Arrochar 10K (Iain)

In the six weeks since Norseman I’ve done relatively little training. The break has been good, as my body/mind were pretty fatigued, but all good things must come to an end. Last weekend, I was back running by taking part in the Arrochar 10K.

Andrew was supposed to do it but he dropped out due to his injury that was too minor for the minor injury unit (see https://twinbikerun.com/2018/09/11/runner-heal-thyself-andrew/) so I swapped him for my wife which I would refer to it as wife swap if that didn’t have an entirely different meaning!

Nic is just getting back into running after an injury. A proper injury! Not like the one’s Andrew gets. Even a sore toe will see him head to the nearest priest to get the last rites read to him.

Nic is the least competitive runner known to man (or woman.) I know this because she always tells me “I’m not competitive in any way”

Which was true until near the end of the race and she saw a women in front of her and turned to me and said

“We can beat her”

“I thought you weren’t competivie. We can just….”

“Stop yapping and get running!”

That was me told. Definitely not competitive…..

The race was fun. Its mostly off-road with a short section on the road at the end. We both ambled round at a slow steady pace. Happy to just enjoy it rather than race it….except for that one woman.

Afterwards we went to The Perch Cafe in Garelochhead. It was a great find as they did a very tasty lunch although the reading material was a bit niche unless you like Ducks.

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Runner, Heal Thyself (Andrew)

When I started running at university I would run on a treadmill for 20 – 30 minutes on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Over a year it became part of my weekly routine as I was studying for my final exams. Then, one day, my knee hurt.

“That’s nothing,” I thought. “A wee run will fix that!”

I’d pop up to the university gym and, after five minutes, the pain would start to fade, and, after 20 minutes, it would be gone.

“See,” I thought, “it was just a wee niggle!”

And by the time I’d have my shower, my leg would fall off.

Not literally. I’d topple. But it might as well have as I couldn’t use it for the rest of the day. It wouldn’t bend. I couldn’t put weight on it. I would hop from gym to library to home until…

I’d wake up in the morning, my knee would hurt and I’d think:

“Really, it’s nothing, a wee run will fix this!”

And I was a cripple for a month until I realised that a ‘wee run’ will only fix this if your problem is an escaped lion and you need to get away fast. If your problem is a damaged ligament then don’t run on it!

You need to follow the RIC (Rest, Ice and Compression) program not the RIC (Run, Ignore, Crawl To Bed) program.

Yet, 20 years later I’ve learnt nothing. Last week I pulled a muscle in my abdomen. Not sure how, think it was twisting to lift something while sitting in my chair at work, however, when I noticed it was sore I thought immediately:

“It’s nothing, a wee swim will fix this!”

And I went swimming. An exercise that requires you to continuously twist and turn.

Because there’s nothing like putting out a fire like pouring more oil on it and shouting “Burn, baby, burn!”

It was stupid.

And on Tuesday I ended up in the minor injuries clinic complaining that I couldn’t turn my body to the right or pick up any weight with my right hand.

Which was also stupid because, despite being a clinic for minor injuries, the doctor listened to my story and immediately said: “We don’t do abdomens.”

Which made me think: “What do you do? Left ankles only. Just the right elbow? How can you distinguish between different parts of the body? You’re a doctor, your meant to do everything.”

He sent me to my GP who’s sole advice was “If it hurts when you twist to the right then don’t twist to the right!”

Genius.

But she was right because she was just telling me what I already knew – if you’re injured, then don’t do twice as much as you did before in the hope that more means less. Rest. Ice. Compression. And don’t go for a run.

Run The Blades Half Marathon (Iain)

A few years ago, Andrew and I wrote a book: Jukebox Durie.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jukebox-Durie-Football-Andrew-Todd-ebook/dp/B00KY8SG22

It was a collection of stories about football and music e.g. what was the first team to play music at a match, why do Man United sing Glory Glory Man United, and who sings about chip buttys?

We managed to find something interesting (to us) about every football team in England and Scotland. We wrote it originally for a Scottish football blog but when that stopped, we collected all the articles in the book.

You can read some of the original articles here http://scottishcomedyfc.com/category/jukebox-durie/

So, who sings about chip buttys and why am I mentioning it now? Sheffield United fans sing the song. It goes like this:

 “You Fill Up My Senses
Like A Gallon of Magnet
Like A Packet of Woodbines
Like A Good Pinch of Snuff
Like A Night Out in Sheffield
Like A Greasy Chip Butty
Like Sheffield United
Come Fill Me Agaaaaaaaain
Na Na Na Naaa Naaaaa “

I had to google the exact meaning of the lyrics – Magnet refer to a pint of beer (bitter) that’s no longer made, though it used to be widely available in Yorkshire. Woodbines are cigarettes. Snuff is ground tobacco that goes up the nose and, lastly, a chip butty (chips in a roll) is simply delicious – the greasier the better.

Sheffield United are nicknamed ‘the Blades’, which is a tenuous link to last weekend’s race – Race the Blades. Which is not as I first thought a race around Sheffield but instead it’s a race around Whitelee wind farm, the UK’s largest onshore wind-farm.

The race is an off road half marathon. It was my last long run before Norseman so my aim was to do it at a steady pace to finish in 1hr 50min.

There wasn’t much car parking at the start so the organizers had opened up some of the track road for parking. We thought we’d arrived in plenty of time to get a good spot but we ended by over a mile and a half away from the start.

It meant I didn’t need a warm up as the walk from the car did a good job of that.  Registration was quick and easy but like all races there was a massive queue for the loo and no toilet roll.

I was curious about how many toilets a race should have so I checked online and the recommended number is 1 per 10 users. No wonder there’s queues as a 400 person field should have 40 toilets but I I suspect the cost of that would bankrupt the race!

The course was well marked with two water stops. I wore trail shoes which turned out to be a good choice as the toe protection came in useful when I occasionally kicked a big stone.

There’s a couple of hills on the course which are both in the second half. I think a few people ran the first half too quick as I passed a lot of folk on the hills as they dropped to walking rather running pace.

Overall I was happy to finish in 1h 50min. Exactly the time I aimed for. I was even happier when I opened the goody bag at the end and saw a great selection of sweets, fruit, drink and freebies such as a pair of socks and a medal which spins like a wind farm blade.

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IronMan Edinburgh 70.3 2018 (Andrew)

 

IMG_4653Scotland is one of the few countries in the world where wearing a wetsuit is not just for swimming. Autumn. Most weekdays. All weekends. Wearing a wetsuit is almost compulsory in Scotland if you don’t want to get wet. Except yesterday and except for the last few weeks, Scotland has had an outbreak of what can only be described as “the apocalypse”.

Every day the sky is blue, the sun is yellow and there’s no clouds to be seen. It’s boiling! Every night, we huddle in homes desperately trying to sleep in our fridges. It’s horrible!

How are we meant to live like that! Bring back the rain! We live in Scotland, not the Sahara!

So, while six months of training has seen a typical Scottish training programme of trying to find the few dry days where you can go out on a bike, much indoor training, and a lot of wetsuit wearing, the one thing I’d not trained for was running in the sun. How can you train for that in Scotland, it just doesn’t happen. Until this month. Until I had to pack the one thing I thought I would never need – sun cream.

Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh 2018 itself promised a calm swim, some clouds for the bike course before burning off for the run around Arthur’s Seat. And it almost fulfilled that promise as the swim was calm, the run was sunny – but so was the bike course. Unrelenting from the moment it started.

Swim 

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1.9 kms around Prestonpans. With no breeze, the water was very calm and the temperature was a warm-ish 14.5 degrees Celsius.

Before starting it’s worth remembering two things. One, there’s very few toilets so make sure you start queuing on Saturday and, two, the queue for the swim will take almost twenty five minutes due to the rolling start. Either way, be prepared to queue.

The swim itself had an west to east current so the first half was into the current and the second was a rocket launched very easy turbo swim back to shore. In the calm conditions it was akin to swimming in busy swimming pool. No waves made a great turnaround from last year’s tsunami like conditions.

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Bike 

Same course as last year. A very pleasant 56 mile ride through East Lothian with some stunning views of Edinburgh, Fife and the Pentland Hills on the second half of the course.

The main thing to remember about this part of the course is that the final climb up Arthur’s Seat is not the biggest challenge at the end. Just before you enter the park there’s a short section of Paris-Roubaix like cobbles that rattle your bones and could give you a puncture if you’re not prepared for them.

Run

A minor change to the 13 mile run route sees the climb up the commonwealth pool dropped and a slightly longer flatter run around Arthur’s Seat. A welcome change as it makes the route cleaner with less out and back sections.

It was noon by the time I started running so the sun was out and it was a challenge to run in the hot conditions. There’s plenty of water/aid stations and the volunteers were great at keeping the water/cola/energy juice/gels and bananas going.

My aim in the run was to run the first of three laps then run most of the second except for the long climb up from Dynamic Earth then see how I felt on lap 3. As it happened I felt okay throughout and was able to run (very slowly!) most of each laps with breaks at water stations only.

At this point I saw Iain was at least half a lap ahead so I decided to let him win today’s race – and that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Overall

Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh is a great race. Well organised and most of the niggles of the first year were ironed out. Especially the biggest one – the crap t-shirt at the end. Last year’s effort was very much a ‘will this do?’ effort: ill fitting, poor lettering, just stick Edinburgh on an IronMan generic t-shirt effort. This year was much better. I even wore it through Edinburgh and then back to the start at Prestonpans to collect the car because, although it was hot,  cool people wear their finisher’s t-shirts in public! 🙂

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Cheat Runs (Andrew)

Every runner has a ‘cheat run’.

For South African Sergio Motsoeneng it was the Comrades Marathon in 1999.

Sergio finished eighth however another runner complained to organisers that he hadn’t seen Sergio pass him during the race. An investigation checked photos of the race at various stages which showed not just a scar mysteriously appearing and disappearing from Sergio’s shin but also his watch jumping back and forth between his left and right wrist. Further investigation discovered the Sergio had a twin and that twin, Fika, had a scar on his shin. Under questioning, Sergio admitted that he’d swapped places with his twin throughout the race when one would run into a toilet and hide while the other would run out and join the race.

Sergio was banned from races for five years and when he was released he swore that he would never cheat again. But he must have swapped places with Fika when making this promise as, no sooner was Sergio free to race, when he failed a drugs test. He didn’t race again.

While I have never swapped places with Iain during a run, except in an official relay in primary school, I too have a cheat run. Just not on the scale of Sergio and Fika.

My cheat run is when I want to run 10 miles but want to do so in the easiest way possible. All I do is start beside the Whitelee Windfarm, near Eaglesham, and then run to Shawlands. A route which, apart from the first 100 metres, is entirely downhill.

Windfarm

It’s a cheat run.

I can run this even when I can’t run 10 miles on the flat. Yet, it still makes me think “wow, I can run 10 miles in training!” Of course it would be easier if I could just pop into the toilet after five miles and for Iain to take over but, in the absence of genetic based cheating, I’ll settle for running downhill all the way home.

Or a skateboard. Now that would be the easy way home!

 

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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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.

Balfron 10K (Andrew)

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I left my legs in Wanlockhead.

On Saturday, it was a beautiful day and we went to Wanlockhead – the highest village in Scotland – for a 40 mile cycle down through the Menock pass and back via Drumlanrig Castle and Elvenfoot before climbing to the top of the radar station.

Before we started, we parked in the centre of the village. A smiling man with an old large rucksack approached.

“Are you here to open the shop?”

We explained we were cycling.

“Oh, my bus leaves in 10 minutes and I need to buy my licence.”

“You need a licence for the bus?”

“No, I need a licence from the land owner as I’m here to find GOLD!”

Which was not what I was expecting to hear at 9am on a Saturday morning when (a) we’re not in California; and (b) it’s not the nineteenth century!

“How do you find gold?”

He opened his rucksack and then showed me a tube that was used to collect gravel from the bottom of riverbeds. He showed me a large plastic tray with grooves where the lighter soil would be washed away but the heavier gold would be caught in the grooves. Then he showed me his pan where he gently washed the last of the gravel leaving behind the millions and millions of pounds of GOLD!

“Do you find much?”

“I usually find a few specks the size of a grain of salt.”

Really?!? I looked round to see his Rolls Royce.

“And how much is that worth?”

“Nothing really, not even a pound, but it’s FUN!”

I didn’t want to hear about fun. I wanted to hear about making millions just washing gravel. But despite, as I found out later, Wanlockhead being known as ‘God’s Treasure House in Scotland’ due to the abundance of minerals found in the area, there’s not a lot of gold in them there hills.

In fact, the licence was £5 (I checked) and if it was possible to make more money panning for gold than selling licences for £5 then you can bet the land owner wouldn’t be selling licences for £5.

Despite the small chance of striking riches, as we cycled round I began to see that all the people I’d previously thought were  fishing were actually panning for gold instead. It seems that gold fever is alive and well and can be found in Wanlockhead.

Gold though was the last thing on my mind on Sunday at the Balfron 10k. Iain’s already described the race (see here). I can only add that it was the first time that I’d taken part and I can confirm that it was hilly and that every down hill seemed to lead to an ever longer uphill.

It was either that or my legs were still tired from cycling round Wanlockhead and every kilometre felt like a struggle today.

The race though is very well organised and has a good turnout of runners. And if you’re chasing a fastest 1K time on Strava then I can recommend the first 1K. A downhill so steep it can only be described with one word: “Geronimo!”

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