Sunday, 29 August 2010

Glasgow to Edinburgh Bike Ride

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Ellie and I couldn't think of anything to do today, so after visiting Bagel Mania on Queen Margaret Drive, we cycled to along the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Falkirk Wheel with the idea of getting some lunch and returning the same way. However the visitors centre looked too crowded, so we continued up the hill behind the wheel to join the Union Canal.

We had never cycled on the Union Canal before, so this was a step into the unknown. The route along the Union Canal to Edinburgh is much tougher than Glasgow to Falkirk for several reasons:

  1. It is much longer
  2. There is one very long challenging tunnel to negotiate (YouTube video)
  3. It is generally more overgrown and on rougher surface
  4. There are several high and exciting aqueducts you need to cross on sloping slippery cobblestones, with great scope for ending up in the canal

Once in Edinburgh, we wondered around Princes Street Gardens and watched some fire jugglers before catching the train back to Glasgow.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Ochil 2000s Hill Race

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My first hill race since dropping out of Glenshee, 3 weeks ago.

The first half of the race went pretty well. I started OK and ran behind Oleg, Stewart Whitlie and Andy Fallas up the forest track, chatting with Mark Harris as he went past.

I remained in 5th place until the stile above the forest, where in my haste to cross with Peter Simpson bearing down on me I skidded and twanged my right knee, which then hurt for the rest of the race. Peter of course went by and disappeared off in the distance with Mark Harris.

Next to pass was Craig Mattocks, and looking back Claire Gordon was getting extremely close as I reached the summit of Innerdownie. The ground then flattens out with fast running all the way to Tarmangie. I held position here, although Adrian Davis, Dave Godfree and Will Hensman were all closing me down. Then all went past as I hobbled off Tarmangie with a burning sensation behind my right kneecap, and I was thinking about dropping out at this point.

Climbing up King's Seat I got a second wind and pulled ahead again, and stayed ahead over Andrew Gannel and The Law. At this point I was 3 minutes ahead of last year's time.

Climbing Ben Cleuch, a few squally showers came through. I ran to Ben Buck and Ben Ever with Will Hensamn and with Dave Godfree starting to pull away. I then made my first big mistake.

When we reached the peat hags I should have just taken the line I took in 2009, but out of interest I followed Dave and Will on some huge flanking manoeuvre on a rough quad-bike track that avoids the peat hags to the south, but also adds on at least 400 metres of distance and some extra re-ascent. This route was not only 2 minutes slower than taking the direct line along the northen edge of the hags, it also required faster running to cover the extra distance so trashed my legs more, and this gifted 2 minutes to anyone chasing me down. So I was a bit annoyed and frazzled when I reached Blairdenon that I hadn't just stuck to the more direct route.

I was also conscious that the extra effort at trying to speed up to cover the extra ground had suddenly completely wasted me. I then made my second but less significant mistake, and that was to hack straight across the bowl south of Blairdenon. Again, I should have followed by route from last year where I avoided dropping right into the bowl by skirting slightly to the left whilst descending.

I could feel now that these 2 mistakes had totally trashed my legs, and there was nothing in the tank as Bruce Poll came lolloping past through the tussocky boggy section before descending towards Jerah. I knew I was in trouble now, as I tripped on tussocks and my legs shot into cramp. I felt like everything was slowing down and the ground was barely moving, a sensation confirmed as Andrea Priestley, Adrian Davis, Craig Love and Graham Nash all came bounding past.

This suddenly awoke me from my torpor and I tried to kick start the dead horse.

I flogged my body to keep moving to get to the climb towards Dumyat, where I then consumed my entire drink - which I should probably have been drinking earlier - and took a gel. This gave me enough oomph to get up the hill and pass Adrian, Craig and Graham, but I couldn't get back to Andrea who was finishing very strongly.

The effort of climbing Dumyat had finished off my legs altogether, so I could only manage a slow shuffle down the hill. Adrian, Craig and Graham all flew past again as I repeatedly pulled up with my legs twanging into cramp. I couldn't compete on the descent, but was astonished when I saw they all chose to ignore the track heading down towards the finish, and they were too far away to shout back (unlike Iona Robertson last year).

This was just the fillip I needed to galvanise myself back into action. I was pretty sure I had every chance of getting to the finish before them, with their self-imposed detour.

I was still ridiculously slow on tottery legs down through the bluebell woods, and after the steep slappy tarmac road I was reduced to a walk up the back lane, until I saw Graham Nash barrelling down on me again.

There was no way I was going to drop a place with 1 kilometre to go, so I forced my legs to start moving through a curtain of pain, with stupid cramps firing off in every muscle.

I finished the race in 3:12:25, more than 6 minutes slower than last year, which was a bit frustrating given that I was 3 minutes ahead of last year's time at Ben Cleuch.

Oleg Chepelin knocked a minute off the course record to win in 2:46:36.

Ellie knocked 27 minutes off her time from 2007 to finish in 3:33:24.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ayr 5-mile Trail Race

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This was the 2nd running of the Ayr Seaforth 5-mile Trail Race.

Tonight the race organisers took no chances, and the route was very clearly marked and marshalled throughout.

The route follows scenic trails alongside the River Ayr with a detour into Dam Park to loop around the playing fields on freshly mown grass.

I kept the leading trio of Stephen Wylie, Jeff Farqhuar and Brian McEwan in my sights for as long as possible, but after 2 miles they had all disappeared into the distance. With nobody chasing me down it would have been easy to give up and coast along, but I decided to keep working and treat the race like a time trial.

By pressing right until the end I squeezed under 29 minutes, to record 28:57 on my watch, which was about 10 seconds faster than last year, making it my first PB of 2010!

Thanks to Kenny Phillips for the photos

Friday, 20 August 2010

Irvine Marymass 10k

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There were several reasons for going to the Marymass 10k tonight:

  1. To test out my shiny new Adidas Adios Racing Shoes that I got from Achilles Heel
  2. To check that the re-measured course really is 10k, after all the hoo-hah from last year with the course being 200 metres short
  3. To stop the rot of dropping out of races and only taking photos
  4. To see if I could post a slightly better 10k time that might count in my favour towards selection towards the British and Irish Masters Cross Country in Dublin
  5. To get out of the house and see a few familiar faces including Ian Goudie and John Kynaston

The race was a bit late starting, but once underway conditions were pretty much perfect apart from a slight headwind after the turn.

I went through the first km in 3:25, which was fast but not ridiculously fast. As the field started to spread during kilometre 2, I was trying to decide whether to put in the effort to close the gap to Andy Campbell (Bella Harriers) and Mayeul Ducrot (Ayr Seaforth), thinking it might help to sit in behind them. But for fear of blowing up I just sat off them at a distance of 20 or 30 metres, and essentially ran the race on my own.

At the turn I was aware of bunch ready to pounce if I faded. But on the return I actually felt quite strong and was pretty sure I would catch Andy and Mayeul, however the only person I caught was Stephen Daye of North Ayrshire, and the only person to pass me after the first half kilometre was Mike McQuaid of Falkirk, who took the first V40 prize.

I was pleased to finish in 36:20, which is a massive season's best for 2010, and perhaps a step in the right direction.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Lomonds of Fife

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Still feeling wrecked from the drive to Aberfeldy yesterday, I had no intention of running this race, so instead mucked around on the route with my camera. There is plenty of scope for seeing running more than once, with some well-timed corner cutting and doubling back.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Weem Hill Race

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I was not feeling at all well today, but ended up driving to the Aberfeldy Highland Games to take photos at the Weem Hill Race.

The race was won by Jamie Stevenson with Bob Wiseman 2nd, and Alan Smith 3rd. Ellie was 1st lady, followed by Sarah Wiseman. The route is more of a trail race, and doesn't actually go to the top of any sort of hill. Rather it climbs through some woodland, then crosses a few fields at the highpoint, before battering down a stony landrover track to hit the road. After which some local knowledge is required for crossing the golf course and to work out how to get back into the games field.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Caerketton Hill Race


I went over to Edinburgh for Caerketton Hill Race, the final event of the Bog and Burn series.

I had no intention of running, and I hoped instead to get some half-decent photos up on the ridge leading to Caerketton, but the light was pretty dull and grey. The first 3 runners to appear were Paul Faulkner, Al Anthony and Andy Fallas, followed at a distance by Ted Bartlett from Barrow and Sam Hesling.

On the return, Al Anthony was firmly in charge with Andy in 2nd place, but Sam moved through on the descent to clinch 2nd place.

After the race we had soup and drinks at The Steading for the Bog and Burn prize-giving. Al Anthony was overall winner, with Adam Gatens of Westerlands in 2nd place. In the women's competition Emma O'Shea was first and Christina Rankin second, but neither of them made it along tonight.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Not the Glenshee 9

Race details | Photos

To celebrate my 47th birthday and reinforce the feeling of being over the hill, I got up at 6.30 this morning to drive to Glenshee 9 and record my first ever DNF in a long hill race.

It was good to see all the familiar faces at the race, but several things contributed to my retiral. The main ones were hiking 825km across the Pyrenees and then racing every night last week, and the other ones were having persistent hip and groin pain, and making the mistake of eating a Power Bar just before the race. I was more or less OK over the first 2 summits: Creag Leacach and Glas Maol, and was only a minute down on last year at Glas Maol, but on the approach to Cairn of Claise I realised I was flogging a dead horse, and the horrible stomach pains weren't helping much.

Before Tom Buidhe, I suddenly I realised I was sitting on the ground wondering how I going to get back to the car. I slowly made my way back to Cairn of Claise to retire from the race, and then sat at the summit for a while, without the energy to move.

I was getting cold so I shuffled back along past Glas Maol to descend through the ugly scars of the ski area, trying to get back before 3 hours race time. I went to the car for the camera hoping to get photos of the winning runner, but once I'd returned to the finish line Tom Owens was already standing there casually with his cup of water, having just knocked 13 minutes off his own course record!

I found it incomprehensible Tom could have completed the course in 3:07, taking a full 7 minutes out of Robbie Simpson over the last 3 hills. In fact when Tom had finished, Robbie hadn't even begun his descent from The Cairnwell.

To follow a bit of the action I headed up The Cairnwell with my camera, although the light and backdrop didn't make it easy to get any decent shots. Dan Gay was 3rd in, closely followed by Mark Harris, with Oleg Chepelin and Brian Marshall the next to appear, and then Tom Brunt.

First lady to come through was Claire Gordon who knocked something like 17 minutes off her course record to finish in 3:56 I think.

It was good to chat with folk after the race. And I was so relieved that I packed the race in when I did.

Red line - Last year. Blue line - This year.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Tour of Clydeside: Bellahouston Belter 10k

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The 4th and final event of the Tour of Clydeside series, and my first 10k since Kirkintilloch back in June. The race follows 2 anti-clockwise laps of Pollok Park and is organised by Bellahouston Harriers.

Thankfully Ellie and I made the start of the race this time, and began with all the other runners. My main aims of the race were (1) to have a half decent run and perhaps get sub 37 minutes, and (2) to see if I could pace myself around the first lap behind Robert Rogerson and then take 12 seconds out of him in the last mile or so, since Robert was leading me by 12 seconds going into the final race. As it happens I got close to both of these targets, but couldn't quite dig out any sort of special performance.

Robert went off fast at the start and ran alongside Gerry Montgomery for the first lap and a half, whilst I paced myself with Jim Breen about 20 or 30 metres behind.

Once we went past the heilun coos for the 2nd time I thought it was about time to start making an effort. But as we left Pollok Park onto Haggs Road for the 2nd time, Gerry looked back and warned Robert that I was closing them down, and Robert had the displine never to look over his shoulder. As we hit the final kilometre I thought it's now or never and ran away from Brian Douglas of Bellahouston Harriers and started to really close down Robert properly, but I had left it too late and Robert crossed the line 2 seconds before me in 37:04.

It was a good close finish and 37:06 was a much better performance than any of the Polaroid 10k races earlier this year. I finished 8th on the night, and 5th overall in the series behind Adam Lee (Shettleston), Alan Derrick (Calderglen), Gerry Montgomery (Clydesdale) and Robert Rogerson (Kirkintilloch).

Ellie had a good run to finish as 3rd lady in the series behind Eilis McKechanie (HBT) and Pamela McCrossan (Clydesdale).

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Tour of Clydeside: Garscube Gallop

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The third and penultimate race in the Tour of Clydeside series is a tough little 3-mile trail race around Dawsholm Park organised by Garscube Harriers.

Ellie and I arrived in plenty of time for the advertised 7:30pm start, so we faffed around the park until with 5 minutes to go we headed over to the starting area. We were slightly bemused to discover that there were no runners in the vicinity, and were told to start chasing after the now departed field. This was the first time in my 500+ races that I had ever missed the start of a race due to it starting 5 minutes early!

I decided not to panic and sauntered over to the start line, informed the organisers that I would take my own time, and then set off with my own personal 3-2-1 Go!

It was like running a club handicap race, hurtling past the tail enders at first, then becoming harder and harder to catch and pass each runner.

After crossing the line I spent a good 15 seconds fighting with my Garmin 405, trying to make it stop, before realising I was hitting the wrong button and recording extra lap times. Once I'd deleted these spurious extra laps, my watch gave a time of 20:04 for the 4.8km course.

Speaking to Robert Rogerson at the finish, I think he said he ran 20:05, so I had a reasonable run, but it was a pity to miss out on the race. I still have no idea why the organisers started the race 5 minutes early!

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Narnain Boulder Dash

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The fifth running of the Narnain Boulder Dash saw a small elite field of 9 Westies, plus the ever faithful Drew Turnbull on time keeping duties.

Thankfully the midge situation was not too horrific, and the rain held off for a fine dry evening.

Muffy was away first, and I set off last on 12 minutes. I took the climb pretty steady and passed JD, Steffen, Don and John Hamer before the Narnain Boulders.

Once on the descent I was caught by Don on the steep hard stony track, but I followed him down at a reasonably constant distance, thinking I might have a go at him right near the bottom where the angle eases. However Don scuppered my plan by taking a nosedive into the dirt 2 or 3 minutes from the end of the race. It was just as he was passing Dom that Don went crashing to the ground. I stopped for a moment to check that Don could get back to his feet, and then continued the final 2 minutes, but without enthusiasm knowing that Don was badly shaken up and hobbling off the hill.

It was several minutes before Don reached the finish line where he was escorted back to the cars to get washed down and to clean up the cuts and scrapes.

A bit of a sorry end to what was shaping up for an exciting sprint finish.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Tour of Clydeside: Canal Canter

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The 2nd event of the Tour of Clydeside series was a 4.8-mile out and back race along the canal towpath at Clydebank.

I decided to set off a bit more conservatively than last night, and didn't bother attempting to run with the lead group, but settled in behind Robert Rogerson and ran alongside Lesley Chisholm for the first mile. Robert made several attempts to break away before the turn, but I covered each of his surges and turned just behind him. On the return leg, Michael Freshour of Bellahouston Harriers put in a big effort to pass myself and Robert, so I tried to chase down Michael which pulled me past Robert with about a mile to go. I then increased my lead on Robert to 13 seconds but couldn't quite catch Michael.

I felt much stronger in this run than last night at Kilbarchan, where I faded in the second half.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Tour of Clydeside: Kilbarchan Cyclepath Race

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The opening event of the Tour of Clydeside is 5.5 miles on a flat tarmac cyclepath, and follows an out and back route.

Last year I had a surprisingly good run and won the race from John McMillan and an off-form Chris Devenney. This year I had an unsurprisingly bad run, given that I hadn't raced for more than a month, and it was only a week since I'd finished the GR11.

Strangely for the first 2 kilometres I felt quite strong and stayed with the lead group, but after that I went backwards for the rest of the race. Robert Rogerson passed me just after the turn and took 26 seconds out of me in the last 2 miles.