Piece of cake (Andrew)

If you gave me a choice between money or power I’d choose cake every time. I love cake – and chocolate and sugar and sweets.

I know that part of training involves eating healthily but the thought of a sliced cucumber after 90 minutes on a turbo is as enticing as, well, a sliced cucumber. I want a Mars Bars, a Twix, a Battenberg cake or, better yet, a ring donut with extra sugar sprinkled on top. Rewards should be rewarding.

But one of the dangers of training is the idea that just because you’ve sat on a bike for a bit means that you can then eat whatever you want, and how much you want. Going out for a run is not a licence to eat an entire packets of Custard Creams.

That’s why I start keeping track of my weight when I start training. I’m not someone who thinks about their weight; I don’t overeat; I have proper cooked from scratch meals most nights; I rarely drink and I don’t smoke. But give me a Mars Bar after running and I’ll eat it – and the Rocky biscuits in the cupboard and the pudding in the fridge.

So, as part of my training for Norseman I’ll keep track of my weight to make sure that I’m not losing everything I’m gaining by gaining more than I’m losing. It’ll be a piece of cake. Or not cake. A piece of cucumber (covered in cake).

Current weight: 12 stone 4 pounds.

Lunch breaking the waves (Andrew)

I work in Larbert in an office park next door to a butcher and a baker but, sadly, not a candle stick maker*. I have one hour for lunch which just enough time to get to a swimming pool for a lunchtime swim. I could jump on the M9 motorway and get to Grangemouth leisure centre where the pool is divided into 25m lanes but, even though its further away, I go to the Mariner Centre in Falkirk instead.

The Mariner Centre doesn’t have lanes. It doesn’t even have a regular shape. It’s shaped like a shell, with a large children’s pool in one half and a deeper pool in the other. Families come here with young kids. Swimmers don’t – but they should. Because the Mariner Centre has one thing other pools lack: every 30 minutes they switch on their wave machine for five minutes.

I try and time my swim so I arrive just before the waves start and I finish just after the second waves end.

It’s brilliant.

The pool is usually quiet (on Monday there was only one other man in the ‘deep pool’) but when the waves switch on, if there are families, they usually leave because the kids are too small to face the… tsunami.

The waters get gradually choppier. The waves start to bounce of the sides of the pool until, in the middle, the waves crash over my head as I try and swim through them.

I love it.

I tell myself it’ll be good practice for Norseman and swimming in the fjord but that’s not the reason I go there. It’s fun being battered by the waves, trying to breathe properly by breathing between crests, feeling like I’m not moving as I’m caught in the current, then, seconds later, shooting forward as the current swirls behind me.

It’s only five minutes. The waves subside as quickly as they come. Back to laps. Back to work. But if there’s a better way to spend a lunch break, I haven’t found it yet.

*We don’t have a candlestick maker but we do have the best named building: the headquarter’s of ‘Mrs Tilly’s’ – the cake and confectionary brand. Their office is called ‘The Indulgence Factory’.


Feb 5th – Who’s that weirdo? (Iain)

“Have you seen that weirdo who comes in and reads a paper whilst sitting on a bike?”

I was listening to a personal trainer at my gym speak to another.

“Oh yeah. He comes in at lunchtime and sits there pedalling and reading! Does he not know a gym is for training?” Replied the other.

Unfortunately, I’m the weirdo who would reads a paper!

It happened when I worked in Edinburgh. The highlight of my working day was to pop out at lunchtime to the gym but rather than sit bored on an exercise bike staring at a wall I’d read the complimentary Daily Mail that the gym provided.

It helped to pass the time during a very boring working day.

The other reason why I did it – I was training for a marathon and would run in the evening so I didn’t want to kill my legs at lunchtime.

So I’m not a weirdo. I’m just making the best use of my time by learning and exercising.

Which leads me to the reason I write this. The strangest things I’ve seen in the gym

  • Today, I jogged next to a women who was wearing a big grey hoody jumper with the hoody up. Which is OK if you’re outside and its cold but we’re inside on a running machine in a very warm gym!
  • A man sitting naked cross-legged on a bench cutting his toenails. Not a care in the world as his nails ping’d this way and that!
  • A man doing ballet on gym mats. It would have been beautiful and graceful if he wasn’t wearing a see through leotard. The gym made him get changed
  • A man singing Cher’s hit song “Believe” a the top of his voice as he did his weights. For a big guy he could really hit the high notes well!
  • A squad of cheerleaders working out….actually that one was pretty good.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen?





Bike curious (Andrew)

What sex is your bike? Is it male, is it female?

Does it matter if you’re a man, do you think of your bike as masculine first? If you’re a woman, do you give it a girl’s name?

Cars have sex (not in a Crash type way, you know what I mean). Cars have names. I have a Mini Paceman. His name is Spaceman – and he is a he. There’s no question about that. He’s squat and brutish and acts like he could easily pass for one of the dwarves in the Hobbit. Not the mad one. Or the one who wants to get it on with her-from-Lost. One of the ones at the back. Thingamejig or Whatzizname or Gerald. One of them.

I don’t know about bikes though. Do bikes have names? Mine is a Focus Cayo Evo 4.0. Red and white. Thick bars. A bit of poser with matching saddle, tyres and handlebar tape in white. He should be a squaddie. Not one for thinking but good for going for a hundred miles in a straight line without thinking. I think ‘he’s’ a man – but, last week, as I cycled for the first time outdoors, I thought I’m not sure. Could it want to be a woman? Is it a woman? What sex is it? Could I even have a Danish Bicycle?

I’ve never given it a name. Never thought to either, which is why I stop and ask – what sex is your bike? Is it male, is it female or is it Eddie Raymayne?


Jan 27- Netflix & Turbo (Andrew)

I had an idea to write a blog post about watching Making A Murderer while on the turbo trainer. I was going to call it ‘Netflix & Turbo’ as a play-on-words on ‘Netflix & Chill’. However, I’ve just googled the phrase “Netflix & Chill” and, call me innocent, but I thought it meant watching Netflix and, you know, chilling, the clue was in the title. Netflix. And. Chill. But it doesn’t mean that: according to the Urban Dictionary it means:

A subtle way to lure a girl to come over to your place, initially as just a “friend”, so that it can lead to an opportunity of getting intimate with her while something is playing on Netflix.


SEX. Basically a new way of booty calling.”

Which has totally changed the post I was going to write!

However, perhaps I can resurrect this idea by calling it ‘Netflix & Turbo Alone’? That would make it clear I’m just talking about cycling and remove any smutty misunderstandings.  Yes. I think ‘Netflix & Turbo Alone’ would be a far better title. First, I’d better check that ‘Netflix & Chill Alone’, doesn’t have any other meanings.

[Googles ‘Netflix & Chill Alone’].


…. Netflix And Turbo Alone…

… I think it’ll be best if I just scrap this idea.

Jan 24 – Nigel Barge 10k (Iain)


How long after getting a new pair of trainers do I wait before I wear them in the rain?

I delay as much as possible. My new pair will initially be used only in the gym, then they might be used on a nice day whilst running on on cocrete before finally, 3 months later, being used offroad.

Which is why Nigel Barge 10 was a dilema for most runners. It rained heavily the night before and part of the course had puddles so big I couldn’t jump over them. Do I sacrcifice time or the cleanlieness of my trainers?

I decided to run straight through the first puddle. The fear of getting wet and dirty is much worse than actually getting wet and dirty. After that I ran happily through every pddle and muddy path. My trainers now look terrible but at least i don’t feel like I cheated my performace on the run. On a side note – why do trainers never look as good as before a run no matter how many times I put them in the washing machine?

The race itself was two hilly laps of a course that won’t win any prizes for scenery. It was twice past the rubbish dump, a car wash and an industrial estate. Andrew beat me which was surprise as I can’t remember the last time he beat me!

We’d both done a 90 minute bike ride the day before. He’d gone outdoors on a course where half of it is downhill. I’d done a spin class and a stationary bike. I think the running result proves my 90 minutes were harder than his. After all, it can’t be because he was better than me. Can it?

The fourth discipline of triathalon is lying. Lying to ourselves about results and lying to ourselves about training. Of course I ran 10km even though my watch said it was only 9.8km and of course Andrew beat me because I trained harder than him…

Jan 24 (Iain) – Insanity Is doing the same thing over and over again

The “genius” Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Week after week I play squash and every single time I lose.

Am I insane? Am I doing the same thing again and again?

I don’t think so.

I’m a much better squash player now than when I started playing. I can see shots and angles of return that were previously unavailable to me.

I can vary my shot depending on whether I want to use pace or skill.

I can move around the court so that I’m always in the correct position to anticipate the next move.

Yet, I still lose week after week.

And this doesn’t bother me.

For me – winning is irrelevant. It only matters that I enjoyed the game and that I pushed myself to my limit.

So when I sign up for a challenge I don’t look at whether I’ll win, whether I’ll get a PB or whether I’ll succeed. I ask myself whether I’ll enjoy it.

My `A` race for the year is the Long Course Weekend. I saw it on TV and it looked fun. I have no idea how difficult or easy the course is. It doesn’t matter. I know I’ll enjoy visiting a part of the country I’ve never been to before.

Einstein famously never wore socks. He didn’t see the point when shoes were more than adequate at doing the same job. I disagree with him as I forgot my spare socks last week and ripped my feet to shreds in the afternoon trying to walk sock-less in leather shoes.

Maybe he wasn’t such a genius after-all.


Jan 24 – Nigel Barge 10k (Andrew)

UntitledThe Nigel Barge 10k was traditionally the first race of the year in Glasgow. It was held on the first Saturday of January and attracted hundreds of runners to a hilly and challenging course around the West End.

It was set up in 1943 to commemorate Nigel Barge, an officer killed at Dunkirk. Nigel was a keen runner and a member of Maryhill Harriers running club. After his death, his father set up the race in his memory. It has been held continuously for over 70 years and is now one of Scotland’s oldest road races.

You can find out more about its history here: Scottish Road Running History

Today, the course has moved from its original route to Garscube sports grounds, about four miles further west. Unfortunately, the race may have moved but the hills have remained. It’s a two lap course with two steep hills, tackled twice.

I was looking forward to running. I’ve never raced as early as January before and I thought it would be good practice to see how I’d perform after a couple of weeks of training. I thought 47 – 50 minutes would be a good time and give me something to build on for the months ahead. It would also be a good test of running in bad weather, or at least I thought it would…

Unusually, Sunday turned out to be almost Spring-like. The temperature was in double figures and the sun even threatened to peak out three months early.  I ditched running gloves and an extra top and went with a base layer, t-shirt and leggings. It was too much and I found myself wishing I’d just worn a t-shirt after the first kilometres.

I also felt I started too fast. The course is downhill for the first 500m and, with everyone jostling for position, I couldn’t help running faster. Iain also starts faster than me and I tried to keep up even though it felt like I was running faster than I should. Normally, he would start to pull away, but this time I kept pace.

After 500m there was a short 100m section across playing grass before re-joining the main path. However, after raining most of the week, the grass was just a boggy swamp. Runners lept from foot to foot like Cossack dancers to avoid touching the ground. A few slide. One even found a sink hole that went down to his knee. It was funny until I remembered I was running in (no longer) bright white new trainers.

The first hill came a minute later. A long steady slog near Garscube vet school. The second hill a short sharp climb to Maryhill Road. Neither were pleasant but they both had longish descents after them where I tried to open my stride and run faster. On the second lap, on the descent after the first hill, I started to lose Iain. On the second descent, I grew the gap to 100m.

After that, my only thought is: “Don’t let him catch me, gotta keep ahead of him.” I looked back once, with 200m to go, and saw he was still 100m behind. I knew I was safe but still tried to finish with a burst, my thoughts now turning to Norseman: “Only another 20 miles to go (and a mountain)”.

I finished in 45 min 58 seconds, pleased with my time and with beating Iain after he’d “won” our last few 10k races.

One race done. One race won. A good start to the year.

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