Katharine Merry

Today, I have a nice little interview with Katharine Merry, thanks so much to her for getting back to me and responding so quickly to me. She played a big role in what many believe to be one of the biggest races of the last 30 years, winning a bronze in that race. Nowadays Katharine is found on Fighting Talk, my favourite podcast as mentioned in one of my previous blogs. She is a really funny contributor and would make it onto my ideal Fighting Talk line up along with Dougie Anderson, Henning Wehn and Justin Moorehouse.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned it before, but I was at the Olympics in Sydney, Kirsty certainly gets fed up with me talking about it and my brother doesn’t believe that I was in a crowd of around 1.5 million in Sydney Harbour the night of the closing ceremony for the fireworks. I could have went to the closing ceremony – and kind of wish I did so I could have seen Kylie Minogue’s version of “Dancing Queen”

Yeah, that would have been great rather than being squashed against a shop window in the CBD of Sydney!

Another memorable moment of the Olympics was the women’s 400 metres hurdles. Cathy Freeman was the great Australian hope of the Games, she lit the Olympic Flame and was being held as a symbol of reconciliation and hope for the future as a proud indigenous Australian athlete, beloved by all sections of the Australian public. Indeed, in the run up to the race one of Freeman’s main competitors pulled out, Perec of France was injured I think but a lot of people thought she couldn’t take the pressure of what was shaping up to be THE main event of the Olympic Games. Here is the race:

Lane 3 is what we are looking at here! Katharine Merry ran a great race to finish 3rd and win an Olympic medal in one of the most famous and highly anticipated races ever, what an achievement to have on your running CV. A bit of local interest here, Katharine Merry ran her 60 metres personal best in Glasgow – I would assume at the Kelvin Hall, a track I graced with little success when Gladiators referee John Anderson heavily criticised my long jump technique as aa 10 year old boy! One other thing I have found is that Katharine has appeared on Ninja Warrior UK, I wish I had known that before I sent her the questions over, a valiant attempt here:

So, to the interview, it was so nice of such a successful, busy and decorated athlete to take the time to answer my questions for this blog, in aid of the RNIB, she has joined Liz McColgan on my list of “Good Guys” for sure!

1 – ST – How did you get into running when you were younger?

KM – “Aged 10 my father was still a competing athlete in veteran athletics as it was then. He was an English Schools TJ medallist but he was still sprinting. That coincided with my neighbour Mr Price, who was a PE teacher, at a school saying I looked quick so I should try running! So I did and joined Rugby AC.”

2 – What role does running currently play in your life?

“Actively running plays no role in my life at the moment. I retired 13 years ago in 2005 and did no running or any exercise for 12 years. Last year in May I was asked to be a Duracell Bunny Pacer for the GNR… I agreed and started running again. I built up my training in May from 1 mile to running the half marathon in September. I loved it…. but I haven’t run or done any exercise since! I will get back into it soon but at the moment working on sport is the closest I get to any activity!

3 – What was your most memorable race?

“Obviously the Olympic 400m final in Sydney 2000 was the biggest race and changed my life. It was my first full year of 400m running and I won an individual Olympic medal and ran under 50 seconds. To be involved in one of the most iconic Olympic races ever is great with 112,000 people in the stadium.
But memorable races also include when I won gold at the European Junior Championships in 1993. Memorable and special to me as I made my first appearance for GB & NI aged 13! Therefore I did 2 World Junior Championships and a total of 3 European Junior Championships … it took me until that 200m final in 1993 to win a gold after several silver and bronzes!

4 – Most iconic running memory as a fan?

“Witnessing Usain Bolt race in 2008 at Beijing Olympics. As I work in broadcasting now I am at the meetings working and therefore have a trackside seat, commentators or infield host seat to some great stuff! Including Bolt’s 1st world records in 2008. Amazing ..
When younger the LA 1984 Olympics my confirmation I wanted to do athletics. I was just into the sport and was transfixed by these Games and seeing Brits Coe, Thompson and in particular Kathy Cook win a bronze over 400m 😁”

5 – Who is your 2nd favourite Scottish athlete of all time? I will just assume your number 1 is Tom McKean, i loved that guy!

“Big Tom McKean fan! Only in January saw Tom as he’s a policeman at Glasgow Airport! He looks exactly the same and was great to see him… *a picture below!! outside of Tom I’m a fan of what Yvonne Murray achieved and in recent times Mrs Doyle and Miss Muir!”

6 – Top training tip or advice you would give a slightly overweight man who may be going through a midlife crisis by entering the London Marathon!

“Listen to your body.. don’t stress if you miss or have to adapt your training due to any issue… illness, injury or work etc! Get the miles in the tank but don’t stress or worry about adapting if you have too.
Enjoy and be rest assured you will get around!

7 – Do you have any embarrassing running moments or funny running stories?

“Not apart from the time I wore some new Nike running knickers at a big TV Grand Prix meeting and them going straight up my backside when the gun went…. and having to run the race with them in the wrong place! … apart from that no! *always test your gear before you race!”

8 – Do you ever take part in parkruns and if so how important do you think they are to the recent resurgence in British athletics both at an elite and casual level?

“As above.. I don’t run! But.. they are and have been fab at getting all levels of runners consistently active. Great to see.”

So, there we go. Really interesting stuff. I didn’t know Katharine had done the Great North Run half marathon so she clearly has an insight into distance running. Also the advice given about my training I will need to be careful heed to. The last few times I have tried a lot of road running I ended up getting shin splints so paying heed to what my body is telling me will be of paramount importance, the fact I am about 2 stone lighter now should help me avoid the shin splints (touch wood).

Massive thanks again to Katharine, if she is ever on a panel show or radio quiz give it a listen, if you don’t listen to Fighting Talk, give it a listen, a genuinely funny programme, made all the funnier when Katharine is a guest.

As always I will whack a bit in here about how to donate to the RNIB for me doing the London Marathon, you can access my JustGiving page here

Or text SMTR£2 to 70070 to donate £2 (other amounts available)

Liz McColgan and a short training (netball) update

Hiya, first of all, a massive thanks to Scottish running legend Liz McColgan for answering some questions for me for this blog, it was really nice of her to take the time to do this for me and I really appreciate it.

Liz McColgan, or Liz Lynch as I first heard of her is a Scottish athletic great, alongside Alan Wells, Yvonne Murray and Tom McKean (have I mentioned before how much I loved that guy??!!). Liz McColgan first became known to me as a 10 year old boy in the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games of 1986 where she won Gold in the 10,000 metres before repeating that achievement in Auckland in 1990. Liz McColgan then won Gold in the 1991 World Championships – a spectacular achievement. In between all this she also won silver in Seoul in the 1988 Olympics – that’s a remarkable collection of track medals before moving on to cross country and half marathons (world champion in 1992). Today the McColgan name is still prominent in athletics through the continued success of her daughter Eilish.

Here is a link to Liz McColgan winning Gold in Tokyo in 1991, a phenomenal achievement for a Scottish athlete and an achievement that would inspire many youngsters across the country.

Below are some of the answers Liz McColgan gave to some of the questions I asked her:

  • First of all, what got you into running? “I started through a PE teacher who put us on class x country runs at school and noticed my talent and advised me to go to Dundee Hawkhill Harriers where his friend was head coach. I started when 12”
  • What role does running currently play in your life? “Today running keeps me fit and healthy but most of all it helps me mentally , I have depressive tendencies and running for me is my pick me up , makes me feel good about myself and gives me more energy”
  • What was your most memorable race? ” World championships in Tokyo is my most memorable race as conditions were so tough and I spent 2 years specifically training for the race so to win and be the best in the world was amazing.”
  • What has been your most iconic running memory as a fan?Iconic running memory was Steve Ovett winning the Olympic medal over favorite Seb Coe. The race was amazing to watch and it inspired me to keep pushing boundaries and even though people might not see you as a winner the drive is within you and only you can make it happen”
  • Why do you think there has been such a resurgence in Scottish running in recent years? “Scottish Running is doing so well due to investment in coaching and clubs within Scotland that were put in place over 15 years ago ,investment where it matters ,we also support the individual athlete /coach pathways and now are reaping the rewards through amazing performances across the board”
  • Top training tip or advice you would give a slightly overweight man who may be going through a midlife crisis by entering the London Marathon? “My advice is be bold enough to start an exercise program and commit to it. Look at the balance in your lifestyle ,work, nutrition, sleep and keep it real, don’t put a limit to what you can achieve … most of all enjoy getting fit and do not put pressure on yourself to achieve a time just look to finish the race and being strong throughout”
  • How do you feel the resurgence in Scottish running at all levels will benefit the country? “By having world class athletics performances in Scotland means one thing motivation – kids are inspired and want to run and because they see result in their doorsteps they then believe more that they can achieve the same”

So there we go – some really interesting words from possibly Scotland’s greatest modern day runner, what an amazing insight she gave me. Talking about the mental health benefits of running as I did in a previous blog right here

She also provided inspiring words on her 1991 World Championship victory and some good sensible advice for the middle aged man going through a mid ife crisis (who may or may not be me!!)

Anyway, after all that excitement I have had a steady week training. I wasn’t feeling too well on Tuesday so had a night off. On Wednesday I played my first netball game in 28 years as we drew 13-13 against a team of pupils. Here is a picture of the glorious staff team, all gave permission for their photo to be used in this blog!

Staff netball team

It was actually great fun. We were a few points down after the first quarter but once we got the hang of things we pulled it back. Although the pupils did have a shot in the last second to win it. I played Goal Keeper, Goal Shooter and Wing Attack. The game ended with one of the opposition asking me “What the hell are you doing back here?” as I was in a bit of the pitch I wasn’t allowed to be in – it is hard to stick to where you are allowed to be!

Once I got home I headed to the gym to do a 10 minute warm up followed by 3 minutes of threshold running followed by 90 seconds of recovery. I had to do this 5 times before a 10 minute warm down. My threshold speed is 12 km/h but I may increase this next time as I felt it a little easy, and my recovery speed was 10.5 km/h.

Anyway, thanks for reading this far. If you would like to support me in my training and running of the London Marathon for the marvellous people at the RNIB you can do the following:

Text SMTR £1 to 70070 to donate £1

Text SMTR £2 to 70070 to donate £2

Text SMTR £3 to 70070 to donate £3

Text SMTR £5 to 70070 to donate £5

Text SMTR £10 to 70070 to donate £10

Or visit my fundraising page here

Alternatively sharing this page means a lot to me as well, it gives me a great boost when I see how many people read the blog and in what parts of the world they are in 🙂

Bye for now,

Stuart

Training day 7 – 5 football grounds and a basketball arena

I’m not sure why I decided to do this but the end of my first week of training was a 75 minute “easy run” so I thought I would try to run from Ibrox to Celtic Park.  Looking at this on Google Maps though I saw this was going to be too short a route so I thought I would chuck Hampden in there as well, this was my mistake, Ibrox to Hampden seems to have plenty of hills!

At the start – Ibrox Stadium

Kirsty dropped me at Ibrox at 10am.  Rangers are playing today and there were already supporters about the place with the scarf and flag sellers, Ibrox catering staff and some of the burger vans were getting parked up, I love burger vans.  I decided to do a lap of Ibrox first, a really impressive stadium.  Last time I was there I saw Morton draw 2-2.  I have also been to a couple of Old Firm games, some Rangers Champions’ League games when my brother was in Spain and a Scotland game or two.  It was here I heard the loudest noise I’ve heard at a football match when Morton played there in 1995, I think it was Paul Gascoigne’s competitive debut and the roar he got literally did make the air seem to crackle.  Pity he elbowed Derek McInnes in the face and Paul Blair missed a sitter but there we go!

Nice big main stand

I did stop briefly to take this picture, I really like that main stand, from inside the stadium under the floodlights it looks pretty cool.

I plodded my way through the South side of Glasgow towards Cathkin Park, home of Third Lanark.  I think they went out of business in the 1960s.

A picture of my brother’s dog Buzz for no reason that I was sent during the run

I was a little bit lost at this point but there was a set of stairs that were undeniably football stairs leading up a banking so I thought this must be it, the sign below confirmed it.

Cathkin Park, home of Third Lanark

I know very little about Third Lanark other than they went out of business and were called the HiHi as a nickname.  I think football historian Bob Crampsey may have supported them.  I liked this peaceful little piece of Glasgow.  I think someone is trying to fix this park up and get a Third Lanark team playing there again, I really liked the terracing and I reckon it would be a great place to watch a game on a warm summer’s evening, not so much in the winter maybe though.

Inside Cathkin Park

Then I made it to Hampden surprisingly quickly.  I really had no idea Hampden was so close to Cathkin Park.  Kirsty met me here to make sure I was alright and to take a picture.

Outside Hampden

Hampden is the home of Scottish football, the SFA and SPFL are based here and it was recently confirmed Scotland would continue to play here, Murrayfield in Edinburgh put in a bid for all the big games to be played there instead.  I think my first visit to Hampden was in 1986 for Aberdeen v Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final, Aberdeen won 3-0 and Walter Kidd was sent off for Hearts. I also went to the under 16 World Cup final, Scotland against Saudi Arabia in 1989 where many questioned if the Saudi Arabia team were actually under 16!  When Hampden was refurbished a few of my friends and I drove up from Dunoon to see Holland beat us 1-0 with a goal from Brian Roy in the game to mark the re-opening.  I think these details are correct, I am going google-less for this!

I was getting tired by here

The run itself was pretty tough up until that point, Ibrox to Hampden is really steep in parts but I passed through a really nice part of Glasgow along Nithsdale Road.  Next, I set out to Celtic Park, it must surely be nice and flat?

Shawfield, former home of Clyde

As I left Hampden I passed Toryglen football centre where I used to play 7 a sides on a Thursday evening.  A few minutes later I passed Shawfield Stadium where we had a football night out, I had an uncanny ability to bet on the dog that finished last in something like 7 of the races.  Shawfield is a greyhound track now but Clyde used to play there until they started shifting about, they now play in Cumbernauld.  This part of the run was flattish and my speed was picking up a little despite me being at the 7km mark, I can run on the flat for ages but hills are tough!  Kirsty met me here and I checked the next part of my route, it seemed to drag on for ages but I was pleasantly surprised to see Celtic Park looming before me relatively soon.

Almost finished

Celtic Park is Glasgow’s biggest stadium and the venue of one of my happiest nights as a Morton fan, when we beat Celtic 1-0 in the cup with a Dougie Imrie penalty.  I have also seen us lose here a few times.  It is a really impressive stadium and can be seen from a long way off.  I was at a Scotland v England game here a few years ago and would love to go to a Celtic European match, the atmosphere always seems amazing.

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The home of basketball

A new addition to the Glasgow sporting scene is the Emirates Arena, ideally I could have went in and ran a lap of their athletics track.  There is also the Chris Hoy Velodrome which I would like to try and, of course, it is the home of the Glasgow Rocks basketball team.

All done

At last I was done.  I chose to run from Ibrox to Celtic Park and not the other way around because I wanted the wind at my back most of the way.  In truth I didn’t feel much wind and next time I would do it the opposite way around so I didn’t have those brutal hills at the start.

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Proof that I did it!

As you can see, it wasn’t the fastest time ever but my splits below kind of show that I was managing ok once it came to the flatter areas.  That was an enjoyable morning and it was great to see such iconic venues from a different perspective.

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My split times, you can spot the flat areas.

 

Thanks for reading.  If you have made it this far and want to sponsor me for running the London Marathon for the RNIB then you can do so at this link here

You can also text SMTR76 £1 to 70070 (or £2, £3, £4, £5, £10) to give that amount.

Please feel free to share this if you want, I enjoyed running it and writing about it.

Official training week 1

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A thing on the wall in the Nike shop

That’s the end of the first week of training, it went alright I think. The way my training is written out it seems Sundays should mark the end of the week but I like to think of Sundays as the start of a new week so I am doing it this way!

Monday saw me doing 30 minutes of “conditioning” work. I am not too sure what is meant by that, the internet throws up many different ideas – one of the things seems to be press ups and stuff like that, I am not so sure I can do them anymore so I am just going to do a really gentle run on conditioning days. At the moment I am doing most of my running on a treadmill because it is nice and warm in the Aquatec gym and there are no hills – I don’t like cold or hills but I know I will need to dry my eyes and deal with them at some point.

Tuesday was 40 minutes at “easy” pace. I did 7.5 km in 41 minutes, it felt easy enough so I figured I had done ok. I am not sure if this is normal but sometimes the start of a run, the first kilometre or so feel hardest – then I seem to settle down and it gets easier – who knows?

Wednesday I was to do a gym class or cross training for half an hour. I hate the cross trainer, I went on it for about 3 minutes but couldn’t get going well at all. So I just did a 30 minute run instead. Is the reason I am to mix it up with cross training and stuff so that I don’t over-run and hurt myself? I will need to get that sorted.

Thursday I had to do 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes steady then 10 minutes easy. This was not bad. I chose 10.5 km/h for easy and 11.5 km/h for steady. I think 12 km/h is my threshold pace for when I have to do that. Again, this was not bad.

Friday was a rest day – I celebrated by going to Dunoon and visiting Anselmos for the first time in years! It has been taken over by someone else and the sausages have changed. Anselmos always had different sausages but now they just have the ordinary battered ones you get everywhere else – progress! Apart from that the new menu and everything looked great – as always, a tasty dinner, my dad’s haggis looked amazing, I have never had haggis from a chip shop.

Onto Saturday, 30 minutes cross training or gym class, I went for a parkrun. I think I will always do this on a Saturday. Parkrun today was a lot quieter than usual today, probably due to the horrendous weather forecast and cold wind, hail, snow, freezing rain and rain.

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A hardy bunch in lesser numbers today

153 people braved the elements though, plus the poor cold volunteers who did a great job. I was not feeling up for this at all this morning but I figured the most important runs are the ones you don’t want to do! Plus, if I start slacking off on the training I am in trouble, I need to get into the habit and make it an every day thing rather than an additional task I have.

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Trying to get in some kind of zone

The run went ok, for a few weeks now I have been meaning to have an easy parkrun to see if I could make it without feeling too tired and with the slippy conditions today it was as good a chance as any to try it out. I aimed to run it in 27 minute and 30 seconds and I did 27.44. I was quite pleased that I felt fairly fresh when I finished, it’s not always faster times that indicate progress I guess.

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A cold looking Strathclyde Loch

So then I went home and had 2 rolls and sausage, I felt I deserved it! Tomorrow is a 75 minute “easy” run so I will get a podcast downloaded and get on with it in the tropical surroundings of Aquatec rather than the icy environs of Mothewell.

A well earned couple of hot rolls

10 points to anyone who can name what programme is on the telly…

My running stuff

Right now I should be doing the Santa Dash in Glasgow but, because I didn’t open all the attachments in the email they sent me after I registered I didn’t know you had to go into The St Enoch Centre in the days before the event to pick up your number and Santa costume. So, I thought I would go in on the Sunday morning to get it all but alas, this was not possible, the shop was shut. Hopefully next year they make it clear in the actual email that you can’t pick up your stuff on the day of the event, somewhere obvious that a daftie like me can’t miss it!

Anyway, this blog isn’t about that, it’s about the stuff I wear when running. Firstly, probably the most important thing – the shoes. I got myself these bad boys (Saucony Guide 10 I think) from the good people at Achilles Heel.

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My dirty running shoes

You should always buy them from a proper running shop I think where they will look at how you run and recommend you a pair of shoes. I got my shoes from Achilles Heel in Glasgow https://www.achillesheel.co.uk They were really helpful as I thought the shoes didn’t fit me properly at first but on taking them back they explained a few things about how they were making my feet feel and gave me some advice and, hey presto, 2 weeks later after resting, they fitted me like a dream, very comfy and they feel pretty bouncy and everything.

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The most excited I have ever been about a pair of shoes
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I chose the tongue symbol, colours and ST and 76 myself

These shoes were bought for me as a Christmas present by Kirsty. I got them from Nike ID and designed them myself. I think I will keep them for indoor running as I don’t want to get them dirty! So far I like them.

Now the shoes are done I guess it should be socks next. I used to hate trainer socks and would often go running in the socks I wear to work – dress socks, This wound Kirsty up something awful and she would always want me to go for trainer socks – I resisted though. Now I wish I had listened to her – trainer socks are far superior – as long as they are decent ones that don’t slip down off the bottom of your heel.

Jackets now. I have a load of these, firstly this one:

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Ronhill

It’s made by Ronhill, I think my brother got me it a few years ago but it never fitted me, was always a little on the tight side. Thankfully now it fits me fine! I like it because it has a hood on it. Next, I have this old trusty top, again bought for me by Kenneth. Again, this was too tight at first but I really enjoy running in it, now it is probably a little big for me but it’s really comfy and warm and nicely fitting.

Puma – a favourite running top

I went out in it one night for a run but I think Kirsty thought it wasn’t bright enough to protect me from the threat of being hit by a car so she kindly bought me this shiny specimen, it lights me up like Blackpool Promenade in October and I love this too!

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In normal light – made by BTR
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With the flash on…

As you can see from the 2 photos – it reflects light really well, even me driving with my dodgy right eye would be able to spot someone wearing this thing! This jacket is also nice and warm but it does generate a little bit of sweat, taking it off and leaving it in a pile on the bedroom floor is not a good move (sorry Kirsty!). Finally I have this jacket underneath, following on a common theme, I have managed to slim down to fit into it and, again, I like wearing it. There isn’t much to it, it is very thin but ideal for running on days that aren’t too warm but aren’t too cold either!

Made by Ronhill – think my brother must have a sponsorship deal with them

Next, the contentious issue of shorts. I would like to make one thing clear here, I will never go running with those tights things on! I am sure they are great but I am not sure of the point of them, I always think I would get too warm wearing them. I do not own any running shorts although with Christmas coming up hopefully that will change soon. Here is a picture of me finishing the Glasgow 10k in the year they messed my time up – I look nothing like a runner. I wear an old Uruguay away shirt as it does something weird with the sweat that comes off me, I can’t quite explain it but it seems to draw the sweat away from me better than any other teeshirt I wear. You can also see me wearing a pair of Glasgow Rocks basketball shorts, they are knee length and spare anyone having to see too much of my pasty white legs!

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Finishing the 10k

I have never actually bought a pair of these shorts, I usually win them in raffles. Here is a picture of me being presented with them by a Glasgow Rocks’ basketball player, none of the 4 people in this picture look happy to be there!

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A very awkward photo

Finally, my trusty earphones. I resisted wireless earphones for ages but finally I succumbed. I keep losing these and have another pair in the flat somewhere. I can’t remember who makes them, I think it may be Soundbuds? They are nice and loud anyway. I quite fancy the bone conducting ones, they wouldn’t  keep FALLING OUT MY STUPID EARS EACH TIME I RUN!!! Sorry, had to get that off my chest!

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Any excuse for a plug

Thanks for reading again, the number of people reading my stuff is pretty cool. I start proper training tomorrow so I will post again during the week looking at my training plan. I will give a wee fundraising update too – I am so close to halfway there and would love to hit the £1,000 mark by Christmas. I have a collecting tin for loose change on my desk at work so if all else fails that will be getting emptied in 2 weeks and paid in to the account!

If you wish to sponsor me running the London Marathon for the RNIB then you can do it here:

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuartmtaylor

Text SMTR76 £1 to 70070

(or 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10 pounds also available!)

Volunteering

That was some wind this morning, the kind of wind that is going to seriously annoy you on 2 of the 4 straight bits at Strathclyde parkrun, fortunately I wasn’t running today, I was helping out at it – result! I mentioned in my previous blog about parkrun that I was going to make a serious effort to volunteer at one soon, I seem to have picked the right day for it certainly, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

The view from my marshal point, not bad!

I arrived at around 0845, a little nervous as I always am when I need to meet new people but I had no need to be as everyone was friendly and welcoming. My first task was to be handed a tent pole to assist with putting up a wee tent in the prevailing hurricane – as someone with their Chief Scout Award this should have been easy meat – but it was no nijer tent like we used in Scouts so I probably was more of a hindrance at this point. Soon enough the rest of the volunteers arrived and we were issued with our high-vis jacket and lanyard with emergency information etc. on it, turns out being a marshal has some more responsibility than making sure people go the right way! I was assured I was in for a pleasant morning and was assigned to marshal point number 2 (the one I secretly wanted anyway!). I walked round the kilometre and a half to 2 kilometres to my point with the man who was going to be at marshal point 3 – he had 2.5k to walk. We had a good chat abut parkrun and running and I enjoyed learning about his running past and how well his children and grandchildren do at running (one of his sons seems to be a runner of quite some repute with some really impressive times). One note of encouragement for me was that he told me he didn’t put on a pair of running shoes until the age of 49 – it’s never too late to get started. We eventually got to my point and my fellow volunteer wandered off into the sunlight / cloud / rain / wind to his point further on. Here I was, now all I had to do was wait for the runners.

Continue to enjoy yourself in a safe and orderly manner – thankyou!

The wait was quite pleasant and it wasn’t long until I saw the runners streaming up the South West side of Strathclyde Loch. I could already see one guy had opened up a big lead (but it’s not a race!) – he was fair flying into that wind. All I had to do at my marshal point was make sure people went the right way along a fork in the path and offer some encouragement, I was a bit hesitant at first, not quite sure what to say but I soon got the hang of it. The reactions I got from all the runners made the morning really worthwhile. A few high 5s, load of people saying thanks to me, a few comments about the wind and a big smile from most had me smiling all morning as well.

A nice rainbow summed up the morning

Another great thing about being a marshal is getting to see the runners that are usually way ahead of me, the speed they go at it something I will hope to approach one day. Gradually more and more people came past and I recognised some of the people that are usually around the same speed as me, all looking far more comfortable than I feel when running! More and more people passed by with a friendly wave, a thumbs up, a “thanks marshal” or a smile. Being able to offer some encouragement to the runners on their way back past me for the second time was really rewarding, that was a tough stretch into a fearsome wind and every single one of them had all of my respect for getting out there on such a rotten morning and getting it done. When I said “great run” to them, I actually did mean it. I think I said well done, great effort to people just out a walk or a run who weren’t doing parkrun but even they smiled and said thanks.

I did not have to utilise the lifebelt – phew

While standing at the marshal point a couple of people stopped and asked me what was going on. I actually felt really proud to be able to tell them about parkrun and how it was happening all over the UK and how it was free and open to all abilities, I think I bored one guy with how much I was banging on about it as he wandered off mid-sentence! Soon enough the tail walker came by and I could pick up my little signs and make my way back round to the start/finish area.

On arrival back at the start we were thanked for our work and off home I went – via the bakers, I think I deserved a wee treat after being out in that cold! Overall, I loved this morning. Volunteering at parkrun is amazing, the appreciation shown by all the runners makes it such a rewarding and worthwhile experience and I would urge everyone to give it a go, I will certainly be doing it again – if they let me…

Marshal point 2 is the best marshal point.

Just to add that just as I was about to hit “publish” on this, I got a text from parkrun saying:

Stuart, thanks for volunteering today at Strathclyde parkrun. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by us and all the runners” – that was nice.

This is part of my London Marathon training blog, I’m running it for the RNIB, if you would like to sponsor me a quid or something you can text SMTR76 £1 to 70070. Or you can visit my justgiving page here or you could simply share this blog, that helps me massively too. Thanks a lot.

No Santa for me.

Grey parkrun

Ahoy-hoy, another few days closer to April the 28th, it is starting to get very real now as I was sent my training plan today by a man called Ben, I will write about that at another time though.  I was also tagged in a conversation on Strava about running around the hills around Dunoon with 2 champion people called George and Michael – they seem a bit fast and fit for me but hopefully I won’t disgrace myself.

My brother’s brother in law equalling his PB

Parkrun on Saturday was a grey affair, cold and that breeze picked up on the finishing kilometre like it always seems to.  I did it in 26.03, still not getting below 25 minutes again.  It was pacer week, I think the pacers do a great job and would like to have the confidence to do it myself one month, I reckon I could nail 27.30 stone dead – but you can only do it in full minutes!  I met Stephen, my brother’s brother in law, before the run which was a nice surprise, he equalled his PB which was great.

I had been really looking forward to Sunday and doing a “Santa Dash” in Cumbernauld.  I got up nice and early and put my running stuff on and left the flat in plenty of time to get there and get registered.  On reaching the car I realised I had picked up the wrong set of keys.  On a Friday evening I always take my work keys off my key ring as a ceremonial “this is my time now” type thing but this backfired badly when I got down to the car with no car keys or house keys.  No problem, Kirsty was with me so I just asked for her flat keys to get back  in to get the car keys – she didn’t have her keys either.  Ah!  We had to get a taxi up to Kirsty’s mum and dad’s house for the spare keys but they were out so, by the time we got back down the road, it was too late.  It was not so much a case of “Ho Ho Ho” for me, more a case of “No No No” – sorry about that.  I was actually really gutted but what a day of football I watched instead, every cloud and all that.

 

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Me pre eye injection

Monday saw me having to have my 6th eyeball injection.  I am not sure why but I was really tense and nervous today.  I know it doesn’t hurt but the tension as I am waiting for it is unbearable!  Last time I was there I asked the nurse how she knew my eyeball was numb enough to give the injection – she told me it must be numb enough already as she was pushing on my eyeball with a cotton bud sort of thing to clean it – that was weighing on my mind as she was cleaning it!  The other nurse in the room actually asked me if I wanted her to hold my hand – anyone that knows me will know my reaction to that question – but it was a sign of how nervous I was today.  When I made the effort to relax I could feel how tense I actually had been.

These injections are helping my sight tremendously so far.  I know I am really lucky in that I can still see reasonably well but that fright I got back in April when I thought it was going to be gone forever in that eye – I shudder to think about it.  Again, this is the reason I chose to run for the RNIB, if you want to donate to them you can do so here I only need another £21.80 to break the £1,000 mark.  It’s actually really humbling that so many people have supported me so far.    47 supporters have donated to my page and loads of others bought some of those flipping Panini stickers.

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Nice cloud formation on the way to work

Again I need to thank my wife for driving me to the hospital this morning, waiting with me, driving me down to work then coming back for me as well – above and beyond the call of duty there, I owe her a trip to Pizza Hut or something for that.  Thanks to Lynne my colleague too for the lift up to Darnley so Kirsty didn’t have to come all the way to work for me and thanks to everyone at work for looking out for me today and making sure I was ok – the nurses said when I first got the injections that I was to just go home and sleep after them but if they are to be an ongoing thing I can’t be taking 10 days a year off work so I try to make the effort to go in.  The picture above is from the drive down to work.  I don’t usually get to look around because I am busy driving but it is actually a really nice drive, the cloud formation today was spectacular – once a geography geek, always a geography geek.

This week is busy, I am due to get my new running shoes, I have been tracking them from China to Dubai to Cologne where they seem to have been stuck all day.  They were meant to arrive today but they got delayed in Dubai, I can’t believe my shoes have a better time of it than I do!  Saturday I am volunteering at parkrun for the first time and Sunday I am doing the Santa Dash in Glasgow which looks fun – I will be treble checking my keys this time…