Fairy Liquid, But, still, a new world nonetheless.

After that, I’ve started looking out for every path that twists behind a house, every track that leads to a cluster of garages and every lane well trundled by a thousand bins.

There’s a whole network criss-crossing the city. Unexplored, unventured and ready for the intrepid runner to go exploring!

Unless, and I cannot stress this enough, you’re woman*! I’m not a mugger but that doesn’t mean you should explore dark alleys on your own!

(*This general sexist description includes men scared of shadows and excludes woman who can handle themselves in a fight or routinely carry a recently sharpened knife of at least six inches.)

Get out there and get explore-running!

(Safely!)

This blog was brought to you by a love of running, exploring and public safety announcements.

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Norseman video (Iain)

The official Norseman 2018 video has been released. The first Norseman video I saw was the 2013 film

I didn’t know a thing about the race or triathlons but I was transfixed by people jumping off a ferry. It looked amazing. I looked at what the race involved and wondered why anyone would want to jump off a ferry into a fjord.

5 years later I was lucky enough to do it. This is the video

Hopefully it will inspire someone else to dream of jumping off a ferry.

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In other news – this site has been nominated for a prize. Yes – really and its not a prize for terrible punctuation and grammer which has come as a shock to Andrew who claims he has to correct all of my blog posts after I’ve written them!

If you want to give us a vote then you can do so here:

https://therunningawards.com/vote/205/233#vote

Around The World In 80 Days (Andrew)

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Last year, Mark Beaumont smashed the record to cycle round the world by circumnavigating the globe in 79 days. This year, he released a book. I haven’t given any spoilers as he tells us he succeeded in first few pages. Instead, he said he wanted to write a book to show how it was done, rather than could it be done. What did it take to cycle 16 hours every day for 79 days?

The answer was easy – be a dick.

On nearly every page the clear impression he gave was that he had to be a selfish dick who cared for nothing and nobody but riding his bike from before dawn to after dusk.

Shout at support crew? Scream at the camera man for not getting the right shots? Tear apart the team manager for taking the wrong road?

He did it all. And you have to, kind of, respect him for it.

Not the attitude but his honesty in revealing that’s what he became in order to be someone who could focus on cycling every unrelenting waking moment.

As such it’s refreshing to read a book which shows how far an athlete has to go in order to be the best at something. And the cost it has on their relationships and support in order to do that.

Was it worth it? It’s difficult to tell, without actual spoilers about the end of the race, but I would recommend reading the book and finding out.

Interestingly, we went to a talk by Mark a few weeks ago in Glasgow. He revealed at the start that after his previous adventures – cycling the world, the Americas and Africa – he was always approached after every show by people who wanted to emulate him. But this time, he said, not one person had asked him about racing the world. Which perhaps shows, that while many people will dream of a BIG ADVENTURE, very few people dream of becoming dicks in the process.

Kind of a nice thought, actually. Most folk just want to be nice.

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P.E class (Iain)

I grew up before sexual equality was invented. Sexual discrimination was rife against girls although very occasionally it was against boys.

At my primary school boys and girls received two physical education lessons a week.  They were taken by a female teacher. The boys and girls would get changed. The class would start. The teacher would tell the boys to stand at the side of the gym. She’d then let the girls play games for 40 minutes before letting the boys have 20 minutes at the end.

She once made the boys stand for the whole hour. The boys didn’t get a single minute of exercise!

Years later I got my revenge on her. I had a job as a paper boy. The gym teacher was on my round. She liked the Scotsman. She hated the Daily Record. Whenever there was no Scotsman’s in stock I’d put a Daily Record through her door instead.

BUT what I’ve realised is that I didn’t get my revenge. What I’d done was assume a male privilege that I as a man deserved to be treated better so I must have been discriminated against. Actually what she had done was very clever. She knew the boys got lots of exercise. We played football before school, every break and after school. If we weren’t in the classroom we we’re on the football pitch.

The girls, on the other hand, got very little exercise. There were no facilities for them to play at breaks and no encouragement from any teacher to do exercise. Therefore she used the two chance she had to get them to do exercise as they needed support more than the boys did.

I wasn’t discriminated against for losing P.E time. I was privileged to get every other bit of time!

I’m sorry I gave her the Daily Record. It’s a sh*t paper.