Tag: scotland

Aberfeldy Middle Distance – Bike Course (Iain)

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Whilst Andrew was failing to escape from Alcatraz, I was in Aberfeldy visiting our parents. They were staying here, instead of at home in the Western Isles, as my Dad had a hospital appointment to attend.

During his appointment he had to sit a memory test. To pass, the test required a score of at least 82 out of 100. If he failed then he could lose his driving licence.

This seems very unfair as I only needed 40% to pass my university exams and, with that limited knowledge, I’ve been in charge of things much more dangerous than a car.

During the test, one of the question was name an object beginning with P. He said penis. My mum was appalled. He was then asked to name the President of the United States, he couldn’t remember. I suspect he’d have got it correct if he’d also said a penis!

The Aberfelday Middle Distance Triathalon bike route starts in Kenmore. The town is famous for being the place where the first cast of the salmon season takes place. Less well known is it’s a town evil Iranian dictator Colonal Gaddafi bought property in!

http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/14496744.Libya_claims_ally_of_Gaddafi_bought_hotels_in_Highlands/

I wonder if any other dictators have property in Scotland? Maybe North Korea’s Kim Jung Un has a little flat in Saltcoats? Maybe Syrian President Bashir likes nothing better than a day on the beach at Prestonpans?

Unfortunately, I’m away when the Aberfeldy race is on, but, if you are doing the event, here’s what you need to know.

The first three miles are flat. There is a single lane bridge with traffic lights in Kenmore. I assume a marshal will be here and wave bikes through if it’s clear otherwise your race would stop before it’s barely began.

After three miles of flat it’s nearly five miles of uphill. It’s a straightforward climb but keep a look out for the turn onto the Schiehallion road. I missed it and had to turn back. Again, I assume a marshal will be at this point.

Once on to the Schiehallion road it’s mostly flat and fast but there are some tight corners where you can’t see what’s coming. I had to brake in case a car was coming the other way. The roads aren’t very wide so I didn’t want to drift into a car’s way. The descent on the way down to Kinloch Rannoch had two steep sections with tight corners.

Once in Kinloch Rannoch its virtually flat all the way round the loch. The road was good quality and I used tri bars all the way round.

The climb back up Schiehallion isn’t as bad as the first time as there’s less of it! It’s then virtually downhill all the way back although watch out as some of the corners are tight.

Overall it’s a enjoyable ride. Nearly 850m of climbing but with lots of places you can get the head down and bike fast.

End Of Month Report (Iain)

My plan for May was not to have any mileage goals but instead complete a number of events:

  • Helensborough 10K – I was hoping I’d get under 45 minutes for one of my 10K’s this month. I surprised myself by managing it in the first race. Link here
  • Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice) – My aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me due to a puncture. We didn’t do the climb twice due to the puncture. Link here
  • Loch Leven half marathon – the aim was to beat Andrew but he beat me easily! I was happy with my time so I can’t complain…too much. Link here 
  • Antonine Trail Race 10k – great race. I’ll sign up for the half marathon when it becomes available. Link here
  • Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike  – My aim was to beat Andrew but he cheated 🙂 Link here 
  • Dumbarton 10K – I didn’t make it to this race which I think is the second time I’ve entered it but not made it to the start line.
  • Shettleston 10K – Last race of the month. I was tired and hungover but my time was okay. Link here 

The theme of the month was “My aim was to beat Andrew but….”

Thankfully, despite these losses, the Todd Championship is still close. It’s currently 4-3 to Andrew. Overall, I enjoyed the races and got PB’s for the biking so it was a good month.

My plan for June is not to have a plan. Iron Man Edinburgh is the next goal (at the start of July) so I’ll concentrate on keeping everything ticking over so that I’m fit and healthy.

I also don’t want to let Andrew know what my plan for this month is to ensure I win! I have a secret idea….

Here’s a selection of photos from May. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/twinbikerun/

Shettleston 10K (Iain)

The Shettleston 10k is misnamed – it wasn’t in Shettleston. It was in Glasgow green.

The Edinburgh marathon works under a similar ruse. Visitors think they’re going to run through one of the worlds great cities but instead the race heads out of the city. Before you know it, your running thought a council estate in Prestonpans.

It should be called the “leaving Edinburgh and running through crap towns” marathon.

I did the race when the course was in Edinburgh. Andrew had trained for months to do it. I got a place at the last minute when someone else dropped out. I hadn’t trained. The night before the race, I drank shots in a bar til 3 AM.

The race started at Meadowbank stadium. the first mile was a brutal climb of Arthur’s seat. I felt ill. I kept pace with Andrew till the halfway point and then I retired.

The winning time for the Shettleston 10k was the fastest 10K time in Scotland this year. The man who ran it is called Wayney Ghebresilassie. With a surname like that its not a surprise he’s good at running! He cruised round in 30.11.

I was slightly hungover having attended a wedding the day before. Having learnt a lesson from my Edinburgh marathon experience I didn’t drink shots till 3AM. I drank beer.

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Caledonian Etape (Iain)

“Bum cream?”

I’m standing in a bike shop in Pitlochry waiting for Andrew to buy an energy gel. I notice a man standing next to me.

“Bum Cream?” He asks again.

I think the man is a shop assistant. I’m not 100% sure – but I hope so.

“Not today, thanks!” Is the only thing I can think to say.

“Are you sure?”

I wonder why he thinks I need bum cream? Is there a sale on? Does he get commission? Or is there something about the way I walk which made him think – that man really  needs bum cream!

After leaving the shop I tell Andrew what happened. He replies.

“It could have been worse. He could have said arse lube!”

This year was our seventh race here. In 2016 I wrote “This year I thought I’d win. I didn’t.”

Well, this year I thought I’d win. I didn’t.

I’ll let Andrew write about his victory but I was pleased with my performance. I got a PB and I got round without needing bum cream.

Loch Leven Half Marathon 2017 (Iain)

Scottish Athletics bans the use of headphones during road races.  This is a major issue to me because, instead of listening to music, I have to listen to Andrew’s chat.

This is his “banter” from Saturday’s Loch Leven half marathon.

He spots a tree – “Look there’s a tree!”

He spots a hill – “Look there’s a hill!”

He spots a sheep – “Look there’s a cow!”

Animal recognition isn’t one of his strong points.

Quite frankly, after his umpteenth, “Look there’s a ….” I was quite happy to let him run off. So, at mile 9, I decreased my speed and let him go ahead.

He thinks he ran off because I was tired. Yes – I was tired of his chat!

Bealach Na Ba (Iain)

The Bealach Na Ba sportive was the first bike race I entered. It was 2007 and I’d read about the event in the Glasgow Herald.

“The Bealach Na Ba road is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It boasts the greatest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres”

It captured my imagination. It looked like a great challenge. I convinced Andrew to join me.

There was one issue – we didn’t know anything about bikes or sportives. There was a second issue  – we didn’t know that we didn’t know anything about bikes or sportives!

Therefore, I turned up at the start line unaware that I was under-prepared. Unfortunately, Andrew didn’t make it to the start as he had the flu. He did volunteer to drive a van round the course and check on how I was doing.

Every other rider had a road bike. I had a mountain bike. I thought all bikes were the same. They aren’t! The race started. Everyone else raced off. I was soon last. I realised why road bikes are called road bikes. It’s because they’re good on roads. D’OH!

The other riders wore skin tight lycra and their bikes had water bottles. I wore shorts, a hill walking waterproof jacket, and I had a backpack filled with food and a 2L bottle of water.

The other riders had trained. I rode one long ride of…. 30 minutes.

I’m proud to say I made it to the top of Bealach Na Ba. I wasn’t even the last rider up it. Although I did have to walk quite a lot.. I dropped out of the race as soon as I made it down the other side. I was knackered. Thankfully, Andrew was there, so I got a lift back to the start.

We weren’t going to let Bealach Na Ba defeat us so, five years later, Andrew and I went back. This time I’d learnt my lesson. I didn’t use a mountain bike….I used a hybrid! I thought it was the same as a road bike just with different handlebars. It wasn’t. It takes the slowness of a mountain bike and combines it with the looks of a road bike to make something that’s not good on roads or mountains!

We made it round the course although we were virtually the last to finish. All I remember about the event is the endless up and down road from Applecross to Sheildaig. My legs were so tired by the end I had to walk some of the small climbs. That section is much harder than the actual Bealach climb.

So, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of our first race we went back to do it again. This time I learnt my lesson. I used a road bike – I didn’t have to walk once!

Bealach Beag 2017 (Andrew)

“When’s the worst time to get a puncture – the start or end of a race?”

We were about five miles from the finish of Bealach Beag – a 45 mile race around Applecross and over the UK’s highest road: Bealach Na Ba.

We’d just passed a rider changing a tyre at the side of the road.

“If you get a puncture at the start then that’s really annoying as you’ve just started and you have to stop. But, if you get a puncture at the end, you’re thinking that you don’t have long to go when, suddenly, you’ve got to wait and change your tyre.”

We didn’t answer the questions. We came to a short hill, a fast descent and sudden climb. I’d read the course profile and knew that the last two miles were downhill. I thought if I made a break for it now then Iain wouldn’t keep up.

I was right.

I was first over the hill. I kept going as fast as I could for two miles, looked back and knew he wasn’t in sight.

It was an easy victory.

Until I had to wait at the finish line.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Eventually, 20 minutes later, far, far longer than he should have been, Iain cycles into Sheildag.

“I got a puncture just after you left!”

He tried to claim that meant my victory was void, that professionals who get a mechanical in the last stage of a race are given the same time as the winner.

I pointed out that I was the first to climb Bealach Na Ba – a six mile, 626m climb, that takes you from sea level to mountain top and back down again. Some parts have a gradient of 20% – which is almost like doing a wheely without your bike leaving the ground!

I also pointed out that I was the first round Applecross and had waited for him.

But still he insisted he was given the same time.

So, I said: “That’s okay, you can have the same time – but you don’t see Chris Froome handing over the yellow jersey! It’s the same time not the same place! I’m still the winner!”

Same time then, but, a much needed victory in the Todd Championship to claw it back to 3 – 2 to Iain!

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End Of Month Report: April (Iain)

My plan for April was:
– The Dirty Reiver race (you can read about it here
– Bike (on average) 110 miles a week – I managed 129
– Run (on average) 16 miles a week – I managed 16.3
– Do yoga at least once a week – done!
– Swim twice a week – I failed. I managed three swims in a month. I need to do better!
– Plaster the hall. I phoned a man and he’s doing it next week 🙂

I’m happy with how April went. I had a two weeks vacation. I call it a Scottish compass holiday because, by the end of it, I’d visited the north, south, east and west of Scotland!

In the north, I visited Findhorn. A very spiritual community of hippies with eco-homes. I found this book – “Your Pet’s Past Lives & How They Can Heal You”.

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I have so many questions:
– does my cat have nine past lives?
– Was my cat a cat in a previous life? If not, is being a cat a punishment or a reward for past behavior?
– how can my cat heal me? He seems pretty lazy and selfish. I suspect he’s planning to kill me.
– the author is a whale whisperer??? What are whales saying ? And how do you whisper underwater?

and WHO BELIEVES THIS TOSH?

In the south I visited the Garden of Cosmic Speculation. A wonderful garden that’s only open once a year. One of the grass mounds in looks like an ass which meant they needed this sign:

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Which is a motto I live my life by.

In the east I biked from Edinburgh back to my home in Lennoxtown. On the way I passed this sign:

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How many people get shot in Falkirk that’ve had to put a sign up telling them not to?!

And, in the west, I went home to Stornoway. I visited the Callanish Stones. They were much more redder whiter and pointy-er than I remember.

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My Plan for May is not to have any mileage goals as I’ve got loads of events to do:
– Helensborough 10K run
– Antonine Trail Race 10k run
– Dumbarton 10K run
– Shettleston 10K run (which despite the name isn’t in shettleston!)
– Caledonian Etape 81 mile bike race.
– Bealach Na Ba Race 44 mile race (with the aim to do the climb twice)

Here’s a selection of photos from April. If you want to see more then follow me on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/imacivertodd/

Alloa Half Marathon (Iain)

I ran last year’s Alloa half marathon in 1 hour 41 minutes. This year, I completed it in 1 hour 46 minutes. Five minutes slower! What went wrong? What is the difference between this year and last?

It’s Andrew’s fault! This was the first time I’d ran the race alongside him. In previous years I’d run it by myself.

The main difference is that Andrew chats to me as we runs. After listening to him throughout the race  I can conclusively say that not only is his chat boring but it also has a drag effect of 23 seconds per mile 🙂

The race was enjoyable but I was tired after biking a lot during the week. I’d not have been any quicker even without the Andrew Drag Effect .

The highlight of the run was spotting this guy

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“Leven Las Vegas” is the best name for a running club in Scotland. I can claim this because I’ve just spent ten minutes trawling through club names on the Scottish Athletics website. Most clubs are very boringly named. I’m looking at you <insert name of town here> running club. Which is what most seem to be called.

So, next year at Alloa, I want to see some clubs raise their name game and wear club vests with a bit of personality.

Here’s some sugeestions

The Skyes the limit running club

The Perth, wind and fire running club

The Tain green bottles sitting on a wall running club

I could do this all day!

The Clydebank robbers running club

The Kinlochleven on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again running club

Ok – I’ll stop now! 🙂

 

 

Race report – Alloa Alloa (Andrew)

alloa

Listen carefully, I will say this only once: I’ve never wanted to run the Alloa half marathon. Two reasons:

  1. There’s a five mile long straight.
  2. There’s a five mile long straight!

(Except for 50 metre kink in the middle where you run down a street then run up it again).

I like drunk running, the kind that doesn’t involve any straight lines. I like scary movie running, the kind that promises a surprise around every corner. I don’t want to see where I’m going for the next half an hour as I move forward in a long line of other people all going in the same direction. That’s not running, that’s high energy queueing.

This year I had no choice. I had to run the Alloa half marathon because the race I wanted to run – the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon  last weekend – was cancelled due to construction work at the finish line. I had to run something in March and this was the next race on.

Iain’s run it before. His description wasn’t promising.

“See that five mile stretch?”

“Yes.”

“It’s horrible when it’s straight into the wind – also it’s hillier than you think.”

“I thought it was flat?”

“It’s not.”

“Damn.”

And he was right. The race isn’t flat, the first three miles are uphill, the tenth mile features a long climb to a roundabout. Even the flat section is a slight rise. It wasn’t fun. Not as a first race. Not when the Balloch to Clydebank half is largely down hill and breaks you in gently to the year.

On the plus side. The race is very well organised with water stations roughly every two miles and roads closed and traffic managed so that it feels like you’re on a closed course.

It’s also very popular with nearly 3,000 runners. We had to queue to get into Alloa. And not a high energy queue, we had to queue bumper to bumper as runners tried to get to the start on time.

It was the same story on the way out. Not that it’s a surprise that people would queue to get out of Alloa. It’s the kind of town that inspires people to leave…

Despite heavy legs and a couple of breaks to stretch off a tight back, I was pleased with my time. 1 hour 47 minutes – 1 hour 48 if you include the time it took to switch off Strava, which I don’t… 🙂

For a first race, and a thought that I wasn’t running that fast, it turned out to be faster than I expected. I only checked my time on the last mile and was surprised it was just over 1 hour 40 minutes and not closer to 1 hour 50 minutes.

A good start even if Iain did win after running off when I stopped for an energy gel at seven miles. Energy gel breaks don’t count for time, do they? If not, I’m sure I won…

Finally, a warning…

I spotted on the Alloa website a warning that anyone wearing headphones would not be covered by insurance and that headphone wearers ran at their own risk. When I was on my own I switched on a podcast and I have a warning too. Don’t listen to Russell Brand’s Under The Skin podcast about politics, economics and social theory when running. Big words don’t make you run faster