Category Archives: Andrew

Holiday Flu’s (Andrew)

I’m on holiday this week. A week at home to catch up with some DIY, some writing for work and, what I thought would be a chance to catch up with my swimming after a poor month of getting to the pool.

The swimming started fine. I went to Tollcross on Tuesday and swam 2k and could have swam more. “I’ll do 2.5k” on Thursday I told myself. In the meantime, I started each day with an hour on the turbo to get my legs spinning before the Etape Caledonia on Sunday.

And then Wednesday happened. A sore throat. The beginnings of a head cold and, today, Thursday, I’m not at the pool. Or on the bike. I’m looking out the window at an almost blue sky and wishing that I was out on the bike. Instead, I have a head cold.

It’s frustrating to be off work and to have the time to enjoy swimming, running and cycling without trying to fit them around the rest of the day. But I know there’s nothing I can do. It’s a head cold. Possibly chronic. Definitely terminal. At least for today.

I’ll be better tomorrow. And this is a good reminder that training is not just about what you planned. It’s what happens when you’re planning.

Last year I was ill for a week six weeks before Iron Man UK. I should have been going on my final long rides and runs. Instead I had to take it easy. There’s no point pushing it, it’ll only make things worse.

So, instead, I ripped apart a plastic shed and carried old paint pots back and forth from the house to the car to the skip. But I didn’t run. Or cycle. Or swim. So, that’s okay then.

JK Rowling’s Driveway (Andrew)

Iain and I met JK Rowling two years ago. It was at a drinks reception at the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh and, because badgering her for Emma Watson’s phone number is not cool, we asked her what she thought about the Etape Caledonia bike race closing the road in front of her house in Aberfeldy.

Because talking about bikes is cool.


However, it turned out Iain didn’t want to talk about roads, or whether she was the mystery figure who threw tacks in front of the riders (she wasn’t, we asked and she denied it) he actually wanted to ask if she knew what happened in her driveway during the race.

“There’s no loos,” he begun.

JK’s not sure where this going…

“And by the time you’ve cycled for four hours you really need to go to the toilet.”

I knew where this was going. But there was no stopping Iain.

“And all the driveway’s make ideal places to stop…”

JK Rowling now knows where this going too…

“… all the bikes pull over, and, you know…”

She does.

I do. I have to change subject: “Have you got Emma Watson’s phone number?” I ask.

She doesn’t.

Funny that.

The joy of turning left (Andrew)

Last week, I turned left. It wasn’t deliberate, it just happened. I’d started running my normal route from the office when, five minutes into the run, someone had locked a gate and blocked access to a short woodland trail through Glenbervie. I had no choice. Instead of turning right I had to turn left.

In my head, I’m grumbling. All my thoughts of where to run and how far to go have been blocked. How could I run six miles if I couldn’t run the first mile? Where would I go?

But, as I ran, a thought took hold. Why not turn left again? Why not try and run randomly. Every time I would get to a junction I would ask myself “which road do I know the least?” and that’s the way I’d go.

In the process, I discovered a new trail, a new park, a new golf course and new interest in running. I wasn’t running, I was exploring.

While there’s joy in running the same routes, the comfort of knowing where you’re going, what you’ll see and the calmness that comes from not thinking about anything at all. There’s no spark. The same roads, the same streets, the same pavements, the same beat. No one ever said “You know what I find fun, doing exactly the same thing as yesterday and the day before and the year before that!”

Last week, I turned left. And while there’s fear in getting lost, or finding a route that worse than the one you’d planned, that’s a pessimistic view. You might find crocodiles, mud or, worse, a long straight road (is there anything more boring than not turning?) you might also find a hill with an escalator (I can but dream).

So, this week, try turning left.

p.s. Remember to turn right at least once too. If you don’t, you’ve just run in a circle.

The Race of Truth (Andrew)

A time trial is known as ‘the race of truth’ as it’s just you, your bike, a start line and a finish line. There may be others racing but you’re not racing them. You’re racing yourself. How fast can you go?

Yet, at the end, when the racings done, organisers  read out the results and award a prize to the fastest rider. That’s not a ‘race of truth’, that’s a ‘race of fibs’. You’re not racing yourself at all, you’re racing that man and that man and that woman and that guy on a mountain bike and carrying a backpack who overtook you even though he started five minutes behind you.

I like time trials. I like the challenge of trying to catch up with those in front and the boost that you get when someone behind you overtakes and you try and keep up. It’s the very opposite of the race of truth because in no sense am I actually competing against myself. If I was, I wouldn’t be trying so hard.

Last night was the first time trial organised by Glasgow Tri Club. It’s not competitive, which I like, and it features a wide variety of people and abilities. We race on a 10 mile course on the A77, which, despite being a A-road, is mostly traffic free as it runs parallel to a newer motorway, the M77. It’s a good route, slightly uphill on the way out and, obviously, slightly downhill on the way back. It’s also fairly exposed with good views of Eaglesham moor and Renfrewshire. If you’re lucky, with the wind behind you, you can easily hit 25 – 30mph. We were unlucky last night…

According to BBC weather the wind was close to 20 mph and the last five miles would see us ride straight into it. You might think: “that must mean you got a boost on the way out then?”. You might think that, but it didn’t feel like it. Instead a swirling wind meant it was always at the side or in front, never behind. It was like cycling with a parachute open behind.

Even worse, I was riding my TT bike and riding on deep rim wheels. The wind would keep catching them and try and push me over. Not only did I have a parachute open behind me, my bike was a bucking bronco.

It was fun.

I finished in 34 minutes, which, given the conditions, I was happy with. Only one rider last night managed to go faster than 30 minutes, not that I was checking, or racing against him, this is ‘race of truth’ after all…

Decatha-warm (Andrew)

If you think a layer is where James Bond gets captured, then this post is for you. I don’t understand layers. I understand keeping warm and keeping dry. I’m Scottish, keeping warm and keeping dry are  basic life skills in Glasgow. But layering is different. It suggests that if you wear the right amount of clothes then you’ll reach an optimum temperature where you are neither too warm or too cold. That’s just crazy talk. There’s no such thing as too warm. You can always be warmer in Scotland.

The Scots must be the only people in the world who invented a hot drink in one of the world’s hottest regions. Darjeeling in India is famous for its tea. But Darjeeling tea plantations were created in the 18th century, in part by a Scotsman, as it could only be a Scot who’d think that a country where the temperature routinely hits the mid 30s was missing a boiling  cup of water.

However, if you read running magazines and look on-line you’ll find hundreds of products that claim to wick away sweat (where does it go?), helps your body breathe (my mouth does that) while wrapping it in the finest merino (didn’t he manage Chelsea?) wool.

I don’t believe in any of that. At least not in Winter. In Winter you need to keep warm and the only way to do that is to cover your body in the most inefficient man made fibres known to man.  When I go running I want to come back, strip off and feel like I’ve just experienced a tropical storm in a sleeping bag. I want to feel like my clothes need a tumble dry before I wash them. In short, the cheaper the t-shirt the better it is for winter running. Too hot? There’s no such thing.

That’s why I want to sing the praise of Decathlon. For £2.99 they produce the finest (worst) base layer known to man. It doesn’t breathe. It doesn’t wick.  It barely fits (buy a size bigger than you think). It’s useless at keeping you cool – but it’s perfect at keeping you warm.

I have five.

Gym’ll Fix It (Andrew)

I changed gyms this week. For the last year I’ve been going to a private gym a couple of minutes from the house. I like it. I’d been a member before and had rejoined last year when I moved house. It had plenty of machines, a swimming pool and, extravagantly, it had not one but two Jacuzzis.

No one has two Jacuzzis, not even the dictionary, as it’s currently telling me that Jacuzzi is okay but adding an ‘s’ on the end is a crime against English.

But, almost 12 months later, I realised something. The gym was three minutes drive past my house. No time at all – but, when driving home, it might as well have been in Timbuktoo. No one wants to keep going when they see their home. You want to put your feet up, switch on the telly and have a bit of toast. You don’t want to keep driving and work out for an hour. Not when you can have toast. (I love toast.)

Instead, I’ve changed gyms. I wasn’t going to that gym and I knew that I would be far more likely not to be tempted by toast if I switched to a gym that was on my route home, rather than after it.

So, on Wednesday I swapped to Glasgow Club, the council run gyms. I pass two on the way home: Tollcross International for swimming and Emirates arena for everything else. I have access to a 50m pool, the velodrome and a modern gym (which I rarely use, but its nice to know its there if the weather’s foul).

It has everything I could ask for – except an excuse for toast.

Oh, and two jacuzzis. But no one need that.

My generation (Andrew)

Last night was my last game of football.

I’ve said this before. You can read how successful my previous retirements were in this blog post. But, last night, was definitely my last game. (Maybe).

This time it helps that our five-a-side booking had finished. We had a block booking until the end of March and, as previous years have shown, once the clocks change we lose players to light nights and golf courses. March is a good time to end the booking.

Even if I wanted to play next week, I couldn’t. Well, I could, but it would involve me hanging round pitches pretending to be 14 and begging people to “gonnae gie us a game, mista!”. I think I may be too old to do that. At 14 it shows that you’re keen to play. At 38 it shows you want to hang around with 14 year olds. It’s a bit of a different look…

My last game was meant to be an Old Guys vs Young Guys match. Old guys being anyone over 30. Unfortunately, five of the seven ‘Old Guys’ pulled out due to various injuries including “my feet are buggered after wearing high heels all day*”, which is not an excuse you often get before a game of football. Well, mens football anyway. I imagine female football players are more prone to this than Wayne Rooney.

*A stag do was involved.

Instead, the game became a normal game of fives, and an anti-climatic end to my football career. I thought I was finishing on a ‘cup final’, instead it was just a cold Wednesday night in Falkirk in an industrial shed with a leaky roof. My last game. Definitely. (Probably).

Never mind the Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon (Andrew)


Two surprises. Although the first was not really a surprise. It didn’t rain, which I knew after checking the weather constantly in the run up to the race (see last blog post). The second surprise was that the route had changed. While you couldn’t call the new route scenic, it was an improvement over the old. Instead of running through along the main road through Balloch, Renton and Alexandria, the route followed the canal for the first few miles instead.

After that it was the usual ‘scenic’ route of bookies, chip shops, newsagents, whiskey warehouses and industrial units. All the sights. (All the smells).

The one thing that hadn’t changed was the bus trip from the finish line at Clydebank to the start line at Balloch. The important thing to remember when getting on the bus is to make sure you’re the first off it. Everyone goes to the toilet when they arrive. The longer you’re on the bus, the further behind you’ll be in the queue. A queue that gets slower and slower as the toilet roll in the cubicles is used up until eventually there’s only one cubicle for 200 runners. As I said, all the sights. (All the smells).

The race itself was good. I ran with Iain until mile 12 when I checked my time I thought I could beat 1 hour 45 minutes if I pushed myself and run just under 7 minutes a mile. I ran on, but I miscalculated. The finish line was further back than normal due to the change in route. I missed out by 24 seconds. I was pleased with my time though and still felt like I could have kept running. I didn’t though. I ate a banana.