I used to be a contender (Iain)

This time last year, I cycled the 2000m climb of Mount Tiede in Tenerife. It was 3 hours of climbing and afterwards I felt fit and strong.

Last weekend, I cycled the 300m climb of the Dukes Pass in Aberfoyle. It was 22 minutes of climbing and afterwards I felt so tired I called the Police to report my cycling fitness had gone missing.

The Police explained that they don’t investigate crimes against fitness but if they did they would have arrested me years ago – “ello, ello, what is going on here? Do you call that a front crawl? I’m taking you to the nick for G.B.S. Grevious Bodily Swimming!”

I graphed my performance on the Duke’s pass and it looks like my latest result took a dive off a cliff of consistency.

Afterwards I put this onto Instagram

Thge key point is the “I wonder if my consumption of macaroni pies and bakewell tarts is anyway related to this? “

How can you tell a diet is unhealthy? When the dessert is larger than the main course. Check out the size of my bakewell tart.

On a positive note the dinner was vegetarian so there must be a slight bit of healthiness in it.

Afterwards my wife said to me “how can your time be that bad due to the food. Did you eat it before you went up the hill?”

No – I had it afterwards but I think it points to the conclusion that I’m not a clean living performance machine.

So from now on I have to eat a little bit healthier and try to get back to my previous times…or I do what any middle aged male cyclist does when faced with getting slower – spend lots of money to fix the problem.

I’ve often noted the more expensive the bike the wider the waist of the owner.

PS – I actually had two macaroni pies but I only took a pic of one so people wouldn’t think I’m a fat bstrd!

PPS – I don’t regret it. they were delicious.

Paisley Mural Run (Iain)

A couple of weeks ago I attended a training course in Paisley. It wasn’t a very exciting course but one afternoon my tutor received a phone call.

“Hello….what…who is this?” He said into his phone.

I assumed it a local Garage. He’d told me earlier in the day that he’d put his car in for a MOT.

“OK…great…23,637 pounds and 17 pence?”

OMG! What the WTF had he done to his car that he had to pay that amount of money for an MOT?

His face went bright red and he said

“….is this a windup? Really??? Oh my god. I don’t believe it”

It wasn’t the garage. He’d just won £23,647 and 17 pence on a radio show by answering his phone and telling them the prize figure they’d revealed on the breakfast show.

Unsurprisingly, for the rest of the afternoon, he struggled to concentrate on the course!

I had only been to Paisley once before. It was in the evening in winter. It was dark and I couldn’t see anything. Paisley does not have a great reputation so some might argue not seeing it was a good thing.

I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived in Paisley. I walked from the train station to the training centre and I was surprised by how nice the buildings in the town centre are. At one point on my walk, I passed a man. He greeted me warmly with “What the fuck are you looking at?” I wanted to say “the neo-classical and Georgian period architecture” but instead i just walked on very quickly and didn’t look back.

I was also surprised at how many murals Paisley has which got me thinking that the town should advertise a Mural Run just like Glasgow’s
https://twinbikerun.com/2018/11/30/glasgow-mural-run-iain/

So to help them out I’ve come up with a suggested route. Its 5K-ish and takes in all the interesting bits (that I could find in Pasiley centre) including

  1. A statue dedicate to the 1932 legal case of Donoghue v Stevenson. You can read about it here
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8367223.stm Its an interesting story involving a cafe and a snail.
  2. A mural to Rangers…sorry St Mirren Legend and BBC radio star Chick Young.
  3. An Alien

The route can be found here
https://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/2461031551


And if you don’t believe me about the Alien. Here is the proof.

SUP Boarding – North Third Reservoir (Iain)

At the weekend, I went Stand Up Paddle Boarding at North Third reservoir near Stirling . The reservoir is strangely named as I can find no record of a North First or North Second reservoir. Maybe this one was third time lucky after the other two failed.

The reservoir is a great spot for swimming, paddle boarding and walking. The reservoir has high cliffs on one side, which form a dramatic backdrop. The surrounding area is forested with bike and walking trails. It’s a nature lovers paradise but it’s also a paradise for lovers of a different kind…

My favorite bit of the story is his very British excuse – “I can’t possibly be having sex with men. My wife made me sandwiches!”

I don’t think I helped the reservoir’s reputation. A van of men pulled up at the car park just after I’d got changed. The looked at me like I was a weirdo. I can’t think why…

Dressed like the Gimp from Pulp Fiction!

If you look closely at the start of this video you’ll notice a bridge across a river.

I decided to stand on the bridge to get a photo. Unfortunately the entrance to the bridge was blocked off. There was a sign on it that read “Condemned – do not cross.” I thought about it for a second and then decided to ignore it. Whats the worst that could happen?

The bridge had slats missing so I had to be careful as I walked across to not fall through the gaps. I reached the half way point successfully. I took a photo, turned around and took a step forward. I’d forgotten to look where I was going. My foot landed in one of the gaps in the bridge and my leg fell through it!

I took a hefty knock to my thigh but as I fell I did have the wherewithall to place my camera down gently on a slat rather than see it fall into the river. I was impressed with my quick thinking to save the expensive item but annoyed by how stupid I’d been!

As I lay on the bridge with one leg stuck through it all I could think about was the bridge scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

I managed to get back to my feet and thankfully was able to get out on the board. The only thing hurt was my pride. I managed to SUP round one of the reservoir’s islands and I’d highly recommend it as a SUP’ing spot. Just remember to bring sandwiches.

Glentress Trail Half Marathon (Andrew)

Last year, about a week after the Glentress Half Marathon, the Beast from the East arrived and covered Scotland in snow. There were some signs of the Beast when we ran Glentress: some small snow banks at the side of trails, in the shadows of sheltered hollows and in the patches of ice where the snow had melted and the run off and frozen over across the paths.

This year, Glentress was completely different. It was 15 degrees and my first mistake was to wear a running jacket (though it’s obligatory to carry one). I was boiling. Yet, despite that, I kept mine own even when others had discarded there’s – and their t-shirt. Around mile seven a topless man ran passed. ‘Taps aff’ in February, that’s how warm it was. But, since he was still carrying a rucksack I can only imagine it was ‘nips aff’ too as no t-shirt meant no protection from rubbing and chafing across your chest. Ouch!

He wasn’t the only one wanting people to focus on their chest. A number of runners wore t-shirts with ‘Vegan Runner’ written across it. To change an old joke, how do you know if a runner is a vegan? Just wait and they’ll show you on their chest!

For my next race, I’m going to get a t-shirt which says ‘Sausage Runner’ but, to change the same joke again. How you know if a runner loves a sausage? Just wait and look at their stomach!

I tried to be a vegetarian once. It lasted four years. Until, one day, someone told me that pepperoni was a meat and not a pepper and I realised that I’d been a vegetarian for maybe one or two weeks at a time at most. D’oh!

The Glentress Trail half marathon also doesn’t love up to it’s billing. Just as I wasn’t a vegetarian, so the Glentress Trail is not a half marathon despite it being called a half marathon. It’s just over 12.5 miles long. But, if you include vertical distance then it makes up the numbers easily because this is a long, long climb.

The first 100 metres are downhill (which is a horrible kick up on the return to the finish line) then it’s a constant climb for nearly nine miles before an undulating descent for 2 miles and a sheer arm twirling-just-let-go and run final mile.

The race is varied. With sections on the wide fire roads, others on trails sneaking through the forest, bars of light slanting from the low lying early Spring sun like lunar finish lines across the path, to mossy moorland with fantastic views across the tweed valley.

It’s a cracking race, though you do need to prepare to run nine miles uphill – and for all weather conditions, even, some times, if you’re lucky, sunshine and a warm breeze.

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 Nic 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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