2019 – part 2 (Iain)

 A few blogs ago, I wrote about my plan for 2019:

The only race I’ve never done before is an Ultra marathon. I’ve always been scared of the distance and the loneliness of running that far. 

So, as its the only event I’m scared of and its the only running distance I’ve never done before then I know that’s what I have to do in 2019.

Now I just need to decide which one….

I can now exclusively reveal my choice of race isn’t just one ultra but two!

I did ask Runners World Magazine if they wanted the exclusive but after they said “Who are you? Why would we want that? How did you get this number?” I decided to reveal it here instead. 

My first ultra is the John Muir Way Ultra. A 50KM race in East Lothian. I chose it because it’s flat, I love visiting East Lothian and I get a funky looking t-shirt if I complete it. 

https://foxtrailscotland.co.uk/races/ultra/

My second ultra is the Devil O The Highlands race. A hillier longer race comprising 42 miles from Tyndrum to Fort William. I choose this because I wanted a distance that was scary (31 miles isn’t that different from a marathon but 42 is very different) I love this section of the West Highland Way, and, if I complete it, I get a funky looking t-shirt….there is a theme developing about how I choose events. 

 https://www.devilothehighlandsfootrace.co.uk/

The race also has one of the best disclaimers I’ve seen. 

The event strives to be as inclusive as possible and the organizers have a zero tolerance policy to any form of discrimination. We are not fond of Donald Trump.

I think that’s one person most people are happy to discriminate against!

Glasgow Mural Run (Iain)

The best graffiti I’ve ever seen was in London shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack. I noticed someone had sprayed a wall with the phrase “Osama Bin Laden has a small willy”


Which distils the complicated geopolitics of western and eastern religions down to a simple playground insult.


Bin Laden is not the only one whose nether regions have been mocked. Similarly, during World War Two, Hitler was ridiculed in an equally childish manner with a song claiming he only had one ball


Hitler has only got one ball
The other is in the Albert Hall
His mother, the dirty bugger
Cut it off when he was small


Glasgow has recently launched a Mural trail. Mural is a posh word for graffiti. The murals are helping to rejuvenate streets and revitalize buildings and vacant sites that look a bit tired, reincarnating them as beautiful pieces of public street art.


You can see some example here from Andrew’s post https://twinbikerun.com/2018/11/26/glasgow-mural-run-andrew/

The official route is a good 5K run but I wanted to do something a bit longer and visit some of the unofficial murals.


You can find a GPX of my route here  https://strathcloud.sharefile.eu/d-s662eebc93b242119


I won’t list any of the murals because I think the joy of them is the surprise you get when you see them for the first time. Much like that joy I got the day I discovered Bin Laden and his small winky. Which is a phrase I never thought I’d use in a public forum!

Woman, A Warning! (Andrew)

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Sky News when they cut to a report of a man, Ross Edgely, who had just swum round the whole of the UK. 

“Wow,” said the reporter, as he reached the shore.

“Wow,” said the crowd, as he raised his arms in triumph. 

“What a dick,” I thought, as I watched him explain how swimming in salt water for months and months had gradually destroyed his tongue. Or, as he said it: “Swumming ‘n sawt wather ‘as detroyth ma tong!”.

While I admire all athletes who take on and achieve an epic challenge. I couldn’t help think this time that there’s a danger in automatically admiring them.  They’re creating a dangerous trend. They’re creating the idea that longer is better, when it’s not. Long races are boring. Long races are hard. Instead give me a medium length race. A half-marathon. A half-ironman. Just the thought of entering a race with the word half in it, gives me a boost. “It can’t be that bad,” I think, “it’s only a half!”.

The word “ultra” on the other hand makes me we want to avoid it like a colleague from work on a train station when you know you’ve got an hour’s journey ahead of you and don’t want to sit beside them because you know you’ll run out things to say in five minutes. 

Yet, despite the difficulty, there are longer and longer races all the time. Board of IronMan? Why not run a double, triple or even ten times IronMan? Want to go for a swim, why not avoid the pool and head towards Norway instead? It’ll only take three weeks, a yacht and a willingness to lose your tongue within sight of Bergin.

I blame guys. Guys are daft and macho. We want to take on harder and harder challenges. Which is okay, but I think we should call them what they are. IronIdiots. And, when they complete a race. When they swim 3 miles, cycle 112 miles and run a marathon they should be greeted at the finish line with a cry of “YOU ARE AN IRONIDIOT!”

Which is better than IronMan because it’s not sexist, woman can be idiots too.

Except they’re not. The number of woman who take part in longer events is significantly smaller than the number who take part in short events like 10k or half-marathons. 

But it’s starting to grow. I’m seeing more woman take part in longer races. And I have this to say to them: “STOP! DON’T DO IT! DON’T BE AN IRONIDIOT!”

Instead, women, invent your own races. Races that are fun and people actually want to do. Don’t copy the guys. They don’t know what they’re doing. Why would anyone want to run a marathon after cycling 112 miles? It’s stupid and arbitrary and random and proves nothing except guys will follow any instructions provided they get a medal at the end.

If there was a medal for swimming 3 miles then cycling 112 miles then punching yourself in the face until you make your nose bleed then sign me up!

Women, don’t repeat the mistake of men. Men are idiots. Who invented the marathon? A man? And what happened to him? He died running it. Yet other men thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea – let’s do it too!”

Invent your own races. Don’t follow the guys into extreme triathlons. Invent benign triathlons. Races where the water is warm, the courses are downhill and, if you get a puncture, everyone has to stop until you’ve fixed it. That sounds like a nice race.

Just don’t follow the guys, they’re only leading you on an adventure that should be banned on health & safety grounds!

 

Glentress Trail Race (Iain)

“My Baws are on fire!!!”

It was the end of the race and a man was discussing the state of his ‘baws’ with a friend. I assume it was a friend. Discussing your ‘baws’ with a stranger would be an unusual conversation starter. 

The friend replied “Did you wear your new pair of shorts?”

“Aye! And now my baws have more cuts than a Tory budget!” He actually only said “Aye” but I’m using artistic licence. 

“Did you wear pants?” His friend asked.

His friend tried to walk “It burns!” he screamed. I took that as a no to the pants question. 

Thankfully my race was friction free although I did get annoyed by how slow some of the  sections of the course were.

My pet hate at races is people who stand at the front at the start who should be at the back. If you’re going to run slowly then start further back. I spent the first ten minutes of the race trying to get past people who had no intention of running quickly.

I don’t blame the runners as it happens at every race because people don;t want to start at the back but there’s a simple fix. Start the race in two waves. One wave for people who want to race and then five minutes later start the wave for people who just want to run. 

Because congestion is inevitable when there are too many slower runners on a single track course 

Last year it wasn’t noticeable as there was only 235 runners but this year there was 439. People were walking on sections that last year could be easily run because someone up ahead was blocking the way by going slowly. 

Hopefully next year they fix the start so that the race doesn’t feel as congested as this years race. 

2019 (Iain)

A few years ago, I attended a Stand Up Comedy course. At the end of the course I performed a 5 minute “comedy” set. You can see the alleged “comedy” below

At the end of the gig a man came up to me to say “I really enjoyed that! You must let me know when you’re performing again”

I was pleased. I’d only done one gig but I’d already gained a fan!

I told my fan that I had a gig booked for the following week at a comedy club. He promised to attend. 

I was a bit nervous before the gig. After all it was only my second ever gig but before I went on, I looked out and saw my fan sitting in the front row. I thought to myself. At least there’s one man here who’ll laugh. I went out and performed my “comedy.” My fan didn’t laugh once. 

Afterwards I went up to him and asked if he’d enjoyed it. “Not really.” he replied “I preferred your early stuff!”

I never saw him again.  

I was reminded of this whilst thinking about my race plans for next year. Nothing has been exciting or motivating me to enter. 

I thought, maybe I should do an Ironman BUT I can’t be arsed! Last years effort and training for Norseman was hard work. I’d rather have an easier year with less pressure. 

I thought, maybe I should do a Marathon BUT I can’t be arsed! I’ve done marathons before and the thought of doing another one doesn’t excite me.

What I really needed was a race that captures the excitement and feeling I get when its the first time I do it. The early stuff!

The only race I’ve never done before is an Ultra marathon. I’ve always been scared of the distance and the loneliness of running for that far and long. 

So as its the only event I’m scared of and its the only running distance I’ve never done before then I knew immediately that’s what I have to do in 2019.

Now I just need to decide which one….

It’s A Stay- (In The Bag) -Cation (Andrew)

I was on holiday last week. Five days in Lisbon during what I would describe as a pleasant summer’s day – 20 degrees, light breeze, some sunshine but just enough cloud to not make it overbearing – but it was also what the Portuguese would describe as the depths of winter, given the number of locals wearing puffer jackets, hats, scarves and woolly gloves.

It just goes to show how subjectively we view the weather. When you live in Scotland – everywhere else is the tropic; when you live in the Med, everywhere else is Scotland.

Before I go on holiday I always make a list of everything I’ll need to bring. If I don’t, I’ll forget something important. Like my passport, which meant I once travelled to Ireland with my bus pass. It got me in, but, when I tried to leave, the border guard said: “A Strathclyde Passenger Transport card is not a proper form of ID”. I said: “It was when you let me in!”. He couldn’t answer that logic so he let me out.

I always include a spot on my list for my running trainers, shorts and a couple of t-shirts. I always think “Won’t it be great to run around foreign cities and explore bits of them that’ll I’ll never see when walking?”

And I always return home with the trainers unworn, the shorts unfolded and the t-shirts still smelling of fabric softener. Good intentions last as far as the white cliffs of Dover.

I think I don’t run when I’m away because I always walk everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, if the place I want to see is not actually in a different time zone then I’ll walk to it rather than get a bus or a train. Because it’s a new place, everywhere is new and exciting. Walking is just another way to get bearings and to discover where I am. And, by the time I’ve walked everywhere, my legs are tired and I don’t then fancy running a few more miles.

Bizarrely, it’s the exact opposite of home. Want to walk anywhere? Nah, take the car instead!

But I also don’t run because it’s sunny. And warm. And who wants to run in nice weather? What the point of training in good conditions when you live in Scotland?!?!?

It’s the same in July when we get one week of good weather. When I look at a blue sky I think I’ll pass on going out for a run.

But I always bring my trainers with me. I like knowing I have the choice. Even if that choice hasn’t been used in any recent holiday. However, next time, I tell myself I will go out for a run. I will put on my trainers and I will explore the city on foot!

Unless the weather’s better than Scotland in which case, nah, you’re alright, I’ll just walk… 🙂

Antonine Trail Race 2018 (Andrew)

44917866_10156702383348162_4046404911376629760_n

Two bumblebees get out of the car. One of them adjusts his wings and his trainers and then starts to run.

Death stands beside an angel and both start to stretch.

This is the Antonine Trail Race. A half marathon up, over, around and back over Croy Hill between Kilsyth and Cumbernauld. Every year it’s held on the last of Sunday in October and the organisers encourage runners to take part in Halloween costume. At the start line you see a lot of photos, high fives and people not realising that they’re about to start swearing when they hit the first hill and realise how hot it is to dress like a bee while trying to run a mile up a trail.

It was a fantastic day for the race. It was cold but with an almost cloudless sky it was just the right temperature for running.

It starts with one mile on a narrow path so try and get near the front if you don’t want to be blocked in. After the first mile, the hill climbing starts with a mile and half of trail runs and climbing to the top of Croy Hill. After that it’s undulating before a mile long descent down to the canal and Kilsyth marsh. A few miles of flat trails are broken up by an environmentally friendly water spot – there was no plastic cups.

The organisers had warned in advance that the only cups would be “sharing cups” – and they warned that there might be more than just water in the cups after twenty sweaty runners had swigged from it. So, they recommended bringing your own bottle. I ran with a trail belt with a couple of small water bottles. I didn’t fancy sharing anything!

After the water stop it’s a steady climb through the forest around Barr Hill. A few sharp inclines near the top make it a challenging run before another long drop down to the base of Croy Hill and another lap up it – this time from the opposite side.

The good news at that point is that you finish with a final mile back on the narrow paths and with a gentle descent (apart from one sharp shock) and a cracking photo opportunity at the finish as you beat a red devil to the line.

And if that wasn’t enough to recommend it – the organisers lay on a bumper food stall at the finish with cakes, biscuits, bananas, more cakes and selection of gels and liquids.

Roll on 2019!

More info: https://antoninetrailrace.com

44938125_10156702384388162_863305949962567680_n

My first marathon (Iain)

I recently read a post about completing a marathon.

“The marathon is such a huge commitment and is a lot of work. But it is the most rewarding race I’ve ever done. The first time you cross that line is so emotional. The relief, the pain, the tears, it’s a moment that will live with you forever.”

It really chimed with me because when I first completed a marathon I felt none of those things because all i felt was my nipples. That sounds weird. Let me explain….

It took me three attempts to complete a marathon but I’d argue the first two don’t count.

My first attempt was the Edinburgh Marathon. Andrew had entered and trained for months. I had not entered or trained at all yet I found myself on the start line when a spare place became available the day before the race. I only did it to keep Andrew company for the first half of the race. I dropped out after the half way point to catch a bus home.

My second attempt was an out and back course at the Fort William Marathon I ran out but couldn’t be bothered running back as it was a really boring route. I have never done an out and back race since.

My third attempt was the Tokyo marathon. I do not remember much about the race other than it was a bit chilly and not very scenic. Once I’d run down one Japanese road full of office blocks then I’d seen them all.

As I got nearer the finish, I felt a pain in my chest. My first thought was “Am I having a heart attack?” so I did what all men do in the face of a medical issue. I ignored it. I stared ahead and concentrated on making it to the finish line. As I crossed the finish line, the pain got worse. I put my hand to my chest. It felt damp. I looked down. My top was covered in blood. Had I been attacked by a Japanse vampire – Count Japula?  I moved my hand around. I felt my nipples, I screamed in agony! They were bleeding.

I now regretted my decision to run the race in a Celtic FC football top. The thick heavy polyester of the top had chafed my nips like a cheese grater. I was practically nip-less.

Now the panic set it. Maybe I’d need nip replacement surgery! Would Andrew donate one of his to me? If he didn’t where would I get one from? Should I get big or small ones? So many questions!

I didn’t have a replacement top so after the race I got the subway and then walked to my hotel after the race in my green and white and blood top. To this day I’ve never felt the magic of the marathon as every time I finish one I immediately check my nips and thank they lord they are still there.

Alley Alley Alley! Go! Go! Go! (Andrew)

I’m not a thief. I’m not ‘casing the joint’.

I’m not a mugger, though I am hiding in dark alleys.

I’m a runner – but one that’s set myself a challenge to run around Glasgow using as few streets as possible. Instead I’m running along lanes and alleyways, small parks and connecting paths. I’m explo-running*.

*TM Pending (And when I say pending, I mean the trademark office said don’t call us, we’ll call you. Which is encouraging as they wouldn’t want to spend their own money on a call unless they were really keen on the name!)

It started a couple of months back. You get used to running the same streets next to your house. No matter what you do, when you leave the house, unless like a blues guitarist you were born on a cross road, you can only turn left or right. Same road. Same sights.

It’ll be the same for every street around you. You’ve seen them a hundred times because you’ll have familiar routes and you’ll trod the same old steps.

I’ve been in Shawlands for 16 years. I know every street from Queens Park to Harry Fairburn in Giffnock. I’ve run up them, I’ve run down them, I’ve run of the left side, I’ve swapped to the right. I could run some routes blindfolded, but I won’t because I’m not an idiot. I’d veer off into traffic! But you know what I mean. I’ve been there, run that.

Until a couple of months ago when I thought, “What’s up that alley?” And I ran behind some houses on Kilmarnock Road and found an alley of garage doors, back gardens and glimpses of people washing up dinner at kitchen windows. Who then called the cops as they saw me gawk in at them looking for all the world like I’d just been caught trying to jump their fence…

It was new, it was different, and it felt like discovery. I was Christopher Columbus finding a new world… of domestic tasks and refuse bags. Which is not a new world they’d show on Star Trek. Spock never transported down to a new planet to face 45 minutes of marigolds and Fairy Liquid, But, still, a new world nonetheless.

After that, I’ve started looking out for every path that twists behind a house, every track that leads to a cluster of garages and every lane well trundled by a thousand bins.

There’s a whole network criss-crossing the city. Unexplored, unventured and ready for the intrepid runner to go exploring!

Unless, and I cannot stress this enough, you’re woman*! I’m not a mugger but that doesn’t mean you should explore dark alleys on your own!

(*This general sexist description includes men scared of shadows and excludes woman who can handle themselves in a fight or routinely carry a recently sharpened knife of at least six inches.)

Get out there and get explore-running!

(Safely!)

This blog was brought to you by a love of running, exploring and public safety announcements.

Also, vote for us for best blog before you do: Vote Here!

P.E class (Iain)

I grew up before sexual equality was invented. Sexual discrimination was rife against girls although very occasionally it was against boys.

At my primary school boys and girls received two physical education lessons a week.  They were taken by a female teacher. The boys and girls would get changed. The class would start. The teacher would tell the boys to stand at the side of the gym. She’d then let the girls play games for 40 minutes before letting the boys have 20 minutes at the end.

She once made the boys stand for the whole hour. The boys didn’t get a single minute of exercise!

Years later I got my revenge on her. I had a job as a paper boy. The gym teacher was on my round. She liked the Scotsman. She hated the Daily Record. Whenever there was no Scotsman’s in stock I’d put a Daily Record through her door instead.

BUT what I’ve realised is that I didn’t get my revenge. What I’d done was assume a male privilege that I as a man deserved to be treated better so I must have been discriminated against. Actually what she had done was very clever. She knew the boys got lots of exercise. We played football before school, every break and after school. If we weren’t in the classroom we we’re on the football pitch.

The girls, on the other hand, got very little exercise. There were no facilities for them to play at breaks and no encouragement from any teacher to do exercise. Therefore she used the two chance she had to get them to do exercise as they needed support more than the boys did.

I wasn’t discriminated against for losing P.E time. I was privileged to get every other bit of time!

I’m sorry I gave her the Daily Record. It’s a sh*t paper.