Tuesday, 29 December 2009

2009 Review (Running)

2009 was another mixed year as far as running goes. Like 2008 it started well with a new PB at the Lumphanan 10K, but then went downhill. A combination of gout and taking a knock at footie was a huge set back but I managed to recover in time to take part in the Highland Fling Relay (just, I think I was about a week away from trying to find a replacement), which was a lot of fun but not a great day for me. The Durris Mast Hill Race and Hairy Haggis Relay in May went well, as did the Ythan challenge, but my run at the Stonehaven Half Marathon was a disappointment on an over-hot day.

After that, the focus was on building stamina for the Loch Ness Marathon. The LNM was great, except for the last 5 miles where my thighs hurt with every step. I also had a good time with the club's Improvers Cup runs, moonlight runs, and the couple of West Highland Way training runs we went on recently, so in general there have been a lot of good times this year.

I set my targets for this year as "a PB or two, some decent times, a 50min 10K, participation in some different events, and keep on smiling" and did OK: a new 10K PB, heaps of new events and distances, and managed to keep a smile most of the time.

Looking forward to next year, the first change is that the Lumphanan 10K will be later in January because of the weather, then I've got The Mighty Deerstalker to look forward to, along with another crack at the Fling relay. There will no doubt be a few other big runs and occasional events in there. It would be nice to get that 50min 10K, but to be honest, I'm not that fussed as long as I get out in the fresh air, do a few new things, see a few different places, meet friends new and old, and generally keep enjoying it.

Hope you all have a great 2010, whatever you get up to.

"A grand way to spend a Sunday afternoon"

Just the other week, we were staying at the Crieff Hydro for the in-laws 40th wedding celebrations and had decided to combine our trip with a bit of hill running and Munro bagging, so were going to head up Ben Chonzie (or Ben-y-Hone or whatever you want to call it). Unfortunately, the whole weekend was pretty much a white-out down at the bottom, so venturing up the hill would have been foolhardy, if not actually impossible - we couldn't even get the car out of the car park for much of the weekend. Instead we just had to do a lot of eating, drinking, playing games, and having fun with my in-laws. A very fine way to spend a snowy weekend.

We did run a couple of miles into town and around the estate, and on Sunday afternoon, Vikki and I ventured out into the snow for a quick run up The Knock. It was only a couple of miles but a nice wee gradient, a wander through the woods across the top, and then a speedy descent in the snow which felt great. We passed a woman out walking her dogs who remarked "A grand way to spend a Sunday afternoon". Couldn't agree more, and it was a nice way to build up an appetite for our meal that evening which was lovely, and during which many gifts were exchanged - the girls got lovely new rings, and the boys each got a quaich which were put to good use.

We took a few pictures:

Mum and Dad's Ruby Anniversary

Friday, 4 December 2009

2009 Advent Calendar 03

Well, things are really hotting up now. Yesterday's fantastic gift is a parrot. In the meantime, the pirate is having difficulties with a sword-wielding ghost that Calum has contributed to the scene.
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Thursday, 3 December 2009

2009 Advent Calendar 02

I wanted to do something a bit cleverer with this, but don't really have time. Hope you like it anyway!

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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

2009 Advent Calendar

It's December. And that means one thing (OK, it means lots of things to lots of different people but don't split hairs). It means it's time for advent calendars. This year's Lego effort (which I will once again attempt to share with you all) is pirate themed (very Christmassy). And here is day 1.....
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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tiptoe Through The Tulips

A friend reckons that the 3rd leg of the Fling relay "looks like a walk through the Dutch Tulip Fields" so I was looking forward to a nice easy run on Saturday. It turns out that my memory is probably more reliable than his speculation and yesterday's wee adventure featured rock climbing, jaggy bushes, wading in the loch, goats and bears.

We - Vikki, Loon Dod, Lintie, Dave_K, Sophster, supernormal, HappyG(rrr) (as they are popularly known on Fetch) and I - set off from The Drovers at Inverarnan just after 9 and headed South with the morning mist starting to lift and reveal the snow capped mountains. The path was frequently wet and actually disappeared into the loch a few times, so it was all a bit squelchy. Thankfully the sun was out so we all warmed up quickly enough and had a pleasant run (with a lot of walking bits). I never felt like I'd manage 28 miles so turned back at about 9 miles, leaving the ultra athletes to get on with it, and picked my way back up the path - I managed to run more than I had back in April but it was still pretty slow going.

I got back to the car, sent out a text to let people know I'd made it, then got changed and headed to the pub for a pint and to warm up. I got a reply from mrs s to say they were all OK and about 8.5 miles away. After a slow pint and a cup of coffee, I decided to go out and take a walk back along the trail for a bit, but quickly realised this wasn't such a good idea - it was starting to get dark and mrs s had my head torch so I headed back to the car and settled in to read my book for a bit as the moon rose over the hills.

Time ticked by.

I think I'd have been slightly worried but for the fact that I knew mobile phone reception was good and that there was a wealth of experience in the group. As it was I was just a little surprised how long it was before I saw the twinkles of torch light on the hillside and knew that they were getting close. I flashed the car lights a couple of times with the idea that it might be noticed and provide some encouragement. In vain, in turns out but before long, those little lights had gone off in the direction of Bein Glas and then reappeared coming down the road.

After much hugging and clothes changing we stopped for a quick drink (non-alcoholic for me since I unusually volunteered to drive) in the bar and then it was time to go home, weary and happy after another great day out in fantastic company. Thanks to everyone there who helped make it a very enjoyable day.

There are some pictures here on Picasa

As an aside, mrs s and I were getting hungry by the time we neared Perth on the way home so decided to stop and grab some food. McDonalds was convenient and against my better judgement we stopped there. And I have to admit, it was actually not too bad.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Silver Whispers

It must be for a few years that I've been aware of the slightly odd pastime of geocaching. When I heard about it, I thought it sounded like it might be a good way to get the kids outdoors and add a bit of fun to walks and extra interest to my running.
My first, failed, attempts taught me some important lessons:
  1. There is more than one way that coordinates can be given and if you write down the wrong one for the type of SatNav you're using, you could end up driving round in circles getting nowhere
  2. There are more than two ways that coordinates can be given and if you write down the wrong one for the different type of SatNav you're now using, you can end up running round in circles getting nowhere
  3. It probably helps if there are some lights if you're going to look for a wee canister in the dark
Then, on Sunday, I was going to give it another go and identified a cache near the route I was going to run anyway, then decided not to bother since the SatNav was in the car. But then, while on the run, I remembered the rough location and the clue so decided to take a quick look and found it quite easily without the SatNav. My first cache. It felt good and I think I'll plan some more long runs near caches. I might even try and get a proper hand-held GPS, but I hope that I will never refer to non geocaching folk as "muggles" - I think that's another reason I've never really got into it.

(p.s. Sorry if this blog post is as boring as Vikki thought it was going to be.)

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Weekend in Tyndrum

Last Saturday, Vikki and I were going on a 25 mile training run on the West Highland Way, the start of our preparation for our attempts at the Highland Fling Race next April. Somehow, this turned into a weekend away for the whole family including the in-laws.

We set off on Friday morning and drove down to "Scotland's Theme Park". Unimaginatively named and, imho, unimaginatively put together, it didn't exactly impress that much, but it was generally good fun and I really liked the Tsunami suspended coaster, despite the somewhat tasteless name. In any case, the boys had a good time which is really what it was all about.

So, then we had to drive through rush-hour Glasgow and then follow various camper vans up the bonnie, bonnie, banks until we reached the Tyndrum Lodge Hotel and rendezvoused with the in-laws, got some food, then met up with legendary jogger ;), George, for a wee drink. George was sleeping in the car park, but joined us again for a pre-run breakfast. The run itself was really good - down the WHW to Beinn Glas for a bowl of soup then back to Tyndrum with great scenery and great company. My foot got sore on the way back so we ended up walking the last four miles but it was still good. We went for dinner at the Real Food Cafe - good food as ever, and the biggest mugs of hot chocolate I'd ever seen.

Andy and Rosemary had decided to go walking on Sunday morning - despite the lashing rain they got on the bus to Bridge of Orchy, leaving us to finish our breakfast and decide what we were to do. In the end, we headed down to the Sea Life Centre in Balloch to see some wee sharks and rays, some excellent looking fish, and some cute otters eating little baby birds. It was nice, and the boys got to touch starfish and sea anenomes which was cool. We returned to Tyndrum in the afternoon, then left the kids with the in-laws again and had a quick walk up the WHW to work up an appetite. Nice views towards Beinn Dorain on that bit, a hill we'll have to return to sometime when and if the Munro bagging gets underway.

So, all in all, it was a very fine weekend with lots of miles covered (in car and on foot), and I think everyone enjoyed at least some of the weekend :) It was also a significant weekend - after the run on Saturday, I decided that I'm going to go into the 2010 Highland Fling as part of relay team. Vikki has already sent off her entry - she's running the Fling solo. All 53 miles of it. We all know she'll be brilliant.

Photos from our run here

Photos of rest of weekend here

Monday, 5 October 2009

I ran my first marathon

... and I loved it for 22 miles, hated it for the other 4! That sums it up really.

It was great to meet so many fellow fetchies (too many to name) and everyone was so friendly and lovely. The Pasta Party food was fine, especially the carrot cake. We had a pleasant drinkie in Wetherspoons on the night before the race but I was sober and getting a bit nervous. Ended up leaving quite early and trying to get some sleep. I slept well until 3:15 am then woke up from my pre-marathon dreaming and couldn't get much more sleep. Too excited I think!
Our preparations all went to plan, we walked to the stadium, calling on Richard on the way and arrived on time to join the v long queue for buses. Then all the buses filled up and we were still standing. They said they were three buses short . In the end they managed to find some more buses but we left 45 mins late and some folk had to sit on the stairs on the bus. The journey to the race start was further enlivened by some poor bloke on our bus being desperate for a pee. He tried to get the bus to stop a few times but nobody else said anything. Whe the bus eventually did stop everyone bar 4 folk got off. The road was running with pee! I stayed on the bus, ready to take my chances with the toilets at the start.
They delayed the start of the race to give everyone a chance to go to the loo. Then we were off at last. Richard and I had agreed to run together and we had a strategy of not going faster than 8:40 miles. It was easy to stick to that cos it was crowded and we couldn't get past. I really enjoyed the run and the scenery was lovely. Didn't see Nessie though. The population of Dores turned out to cheer us on which was great.
By the time we got to 22 miles the leggies were getting very sore and I had eaten all my shock blocks. My water had run out too. I was really looking forward to the fetchpoint and they didn't disappoint although I couldn't say anything to them! The last two miles were very hard and I slowed right down. I told Richard to go on without me and he did a bit but I could still see him. At last I saw the stadium but then realised you had to run right round it before going in. I crossed the finish line in 4:06:56 and I was very pleased with that time. Considering I thought we would do it in 4:30 when we started training. I lay down at the end but managed to get up in time to see Iain cross the line at 4:31:04 which was a great time too.
I struggled to eat afterwards as I felt a bit queasy. Staggered back to the hotel to get changed an opened a bottle of fizzy wine with Iain. Tottered back down the road in my 4" heels and aching thighs to Wetherspoons to meet up with the fetchies in our party organised by santababy. She can get a booking in a Spoonies! It was a great night and I had a fun time but got drunk rather quickly (I know I am a lightweight) but I had 5 glasses of wine in all and I needed to go home for some sleep. Needed to get a taxi up the road as my thighs had seized up.
Well done to everyone who took part and to the supporters and halfpint and roobarb on the fetchpoint. Everyone did brill
Dave you are amazingly fast and Mike did great to beat all his PBs in one day. Well done all xx

Click here for pictures

When will the pain go away?

A few months ago, mrs s decided she was going to run the Loch Ness Marathon and I decided I quite fancied a weekend in Inverness to give her support. After a glass of wine, I thought I might as well do the 10K. Another couple of glasses of wine later and I had somehow decided that I would just run the marathon as well and the entries had been filled in.

And so started several months of long training runs, ending in a week of doing very little except eating before hitting the road with Ritchie C, dave_m and com160, not really sure how I was going to get on.

As it turned out, it was a great weekend and we met a lot of great Fetchies, before, during, and after the race.

The race itself started brilliantly - I felt really comfortable and trotted along at a decent pace, briefly catching up with mrs s and Ritchie C at mile 4 which came as a bit of a surprise to us all. They had pulled away by the time we reached the loch side so I was just concentrating on keeping it steady and enjoying the views. I reached Dores and made my way up the hill, starting to feel a bit tired, but still going and I got a welcome boost when Lintie appeared from the woods and ran with me for a while, chatting away all the time. She was great company but I felt I was slowing her down and encouraged her to go on. And then I hit the final, steep little hill after Scaniport and things took a turn for the worse. The pain in my legs worsened and I walked up the hill for a bit, hoping that the pain would subside. And it did...until I started running again. The next 5 and a half miles or so were pretty bad - my thighs hurt with each and every step. I walked a couple more times before the finish, but was able to run through fetchpoint which was a great boost, and ran across the finish line, which felt fantastic. I had completed my first marathon in 4:31:04 and I was well chuffed.

After soup and a tattie, we headed back to the hotel to get a shower and drink some celebratory fizzy before heading out to the pub for more drink, more food, and more chat with all the fetchies there (too many to name individually but you know who you are and it was wonderful to meet you all).

It was a really great weekend (except for those last miles) which just leaves the question....

What next?

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sometimes I think that happiness can best be achieved through a reasonable level of physical exertion

So, it's been a while since I blogged, and I know I've used this excuse before but we've been busy running and spending too much time on certain other websites. Last Saturday, Vikki went out running (yeah, really!) so I took the three boys out on adventure. My intrepid explorers and I crossed to the North bank of the Cowie and then struck West upriver, under the viaduct, through the gap in the wall and up the squelchy path to the weir. I can vaguely remember crossing the river at the weir, but either I was a lot crazier, my parents were less responsible than me, or it was after a much drier spell. Anyway, we continued up to almost under the A90 road bridge before the path became too difficult to follow and we had to turn back. It was good fun, nobody got hurt, we only got a bit muddy and Lachlan and Calum both said they really enjoyed it. A great way to spend a couple of hours!

Our garden contains an apple tree, a plum tree, a small cherry tree, some rhubarb, several strawberry plants, and a blackcurrant bush (from Ribena). Sadly, this picture shows pretty much everything we've managed to harvest this year - 7 blackcurrants and a handful of brambles (which come from a number of out of control plants that have sprung up around the place. There are a few plums in the tree but really, it's not very impressive. What's gone wrong?

Yesterday we all went to Hazelhead Park in Aberdeen for a change. As ever it was good fun, with the kids playing in the park, and Vikki and I trying to remember if there used to be trampolines and a wooden fort when we were kids (does anyone else remember the fort or did I make it up?). Magnus wore his special rucksack for the first time, allowing Calum to walk him round like a dog. We bumped into our friends Alex and Lela with their son Ross, which was a pleasant surprise.

And today, we had a thrilling exciting trip to the local garden centre (how middle-aged are we?) to buy some plants and some wood chip so we could redo some of the front garden. Unusually, the weather stayed fine, and we didn't get bored or argue so we actually managed to plant everything as well. It's looking good.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Happy Tent(h) Birthday, Lachlan

Well, I'm fair shattered after a busy weekend.

For his birthday, Lachlan had asked that he have some friends over for a sleep-over in the tent, and a trip to the pictures to see Ice Age 3 (as expected, very good but probably not quite as good as the first one).

Of course, that means I've been collecting cakes, ferrying kids to and from the cinema, putting up tents, getting pizza, lighting fires for marshmallow cooking (mmmmm), trying to sleep in a tent next to a bunch of noisy kids in a tent, taking down tents, and generally running around after small people.

Also, I managed to run over 15 miles on Saturday morning. I struggled towards the end, but pleased to get the miles under my belt. First time I've run that far, and first time I've run the equivalent of a marathon in a week, which felt like a good threshold to cross.

Vikki was running in the Forfar 10K today. Not a PB, but a good time in tough windy conditions, and 21 points in the Club Championship by being the first Stonehaven RC woman to finish.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Greetings to the Scots bovine

Whilst on holiday at Center Parcs, much time was spent in the contemplation of nature (as seen through the bottom of a beer glass). On one particular evening, I was sitting outside with the crossword, and I ended up scribbling a couple of haiku in the margin. I'm not saying they're any good (and they're possibly not strictly haiku depending on how you interpret the whole syllable/"on" thing) but Vikki thought I should note them down using my phone and add them to the blob. Of course, I totally forgot about them until now, but for what it's worth, here you go:

clouds drift slowly by
the wind whispers in the birch
as the pigeon calls

dusk falls over all
silence reigns in the twilight
the trees are still now

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Clachnaben Trail Run

The last time I went for a long hill run with the club, we took on Mt Keen, and I turned back before we reached the top in blustery, snowy conditions.

Today's jaunt up Clachnaben with a few of the Cosmic Hillbashers promised to have less snow, but low cloud, wind and rain made for a tough trail run.

The first five miles up Glen Dye to Charr Bothie was a nice paced run, but after a brief comfort break we turned up the hill and the steep path soon reduced me to a walk/run and took us into the cloud where it got colder, wetter and more difficult to see. We were able to all keep in sight of at least one other person, which was reassuring in unfamiliar territory, but meant there were a couple of witnesses to my fall - I caught my trailing foot on a protruding rock and hurtled forward into a puddle. No physical damage, but I'm sure I'll hear about it again ;)

It was a big relief to reach the Hill of Endocher and be able to run down to the saddle and then back up to the Clachnaben summit. A number of our party decided to continue to Mount Shade and Threestane Hill, but I took the more direct option back to the car park.

As ever, I felt shattered at the end, but happy we'd reached the summit and had a good, tiring morning out - just a shame we got no views.

17 miles with Dave Morrow

** Copied from Vikki's Fetch blog for you non-Fetchies - enjoy! **

My longest run ever! In miles and time.
Alarm clock was set for 5:30am. :-S Not been up at that time since I had to for feeding the baby... But I dragged myself out of bed somehow and got dressed before going downstairs. Two bits of toast and marmalade and no time for a cuppa . Took the camelbak filled with Taut energy drink and water. Finished eating my toast while walking up Arduthie Road. Dave was a keener and met me before I got to the Esso garage. He hadn't read my previous blog entry so I filled him in about my worries re mileage increases. He thought I would be fine with doing 17 but said maybe we could go for 7 miles along the Auchenblae Rd, 7 back then the rest round Stoney. But then we thought it might be too tempting to go home so we decided to go for the 8.5 miles out and back. The weather got rougher - v wet and windy. At first I kept thinking I was holding Dave back as he normally runs by himself and is obviously much quicker, but he reassured me it was an ok pace. He was good to run with as he was telling me all about his marathon experiences and we were discussing food while running. Jelly babies or gels etc. Bit different from my usual topics of finance and novels with Richard. It was a good run and I thank Dave for being so encouraging and informative. Now both guys are away on holiday for two weeks so will probably run with Iain next weekend. We're going to a wedding next Saturday but will have to fit in a quick 13 miles before the ceremony.
My legs feel a bit iffy but I'm taking it easy for the rest of the day and might have a glass of wine tonight

Saturday, 25 July 2009

More Unfinished Business

We've just had a holiday down at Center Parcs in Cumbria, and it was a lot of good fun. There will be photos and possibly blog entries about the rest of the week, but I'm just going to cover Wednesday here.

Wednesday was hill-walking day when Vikki, Amy, Daviator, and I escaped from Center Parcs to climb Helvellyn. The weather looked a bit iffy, but we were hopeful it would improve as the morning wore on. It took an extra 30 minutes to reach Glenridding thanks to an overturned van on the road, and then we had a false start thanks to Dave missing his pocket with his wallet!

Once we got going, the walk wasn't too bad and the rain came and went as the wind blew the clouds around - we kept thinking it was about to get better. By the time we reached the hole in the wall and got a good view of striding edge, I realised my legs were completely soaked and weren't going to dry out (I'd lent Vikki my waterproof trousers in the mistaken belief that as soon as the weather changed, my trousers would dry quickly), Vikki and Amy were indicating that they weren't having much fun, it was apparent that the wind and rain weren't going to let up in a hurry, and Helvellyn itself was still blanketed by low cloud. All in all, it seemed like the best idea would be to head directly for the pub and leave the hill for another day.

The beer was fine and the sticky toffee pudding was not bad either, but I do feel slightly annoyed that I have to add Helvellyn to my list of unfinished hills where it now sits with Ben Lawyers, Ben Ledi, and Mt Keen. I'll be back for these fellows at some point, I'm sure.

On a slightly different note, I picked up two leaflet from the tourist information office in Glenridding - "Beer by Bus" and "Real Ale by Rail". I'm now trying to figure out how I can combine a bit of camping and walking with pub crawls by public transport.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Mud, Glorious Mud

Last year's Ythan Challenge was probably the most fun race I did last year, so I was really looking forward to going back and doing it again this year - and it didn't disappoint; another great fun trip with the family and our friend Ian.

The course was much the same as last year with the fallen logs, hay bales, scramble nets, slippery slopes, and the near legendary mud pit and river section. Despite slowing a little towards the end, I was feeling pretty good as I came past the Meadows and saw Lachlan and Calum playing around and picked out Vikki's Fetch shirt at the top of the steep bank. The steep bank that the course had been changed to go straight up to some more hay bales to be clambered over. Ah well, you've got to laugh and admire the organisers' ability to throw in another surprise just when you thought you were home. After that, the legs felt like lead for the final run to the finish line.

Not sure about my time because I wasn't paying much attention to the clock but I think I was somewhere between 66 and 70 minutes - definitely faster than last year.

All in all, a nice day out, very friendly atmosphere, plenty of familiar faces, and a really fun race. I'll probably be back next year, although it looks like the question of who will look after the kids is going to raise its ugly head.

Vikki's uploaded some photos here.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

He Walks

Magnus has been walking a bit for a week or so, but this is the first video we've managed to get of him. Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Running News

Well, there's been a bit of running going on over the last few days.

On Thursday night, I took part in my first proper hill race, which involved running up a couple of hills in fairly wet and slippery conditions, through bogs, over streams, and between trees. It was hard work and I was up to my knees in manky water at one point, but it was good fun - hopefully I can keep working on my fitness and do more of these runs in the future.

Today, I took the boys to run in the highly prestigious Baker Hughes Fun Run. Calum went off like a bullet, but I got stuck in traffic at the start line and so Magnus was only the second buggy driver to cross the line. Lachlan kept pace with me and Magnus, but could probably have gone quicker if he had felt like it. It was a nice day, so we rewarded ourselves with some ice creams and then went off to find Vikki. She'd obviously been feeling a bit lazy, because she didn't run with us. Some excuse about doing a "Tenkay" where she managed a "Pea-Bee", whatever the hell that means. Results and photos.

Monday, 18 May 2009

I Need Help

Ok, so that's nothing new, and you're probably thinking "I'm not a qualified psychiatrist", but this is another matter entirely.

Some time ago, I used to wear smart shoes in (and to) work. During the winter months, I started wearing my hiking boots to the office and then changing into the smart shoes when I got there. These days I generally wear these
to work, and when I get to the office, I'll sometimes change into the smart shoes, sometimes leave the Merrels on, and sometimes sit around in my socks depending on how I feel.

So, today I was sitting my socks and it occurred to me that what I really wanted were "Office Slippers" - some sort of footwear that looks smart enough to wear in the office, to meetings, in front of clients etc but that are as comfy and warm as a nice cosy pair of slippers. I had a quick search on the internet but never really found anything that fit the bill, so any ideas folks?

Monday, 4 May 2009

Coire Fee

(or Corrie Fee) can be reached by a fairly gentle two mile (each way) walk from the car park in Glen Doll, and it's well worth it. We took a wee walk up there on Sunday and really enjoyed it, despite a few showers. Even Lachlan didn't complain that much - a packet of fruit pastilles and his own water supply seemed to do the trick. As you can see from the pictures, Magnus travelled in style and had a great time judging by the noises he made.

All in all it was a nice trip and we rounded it off with a pleasant drink at the Clova Hotel.

Click on the picture below to see the album:
2009-05-03 Coire Fee

Monday, 27 April 2009

Taking the High Road (part 2)

So, our last post left the intrepid "Queens" just outside Drymen where Vikki handed over the coveted green sash to Pete, who set off on the ascent of Conic Hill. We quickly realised that, true to form, Vikki had managed to make some new friends on the way, notably Jim (the dad of our club chairman, Craig) and Tracey and Helen from Falkirk (Tracey was also known as Phillippa from Team Beaver, whose other members were Hairy, Bushy, and Alec - apparently it's all a bit rude, but like Ann from Team Dun & Dusted, I've no idea why). Then, it was back in the car and up the road to Balmaha to play in the kids park and watch some runners.

Despite having just run over this "sharp little rise", most of the runners coming through the car park at Balmaha looked pretty comfortable. The relay teams were catching up with some of the ultra runners so it was quite busy. We hung around to cheer our guys through and then it was once again back in the car for the drive to Rowardennan and the start of my leg. Pete posted a decent time for his leg, despite finding the lochside run pretty tough, the sweaty sash was handed over, and I set off on my stroll (see previous post).

Although I was obviously unaware of it at the time, Vikki also had a little adventure involving crazy farmers, mad publicans, the police, and the consumption of my crisps by another Iain - I'm sure she'll fill in all the details.

I handed over to Eifiona who was probably fed up waiting for me but still managed a very respectable time for the final leg, making sure we didn't come last. Even the fact that she arrived at Tyndrum to find that both of her children had fallen in the river couldn't wipe the smile off her face.

we had our dinner (and free coffee) at The Real Food Cafe (brilliant - really nice fish and chips) then a quick change at the Wigwam and a couple of drinks at the ceilidh. By then we were both feeling tired so headed for bed, although it looked like a crowd were heading up to the village hall. A fine end to a very long and interesting day.

I just want to add a huge well done to everyone who took part. My admiration for the ultra runners went up another notch - these guys are amazing athletes and most still had the time to say a hello and words of encouragement to others. A great bunch of people. Also, well done to all the runners at Balmoral and London. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone else's stories from the weekend.

Bye for now.

P.S. If anyone's interested in the official results, they're on the Fling web site. Stonehaven were represented by George Reid, Angus Reid, Dunnottar Dun and Dusted, Team Donoghue, and us. Details about how to enter next year's event will no doubt appear there as well.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Taking the High Road (part 1)

NB The twin effects of wine and lack of sleep mean that I'm not going to finish this post, but I'm going to post it anyway, and finish off in another post tomorrow (probably). In the meantime, there are some photos on Vikki's Picasa site, and congratulations to all who ran at the various events around the country this weekend. Anyway, on with the post....

The Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond is thought to have been written by a soldier contemplating his death. This was just one of the many things that went through my mind as I ran, walked and limped up the West Highland Way from Rowardennan to Bein Glas on the third leg of the Highland Fling. Basically, I had a disappointing run. The first five or six miles went well and I felt pretty good, but then the legs felt like jelly and I really struggled to get going after that - it didn't help that the path was practically impossible to run on in bits (think rocks, streams, tree roots, and staircases), and it was getting quite warm until the brief hailstorm.

Despite all that, it was a good fun weekend - well, it was away from the kids so it was bound to be good. Vikki and I drove down on Friday, made a trip to central Glasgow to join the Daily Record journalists strike, had a nice meal at Il Pavone which was partly spoiled by poor service, and then spent the night at the Premier Inn at Milngavie who were really good and went out of their way to make sure we could get some breakfast before the race.

Vikki ran the first leg from Milngavie to Drymen in a very respectable time, despite ignoring this advice and going the wrong way. She was the first Stonehaven relay runner to reach the Drymen handover which was a great achievement considering the experience of the others.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I'm so excited

"Why, why, why are you excited?" I hear you ask. Well, our new running clobber has finally arrived as you can see from the photos below.

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And just in time too. I am also just a little bit excited about the prospect of running almost 14 miles over a couple of wee hills which ought to be tremendous fun, especially as there will be a decent turn out from Stonehaven. Stonehaven will also be well represented at Balmoral, and apparently Dave is taking part in some wee charity run down South this weekend. Good luck to all.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Stupid is as stupid does

Sometimes, it's a good idea to check things out. For example, if, let's say you were a member of a gym and you were in the habit of going there in the morning before work, perhaps it would be a good idea to find out whether or not that gym might not open as early on a public holiday as on other days. And it might also be worth checking out when those public holidays are. Otherwise, you might just arrive at the gym before it opens and not be able to get in. Of course, you could probably go at lunch time, but I reckon you'd feel just a bit silly.

Or, to pick another example, if you were in any way involved with a youth organisation (e.g. the Beaver Scouts) it would normally be considered good form to check the agenda for the term before you set off, just in case there's no meeting on a particular night. Of course, if you were involved in preparing the said agenda, and it's normal policy to never have a meeting on the first Monday after a school holiday, you would very likely feel extremely foolish indeed.

Just sayin'

Monday, 30 March 2009

Just in case you're not a facebook friend...

Big congratulations to Vikki who set a new PB and smashed 50 minutes for a 10K at the Garioch 10K on Sunday. The boys and I played in the park on what turned out to be a nice warm sunny day in Inverurie while she zoomed round the course. Looks like I'm really going to have to go some if I'm ever going to catch her.
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A Tribute to Kate Bush?

Whatever other people think about it, running is, for me anyway, quite hard. Running in high winds is particularly hard. Running up big hills in high winds is extremely hard work. Running up big hills in high winds in ankle deep snow is really just getting a bit ridiculous. And yet, somehow on Saturday I found myself part way up Mount Keen with some of the running club, running shoes caked in snow, 50mph gusts of wind whipping snow into my face. I reached about 650m altitude before I decided the sensible option was to head down again. Fortunately I had some company on the way down, although some brave souls went on and reached the summit. The run back down was great fun and everyone made it without injury and no reports of frostbite. Well done to everybody who came along.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Regular blob readers may have realised that it was Calum's 7th birthday on Sunday, and what a busy day it was. I started off with a 9.5 mile run, then Vikki and I went to donate blood (which took ages for various reasons I'm not going to go into). And then we all set off for the Deeside Activity Park with six of Calum's friends - Vikki's folks came along to provide some much needed backup.

It was good fun - the boys did some archery, quad biking, and carting, and despite making a lot of noise they were pretty well behaved. Calum managed to get stuck in a stack of tyres which everyone else found hilarious.

Rob from the Deeside Brewery was doing some free tastings of their latest batch of Lady Macbeth so I had a couple of tastes, thought it was rather nice, and took a 2 pint carton home for later. I also bought a couple of bottles of Broichan which I'm quite looking forward to.

After the activities, it was back to our house for more play, party food and cupcakes, before we finally returned the other kids to their rightful owners (unfortunately, we had to keep all of ours) and I was finally able to relax and enjoy the aforementioned beer.

There are some photos of the day on our picasa web site....

2009-03-22 Calum's 7th Birthday

It never rains....

Blimey, Blob fans, it's been far too long since I dazzled you all with my wit and wisdom. So long, in fact that I don't think it has ever happened. However, it has also been a long time since I filled these pages with my usual nonsense. The reason? Well, for starters, the great book of face has turned my head with it's slick interface and silly games. Also, I keep finding that there's not much to blog about, or I'm too busy doing stuff that I would blog about to find time to blog about it - basically, it all seems to happen at once, as I hope to demonstrate with some quick -fire posts.

Enough waffle, shanksi; time to give the people some of what they want, starting with a video of a baby climbing some stairs. Go Magnus!

From 2009-03-20 Magnus climbing the stairs

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Mmmmm, Flapjacks


Flapjacks are great - they taste good, and they're probably quite good pre-running food, what with the combination of sugary stuff for quick hit energy, and oats for a more slow-release, longer lasting energy. Unfortunately, some of the shop-bought ones aren't that good, and some of the better ones aren't always available at our local supermarket. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and make some using the recipe from the Good Housekeeping Guide cooking book (thoroughly recommended), and our Lego cake tray (which had never been used before). The first batch (pictured above) was pretty successful, and the second lot are just out of the oven, so I'd better go and see how they're doing!
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Saturday, 28 February 2009

A grand day out

OK, this is going to ruin the latest instalment of "Where's Magnus?" for anyone who hasn't already had a guess, but we spent the day at the Lochter Activity Centre near Oldmeldrum, where the RNIB were having a day out for blind and partially sighted children (and their siblings). It was a really good day out with good weather and great views of Bennachie. There were bacon and egg rolls on arrival, a barbecue lunch, and lots of activities including carting, archery, digger driving, inflatables, and fishing. The boys had a great time - Calum even managed to catch two rainbow trout, which totally made his day, and mine since I got to eat them.
Click below for more pictures....
2009-02-28 RNIB Day Out At Lochter Activity Centre

Where's Magnus?

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Monday, 23 February 2009

Return of the tooth fairy

Another milestone in Calum's life was reached this week as he lost his first tooth. In fact, lost is the appropriate word as he was cleaning his teeth at the time and it disappeared down the plug hole. Great, I thought, the tooth fairy can hardly be expected to retrieve it from there. However, apparently yhr tooth fairy sees the gap and doesn't actually need the tooth to turn in to money (I had always thought it was some weird form of alchemy) so Calum found a nice present under his pillow in the morning.
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Thursday, 19 February 2009

Biding in the East Riding

Thanks to those of you who took part in the latest round of Where's Magnus?. He was indeed at the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, where you can experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the ancient Viking city of Jorvik.
It was really good - both Lachlan and Calum also enjoyed the visit; Lachlan did a school project about Vikings last year so it was particularly interesting for him.
Our trip to York, which also took in a look at the Minster and the Shambles, was part of a visit to see Amy and the Daviator in their new house in Beverley. It's was great to see them, and chill a bit, and drink beer and wine, and generally just have a nice time. We also spent too much time playing Wii Fit, had a failed attempt at Geocaching (more about that another time perhaps), and took a trip to Hull, where we went to the Art Gallery and a rather good museum that had, among other things, a fine collection of Roman mosaics and a 4000 year old boat. We finished off our trip with a visit to the cinema to see Bolt which was funny and exciting and made everyone except me cry (and I was close at one point).
You can see the photos here:

2009-02-13 East Riding of Yorkshire

Monday, 2 February 2009

Where's the Year Gone?

Happy Birthday, Magnus. Yes, he's 1 today, and it hardly seems a blink of the eye that he was merely a glint in that self same eye. I managed to get away from work early so that we would have some time for cake and pressies before Calum and I had to go off to Beavers. Vikki made the cake which was very nice - Magnus would probably still be eating it if he could.

Our present to Magnus is a bit of a sneaky one. It's this really cool little daysack for him to wear when he starts walking around. The sneaky bit is that he'll have to carry his own stuff, and also, it comes with a strap so we can keep him under control. Mwaah-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Magnus's First DIY Projects

 My brothers are very untidy - they're forever leaving things lying around. Well, I thought we should try and do something about it, so I grabbed my screwdriver and got to work.

 Here, I've just about finished putting together a shelf to put up in the play room. The shelf is to hold Wii and PS2 games, and keep them neat. I've been told I have to put it up out of my own reach, which sounds impossible - I might just have to sub-contract that job to dad, although who knows when he'll get that done.

Talking about dad, here he is, helping me attach some castors to a big bit of chip-board. Why, I hear you ask. Well, the idea is that Lachlan and Calum can use the board to build Lego models and that sort of thing on, then, when they reach the end of the day, the whole thing can be rolled under the bed and out of the way - hopefully this'll lead to less stuff being left on the floor of their rooms, but we'll have to see how it works. Bye bye for now, from Magnus.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

I'm Still Standing


Look at me. I'm standing up, using my very own little legs. OK, I'm using things like the dishwasher, magazine racks, and my toys to help me, but I'm only little and I feel I'm making significant progress. I've also got 11 teeth now, so don't give me any lip, or I'll bite you. And don't think I won't - I've bitten daddy and he wasn't even doing anything to annoy me at the time; I just thought his finger looked quite tasty. Talking about daddy, he apologises that he's not been blogging much but he says he's been busy. Busy doing nothing and playing silly games on the computer, if you ask me.
Bye for now. From Magnus

Friday, 2 January 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, Everybody!
OK, it's a bit late but we've not been at home much. We spent most of the last couple of days over at Vikki's folks which was great fun - especially as they agreed to stay in on Hogmanay so Vikki and I went down to watch the fireballs. A number of our friends and family were swinging, so we made our way down to the harbour at the end to wish them well - there was much hugging, hand-shaking, kissing, and handing round of hip-flasks. A great way to start 2009. 
We took some photos, but as usual with the fireballs, they were mostly rubbish. Using the video mode seemed to work slightly better, but all the videos were almost ruined by some woman shouting near the camera (I wonder who that might have been). 
On New Years Day, we all (despite protests from the kids) went for a walk up to the war memorial and round past the harbour. We also set up Vikki's parents new WiiFit which was pretty good fun, especially as I was given a WiiFit age of 31 and branded a "muscle legend", to great hilarity from all present for some reason.
Today, Vikki and I were running in the Lumphanan Detox 10K which was really good - a friendly event, interesting course with hills, icy farm tracks, and great views of snow covered hills. Even better, both Vikki (52:08) and I (53:20) got PBs. 

For what it's worth, the best of the pics and videos are here:

2008-12-31 Hogmanay 2008