“Does anyone want to play football? Eleven a-side. You don’t need to play, you just need to be able to run.”
My first thought was “No!” and my second thought was “Hell NO!!!” because full fat football, the eleven a-side version, is horrible.
First, you have to have a position. A position that says where you should be, who you should mark, when you should run and when you should defend. Which sound easy. If you’re a left side defender you should be on the left side of pitch. However, you might think that’s where you should be, everyone else in your team will shout “FFS! You’re out of position again!” To everyone else, you couldn’t be more out of position if you were a dyslexic reading the Karma Sutra.
Because here’s the thing. In every eleven a-side game there’s at least one, if not half a dozen players, who think they have the motivational skills of Sir Alex Ferguson. Not in the inspire you to victory and to give your all until the very last minute type way. More in a “I will *****ing kill you, you *****ing **** if you ******ing don’t get *****ing back in *****ing position” type motivational speech way.
Playing eleven a-side football turns some people into tyrants. Usually Dave from IT, the one you least suspect of Hulking out as he never says a word to anyone, just sends email that you delete without reading because you know he’ll be talking about the server again.
It could be worse though. You could volunteer to play and you hear language that no one should ever hear. Words that would terrify Rambo and make The Rock cower in fear. Those words: “Barry’s not turned up, can you go in goals?”
Recently, whilst queuing at a bakers, an old lady standing ahead of me said:
“Please can I have two doughnuts?”
The baker replied, “Sorry, I’ve run out of normal doughnuts. I’ve only got two two mini doughnuts instead.”
The old lady looked at the very small mini doughnuts and said “No thanks – too much sugar.”
My immediate thought: “WTF!!! They were tiny. They had less sugar than the full sized doughnuts she originally ordered! If she wants to avoid sugar she shouldn’t order multiple donuts at 0830 in the morning!”
She then said: “I’ll have two french fancies instead.”
Which made me think: “YOU DON’T WANT SUGAR BUT NOW YOU’RE ORDERING A CAKE MADE OF SUGAR, COVERED IN SUGAR ICING WITH A SUGAR CREAM FILLLING!!!”
I think in block capitals when thinking loudly.
And her purchase annoyed me as I wanted the french fancies for myself.
I was reminded of this when visiting my parents home (Stornoway) last weekend. My mum saw me and said, “You’re looking broad!”
Which is a polite way of saying “fat bastard”.
I like to think it’s all muscle but, considering I’m sitting here eating a cake, then that would be as delusional as a Theresa May thinking Brexit will be a success.
When I did IronMan UK my weight was 12 Stone. My Current weight is 13 stone which considering I’m 6ft 1 is well within normal healthy range. Strangely, although I’m heavier, all my times and fitness levels are better now than back then.
I can only conclude one thing. Cake make me faster and fitter!
I don’t know an awful lot about torture but I do know that water torture must be the worst kind of torture – because what can be worse than swimming behind someone in the fast land as they only go and swim the bloody breast stroke… grrr! Now, that’s torture!
And, with all that water torture that goes on at Guantanamo Bay, I can only imagine it’s like an evil Butlins. I bet they don’t even water the slides and make the prisoners slide down on the hard plastic giving them all friction burns. The monsters! Damn you, George W Bush and your slow lane hogging legacy war on terror!
However, for those like me, who hate water torture but also hate asking people to move lane, I have an answer that fixes both the torture and the akward conversation. We need to rethink how we divide swimming pools. Slow, medium and fast lanes are too subjective. What is fast? Is it someone swimming the crawl slowly or someone swimming doggy style quickly? And who even knows what medium is? Is that when you try and swim with one arm only? It’s too difficult to work out!
Instead, we need to come up with an entirely objective approach. One where we can quite happily approach strangers and tell them that there in the wrong lane without any risk of an argument.
· The little old lady lane for little old ladies who don’t like to get there hair wet.
Now, before you say I’m sexist and ageist by picking on (a) ladies; and (b) pensioners, please read on to the next lane before you make judgement. I’m also picking on men too.
So, who would be in this land. That’s an easy one. I’m picking woman who are over 60 and below 5 foot 6 inches but, crucially, always swim with their head at least 10 feet out of the water. You know the type. Gets in gingerely. Makes sure they don’t splash and then tries to slowly, slowly swim no more than two laps by not creating a single ripple.
Ladies, I salute you, and, to you, I give you your own lane.
· The big dick, dick lane for men who not only think they’re big dicks they’re also big dicks.
This lane is for the dick who swim back and forth no matter who is in front of them. You know who they are. They’re the ones who always swim around you and into other people because it’s more important that they keep swimming and everyone else stops than it is not to be a dick.
You can usually tell the big dick in the pool because they’re also the only ones who wear Speedos in a way which cause maximum exposure of their… big gut.
· The lane for those who like to swim, not just paddle.
This is the lane for most of us. You can tell it because it’s the lane with the swimmers in goggles, even though they don’t really need them, and the constant question of “Is it okay if I go?” when they get to the end of the lane and someone is waiting at the wall. It’s the anti-dick lane. The ‘no, you go first’ lane.
· The ‘kids shouldn’t be here’ lane.
This is a lane for all the parents who bring their kids into the adults only time and then take a whole lane to themselves even though little Timmy is only paddling beside the wall. You’ll find this lane in the changing room beside a clock with a timetable reminding them when they can go in!
The first race I ever entered was the Glasgow Half Marathon in 2001. I recently tried to find my result but all I found was a paragraph in the then Glasgow Herald:
“Congratulations to the 7,625 runners who completed the race. Results will be available in Glasgow libraries from Friday.”
Imagine entering a race now in which you only got your result a week later in a library.
For any kids reading this. Libraries are like a Kindle but in brick form.
When we were young Andrew and I would go to the local library in the morning to get a book each. We’d read the book in the afternoon and then return to the library to get another book to read in the evening.
Yes – we were the cool kids in school.
Myself, Andrew and one of his friends had entered the race. Andrew’s friend arrived at the start wearing a backpack that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Sherpa climbing Everest.
“Are you off to climb a Munro?” I joked.
The Sherpa didn’t laugh.
“No. I brought the backpack to carry my juice.” He pulled out a two litre bottle of orange.
I stared at it and said: “’You do know you get water on the course? You don’t need to bring your own.”
He looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course I know that. That’s why I brought diluting juice!” He’d brought a two litre bottle of Robinson’s diluting orange juice.
How much juice can a man drink!? He either gets very thirsty or he was planning to open an orange juice stall.
The race started.
Someone from the crowd spotted the Sherpa and shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?”
He didn’t laugh.
30 seconds later a woman from the crowd shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?” This was going to be a long day…
My race was uneventful until I got to the nine mile point. I wanted to beat the other two. I looked at them. They weren’t paying attention so I started running as fast as I could. I’d run fast until I got to the finish line.
I ran hard. I saw the 10 mile sign in the distance. Not far to go now. One last push…I ran hard. I looked for the finish line…but there was no finish line. At this point I realised a half marathon is half a marathon and not, as I mistakenly thought, 10 miles.
I felt a bit stupid and the fast run had tired me out. I had to walk. The other two caught up with me.
“Why did you run off?” Asked Andrew.
I told them the truth…sort of.
“I was desperate for the loo….ummm…yes…that’s why.”
They continued running. I walked the last three miles until I got to the finish. I met Andrew and the Sherpa. The Sherpa offered me some juice. I said yes
He opened his bag to get it but pulled out a pair of boxing gloves.
WTF!!! Said the expression on my face. “Why did you run with them?”
“This is my boxing bag. Where else would I keep them?”
A few weeks ago it was reported that the UK Government was going to scrap 1p and 2p coins because no one used them anymore and they just clogged up space in your purse or wallet.
Within a day, after front page stories attacked the idea, the Government u-turned as it announced it had no plans to scrap them at all, proving once and for all that everyone both loves and hates change.
Runners love change because change represents variety. I usually try and run different routes each time I go out so that while I might follow streets or paths I’ve run before I try and not have too much of a fixed route in my mind. That way I can change direction, pick a side road I’ve not in in a while or, my new favourite hobby, run along a back alley and find the secret routes through Glasgow hidden behind houses, offices and shops.
Running’s all about the route, not the destination.
Cyclists on the other hand hate change. When you’re on a bike, while it’s nice to explore new routes, it’s also reassuring (and safe!) to ride the roads you know well. The ones where traffic is light, where you’re not likely to meet an unexpected pothole, and you can concentrate more on the destination than the route. You have somewhere to get to, and you want to get there in the fastest possible time.
That’s why I’m disappointed to read that this year Etape Caledonia will have a new route. Not much of a change, an extra three miles to incorporate a short climb before Loch Rannoch, but a change nonetheless.
After several years of trying to get faster and aiming to beat four hours, an extra three miles means that history is lost. I can’t compare this year with previous years as we’re now riding a new route.
And while the new route will be good – any ride in Perthshire is good – it’s also bad as it means the history is lost.
So, just like the penny, change is both bad and good!
On Saturday, it was a beautiful day and we went to Wanlockhead – the highest village in Scotland – for a 40 mile cycle down through the Menock pass and back via Drumlanrig Castle and Elvenfoot before climbing to the top of the radar station.
Before we started, we parked in the centre of the village. A smiling man with an old large rucksack approached.
“Are you here to open the shop?”
We explained we were cycling.
“Oh, my bus leaves in 10 minutes and I need to buy my licence.”
“You need a licence for the bus?”
“No, I need a licence from the land owner as I’m here to find GOLD!”
Which was not what I was expecting to hear at 9am on a Saturday morning when (a) we’re not in California; and (b) it’s not the nineteenth century!
“How do you find gold?”
He opened his rucksack and then showed me a tube that was used to collect gravel from the bottom of riverbeds. He showed me a large plastic tray with grooves where the lighter soil would be washed away but the heavier gold would be caught in the grooves. Then he showed me his pan where he gently washed the last of the gravel leaving behind the millions and millions of pounds of GOLD!
“Do you find much?”
“I usually find a few specks the size of a grain of salt.”
Really?!? I looked round to see his Rolls Royce.
“And how much is that worth?”
“Nothing really, not even a pound, but it’s FUN!”
I didn’t want to hear about fun. I wanted to hear about making millions just washing gravel. But despite, as I found out later, Wanlockhead being known as ‘God’s Treasure House in Scotland’ due to the abundance of minerals found in the area, there’s not a lot of gold in them there hills.
In fact, the licence was £5 (I checked) and if it was possible to make more money panning for gold than selling licences for £5 then you can bet the land owner wouldn’t be selling licences for £5.
Despite the small chance of striking riches, as we cycled round I began to see that all the people I’d previously thought were fishing were actually panning for gold instead. It seems that gold fever is alive and well and can be found in Wanlockhead.
Gold though was the last thing on my mind on Sunday at the Balfron 10k. Iain’s already described the race (see here). I can only add that it was the first time that I’d taken part and I can confirm that it was hilly and that every down hill seemed to lead to an ever longer uphill.
It was either that or my legs were still tired from cycling round Wanlockhead and every kilometre felt like a struggle today.
The race though is very well organised and has a good turnout of runners. And if you’re chasing a fastest 1K time on Strava then I can recommend the first 1K. A downhill so steep it can only be described with one word: “Geronimo!”
The Balfron 10k is an ‘out and back’ course. Excuse my mansplaining but I’m going to state the obvious – an ‘out and back’ course means you go out and then come back on the same course.
I assume all runners understand that… except one man.
The first half of the Balfron 10k is an undulating farm road. When I wasn’t running up a hill, I was running down a hill. The second half of the race is on exactly the same road as the out section (except for a short bit at the end)
I got to the turnaround point and I mentally prepared myself to run up and down the hills again. The man behind hadn’t prepared himself. He turned round and said:
“Who put that hill here?”
How could you forget. You were just on it! Have you got the memory capacity of a goldfish?
He screamed “aaaarghh” and fell into step running just behind me.
We came to another hill. I know because he said
“Why is there another hill here?”
Because we ran it on the way out!
He screamed “aaargh” again. and continued running just behind me.
We came to the last hill. I know because he said “Fuck off hill!” and then screamed “come on!”
At this point he ran past me. I noticed he had headphones on. His music was loud. Why is he talking to himself whilst simultaneously blocking all noise! Is it rude to wear headphones when you are talking to yourself? Does he turn to himself and say “You’re not even listening. You’re too busy listening to music!”
I got round in 45:42. Iwas happy with my time as (a) it was was faster than Andrew; (b) it was faster than last year; and (c) I got home in time for lunch.
On vacation I tried aerial yoga. Which is also known as trapeze yoga, flying yoga or “OMG, I’m going to die yoga!”
It’s a modern style of yoga that incorporates a low-hanging soft fabric hammock as well as a mat. Moves are done on a combination of mat and hammock or just hammock.
There was only four of us in the class. My partner, who is a yoga teacher, a German girl who is a yoga teacher and the yoga teacher. I’m not a yoga teacher, I’m not even a particularly good yoga student. I realized I was more out of my depth than a dolphin summiting Mount Everest.
The teacher asked me to test the aerial hammock by sitting in it and then spinning round 360 degrees in the air so he could see if my head touched the ground as I spin past the floor. This didn’t seem the most safety conscious method of testing a hammock. It’s like testing a gun by pointing it at my head and asking if I see a bullet comes out when the trigger is pulled.
I spin 360 degrees in the hammock. My head flew past the mat. My hair nearly touched the mat. The teacher said “you need a higher hammock!”
He adjusted the height higher to remove the risk of decapitation but kept it low enough that there was still a chance of serious head trauma.
We started with some sun salutations. Some moves were done with the hammock i.e. leaning on it, or putting a leg up to it. This meant the moves were harder and more intense than a normal sun salutation.
“Good. Now you are warmed up we can start the class.” The teacher said.
I thought that was the start! I looked at the clock to see how long I had to wait until I could escape my aerial deathtrap. Those salutations better count towards my time.
“We will do some inversions. Sit in the hammock. Put your hands like this.” He demonstrated a way to wrap the hands round the hammock. I copied him.
“Now spin round. Don’t worry, you won’t fall out”
I wasn’t worrying about falling out. I was too busy concentrating on my hands but, now that he’s mentioned falling out, that was all I can think of!
I tried to spin. I failed miserably. I can’t get my legs over my head. The instructor came over. He watched as I feebly tried to do it again. When I failed he grabbed my legs and before I could say “NO! I DON’T WANT TO DIE” he’s spun me 360 degrees!
“Excellent,” he looks pleased. “Now do it by yourself”
He went to help someone else. I tried to spin. I failed. So instead I stomped my foot loudly on the ground. He assumed the noise came from me stopping after doing a spin. “Did you succeed?”
I looked him straight in the eye and told him the truth “Yes – all the way round. I did it twice just to make sure”
“Great. Do it again so I can see.”
“Umm. I’m tired now….ummm…I’ll show you next time.”
The others stare at me knowing that I cheated.
The teacher heads back to the front of the class. “Lets do some High Intensity Interval Training….”
“Let’s not,” I think.
He demonstrated an upside down hanging in the air stomach crunch.
“Do it 20 times!!!”
I successfully crunch zero times.
Whilst hanging upside down trying to crunch I notice a man staring into the studio. I imagine he’s saying.
“Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No – its Superman….sorry. No. On second glance it’s not superman, it’s Iain. It looks like he’s hanging from the ceiling in a hammock. He doesn’t look well. His face has turned a funny color of red…”
At the end of the class the teacher asks “how are you all doing for time?” He doesn’t wait for an answer “Great. Lets continue!”
After another ten minutes of “flying” we get to leave. As I head my partner asks if my stomach muscles hurt after doing the HIIT crunches. I say “No – they feel fine!”
They did feel fine….until the next day when I feel like I’ve been used as a punchbag by Anthony Joshua.