Friday, 30 April 2010

Edinburgh to North Berwick

Harvey is on his holidays. He is staying with his friend Sky at Innerwick to let me run the Edinburgh to North Berwick road race, tomorrow, Saturday. While he is away, he is having his hair clipped, so I hope I recognise him when I pick him up. More to the point, I hope he recognises me. I may be a bit peeky, because I have not run twenty miles for a very long time. So, you may ask, why am I doing it?. Good question; it goes back to the ‘80’s. During one of Haddington East Lothian Pacemaker’s exciting agm's it was announced that the classic race would not be run, because Edinburgh Athletic Club could no longer organise it. They had done so for many years, but their numbers had decreased and they couldn’t do it. I got up and suggested that we should save the race by getting together with other clubs and making a joint effort. As a result of this suggestion, I was appointed as HELP’s representative and I contacted a few other clubs and East Lothian Council. Shortly afterwards we had a meeting and the race was saved. This was a long time ago, but I can remember what motivated me. It was partly because I wanted to save the race, but it was also because shortly after moving to East Lothian in 1978, I happened to be in Dirlton, buying some wood when I noticed a group of runners passing by. Someone told me about the E to NB and I thought the runners were mad. A couple of years later I caught the marathon bug and the rest as they say is history. That chance observation of sweating men running down the hill towards Dirlton Castle, left an impression on me which over the years has remained sitting there waiting to be acknowledged. During the marathon years I couldn’t be bothered running 22 miles because it wasn’t a full marathon. Then I thought I would like to run it, but I was either away from home, injured, unfit or marshalling, so I never managed it.

Here’s a little secret, I’m still not fit enough for it, but I am going to play it canny and kid myself through. This assumes that I get a place … here’s hoping the north east wind doesn't blow too hard..

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

What to do when it gets hot

You may have noticed that the ambient temperature has risen. We have at last crawled out of the long cold winter. This had meant that I have been able to go out running in shorts and tee shirt. It has also presented Harvey and me with the dilemma of how do we make sure he doesn’t get too hot! There are at least two aspects of this.

To start with, should I get Harvey a trim? Since he arrived at number 9, he has grown a second coat, which bunches up on his back like a Mohican hair cut. Underneath, there is a thick down, which means he will have to do a lot of panting to keep cool, especially when he is running – which incidentally is every day. Over the last week, I have been debating whether to go to a pooch parlour, I even booked him into a place at Aberlady, but something was stopping me. I like the ragamuffin look which Harvey has developed, he looks like just what he is – a scamp. The trim has been put on hold for the time being.

The other issue is leaving Harvey in the car. Over the last few months, this has been an ideal arrangement when I have been at work. One – Harvey is used to being in his cage in the car and doesn’t have a problem with it, and two, I can pop out to let him go to the loo, and take him for a walk at lunchtime. Now that the weather has improved, I am worried that the car will over heat. There are no good places in the car park to shelter the car in the shade, but I don’t want to leave him at home alone for long periods. I couldn’t work out what to do, so I convened a doggy support group with some colleagues who suggested I buy a silver backed car window shade. So, a quick trip to Halfords and I am now in possession of the shade and I also picked up a device which can be screwed into the ground and the dog lead (with dog) attached, ideal for camping. The shade worked very well today, which was intermittently hot. So hopefully, it will do the trick.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Cycle to a good film

I went for a cycle last night. Set off for Gifford and then along to East Saulton and down to Pencaitland and back to Haddington. Next time I will go up through the Boggs and back along the old A1. It was a good hard ride and I got back just before dark so the timing was good.

When I passed through Gifford I noticed that ‘The Reader’ starring Kate Winslett and Ralph Fiennes was advertised and showing in the village hall tonight. It's a film I wanted to see when it came out, so this was a good opportunity to catch it.

Tonight, after a magnificent run in the rain at Tyninghame with Harvey I beat a track up to Gifford again, this time in the car. Village film shows have a charm all of their own. For £4, you get the film, a cup of tea and home made cakes plus a raffle to sit on the comfy seat (cushions are supplied on the not so comfy seats!). The audience is a bit different from the Vue, a detail demonstrated in the opening scene where Kate is getting very steamy with a young Ralph Fiennes and a member of the audience chipped in ‘Oh my God.’

The film is good. It has won 14 international film awards and Kate won an Oscar for her part as a lover of a young man and an illiterate Nazi guard at Auschwitz. The film begins in post-war Germany when teenager Michael Berg meets Hanna, a stranger, twice his age. They have a passionate and secret affair until Hannah disappears leaving Michael heartbroken. Eight years later, Michael is a law student observing the Nazi war crime trials. He is stunned to find Hannah is on trial. He is haunted by her memory for the rest of his life.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

60 is a good number

I noticed that I hit my 60 mark for blogging the other day. Thirty of these were last year, so that means thirty are for this year. I wonder if you become a blogger the minute you establish an account, or when you are active on the blog – earning your wings, so to speak. I think that when I reach 100, I will feel that I am an established blogger. This only goes to show that I have milestones on my mind at the moment. Maybe that's because my dad was 89 yesterday, which of course means he is only I year off 90! He says he can’t believe he's that old.

On August 17 this year I will be 60, so there's another milestone! Hopefully, I will react to it like my dad and see the positives in getting older. I'm working on an eccentric personality already and I think it is coming on quite well.

Earlier this week I took a look at some other blogs by pressing the next blog button. Nine out of ten of them were dross, but I came across an interesting blog, which aims to encourage Nigerian writing , called; it also has a nice set of drawings, showing the development of a drawing. It links to a Nigeria writing web site set up. The stories on the site look pretty good. You don’t have to be Nigerian to join. At the moment, I am following the site on blog list.

Had a good run with the club last night. It was the Begbie – Bolton route with joiners brae thrown in. It is the longest I have run for a while, and the conditions were just right – this is a good time of year to run...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Harvey Here #5

Went on a great trip to Knoydart a few weeks ago, woof.

Stayed in the bunkhouse with the humans, who all loved me, arrf.

Met a beagle called Penny and we got on really well. Penny loved to run around the beach in circles, but I was faster than her, woof, woof.

She was very good with sticks and managed some really sharp turns to keep me away from them, grrr.

One of the best things about Knoydart was the wild life. I could smell all sorts of things, but my favourite was deer. There were loads of them, arrf, arrf.

Something told me that I had to run after them and I did, straight up into the mountains, woof.

I chased after them but they were fast  Aftera while, I realised I was in the middle of nowhere, so I came down and found the road, arrf, woof.

It took me a long time to find my way back to Ray, and when I found him, he was not pleased with me and said I was a bad boy, grrr, grrr.

Humans are so changeable, the next day, he was calling me a hero, after we had made it up a Munroe in the thick snow, woof, woof.

Ray said that we are going to Knoydart again, I hope he means it, arrf, arrf, woof.

This is me, Ray and Ben on top of Luinne Bheinn

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Galashiels Triathlon

Left for Galashiels in strong drizzle and with some gusting wind. Not the best conditions for a triathlon. By the time I reached Stow on the A7, the sun had broken through and it was a different picture, but a false one as I was to learn later.

The Borders tri series is a friendly, low key event. It is well organised and the scran afterwards is always good. This was to be my first tri for over three years and I was looking forward to it. The logistics for tri’s are that much more complicated than for running and to add to matters I had Harvey with me and he takes a bit of thinking about too. On the way to the event, I remembered what I had forgotten – my swimming goggles. It was just as well we were swimming at Gala pool, and I was able to buy a pair there. Once I had got my transition pitch ready, I hung around waiting for the briefing. This hasn’t changed much over the years, but it is useful to hear about the course. The announcer didn’t fill us in on hills etc, but I heard from a fellow competitor that there was a big one not long after you get on the bike and after that it is rolling.

So on to the swim, I was in heat 2 in the third lane with a black swimming hat. It turned out to be a good lane because only two of the other colours turned up which meant there wasn’t too much swapping positions at the end of the lane. I got a bonus because I miscounted and I was tapped on the head after what I thought was 26 lengths, but it turned out to be 28.

Straight outside, shoes and helmet on and off I went. By then it was raining properly and quite cold. I didn’t feel it at first, but I only had a tri suit on and when we got up the hill and exposed, it was cold. I managed this quite well; my main worries were that I wouldn’t be able to brake properly, because my hands had become numb or that my hands might slip off the handlebars, because everything was so wet.

I got up the first hill quite well and got into a good rhythm on the bike. I was in a group of about five who kept over taking each other and this is a good way to get through the kms. Then it felt bumpy under my back wheel – a sure fire sign of a flat tyre. I got off and found… yes it was a flat, but not fully flat, but it was going soft. I wouldn’t have been able to change the tyre because my hands were numb. After a few minutes I was off the bike again, trying to get the pump on the tyre with my numb hands – it worked and I got another couple of kms in before I had to get off again and pump. Fortunately, I was quite near the end of the ride and made it back to the transition area. I reckon I lost about 10 minutes because of this.

Off with the helmet and on with the running shoes and around the hilly, rooty course through the park woods. I was having trouble running on numb feet and seeing through steamed up and rain covered glasses and you had to be careful of the roots, ditches and rocks. Got around and the finishing time keepers shouted well done.

Not far behind me was a guy I know from past tri’s and we got chatting. Then it emerged that he had run around the course twice. I had forgotten it was two laps! A quick word with the time keepers and I was off around the loop again. It was much easier the second time!

So it was testing and a bit of a disaster, but I enjoyed the banter and meeting people I knew. The results will be out in a couple of days, and I’m looking forward to the next one in Selkirk. Oh yes, the scran was excellent.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

A couple of books I have read recently

Here is an update on a couple of books I have been reading lately.

‘We need to talk about Kevin,’ by Lionel Shriver

Lionel is a woman and quite often writes in the ‘Guardian’ and other up-market papers. This book won the Orange prize in 2005 (I think) and is one that I have been trying to read for some time. I didn’t find it easy, particularly at the start. Her device of using letters to her husband to describe the events in her story took me a bit of getting into. But is wasn’t just that, there was something about the style of writing that kept grating on me. That being said, I wouldn’t have missed reading this book. In many parts it is captivating and impossible to put down. It describes some awful events that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and it also raises some big questions. Relationship between adults and between adults and children are in sharp focus. What is it to be a good parent? Why do some children slaughter their classmates? Lionel does not try to offer easy answers and her bewilderment at her son’s behaviour comes over strongly.

'A Necessary Evil' by Alex Kava, who is also a woman. This book is one of a series that follows the adventures of Maggie O'Dell, an FBI profiler. It is a fast moving novel on a topical theme - sexual abuse by RC priests. A victim takes revenge by chopping some heads off. Alex uses a computer game as a central device in the plot of the story, so this again attracts a modern audience.
The writing (in my opinion,) left a lot to be desired. There was over elaboration and the author didn't give the reader enough credit for intelligence. There were too many characters in the plot. Having said that, I read it to the end because it was a good page turner.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Good dog - bad dog

Harvey is proving to be a real mixture of good dog - bad dog. I suppose it's his nature to chase deer and swans but most of the time he stays with me and has shown intelligence in learning what to do and what not to do. It's really a matter of mutual understanding. He has to learn that when we are running along by the river or anywhere else, he can't go galavanting across fields to chase birds of any description and especilally not legally proctected swans. I have to be sure to keep an eye open for things that will tempt him off the straight and narrow
Last night I felt like a run after spending a delightful day trotting around the Borders and checking the very high level of the Tweed at Kelso. I was feeling good after my run at Dunbar the previous day, where I had for once planned my run and stuck to the plan. This lovely bubble of good feeling evaporated when Harvey suddenly dived off the path and made a be-line for the fields. No amount of shouting or threats from me made any difference and so I had to chase after him through the mud. By the time I caught him several swans had taken off and one was hissing and looking quite aggressive.
Today, Harvey and I went on an obedience walk and it went well. I made it very clear that he had to stay by me and not rove around and come back after an interesting sniffing session. We even crossed the paths of several ducks with no incidents taking place. I suspect that Harvey's high spirits will surface regularly... it is my job to make sure they are chanelled in the right direction.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Harvey Peaks

Harvey is a hero. Today he, Ben and I did a big walk into the wilderness and Harvey bagged his first Munroe. We followed the River Inverie to Mam Barridale pass, and then decided to go up Luienna Bheinn 939m. The weather kept changing every five minutes. We had brilliant sunshine followed by heavy snow and painful hail. We also had our fair share of whiteouts. It all meant a really interesting and strenuous walk. Harvey got very excited when we spotted a group of deer - 15 in all. He gets really manic and wants to chase after them. If we didn't have him on the lead, he would have been off again. On the way back Ben and I were getting a bit knackered and Harvey was still full of Beans. It has caught up with him now, he is fast asleep ahhh.