Tag Archives: triathalon

Stornoway Half Marathon – 1hr 44min 59s (Iain)


It’s late at night. So late that it’s no longer today but tomorrow. Our “hero” is at the bar. He’s ordering his 7th pint of the evening/early morning. It could be his 8th. It could be his 20th. He lost count a while ago.


Didn’t you say you were running a half marathon tomorrow….sorry, today?


What….ummm..pint…YAY….music! <starts dancing>

BARMAN (laughing)

I’ll see you at the start then!

OUR HERO (singing)

Do you remember when we used to sing,
Sha la la la la la la la la la la te da


The next day our “hero” made it to the half marathon but was so hungover he couldn’t hold the pen to fill in the entry form. He ran the first three miles quicker than he’d ever run before as he was desperate to get to the water stop.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the drink poured out of him in alcoholic sweaty drops. He finished the race faster than he’s ever done a half marathon before – and he spends the rest of the day in bed ill. He misses the Scottish cup final because he’s asleep/comatose.

He vows never to drink before a race again but…

He repeats this scene the next four times he enters the same race. Each time he vows never to drink again.

This weekend was the fifth attempt, and this time he vowed he would definitely do the race sober…

I achieved my goal and reached the start line sober. There was a good turnout for the race and the sun was shining. A rare sight in Stornoway – about as rare as a sober runner.

The organisers had changed the route since the last time I’d entered but it was still undulating with a few wee hills. The weather was good and I set off strongly. Too strongly: I tired in the second half and couldn’t keep up the same pace.

I finished with a personal best for the race so I was happy with that. I was only one minute quicker than my drunk time which implies I was fitter back then or that its actually okay to have a drink before the race!

Now, where did I put my dancing shoes…


The one where I get naked (Iain)

I have allot of things in common with a male stripper – rock hard abs, sweet dance moves and a massive talent!

<Waits for laughter to end>

OK – I’ve only one thing in common with a male stripper. I’ve seen all my workmates naked! Not in a creepy, hiding up a tree with binoculars type of way but in a lets all get naked in a shower way. Mmm – that sounds just as creepy as the tree…

I work for a University and we have an onsite gym. Until recently the male locker room had a communal shower. In the 10 years I’ve gone there I’ve seen a lot of naked men. Its fair to say I’ve seen all members of staff and all staff’s members.

One time I went to use the shower but realized I had no towel to dry myself. My options were:

1. Don’t shower. I ruled this out as I had a meeting to go to and couldn’t turn up looking like something the cat had dragged in.
2. Use my t-shirt to dry myself. I ruled this out as my t-shirt was soaked through with sweat so I’d end up just as dirty as I was before I’d showered.
3. Use the hand dryer.

Which is why a bunch of naked men and students looked on as as a naked 6ft man tried to get his body underneath the hand dryer. Do you know how hard it was to dry my back using a hand drier? It’s really hard! The blower kept switching off as the angle of my back couldn’t keep the infra red beam on!

Since that day my workmates have looked at me with a new found respect because not only have they seen me naked. They’ve seen me naked limboing under a hand drier. That takes real skill!

Getting to “My Top” (Iain)

I got to the top of Kilimanjaro.

Not the real top. That would be the bit the map claims to be the top.

I got to “My Top”!

I’d never planned or desired to Climb Kilimanjaro but the opportunity arose so, at short notice, I decided to do it. My thought  was it can’t be that hard – even Cheryl Cole had done it.

I was fit. I could run marathons, I could bike for miles but I hadn’t considered altitude sickness. From the moment I arrived in Tanzania I felt ill. I’d left Edinburgh (which is at sea-level) and within 24 hours I was at camp one at an altitude of nearly 2000m.

A porter saw I was ill so he offered me a Custard Cream.

I’m not sure a sweet biscuit is a cure for altitude sickness. If sweet biscuits are a medicine then I’ve eaten so many, I should never get ill.

Each day I felt worse and worse. I barely ate, and I slept appallingly. Most days I was walking only a few hundred meters before I had to disappear behind a bolder to throw up.


Yet on summit day I woke up and felt great. Unfortunately, it was too late. I didn’t have the energy to get to the top. Once I got as far as I could I turned to the porter and said “I’m heading down”.

The two of us then headed down whilst everyone else headed up. For the first time since I’d started walking, the mountain was empty of people. There was no queue of walkers, no waiting for people to get out of the way. There was just  silence and an amazing view as the sun came up. I’d got to “My Top” and it was great.

Would I have had the same experience if I’d gone to the top. Would I have enjoyed sharing the top with everyone else? I’ll never know but I don’t feel I missed out.

The lesson here is – don’t worry if you fail. Sometimes failing is the best bit. Embrace “Your Top”


Balfron 10k – 22 April – 44:59 (Iain)


The name Balfron  means ‘village of mourning’ in Gaelic. This originates from a legend that the village was attacked by wolves, who stole children out of the villagers homes. To me, this sounds like a story made up by people who’d got rid of their kids and had to think of an excuse when the police investigated.

Policeman – I’ve heard children have gone missing. Do you know anything about that?

Villager – Not me, officer. I’m innocent. It was those wolves. Pesky creatures, always wolving around.

Policeman – Wolves you say?

Villager – Oh yes. <Turns away from policeman, makes howling sound> Did you hear that? That was one! He’s probably coming right now to steal our kids.

Policeman – You’re knicked!

I didn’t spot or hear any wolves on the course.

The Balfron 10k  was undulating which is Gaelic for “hilly as f**k”. It’s an out and back course along a B road. The first 3k was mostly downhill which meant the last 3k was mostly uphill. The weather was great (warm and sunny) and their was approximately 600 runners.

I started near the front as I’d noticed a left turn 100m after the start. I don’t know why races start with a turn so soon. It always causes a bottleneck.

I started well and felt good. The course was quite narrow in places but there wasn’t any issues with people getting in the way. My aim was to get as close to 45min as possible so I was pleased to just beat that. Especially considering how ‘undulating’ it was.



Mechanical Doping (Iain)

When you’ve been overtaken by a runner, have you ever checked their shoes and thought that’s why their quicker than you? I bet the answer is never!

Occasionally, when running, I get overtaken by another runner. (Andrew will claim this happens more than occasionally). When this occurs I barely give it a second thought. That runner was simply running faster.

Occasionally, when cycling, I get overtaken by another  cyclist. When this occurs I do give it a second thought. I check their bike to see if its better than mine. If it was, was it the bike or the man that’s faster?

If the man has a better bike than I call this ‘mechanical doping’ – buying a better  performance through buying a better bike.

To test this, I bought a new bike. I did a route over a hill and back again that I had done the previous weekend. My time should have been pretty similar to that attempt as my fitness hasn’t changed in any meaningful way. I beat all the Strava records I had for the course.

Which is why I don’t consider triathlon a pure sport. I think a pure sport is one where the best athlete wins. In a running race, the fastest person wins. At a triathlon, a man on a TT bike will always beat a man on a road bike if they both have identical fitness. That’s not a fair sport.

I have a solution: at the end of a triathlon weigh everyone’s bikes in pounds. Take this weight off the athlete’s time. A heavier (cheaper) bike would give an athlete a bigger boost than a light (expensive) one.

If a race was close then the better athlete would be the one on the worse bike.

Although there’s one thing I’ve noticed at races – the most expensive bike is owned by the middle aged men with the most expansive belly.

Todd’s rule of triathlon – the price of a bike is inversely proportional to the size of your belly!

Maybe the solution should also include weighing the athlete and taking that off too!

Then I’d have a chance of winning.

Gran Canaria (Iain)

Last week I went on vacation to Gran Canaria. I did some biking, running and swimming.

Some athletes would claim this is winter weather training but why train in the sun when 90% of Scottish races are in the cold and rain?

If I want to race faster I should go somewhere I can train in weather worse than my planned events. Then, on race day, I’d wake up, see the bad weather but be relieved that it’s not as bad as the time I trained in hailstones and a gale in the the Arctic circle.

So last week wasn’t winter weather training, it was a holiday!


Gran Canaria is very hilly! Be prepared for long ascents. The road surface is great because they don’t get frosts that break up the concrete.

http://www.free-motion.com/en/gran-canaria/ is a great place to hire a bike.  Although, minutes after receiving one, I accidentally dropped it against a concrete column. I spent the rest of the hire period worried I’d damaged it! Thankfully it was OK.

At home I use a 11-25 cassette. On vacation I used 11-32. What a difference it made to climbing hills. I’ve now ordered an 11-28 for my own bike so that I can change it depending on the event.

Electric bikes are amazing! I set a speed and then started cycling. The bike takes my pedalling speed and then then gives the bike a boost to get the speed up to what I’d set. I wasn’t aware of the boost whilst cycling on the flat but as soon as I reached a hill I could feel it kick in. It meant I could race up hills without breaking a sweat. If you’ve ever worried about getting sweaty biking to work then get an electric bike. You’ll never sweat again!

Spanish roundabouts are lethal! You go round them on the right but cars seem to come onto them at high speed. I found it easier to stop and let the cars clear before crossing when it was empty.

Spanish pedestrian crossings are even worse than roundabouts. They don’t have traffic lights so you step out onto the road and the cars will stop. That’s the theory but in practice I ended up eyeing up the driver hurtling towards me and only starting crossing if they registered they’d seen the fear in my eyes. A number of cars didn’t and failed to stop.

Once I’d left the main town the roads were very quiet and I’d hardly see any cars.


By the end of the week I’d cycled, ran and swam further than any other week this year! So this week I’ve done bugger all. Training is all about balance!

How to get hot and sweaty! (Iain)

Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs credited his long career to afternoons getting into awkward sweaty positions. He claims he was talking about yoga but the super-injunction he raised in the High Court said it was hotel romps with Imogen Thomas.

I too would like to extend my fitness “career” as long as possible. Unfortunately. Imogen Thomas has not replied to any of my tweets, letters, or standing outside her house holding a Boombox playing the song “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

So, instead I do yoga (occasionally)

I first tried yoga ten years ago. It was in Edinburgh and I signed up for a ten week course. The tutor handed me an A4 bit of paper on the way into the class listing all the positions I’d need. As I attempted each position she would come over and tell me I was doing it wrong. I wasn’t interested in spending 10 weeks getting told I was wrong so I never went back for the other nine lessons.

It was years later that I returned to a class. This time the tutor went through the moves at the front of the class and all I had to do was copy her. There was no A4 paper and no telling me I was wrong.

Since then I’ve tried different teachers/classes with varying levels of success.

One tutor was so hungover he did the whole class leaning on a wall and sitting on a block.

Another tutor got us all to shut our eyes at the end of the lesson and then went round massaging everyone head! At least I hope she did everyone else and not just me! On second thoughts, I also hope it was her and not some phantom head groper who saw an opportunity.

But, the strangest experience was hot yoga. A sessions runs for exactly 90 minutes and consist of a set series of 26 postures (performed twice each). It takes place in a room heated to 40C with a humidity of 40%.

It’s so hot all I needed to wear was a pair of shorts. I stripped off. At this point I got confused as I could see a fat man in the mirror looking at me but I didn’t see him when I turned around. He must have left.

A fellow middle-aged man nods in my direction. If that happened in a pub we might become “mates” or “friends” but here it feels sordid because we’re the only men in a room of scantily clad young student girls. I think I’ve just joined his “ring” and you only ever hear that phrase when men get busted by the police. A hot yoga “ring” was arrested today….

The poses start easily enough. I lie on my back and breathe. Which is so easy I could do it in my sleep. Actually that is how I sleep. As the poses get harder the sweat runs off my body like rats from a sweaty ship. It pools on the floor all around me.

Is everyone else this sweaty? The instructor says we can finish with some more lying down exercises but this time face down. I have to lie down and put my face into a pool of my own sweat. If he was an interrogator and this was a torture scenario then I would confess anything.

At the end of the class I lie in darkness and contemplate what I have just achieved. The instructor said take as long as I need. It takes me two seconds to think – if I leave now then I’ll get into the showers before anyone else. I’m away and out before you can say “Sa Ta Na Ma Shanti

Buy cheap. Buy twice. (Iain)

There’s a stereotype that girls love shoes. I’d argue that men have an equal passion for protecting our feet but our collection of foot warmers is much less glamorous.

Here’s what I own:

Mountain Bike Shoes, Road Bike Shoes, Running Shoes (work), Running Shoes (home), Running shoes (old pair), Squash shoes, Golf Shoes, Hiking Boots, Work Shoes, Summer Shoes (x2), Smart Shoes (x 2), Sandals, Crocs and a pair of slippers.

If I ever appear on hit BBC2 programme Dragon’s Den it would be to flog a shoe that does everything. The top part of the shoe would be normal, but the sole can be screwed off so it can be changed to a different sole. I’d then screw on a golf sole or a squash sole or a… you get the idea.

I suspect Duncan Bannatyne would say “I’m ooooooot!!!”

Why all the shoe talk?

This week I ran the Balloch to Clydebank half marathon. See Andrew’s post for a more detailed view of the race.

I wore a pair of Asics trainers. They’re the second pair of Asics I’ve ever owned. I hated the first pair, they were very uncomfy.

That didn’t stop me from buying a second pair. My principle of buying running shoes isn’t how good they are but how much of a discount I get on a sale.

This new pair were very cheap (60%off!)

By the end of the race my right foot was very sore. I won’t buy a pair of Asics’s ever again!

  • Iain goes to shoe shop
  • Iain spots trainer with 80% of marked price
  • Its a pair of  Asics
  • Iain buys them!

Hey. Don’t judge me. It was 80% off. That’s a bargain!

What are you doing with my phone?


Last year, in Elie (Fife) I was walking on the cliffs above the town when I came across an iPhone lying against a post. My first thought was “I’ve found an Iphone. I can sell it and make a few hundred pounds!”  Thankfully, my second thought was “someone has lost an iPhone. How do I get it back to them?”

I picked the phone up and looked through the contact list for a “home” or a “mum” who I could phone and inform that their partner or son had lost a phone. Unfortunately there wasn’t any obvious names.

As I wondered what to do next a man ran up the path to the top of the cliff. He took one look at me and said “For F*&Ks sake!! What are you doing with my phone??”

I replied that I thought it had been lost as no-one was present. I was looking to return it to whoever it belonged to.

He continued to swear profusely and eventually explained that he’d set the phone up to record his attempt at running up the cliff. The run was “famous” and he was going to post his best time to a hill running forum.

Personally I wouldn’t leave my £600 phone out where anyone could walk of with it!

Since that day I’d always wanted to try the run. Luckily, this weekend, I was up tin Elie. I ran the route and I can honestly say it isn’t worth videoing! It was short and not that difficult. I think his friends should thank me because if he had videod it, I bet he would have bored them with it again and again and again….



What’s the point of a plan?

This is an interesting perspective on training.  http://www.samiinkinen.com/post/11347268687/hawaii-ironman-secrets

I think it mainly applies to people who are already quite fit but I do agree with some of the points.

  1. No brick sessions. I never do them. I know I’m tired after biking so training isn’t going to change that. Some people claim “It helps you train your body to move after the bike” What do you think I do after biking? Lie in my bed for the rest of the day? I’ll walk, have other commitments and continue with the rest of my day so I think my body gets plenty of practice of moving after biking without a brick session.
  2. Shorter distance exercises when training for long distance. When training for the Iron man swim I swam mostly 1.5KM  (30min) a day. I rarely if ever swam an hour and less often for more than an hour BUT I did swim allot (3/4 times a week) so my weekly swim distance was the equivalent of two long sessions. I swam the iron man swim in a good time and I didn’t feel tired.
  3.  1 long bike ride and 1 long run a week. I think this is essential part of training. I’m not too bothered by what I do during the week (as long as I bike commute to work and get a couple of runs in) but I like to get these two sessions done.

The key message is don’t follow a plan for the sake of following a plan. Question everything you do and then alter it so it fits into the way you work/think.

PS – this week I didn’t manage to get a long run in but I did climb a hill instead. Even the best laid plans can be thrown out. Never be a slave to a plan!