It is two years since I last did a standard length triathlon. Which is my excuse for why I forgot to take my bike helmet to transition. Thankfully, someone spotted my mistake. I ran back to the car to get it.
It wasn’t my only mistake, I lost my swim cap during the time it took me to receive my swim cap and then walk the short distance to the loch to put it on. I still haven’t worked out how I manged to do that.
The swim temperature was announced as 15C so I was surprised when I got into the loch that the water felt much colder. I swam a little distance to warm up and water suddenly became warm. I assumed it was just a cold patch at the start but the fluctuating temperature was present throughout the swim. On one stroke my hand would enter warm water and on the next the next it would enter freezing cold water. Very strange.
I enjoyed the 2 lap swim. The loch never felt too busy and I was happy to swim round with no one near me. I think swim drafting is cheating so I try to avoid it. I’d rather do the swim using my own power than be dragged along by someone else.
I got into transition after the swim and discovered the socks I had left there were inside out. I had to correct that before starting the bike. A gentleman has got to have standards!
The organiser had warned us that the roads might be slightly busier than usual because there was a classic car rally taking place nearby. There was also a beer festival on. Beer and cars. What could possibly go wrong?
Thankfully the classic car drivers must have been sleeping off their beers as other than a Model T Ford I didn’t spot any classic cars.
The organiser said no-one had ever got lost on the route. It was easy to see why. There is only one road and no option to take any other route.
The route itself was on a decent road surface. The road was undulating rather than hilly but there was a draggy climb near the end.
The race manual describes the course as “It’s almost completely flat (really!) – a couple of small undulations – maybe 5m climb on each. “
Not according to my watch. It shows there was 70m of climbing. Which is not allot but it definitely is not flat course. The trail means there’s lot of small up and down sections.
I like running off-road so I really enjoyed the run but it definitely did not match the description of the course.
It was a great race. I got a PB for the distance and its definitely a course I’d do again. The race gets a bonus point for its t-shirt which is a snazzy baseball style affair.
When people talk about favourite bridges they might pick the Forth Rail Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge but neither is my favourite. I like Jeff Bridges. He’s the only one of the three that has won an Oscar!
Glasgow has 21 non Oscar winning bridges.
A couple of weekend ago I decided run to across as many of the bridges as possible. I invited some members of my triathlon club along. The rules for the run was very simple – every time we get to a bridge, cross the bridge. Let me repeat that – get to a bridge, cross the bridge.
We got to the first bridge. People ran past it. I shouted at them to come back. “Get to a bridge. Cross the bridge!” I repeated. “oh – I understand now.” they said. We got to the second bridge. They ran past it again. Its a really simple rule – “GET TO THE F’ING BRIDGE, CROSS THE F’ING BRIDGE!” Sometimes I despair.
We started at Dalmarnock and ran East to West. We could have done it the other way but East to West meant starting at a McDonald’s restaurant next to a scrap year before finishing at two Glasgow landmarks – the Armadillo and the Science Tower. West to East would have meant starting at the landmarks but finishing with a big mac and a Mcflurry. I choose the scenic rather unhealthy option.
It was a fun route. You can find the GPX for it here
Strava is a great tool. It allows me to see how far, how fast and how often I swim, bike or run.
I have data going back years on it. I can see just how much or how little progress I’ve made.
BUT there’s one thing about it that I hate – Kudos!
I don’t want kudos because its mostly undeserved. For example, last week, I played squash. I lost 5-0.
So far this year I’ve lost every squash match that I’ve played. I recieved Kudos for every loss. I don’t deserve kudos! I deserve a stern talking too and a final warning about my performance.
Once, due to a mistake with my GPS watch, I uploaded a swim of one length of a 25m pool, I got Kudos for it! I shouldn’t have got Kudos I should have got a call asking if I was ok? Asking why I hadn’t swam back? Nobody does just one length of a pool unless they’ve gone to a pool party at Michael Barrymore’s house.
Its like the Great British Bake-off. In earlier seasons Paul Hollywood would rarely give his “Hollywood handshake” of congratulations to a contestant but during last years season he was giving one to everyone.
Does your cake has a soggy bottom? Don’t worry about it. Have a handshake.
Is your scones so hard enough you could sink the titanic with it? Don’t worry about it. Have a handshake.
Have you lost both your arms in tragic bread mixing accident? Yes? Don’t worry about it. Have a handshake…actually probably not in this case considering they are arm-less but you get the idea.
Once it becomes routine to get a handshake/kudos then it becomes meaningless. Kudos should be about achievement not failure.
So I’ve switched off Kudos alerts and I’m happier for doing so. I can now concentrate on getting true kudos – a win at squash.
A couple of weeks ago I attended a training course in Paisley. It wasn’t a very exciting course but one afternoon my tutor received a phone call.
“Hello….what…who is this?” He said into his phone.
I assumed it a local Garage. He’d told me earlier in the day that he’d put his car in for a MOT.
“OK…great…23,637 pounds and 17 pence?”
OMG! What the WTF had he done to his car that he had to pay that amount of money for an MOT?
His face went bright red and he said
“….is this a windup? Really??? Oh my god. I don’t believe it”
It wasn’t the garage. He’d just won £23,647 and 17 pence on a radio show by answering his phone and telling them the prize figure they’d revealed on the breakfast show.
Unsurprisingly, for the rest of the afternoon, he struggled to concentrate on the course!
I had only been to Paisley once before. It was in the evening in winter. It was dark and I couldn’t see anything. Paisley does not have a great reputation so some might argue not seeing it was a good thing.
I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Paisley. I walked from the train station to the training centre and I was surprised by how nice the buildings in the town centre are. At one point on my walk, I passed a man. He greeted me warmly with “What the fuck are you looking at?” I wanted to say “the neo-classical and Georgian period architecture” but instead i just walked on very quickly and didn’t look back.
When is a 50k race not a 50k race? When it’s the John Muir Trail Ultramarathon. I pressed stop on my GPS watch as I crossed the finish line. It said I’d only done 49.8K!
It says a lot about how hard the race was (for me) that I had absolutely no desire to walk another 200 metres to get the distance to 50k.
My pre-race aim was to run the first 30km, run/walk the next 10km and for the last 10km just do whatever it took to finish under six hours.
0K to 6K
A marathon is 44k. This ultramarathon is 50k. My first goal was to do 6k to get to the point there was only a marathon left to do. My reasoning was that I could then tick off that I’d done the ultra bit.
This section was mostly beach trail. it was a little congested with little room for overtaking which was a good thing. It meant I could settle into a nice steady slow pace.
After a couple of kilometres I regretted my choice of clothing. I had a waterproof jacket and a beanie on but it was too warm for them.
Which made me thankful my next goal was only at the 8k point
5K to 8K
Nic’s sister has just moved to Aberlady (the 8k point) and she promised to come to support us. Nic’s parents and sister would be there too as they’d popped over from Glasgow to offer support and see the new house.
I dropped off my jacket and beanie with them. I immediately felt cooler. I won’t need those items again…
8K to 15K.
A nice section through the fields near Gullane. It was relatively flat and easy running but as we exited Gullane the sky darkened and the rain began.
A lot of people have trouble pronouncing Gullane correctly but its very easy. Just say “that town with the weird name next to Aberlady” Everyone will know where you mean.
15K to 25K
The rain had made me COLD, WET AND MISERABLE. I regretted not having my jacket and beanie.
The rain wasn’t heavy but it was pretty relentless. The route passed nice sections of forest around Archerfield Estate. The estate had a great food stop. I had a chocolate brownie. Delicious!
As we approached North Berwick there was a few tiny hills. Hills that normally I wouldn’t even call a hill. Most people would call them slight bump in the road. I looked at Nic. She looked at me. We both said “Walk the hills!”
It was a relief to get to the half way point. Mainly becasue it had a roof so we could get out of the rain for a few minutes. Nic’s parents were here so I thankfully got my jacket and beanie back.
I had another chocolate brownie and to be healthy I also had a Twix. Its vegetarian so it must be healthy! Correct???
They say you should race on what you train on. I eat Twix’s the rest of the week so I might as well eat them on race day too!
25K to 30K
I felt great after the stop. This lasted about 100m when I got told by a marshal to run on the beach. It was a heavy thick sand which made my legs feel very heavy but at least I had a jacket and beanie.
And then the rain stopped!
After the beach it’s uphill past North Berwick Law. Again it wasn’t that hilly and normally I wouldn’t think twice about running it but we still turned to each other and said “walk the hills!”
30K to 35K
We headed into a nice forest section which looped round a small loch. At this point Nic suddenly got a second wind and started to run much faster than me.
I did what any proud husband would do when seeing how well his wife is doing. I screamed “Woaaah! Slow down. I can’t keep up!”
She slowed down a little but stayed about 100m ahead of me. Taunting me with her pace and ease of running.
At one point I spotted some gravestones in the trees. I thought “That’s a strange place to be buried” but I then noticed the names of the graves – Mr Tiddles III, Dwayne Mousecatcher II and Rex. I hope it was a pet cemetry and not real people.
35K to 40K
This section was slightly downhill through fields. It seemed to be a new path as the track and fencing seemed new. We bumped into our suppoirt team again so I was able to remove my jacket again and get another Twix. You can never have too many Twix’s.
40K to 44K
There’s one hill in this section. Again its minor but definitely a “walk the hills” moment.
My legs were sore and tired. I was happy I’d ran 40k but I now switched to walking a couple of 100m every time I completed a kilometer.
Up till this point I’d high fived Nic every time we had reached a goal. I told her the next goal was 44k: the marathon end point.
At 43K she asked for a high five. I refused! I don’t give out high five at any time. Does Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bakeoff gave out one of his Hollywood handshakes before the bake is complete? NO! He gives them once the job is done. I made her wait until 44k and then we had a congratulatory high five!
44K to 49.8K
The sun was out and it was quite warm on the course. This was a really nice section along a river and then along the shore near a beach.
Nic said her knee was sore so she wasn’t going to run anymore. I was quite happy about that so we enjoyed a nice paced walk to the finish.
Occasionally a runner would pass and would say “Sorry! I’m just a relay runner!” to explain why they looked so fresh when we didn’t.
I finished in just under six hours so I was happy that a) I’d achieved my goal time and b) I’d actually run further than I thought I would.
It’s a great race. The route is varied. I never once felt bored running. The marshals are all friendly and supportive. The foodstops were great and came along at just the right time.
I learnt allot for my attempt at the Devil O’ The Highlands later in the year. Mainly remember to bring a Twix.
Bishopbriggs has a reputation as one of the best beginner friendly triathlon races in Scotland. Which is why Andrew and I decided to do our second ever triathlon here. It was 2014 and the race came 5 years after our first attempt at a triathlon https://twinbikerun.com/2017/10/23/my-first-triathlon-iain
My preparation for the race didn’t go well. I didn’t realize I had to be there early to put the bike into transition. By the time I arrived the official car park was full. I managed to get a car parking space in a side street but I didn’t write down the name of street. I wouldn’t realize until later that Bishopbriggs has allot of very similar looking side streets…
I’d like to say the swim went smoother than my parking but I made some rookie errors:
Mistake 1: I under estimated my swim time.
When entering the event I had to give a predicted time for the swim. I took a guess and added a couple of minutes to make sure I wasn’t in a fast lane.
My estimate was too slow! I was actually much faster than everyone else in the lane. I should have realised I wasn’t among fast swimmer when everyone else arrived wearing rubber rings and snorkels.
I’m not a fast swimmer but I’m not slow either. I should have checked my time in advance and I should have had confidence in my ability. It would have been an easier swim for me and the other in the lane if I’d been in the correct lane.
Mistake 2: I didn’t have a tri top
I was the only one in my lane without one. It was a cold wet day. When we headed outside for transition I felt every cold blast of wind and rain on my bare naked skin. I was more more Frozen than children singing “Let It Go”
I should have worn clothes appropriate for the weather condition outside and not just for the tropically warm indoor condition.
Mistake 3: Leaving clothes outside uncovered
The weather was dry when I placed them in transition but now that it had rained all my stuff was wet. I should have put a plastic water proof bag over them to keep the rain off.
My bike seat was soaking wet. If I’d put a plastic bag over it then I would have enjoyed a nice dry seat instead of a “wet Andrew” which is my code for a soaking wet arse.
Mistake 4: Safety pins!
My biggest mistake was that I’d accidentally put my safety pins through the front and back of my cycle top preventing me from getting into the top! DOH!
I had to do undo all the pins. Put the top on and then tack on the number. Ever since this I’ve used a race number belt.
There was quite a variety of bikes on the course from mountain bikes to hybrids to full on time trial specific machines. Maybe triathlons shouldn’t be just about age group results but about how much was spent on the bike.
But then again I saw one man on a hybrid race past a man on his time trial bike. Maybe it is actually about how hard people train!
The run was the first time I’d ever seen a spray can used as a course feature. After running 2km I had to run round a spray can, which was placed in the middle of a path, back to the start. I remember thinking why don’t they just spray the ground instead of putting the can there?
The last km was through a muddy path but annoyingly I had on new trainers. I abandoned running quickly and instead ran cleanly as I gingerly avoided every bit of mud. That was my excuse for my slow run time.
POST RACE (1:26:47)
As I’d forgotten where the car was parked I had to spend twenty minutes on my bike, exploring the back streets of Bishopbriggs, trying to find it.
I studied maths at University. I didn’t want to, but I had no choice – it was a compulsory part of my computing degree.
I remember one exam where I completed all the questions and included all my working out. I was confident I had done well. The paper was marked and returned to me. On the front page it said “0/30 – this shows no knowledge of math’s whatsoever!”
The man who measures the Glentress Trail half marathon must be as good at maths as I am because, although it’s called a half marathon, it’s not half. Its half-ish and comes in short at 12.5 miles. Thankfully it quality over quantity because it is a beautiful route.
I’m not the only person who thinks it’s beautiful. As I got to the top of a hill a man behind me (who had a very loud voice) said/shouted:
“THIS IS BEAUTIFUL!”
Yes, it is. Thanks for pointing it out. Then 10 seconds later…
“WHAT A VIEW”
Thanks again. I definitely would not have noticed unless you
had said something. Then ten seconds later…
It still is. it hasn’t changed since 10 seconds ago! Then 10 seconds later…
Please be quiet! Then 10 seconds later…
Did someone buy him a thesaurus for Christmas!
Then 10 seconds later….SILENCE. Thankfully, he must have run out of words. His thesaurus must be the abridged version. I took in the view and enjoyed the peace and quiet until he boomed ”THIS IS BEAUTIFUL!” Then 10 seconds later….”WHAT A VIEW!” He must have been stuck on a loop.
At this point I slowed down and let him run on ahead as I couldn’t bear listening to him holler for the whole race about how beautiful the course was.
I wonder how his wife puts up with it: she must serve him diner and then he’ll start going “THIS IS DELICOUS….TASTY….MMMM MMMM MMMM…SCRUMMY…DELICIOUS…”
I do have a couple of complaints about the race. A lack of toilets despite the marked increase in the number of competitors since last year. There has been no increase in the number of toilets. There are two at the car park and two near the start. I saw a queue of 15 people still waiting to use the loo just five minutes before the race was due to start.
Secondly, don’t have the registeration for the 10K and the half marathon inside a busy café. It always causes a big queue of people who are confused about whether they are queuing for a race or to buy a scone.
The race itself is excellent. The weather was a very unseasonable 15C. It was so hot that I spotted one man running the course “taps aff.” Its not often you see a half naked man on a mountain in Scotland in February. Even rarer to see a man “taps aff” who’s not carrying a can of beer!
I was happy with my race. I was quicker than last year and felt good and fit all the way round.
When you run, do you stare at other runner’s bums?
It’s quite hard not to stare at arses, unless you have a perfect upright running style. I run slightly stooped forward in a way which naturally brings my gaze to tush level.
I thought about this when I saw a photo of myself from the race.
I don’t know who the man in the white t-shirt is but I ran with him for about 15 minutes. I hadn’t seen his face until now. He was slightly quicker than me so I spent all that time just a couple of meters behind him in a perfect eye to posterior running form.
I was with him for a quarter of the race but, if I was asked to pick him out of a police line up, then I’d have to ask him to turn around. It’s only his bahookie that I’d recognize. I suspect my butt to face ratio in a race is at least nine butts for every one face I see.
Kirkintiloch is the perfect place to discuss derriere’s because the town is known as the Canal capital of Scotland. Why does that make it a bun friendly town? Because people paint over the C in canal…
Kirkintilloch 12.5k is an “undulating” course – 12 hills in 12 KM. I prefer to call it a course with 12 downhills in 12 KM’s. That sounds less fearsome. Similarly, Mount Everest sounds better when described as a long walk down.
It was a the fourth time I’ve raced it and this year I got a course PB. I was ill on Friday so I’m not sure if the PB is due to fitness or the amount of drugs I consumed on the Saturday to get better.
I suspect it was the weather that really helped. Every other year has seen ice on the course. This year there was none. I could finally run the downhills without the fear of slipping and falling over.
The FoxTrail winter series is a running series based in and near Dunbar in East Lothian. The six race series ranges in distance from 5K to half marathon distance.
I love East Lothian for the sandy beaches, the beautiful weather (it’s always sunny when I visit) and the nachos. Yes – I said nachos. The Old Course pub in Gullane http://www.oldclubhouse.com/ does the best nachos in Scotland and believe me I’ve eaten a lot of nachos in Scotland…which may explain my deteriorating athletic performances in recent years.
I’d promised Nic I’d try to be vegetarian this year. I’d managed all of January but, as soon as I got to the clubhouse, I forgot all about it and I ordered chicken nachos. it was only once I’d finished eating them that I realized what I’d done! It was very tasty though….
Andrew was supposed to be doing the race but he pulled out on Friday night. He said he’d been looking at the course and noticed their was a river crossing. The temperature was due to be 1C. He claimed that “a river crossing at that temperature is dangerous. I’m not doing it!”
I’ll let you judge the river crossing for yourself (see the video below) before you make a judgement on what a big scaredy cat Andrew is. I’ve seen jellyfish with more backbone than Andrew!
The start of the race was near a field of animals that looked like this
Which led to two runners having an argument on the starting line:
Runner 1 – It was a llama Runner 2 – It was an alpaca! Runner 1 – No! It was a llama!! Runner 2 – Look mate! If there’s one thing I know, it’s alpacas. It’s a fucking alpaca! Runner 1 – Fuck off! It’s a llama. You’re talking out your arse. Runner 2 – Stick the llama up your arse!!
It was an alpaca. I know this because I googled it after the race. I now know more about llamas and alpaca’s than I ever wanted to know. Did you know llamas are vegetarians ? Although I bet they’d make an exception if they saw how good my chicken nachos were.
The race itself was a good mix of trail, farmland and beach. The weather was cold which meant there was no mud and the tracks were all easily runnable. I felt good at the end of the race and I was happy I hadn’t lost much fitness after my long Indian vacation.
On the way home I reflected on the day. One question kept coming to me – I wonder if llama nachos would be tasty?
I sometimes go to the cinema by myself because Nic thinks my film choices sound awful. For example she said no to Bumblebee – a film about a Volkswagen beetle that becomes a robot. How could that possibly sound awful???
When I go, I often get asked by the cashier – “do you want another ticket for after this one?”
NO! I might be in the cinema by myself but don’t rub it in by assuming I couldn’t possibly have friends or plans for after.
Worryingly I’ve asked other people who go the cinema by themselves whether this has every happened to them. They said no it has never happened to them. I’m not sure what this says about me….
My love of film goes back many years. At school I was part of a group that ran a weekly cinema for younger kids, I’ve read every book going on film theory and I’ve even made my own film!
The film was for a project called the 48 Film festival. I had to put together a film in 48 hrs based on a premise, name, plot and genre given to me at the start of the first hour. I had to create a film about a cleaner caller Norman which features a ring in a documentary format. It was screened at the Glasgow Film Theatre.
You can see it here:
I think the lead actor has allot of talent! 😉
Considering other teams had multiple people, professional actors/makeup/directors etc then I’m quite proud of what we achieved with little to no talent.
Due to my love of film I was excited to run in Mumbai – the home of Bollywood movies. I thought I’d have to go on a tour to see a film but when I arrived at my hotel there was a film being shot straight outside it.
I asked at the hotel desk what was happening and they explained that the rest of the city has Victorian-Gothic architecture but where I was staying is an old purpose-built district called Ballard Estate. Its predominant architectural style is English Edwardian.
This style makes it perfect for Bollywood films as directors can film in the streets and pretend the film character are in London/Paris/New York. It really does feel like those places.
The estate was great for running. Big boulevards that were virtually car free. Excellent pavements and it was very easy to navigate. I it was great to finish my Indian running jaunts with an easy run
Ease of Running score – 10/10
Sights: 8/10 (Great architecture and nice tree lined streets)