Balfron 10K (Iain)

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.  I was 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.

Capture

Aerial Yoga (Iain)

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.

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Not me

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!”

Noooooooooooooooooooo!

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.

Cycling Mount Teide (Iain)

Last week I visited Tenerife. It’s the the largest of the Canary Islands, 200 miles off the west coast of Africa. It’s a four-hour 30 minute flight from Glasgow which meant I had time for two beers, a bottle of coke, a packet of crisps, 100 pages of my book and an episode of The Grand Tour.

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The day before my holiday

For years cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins have come to Tenerife to escape the bad weather at home. Lance Armstrong used to come to escape drug testers (allegedly).

I wasn’t here to train but, as it was snowing at home, I was glad to escape the bad weather. I was on a family vacation but I was allowed one day off to cycle.

I decided to attempt the iconic Mount Tiede climb. Tiede is the a volcano that dominates the island landscape. The road to it reaches a height of 2250m. Its not the highest road climb in Europe but it is the longest continuous ascent as it starts from sea level and doesn’t flatten out or go down until you get near the top.

I was staying in the southern town of Adeje.  I had an all inclusive deal which meant the hardest part of the ride was resisting ordering free beers the day before.

Initially I’d planned toe climb Tiede via the most direct route i.e Adeje to Los Christianos and then TF-28, TF- 51, TF-21 but I’d driven that route previously and got scared by a) the amount of traffic on TF-28 and the steepness of TF-21.

I frantically googled other options and settled on a longer climb which was supposedly on a much quieter road: Adeje to Guia de Isora via TF-82 then up to Aripe to join the TF-38.

I set off as soon as the sun came up. I was slightly apprehensive as cycling on Spanish roads always scares me due to the speed at which cars approach and enter roundabouts. The climbing started from the moment I left the hotel. The first section to the TF-82 was very quiet. I barely so a car or person.

The roundabout at the start of TF-82 was scary. Multiple lanes and lots of fast cars. I did what any coward would do in my situation. I got off my bike and used the pedestrian crossings to get round it. Once on the TF-82 the road was quiet all the way to Guia de Isora. The road has a large hard shoulder so even when a car did pass at speed it didn’t come near me.

It was at this point I realized I’d made an error and forgotten to take any money with me. I had two bottle of water and seven gels. I decided that would hopefully be enough and if not I could always ask another cyclist to lend me a euro for water.

The next section was very difficult. The town of Aripe was so steep I had to push my bike through it. I made the mistake of leaning my bike against a wall to take a picture to demonstrate how steep it was. Unfortunately the bike fell and one of my water bottles fell out and rolled all the way back down through the town. I had to walk down and then do the climb again!

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A quick rest

Once onto the TF-38 it’s a straightforward 23KM climb up onto the volcanic desert of Tiede. The road surface was amazing and there was hardly a car on it. The road cuts through the forest below Tiede which helpfully meant a lot of the ride was shaded from the sun.

I climbed 5KM at a time before stopping to admire the view and drink some water.

The last section was the desert. Great views but busier roads.  I cycled until I reached Los Rocques. The last high point before it dips down to the road to the cable cars that take tourists to the top of Tiede. I didn’t bother with that bit as I’d been there by car. There isn’t much to see other than a toilet and a load of tourists queing for tickets and the loo!

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My Top!

I went down the direct route to Los Christianos. The road was busy the closer I got to sea level. By the end it was a little too busy for my liking. On the way down I spotted some professionals going up. Team UAE, Team Astana and Team Chris Froome! He’s a team as he was the only one I passed who didn’t have team mates.  For some reason he was training by himself with just a Sky car for company. It’s as if he’s got something to hide…

All the teams were going up the hill faster than I was going down. Which shows you how quick they are and how much of a big Jessie I am when descending.

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The Route

Made Up Movie Monkeys (Andrew)

Hello. My name is Andrew Todd and I’m a hypochondriac.

Some people have a cough. I don’t. I have lung cancer.

Some people have a twitch. I don’t. I have sclerosis, sclerosis, sclerosis, scleroris, also called multiple scleroris.

Some people have nothing at all. I don’t. I always have something. I’ve even had Motaba, the fictional disease from the film Outbreak, because I’m a hypochondriac, and I don’t let fiction stop me catching a made up disease from a made up movie monkey.

Hypochondria messes with your mind. Not just in the obvious ways. The thinking you’re ill when you’re not type ways. Hypochondria makes me jealous of those who are genuinely ill – at least they know what they have. I don’t. Not until I’ve checked NHS Direct, WebMD and the ‘TellItToMeStraightDocAmIDying?’ internet forum where GPBobaFett357 confirms that “Yes, tiredness and heavy eyelids immediately after waking up first thing in the morning is definitely caused by… sleep tumours. Deadly, deadly sleep tumours!”.

It’s ridiculous.

I even feel jealous of people who are genuinely ill because at least they know they can be cured. There’s no cure for hypochondria. Even if there was, I’d just catch something else. Like the Black Death, which I’ve also had. It’s remarkably similar to the common cold. If only Dark Age doctors had prescribed two paracetamol, a cup of Lemsip and a Netflix subscription, they could have avoided a global pandemic. It worked for me, it would have worked for them.

Every headache’s a brain tumour. Every tremor a sign of Parkinsons. My nose bleeds will never end. I know my response is neither rational nor sane, I know that. But, while everyone is aware, on some level, of their body clock counting down the days, my body clock is bloody Big Ben. Every hour on the hour: “DOOM! DOOM! DOOM! DOOM!”.

DOOM! That brown mole is… the start of skin cancer! DOOM! That white spot is… a leprous pox! DOOM! That red itch… is viral meningitis!

I should see a doctor. But I don’t trust doctors. How can you trust someone who gave dyslexics such a hard word to spell? Or stutterers and stammerers such hard words to say?

Doctors don’t even know any medicine anymore. Last time I went to my doctor, all he did was check Google. To book a holiday. Do you know how much that hurt? To be ignored by a man who has sworn the Hippocratic oath. Especially when I had cerebral palsy. Again!

Hypochondria’s not even a cool mental illness. We don’t get to wear a black bin bag and get off with her-from-The-Hunger-Games like Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook. Ironically, for an illness that’s all about being ill, we don’t even consider it a proper illness. Hypochondria’s other name is ‘Man Up Syndrome’.

“I think I might have bird flu because a seagull shat on my head.”

“Man up!”

“I think I might have brain parasites because I fell asleep watching Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan and they crawl in your ear while you sleep you know.”

“Man up!”

“I think I might have scurvy because I don’t like bananas.”

“MAN UP!”

But I can’t help it. I can’t choose my mental illness. I can’t pick nymphomania, kleptomania,  Wrestlemania or Romania (research note to self – double check these last two are proper manias).

If I had a choice I’d choose nice mental illnesses. Something like Foreign Accent Syndrome – “I am lookin’ for ze Madonna wiv ze big boobies!” or the Cotard Delusion, also called the Zombie Delusion – “I’m a zombie and I want BRAINS!” – or, my favourite, Tourette’s Syndrome, which is 50% genuine mental illness and, I believe, 50% opportunistic heckling.

 

And the strange thing about hypochondria is how predictable it is. There are tens of thousands of illnesses yet hypochondria acts like there’s just three. The big three. Cancer. Cardiac Arrest. Athlete’s foot. Imagine going to a garage that acted like every emergency was the worst possible thing that could happen to you.

“Hi, I’ve think I’ve got a flat tyre – can you take a look at it?”

“No need. I can see the problem from here.”

“Oh, is it the tyre,  it looks lower than the other three?”

“No. It’s definitely exhaust pipe AIDS.”

“Are you sure? The exhaust pipe isn’t connected to the wheels.”

“Sorry mate, and your tyres have athletes foot. If I were you I would just curl up in a ball and cry yourself to sleep just like you do every single night.”

“Oh, imaginary mechanic, you know me so well!”

It’s the lack of variety in hypochondria that makes me watch every medical drama on telly. Many hypochondriacs avoid all medical information because it makes them more anxious. “Got that! Got that! Got that too! Oh God, I’m going to die!”

But, when my Big Ben strikes DOOM I don’t want what everyone else had, I want to be unique, I want to be the world’s first hypochondriac hipster.

DOOM!

“Is this brown mole skin cancer? No, it’s malignant hyperpigmentation – it’s the next big thing!”

DOOM!

“This white spot? Leprosy? Do I look like Jesus? Yes, I know I’m wearing sandals, I am a hipster, but that spot is clearly Denghe Fever which I caught after watching a Discovery Channel programme about rafting in the Congo.”

If hypochondria is all in my head, then I want my head to be bloody brilliant at picking fictional diseases.

But’s that’s the problem, isn’t it? It all in our heads.

Hypochondria is something that no one can see. People think I must be making it up. It’s a mental illness and we’re not good with mental illness. We don’t even have it in the Paralympics – and they’ve got blind people playing basketball: how mental is that?!

I have this theory. In the hierarchy of illnesses you get one point for a losing a limb, two points for a coma and three points from any disease that would actually get people to respond to an office wide email for a charity challenge. The mentally ill get minus one point. Hypochondria minus two.

We don’t get sympathy. All the mentally ill get is a straight jacket and a padded cell because, you know, it really help the mentally ill to have their arms strapped together so they can’t protect their delicate brains when they ricochet off the walls in an all-white padded bouncy castle/loony bin. Yes, we protect the mentally ill by making it impossible for them to protect their brains. I told you, Doctors are pricks.

Well, I say fek that. It’s time for me to “Man up!”. Yes, “MAN UP!”

My hypochondria’s an illness: as destructive as cancer, as strong as AIDS, as difficult to cure as athletes foot. I’ve don’t need to be ashamed. I have a big boy sickness. A proper disease. Just like Spanish flu, syphilis, scarlet fever and, my current illness, the all consuming rage virus from 21 Days Later*. Which I’ve also had, because, as I told you, I don’t let fiction stop me catching a made up disease from made up movie monkeys!

Say it loud. Say it with me. Say it proud “My name is Andrew Todd and I am a hypochondriac

*Though I might just have had the cold and that’s why I wasn’t training last week.

 

Tenerife (Iain)

In front of me a large man, with a massive beer belly, is rubbing sun tan lotion onto his naked upper body and face. I can barely see his skin due to how thick the white lotion is covering him.

This is a weird day.

I’m sitting on a fake concrete beach in a water park in Tenerife. A giant plastic elephant is staring at me and five minutes previously I’d screamed my way down a water slide at 80 km per hour. Quite frankly, the day couldn’t get any weirder. It did.

The fat fake albino turns to a young child, who I assume is his son. The dad raises both hands up and does a a grasping motion whilst shouting loudly “Grrrrrrrrrrr! Grrrrrrrr! Grrrrrrrrrrrrr!”

The dad then stomps around in a circle.

“Son – What am I?”

A mentalist? I thought.

The son stares blankly at the dad. The dad opens and closes his hands. He shouts louder “GRRRR! Grrrrrrr! GrrrrrrRRr! Son – What am I?”

The dads big fake white belly, fake white arms and fake white face where all starting to drip whiteness all over the floor.

“Dad – I don’t know!”

The dad continues stomping round in a circle. “Grrr! Grrrrrr!” The dad opens and closes his hands in a animistic grasping motion.

“SON! What am I?”

The son is nearly in tears “Dad! I don’t know….I don’t know!”

The huge white belly busting beast stops stomping around. He lowers his hands.

“For fucks sake son. I’m a polar bear. A frigging polar bear!”

The son looked at his dad. He though for a second and said “Polar bears live in the Arctic. It’s cold there. The bear wouldn’t go grrrrrrr it would go brrrrrr!”

I admired his logic!

The Alternative Hebridean Way (Iain)

Andrew and I grew up on the Isle of Lewis. It’s the furthest north and west you can go in the UK before you get to Iceland. We moved away from Lewis to go to university but our parents still live there.

The Isle of Lewis is renowned for three things – Harris Tweed, Gaelic and having the oldest group of rocks in the UK. The rock is called Lewisian gneiss. The second oldest rock group in the UK is The Rolling Stones.

In Summer 2016  I met a cyclist at Stornoway ferry terminal. I asked him where he’d been cycling on the island. He said: “I did the Hebridean way. A 185 miles route from Barra to Lewis.” I asked if he’d enjoyed it.  He said: “I’ve cycled in the arctic circle in Norway. I’ve biked the far north of Canada but I’ve never been as cold and miserable as cycling here!”

I gave gave him some words of encouragement “If you think this is cold you should try it in winter!”

The Hebrides is the best place in the world on a nice day but on a bad day….

After speaking to him I looked at the route of the Hebridean way. I was disappointed. It missed out lots of great places and bike routes. So here is my improved version of the parts I know well (Barra & Lewis/Harris).

BARRA

The ferry from Oban arrives early evening into Castlebay. The official route recommends starting your trip the next day in Vatersay before heading north to catch a ferry to Uist.

DON’T DO THAT! Stay in Barra for two nights so you have a full day to explore the island before leaving.

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Vatersay

Day 1: Head to Vatersay to see the official start. Make sure you have walking shoes with you as there’s a nice beach to explore here. From the start head clockwise around the island aiming to get to the airport for lunch time. They have a great onsite cafe. Check the plane timetable so you can watch the plane take off and land from the beach.

On the way to the airport stop at Barra golf club so you can see how a sheep field has been converted into a sports venue.

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View from the statue above castlebay

There’s only one hill of note which is towards the end of the  route. Anyone of moderate fitness can bike up it. Park your bike at the top of the hill so you can walk up the hill to the statue overlooking Castlebay. Finish off the day with a fast downhill ride into Castlebay.

 

barra

 

Day 2: Catch the ferry to Uist

UIST

My girlfriend’s sister is married to a man from the Western Isles (he’s from Uist.) Her other sister is married to a twin. I’m a twin from the Western Isles. I’m not sure if she was inspired by her sisters or whether she’s so competitive she’s just one up’ing them.

I’ve never been to Uist but her brother in law has a house there so hopefully I’ll visit one day. I therefore can’t comment on the route until it gets to…

HARRIS

Day 3: This is a controversial choice but I’d argue not to  go the official way up the west coast but instead take the east coast. Heading south first means you can visit Rodel church. This is ancient church has one of earliest known representation of a man in kilt. Now a day there’s lots of men in kilts here. Its a very popular place to get married.

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I was best man at a wedding at Rodel

Next to the church is small pier which is the southernmost point you can cycle to on the Harris.

The west coast has some great beaches but the landscape of the east coast is unique to the island. A barren landscape of ancient rock and heather. The windy undulating single track road is great fun to ride.

Once you get off the east coast head for Luskentyre beach. The official route passes a bit of it but the best view can only be seen by heading along to it. If you want a challenge try running up the sand dunes. It’s hard work!

The island across from the beach is where the BBC filmed Castaway.

Finish the day by heading to Tarbert. There’s a long climb from the beach towards tarbert but once you get to the top its all downhill into the town.

http://www.hotel-hebrides.com/ does great food.

harris

DAY 4 – (WARNING: Contains hills!)

Unfortunately Tarbert is at sea level and at the base of a hill, so today is going to be hilly no matter which way you go. I’ve added in some diversions off the official way.

Start by heading to Amhuinnsuidhe castle. At one point Madonna was going to purchase it, until she discovered the public are allowed to walk right by the windows. Robert Plant from Led Zepplin was also interested. He went for a pint in the local pub but the beer must have been bad as he never came back with a bid.

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Amhuinnsuidhe castle

The road out to the castle packs in allot of interesting sights. There’s the ruins of an old whaling station, there’s stunning views of the harris hills and there’s the world’s most useless tennis court! It’s exposed to the wind and wild weather of the Atlantic.

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If you like very wet and windy tennis then this is the court for you.

From the castle you can walk up to one of the UK’s biggest cliff faces. The 600-foot cliff face of Sron Ulladale,

Head to Rèinigeadal next. Rèinigeadal had no road access until 1990; the only route in was along a hill path, or by boat. There’s a postman’s marked path from the village back to Tarbert. Imagine doing it carrying a load of Amazon parcels. It’s worth walking a bit of it as it has some spectacular views.

Afterwards head as far north as you can but there’s a convenient stop at http://www.locherisortinn.co.uk/

lewis

Day 5: 

This sticks pretty closely to the Hebridean way path. Therefore you can read about it here https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/way-finder/lewis-wf831

The main difference is I suggest not going to the official end of the route. The road to Ness is one of the most boring drives on the island. Vast empty moor as far as the eye can see. Instead head to Stornoway as there’s much better routes that you can do from there.

If you do want to know what the end of the route looks like then check this out. I was there on a very stormy day.

 

Give yourself at least a couple of days in Stornoway. From here you can do some great routes.

Tour De Point – https://www.strava.com/activities/1102079723

A flat out and back route to a lighthouse. From here you can watch whales pass by. On the way back a small detour will take you to a 15% hill climb! It’s short but hard. I needed a quick rest at the top!

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Castle Grounds Mountain Bike trail –https://www.strava.com/activities/1100545590

If you tire of road biking then a recently completed mountain bike trial has been constructed in the Castle Grounds. An area of forestry next to Stornoway.  I hadn’t tried it before and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. There’s no major hills but lots of undulating tracks. It was a great way to pass a few hours.

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Tour De Tolsta: If you only do one route from Stornoway then do this one! The beaches along here are some of the best on the island. One of them even has its own waterfall

Originally the road to Tolsta was supposed to go all the way to Ness but it was never completed. Supposedly a local sightseer had predicted that if the road was complete then the “The day will come when the Isle of Lewis will sink beneath the waves.”

Which seems unlikely as how can a whole island sink? But, in 1995, the ferry to Ullapool was named the “Isle of Lewis”… There was no calls to complete the road whilst that ferry was operational!
tolsta

 

There’s some great swimming spots along the route. Coll beach is very popular with the Hebrides open water swimmers.

Very chilly sea swim! #swimming #scotland #hebrides #swim

A post shared by Iain M Todd (@twinbikerun) on

Conclusion

There comes a time in your life when you have to confess something to your partner. You’ll have struggled with the confession for weeks in advance. You’ll spend ages trying to get the correct phrasing. In the weeks leading up to ityou’ll use bribery and flattery to get your  partner in the right frame of mind to hear it.

But… eventually… you’ll have to confess – “I’m going on a biking holiday!”

You’ll then try to explain to your partner how your week long “training” trip to Mallorca or the Canary islands wont be fun. You’ll claim – nobody will be drinking!  You’ll say – we’re not going anywhere near Shagaluf…sorry Magaluf.  You’ll state – it’s all about the hills and the weather

So, to avoid all that worry, book a trip to the Western Isles. There’s amazing hills, amazing weather (on a good day) and if your partner asks about the pubs then you can says that the island’s have the highest rate of abstinence in the UK – just don’t mention that its also got the highest rate of drinking too!

Know Your Place (Andrew)

Here’s an ethical question for you: is it okay to use the disabled toilet if you are not actually disabled?

Not that I would. Or did. Or do. But, if I had or was thinking of doing so, then I would know that it’s much more spacious than your average loo. It also comes with its own sink I’m guessing, not that I would know…

It’s a kind of like a special private deluxe toilet for those who want, well, a special experience. a touch of luxury, and, if they  went to the disabled toilet in my last office, a selection of toothpastes and condoms from a vending machine.

The strange thing was that the normal toilet didn’t have a vending machine. Only the disabled toilet, which was on the other side of the hall. Why the disabled toilet were offered a range of goods for ‘her pleasure’ was never explained. It was a mystery matched only by electrical wiring that meant any flick off a light switch was a lottery as to whether you had to flick up or down to switch a light on.

But not as strange as another office where, in response to transgender issues, decided the only way to sort out the toilets was to change all the disabled toilets in disabled/other, which I’m pretty sure is offensive to everyone involved.

Anyways, I was thinking about toilets because they’re one of those everyday things where we have to decide on what is the right thing to do. There is no law which says a disabled toilet has to be used by a disabled person. We all decide what is right and what is wrong and make our choices accordingly. The only thing about our choice of toilet is that it’s usually a private moment. Not something you do in public. Unless you’re Paula Radcliffe.

Runners though have a very public moment when they need to make a moral choice. At the start of every race they must everyone and position themselves to match their expected finish time.

While most people will be honest, there are some who try and move to the front and start with faster runners just so they have less people ahead of them when they start running. If anyone could enter the 100m at the Olympics I bet you now that someone would stand in front of Uisean Bolt on the basis that “Stuff him, at least I’ve got a clear view”.

This selfish view is one I don’t understand because those runners are missing out on one of the big thrills of running – and that’s running faster than other people.

I think there is a macho problem to running which makes people skip ahead. at big races there are boards boasting of the times that you’ll run. 1 hour 40 minutes. 1 hour 35 minutes. If you start next to here then you’ll be seen as a fast athlete. But start at the three hour point and you want as well say “Wait, you don’t expect me to run this, do you?!”.

That’s why I’d change the signs to the number of people you’ll run pass. Join the two hour sing and find out that you’ll run pass 200 people. Join the 1 hour 30 minutes sign and you’ll only run pass 10. If you’re looking to boast look no further than boasting about the number of people you beat.

Start at the back and you’ll enjoy your race much more than trying to stay at the start. It’s more fun. It’s easier to run. In fact, there’s no other choice, if you want a little convenience..!

Don’t be dull (Iain)

The phrase “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” famously featured in the film The Shining. I thought the phrase was written for the film/book but it was actually first used in a book by James Howel in 1659. Little is known about James other than he worked with a man called Jack who was boring as f**k!

The phrase is equally true when applied to sport. Some people can be so obsessed with their running/biking or yoga that they have no other interests.

I know because I have been that boring bastard.

Back in 2012 I took part in the annual L’etape du Tour bike sportive. A race that allows amateur cyclists to ride a closed road stage of the Tour de France. It was my ultimate bike race. The one I needed to do over any other.

I became obsessed with race to the detriment of any other interest. I trained every weekend, I read everything there was to read about it.

I did the race and then….I became depressed.

I’d done my life cycling goal. Do I do it again? Do I do it faster? What next?

I thought maybe a different race is what I needed so I researched other big races. None of which excited me. I was still depressed.

Then I realized it. I wasn’t depressed. I was bored of myself. I’d become a one dimensional person. I was a biker but nothing else.

If I was bored of myself then Christ knows what anyone else thought of me!

So I vowed from that moment on to always vary my interests. For every sporting hobby, I have to have a non-sporting hobby too.

Since then I’ve tried stand up comedy (badly), acting (badly) and painting (badly)

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My art tutor taught me how to paint fruit and how to paint people so he shouldn’t have been surprised when my graduation piece ended up being a fruit that looks like a person!

Both my girlfriend and Andrew’s had nightmares after seeing what I’ve entitled – Lemon Maradonna. Which makes me slightly proud. At least its not dull.

Alloa Half Marathon 2018 (Andrew)

 

We were meant to run the Alloa half marathon on Sunday but it was postponed after the mini ‘Beast From The East’ brought sub-zero temperatures and more snow.

The organisers couldn’t guarantee the safety of competitors or, just as important, the safety of marshals who would have to stand for hours  in freezing conditions. It  was the right call and hopefully the race be rearranged for later in the year.

In the meantime, if you want to know what racing in sub-zero temperatures is like here’s a video of me with hypothermia trying to warm up on the Norseman bike leg in August 2016.

The Didnae-try-athlon (Iain)

There are many different types of triathlon event. The regular one is the swim/bike/run format but there is also:

The Wanderlust (https://wanderlust.com/gbr/) – A 5K run followed by a 90 minute yoga session and a 30 minute meditation. I’d spend the 30 minutes meditation thinking: “When can I leave?”

The Macnab (http://www.macnabchallenge.co.uk/) – A triathlon for the hunting/shooting set. It’s so posh it should be called ‘Downtonman’. To achieve a Maacnab you have to shoot a deer and a brace of grouse and catch a salmon on the same estate in a 24-hour period. If you’ve done a Macnab then shame on you. You’ve killed Bambi.

The Didnae-try-athlon – Everyone has one of these. An event you entered, you had high hopes for but, on the day, you just did-nae try.

My didnae-try-athlon was the 2008 Rat Race. This was a combination of orienteering, mountain biking, climbing and canoeing.

I did it in a team of three. None of us had ever done an adventure race. We were not well prepared. One friend had a bad back, one had a broken bike and I had a terrible hangover from an after work drinking session.

The first part of the race involved a bike ride to an office block. We had to abseil down the side of the office. This sounded good but, in reality, it was a short bike ride then a long wait in a queue for the 60 seconds it took to abseil down.

We then biked to the next point where we had to climb down a rock face. This again sounded good but, in reality, it was another short bike ride and another long wait for a very short climb.

I asked the organizer of the event what would happen if we skipped the task.

He said “Your team gets a 15 minute penalty.”

“Is that the same for all tasks?”

“Yes,” he confirmed.

The next task was four miles away. A 15 minute penalty was much less than the time it would take to get there and do the task. If we missed out all the remaining tasks it would only be a penalty of a couple of hours. That would have been much less time than it would take to do them all.

I conferred with my team. Should we just go straight to the finish and win this? Even with penalties we’d be hours ahead of anyone else.  They thought this was a great idea so we went straight there… via the pub.

After a delicious burger/pint and dessert we made it to finish.

I’d like to say the organizers were pleased to greet ‘the winners’. They weren’t. They didn’t think what we were doing was sportsmanlike. I’d argue that it wasn’t our fault their rules allowed this to happen! We were disqualified.

After the organizers had finished being annoyed with us, a camera crew came over. “Are you the winners of the race? We’re here from Brazilian TV” To this day I have no idea why Brazilian TV was at an event in Edinburgh.

I owned up and said “Sorry, no. You’ll have to wait a while for them. They won’t be here for a few more hours”.

The Brazilian TV presenter looked unhappy and said “We need to leave now. Can we just interview you anyway?”

I like to think millions of Brazillians saw my interviw where I said: “It was good race. I’m pleased with our victory especially as we didnae try”.

And they all turned to each other and went “what the f%&K word is didnae?”