Norseman Training Stats (Iain)

This week was the last week of Norseman training. Thank f$%K!!!

I don’t know whether I’ve done enough training. I’ll discover that in a couple of weeks time when I attempt the race BUT I do know that I’ve done all I could in the time I had available.

My aim has always been to complete rather than compete so on that basis since the start of the year my training stats are:

BIKE
Distance: 2,720.5 mi
Time: 184h 41m
Elev Gain: 100,682 ft
Rides: 164

If I was to ride 2,720.5 miles from Glasgow then I’d end up in Baghdad in Iraq. I suspect at some point in Norseman i’ll wish I was in Baghdad as even getting shot at will be more pleasant than the swim/bike/run!

100,000 ft of elevation is the equivalent of cycling 3 times the height of Everest. Which sounded impressive until I looked up what is the record number of climbs of Everest.  Kami Rita Sherpa has summited 22 times! So my paltry 3 times is just a walk in the park to him.

184 hours is along time to be biking. I could have used that time to learn to paint, speak a foreign language or more likely just watch television. 184 hours of TV means I could have binge watched:

All of Game of Thrones (63 hours)
All of Breaking Bad (62 hours)
Every Marvel film (36 hours)
Every Harry Potter film (22 hours)
One episode of love island. (1 hour)

RUN
Distance: 544.1 mi
Time: 100h 1m
Elev Gain: 37,493 ft
Runs: 101

If I’d have run from my house for 544 miles I’d have ended up in the sea but if I ignore that pesky issue then I’d have ended up in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Which until now I’d never heard of! After a quick google I can reveal the most interesting thing I could find about the place.

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On the coat of arms for the state, the symbols of Holstein and Schleswig can both be seen. The two lions represent Schleswig while the leaf of a nettle is for Holstein.

Before the Prussians took over the region, the lions faced away from the nettle. But legend has it that Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck couldn’t bear the idea of the ‘Danish’ lions pointing their bums at the Holstein nettle.

Sorry – It wass not that interesting a story but its the best I could find!

SWIM
Distance 40,808m
Time 19h 4m
Swims 27

When training for an Olympics Michael Phelps would swim 80,000m a week. That’s 1600 laps of a 50m swimming pool. I’ve managed half a week of his training in six months. Which is why I don’t have any Olympic Medals but how many episode of Love Island has he seen? I bet its none. I’ve seen loads. Who’s the success now?….umm probably still him!

Hopefully I’ve reached the start line fit, injury free and happy. I can’t ask for any more than that.

(Although i have one long run and one long bike ride still to do. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed them!)

Ironman Edinburgh 70.3 (Iain)

 

PRE-RACE

I’ve not been ill at all this year until… two days before the race. Thankfully, it was only a head cold but it meant I had a worrying 24 hours on Friday wondering whether I’d be fit enough to take part.

I felt much better on Saturday so I headed through to Edinburgh to register. I didn’t mention my illness to Andrew. I didn’t want him to get the psychological boost of knowing I wasn’t 100% fit.

Registration was quick and easy. I spent longer in the queue to the expo shop than I did registering. I’m always amazed at the amount of tat for sale at the expo. This year’s prize for worst product goes to the IronMan door mat.

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We stayed in Macmerry, a small village near the swim start. The village is tiny but it contains one of the most important facilities in Scotland – the Royal Bank of Scotland datacentre. Billions of pounds of banking trade goes through the site.  There are no signs on the building to indicate its purpose. It looks like an anonymous industrial unit.

I used to visit the site when I worked for RBS. I joined RBS the day the bank collapsed. I don’t think those two events are linked. I’m pretty sure the damage was done before I got there.

Its the worst place I’ve ever worked! I left after six months but not before accidentally getting stuck in the door entry tube to the datacentre. I was there until a security guard rescued me. I don’t miss the place.

SWIM 

Last year we we were one of the last into the water as queuing for the toilet had taken priority over queuing to get into the water.

This year we were also one of the last in as there was still a lack of toilet facilities at the start. Hearing ACDC play “thunderstuck” is supposed to be one of the iconic moments of any IronMan race. It’s less iconic when heard in a portaloo as I tried to get my arm back into my wet-suit sleeve.

It took 30 minutes to get into the water as they only let three people in at a time. This worked out well as there was plenty of space on the swim. I never felt boxed in at any point. Although one guy did swim past me perpendicularly. I’m not sure where he was going!

I enjoyed the swim. The sea was calm. The water was warm and I felt great.

BIKE

I decided to race the bike by “feel” which is my way of saying I forgot my GPS watch! I also forgot my water bottle and my spare tube.  People who say bad luck comes in three’s are wrong. Bad luck comes in fours as I’d also forgotten my sun tan lotion!

On the bright side, this meant my bike was not weighed down with extra bits. I collected a water bottle at the first feed stop so it worked out fine.

The bike route is pretty flat (compared to where I normally ride). The long climbs aren’t very steep and the steep climbs aren’t very long. The first 30 miles are the best part of the course- good road surfaces and nice views over the East Lothian countryside. The route back into Edinburgh had some ‘interesting’ sections – some cobbled roads, a farm road and some pavement.

RUN

I was confident I was well ahead of Andrew so my plan was to run the first two laps of the course and then see how I felt on the last.

It very hot and there was no breeze on the bottom part of the course. The BBC claim it was 21C. Which coincidentally is also the race distance!

 

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I didn’t spot Andrew until the 2nd lap. I was at least 20 minutes ahead of him. I knew at that point I’d won so I took it easy until the finish.

OVERALL

The course was good, the event was well run and I got home in time for my dinner. What more can you ask for in a race?

One major improvement this year is the t-shirt. Last years’ effort was shockingly bad. It looked like the sort of design a contestant from The Apprentice would come up with when they only have five minutes left in a design challenge but hadn’t done any prep work on it.

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Trailfest Summer Solstice 15K (Iain)

I’ve only ran in Mugdock Country Park three times. The first time, I got lost. The second time, it rained. On my last visit, I got lost and it rained.

I have a reputation for attracting rain. I used to be a member of a walking group called Glasgow Young Walkers. Rain occurred so regularly on my walks that I received the nickname – the rainmaker.

I was reminded of this at the registration desk. One of the volunteers recognized me from my time in the club. She asked if I still went on walks.  Unfortunately, whilst I was on the committee of the group, I created a rule stating anyone over 40 was no longer young. So when I turned 40 I had to throw myself out of the club! I doubt my rain making skill is missed, all the walks are now dry and sunny.

As I registered I noticed that I was the only man registering. In fact, from my walk to the car to the desk I didn’t see a single male runner but numerous female runners.

I put it down to registering early and assumed the men were all waiting until the last moment to register.

Before the race started, the organizer gave us all a quick safety talk. I didn’t pay much attention to it until he said “There’s a prize for anyone who gets a selfie with a highland cow”

Unfortunately I did not spot any cows on the way round the course. My collection of selfies with animals will have to limit itself to a horse, a talking monkey, a cartoon cat and cookie eating rooster.

Race directors take note – This was a great idea from trailfest (unless someone had been mauled by a cow outraged at being photographed without first having a chance to put on makeup and brush their hair). I want to see more imagination in awarding prizes at races. Forget awarding the prize to the fastest. Anyone can do that. It just involves running a lot. Award prizes to the best costume, the best on course photo, the laziest runner. Anything that make the event more fun!

During the race I was reminded how few men were on the course when at one point a marshal shouted at me “watch out the women are catching you!” I shouted back “I’m just pleased to be keeping up with them!”

 

Afterwards, I checked the results and there was 59 female runners and 39 men. The only other race I can think of that has more female runners than men is the Womans 10k. It is a great tribute to the organisers that the race attracts such a big turnout of women.

 

I have noticed trail races and ultras tend to attract a high number of female racers. I think it is because the events feel less competitive than a normal road race. I’d be interested to know what other people think the reason is.

 

Overall, It’s a great race. Very friendly, well marshalled and organized.

 

I didn’t even get lost the man in front of me got lost and that doesn’t count does it? I was just following him!

 

For more events check out https://trailfestscotland.com/

 

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Stornoway Half Marathon (Iain)

There are many ways someone can start runners at the beginning of a race.

There’s the classic countdown – “3, 2, 1, GO!”

There’s the false start – “3, 2, 1, WOAAAHH!!”

And then there’s the “3, 2, 1… WTF! IS THAT DONALD TRUMP?”

The Donald was here because his mum came from a small village near Stornoway. A generation later he made it to Washington and now he’s in charge of the free world. My mum also left a small village near Stornoway but a generation later I’ve only made it to Glasgow and all I’m in charge of is a cat.  Note to self: must try harder!

It’s a pity it wasn’t the real Donald Trump. I’d like to have heard him address the runners in his own inimitable style.

“This years race is THE greatest running event Stornoway has ever seen. We’re going to make allot of runners happy today. Believe me!

Crooked Hillary was asked to start the race but she was too busy. SAD!

Lets make runners great again…..3,1, start!!! What do you mean I didn’t say 2? I said 2. Anyone who claims I did not say 2 is a liar. Fake news!”

My first attempt at this race was in 2002. I came top of my age group….by being the only person in my age group. Unfortunately, the organizers realized I was the only one taking part, they didn’t award a prize.

I remember 2002 was a very sunny day. It was the hottest I’d ever felt whilst running this race…until this year. It must have been 22/23C at the start of the race. I wouldn’t normally advocate running “taps aff” but I thought about it, until I wondered where would my race number go? Maybe that’s why men pierce their nipples – to hang race numbers from!

I felt good on the way round. It’s a great course. There’s always something to see – nice views out to sea, nice tracks over to the airport and a beautiful second half of the course running through a forrest in the castle grounds. Afterwards I didn’t feel great. I think the sun got to me. I had to have a lie down till I felt better. What is it they say about the midday sun? Only mad dogs and runners go out in it!

I didn’t win my age group but I did finish almost the exact same position as 2002. After 18 years of running I’m just as bad as the day I started 🙂

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A Gentleman Never Talks About His Training (Iain)

A famous playwright wrote:

“A gentleman should never talk about his exercise regime or love life. It should be assumed he does none of one but lots of the other. Discussing either makes a man a bore!”

Talking about training is something all runners/cyclists/swimmers are guilty of. We all want to share the amazing training session we had but does anyone actually want to hear about it?

The best example of over sharing is to think about any friends who have new born babies. I have a friend who posts one picture of their kid every few months. It’s sweet to see the child’s progress so I click like on the picture. I have another friend who posts a picture every day. Sometimes multiple times in a day.  At first it was sweet, then annoying and then I unfollowed them as I didn’t need to see there snot nosed vomit machine every time I logged onto social media.

That’s what happens when you talk too much about training. You first become background noise i.e. people scroll past without even reading. You then become annoying, people ignore your posts and, before you know it, no-one is actually looking at your updates.

I realize the hypocrisy of saying don’t talk about training on a blog about training but if I can’t be boring on my own personal blog where can I be boring?

Here’s some common tropes that I find annoying and how to avoid them.

The “smashed it” post

The post which says what a great training session an athlete had. They smashed it! In fact every post says they smashed it. If every session was that great why are they not winning ever race they enter?

I’d suggest occasionally posting something else. A picture of a dog. A picture of some food, or occasionally just write “what a great session…but not as great as last week.”

The look at me post

The post which says “What a great run today. The view was amazing” yet the photo the athlete uploaded is a picture of their face.

I’d suggest post the view, not the viewer. I’ve seen a million shots of their sweaty face. I know it better than I know my own. If I wanted to look at faces I’d get a job as a crime mugshot artist.

The too good to be true post 

The post where the athlete wears clothes which are too clean to ever have been used in a training session. Every shot is photographed professional and the posts seem to be all  taken from one day yet they get posted over a time period of a few weeks.

I don’t trust these posts. I think I’m subliminally getting advertised to. They should occasionally upload a real picture of themselves i.e. falling out of bed, bleary eyed, half drunk from the night before then I’d be more likely be interested when they did post a good shot.

The meme post

“OMG! Meme quotes are amazeballs! LOL” I think I’m quoting Malcolm X correctly here.

If you went to an art class would draw something or just bring a copy of the Mona Lisa? if you went to a music class would you try to play an instrument or would you bring  a Beethoven CD? I prefer people who have confidence in their own work. They quote themselves  – anything said with truth is more inspirational than anything copied from someone else.

The blatant plug post

If any companies wish to sponsor me then be aware that I have very strict morals. I only work with companies who share my core belief – that I should get free stuff. If you fit that brief then I’ll happily plug your product in a photo shoot which we will release picture by picture over a few week period accompanied by me writing about  how I smashed the session using an inspirational meme quote!

PS – the purpose of this blog is to say I won’t be writing about Norseman training until the event but then I’ll post one big post about it for anyone who’s interested in seeing what I did to succeed/fail (delete one after seeing result) at Norseman.

Having my cake and eating it (Iain)

Recently, whilst queuing at a bakers, an old lady standing ahead of me said:

“Please can I have two doughnuts?”

The baker replied, “Sorry, I’ve run out of normal doughnuts. I’ve only got two two mini doughnuts instead.”

The old lady looked at the very small mini doughnuts and said “No thanks – too much sugar.”

My immediate thought: “WTF!!! They were tiny. They had less sugar than the full sized doughnuts she originally ordered! If she wants to avoid sugar she shouldn’t order multiple donuts at 0830 in the morning!”

She then said: “I’ll have two french fancies instead.”

Which made me think: “YOU DON’T WANT SUGAR BUT NOW YOU’RE ORDERING A CAKE MADE OF SUGAR, COVERED IN SUGAR ICING WITH A SUGAR CREAM FILLLING!!!”

I think in block capitals when thinking loudly.

And her purchase annoyed me as I wanted the french fancies for myself.

I was reminded of this when visiting my parents home (Stornoway) last weekend. My mum saw me and said, “You’re looking broad!”

Which is a polite way of saying “fat bastard”.

I like to think it’s all muscle but, considering I’m sitting here eating a cake, then that would be as delusional as a Theresa May thinking Brexit will be a success.

When I did IronMan UK my weight was 12 Stone. My Current weight is 13 stone which considering I’m 6ft 1 is well within normal healthy range. Strangely, although I’m heavier, all my times and fitness levels are better now than back then.

I can only conclude one thing. Cake make me faster and fitter!

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mmm – fudge doughnut!

My first race (Iain)

The first race I ever entered was the Glasgow Half Marathon in 2001. I recently tried to find my result but all I found was a paragraph in the then Glasgow Herald:

“Congratulations to the 7,625 runners who completed the race. Results will be available in Glasgow libraries from Friday.”

Imagine entering a race now in which you only got your result a week later in a library.

For any kids reading this. Libraries are like a Kindle but in brick form.

When we were young Andrew and I would go to the local library in the morning to get a book each. We’d read the book in the afternoon and then return to the library to get another book to read in the evening.

Yes – we were the cool kids in school.

Myself, Andrew and one of his friends had entered the race. Andrew’s friend arrived at the start wearing a backpack that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Sherpa climbing Everest.

“Are you off to climb a Munro?” I joked.

The Sherpa didn’t laugh.

“No. I brought the backpack to carry my juice.” He pulled out a two litre bottle of orange.

I stared at it and said: “’You do know you get water on the course? You don’t need to bring your own.”

He looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course I know that. That’s why I brought diluting juice!” He’d brought a two litre bottle of Robinson’s diluting orange juice.

How much juice can a man drink!? He either gets very thirsty or he was planning to open an orange juice stall.

The race started.

Someone from the crowd spotted the Sherpa and shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?”

He didn’t laugh.

30 seconds later a woman from the crowd shouted, “are you off to climb a Munro?” This was going to be a long day…

My race was uneventful until I got to the nine mile point. I wanted to beat the other two. I looked at them. They weren’t paying attention so I started running as fast as I could. I’d run fast until I got to the finish line.

I ran hard. I saw the 10 mile sign in the distance. Not far to go now. One last push…I ran hard. I looked for the finish line…but there was no finish line. At this point I realised a half marathon is half a marathon and not, as I mistakenly thought, 10 miles.

I felt a bit stupid and the fast run had tired me out. I had to walk. The other two caught up with me.

“Why did you run off?” Asked Andrew.

I told them the truth…sort of.

“I was desperate for the loo….ummm…yes…that’s why.”

They continued running. I walked the last three miles until I got to the finish. I met Andrew and the Sherpa. The Sherpa offered me some juice. I said yes

He opened his bag to get it but pulled out a pair of boxing gloves.

WTF!!! Said the expression on my face. “Why did you run with them?”

“This is my boxing bag. Where else would I keep them?”

I had to admire his logic.

I’ve never seen him again since that day.

Don’t be dull (Iain)

The phrase “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” famously featured in the film The Shining. I thought the phrase was written for the film/book but it was actually first used in a book by James Howel in 1659. Little is known about James other than he worked with a man called Jack who was boring as f**k!

The phrase is equally true when applied to sport. Some people can be so obsessed with their running/biking or yoga that they have no other interests.

I know because I have been that boring bastard.

Back in 2012 I took part in the annual L’etape du Tour bike sportive. A race that allows amateur cyclists to ride a closed road stage of the Tour de France. It was my ultimate bike race. The one I needed to do over any other.

I became obsessed with race to the detriment of any other interest. I trained every weekend, I read everything there was to read about it.

I did the race and then….I became depressed.

I’d done my life cycling goal. Do I do it again? Do I do it faster? What next?

I thought maybe a different race is what I needed so I researched other big races. None of which excited me. I was still depressed.

Then I realized it. I wasn’t depressed. I was bored of myself. I’d become a one dimensional person. I was a biker but nothing else.

If I was bored of myself then Christ knows what anyone else thought of me!

So I vowed from that moment on to always vary my interests. For every sporting hobby, I have to have a non-sporting hobby too.

Since then I’ve tried stand up comedy (badly), acting (badly) and painting (badly)

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My art tutor taught me how to paint fruit and how to paint people so he shouldn’t have been surprised when my graduation piece ended up being a fruit that looks like a person!

Both my girlfriend and Andrew’s had nightmares after seeing what I’ve entitled – Lemon Maradonna. Which makes me slightly proud. At least its not dull.

Tokyo Marathon 2008 (Iain)

Last weekend saw the 11th running of the Tokyo Marathon. It’s one of the “big six” world marathons.

  • Tokyo Marathon
  • Boston Marathon
  • London Marathon
  • Berlin Marathon.
  • Chicago Marathon
  • New York City Marathon

Its also one of the worlds most boring races!

In fairness – I find all marathons boring but surprisingly, for a man who hates long runs, I have done quite a few of them.

The first one, I didn’t actually enter. Andrew had trained for months to do the 2003 Edinburgh Marathon. This was when the marathon ran through Edinburgh rather than its modern incarnation which heads away from the city to Musselburgh. It should really be called the run away from Edinburgh marathon.

He was supposed to run it with his friend but his friend got the flu before the race. Andrew asked if I’d do it instead. I had done no training. I did some last minute cramming to get fit but blew it all by drinking until 3am the night before the race!

6465684683_63aab8016d_oThis picture does not do justice to how hungover I was feeling. On a drinks consumed scale I was somewhere between George Best and Oliver Reed.

If you look closely you will see a mobile phone in my right hand. I’d promised to phone my mum to let her know how it was going. I bet Mo Farah doesn’t do that.

I lasted until the 14 mile point then gave in. I took my number off and jumped on a bus to the finish.

My next race was the Berlin Marathon. This time I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t even make it to Berlin.

I suffer from a fear-of-flying-itis. I got a really bad dose of it and didn’t make it onto the plane.

My next attempt was a marathon in Fort William. It was 13 miles out then 13 mile back. I did the 13 miles out and then jumped in a car for the way back!

Did I mention I don’t like long runs.

Which is why you might ask how I ended up in Tokyo doing a marathon that going by previous records I’d be unlikely to finish. I was actually out visiting an ex-flatmate who worked there. We both thought it would be a good idea to time it with the marathon. It was only the second time the race had been run.

I can’t remember if I did much training for it which I think means I didn’t do much.

The race itself was very boring. Tokyo is a great city but its very modern. The route was up and down straight roads passed identical office/housing blocks. 26 identical miles is pretty dull.

The only thing that livened up the race was trying to work out what to eat and drink at the feed stops. Everything was in Japanese. I’d pick something that looked tasty only to discover it tasted disgusting!

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The day after the race I went snow boarding. My friend had recommended it as Japan has great snow and slopes. Which was lost on me as I’d never ski’d or boarded before.

On my first morning I went to the children’s slope to practice. I stood on the board. Slid down the hill and promptly fell over. Whilst falling I managed to accidentally punch myself in the chest, cracking a rib.

So my abiding memory of japan is a boring run and an incredibly painful 4 days of snow boarding.

I’ve never been on a board since or done a marathon!

 

 

 

 

Kirkintilloch 12.5K (Iain)

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Buchlyvie 10K:

“The race started and almost immediately stopped due to a giant puddle on the course. Runners will run through anything – illness, injury or bad weather but it seems most won’t run through a  puddle. Everyone gingerly tried to tip toe through or around it.”

Yesterday, I did the Kirkintilloch 12.5K and the race started and almost immediately stopped due to a giant puddle on the course. Runners will run through…you can guess the rest.

I wonder if this means there’s a gap in the sports shoe market for running welly boots! I should pitch my idea to the BBC’s Dragons Den. Even Dragons must prefer dry socks on a run.

The race was great fun but very cold. There was ice on the local roads but, thankfully, the course was clear of it. I’d done a long run the previous day so I did the race as a tempo training run rather than a full on sprint . I was happy with my steady pace and time.

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The most interesting thing about the race is the town itself. Kirkintilloch used to have the slogan “Canal capital of Scotland” until people painted over the “C”

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It now has the slogan “A walkers are welcome town” which will last until someone paints over the first “l” with an “n!”

I think they need to work on getting better slogans.