My arrival in Glasgow for the 2013 Hoka Highland Fling has not been without incident. More of that in a while.
I've always been a positive kind of fella. I've always had a 'can do' attitude even when the evidence clearly demonstrates I can't. Bite off more than you can chew, then masticate like fuck for as long as you can have always been watchwords for my life. I believe I've proven this in the past when I've toed the start line of the West Highland Way Race with nothing but two 20 mile training runs under my belt. On that occasion my cheery 'see you in Fort William' was probably an indication of my delirium rather than any positivity.
Never before will I have arrived in Milngavie so well trained and prepared. And on this occasion I only need to make it to the half way-ish point of the West Highland Way. But never before has so much doubt crowded my mind and affected my spirit. The injury that refuses to go away is still with me and I fully expect it to make itself known tomorrow somewhere on that beautiful course. I guess it all depends where and how hard it wants to bite.
Let me give you some idea of how this injury manifests itself and the problems it causes. Any run up to around ten miles is a piece of piss. I can run at a seven minute miling pace quite comfortably (providing the course is flattish) or I can back off and run slower with a game plan of retaining energy for a much longer distance. But regardless of how fast I run, after ten miles my lower back starts to ache. Then, as the miles increase, my hamstrings begin to noticeably tighten up and the ache in my back becomes a dull pain. I can feel my stride shortening as the hammies become like taut cables and the pain becomes sharper. Then the change in gait seems to affect my ankles and my feet start to numb.
'Toughen the fuck up, you blouse!!' I can hear you cry.
Of course I can toughen the fuck up and crack on. But it doesn't make the experience pleasurable and the last time I spent money and travelled to experience pain and suffering I was a member of a Sado Masochistic sex group (actually I wasn't, and never have been, but you get the idea).
I guess what I'm saying is, in order to look forward to my main goal, the West Highland Way Race in June, I really need a positive experience tomorrow, and to be honest given the evidence before me I can't see that happening.
Speaking of positive experiences, I've been a bit short of those since my arrival in Glasgow yesterday. I got off the train in a strange land where men wear skirts and women have a hierarchical system based on the number of their remaining teeth (competition to head that hierarchy is so great that Fiona Rennie recently had some of her teeth torn out so that she could become chief mama).
I'd had a wee refreshment on the train, as is my custom, and headed up Argyle Street toward Merchant City with Mason (dog) to meet Mrs Mac from work. She had booked my ticket to time my arrival to accommodate a foot journey around the city (I recently got off the train and took an unintended detour to reach her). Unbeknown to her on this occasion I took the most direct route and was outside her place of employment within 10 minutes.
Not a problem, there's a rather nice O'Neill's public house that serves a very good pint of Arthur's Black Gold just around the corner (Ok, it's a plastic chain establishment, but it's quite nice inside).
So Mason (dog) and I bowl through the door and head up to the bar. Behind said bar stands a potato headed fella with John Lennon glasses.
'A pint of Guinness and a bottle of water for the pooch please, Landlord,' I say in my finest Cockney accent.
'We don't allow dogs,' comes the answer from Potato Head.
I blink, think this through, and then say 'This is an Irish pub. Last time I was in Ireland there were dogs in every pub I went in.'
'This is not an Irish pub,' I'm firmly informed by the spud headed twat. 'This is an Irish themed pub.'
'Why can't my dog come in then?' I ask.
'Because we serve food,' states Potato Head.
'Where's the link?' I ask. 'What has my dog got to do with the fact that you serve some microwaved crap to your drunken punters?'
Potato Head smirks and says: 'Hygiene.'
'Fuck me!' I reply. 'The walking virus farm that's dressed in chef's whites and is presently stood outside the side door smoking is responsible for preparing and cooking your food. My dog is cleaner than him!'
30 seconds later I'm stood outside with the words 'you're barred, fuck off or I'm calling the police' ringing in my ears.
This altercation is timed perfectly with Mrs Mac leaving her work and a big row when she supported the publican's stance.
I don't think me analogising my battle with an International pub brand with some of my Dunkirk spirited race starts really washed.
Hey, ho! Maybe my lack of success against the Potato bonced employee of O'Neill's will be balanced by a victorious showing at the Fling.
Check in soon to see.
Posted by Subversive Runner at 12:24
In my last blog post I discussed pain and corporal punishment; two subjects that are quite obviously inextricably linked. I wonder what readers of that offering made of my musings? I candidly admitted behaviour that was clearly unacceptable of a 13 year old boy and needed addressing so I'm guessing the Daily Mail type consumer of online, idiotic ramblings might regard two strokes of the cane as nothing more than hors d'oeuvres to a thrashing resulting in near death. In contrast your average Guardian reader would probably recommend the miscreant be given a two week summer break at the expense of the tax payer and the teacher administering the punishment be offered counselling for issues clearly resulting from a tortured childhood.
Personally I sit somewhere between the two. I don't believe that perpetrating acts of violence against children achieves anything but the creation of violent adults. And my personal experience shows that when the child in question has no fear of the punishment, you can whip him all you like.
I wonder too what drives someone tasked with the care of children to choose beating with a stick over an alternative, non violent punishment? My own experience here is interesting. I told you of my third year art teacher, and the clay vase destruction, but there was another more disturbing occasion which too emanated from the art block.
I remember it was sometime around 1980 and having a supply teacher for the day because our own was off sick or something. We were instructed to create a picture of snakes in charcoal. I was always a bit of a dab hand at drawing so before I knew it I had two serpents, intertwined on the paper in front of me. I looked around and none of my fellow pupils had yet completed their task so I sat there with not much to do. The creative side of my began to take over and with the flourish of a hand and a flash of charcoal a Doctor Marten boot was drawn appearing from the top edge of the paper.
Again, my fellow pupils were still engrossed in the creation of their snakes so I flipped my paper over and began a spot of free drawing on the underside. Now my creative juices really got going and after 10 minutes I had a naked woman sat on a loo....in my opinion this was REAL art. Why was the woman naked? What time of day was it? Was she performing a number one or two? Was this her own loo or that of a friend?
Unfortunately the supply teacher's opinion didn't concur with mine. He was clearly flustered by the impressively endowed woman staring at him from the paper and I was sent to the Head of art, Mr Robinson, to show him my creation.
'Fuck that,' I thought and headed off to the loo where I disposed of the picture and waited for my next lesson.
It was while I was sat in Spanish that Mr Robinson came to find me. I was removed from the class and marched unceremoniously to Mr Robinson's office. Up until that point I'd had no interaction with the head of art and had no reason to have ever been in his office. Upon entering one of the first things I noticed were three lengths of bamboo of differing thicknesses.
'Tell me about this picture you drew, Waterman, ' demanded Mr Robinson.
'It was a naked woman sitting on the bog, Sir,' I replied sheepishly.
'Where is it?'
'I ripped it up and threw it away, Sir.'
'Why didn't you report to me as instructed?'
'Because I was scared, Sir.'
With that Mr Robinson sat back in his chair and looked into my eyes. 'You've never been before me, have you, Waterman?' He asked.
'There's nothing wrong in drawing or painting nudes,' said the head of art. 'Some of the finest works of art depict naked women.'
At this point my spirits began to lift. Mr Robinson was clearly a man who appreciated my talent.
'But there is something wrong when you fail to follow instruction,' he added menacingly.
My elevated spirits again took a plunge. But they dipped even lower when Mr Robinson reached behind him and retrieved the largest piece of bamboo which must have been at least four inches in diameter.
'Now, Waterman, boys who continually appear before me become familiar with my friend, basher. He's quite a thing and not someone you ever want to get involved with,' said Mr Robinson as he caressed the largest cane. Then he replaced the four incher and retrieved a second cane that had a diameter of about an inch and a half.
'This is my other friend, whacker,' said the head as he looked closely at the inch and a half bamboo. 'If you ever appear before me again you and he will become good friends.'
Then he drew the smallest diameter cane from behind him and slashed it through the air. 'This,' he said menacingly, 'is tickle. And it is tickle who I will introduce you to today. Now are you right or left handed?'
'Then hold your left hand out straight and do not move.'
I offered my left hand and stood there quivering. Mr Robinson looked me in the eyes and raised the cane above his head. He paused momentarily then brought the cane down toward my hand. I heard it cutting through the air and briefly marvelled at the arc created by the air's resistance. I say briefly because my sense were assaulted by a loud 'CRACK' as the cane struck my hand.
Momentarily there was nothing. Then I felt the pain and saw the ugly welt that was forming across my palm.
'I told you not to move, boy,' said Mr Robinson with a look of unfulfilled lust in his eyes.
'I didn't move, Sir,' I protested.
'You moved your hand and now you've lied. Hold your hand out again.'
For a second time Mr Robinson went through the act of issuing corporal punishment to a 13 year old boy. And for a second time the cane slammed into my palm, creating a second welt across my flesh. This time I swear I saw Mr Robinson's feet leave the ground as he got as much of his body weight into the act as possible.
Beads of sweat appeared on the teacher's brow and he collapsed into his seat.
'Get out.' He said.
I knew better than to tell my parents that I'd been caned. Those were the days when the idea of an irate parent visiting the school to challenge an over zealous teacher was unheard of. Those were the days when a second helping of pain, care of my old man, was the order of the day.
As the years have passed I've thought about this and have realised that Mr Robinson enjoyed some kind of sadistic pleasure in delivering corporal punishment. I've dreamed too of bumping into Mr Robinson in my adult years and exacting vengeance. Of course, 33 years on he's probably an old man and not someone I might feel comfortable with slapping. But I'd have a fuckin' good go at scaring the evil bastard.
Posted by Subversive Runner at 08:37
A 14 mile run in Richmond Park yesterday confirmed that the pain in my lower back is still causing me significant problems. As I trotted round the park I tried to convince myself that what I was feeling wasn't actually pain but simply slight discomfort, but I've never been too good at kidding myself. Then I tried to apply that well worn adage, 'pain is just weakness leaving the body.'
How the fuck does that work then? By that reckoning Nazi Germany should have created an army of powerhouses within its ghettoes and it's concentration camps. Alas, no, the pain and suffering that was experienced by those tragic souls was not weakness leaving the body; it was pure evil and brutality being visited upon them.
Of course comparing a slightly painful run around Richmond Park with the Holocaust is something that might be regarded as ridiculous if not out and out offensive. But these were the thoughts that meandered through my mind as I plodded on. I considered how I might transfer these thoughts to the written form within the virtual pages of this blog. An attempt at humour maybe.....a video blog post......how about something new? A cartoon drawn on A4 paper and recreated here?
I used to be pretty good at art at school so a cartoon ought to be something I could manage. However, I haven't practiced any drawing or painting since the third year of The Beaufoy School for Boys back in 1979.
You see my art career was cut short by two events. The first was when I was in an art class making something from clay....I can't remember exactly what it was we were making but you can bet your bottom dollar at least half the class were busy recreating their own sexual organs. While we rolled out sausage shaped cylinders and spherical balls our art teacher worked away diligently on a vase he was making on a potter's wheel. He appeared lost in the moment and if it wasn't 11 years too early I'd swear he was recreating the famous scene from Ghost.
I admired the way he applied gentle pressure to the accelerator pedal and expertly formed perfect curves on what had begun as a mound of watery clay. After 40 minutes or so of work the teacher, whose name is lost on me now, looked like he'd been engaged in a dirty protest in prison and rose from his labour to go to the toilet.
'Right boys,' he said. 'I need you to think about finishing your work. I'll be back in five.'
In his absence the potter's wheel was like a glowing, attractive flame and I was an utterly seduced moth. The vase sat motionless on the wheel like a ballet dancer waiting to spring into life. What she needed was a director and some music.
Before I could even consider the outcome I was on my feet and at the wheel. I stamped my Doctor Marten encased foot onto the pedal and the ballet dancer sprung into life. But instead of repeating the graceful moves induced by my art teacher the vase was doing some kind of punk rock dance. As the vase spun around it began to lose its perfect form. One side started to collapse and spat droplets of clay at my fellow pupils. Of course at this point I probably should have eased off the gas and gone back to my seat. But I was an engrossed 13 year old and was completely beguiled by the destruction that was unfolding in front of me.
A bit more pressure on the pedal and the once beautiful creation left the potter's wheel and travelled in an arc across the classroom and hit a nearby wall. It stuck there momentarily before sliding downward to the ground, leaving a slimy scar on the pale blue paintwork. My teacher re entered the room to witness a lump of formless clay in the corner, an empty potter's wheel where once a crafted vase stood, and 29 boys cheering Waterman who was sat at the wheel looking pretty fucking sheepish.
Needless to say I was subject to the discipline of the day which was two strokes of the cane across my open palm. I remember the apprehension as I stood there, arm out-stretched in front of me. I remember quivering as the art teacher salivated in exacting vengeance for his lost art work. I remember thinking 'ouch' and blinking as the first lashing struck my hand. I remember too being slightly emboldened when a look of dismay crossed the teacher's face when no cry of pain or tears emitted following that first strike of the cane.
I remember too feeling like Alan fucking Ladd in Shane after the second lash struck my palm and I smirked at the teacher.
Is that all you've got?
Now that, Dear Reader, is what might be regarded as weakness leaving the body. If my teacher had really wanted to exact some revenge, waiting until I was 46 years of age then bundling me into his car and making me run 14 miles in Richmond Park with a bad back would have been far more successful. Of course if he tried that now I'd either give him a dry slap or say sorry for wrecking his vase and offer to buy him a beer.
But I'll remind you that it was two events that brought my art career to an end and the one above merely set the ground for my expulsion from the art block. As I sit here on a train to the land of Jock I could quite easily spend the time detailing my final indiscretion but I think it deserves a post of its own.
Check in later for a tale of BDSM and how if I ever chance upon Mr Robinson again I'll get medieval on his ass.
Posted by Subversive Runner at 15:07
In terms of a return on my investment I feel a bit cheated.
No, I don't have a large sum of cash deposited in a Cypriot bank, in fact I don't have a large sum of cash invested anywhere unless you regard my one handed attempt to drain the European wine lake as some kind of fiscal genius.
I'm talking about the volume of training I've committed to since before Christmas and my resulting performance at the D33. Admittedly with hindsight I would run the race differently ie employ my usual race plan of running off like a loon, keep going until I've proven my ambition completely outweighs my ability, then breathing through my arse and hanging on til the finish. I honestly believe this strategy might have paid greater dividends in that race.
I've employed a similar technique in other areas of my life with some success. For instance I'm reminded of a monthly budgeting strategy I once employed, something I called the 'Live In the Moment System of Money Management.' It involved being paid at the beginning of the month then eating fine foods from quality restaurants and drinking fine wines til I fell over. Lots and lots of fine wines. Getting to and from said restaurants involved hailing a fast black and tipping the driver generously. As a single man this lifestyle ensured for a successful love life between the first and fourth days of each month.
Such excesses were balanced by the remaining 26-27 days where nutritional needs were met with tins of spaghetti hoops; any desire for an alcoholic beverage involved considering the ABV percentage of my after shave; and carnal needs were taken care of by Madam Palm and her five sisters. What you should see here is an enforced balance. If my life were lived according to the model demonstrated on days one to four I would surely burn out like some South London based Jimi Hendrix (or Jim Morrisson, Sid Vicious, Elvis Presley, Amy Winehouse....you get the idea). Whereas if I were to extend the restraint shown in model two throughout the month I would be guilty of failing to enjoy the gifts of life and may as well fuck off and live in a cave.
As I said earlier, this budgetary strategy was one I called the 'Live in the Moment System of Money Management' and it was one that I employed for some considerable time....until an old Guv'nor of mine highlighted it's pitfalls and renamed if the 'King for a Day, C*nt for a Month' method.
Since then I've become considerably more sensible and have attempted to ensure a steady flow of expenditure throughout the month. No more expensive restaurants, BOGOF wine deals from the supermarket and a generation of cab drivers who mourn the demise of a man that suffered from some kind of fiscal lycanthropy.
I'm just concerned that in applying this degree of sensibleness to running, and in particular, racing, I might have killed something off. Some spark might have been extinguished. Some fire doused....OK, enough of the firefighting metaphors, I promised not to discuss my employment within the pages of this blog anymore.
Since the D33 I gave my lower back seven days to repair and have now returned to training. There was an easy run out on Sunday with a few hill sprints; a 40 minute static bike session on Monday followed by some 'down in the basement' squats on the Smith Machine; then a 70 minute treadmill session yesterday involving eight x four minute hill reps at an incline of level six. Today will see me out for an hour out with the running club.
That, Dear Reader, is no 'King for a Day, C*unt for a Month' training plan. No, Siree, that is full on, balanced, 'Race like Bragg' exercise strategy.
If the D33 was a test, it was something of a failure. Yes, I avoided the dreaded DNF and achieved a personal best, but I was expecting something better. The next test is the Highland Fling which is about a month away. The last time I ran that race competitively I attempted to chase down a crazy burd in a tutu and failed. It's unlikely she'll be running this year so maybe I'll wear the tutu for her.
Posted by Subversive Runner at 10:12
What does it say about society, or at least the consumers of online blog material, when a post entitled 'A Bigger Penis' makes your hit counter spike alarmingly? Someone, somewhere must have either wanted larger appendage themselves or was looking discreetly on behalf of their husband/boyfriend.
If anyone reading this happens to be one of those individuals please accept my apologies for disappointing you with tales of bread pudding and running. In proving your time has not been entirely wasted, and in attempting to provide some advice in that particular subject area, just let me say this: bread pudding definitely will not enlarge the size of your Hampton. But eaten in large enough quantities it will expand your waistline, which in turn, will reduce the comparative size of your chopper (indeed if it's minuscule to begin with you'll never see the fuckin' thing again).
Likewise with running; that particular activity will not enlarge the size of your custard launcher either. In fact, if you run when the weather's cold enough, you'll believe your beaver basher has become nothing more than an oversized clitoris.
Anyway, enough of that and on to the meat of this post: the D33 Ultramarathon. I did say that this would either be a tale of triumph or a story of woe. In fact it's neither really. Triumph would have been beating my target time of five and a half hours while woe would have been a DNF and neither of those occurred. But before I go on I should say that from an event perspective, and in terms of planning, preparation and execution, this race is the nuts. The Race Director, George Reid has created an early season event that's accessible, achievable and a whole lot of fun. And I'm not just saying that because he's my mate and he let me stay at his house. Over 300 people entered it so the numbers don't lie, but onward with my triumph-free-yet-woe-less tale.
It's the night before the race and after arriving in Stonehaven Mrs Mac and I head for the Station Hotel where we know the Race Director and his glamorous assistant, Karen 'Poopy' Donoghue, will be holding court. Indeed that's where we find them and they're surrounded by a group of runners. I know these people are runners for a number of reasons:
1. They look fit, lean and lithe.
2. They wear clothes with labels like 'The North Face' or 'Asics.'
3. The talked incessantly about training, split times and PBs.
4. I know quite a few of them.
Of course, in considering the above criteria numbered 1-3, none apply to me but I feel no inferiority on that score. Do you know why? Because I can drink most of them runners under the table and when it boils down to it that's all that really matters.
So, after five pints of Guinness we're off to George's gaff to get our heads down.
The morning comes around far too quickly and my desire to wear shorts and tee shirt is discarded in favour of full Max Wall clobber due to the below zero temperature. My plan is to start the race and allow my pace to be dictated by heart rate (keeping below 140 BPM), stick at 10 minute mile pace, and never venture ahead of Bob Allison. My reason for sticking behind Bob has nothing to do with my appreciation of his peachy derrière and everything to do with the fact that for seven years I've stormed out of the blocks at the West Highland Way Race leaving Bob eating my dirt, only for him to cruise past me before Conic Hill and make that shaky hand gesture favoured by irate car drivers.
The 10 minute miling, 140 BPM and staying behind Bob all seem to be working well but I feel I'm holding back a bit too much. Anyway, it's all going swimmingly up to the 10 mile point when Bob stops to fish something out of his bag.....SHIT.....this wasn't in the plan. I either stop to help him and risk being arrested by the local constabulary for apparently attempting to rob one of their fellow Scots, or I go past him.
Bob mutters: 'Fuck off Dave, I've had enough of you enjoying my slipstream,' which kind of makes my mind up for me so I do indeed fuck off.
A few miles later and my sorrowful position in the race is made apparent when the leaders come haring toward me having turned around at the half way point. At one stage some fella I don't know almost crashes into me....he steps left, I step right....I step left, he steps right.....we're doing this ridiculous dance in the middle of the Scottish countryside and he's getting angrier by the second as his finishing place is being compromised by some idiotic Londoner. Eventually we find a way round each other and he's off like a rocket while I continue on to the turn around point at half way.
At this point the pain in my lower back is beginning to concern me. This is a condition I've been afflicted with for over a year and it's put a stop to a number of races. At the half way point I ask John Duncan if he's got any pain killers and like a Scottish Pablo Escobar he furnishes me with enough drugs to get me a part in Trainspotting.
By the 3/4 way checkpoint my pace is slowing and the pain in my back is becoming unbearable. My body has betrayed me, the drugs don't work (see what I did there?), the five hour thirty minute finish time has dissolved and serious consideration of DNF is made.
Then I think of a friend who I won't name but her blog is linked to mine. She's presently having a bit of a fight with illness and would like nothing better to be racing in the Scottish countryside with nothing to bother her but a bit of rain and an insignificant pain just above her arse. Anyway, I neck a caffeine gel, stick the Airborne Toxic Event on my iPod, and remarkably the pain goes and I get moving again.
I find my pace and make up a good few places in the race. I'm running along singing to the music and feeling pretty good. Whether it was the gel, the music, or thoughts of my friend that pick me up I'm not sure but I'll be trying that combination again.
I grind out the final few miles and arrive in Duthie Park in around six hours. I've scored a PB although I'm 30 minutes off my target time.
So what about a review of the race, of my training plan and the future? Well, with regard to the race I know a better time is in me and without the back pain I reckon I could have achieved my target. I reckon I could have bettered it too if I didn't hold back so much.
I intend to stick with the training plan and seek some physio. It's my belief that the back pain is caused by tight hamstrings so I'm presently looking at ways to solve that.
And the future is still on: The Highland Fling in April and the West Highland Way in June.
Finally, if you are one of my readers that came here looking for a bigger penis, I'm often told that size doesn't matter but here's something for you:
Posted by Subversive Runner at 19:40
Ok, so I said log in sometime after Saturday to discover the outcome of the D33 ultra marathon, but it's pre race day and I'm awake at 07:00 with a rumbling belly. The first of many carbohydrates are about to hit said stomach and I've decided that part of today will be set aside making bread pudding which will provide sustenance during the race.
For anyone unfamiliar with this cockney delicacy, it's a baked cake-like dish that's created from bread (the clue is quite clearly in the name), dried fruits, spices, milk (mine will be of the lactose free type......otherwise I'll receive a lifelong ban from Race Director, George) and butter (also of the lactose free type for the same reason). However, my version of this dish has a twist: the dried fruit spends a good few hours soaking in a bowl full of rum.
My theory behind using rum infused bread pudding as race food is this: it's soft and easily masticated, hence requires minimal energy to consume; it's created mainly from carb rich bread, so will fuel failing muscles; and has the inclusion of alcohol, which will give my undoubted sense of humour failure a lift and will act as a pain retardant. Fuckin' genius!!
Anyway, in poetic parlance this blog post is nothing more than a sonnet.....in fact it's not even that, it's an epigram. And it is here to provide advice to fellow bloggers:
Avoid entitling your blog posts with something that, at first glance, might contain material that would be found under the counter at the local video shop (at least it would have done a few years ago before the advent of Internet adult related entertainment).
Using a title like 'Anally Inserted Love Eggs' might well act as a hook, and might even disappoint the hairy palmed enthusiast when he discovers the actual content has nothing to do with the suggested subject matter, but what it does do is attract and absolute avalanche of spam.
And I'm talking over 2,000 comments offering me Luis Vuitton bags, hair removal products, hair replacement products, and various ways of making my penis bigger.
Be sensible, fellow bloggers, don't do it.
Posted by Subversive Runner at 07:34