Radar Race – Sunday 22nd May – 04:10:20

The Radar Ride takes place in Wanlockhead, Scotland’s highest village. The area has Scotland’s highest hotel, Scotland’s highest pub, Scotland’s highest…you get the idea.

My favourite highest thing is Scotland’s highest beer , which has the tagline – “beer with altitude!”

The race was the first UK sportive to have a summit finish. Andrew and I attempted the race in 2008. It was the second/third sportive we’d ever done. I used a hybrid and Andrew had a road bike. The weather was so bad that day the summit road was closed. We didn’t get to the top.

The race hadn’t run since then due to issues,  I think, with getting permission to use the private road to the station. So now that the race was back we were determined to get a summit finish.

The race starts with a long downhill section before taking some flat back roads to Drumlanrig Castle. After that there’s a long climb back through the valley. At this point I noticed a man was sitting behind me, coasting along in my slip stream!

I wouldn’t have minded if he’d asked but as he hadn’t I was determined to drop him! Why sit on a strangers wheel for miles on end. Is it because he because he wants to stare at my arse?

I dropped him on the climb but a few minutes later he sped past sitting on the wheel of someone else. Why do that???? Surely the enjoyment of cycling is completing the challenge yourself. Not, completing  a challenge by letting someone else do all the work.

We hit the feed stop around mile 45. It was great. Cheese rolls and home made banana cake.Much better than the Caledonian Etape. I have a theory that the more corporate and bigger a race the worse the quality of the food.

After the feed stop we headed down a hill before circling back up to the feed stop. Yay. More banana cake. It was then a long gradual climb back to Wanlockhead.

It started to hail stone as we approached the town. Andrew complained that he didn’t like the noise of them hitting his helmet. I was more concerned about how sore they were hitting bare skin!

Luckily as we approached the start of the summit climb the weather cleared. At this point I thought Andrew would sprint off to win as he was feeling fresher. He was feeling something – hunger. He spotted a man giving out cheese rolls and stopped to take one. We stopped to take a bite each of it but as we restarted Andrew struggled to get going. He was in the wrong gear!

I managed to get a 100m head start whilst he adjusted his settings. I knew from that point that I’d win. The climb is steep and I had better climbing gears than him. There was no way he could catch up.

The last section was very steep. I passed people who’d gotton off their bike to walk. I was happy that I’d managed it seated.

My first bike victory over Andrew since 2014!

He subsequently claimed Sportive’s aren’t proper races…

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Caledonian Etape (81 Miles) – Sunday 8th May – 04:31:42

B+B Owner – what time do you want breakfast? 5am?

Me – Its ok. I don’t like a cooked breakfast. If you leave out cereal and milk then I’ll have that.

B+B Owner Are you sure? How about tea and coffee?

Me – No thanks! You don’t need to get up. Cereal will be great.

B+B Owner – As long as its not an issue….

Me – Thanks! Ill be happy with the cereal. Enjoy your lie in!

When I got home I rated the B+B on tripadvisor. “1 star – No cooked breakfast!!”

If that review was true (the story is but the review isn’t) then you’d think the B+B was terrible. The review is a snapshot but its not the full story.

Similarly a picture at a race is a snapshot that doesn’t give the full story.

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We both look fit and happy. It doesn’t show that we both had a heavy cold.

We’ve been doing this race since 2011. My first attempt at it was on a hybrid bike and it took nearly 7 hours to cover 81 miles. Since then we’ve been back every year. Our times have got better but there has been one constant – Andrew always beats me.

This year I thought I’d win. I didn’t. He dropped me at mile 20. I tried to catch up but when I pushed hard my chest would seize up and I’d have to cough.

I accepted it wasn’t going to be my day. The rest of the race was spent at a steady non coughing pace. I finished with a personal best so I can’t complain….too much.

The next day I felt rough so I worked at home. I felt much better for doing so.

When I got back to the office on Tuesday nobody believed I felt rough. My boss said: “But you and your brother look fine in the picture!”

Balfron 10k – 22 April – 44:59

The name Balfron means ‘village of mourning’ in Gaelic. This originates from a legend that the village was attacked by wolves, which stole children out of their homes. To me, this sounds like a story made up by people who’d got rid of their kids and had to think of an excuse when the police investigated!

Policeman – I’ve heard Children have gone missing. Do you know anything about that?

Villager – Not me, officer. I’m innocent. It was those wolves. Pesky creatures, always wolving around.

Policeman – Wolves you say?

Villager – Oh yes. <Turns back to policeman, makes howling sound> Did you hear that? That was one! He’s probably coming right now to steal our kids.
Policeman – You’re knicked!

I didn’t spot or hear any wolves on the course.

The 10K was undulating which is Gaelic for Hilly as f**k. Its an out and back course along a B road. The first 3k was mostly downhill which meant the last 3K was mostly uphill. The weather was great (warm and sunny) and their was approximately 600 runners.

I started near the front as I’d noticed a left turn 100m after the start. I don’t know why races start with a turn so soon. It always causes a bottleneck.

I started well and felt good. The course was quite narrow in places but there wasn’t any issues with people getting in the way. My aim was to get as close to 45min as possible so I was pleased to just beat that. Especially considering how “undulating” it was.

Alloa Half Marathon – 22 March – 01:40:58

I mostly travel on canal paths whilst biking to work. Now that the the weather is getting better more people are using the paths. Where were you all in the depths of winter? Probably nice and warm indoors , rather than biking in the freezing cold like this idiot!

I have a bell to warn people of my impending passing but, one time, I biked round a corner and a women was in front of me. I politely said, “Sorry, excuse me,” as I thought the bell would be too loud as I was very near her. She told me to “F**K off!”

The lesson here is people can be twats no matter how polite I try to be.

I was reminded of this yesterday when taking part in the Alloa Half marathon.

Just after the start I had to pass a blind runner. They were attached to a sighted runner. They were going slower than me so I passed them on the right hand side. As I passed they shouted angrily “PASS ON THE LEFT!!!!”

I immediately wondered whether I had done something wrong. Is there an etiquette for passing people? Is there an etiquette for passing blind people? There was plenty of room to pass on the right…

I’ve asked around and the consensus is that you can pass on either side as long as your polite about it and don’t get in the way.

The lesson I’ve learnt is that even blind people can be twats.

Other than that the race was enjoyable. The weather was beautiful with hardly any wind. It can be a tough course if a westerly wind blows due to a five mile east to west section.

I was four minutes faster than last week’s race (when I ran with Andrew)

Andrew wasn’t taking part this week so this proves his boring chat has a drag effect of 20s per mile!

Balloch Half Marathon – 15th March – 01:45:47

The race starts beside a shopping centre, dodges through the grimier parts of Alexandria, weaves through the back of Dumbarton train station before finishing with the bookies, chippies, an industrial estate and a car park in Clydebank. It must be the only race that starts with one of Scotland’s most beautiful spots – Loch Lomond – and immediately turns its back on it and runs as far away from it as it can.

It was the usual ‘scenic’ route of bookies, chip shops, newsagents, whiskey warehouses and industrial units. All the sights. (All the smells).

The one thing that hadn’t changed was the bus trip from the finish line at Clydebank to the start line at Balloch. The important thing to remember when getting on the bus is to make sure you’re the first off it. Everyone goes to the toilet when they arrive. The longer you’re on the bus, the further behind you’ll be in the queue. A queue that gets slower and slower as the toilet roll in the cubicles is used up until eventually there’s only one cubicle for 200 runners. As I said, all the sights. (All the smells).
I wore a pair of Asics trainers. They’re the second pair of Asics I’ve ever owned. I hated the first pair, they were very uncomfy.

That didn’t stop me from buying a second pair. My principle of buying running shoes isn’t how good they are but how much of a discount I get on a sale.

This new pair were very cheap (60%off!)

By the end of the race my right foot was very sore. I won’t buy a pair of Asics’s ever again!

Iain goes to shoe shop
Iain spots trainer with 80% of marked price
Its a pair of Asics
Iain buys them!
Hey. Don’t judge me. It was 80% off. That’s a bargain!

I was tired so couldn;t keep up with my brother who sprinted away in the last mile to beat me by 20s.

Kirkintilloch 12.5KM – 14th February – 01:03:01

“C’MON IAIN!! You can kick this blog’s ass!”

“Iain! You’re an amazing blogger!”

“Don’t let yourself down Iain!”

If, whilst writing,  I said those things out loud most people would consider me a weirdo. Especially if I was in a room full of other people.

Yesterday I did the Kirkintilloch 12.5KM race. I’ve done the 10K race previously so I assumed it would be the same but with 2.5KM added on. I was wrong. This meant that

a) I expected to start at a primary school. I didn’t realise there was more than one in Kirkintilloch. The races don’t start at the same one. I did wonder why the first school I drove too was very quiet.

b) I expected a flat fast course but it was hilly and slow.

c) I expected a selection of cakes and biscuits at the end of the race as that what I received last time. Instead I got a banana! I was looking forward to cake.

The weather was cold but sunny. There was a number of patches of Ice on the route so I had to be careful on some downhill sections. I had no expectations for the race so treated it as training jog. I therefore chatted to Andrew for the first 10K. When we got to a hill I heard him breathing heavily. I decided to make a break for the win. I picked the correct moment as he didn’t have the legs to keep up the pace  and I was able to hold him off until the finish.

He beat me last time so I was determined to get a win here!

During the last 2.5Km I ran next to a guy called Steve. I know that’s his name because he kept talking to himself.

“”C’MON STEVE!! You can kick this course’s ass!”

“STEVE! You’re an amazing runner!”

You get the idea! This would be fine if he wasn’t wearing headphones!

it didn’t seem to help his performance as he conked out on a hill towards the end. Maybe if he’d spent less energy shouting at himself he’d have had some left to finish the race.

So if you feel like talking to yourself whilst running amongst strangers at least take your headphones out. Its only polite. You wouldn’t keep them in if someone else was trying to talk to you! So treat yourself with the same respect 🙂

Nigel Barge 10k – Sunday 27th January – 46:22

How long after getting a new pair of trainers do I wait before I wear them in the rain?

I delay as much as possible. My new pair will initially be used only in the gym, then they might be used on a nice day whilst running on on cocrete before finally, 3 months later, being used offroad.

Which is why Nigel Barge 10 was a dilema for most runners. It rained heavily the night before and part of the course had puddles so big I couldn’t jump over them. Do I sacrcifice time or the cleanlieness of my trainers?

I decided to run straight through the first puddle. The fear of getting wet and dirty is much worse than actually getting wet and dirty. After that I ran happily through every pddle and muddy path. My trainers now look terrible but at least i don’t feel like I cheated my performace on the run. On a side note – why do trainers never look as good as before a run no matter how many times I put them in the washing machine?

The race itself was two hilly laps of a course that won’t win any prizes for scenery. It was twice past the rubbish dump, a car wash and an industrial estate. Andrew beat me which was surprise as I can’t remember the last time he beat me!

We’d both done a 90 minute bike ride the day before. He’d gone outdoors on a course where half of it is downhill. I’d done a spin class and a stationary bike. I think the running result proves my 90 minutes were harder than his. After all, it can’t be because he was better than me. Can it?

The fourth discipline of triathalon is lying. Lying to ourselves about results and lying to ourselves about training. Of course I ran 10km even though my watch said it was only 9.8km and of course Andrew beat me because I trained harder than him…