Foxtrail Harvest Moon Half Marathon (Iain)

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 my wife 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….

Definitely not vegetarian

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

Is it a llama or an alpaca

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?

Top Of The Pops 2018 (Iain)

When I was 18 I wanted to be in a rock and roll band There was only one problem – I couldn’t sing. I had this confirmed when I auditioned for the school choir. The choir master asked me to sing “Doe Ray Me Far Sew La TeaDoh!” I got as far as Ray before he said “NEXT!”

In fact there was two problems. I also can’t play a musical instrument. I bought a guitar when I was 18 years old. 23 years later I still have it. I’ve never changed the strings on it. It sounds the same now as it did back then – bloody awful!

Whenever I look at the guitar, I remember what the great philosopher Homer Simpson said “If something’s hard to do, then it’s not worth doing”

I often wonder what would have happened if I had formed a band. What would the name be? It’s a tricky choice. The name would have to reflect both my personity and musical syle. I don’t think I’m shouty or angry enoughto carry off the name “Tropical Fuck Storm.”  or am I prog rock enough to call myself “King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard“ 

I could use my own name but someone has beaten me to it.

 All the band name’s I mentioned above are real names of bands! Surprisingly, Tropical Fuck Storm are not as punk and angry as the name suggests. 

So in ourannual brak from sports blogs here’s my top 5 tunes of the year:

5. Neon Church by Tim Mcgraw

I like going musical exploring in Spotify – I choose a genre I don’t normally listen to and then try out various random songs and artists in it. I recently started listening to random Country & Western songs to see if were any I like. Whilst musical panning for gold I’ve had to listen to allot of nuggets of rock but this a great pop rock country song with a catchy chorus.

 4. Don’t Fuck With Joe by The Blackwater Fever

I discovered this song at the same time as I discover Tim. Its a bluesy/rock blast. When played on daytime radio the lyrcis are changed to Don’t Mess With The Crows. I also work with a man called Joe so it has some relvance.

3. Lovely Stornoway by Calum Kennedy

I’d never heard of this song until this year but as I’m from Stornoway it has to make my top 5. My only complaint about the song is the lyric

Make your way to Stornoway,
On the road to Orinsay,

Orinsay is not on the road to Stornoway!  Orinsay is an island! He should sing

Make your way to stornoway.

On the ferry to Orinsay. 

2. Eat Shiitake Mushrooms – Let’s Eat Grandma

The worst named band on the list but probably the most musically interesting is Lets Eat Grandma. They mix musical styles from all out pop to drone rock. The amazing things is they are Teenagers. At their age I was getting rejected from the school choir.

 1. Danny Nedelko by Idles

I don’t normally like punk rock. It can be a bit one dimensional but Idles delivered the most intelligent and prescient album of the year with songs dealing with toxic masculinity, immigration and the loss of a child. The description sounds somber but the tunes are surprisingly upbeat.

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. 

SUP Yoga (Iain)

During the summer I tried Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board Yoga through https://www.scotlandsup.com/

If you’re not familiar with SUP then Wikipedia describes it as:

“Stand up paddle boarding (SUP) is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii. Unlike traditional surfing where the rider sits until a wave comes, stand up paddle boarders stand on their boards and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water.”

I couldn’t find any info about who invented SUP Yoga but I’d guess they’re American and that they have an Instagram account as it’s a hobby ideally suited to warm weather and looking good in photos.

It definitely wasn’t invented by a Scotsman as my first reaction when hearing about it was – “You want to do what? Float on an ironing-board and try to do a handstand in the loch? In winter? You must be mental!”

So why do SUP Yoga? According to experts (also known as a Google search of the phrase “why do SUP Yoga?”) there are 10 reasons to try it. Google’s reasons are in bold and my response is below each one

1. SUP and yoga keeps you in the present….
It did. It kept me present fearing falling off the board into the water.

2. A greater sense of mindfulness will develop….
It did. I had to pay attention to every breath and body movement, every placement of a foot as I was mindful that any mistake would mean I would fall in the water.

3. You don’t have to be an advanced yoga student.
That’s true. I received praise for doing something I would consider easy. I was praised for standing up! The last time I got praise for standing was when I was a baby or that time I had 10 pints and fell over. “oh look – he’s standing. Well done you!”

4. Advanced students can bring another level of challenge to their yoga practice.
True – I thought I was okay at yoga but doing it on a board is so difficult my downward dog became a drowned dog.

5. The pace of your practice will slow down.
Because I was scared of falling in the water.

6. The same muscles are challenged, but in a different way.
Because you’ll say to them,  “please muscles don’t fail me and cause me to fall in the water”

7. It’s like Hot yoga but with instant refreshment.
Not in Scotland – it’s cold yoga with instant refrigeration!

8. No practice will ever be the same.
They will all be the same. I always spend my time thinking “please don’t fall in the water”.

9. A chance to experience the beauty of the outdoors.
What outdoors? I was too busy concentrating on not falling in the water that I didn’t even realize I was outside.

10. SUP and yoga is fun and challenging.
Its great fun and once I fell in I realized that falling in was actually fun too. I highly recommend people give it a try but maybe not in winter!

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….

Antonine Trail Race 2018 (Andrew)

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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

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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!)

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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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Lets talk about fun (Iain)

Did you have a type 1 fun weekend? Or maybe it was type 2? Hopefully it wasn’t type 3!

I thoughtthe only thing that comes in types 1,2 or 3 is diabetes. That is until I read Mark Beaumont’s new book about his 80 day around the world cycle trip. In it he says the number one quality he requires in a support person is that they enjoy type 2 fun.

Fun can be categorised! Although categorising fun does seem to remove the fun from fun.

Type 1 Fun

This is fun that you experience whilst doing an activity and once you’ve finished it you still think of it as fun. For example, a post race pint of beer is fun. You’ll have fun drinking it and you’ll never regret it afterwards.

Type 2 Fun

This is fun that doesn’t feel like fun whilst you are doing it but afterwards you’ll be glad you did it. For example, if you don’t go for a pint before a race you might miss out on fun but when you wake up fresh the next day you’ll be glad you didn’t.

Type 3 Fun

This is fun that is miserable whilst you do it and afterwards you’ll wish you hadn’t done it. This is when you do go for a pint before a race and then have another and another…the next day you race with a hangover. You’ll hate it whilst doing it and afterwards you’ll wish you hadn’t done it.

The interesting thing about type 3 fun is that over time it can become type 2 because you might forget how miserable you felt and might actually be glad you did the race.

Most fun experts seem to stop at 3 types. I’d argue there is a fourth type

Type 4 Fun

Fun that is fun at the time but afterwards you’ll completely regret it. Which sums up any time I’ve been to Krispy Kreme.

Mmm….donut!

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