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.

Here is the weather… (Andrew)

This Sunday is the Balloch to Clydebank half-marathon, one of my favourite races. It starts beside a shopping centre, dodges through the grimier parts of Alexandria, weaves through the back of Dumbarton train station before finishing with the bookies, chippies, an industrial estate and a car park in Clydebank. It must be the only race that starts with one of Scotland’s most beautiful spots – Loch Lomond – and immediately turns its back on it and runs as far away from it as it can.

I love this race though for one reason – for almost all of the 13 miles it feels like you’re running downhill. You can’t ask for a better start to the year, even if you couldn’t find a less welcoming finish.

What you also can’t ask for is dry weather. I don’t think I’ve ever run this race without it raining. Once it was even snowing (the race was cancelled). This year however it looks like we’ll finally have a dry day, at least if the weather reports are accurate. So far I’ve checked BBC Weather, the Weather App, The Met Office and checked them again an hour later in case its changed.

Even though there’s nothing we can do about the weather I think runners and cyclists like to check it constantly anyway just in case it might rain. I think its so that when we get to the start line we can say “I told you it would rain” and look smugly at those who’ve just turned up in singlets and goosebumps. We, on the other hand, are dressed in the latest Gore-tex bin bag. We have waterproof socks. Some of us even have caps (though not anyone who has any dignity or self-respect). We’re prepared. And then we overheat and wish we hadn’t brought all this kit…. but at least we were right! It did rain.

But not this year. This year the Balloch to Clydebank half-marathon will be dry. Unless the weather’s changed in the last hour. I’d better check.

What are you doing with my phone?


Last year, in Elie (Fife) I was walking on the cliffs above the town when I came across an iPhone lying against a post. My first thought was “I’ve found an Iphone. I can sell it and make a few hundred pounds!”  Thankfully, my second thought was “someone has lost an iPhone. How do I get it back to them?”

I picked the phone up and looked through the contact list for a “home” or a “mum” who I could phone and inform that their partner or son had lost a phone. Unfortunately there wasn’t any obvious names.

As I wondered what to do next a man ran up the path to the top of the cliff. He took one look at me and said “For F*&Ks sake!! What are you doing with my phone??”

I replied that I thought it had been lost as no-one was present. I was looking to return it to whoever it belonged to.

He continued to swear profusely and eventually explained that he’d set the phone up to record his attempt at running up the cliff. The run was “famous” and he was going to post his best time to a hill running forum.

Personally I wouldn’t leave my £600 phone out where anyone could walk of with it!

Since that day I’d always wanted to try the run. Luckily, this weekend, I was up tin Elie. I ran the route and I can honestly say it isn’t worth videoing! It was short and not that difficult. I think his friends should thank me because if he had videod it, I bet he would have bored them with it again and again and again….



And the winner is… (Andrew)

“If I was five years younger,” I said, “I’d still be 10 years older than everyone else here”.

I’ve always been one of the older players at our weekly five a side football game. We had one player in his forties, another few in their thirties (including me at 38), and most in their twenties. Tonight though I was the only one in my thirties, there was no one in their forties, and the opposition was straight out of university.

I don’t mind playing people who are younger than me. I’m not a great footballer but I do know how to run so I make up for my lack of skills by always moving around the pitch. This gives the impression I’m actually doing something even if all I’m doing is mimicking a headless chicken. I don’t see myself as better or worse than anyone else because I’m older than them. Yet, when it comes to triathlon, we’re always divided by age. The fastest under 30, under 40, under 100 etc. Yet, it’s a sport where age is less important than technique and where technology can make more of a difference than how many candles you blew out on your birthday.

So, instead I propose a new classification, one borrowed from Iain who suggested it during a race last year, instead of fastest man under 30 or fastest woman under 40, we should have:

  • Fastest man with a mountain bike;
  • Fastest woman without a trisuit;
  • Fastest man with a £10k time trial bike he only rides twice a year because he’s frightened to take it out.

You get the picture.

What would you have?

What’s the point of a plan?

This is an interesting perspective on training.

I think it mainly applies to people who are already quite fit but I do agree with some of the points.

  1. No brick sessions. I never do them. I know I’m tired after biking so training isn’t going to change that. Some people claim “It helps you train your body to move after the bike” What do you think I do after biking? Lie in my bed for the rest of the day? I’ll walk, have other commitments and continue with the rest of my day so I think my body gets plenty of practice of moving after biking without a brick session.
  2. Shorter distance exercises when training for long distance. When training for the Iron man swim I swam mostly 1.5KM  (30min) a day. I rarely if ever swam an hour and less often for more than an hour BUT I did swim allot (3/4 times a week) so my weekly swim distance was the equivalent of two long sessions. I swam the iron man swim in a good time and I didn’t feel tired.
  3.  1 long bike ride and 1 long run a week. I think this is essential part of training. I’m not too bothered by what I do during the week (as long as I bike commute to work and get a couple of runs in) but I like to get these two sessions done.

The key message is don’t follow a plan for the sake of following a plan. Question everything you do and then alter it so it fits into the way you work/think.

PS – this week I didn’t manage to get a long run in but I did climb a hill instead. Even the best laid plans can be thrown out. Never be a slave to a plan!



Good times (Andrew)

Some days you can run, swim or cycle forever. Yesterday was one of those days. I swam at lunchtime and felt as strong on the final stroke as I did on the first. I cycled 15 miles in the evening on the turbo and I felt like I’d only just got started. Yesterday was a good day. Why can’t every day be like yesterday?

Today, on the other hand, is muthaf…

The good thing about a training plan is that some days you just have to follow it. It doesn’t accept arguments. It doesn’t accept excuses. It just tell you what to do and doesn’t take no for an answer. It’s less a training plan more of a training mum.

Should I speed up or slow down?

I ran towards a cross road. My plan was to reach it and turn left back along a path towards home BUT coming from the right path was a group of 6 runners.

We were going to reach the crossroad at the same time.

At this point I had to decide:

a) Do I speed up and get to the crossroad first? The problem was that there’s a mile until the next opportunity to change direction. I’d have to keep ahead of them for all that time. I’m competitive about most things so there was no way I’d let them overtake me!

B) Do I slow down and let them go ahead and therefore avoid the shame of getting overtaken?

I quickly sized them up. They all had good gear on, they looked to be running within themselves. I decided it was safer just to drop in behind them.

I soon realised the problem this presented. As I ran for a mile about 10 metres behind the group we passed a number of dog walkers. Each walker looked at me with pity! They assumed I had been dropped by the group and was trying to catch up!!!

I wanted to shout at each of them

“I’m not with them!”

Instead I dropped off from behind them as soon as another path appeared.


TurboFlix (Andrew)


Another week without a bike ride outside. I should look at the relentless rain and frosty mornings as ideal preparation for Norseman but, call me a wimp, but I’d much rather sit on the turbo trainer in a warm room and watch telly than spend 90 minutes shivering and looking out for ice patches to break my neck on.

You’re a wimp!

A wimp with an intact neck and fully functioning arms and legs.

Fair point.

So, instead of cycling round Glasgow, I’ve been watching:

  • Uncanny Kimmy Schmitt
  • Brooklyn 99
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Soccer Saturday
  • Smashie & Nicie’s End of an Era (available on YouTube)
  • And, the best of the lot this week, The Legend of Old Gregg episode of the Mighty Boosh.

While I know I should be watching a Sufferfest video and making myself “SUFFER!”,  I’d rather make myself laugh. And, with most sitcoms being 22 minutes, I can pick a variety of programmes to watch while on the Turbo to keep myself entertained while I try and keep a constant speed. In a few weeks, I’ll move to a more structured training but, for the moment, long steady sessions are helping me adjust to time on the bike and keeping a constant effort, at least that’s what I tell myself.

Kirkintilloch 12.5KM – 14th February – 01:03:01 (Iain)

“C’MON IAIN!! You can kick this blog’s ass!”

“Iain! You’re an amazing blogger!”

“Don’t let yourself down Iain!”

If, whilst writing,  I said those things out loud most people would consider me a weirdo. Especially if I was in a room full of other people.

Yesterday I did the Kirkintilloch 12.5KM race. I’ve done the 10K race previously so I assumed it would be the same but with 2.5KM added on. I was wrong. This meant that

a) I expected to start at a primary school. I didn’t realise there was more than one in Kirkintilloch. The races don’t start at the same one. I did wonder why the first school I drove too was very quiet.

b) I expected a flat fast course but it was hilly and slow.

c) I expected a selection of cakes and biscuits at the end of the race as that what I received last time. Instead I got a banana! I was looking forward to cake.

The weather was cold but sunny. There was a number of patches of Ice on the route so I had to be careful on some downhill sections. I had no expectations for the race so treated it as training jog. I therefore chatted to Andrew for the first 10K. When we got to a hill I heard him breathing heavily. I decided to make a break for the win. I picked the correct moment as he didn’t have the legs to keep up the pace  and I was able to hold him off until the finish.

He beat me last time so I was determined to get a win here!

During the last 2.5Km I ran next to a guy called Steve. I know that’s his name because he kept talking to himself.

“”C’MON STEVE!! You can kick this course’s ass!”

“STEVE! You’re an amazing runner!”

You get the idea! This would be fine if he wasn’t wearing headphones!

it didn’t seem to help his performance as he conked out on a hill towards the end. Maybe if he’d spent less energy shouting at himself he’d have had some left to finish the race.

So if you feel like talking to yourself whilst running amongst strangers at least take your headphones out. Its only polite. You wouldn’t keep them in if someone else was trying to talk to you! So treat yourself with the same respect 🙂


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