Thursday, 2 June 2016


Due to a number of pressing ongoing commitments, I have taken the decision to have a hiatus from the blog until further notice. Hopefully however it has proven good reading up to now and do please read back the old posts and continue to provide comments. I will be back but I just can't commit to when.

Until we meet again, happy running and all the best.

Above: English 12 Stage Road Relay in Sutton Coldfield on 16th April. Running the 5.38 miles 7th leg in 27:18. Undulating course. Took the team up 6 places. We eventually finished 19th.

Friday, 6 May 2016

English Road Running Association 12 Stage Road Relay Part 1- Friday

Back in 2012 I had voiced the opinion to the rest of Ronhill Cambuslang Harriers that the club should be giving the premier road relay in UK athletics an attempt. The suggestion fostered a lively debate which ultimately, sadly, came to nothing. It fell off the agenda until last year when I brought it up again. The crux of my argument was that if Central, Shettleston and Corstorphine, 3 clubs we are competitive with in Scotland, could go and compete, why couldn't we?  On this occasion, the message seemed to get through. A commitment was therefore made for this year's edition. 

Ultimately 13 athletes, a team of 12 plus one travelling reserve, and a support team of coaches and parents, made the trip south to Sutton Coldfield. All but 2 travelled by car. The odd couple were myself and said travelling reserve, Chris Upson. We travelled by plane from Glasgow Airport, in Chris' case due to childcare duties and me with work commitments. Working in Paisley, it made sense to travel from the airport less than 2 miles away. A hour's flight and then a half hour taxi ride from Birmingham Airport deposited us at the team's base, the Travel Lodge in Sutton Coldfield. We found them in the Wetherspoons next door where, to relax and calm my nerves, I considered it appropriate to have a pint. A glass of Ruddles Best hit the spot. A few of us then retired to the adjacent Harvester Chain pub where I spotted Black Sheep on draught, a light coloured beer I'd enjoyed several years ago on holiday in Southport. The temptation was too great so I sipped a half pint. I felt then I'd had just enough beer to unwind but not too much to impair the following day's performance. A team briefing rounded off the evening.

Part 2 to follow.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Grangemouth Round The Houses 10km Road Race, 10th April 2016

After recovering from illness and two ankle sprains in the first two months of this year, I resolved to get out and race whenever possible when fit and injury free. After the success of the Scottish Road Relay on 3rd April, the club solidified its plans to attend the English 12 Stage Road Relay in Sutton Coldfield on 16th April. I was keen to race on the weekend in between. There were a couple of possibilities, the Tom Scott Memorial (10 miles), which I've raced several times over the years on its various routes, and Round the Houses 10km in Grangemouth which I had not ran since 2003, despite more track appearances than I care to remember in the same town. The two races are pre-entry only and extremely popular so, to keep my options open, I entered both. On learning I would be on a long leg the following week and it was undulating, I felt I would not recover on time from a 10 miler so the well worn path to Grangemouth it was.

Despite the Tom Scott constituting a West District and Scottish Championship, there was no shortage of talent opting to race 10km instead so I was by no means in for a Sunday stroll. Conditions were ideal, a little nippy temperature wise but dry with only a slight breeze. Another thing was for sure, there would not be a hill to be had on this pancake flat course. Soon after the start, I found myself in a large leading group of about 8 runners. I don't tend to be a slave to my watch in races. Over 10km, apart from a quick glance after the gun to check if it has started timing, I tend to only have a look at halfway then again at 8km. Therefore, the presence of a lead car displaying a clock at the back, directly in my line of vision, unsettled me a bit. Despite this, I continued to focus on getting a few kilometres behind me.

What unfolded was no doubt one of the closest races in this events 50 year history (this was the 50th anniversary edition). There would certainly be no danger of me failing to beat my course best of around 37:10 from 2003. The large pack chuntered along, each taking the lead in turns, myself included, and I passed through 5km in 15:20. I thought that the pace surely had to drop and, if it did, hoped I would have enough in the tank to be in contention for the win. The pack dropped to 6 runners with Dermot Cummins and Patrik Gierjatowicz (sincere apologies if I've spelled that incorrectly) dropping off. This left me, Irish triathlete Russell White (I didn't know this at the time), Michael Christoforou with a 14:36 track 5000m to his name (I was unaware of this as well), Bryan Mackie, Conan McCaughey and Max McNeill. At both the 7km and 8km points, I tried to make a surge for home but got pegged back on each occasion. As we ran on the road parallel to the track, round the turn and back the opposite way towards 9km, I was still there.

The pace then noticeably turned. I wanted to go with it and tried to but my legs wouldn't let me. As we took a right turn then ran round the perimeter of the track and through the gate for the final 100m, I watched the lead change hands several times. All 6 of us were on the track at one time. Russell, Michael and Bryan were toe to toe for 1st place followed by Conan, Max and me. My final effort took me past Max and I held on narrowly for 5th place in a time of 31:11. As I exchanged handshakes, I had no idea who had won. I don't think the 3 guys did either. I didn't ask anyway. Instead, I decided to walk on and get first pick of the goody bags and t shirts.

Afterwards, I watched a fair chunk of the 900 plus field coming in while chatting to a Whitemoss friend Paul White who returned to compete in the Mens League last year and will do so again in 2016. He's training and racing well so hopefully he will be an asset to the team. As far as I'm concerned, an asset constitutes someone willing to compete and give their all, regardless of their level. Paul fits these criteria.

I then hung about for the prize giving, collecting £30 for my finishing place and learning that Russell was given the nod ahead of Michael and Bryan. More crucial than you think with £200 on offer for the winner. On the day, all three of them were credited with the same time (31:04) but Michael has since been given the edge by a single second. Thank goodness there was chip timing.

Initially, I felt a little disappointed, primarily due to my pace slowing to 15:51 in the second 5km, until checking back and seeing that it was my fastest 10km since Stirling in September 2014. Nothing wrong with that.

Full results can be found here.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Scottish Road Relay Championships- Take 2

Having been slagged off from some quarters for not producing my own version of events from Livingston (well, from Charlie Thomson, writer's block to blame), here we go.

Reading back my report on the Clydesdale Harriers 5km, I note that I said that we were looking good for the Scottish Road Relay Championships. For once, a prediction of mine actually turned out to be correct. Anyone who knows about my attempts at the football fixed odds or the horses can vouch that Mystic Meg has nothing to fear from me. Whilst our senior men have achieved medal winning performances every year since 2011, from 2007 onwards, the golds secured by our over 40s and 50s in their own age categories in recent years have eluded us. That was all to change. The turning of the tide proved to be a gradual process throughout the race.

Back at the familiar Livingston venue with the tried and trusted alternate 3.15 miles (legs, 1, 3 and 5) and 5.8 miles laps (legs 2, 4 and 6), Iain Reid gave us a solid start, finishing in 8th place but only 25 seconds off the leaders (Corstorphine), thus, giving me plenty people to compete against on leg 2. I managed to gain 4 places, the last of which was former Central man John Newsom, now with Inverness Harriers. He was going very well and it took a considerable effort from me to catch then overtake him. I spent virtually the whole leg in the shadow of Tewoldeberhan Mengisteab (Shettleston) but couldn't make any inroads on the gap. I wasn't feeling great which usually means I'm running strongly. So it proved, my time of 29:21 being half a minute quicker than last year and thankfully reversing my trend of gradually slowing times on the long leg since setting my course best of 29:02 in 2012. I had a nervous finish with Inverclyde's Craig Ruddy (29:01) in hot pursuit. I (with great relief) held on by 2 seconds. A familiar name now lead, Central.

Craig Jardine then set off and, in clocking the 2nd fastest short leg of the day (15:41), hauled us into the medal positions. On the same leg, Johnny Glen ran the fastest time (15:30) to put Inverclyde into pole position. On leg 4, Robert Gilroy took us up 2 places into the lead followed by Corstorphine, Inverclyde and Central. The 4th change in the lead in as many legs. A narrow advantage of 8 seconds was extended to 46 by Ryan Thomson's 3rd fastest short leg (15:43). Central were now 2nd, Corstorphine 3rd and Inverclyde 4th. Kyle McLellan, currently enduring gruelling shifts as a junior doctor in the east of Scotland, kept his nerve to bring us in 24 seconds ahead of Central. Inverclyde were a further 18 seconds back and Corstorphine another 19 seconds after that. This was easily the most competitive edition of this race for several years and the most topsy turvy.

What it all meant was a 4th title win for Cambuslang's senior men, 9 years after our last one, not the 3rd as previously stated. Thank you to Charlie Thomson for the correction. He should know because he was in at least 2 of the teams! National gold medals are hard to come by. I now have 2 (Scottish 5km Road Race and this event), both team medals, and I certainly value them. No-one should ever underestimate how hard they are to win. I don't.

As well documented elsewhere in Scottish athletics circles, Cambuslang created some history with our over 40 and over 50 teams also winning golds, meaning a clean sweep of all the male categories. It's also worth mentioning our ladies team of 4 finishing 7th. We've never had a ladies team in this race before.

I can't put my finger on it as I write this but there's certainly a greater buoyancy about Cambuslang from top to bottom than there has been for some years. Whatever the reasons are, it's welcome and long may it continue.

Results from the day's races can be found here.

Above: team members from the 3 male medal winning teams. Photo courtesy of Scottish Athletics.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Blast From the Past- Saltcoats Round the Houses Road Race 2001 Video Footage

It's amazing what you can find. A short trawl on You Tube resulted in the uncovering of video footage of the Saltcoats Round the Houses Road Race in July 2001. If the occasion sounds familiar, it will be because I previously wrote about it back on 3rd June 2015 so I refer you back to that particular post for the more detailed background.

For the purposes of this post however, to recap, I was 17 years old, freshly out of school and dipping my toe into distance running. I remember running reasonably well for the level I had reached at the time though, as you will see, some way off the front. A number of familiar faces abound who are still on the Scottish running scene, including 2 future clubmates, Charlie Thomson and David Cooney. There is also another Cambuslang man who I don't recognise. From recently spending over a day and a half in his company and listening to his relentless patter, I know Charlie reads this so if he can identify the mystery man and pick me up on any errors (more on that in a future post), I'll report further at a later date.

For now, the footage, remarkable quality for the year it was filmed, can be seen here.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Scottish Road Relay Championships, 3rd April 2016

As documented in my post, "Consistency Is Everything," the Scottish Road Relay proved a more than successful one for our senior men with gold medals claimed. This was Cambuslang's first win in the race since 2007 and only the fourth in its history. We improved our places on each of the 6 legs, Robert Gilroy, also a member of the 2007 team taking us into the lead on leg 4. We went on to stay there. This marked my own first Scottish Road Relay gold after a silver and 3 bronzes in previous years. To cap things off, our over 40 and 50 teams were also gold medallists.

To be honest, I do not feel that I can do the day's events justice so I am providing links to two reports by others. The first is by our Chair, David Conney. The other is by one of the over 50 team members, Chris Upson. In addition, the Scottish Athletics round up is here.

Above: almost all of our gold medallists. Only Stan McKenzie (over 50 team) is missing. Photo courtesy of Chris Upson.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Consistency Is Everything

Running is a simple sport really. You get out what you put in and hard work and consistency can take you a long way. It is also a sport too many people like to over complicate. Over the years I have learned that every individual has to find the approach that suits them. Once it clicks though, there is no better feeling.

Imagine my frustration as, apart from a 3k on the Green outing, it took me until March to line up for a race this year and the same amount of time to string 2 full training weeks together. That's what a chest infection and 2 ankle sprains caused. Mercifully things have come together in spectacular fashion since. A peak was reached a few days ago (at the time of writing) when Cambuslang swept the board of men's prizes at the Scottish Road Relay with golds in all 3 categories, senior, over 40 and over 50. It was with great pride that I lined up on second leg for the senior team and managed to reverse my trend of gradually slowing times on the long leg, clocking 29:21 for the 5.8 miles, moving us from 8th to 4th. Craig Jardine, Robert Gilroy, Ryan Thomson and Kyle McLellan then finished the job Iain Reid and I had started.

For anyone interested, I've listed my training leading up to the race below. If it's boring, I'm pleased. After all, consistency is everything.

Above: the gold (us), silver (Central) and bronze (Inverclyde) medal winning teams. Photo courtesy of Scottish Athletics.

Week Commencing Sunday 28th February

Previous 2 weeks mileages- 25 and 10

Sunday: Longer run, Whitelee Windfarm, 12 miles (1:20:50).
Monday: 4 x 1 mile, 2 mins recoveries (rep times- 5:36, 5:27, 5:25, 5:25), 7 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Tuesday: 8.5 miles easy (56:11)- new route I've named "the EK Tour." Stopped early, full route would be 9 miles. Walked/jogged the last half mile home.
Wednesday: 4 x long hill reps (800m approx), Lickprivick Road, EK, run back recoveries, 4 miles covered in 24:50, 8 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Thursday: 2 x 10 mins, 30 secs recoveries (average 5:32/mile pace), 8.6 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Friday: 6 miles easy (38:57)
Saturday: Rest

Mileage: 50

Week Commencing Sunday 6th March

Sunday: Race- Cambuslang Harriers Down By The River 10k Road Race, 2nd in 31:49, 10.2 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Monday: 6 miles brisk (37:20)
Tuesday: reps of 5:30, 11 mins, 5:30, 2 mins recoveries, 7 miles approx incl warm up and warm down- meant to be a session of 1 mile, 2 miles, 1 mile but distance measurer on the watch was a bit wonky so ran based on effort. More or less the same session really.
Wednesday: 8.5 miles brisk (53:20)- off work, ran at lunchtime.
Thursday: 4 x long hill reps, Lickprivick, run back recoveries, 4 miles covered in 24:42, 8.5 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Race- Cupar 5 Miles Road Race, 2nd in 24:49, 10.25 miles incl warm up and warm down.

Mileage: 50

Week Commencing Sunday 13th March

Sunday: Longer run, Whitelee Windfarm, 13 miles (1:25:22).
Monday: 1 mile, 1 mile, 2 miles, 2 mins recoveries (rep times- 5:31, 5:20, 10:45), 7 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Tuesday: 6 miles brisk (37:27)- post work run in Paisley before Queen's Park game, 3-1 to Annan, wished I hadn't bothered (with the game, not the run).
Wednesday: 4 x long hill reps, Lickprivick, run back recoveries, 4 miles covered in 23:58, 8 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Thursday: 8 miles easy/brisk mix (50:29), cycle path from Paisley to Elderslie and back- stopped briefly in Elderslie to look at the Wallace Monument.
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Race- Clydesdale Harriers 5km Road Race, 8th in 14:59, 8 miles incl warm up and warm down.

Mileage: 50

Week Commencing Sunday 20th March

Sunday: Longer run, Whitelee Windfarm, 13 miles (1:23:52).
Monday: 1 mile, 2 miles, 1 mile, 2 mins recoveries (rep times- 5:14, 10:39, 5:15), 7 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Tuesday: Club, 8.1 miles brisk (49:55), Clyde Gateway route.
Wednesday: 4 x long hill reps, Lickprivick, run back recoveries, 4 miles covered in 23:57, 7.1 miles incl warm up and warm down- feeling tired.
Thursday: 9 miles easy (58:34), the EK Tour- see Wednesday.
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 2 x 8 mins, 30 secs recoveries (average 5:25/mile pace), 6 miles incl warm up and warm down- short and sharp due to poor weather.

Mileage: 50

Week Commencing Sunday 27th March

Sunday: 7 miles brisk (43:02)- little energy for a long run so delayed it a day, road trip to Fife the day before to see Queen's Park, off work on Monday.
Monday: Longer run, Whitelee Windfarm, 13 miles (1:21:33), 20 mins easy then reps of 5 mins, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 4, 5, all with 5 mins jog recoveries- an old Charlie Spedding session. Felt good throughout. Had an afternoon and fish tea in Saltcoats as a reward.
Tuesday: 1 mile, 2 miles, 1 mile, 2 mins recoveries (rep times- 5:14, 10:32, 5:11), 7 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Wednesday: 4 x long hill reps, Lickprivick, run back recoveries, 4 miles covered in 23:06, 7 miles incl warm up and warm down.
Thursday: 9 miles easy (57:11), the EK Tour.
Friday: Rest- poor weather and feeling very tired, ie. couldn't be bothered.
Saturday: 4 miles easy (25:25).

Mileage: 48

Sunday 3rd April: Race- Scottish Road Relay Championships, 2nd leg (5.8 miles), 29:21, 5th fastest long leg overall and team gold.