Category: Andrew

Queen Elizabeth Swimming Pool (Andrew)

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There are few sports where you can take part in the same venue as the professional sports people.

You can’t book Celtic Park for a game of football, nor Murrayfield for rugby. You can’t play cricket at the Oval or tennis at Wimbledon. You can run a marathon or cycle a sportive on the same roads as Mo Farah or Chris Froome but those roads are not a venue, they’re a street. I’m talking purpose built sports venues – not a venue you can share with  a bus, the bin lorry and an ice cream van.

Yet, when sports venues are built, many talk about sustainability and community involvement. A legacy.

For Glasgow that means we have a velodrome and Tollcross swimming pool as venues built for the Commonwealth Games and open to the public after the games ended.

I say open but, despite having two 50 metre pools (the only 50 metre pools in Glasgow), one remains permanently split into two 25 metre pools and the other only opens as a 50 metre pool when the moon is ascending in the ninth circle of the eastern cosmos and Jupitar is in alignment with Uranus. Or something close to that. It’s timetable has been so erratic over the last few years that you just turn up and hope. Even when it’s scheduled to open you can still find the staff saying “not today”. And that’s if the pool is even open. It’s been closed for repairs almost as many times as Donald Trump has sent a dodgy tweet. The only legacy the Commonwealth Games left Glasgow was regular work for builders.

The Velodrome on the other hand is fantastic. If you can get an introductory session booked. A process that involves getting up a 5am in the morning to try and a book a session one month ahead so that you beat those people who set their alarm clock for 6am to beat the people who set their alarm clock for 7am to be the first to book.

It’s popular. Very popular. And I think they’ve added more classes to address a booking system that favour insomniac cyclists so everything may be okay now. If not, good luck, and remember to set that alarm clock early!

In London there are two similar venues. In the Queen Elizabeth Olympics park you can now ride on the London Velodrome or swim in the Olympic swimming pool.

I was in London at the weekend and dropped in on Saturday night to try it out.

A few things you should know:

1.     It’s in the middle of nowhere. Or Stretford as it’s now called.

2.     You have to walk through a shopping centre to get there. Westfield.

3.     It’s in the middle of the park, behind a building site and a large well lit path between construction sites  far , far away from busy roads or other people that means London’s legacy is to provide better lighting to see your mugger.

4.     It’s almost empty!

5.     Which means ignore 1 to 3! It’s brilliant!

6.     There’s two pools. One a 50 metre which is actually open and you can, at least at 6pm on a Saturday night, get a whole lane to yourself.

I’d not swam since November so the only Olympian I resembled was Eric the Eel, it was cool to swim in the same venue as Michael Phelps and to know that we had shared the same water. Which was also cool until I remember he didn’t like to get out of the pool before going to the toilet…

I’d definitely recommend a trip to the pool if you’re in London and, even if you forget something, don’t worry, you can pick up everything you need from a…. vending machine. This one, filled with trunks and goggles.

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(Jigsaw) Piece of cake (Andrew)

Are you a masochist or a sadist?

Most people would say they were neither as (a) they don’t like pain; and (b) really, who likes pain?!?

But, if you’re a runner, I bet that you’re secretly one or the other because anyone who runs either wants to beat other people and be first across the finish line or they want to beat themselves by running faster than they’re run before.

I’m a masochist. If I was a sadist, a genuine one, I’d be the one in the corner struggling and failing to untangle my whip (not an euphemism). Which I imagine is a bit of a genuine problem. Think about how hard it to keep a headphone cable untangled. If you’ve got a five metre long whip then you’re going to spend most of your time trying to untie the knot in the middle. Indiana Jones would be a very different film if, when he confronts the bad guy, he pulled out his whip and said “Damn, I only just put this away how can it have more knots than a speedboat?!?”

Anyways, I’m not a sadist. Not in the real world, not as an athlete. I don’t want to beat other people. I like running my own race and judging what I do against my own times. In that way, I’m a masochist except… when it comes to Iain.

Then I want to beat him.

It’s amazing how a little competition will make you achieve impossible feats. We only put a man on the moon because the US wanted to beat Russia. We only reached each pole because explorers challenged each other to be first. And I only completed a 1,000 piece jigsaw in 48 hours this Christmas because Iain challenged me that I wouldn’t be able to do it.

You will notice that all of these achievements are comparable. Neil Armstrong may have got to the moon – but, other than sitting down for three days and then taking a couple of steps, what did he actually do?!? And those Arctic explorers had huskies who did all the work. So, really, my achievement was greater than them.

By the way, why was ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, the second man on the moon, called Buzz? Easy, he was NASA’s plan B!

Did I mention I can also write Christmas cracker jokes?

Anyways, we were home for a few days and my mum had just completed a 1,000 piece jigsaw. It had taken her a month so I said “I bet I could do it in a day”, because, you know, I had no idea what I was talking about and had never completed a jigsaw so just said the first thing that came to my head.

Iain said “I bet you £40 you can’t complete it in even 48 hours?”

I said “Deal!” and we shook on it.

Then the sadistic streak kicked in. I would beat him. And I would take his money. So, I got to work and –

– who knew jigsaws were so tough?!?!?!?

Why do they have pieces that are just one colour, and not just one piece but 100 pieces all coloured blue for the sea, and another 100 coloured grey for clouds?

And why won’t this one fit?

And I’ve tried all the pieces and there’s clearly one missing!???

And – oh, wait, now it fits. How many to go? 998.

Damn!!!

But, 36 hours later, having carefully and systematically tried to fit every piece to every other piece, this happened.

Jigsaw

And then this happened.

Paid

Which clearly makes Iain a masochist. He might have thought he was a sadist in setting the challenge but he made a fatal mistake. I said I could complete it in a day. He gave me two days. There was no way I could complete it in a day – I’d have lost. He’d have won. But, in giving me two days, it just showed he wasn’t trying to beat me at all but wanted to lose not only the challenge but his cash. What a masochist!

 

‘Tis But A Flesh Wound (Andrew)

Running with an injury should just be called ‘running’. Runners are always injured.

Ask any runner and they can talk for hours about their creaky knees, dodgy ankles and wonky hips. “But it’s always been like that!” They’ll add, forgetting that it wasn’t like that before they started running.

Runners are basically the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Despite how many limbs are chopped off the knight still cries ’tis but a flesh wound!’ and battles on.

That’s why there are certain stages that runners go through when they run with injuries… sorry… when they run normally.

It Doesn’t Get Any Worse When I Run

At the moment I have a pain in my left foot. It falls into the category that I call “It Doesn’t Get Any Worse When I Run”.

This is an injury that’s just as sore when you walk as when you run. That mean, and this is logical, I can run because running doesn’t make it any worse! (Don’t think about the logic, just trust me!)

These types of injury also tend to fall into the related category of…

It Doesn’t Get Any Worse If I Run On Alternative Days

Again the logic here is sound. If the injury doesn’t get any worse because you only ran on a Monday and Wednesday then clearly you can’t be injured at all. An injury would hurt all the time so, if it only hurts on alternate days then it can’t be an injury at all. Simple.

After Five Minutes It Doesn’t Hurt When I Run

This is a tricky injury because it does hurt when you run. Usually quite painfully and in a way which suggest amputation may be in your future. However, after five minutes, all the pain goes away! (Though it does tend to return an hour after you stop – and ten times worse than it was before).

I’ve had this injury. I hurt my knee and every time I tried to run it would be very painful to put any weight on my leg for the first five minutes then everything was okay until I stopped and had to cry with the pain of it all.

However, as it wasn’t sore when I ran, or at least most of the time, it wasn’t an injury at all!

It Hurts When I Lie Down

Wimp! If it only hurts when you lie down then you know what to do – go for a run!

It Hurts All The Time

Okay, a runner may admit this may be an injury and will book an appointment to see a physio in three weeks time. In the meantime: keep running! You never know, it might heal on it’s own!

Favourite Songs 2017 (Andrew)

The people of North Korea cannot own a radio. They don’t have access to the internet. They must watch TV programmes produced by and for the Government. Everything they hear and see and do is monitored by the state.

They have no human rights. They run out of food. If they say the wrong thing they could be jailed or worse. They are completely and utterly isolated.

But, on the other hand…

… they’ve never heard ‘Perfect Symphony’ by Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli so life’s not at all bad in Pyongyang.

Here’s some better songs.

St Vincent ‘New York’
Ryan Gosling ‘City of Stars’
Lorde ‘Green Light’
Sufjan Stevens – EVERYTHING!!!
Tom McRae ‘It Doesn’t Really Matter’
Perfume Genius ‘Choir’
Zayn “I Don’t Want To Live Forever’
Thrice ‘Black Honey’
Four Tet ‘Planet’
And number one:

The Last Jedi (Andrew)

STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI

What a cool planet! It’s all white but, but, when the spaceships fly over it, it turns RED!

WHOOAH!

AWESOME!

But…

What this?

It’s a random soldier in a trench.

Eff off!

That’s right. Eff the Eff Off.

We’ve already got too many characters! I don’t need another one! Especially not at the end of the movie! I mean, I still don’t even know why Rose is in the film?!?!? More Patrick Swayze/Poe having supercool space adventures with his best bud, spacebro Johny Utah/Finn. Less “Miss Obligatory Character For the Chinese Film Market” please!

But, oh well, here we go. What do you have to say for yourself random rebel squaddie?

“It’s salt!” he says.

And this is the crucial bit.

“It’s salt!” he says AFTER he’s dipped his finger in the ground and licked the soil!!!!

Who does that?!?!?

Who licks soil?

I’ve never gone on holiday. Popped down to the beach at Blackpool and thought: “I wonder what the ground’s made from?”

Then scooped up the sand and tasted it like a fine wine!

“Mmmmmm, sandy with a touch of sand! This is the real Blackpool rock!”

So who goes to another planet and thinks: “This brand new world is the right place to find a condiment!”

If anything, going to a new planet is the last place you should be tasting the ground. It’s alien. It’s unlikely to contain any compound or molecule or matter that will have any connection with you. He should be dead! Or at the very least his commanding officer should be questioning the wisdom of letting this salt-licking squaddie have a gun and live ammunition.

So, basically, what I’m saying is that in a film where the best character is still a man who looks like he’s rolled around a barbers floor while covered in superglue, that was the point I had to say:”Bring back Jar Jar Binks, this is just NONSENSE!”

(Film’s pretty decent though)

Marcothon 2017

The Marcothon is a 31 day challenge to run 5km or 25 minutes every day in December.

Day One

Bugger. I forgot today was day one. I’m sitting on my turbo trainer halfway through a 45 minute session when I remember that today’s the first day of December and I was going to attempt the Marcothon. Bugger.

I debate for 25 minutes whether I should go for a run after I finish the bike. It’s dark. It’s cold. I don’t want to but…

… isn’t that the point?

You have to go out no matter what, even if you’ve stupidly started riding when you could have been running.

I go out. It’s dark. It’s cold. I plod round a circle of street round the house until my watch says I’ve run 3 miles then I stop.

Then I remember I promised to go mountain biking in the morning. Bugger.

Day Two

After two hours of mountain biking round Whitelee wind farm I debate going for a run straight after or leaving it to later in the day when I’ll be at Turnberry for the night. Having checked out Google maps I can see there’s a nice 1.5 mile run to the Turnberry lighthouse which means an out and back run will at least give me something to aim at as, while it’ll be dark, you can’t miss a bright white lighthouse.

My legs are heavy but running in the dark keeps me distracted as I look out for cars driving on the main road, then look out for potholes in the ground while running on a closed road to the lighthouse. There’s a Land Rover outside the lighthouse and lights in the house below. It’s only the next day I find out that you can hire the lighthouse and I was standing outside, breathing heavily, sweating profusely, trying to stare in the windows…. at hotel guests who were not expecting a red-faced stranger to be standing outside!

Day Three

Run in the morning? Yes. Definitely. Back to the lighthouse! But first, a spa! Then breakfast! A buffet? Don’t mind if I do? Run now? No chance…

Back to Glasgow. Run at lunchtime? Definitely. Wait. Is that Rangers v Aberdeen? I should watch that first…

Run after the game? Okay. Wait. The dog needs walked.

Run after the walk. Legs heavy. Body sore after yesterday’s ride and run. Still thinking of breakfast. Okay! But it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pleasant.

Day three done.

Day Four

Stress injury in left foot. Bit of a niggle but I decide that the Marcothon is a stupid idea. Day off.

Marcothon done – I can now enjoy the rest of the month! 🙂

Triathlete’s Dictionary: Rushing Roulette

Rushing Roulette
phrase

A lethal game of chance in which a cyclist decides to go for a ride without a spare inner tube.  Frequently involve rushing to leave and forgetting to replace the flat tube in your saddle bag that you absolutely meant to replace the night before. Also involves the phrase “I’m sure I’ll be alright – what’s the chances of getting a puncture?”. Phrase frequently uttered 10 miles from civilisation and 30 seconds before puncture.

Usage: “I had to walk home after a game of rushing roulette!

Racing into 2018 (Andrew)

Triathlon and running magazines will tell you that Autumn is a time to relax. The race season is over. The nights are drawing in. It’s time to let injuries heal and training decrease because, damn it, you deserve it, you magnificent athlete, you!

You did so well this year!

You smashed that A race.

You got the PB!

You ran out of acronyms to describe your achievements!

Except, what happens if you didn’t?

You got round your A race (just). Your PB stood for peanut butter and the sandwiches you ate by the dozen. And then you stopped doing anything at all for two months because you didn’t have time to train.

Do you get to relax?

Well, yes, Because it’s cold, and wet and frankly, it’s Scotland in Autumn. What other excuse do you need, you magnificent athlete, you?

And it is an excuse. Because the one thing the magazines don’t tell you is what happens when everything goes wrong, like this year for me.

The summer was a write off. A project at work meant I had very little free time for three months. And while I completed Escape From Alcatraz and IronMan 70.3 Edinburgh it was very much a case of “Thank you, Lord, for cancelling/shortening the swim and making it easier to get round!”.

So, Autumn for me is a chance now to get back to training, to start a few months earlier to be ready for next year and another attempt at Escape From Alcatraz and, as Iain’s announced, being the support for Norseman.

Because racing isn’t really about racing. And that’s something the magazines don’t get. Not some years.

This year wasn’t about racing as other things were more important and next year won’t really be about racing either, it’ll be about making sure Iain completes Norseman. Taking part and supporting others are just as, if not more important, than racing.

Though results always matter when you do race! 🙂

So, while I’ll be supporting Iain, I’ll also be secretly hoping he finishes Norseman after 111 miles on the bike so I can say I’m the best Todd at Norseman by getting to 112 miles!)

 

Antonine Trail Race 2017 (Andrew)

Normally you get a banana at the end of a run but, yesterday at the Antonine Trail Race, we got a big banana at the start – along with two skeletons, several witches and a Homer Simpson.

That’s what happens when you have a race on Halloween weekend.

We didn’t join in. It was tough race and the only fancy dress I wanted was a jet pack to help get up and over the two hills that made up most of the route. First up, Croy Hill, a long climb through muddy tracks and thick grass, then Bar Hill, another long climb along a forest track before, cruelly, the race finished with another climb up Croy Hill.

It was a fantastic day, sunny, bright, and with a slight chill that made it impossible to decide what to wear – assuming you were wearing running gear and not a large yellow fruit costume – as it was too cold for a t-shirt at the start but too warm to run in two t-shirts a mile after starting. I choose a single t-shirt and then stayed in the car with the heater on until the race was about to start. This is my version of warming up…!

The race was mostly off-road and on narrow tracks. While dry, the previous week’s rain had left much of it covered in thick mud. The first few miles were spent doing the bandy legged hop leap and jump of someone half runner/half frog.

The good news was that you could follow the runner in front of you and try and follow their footsteps on the basis that if they cleared a path then you would just be stepping into the hole they’ve already created in the mud. So, if you want to keep your trainers clean when running through mud just follow someone with big feet in front of you.

The race was tough, with a few steep climbs (which in this context means, ‘walks up hill’ rather than ‘gets out the rappelling gear’) but some great views across to the Trossachs and outwards Falkirk and the east coast.

You can see part of it on this short video: