Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Two posts in 2 days – FFS! Don’t worry folks; the initial enthusiasm will soon pass and I’ll be back to 3-monthly reports in no time.
The week after my visit to Sheffield was also fairly hilly, culminating with my Scald Law rollercoaster. This involves a 20-odd minute warm-up from Threipmuir car park to the base of West Kip, efforts up both Kips and Scald Law, descending to the Howe. A few minutes jog on the flat t get your land legs back, then turn and do the course in reverse. A tough session, runable all the way (just) but the long climb back up Scald Law seemed to take forever and my legs were jelly by the end.

Last week I generally kept to flatter ground, incorporating a mid-week tempo session within a commute run to catch my train at Bellshill. With Sunday being Mothers Day, I suspected that Gulshen wouldn’t appreciate me dumping child-care responsibilities on her for most of the day while I disappeared on a long run, so I took the opportunity of a visit to my Dad’s in Bishopbriggs on Saturday to run from there back to Livi. I didn’t fancy the all-road more direct route, so I took the canal towpath to just short of Linlithgow, cross-country from the Avon Viaduct to Beecraigs Loch, then back-roads and paths over the Bathgate Hills and back to Murieston.

As I was picking up the canal at Bishie Sports Centre, I’d miss out on the Maryhill Buckie Boys’ towpath entertainment today but never mind – you can’t have everything. I felt pretty sluggish at the start – perhaps because I was running too soon after stuffing my face at Dobies. (That’s rule No. 1 when visiting my Dad’s – always eat out. He’s 86, lives on his own and does the same shopping every week regardless of what food’s in the house. So there’s lots of interesting little cultures multiplying away in the fridge and bread bin. And we’ve all been stricken with botulism or similar at some point. Except him of course – he’s immune to it all by now. Even the sell-by dates can’t be relied on, ‘cos they don’t always print the year. So, an easy decision – the garden centre café for lunch it was then).

The main canal users today seemed to be pike fishermen. Not sure why there were so many – perhaps a big ‘un had been caught there recently which had lured out the anglers? No-one fishing though at the spot near Cadder where I had caught my “monster” 4 ½ pounder when I was 11. After I had plonked Jaws on the kitchen table, my long-suffering mum had the task of converting it into fish pie which, I recall, was dangerously bony but otherwise surprisingly edible.

A Hill, TFFT! Changing Canals at the Falkirk Wheel
I was geared up for the worst, weather-wise but it turned out better than I could have hoped. I thought the canal part would be pretty boring but it was actually OK - spring sunshine and with a nice breeze giving me a gentle shove in the right direction. After 27+ pancake-flat miles to where I left the canal, it was a bit of a shock to the system to hit the mud and hills of the remainder but the time seemed to go quicker with the more varied terrain. Arrived home just before dark, weary but generally pleased with how things had gone. Just shy of 39 miles total but as this comprised 5 mins walk/ 20 mins run “reps”, I had run about 35 miles (and now I feel so inadequate – all the would-be Fling-ers seem to have ran at least a 40 this weekend!). Nevertheless, my 5 miles per pint nutritional regime meant this was a 7 pinter in post-run replenishment terms, so a pleasant evening was had fulfilling this part of my schedule.

I’ve added a couple of links to my blog that I would recommend to you. Firstly, Ardbruach – the website of Clydesdale Harrier Brian McAusland. I don’t really know Brian but remember him as the specky guy who ran perimeter laps of Huntershill with coach Eddie Sinclair when I was a yoof at Springburn. I didn’t learn until later that Brian is a respected coach in his own right. He is a life-long enthusiast of the sport and his site is a real treasure-trove of Scottish Athletics history and road running in particular. Stuff of interest to the ultra running community includes articles on Don Ritchie, our very own Stottie’s Top Ten Ultra Moments and the sadly now-defunct Edinburgh to Glasgow Individual race. Some of the times posted for this race, particularly those from the ‘60s, are pretty impressive by today’s standards!

Secondly, a link to the Great Ron Hill’s blog which I discovered recently. Ron’s books “The Long Hard Road” Parts 1 and 2, give a unique insight into UK distance running from the ‘50s to the ‘80s. His recent writings give a perspective from further down the field but are still fascinating nonetheless. At 72, Hilly is just as fanatical as ever, still running every day and (it makes me cringe to read) still running through every injury that comes his way. Ron as an M70 isn’t as high up the rankings as he once was, which begs the question - can a runner start out as a kid, train hard all their life and achieve their best in every age group until they croak? I think the answer is probably no, otherwise Ron would still be running sub-3 hour marathons. Guys like Ed Whitlock who now top the Zimmer rankings showed ability as a youngster but only belatedly returned to the sport. But it’s probably not worth worrying too much about these things. We need to enjoy it while we can and all we can do for the future is take reasonable care of ourselves in the meantime.


Davie Bell said...

Nice blog makeover Billy, you think this canal running will turn into a craze ? ;-)good to hear your back running around familiar territory, any Ultras planned this year?

Peter Duggan said...

'All the would-be Fling-ers seem to have ran at least a 40 this weekend'?

Nope, I did 21.9 (real hills) on Saturday, 12.3 (trails) on Sunday and the longest I've done so far this year is 22.7, but don't feel 'inadequate', am not at all bothered by anyone else's training load and should be right for the Fling! :-)

Billy said...

Davie, I'd enter the G to E if they had a free pint at every pub on the route (and they ought to, at that entry fee). Not entered the Fling yet but thinking of doing it.

Peter, REAL hills? FFS, I'd better get some of those in!

Hopefully see you both at the Fling.