At The Risk of Boring You……

Posted on August 29, 2017. Filed under: 10k, great scottish swim, marathon swimming, swimming |

This could be repetitive.  For two reasons.

Firstly, this is the only race that I have done consistently since it launched. The Great Scottish Swim has taken place seven times and I have done it eight of those times.

“Eh?”, you might say. Rightly. Back in it’s old hell swamp of a location it was cancelled twice because of blue-green algae. One of those times, though, I refused to take no for an answer and headed to the hills and did it anyway (gosh, don’t we look so young?) and still got a medal.

So, it is safe to say I am a big fan. And I have blogged about the Great Scottish Swim many, many times and, in a moment of swim tourism, I’ve even blogged about it’s English cousin the Great North Swim.

And secondly, open water swimming doesn’t make for riveting bloggage. If there isn’t a wetsuit malfunction or a federal penitentiary involved there usually isn’t that much to banter about. Even more dully I had entered the 10k, so that is a whole lot of swimming to not have many stories!

Fresh from his bionic upgrade my Thames Marathon swim buddy, Jan, entered the GSS and Team Rasmussen duly arrived on Friday evening. Sharon, who takes physical endeavours considerably more seriously than me as evidenced by her outrageously speedy marathon time, looked as visibly shocked by my acceptance of a first beer as she did by my acceptance of my nth beer several hours later. What can I say? I like a beer the night before I swim. Or wine. Or gin.

Swim time was kinda awkward. 8am at Loch Lomond, an hour and a half away. So we went for a two course breakfast. Porridge on waking up. Coffee for the road. Porridge on arrival. In addition I took a banana to the start.

As we walked down to the Loch to check out the course we bumped into another swim buddy, Bean, who was steadying herself for her first 10k. Some brief nervous chatting and then the three of us went to get changed.

Which turned out to be very disorientating. They only went and moved the change tent this year which confused the bejesus out of me.

When we had finally discovered the errant marquee we chose a spot in the pretty much empty tent. Within seconds I was sweating. Then I noticed my swim cap on the floor was shrivelling up and then I thought my feet had actually melted off. Apparently I had chosen the space where the solar flare of the sun was being pumped in and I was about to spontaneously combust.

We wandered down to the registration area picking Bean back up on the way and then bumping into Andy, my swim run partner. We were like rubber clad pied pipers.

Andy feels the cold and in an effort to combat this he had come dressed as Daffyd in a very tight rubber tank top. If the neoprene didn’t work he’d surely get himself a big ole man cuddle out there.

Robert Hamilton, the race director of the Forth Crossing, came over for a chat and told us the temperature was 15.7c, and tried to encourage the last stragglers to sign up to swim the Forth.

And just as Robert left we had final bants. My shiny new neck protector which was much coveted by strangers was the subject of substantial mockery from my friends. In a tactical change of subject from my rubberised garrotte, I noted that I had gone for a very light tint on my goggles as it was quite dull. Jan and Andy had gone darker. Bean, well Bean was running towards the change marquee. Evidently she had forgotten one of the three things that were required. Bless her when she sees the packing list for Lakesman next year.

And then it was time to acclimatise. I got into the tiny swim area and swam one lap at super slow speed. Then a second pausing at the end to, ahem, heat up the Loch..

As is standard we had some aerobics before the start, trying to do squats and lunges in a wetsuit with all the dexterity of a wrecking ball.  The 10k wave were called forward – Bean and I gave Andy and Jan hugs and well wishes – Keri-Anne Payne gave us some wise words that I forget and honked the horn. WE WERE OFF.

I high 5’d Bean on the slipway and waded to my belly button and then started to swim. Ever so gently. Avoiding the crowd. Avoiding the coldshock.

I went so far to the right that I swam right alongside the Maid of the Loch.

I had a long way to go but a couple of hundred metres in everything felt uncharacteristically perfect. This wasn’t intended to be my “A” race, just a long training session in readiness for Loch Earn. I know my body responds well to high volume just before a long swim and this was perfectly timed to peak at Loch Earn.

Because I was so far right it took me a while to get back on the race line for the anti-clockwise course. At the end of the first straight the turn was congested. Someone on my left hand side kept swimming into me. I enjoy the rough and tumble of open water swimming but some courtesy is required. Twice I moved right and twice the swimmer started hitting into me again. On the third time they got a clear and unequivocal message to swim straight; I didn’t see them again.

Around the top buoy I couldn’t find anything to sight. Only when I was on top of it did I realise that there was an almost totally black Suunto buoy.  I could spot it on subsequent laps but new waves that were introduced had similar buoy blindness.

The remainder of the first lap and the second lap were without incident. At the end of the second lap I tucked behind the buoy, took the gel from under my goggles, swallowed it and shoved the empty wrapper in my wetsuit. A 20 second pitstop. Watch check: 51 minutes for 2 miles.

At this time the next wave was released into the wild. I was swamped by a swarm of 5k and 2 mile swimmers. The next half lap was hard work passing through a thick soup of slower swimmers and breastroke kicks to the face.

After lap 4 (I am saving you a lot of underwater dullness in this summary) I followed the same pit stop routine. Watch check: 1:41 for 4 miles. Holy shit – a faster split than the first one and on track for an outrageous PB.

At the half way buoy on lap 5 the 10k leaders came past me as if I was standing still.

I have a social crisis on lap 5. I haven’t spoken to anyone for 2 hours. I think about dropping into the aid station for a gel. But really just a chat. I immediately HTFU.

Lap 6 feels heavy. I feel heavy. The waves feel heavier. At the turn I start a gentle kick readying my legs for returning to land use.

I exit the course and into the bay with the sun in my eyes. I pause to work out where the hell I am supposed to go.

With so much experience of finish line cramp, I put my feet down as soon as I can and walk in. I feel relatively fresh but under the pressure of gravity I am done.

Jan gets my attention. Or what attention I can summon up. I stumble onwards down the chute.

An man with a camera around his neck and what looks like a pot noodle in his hand approaches me.

“Do you want your picture taken?”

“Eh naaww. I just need to eat”

“The noodles are braw”

A very chirpy lady thrusts steaming noodles into my hand. She was literally my heroine in that moment. A proper super hero.

The kabuto noodles were an amazing addition to the event this year. A burger would make it perfect.  Just sayin.

I lost time in the last two miles taking 55 minutes. Definitely an issue with long endurance.

My final time was 2:36, 5 minutes better than last year’s 2:41. I came 26th (36th last year) overall and 3rd (yaaaaay) in age group (6th last year).

Jan and I then horsed down a giant burger at the Champany Inn.  All in all a good day.









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Jogging and Swimming at the Keswick Mountain Festival

Posted on May 24, 2016. Filed under: 10k, 1500m OW Swim, 2016, Hill Running, Keswick Mountain Festival, open water swimming, race report, race review, running, swimming, Uncategorized |

In March, while visiting the US, I discovered a new phenomenon – Granny’s Apple Fries – deep fried Granny Smith apples. As an international junk food explorer it was my duty to try them:

“Granny’s Apple Fries, please”, I request politely.

“Regular or Large?”

Duh, thinks I. “Large”


“……”, I pause to process the question.

“Alamo?”, louder still.

My mind processes the request, the frustrated look and the lengthening queue. Alamo. Davy Crockett? Served in a raccoon fur hat? Are we hunkering down to see off the Mexicans in the queue as a Trumpian private army?

I go all British. “I’m terribly sorry, I don’t understand the question”

“ALAMO”, louder still, using the British technique for bridging international communication issues.

A supervisor approaches. They mumble in American to each other.

“A la mode!?”

I speak pidgin French, I can do this. Wait. That means “in fashion”.

Speechlessly I do my confused face.

“Do y’all want your fries with ice cream?” A question I thought I’d never be asked as a grown up.

“Oh yes please”. I gasp, exhausted and broken.



This exchange brought me to two conclusions about America. Firstly, they invented deep frying apples – I don’t know what this means but when they write the history of the world I feel it will be significant. And secondly, as Oscar Wilde said, we are indeed two nations separated by a common language (and they can mangle French quite effectively as well).

Which, in a very indirect way takes me to my point.

The KMF Trail 10k brought my total of trail races to three and I can now safely conclude that trail runners and other runners are a common breed separated by a common language. Where a trail runner says hill, I see mountain. Where a trail runner says gently sloping, I see near vertical mountain face.

And so it was that I found myself contemplating the Keswick Trail 10k, described tantalisingly as “perfect for entry level runners who want to start trail running. It’s a mixture of wide open trails, some single track, a few easy hills with some road and fields to finish”.

I shall return to this but back to the beginning.


After her Glencoe half Pam signed up to do the Keswick 25k and while browsing the website I found a 1.5k swim and entered. After a little more browsing I discovered I could also squeeze in a 10k, although I knew it would be a big ask 2 weeks after the Glen Lyon ultra, but what the hell. Lets make a weekend of it, joined by Pam’s running partner and cousin Sandi and her family.

IMG_20160520_203558The Festival opens on Friday and has an amazing laid back atmosphere with kids and dogs and down jackets and trail shoes and marquees and bands clinging on to the sloped shoreline of Derwentwater. There are live bands and a million distractions but the real star of the show is the stunning view down the lake that changes with every change in the weather, of which there were many.

Pam and Sandi were duly dropped off on Saturday morning for the gentle hills of the 25k as the skies opened. All 450 runners and sherpas squeezed into the registration marquee for the race briefing as the rain upped it’s game from epic to biblical and then, without fuss, the race kinda started from inside the marquee. An hour in the beer tent later and the weather went saharan. Great for the sherpas but a steamy run for the runners on their undulating loop round Derwentwater.

All the trail events finished on the lake shore with a long (uphill) run through a knowledgeable and supportive crowd. Every runner was cheered in no matter how long they took. The finish area was probably the best supported that I have seen outside of Ironman or VLM which is incredible for an event in the depths of the lakes.

Anyway, Pam and Sandi finished without incident, loving the course and the volunteers, which means we can end the preamble and get on to the main events.

Sunday morning saw the ultra runners away at 6am and, when I arrived just before 9, I am pretty sure that I saw the last of the casualties from Toploader and Scouting for Girls crawling out of the fragrant portaloos.

KMF 10K Trail Run


There are many things that are unique about the KMF but the boat trip across Derwentwater for the start of the 10k must be one of the most special. The sky was blue, the water was like a mirror and the sun shone down on Catbells.


Yes, the sun on Catbells. Oh. What is that glinting in the sun? Oh. Runners. 10k runners. UP A FRIGGING MOUNTAIN. A few easy hills, MY ARSE.

I look at the lady next to me on the boat. I point and soundlessly mouth words. She nods. My heart sinks.

As we dock we head to a field. At which point a hundred or so people disappear into the woods, emerging a little later tightening drawstrings at their waists. We are given the one minute warning to move to the start line. As instructed I move to the start line. I look around, no-one else has moved to the start line. HOLY SHITE I AM AT THE FRONT.


On a track maybe three runners wide, gnarly with tree roots and rutted. A few racing snakes overtake. I am behind a girl dicking around with her iPod playlist as the path narrows to single file. Oh bugger, I AM the traffic jam.

After a kilometre or so we start climbing through wet mud and tree roots still pretty much single file. I am still running, thank god. And then we pop out on a downhill road. And then we climb.

Apparently the route is the Catbells Terrace. I don’t really know what I am talking about but I would describe it as technical as we slid and clambered on loose scree. After a kilometre the scenery opens up looking down the lake to Keswick and Derwent Isle that I will be swimming around in a couple of hours. The route changes to a steep downhill and I happily trot down actually taking advantage of ballast and gravity and overtaking some of the frailer racing snakes. Until we climb again, this time I insert some half hearted jogs – I exchange positions time and time again with the more steady runners that keep up a metronomic pace. I run like an attention deficient four year old, sprinting, walking, gasping.

At about 6k we cross a road into some woods. I inhale deeply and a mouthful of midges hit my sick trigger at warp speed. The next couple of kilometres are characterised by me hoiking up and snot rocketing mangled midge carcass. I skip the water station for fear of swallowing dilute insect protein.

The last three kilometres are pretty flat. I get overtaken by ultra runners 49km into their race but I don’t care. I enter Crow Park and Rory meets me half way up the hill, runs with me to the finish and claims my medal.

It was a truly amazing course in wonderful weather. As a bonus we got an extra 0.7k too! Coool.

With the ultra still in my legs and knowing the ascent (to give Edinburger’s some context the middle 5k was like 3 times the ascent of Arthur’s Seat) I was hoping to come in under 1:15. With the extra 0.7k I managed 1:13 and my legs actually behaved themselves. And that is a result I am quite pleased with.

Without any further ado I went straight to the sports nutrition tents (just kidding) to ready myself for the swim. A chicken tikka kebab and a can of coke, as always, were the recovery choice of this champion.

KMF 1500m Derwent Isle Open Water Swim

A couple of hours later I found myself in a rubber suit for the second time in the same week. Indeed the second time this year. With a total of 38k swimming this year, it was really just a kickstart to the longer swims later in the year but it looked fun so what the hell.

The water temperature was announced as 11c but I would guess it was nearer 14c as I was one of the first swimmers in for a very protracted entry and I thought it was lovely. With 144 swimmers lined up for a deep water start we got a countdown, that I didn’t hear, and then an air horn, which I did, and we were off.

Then it got weird. No stramash. No banging of limbs. No ducking. I breathed right. No-one. I breathed left. No-one. False start?

I looked back. Nope. We were away. AND I WAS LEADING.

After 100m I was conscious of three swimmers on my left. I breathe right and no-one was there. I started catching arms with the swimmer immediately on my left. We keep clashing until we are off the shore of the Island when we have a bash that stops us dead. I look up and see one swimmer ahead and three in a row with me.

The whole swim is shallow and we were warned to stay out from the Island to avoid tree roots. I come very close to a boulder under the surface which stops the swimmer next to me dead. Around the back of the island it gets choppier and I lose sight of my line. I pick a canoeist to follow and assume that he knows where he is going.

At this point I have a dawning awareness that there isn’t going to be a surge that will leave me mid-field. I am at the pointy end with hardly any training.

As we the beach comes into view I have to dig deep to keep up the pace. I am swimming beyond the ability of my diesel engine. And then the morning 10k starts to make itself felt. First in my calves and then spreading to my hamstrings. That knife edge where crippling cramp is one ill-judged wiggle away. With 200m to go I am swimming with my feet perpendicular to my body position. I am shoulder to shoulder, stroke for stroke with a guy – we will definitely fight it out for a place.

We hit the pontoon together. We climb out for the run, both my hamstrings cramp. Bugger. I spend a moment on my knees trying to re-straighten my legs then I run up the beach to trigger the timing mat. As we get our Bio Security hose down by a National Trust volunteer I notice that I managed to stay up with the speedsters. I pick up my medal with a warm feeling inside (not pee in the wetsuit) that I can still pull off a swim performance if I concentrate.

I grab a zebra burger for recovery and sit on the one spot in Crow Park where there is a data  signal and my result comes through in a text. I am glad I am sitting down. [Warning: HUMBLEBRAG KLAXON] I was 9th overall, 4th male and 1st Veteran (that apparently means I am old and not a cow mender) [HUMBLEBRAG ENDS].

Later, at dinner, the sherpas get animated – “I can’t believe you didn’t swim harder to get on the podium. The kids would love to have seen that”. I humbly remind the sherpas that most of them were on a boat trip during my swim and the podium presentation.

And then we marched the kids up a hill for some amazing evening views.


So, would I recommend the Keswick Mountain Festival? Absolutely, and I am sure that I will be back there next year. Amazing family atmosphere, great events that use the wonderful outdoors on their doorstep and great marshalls and volunteers.

Top work Keswick!

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What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then – New Years Resolutions

Posted on December 30, 2013. Filed under: 10k, Ironman Austria, new years resolution, nutrition |

Tomorrow is the last day of the year. I could write about how many miles I have done, what events I’ve completed, my highlights and lowlights but I am determined to be forward focussed.  I have planned Ironman Austria until it is tattooed on my brain; so, what can I write that is a useful bookend to the year?

The idea came to me today as I overheard someone talk about their January plans to get fit.  I know they will fail – not because I am negative but because they have already set themselves up to fail.  So, maybe a useful end to 2013 is to share the stuff that I have learnt so that you don’t have to go through the same humiliations I did.

Why listen?  No reason really, it’s up to you what you do.  But having woken up on the 1st of January 2009 convinced that I was about to die before I was 40, having run a 10k in under an hour 4 months later, having run a marathon 15 months later, having completed an Ironman 32 months later and having lost 5 stone in the process I have learnt a thing or two.

Whether you are sitting right now contemplating a new year’s resolution to save your life or just for the shit and giggles, here is what I know now that I wish I knew then.


The majority of resolutions that are set tomorrow night will fail simply because the person doesn’t want it enough.   Sure, they want to weigh less, look better in a bikini or want to climb Kilimanjaro but they want to do it the easy way.  They haven’t joined the dots between their current reality and the life that they want.  Instead they do one of two things……

  • The Grand Gesture – join a gym, give up booze for January, and detox by shoving raw asparagus up your arse.  OK, maybe I stretch the point, but none of these create new habits – and that is why we see empty gyms and full pubs before January is out.
  • Believe Our Limits – I can’t run, I don’t like vegetables.  A bunch of the things that we believe about ourselves are formed before we are 7 years old.   Yet we carry a fear of the school x-country that we were forced to do in a vest in winter or the boiled cabbage or the lumpy custard and straight into adulthood and never challenge ourselves.  That is why we don’t make the changes we need to change the direction of our lives.



So, what have I learned over the years that allowed the habits to stick with me?

  • A Goal Must Be Your Goal – every person I know that has made a resolution stick has had a goal and they have shouted about it.  They didn’t shout it out loud and proud but they shared it and the vulnerability that went with it.  And guess what?  Friends and family rallied to support them.  I said on 5th January 2009 that I would run a 10k at the start of May not having run for 10 years.  A bunch of sadists held me to that – taught me, cajoled me, encouraged me and took none of my shit.  I have never forgotten what they did for me and I always look for people to help pay it forwards.
  • You Will Lose Weight In the Kitchen – this is kinda bad news if you like to horse down an XL Big Boy Burger but basically you can’t outrun a bad diet.  I am happy to share more but the headlines are – sugar is sabotaging you – it gives you the urges that cause you to misbehave, diet drinks have the same effect – they fool your brain, energy food and drinks should contain the labelling “this product contains no magic”, unless you are training for more than 90 minutes do not touch sports nutrition or energy drinks, water is your best friend, ready meals are crap even if they are made by Heston Blumenthal or Jamie fecking Oliver, don’t stuff your gob with rice and pasta until you are stretched to bursting point.  PS diets don’t work because they don’t change habits  – it’s another quick fix that unravels just as quickly.
  • Let’s Not Wait Until Monday – I have an iron cast, money back guarantee that you will fall off the wagon.  You are only human.  It could be eating or training or drinking or sleep.  It could be a whole chocolate cake the size of King Kong’s head.  The milk is spilt, stop crying and make a difference as soon as you can.   There is a very British thing after a big blow out to “re-start” on Monday – sod that, re-start at lunch – don’t look back always look forwards.
  • All the Gear And No Idea – another classic procrastination technique!  You need nothing to start – no lycra, no merino undies, no GPS, no “suitable” trainers, no heart monitors, no nothing.  My first mile run in January 2009 was in plimsolls, 20 year old rugby shorts and a hoodie.  You will get kit as you need it but you don’t need it to start.  In fact, after 2 years of running I discovered that I didn’t need motivational music and I ditched the iPod.  Get your most comfortable stuff on, step out the door, do something.  It’s that simple.
  • Push Yourself – I admire everyone that gets their ass off the sofa because I know how difficult it is.  But every day a stream of (usually) ladies in head to toe lycra with bottles of luridly coloured liquids saunter past my house.  I am prepared to bet they expend less energy on their walk than they drink – and they repeat this ad nauseum failing to realise that if you keep doing the same thing you get the same results.   Yes walk if you have to but occasionally jog for a bit, do some press ups, star jumps, whatever.  Unless you feel a degree of discomfort it ain’t really working.
  • It’s All About the Averages – the chances are things have got out of control.  There is no need for self-flagellation if you dodge a run or inhale a cupcake.  Just make sure 80% of the time you are following the path of those dots towards your goal.  Averages will be enough to significantly change you from where you are now.
  • But The Consistency Makes It Stick – a New Year’s resolution isn’t about what you do once you sober up in January.  It is about what you do day in, day out for the rest of your life.  It is about connecting your choices, to your actions to your goal.  It’s about not waiting until Monday.  Consistency makes discomfort more comfortable, when you notice that you will have the confidence to crank it up.  There are few things more satisfying than creating a new habit.

And that’s it.  As they say about Ironman, if it was easy everyone would do it.  It is possible to turn life around in 2014 but taking out a gym membership probably won’t do the job.

Please share with friends who want to make a change but don’t know how to take the first step.

I shall raise a large G&T to a successful 2014.

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One in Five

Posted on October 5, 2011. Filed under: 10k, escape from alcatraz, great edinburgh run, great scottish swim, joggers nipple, race report, run, shakey, virgin london marathon, vlm | Tags: |

I have a lot of big news to share with you.

On Monday night I appeared on the telly and not somewhere shonky like channel five but the Beeb no less.  Unfortunately Shakey the media ho went all me, me, me and muscled in and got in my way.  Being a gentleman I took a step backwards.

Despite hiring Max Clifford, Shakey has done such a great job raising money for the Stroke Association that she was interviewed on the finish line of the Great Edinburgh Run at the weekend.  The whole story of what she has been up to was in the Half Iron Shakey post and you can find her just giving page there if you would like to make a donation to a great cause.  This link will take you straight to the start of her interview where you can take the opportunity to wonder at her glowing red heid and why the Beeb didn’t use subtitles like they do for some other foreign nationals.

Gladiator Siren competes with Shakey as whitest person in Edinburgh

I take only two issues with Shakey in her whole fundraising campaign.  Firstly, when she told me she had been interviewed for the telly, she failed to say it was Ali Paton off the telly better known as the Gladiator Siren who interviewed her.  Failing to mention that you have met a genuine Gladiator is a massive oversight to a real Glad fan although this recent photo of Siren suggests that, like Shakey, she may have been an abuser of fake tan in the past.  And secondly, I taught her to swim front crawl a damned sight better than she models on the telly (thats Shakey not Siren – I don’t know what her front crawl is like).  That was just sloppy.

So this week saw me re-visit the Great Edinburgh Run over two years since I targeted that as my first run to recover my health and my soul after years of abuse culminating in a week long bender in Berlin.  Preparation was sketchy at best having only run 6 miles once since the Ironman so my target was to finish faster than my first run which was tantalisingly just under 60minutes.  Last year in this event I ran the fastest 3k I had ever run however the race was unfortunately 10km long.  When I unpleasantly popped my calf muscle at the bottom of the Pleasance I suffered my one and only DNF to date at ceased to threaten the Kenyan front runners.  To be fair I wasn’t even much bothering the guy in the Womble suit at the back but I was a little faster than normal.

Waking up in the morning I could hear that the rain was dinging down.  I got up and had some peanut butter on toast and a strong black coffee while I contemplated the implications of the climate and the fear that it struck in me.  Two years ago I discovered the perils of running in the rain when I finished the Forth Bridge 10k looking like I had been shot in the chest.  This post captured the dual humiliation of crossing the finish line looking like an extra from the Kennedy assassination behind an old lady in dayglo.  The shame!

With the pain still fresh in my mind I flip-flopped through the whole running wardrobe that I had with me before dispatching a text to Shakey to ask her opinion.  I pinned my race number on one t-shirt, then took it off and put it on another.  I packed under armour, I unpacked it to wear it.  I thought single layer with foil blanket to stay warm at the start.  I was in turmoil.  It was warm as well as wet which made the conundrum even worse as I really suffer in the heat but the only sure fire way for me to guarantee to retain my nipples is through compression layering which is hot.  After about the third exchange of text and clothes options Pam commented that we were a pair of fannies and asked what Shakey had settled on.  With exasperation, fear and despair at the lack of understanding I blurted out “she’ll be fine, she wears a bra!”.  After which kind offers of additional supportive apparel were made through howls of laughter.

I coralled Pam and Rory out the door as they were wanting to watch the start and we made our way out with the rain seemingly getting heavier.  After 5 minutes I realised I had forgotten my timing chip and had to run back and get my chip.  By my reckoning I had now used up about half a mile of my 6 miles that I had in me.  After catching up with the sherpas again we watched the elite ladies shoot by and I got spooked that I had misjudged the start time so I started jogging again.  This time faster and farther.

As usual all plans to meet up beforehand were shot to hell.  Of the original five participants in 2009 not all could be at the meeting point.  Shakey was on time but was obviously in her favourite portaloo.  Really Long Socks may also have been on time, and may have tried to look for a portaloo but was more likely to be away peeing somewhere totally inappropriate desperately trying to cover his race number in case anyone spotted him.  HiViz was fighting his own battle against the rain in the Loch Ness Marathon and by all accounts took full advantage of St Johns Ambulance to sort his chafing.  And finally Hairy appears to have retired, possibly because his shorts got too tight if that is possible or possibly because he is the only one of the original five not to have tried a marathon.  Remember Hairy Boy – it is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all.

Anyway, as we prepared for the start I got an unexpected round of hugs.  I miraculously spotted Shakey amongst the crowd and we had a quick good luck hug.  Either that or she was cleaning her hands on me post portaloo.  Then as I approached the portaloos myself I met Sean, a fellow recent Ironman and we shared a brief (Iron)Man Hug and finally I bumped into Lee one of the Regensburg Pirates and we also had a hug.  Then the lady who used to be in Spooks hooted the hooter and we were off.

The race was actually really nice and the route was much nicer than I remember.  My plan was to go canny for the long haul up to the Commonwealth Pool and then to push as hard as I could after that until I blew up.  On the way down the Pleasance I saw Pam and Rory and it was great to chuck the torn calf monkey off my back as I burrelled around the corner and up the Cowgate.  Three years ago at the top of the West Port a blind man with a guide dog overtook me and then stopped to tie his laces and then overtook me again.  This year no-one overtook me on that stretch.  At the water stop half way around the Meadows I had to walk through the water stop and take about three mouthfuls of water but then douse myself with the remainder as I was starting to overheat.  Just through 7k on Potterow I saw Pam who had done a decent dash up from the Pleasance and then it was downhill the whole way home.

The Great Edinburgh Run had a great atmosphere this year with speakers and music through a lot of the course and there were loads of kids high fiving down the High Street.  I knew I was well inside the target hour but when I passed the 400m to go sign and glanced at my watch I realised that 54 mins was on so I went head down, arse up for a sprint finish scraping into the 54s.

After the race the whole of Holyrood Park was a quagmire so deep that the tatt was obscured by the clart.   End of season pizza and beers with Shakey rounded off a good day and a good year.

So, I said I have a lot of big news to tell you.  Well as mentioned a couple of posts ago I entered the ballot for the London Marathon of which there is a one in five chance of getting picked.  For years I have got up early on a Sunday morning in April, even in my drinking days when sometimes I hadn’t long been in bed, to watch the elite, the inspirational and the mentalists complete the most iconic 26.2mile course that there is.  And now I have only gone and got myself picked at the first attempt and in olympic year – it really is a dream come true!!  That kind of settles the survival of the blog for another few months anyway!  And to top off the good news Shakey, who is not as lucky as me, got a charity place from the Stroke Association which is a fitting tribute for the selfless effort she has put in this year.  I can picture the sprint down the Mall already – like the race in Run Fat Boy Run – with Sue Barker tutting on the commentary as I will not discriminate against Shakey as a girlie in my competitive enthusiasm.

Sometime tonight or tomorrow I should find out if I have got into Escape from Alcatraz on the first ballot which would provide a lovely main event for next summer.  If not I might have to do some other silly event.  I’ll keep you posted.

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