Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Islay, 4th-7th August 2017 Part 4- Haste Ye Back


In contrast to the picture perfect conditions of the previous evening, Sunday morning brought an overcast sky and heavy rain. Albeit, being Scottish summertime, at least the rain was warm. Despite waking fairly early and hearing Russell up before me, I was naturally feeling a little fragile and dosed on and off until just after 10am before finally mustering the energy to get up. Few others were to be found. I wanted a post race recovery run and knew that the weather was due to improve by early afternoon. However, experience has told me that if I linger, I'll either delay a run for ages or not go at all so I ventured out to brave the elements. I negotiated a rain soaked 10 miles in just over 68 minutes, heading out on the half marathon route then diverging onto another narrow road before the airport. After 5 miles, I turned round and ran back the same route in reverse to Bowmore. I endured a headwind for the first 5 miles but had a helping hand from it on the return.

Like Saturday afternoon, the day was really your own until that evening's barbecue. Russell was going home which meant not only did I have the room to myself that night but I could also remove the gallon of whisky from under lock and key! Newly weds Andy and Lorraine Buchanan were also homeward bound though, unlike Russell, did not pose such a strong threat to my race spoils. A few folk took a trip to one of the other beaches. I expressed an interest but alas, there were not enough seats in the cars. I wasn't too bothered though because I felt content to potter about in and around the cottages. A few of us watched the tail end of the men's marathon at the World Championships and I remembered that I hadn't replied to my friend who had texted the night before. The phone signal had disappeared on re-entering the village hall. I found the main square in Bowmore to be a telecommunications hotspot and managed to stand in the correct position for long enough to convey how the previous day and night had gone. Said friend, freshly back from a 5 day family break in Prague, seemed suitably impressed and wished me well for the rest of my stay.

The weather did indeed clear up and, while sipping a cup of tea in the kitchen with Billy Buchanan, Frances, Kenny and Eddie, they unhatched a plan, a la Mary Poppins, to "let's go fly a kite." The kite was in the style of a pirate ship. I accompanied them to the beach behind the cottages though left the kite flying strictly to the experts.

Above: kite flying on Bowmore beach. Left to right- Eddie, Frances, Kenny, Billy.

Meanwhile, I had my second self taught lesson in stone skimming. There's certainly a knack to it, one I struggled to discover. Eventually, about a dozen stones later, I managed to successfully skim one. It bounced back up off the sea surface once. A mini triumph! Remarkably I repeated the feat with another one before my luck ran out.

Above: a stone skimming practice session. Photo courtesy of Frances Ferguson.

The subject then turned to swimming because the Harriers boast a few proficient open water swimmers in their ranks, including Sandy. In a moment of bravado, I declared that I was getting into the sea and ran into the cottages for my swimming shorts. I approached with caution. Feet first, then knees, then waist, then, much of my amazement, full immersional baptism. My goodness it was cold!! I acclimatised and swam about for a few minutes to my heart's content (ok, until my skin turned blue). 

Above: it's alright once you get in...sort of! My open water swimming debut. Photo courtesy of Frances Ferguson.

I emerged feeling extremely triumphant.

Above: post swim, feeling chuffed, and a little chilly.

In the meantime, the pirate ship had eventually sunk. I headed in for a much needed hot shower then opted for a dressed down look for the rest of the day, Islay race t shirt, swimming shorts and trainers with no socks.

Above: a view of the harbour in Brodick. Thanks to one of the locals for taking this photo.

The barbecue proved to be a successful affair and my compliments go to those responsible. As far as I'm aware, those co-ordinating operations were Jim Holmes, Eddie and Kenny. If I've missed anyone I apologise but if you were involved, consider yourself thanked as well.

Above: just some of the barbecue grub on offer.

Gradually as the night wore on, the buffoonery levels increased. The back garden became a games zone, co-ordinated by Stephen Phimister and family, with various timed challenges including "Tennis Ball Keepie Uppie Around The Quadrangle." Experienced tennis player Allan McLellan set the standard here. Indoors, once the midges had come out to play, traditional party games ensued including Musical Chairs and the well known classic, "Catapult Your Face With Shaving Foam." Not as proficient at such activities as I am at running, I came off pretty badly in both. I bailed out for the night at about 1am. I can't speak for others!


Alas, all good things must come to an end and unfortunately Monday finally dawned for those of us who were still in Bowmore. Checking out time was 10am and I forced myself out of bed early enough to squeeze a 5 miles run in at 8.30am. Thankfully some time still remained in hand before the afternoon ferry. Gordon, Sandy, Alex and I were sailing out of Port Ellen and we took a trip to the beach at Kintra campsite in Port Laggan. The journey got delayed somewhat when we got stuck on a single track road behind a lorry delivering what looked like a new washing machine to a farmhouse. Island world problems! We were only grateful the wee wifie didn't invite him in for a cup of tea as well. Our patience was rewarded by the beauty awaiting us. Beyond the campsite there lay a beautiful beach. The photos say more than I can.

Above: the beach at Kintra, Port Laggan. The 3 people seen, from back to front, are Alex, Sandy and Gordon.

Above: why do we have to leave? Thanks to Gordon's friend Alex for taking this photo.

Above: the beach looking towards Kintra campsite.

After a hard 30-45 minutes milling about (and paddling on Sandy's part), we drove back to Port Ellen and stopped in at The Islay Hotel for cakes and tea or coffee. All too soon, it was time to board the ferry to the mainland and the most beautiful, dream like of adventures was over for us all.

Above: a "selfie" in Port Ellen. I used the timer on my camera to take this photo. Any photos in this or previous posts where no-one is credited have been taken by me either personally or using the timer setting.

Such was the perfection of this trip that one post could not do it justice. Yes, it included a race  but you will see that running actually played very little part over the 4 days. I can truly say this was one of the best trips I've done anywhere in many a year. Words cannot do it justice. My first visit to Islay will certainly not be my last. Haste ye back indeed!

If you've read up to this concluding part, thank you for doing so. I hope it was worth reading.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Islay, 4th-7th August 2017 Part 3- A Night for Local Heroes

Once the whisky fuelled prize giving had passed I returned to the cottages to shower and eat. We had by then reached mid afternoon. Time was really your own so folk split up into doing their own things, going to the swimming pool, the beach etc. By this time I had really melted into my surroundings. If you have ever seen the film Local Hero it will give you an indication of the ambience of Bowmore. We had tables booked for dinner at the Lochside Hotel, located a short walk from our accommodation (in saying that, this could be said for all our necessaey amenities). We needed to give our dinner orders in advance (there was over 20 of us after all) so I pottered round to do so, visited the book shop and actually purchased a book, called into the beer shop for a selection of Islay beers and chilled out on the beach. At times I can be content in my own company. Islay offered plenty scope for time to myself and to really just reflect and clear my mind of all life's anxieties. They were a world away from me at this point. Since my Gran died in May 2016, home life has been a challenge at times. Work has as well. It has been enjoyable and business certainly is booming but you need off the treadmill every so often or else you burn out. Where better to do that than on an idyllic island?

Above: in a reflective mood on Bowmore beach with my shopping from the book and beer shops and Co-Op. I also attempted some stone skimming...unsuccessfully.

Above: Bowmore's book shop with a cafe upstairs. Very quaint and worth a visit.

Above: Bowmore's beer shop which received very generous custom from me.

Above: Bowmore's bilingual Co-Op.

Back in the cottages, I attempted to phone my Dad. Why "attempted" you may ask? Telecommunications in Islay have clearly still to advance to modern day standards since, unless you stand, lie or sit in a particular position in a room, you will not obtain a phone signal. I was lying on my side on top of the bed when, lo and behold, I got a signal. Taking advantage, I stayed in position (leaning to the left on my elbow facing away from the window) and gave my Dad a call to discuss my afternoon. He asked what book I had purchased. The answer was impossible to convey because said book was located on the floor behind me and to turn and retrieve it would have seen the signal disappear and the conversation end. He would have to stay in suspense until Monday night. Such is life! For the record, it was The Secret Library: A Book Lover's Journey Through Curiosities of History. At the time of writing I've still to start it because I'm working my way through Gulliver's Travels.

A beautiful, hearty 3 course dinner, as well as some refreshments, was consumed by all at the Lochside with the backdrop of a glorious sea view. I shared a table with Russell, John McBride, his wife Dot, and Geo Ferguson (Frances' husband). Russell declared to all concerned to be dining at the champion's table. He had fairly been buttering me up since I took possession of that gallon of whisky! At around 9.30pm, a walk round the corner and part of the way up the hill (I did say everything was a short walk) took us to Bowmore Village Hall for the post race ceilidh. Apparently this is the one gig of the year for the band who play on this occasion. They certainly make the most of it because they gave it laldy for the best part of 3 and a half hours. Referring back to Local Hero, without spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it, a ceilidh takes place at one point. This one was an exact replica. I genuinely felt like I was in the film.

Above: taking the floor for the post race ceilidh where a catalogue of injury and illness problems among the Harriers present miraculously seemed to evaporate. Photo courtesy of Calderglen Harriers.

Above: 2 good guys I spent a lot of time with over the weekend. On the left is Gordon McInally's (who drove me from home and back) friend Alex. On the right is Harrier John McBride whose wife Dot mothered me a bit all weekend, making me cups of tea and washing my dishes. Lovely people all 3 of them. In the background, ceilidh chaos ensues. Photo courtesy of Calderglen Harriers.

Having run 19 miles that day (2 miles warm up, a race 13.1 miles long then a 4 miles warm down) I moderated my participation somewhat but did partake in a few of the group dances in between sipping cans of Tennents lager. At around 11pm the band declared they would be taking a short break. They finally did around 45 minutes later (island time, nothing is done in a rush) for a raffle to take place. I hadn't bought any tickets because the prizes included whisky and I had a more than ample supply! I took the chance for a toilet break and also nipped outside the hall for some fresh air and to chance my arm of getting a phone signal. 3 Irish guys were standing outside smoking and immediately recognised me from the race- at least one of them had handed me water at a water station. They are working in some of the local businesses in Islay. We chatted away. While we did so I was clearly standing in a telecommunications hotspot as I received a text message from a friend enquiring about my fortunes that day. For all I know it could have been sent hours before. Once back inside my new chums somehow earned themselves an invite to our barbecue the following night from Eddie. Alas, the raffle had not been kind to the Harriers. In particular poor Russell could be found crying into his whisky at his 11 year losing streak in Islay. In his 11 visits, he has never won either a race or raffle prize. If his allegedly foolproof plan pays off in 2018, that could change.

The band returned to display the extent of their repertoire. Frances jokingly/drunkingly (delete depending on what you think most accurately describes the situation) suggested they play something by Avicii. Remarkably they knew one of his hits and we jigged away to a ceilidh version of Wake Me Up When It's All Over. A few more upbeat numbers followed and I remarkably found, not only had my race aches, pains and jadedness evaporated but I also possessed a remarkable range of dance moves. Confidence or too many beers and lagers? You decide.

Alas all good things come to an end and shortly after 1am the band packed away their instruments until the following year. As we staggered downhill to the cottages, I declared to anyone who would listen that I wanted to stay in Islay and make a life there, doing little bits of business. Someone from Bowmore could perhaps swap and take my place working in Paisley and staying in East Kilbride. We passed by a shop advertising vacancies in the window and Sandy suggested I submit my CV. At that moment, I believed in fate.

Adding to the beauty of the occasion was the night sky. A full moon could be found at the top of the hill. In the other direction, across the horizon over the sea was a red sky. Life felt so perfect and complete. Why can't it always be like this?

Above: a gorgeous sky to end a wonderful day. Behind me as I took this photo was also a full moon.

Fear not, the tale does not end here. How wild did things become on Sunday and how did it affect the mood on Monday? Find out in the final instalment of this epic adventure, coming soon.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Islay, 4th-7th August 2017 Part 2- Whisky Galore

Race day dawned with conditions looking promisingly dry. Tiredness from travelling, the sea air, 2 bottles of Islay beer with my dinner and my roommate and old Harrier friend Russell Couper kindly refraining from snoring gave me a superb sleep and I woke feeling extremely fresh. Oh yes, a lovely, soft, comfortable bed helped as well.

The start time had endeared me to this race more than anything else. 10.45am on a Saturday morning! This left Saturday afternoon, the whole of Sunday and Monday morning to basically do whatever you want. What's not to like?

A large field considering the remoteness of the location, approximately 160 runners, took to the start line directly outside our cottages. Among them was a face I recognised from my last half marathon, in Copenhagen in 2015, John Sharp of Inverclyde. Knowing his capabilities, he would definitely be a threat if I wasn't on my game. The rest of the field, apart from the Calderglen contingent, were largely unknown quantities but you can never take anything for granted.

With the sound of a hooter blown by long time race organiser, Kate (another whose surname I never learnt), we set off on our 13.1 mile journey at 10.45am sharp. I decided not to be a slave to my watch and switched it off while we ascended the first hill onto the back road out of Bowmore towards Port Ellen. I knew when we'd started so could work out a rough time at the end. I would run based on how I felt.

With only 2 week's training behind me after the same period on an all inclusive family holiday in Majorca, I tackled the climb uphill cautiously. John took the bull by the horns, opening a concerningly large gap. I tried to stay disciplined with a game plan to get to 3 miles relatively comfortably then treat the run as a 10 mile race. At the same time though, I couldn't let John get too far ahead. He was moving well, especially on the descents. As I passed the 3 mile marker I took an energy gel I had decided to carry as a precaution and put on a spurt to catch John. I stayed behind him for a few strides while contemplating whether to stick or twist, ie take a chance and overtake or sit in for a while. I opted for option one, mounting a surge which left me breathing quite heavily. What would happen from here?

I could sense myself pulling away from John gradually. Approximately 9.5 miles is a long way to potentially run virtually on your own but I at least had the lead car to follow. I started to feel demoralised at 4 miles with the fact there was a fair distance still to go. It had been 2 years since I last raced a half marathon and a year before that for my previous one (Glasgow in 2014 when I kept the Kenyan women company). Injured Harrier Eddie Reid was assisting at the water stations. He told me at 5-6 miles that I had a 100m gap. Hmm, not big enough. I needed to keep working. At around 7 miles you turn right off the back road towards the airport (not yet offering package deals to the sunshine but you never know) then right again onto the main road connecting Bowmore and Port Ellen for a 5.5 miles stretch to the finish. Eddie popped up again at 8 miles, telling me that I had increased the gap. Good to hear. However, you haven't won a race until you've crossed the finish line. I pushed on. At 10 miles I turned the watch on and had a quick glance. Roughly 56 minutes. I was within my expected finishing range. I tried to take the last 3 miles at a high tempo only to turn into a headwind with 2 to go. It had been a crosswind up to that point. Not much you can do other than grind it out. That I did.

Above: grinding it out. Photo courtesy of the McLellan family.

Seeing the bilingual (English and Gaelic) sign indicating my return to Bowmore relaxed me for the first time. I pushed with everything I had left down the hill. My watch indicated I had taken around 1 hour 14 minutes. The time turned out to be 1:13:40.

John wasn't a million miles behind, coming through in 1:15:46. Without my risky turn of pace at 3 miles things could have panned out a lot differently. 3rd place was taken by a visiting Australian, Michael Nitschke, with 1:16:10, one of a sizeable foreign contingent in the race. Hopefully he enjoyed the trip to the Highlands he told me he was planning.

The post race prize giving was a lavish affair. I have never been at such an event where unlimited supplies of free whisky and lager were offered to anyone present. I was the first to receive my prizes, a trophy, shield and a gallon of whisky. I repeat, a GALLON of whisky! It was quite some time later before the last prize was awarded. Calderglen had a successful day, taking two team prizes, 2nd male and 1st female. They should have taken the win in the male category but poor sportsmanship from a bunch of individuals who had never met each other and clubbed together to call themselves a "team" cost them pole position. Definitely against the ideals of the race and would not be allowed in normal circumstances (Islay doesn't have a Scottish Athletics permit so the organisers relax one or two rules. That said, recruiting random strangers on the day and claiming to be a team leaves a sour taste). As for the Harriers individual awards, Joanne McEvoy was 3rd woman overall and 1st female vet as well as one of the winning team and Kenny Leinster was 3rd "supervet" and in the 2nd placed team. One of my clubmates, Jennifer Reid, took the 2nd lady prize, watched by her partner Kenny Campbell. Kenny is another clubmate and the 2016 winner at Islay but unfortunately sidelined for now with knee trouble. Being sponsored by a distillery, the prizes were differing measures of whisky ranging from my lifetime supply to various miniatures. If you left the prize giving with nothing you were in a minority.

We soon moved on to the quirky and rather outrageous. First local, youngest local, oldest finisher, last finisher, first couple, first overseas runner (as far as I was concerned anyone not hailing from Islay should have been considered as overseas), runner whose birthday is closest to the race date (honestly!). One absoloute cracker was any runner whose number matched their finishing position. A Harrier achieved this remarkable feat, number 107, Anne McLellan, taking 107th position. Anne's husband Allan finished in a time of 1:40:02. Allan remains the course record holder having set a time of 69 minutes in 1989. Russell declared that the following year, in an effort to win something, he would be a 93 year old Spaniard, finishing last, whose birthday is on the race day and who lives in Bowmore. Full marks for innovation if nothing else.

It was then back to the cottages for a photoshoot as these images illustrate.

Above: Bowmore beach with the fruits of my labour. Thanks to Sandy Hayden for taking this photo.

Above: one use a non whisky driver can put a gallon of whisky to- a microphone. Photo courtesy of Frances Ferguson.

Above: the prize haul and some of its recipients.

Plenty time remained to be filled on Saturday afternoon and beyond. What activities did the intrepid cottage dwellers embark on? You will have to wait until part 3. To be continued....

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Islay, 4th-7th August 2017 Part 1- A Journey To Paradise

December 2016! It is much longer ago than I thought since I last put the online version of pen to paper on this blog. This has largely been due to personal reasons. In the posts to follow, I'll allude to what these were and, if appropriate, may sum them up in a post of their own. A lot of things have changed in my life in the 8 months since I gave an account of my efforts in the 2016 Calderglen 10km Trail Race. The 2017 edition of the race, where I assisted with marshaling, has even taken place. Suffice to say, my Gran's death in May 2016 started the chain of events. It had a huge effect on our family and we, myself included, are only now beginning to come out the other end. My life today certainly does not quite resemble what it was then.

For now, I have been inspired to resurrect this blog by one of the most fantastic weekends away I have enjoyed in many a year. The Islay Half Marathon has been a Calderglen Harriers tradition for much of the club's history. Recent years have seen high demand from the club resulting in the trip becoming fully subscribed. This year however some space opened up and one of my old Harrier friends, Frances Ferguson, kindly invited me to fill one of the gaps. Looking at the calendar, the race fell on the local Paisley Fair holiday weekend. My work was closed on the Friday afternoon and the whole of the Monday. By taking the Friday morning as a half day holiday, I could have a 4 day break. Authorisation from my boss was duly given. The fact he loves Islay and visits often and one of the other bosses hails from the island made the request one with a higher probability of success. I was all set.

Having never been before, I felt dependent on the guidance of others and was picked up for the drive to the ferry terminal at Kennacraig by Harrier Gordon McInally. After two brief stop offs to collect another of my Harrier friends, Alexandra (Sandy) Hayden and one of Gordon's chums, Alex (I spent 4 days with him without ever finding out his surname), we reached Kennacraig, after another stop for brunch in an Inverary cafe, at 12.32pm. A brief, nervy moment ensued when an over officious yellow bibbed attendant threatened to refuse us boarding for being late (by a full 2 minutes, help ma boab), despite Gordon's car having been booked in advance. We were eventually waved on and made our way upstairs to the passengers area. The crossing proved to be a pleasant experience and we sailed into Port Askaig after approximately 90 minutes before a short drive to our cottage accommodation in Bowmore. I went for a 5 mile jog to stretch my legs then settled for a pizza dinner, kindly prepared for me by Sandy, and took in the Bowmore beach situated directly behind the cottages. I had arrived in an idyllic paradise. Would the race the next day shatter my peaceful state of mind? You will need to come back to find out. To be continued.

Bowmore beach.

Bowmore beach later in the evening at sunset.

The main street in Bowmore. The hill in the distance  was part of the half marathon course. Our cottages are the white buildings on the right.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Calderglen Harriers 10km Trail Race, 24th June 2016

The trail race organised by Calderglen Harriers is of significance in my time as an athlete. I ran the race back in 2001 as  a 17 year old and became a member of the host club later that year. This really launched my distance running career. Until then I had mainly competed on the track, with varying success, from 100m to 1500m. For the record I clocked 44:43 that night. My Calderglen debut came in September 2001 with a time of 39:22 in what was then called the Paisley Pattern 10k. There is still a 10km race there though over a different course. You also have the irony that I now work in the Renfrewshire town.

Trail is by no means my favourite or strongest surface but I've tried to support the Calderglen event when possible. This would be my 3rd attempt at the race in 4 years, missing out in 2015 because it clashed with the 5000m in Watford. Attending a race straight from your work is never ideal but with lack of time this is what I did on this occasion. I'd had a Mens League match 12 days earlier with some acceptable performances, 3000m steeplechase (9:57.11), 1500m (4:17.99) and 5000m (15:26.89) so continued to be in reasonable form. I caught up with a few people and was briefed that the first kilometre or so had been altered due to landslips in the park. Handy to know.

I had a conservative start, letting a few others lead me round the unfamiliar opening stages. Once on the trails properly, positions started to establish themselves. Luke Traynor, home for the summer from his US scholarship at Tulsa, was the class act in the field and simply picked his moment to break away. Neil Renault (Edinburgh) gave chase, leaving me in 3rd under pressure from Grant Baillie (East Kilbride AC). The Calderglen course is a tough, undulating one with few opportunities to build momentum. The trail is also in poor condition, heightening the probability of a twisted ankle or similar. Neil is a man not afraid of mileage with marathon times in the 2:20s to his name and had even run the 5km race earlier in the evening. After halfway, I made an effort to close him down and, at around 6km, overtook. Local pride had kicked in and, even though I wasn't feeling at my best, I was on home turf (or trail I guess) and determined to put up some resistance. I held him off until roughly 1.5km to go when we approached a hill with stairs leading up from the River Calder. Neil overtook me here and held on to the finish. The race saw a repeat of the 1-2-3 at the Scottish 10,000m Track Championship in 2014 with Luke 1st in 34:55, Neil 2nd in 35:15 and me 3rd in 35:26. Grant was 4th, only 2 seconds adrift of me.

I had got away with the odd missed run and inconsistent training for just over a month but it told on the trails. I put the race down as a great workout and also really enjoyed chatting to so many old chums. Former Calderglen coach Jimmy Moore presented the trophy bearing his name to Luke, however, only after he promised not to take it back to Tulsa with him. It does after all have to be returned for the following year's race.

Full results of all the evening's races and previous years, including my appearance in 2001, can be found here.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Nairn 10 Mile Road Race, 5th June 2016

Always open to trying new races, the Nairn 10 Miler caught my eye. I had enjoyed my trip to Inverness in June 2015 for a Mens League match and never been to Nairn so put in an entry, booked an overnight at a guest house, the Ardross Glencairn, in the Highland capital and arranged to meet up with my Inverness based friends, Charles and Jenny Bannerman and Stephen Mackay for a bite to eat. They came up trumps with the Culloden Moor Inn. Charles surpassed this thereafter, signing us into the Inverness Caledonian Thistle Social Club of which he is a member. I know I had a race the next day but to not partake in a refreshment would be rude. It was just the sort of old man pub I love. After a couple of beers there, I walked Charles round to another pub close to the guest house where he continued with his evening while I headed to bed.

Above: the River Ness, close to my guest house. This is my own photo.

I can only assume that the Ardross Glencairn was previously two different properties because, to get from my room to the dining room, I had to go out the front door, along the street a few metres and in next door, there being no direct door leading you through inside. Someone clearly didn't think to create a gap in the wall! Still, breakfast consumed, I drove 16 miles along the A96 to Nairn. I was quite early so had a wander round and noted I'd unfortunately arrived a week early for the Book and Arts Festival.

Before too long, runners and crowds had gathered and the race was underway. The vast majority of the course was on country roads so proved to be hilly and rural in a mixture of warm and windy conditions. My main opposition turned out to be a local, Kenny Wilson of Moray Road Runners. At 2 miles I had a slight scare when I felt a bee or wasp bounce off my chest then experienced a stinging sensation. I took some water shortly after, rubbing some on the affected area and thankfully the feeling passed. I gradually edged a step ahead of Kenny at 3 miles and decided to inject some pressure for the next 2 miles to build a gap. It would hurt me but hopefully not so much that I wouldn't sustain it. I went through 5 miles in 25:54, quicker than anticipated it must be said.

Above: anticipating the finish. Photo courtesy of Jenny Bannerman.

I managed to keep the effort going and had some company near the end from the fun runners, this route taking in the tail end of the 10 miler. I finished in a satisfying 52:20, just over 2 minutes clear of Kenny in the end who, in turn, was comfortable in 2nd. Jenny had lined up for the race but was being afflicted at the time by a mystery illness and had to stop after a few miles. Her club mate, Sarah Liebnitz, took the honours instead in a very good time of 61:10.

Above: either the local paper simply made a mistake or they only know one Cambuslang athlete. Courtesy of Jenny Bannerman.

Though I had a long journey home ahead, I considered it only courteous to wait for the prize giving, receiving a trophy and some vouchers. The drive back south took 4 hours through the A9's maze of speed cameras. Overall, I had a very enjoyable trip. I'll have my eyes peeled for more events in the Highlands.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Glasgow Miler Meeting, 3rd June 2016

Photo courtesy of Colin Stephen.

At a time of bereavement, keeping busy is probably a good thing. On the week after Watford I had entered a couple of races, again arranged when family circumstances were a little better. Again, the word from my parents was to press ahead. My Gran had always told me to do things and not worry about her. This tended to come out when I visited her on my own, often on a Sunday to take the strain off my Mum. Best to respect her wishes. On her better days we spent afternoons with chats like that. Happily the last time I did a solo visit was a good day so at least my lasting memory is a happy one.

Next up was a Friday night outing over 3000m at Crownpoint, scene of my Scottish 10,000m silver medal triumph. The 5000m at Watford had been a draining race so I stuck to light training leading up to the 3000m. 2 sets of 4 x 200m in times of 29-30 seconds the night before suggested I may produce something acceptable. I still however felt nervous. It was a strong field of 19 runners and I ironically finished in 12th place like Watford the week before. I never felt great at any point and, in the circumstances, was pleased with a time of 8:42.19, only 2 seconds outside my best. Another 10 seconds would have gained me 6 places. The pace had been consistent with 1500m splits of 4:19 and 4:23. The quality of the field no doubt helped me produce the level of performance I did.

Above: almost perfectly synchronised with Ryan Thomson who finished 8th in 8:36.92.

I would be racing again two days later over 5 times the distance. This served as a good turnover of the legs beforehand.

The race results can be found here.