The Tesco Run, every little helps

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Picking up the baton

“That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard”. Those were the exact word of my younger brother when I told him I planned to run between all the local Tescos. This from a man who co-formed The Runbetweeners – a group set up initially with the aim of running between things! When someone who likes running between things to tell me my idea of running between stuff was the worst idea ever, I knew I was onto something. My plan has always been to try and do my longer training runs for the London Marathon as some kind of challenge or novelty run (if anyone has any ideas please let me know!) So I figured the Tesco stores in my part of the world would set an appropriate challenge. The distance would be around 13k – pretty much what I was looking for. Someone suggested carrying the baton around with me so the picture above is of me buying said baton of bread – there will be a few bread puns in this I’m afraid, it’s a bit of a half-baked idea.

Proof of starting time and location
Relaxing before the start at Wishaw

After being pointed in the right direction I was on my way. The first section was a nice downhill from Wishaw into Motherwell. I was going along at a good speed for me and the kilometres were ticking by surprisingly quickly. I ran past a McDonalds and a KFC and also a football pitch outside Wishaw Hospital that had an 11 a side game on it, I felt like stopping to watch it but then I remembered I hate football now (thanks Morton!). Here I had my first picture taken, I am not sure why but I held my baton like the Olympic Torch – I used my loaf there.

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The Olympic Loaf

I was actually amazed at how soon I reached Motherwell Tesco. A quick stop to buy a Wispa. I love Wispas, ever since the weird adverts with Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, I could do with one right now actually.

Arrival at Motherwell

This is my local Tesco and I can recommend it to people. It doesn’t feel like a big multi-national chain store and the people that work in there are a pretty friendly bunch. There is also a Greggs and a Dominos in the same shopping area – what a world!

Me and my Wispa
Proof of time and place

So, I munched on my Wispa and carried along my merry way. I had debated which route to run from Motherwell to Carfin. One route was downhill a bit followed by about 1km pretty steeply uphill whereas the other route was a more gradual incline around Ravenscraig where the steelworks used to be. I chose the Ravenscraig route but I think that was a mistake.

Past the College

I am no expert in this area but it looks like they have spent a lot of time and money doing it up. There are loads of new developments like the College above. It’s hard to imagine that on these roads I was running used to be a big massive steelworks giving employment to thousands of people and now it was a big green open space. Ravenscraig sports centre is also there, there is a section of running track in there and it is where they have the counts for the elections where I managed to sneak onto the camera on a few occasions as can be seen below.

Me at  the referendum count (the guy in the background)
Keep on running

I kept on running, and running. This bit seemed to drag on, I was not enjoying the very gradual incline and my time started to slow right down. Eventually I made it to the roundabout though and I knew I was almost at Carfin Tesco. I got there and the bread was starting to get a bit crumbly and broken but, by a slice of luck, I had kept it in its plastic packaging so it was holding up well. A stop in for a bottle of Lucozade and I was on my way.

Geez, the camera adds 10 pounds right enough…
Getting there

So, onwards to the part of my run I was most unfamiliar with – Carfin to Bellshill. This part of the run took me through places like New Stevenson, Mossend and Holytown. passing the Lithuanian Social Club amongst other things.

By this time I was in a lot of pain with my loaf of bread (one for the French teachers that read this) but I kept pushing on. A nice downhill section past the mosque which I enjoyed as you can see below, was followed by the final stretch into Bellshill, birthplace of Tom McKean, alas I did not see him though.

Lovely downhill

I had no real idea where I was going now so I just headed for the centre and eventually saw the Tesco ahead of me, a quick runaround and I was there, I wanted to get right to the door to finish it properly.

Almost there

What a relief when I finished. Another bottle of Lucozade to prove I had been there and I was done.

Baton delivered
Proof

Sadly I had no-one to pass the baton onto so I just stuck it in the bin, it didn’t look or feel too appetising after having ran with it. I think if I had tried to take it home for Kirsty I would have been toast.

My faithful companion

Underneath are my route and my stats for times etc. I reckon I still have a lot of improvement I can make and I look forward to hopefully seeing improvement over the next month or so.

Good start soon gave way to a more steady pace

So, there we have it.  Remember, you can donate to the RNIB at the following link www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stuartmtaylor

Sharing this would also be a big help to me – thanks a lot.

18 things I learned in 2018

I saw someone else do a blog like this so thought that I would try it as well. This time of year often leads to self- reflection and introspection and for that reason I’m not a big fan of new year. In many ways I could consider 2018 a pretty rubbish year for me but, with a step back and a bit of perspective, I need to count my blessings again and realise that things have been ok and anything that has gone wrong can be turned into a positive. So, with that said, here are 18 things I learned in 2018.

  • Get regular eye checkups. Kirsty had been getting onto me for a couple of years about getting to the optician to get my eyes checked. Part of me always thought my vision was alright so there was no need for me to go. Another part of me was too scared to go in case they looked in the back of my eyes and found something wrong with me, pretty stupid, I know. Had I gone for a checkup earlier they may have noticed something was going wrong with my eye and I could have done something to stop it going wrong, then I wouldn’t be left with quite badly impaired vision in my right eye and the need for an eyeball injection every month. So yeah, get your eyes checked, you are entitled to a free one every 2 years if you are over 40 or in some other cases, check here for more information on this in the UK.
  • Don’t be scared of the doctor. Gee I was scared of the doctor. I’ve always suffered with a bit of health anxiety so when my eye problems kicked off and the consultant at the hospital told me to make an emergency doctor appointment that had me scared! I distinctly remember sitting terrified in the waiting room with Kirsty and then not even being able to speak properly to the doctor. I needn’t have worried though as he was great, reassuring, calm and kind. My only issue was a sky high blood pressure, in part explained by how worried I was feeling but easily enough fixed. I’m now in and out of the doctor more often for prescriptions etc and it holds a lot less fear for me now, doctors are there to help us and make us better, not to give us a hard time and shout at us, again, this is obvious for most people, not for me though!
  • Do not get your hopes up when it comes to Greenock Morton. I learn this every year but need to keep re-learning it every year as well. Summer was quite an exciting time to be a Morton fan. We had signed a few good players and got a semi-competent manager in Ray McKinnon. I even badgered Kirsty to get me a season ticket and stuck a bet on us to win the league. Fast forward to the end of August and our manager had left us for Falkirk. Fast forward to December and we have had thrashings off Ayr, Ross County and Alloa and the season ticket is feeling more and more like a punishment.
  • Drinking water is important! I was never a big water drinker until this year. It’s really good for you though and helps you to lose weight, something to do with the flush effect or something. In my new place of work there is a water cooler right outside my room, and a toilet as well, so I’ve no excuse for not drinking the water. Barrs’ decision to mess with the recipe of Irn Bru has also helped wean me off soft drinks and onto water, something I will definitely make an effort to continue with next year.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s all small stuff. I think this could be my most important lesson of the year. As I’ve alluded to in other blogs such as this one here , I was/am a massive worrier. Anxiety levels are always high and I know this can have a negative effect on my blood pressure etc. so I’m needing to make a big effort to try and rationalise my worries and look at them in context. Here I am, living in a developed country, with access to clean water, a roof over my head, plentiful food, a job and a healthcare system free at the point of delivery. Comparing the problems I was worrying about to others that people around the world have and that people around me are dealing with makes me realise that things aren’t so bad for me and worrying about things won’t change them at all.
  • I’m still not much of a hugger. When did hugging people become so popular? Hi, how are you? Here’s a hug. See you later, bye, here’s another one. Congratulations, commiserations, have a hug. Ha, I like the sentiment behind it and I appreciate it but don’t be offended if I offer an elbow or handshake back 😀 https://youtu.be/hN8CKwdosjE although watching that it’s hard to argue against hugs being a force for good!
  • Ask for help when you need it. This is something that I’m always saying to my pupils in work but it’s a piece of advice that, as adults, we don’t often follow ourselves. Whether it be problems at work, problems at home or problems our health, there is always someone who can help. Don’t worry about admitting to mistakes or vulnerabilities, learn from them and use them to help you grow and improve. Particularly men! We hate admitting weakness and vulnerability but we need to do it, help is only one phone call, text or conversation away.
  • It’s important to help each other and look after each other. There were a good few people that reached out and helped me this year and it made such a difference to me and, to kinda pay it back, I’m trying my best to offer assistance to anyone I think maybe struggling or whatever. It’s a pretty rewarding feeling, you should try it. Imagine how good a world we would live in if we kept checking up on each other and looked out for each other. This reads like the People’s Friend or a Hallmark card or something, but that’s ok, it’s true enough!  So, if anyone ever wants to go for a run or needs a hand with something or just have someone to moan at, then give me a try!
  • Do things, don’t plan to do them. I will need to take my own advice here because I’m an awful procrastinator but getting things done is the only way to be. This year I entered the London Marathon, in previous years I had only thought about it. I could launch into a “life is short, do things while you can” bit here but it’s been said a million times before by people wiser than me!  I prefer the whole “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, that way if you like it, you can do it again” way of looking at this.
  • Being grateful can totally change your mindset. There I was back in May feeling awfully sorry for myself and my lack of right eye vision when I decided to instead be grateful that I could see well out my left eye and lots of people would love to be in my situation, that transformed the way I felt about myself and is something I’m going to try and keep doing in 2019.
  • Cyprus is awesome. I knew this in 2017 but had it reconfirmed in 2018 in July.
  • Don’t take things for granted. Yeah, things like your eyesight and health, look after them.
  • Wash the bottom of the dishes too! Thought i better put this in to show Kirsty that I’m trying to learn! Also, related to this, check the washing is properly dry before I put it away and when I am asked to clean the toilet, that doesn’t just mean the toilet itself but also the bath, shower, sink, floor, mirror and little units in there as well.
  • I work with a lot of amazing people. I was lucky enough this year to work with a whole lot of new people and they have all been great. I could name a few people who have been brilliant for me this year but I’m scared of missing someone out but rest assured I’m thankful for all the help and support and laughs I get at my work, what a difference it makes.  Linked to this, I also have a lot of great friends who are full of kind words and encouragement and support.
  • You will get through this. Every person reading this has been through challenging times in their lives and they are still here, proving that whatever you are facing, you will get through it.
  • Breathe. When I was obsessing over my blood pressure and measuring it 8 or 9 times a day I noticed that a couple of deep breaths would take my blood pressure down by quite a lot.  It’s such an easy form of relaxation that I am annoyed I haven’t incorporated it into my daily life until now!  I need to watch though as too many deep breaths can make me feel light headed when I stand up!
  • Laughter is a great medicine.  I have had the good fortune to attend a number of comedy gigs this year.  Jason Manford in the few weeks after my eye went wrong.  Jason Manford is one of life’s good guys and had some really poignant words about mental health at the end of his really funny set.  We also went to see Jon Richardson and I went to see Rob Brydon with my brother.  Rob Brydon was the big surprise here, what a funny and engaging person, he was near enough the perfect gig.
  • People are good.  Yeah, most people are good, accept this and trust people and you will rarely be let down. If they do let you down that says more about their character than your’s.

Right, that’s the 18 but I have a few more bonus things that I learned.

  • De-clutter.  I always feel better after chucking out a load of things I no longer need.
  • A kind word can transform someone’s day, as can a nasty one.  This has been a big lesson to me this year.  I can totally over-react to negative things people say to me but, then again, maybe others could be hurt by things I say to them, even though I may mean no malice so I am going to try my best to choose my words really carefully this next year.  Also, when someone says something nice and positive, no matter how small, it makes me feel a million dollars! So, again, I will be making the effort to be as positive as I can with people this next year.
  • East, West, home is best.  This year the good people of Dunoon have helped me out as always.  In the summer it’s a great time for a visit when it’s sunny.  In the winter in a big storm it’s a great place to visit as well.  The people from Dunoon are great as well and loads of old friends have offered me loads of help with my marathon training and fundraising. The very fact that I had stones from the West Bay on the tables at my wedding to mark where people should be sitting shows the loyalty I have to my hometown.
  • Turn negatives into positives.  Hopefully people can see from this blog that a theme of my whole year has been turning negatives into positives.  Had it not been for my dodgy eye I probably wouldn’t be running the London Marathon and I would probably still be struggling at times without letting people help me out.  But that event back in April has radically altered the way I look at things.  Right now I feel fitter than I have since my teenage years and I am able to wear shirts without an “X” in their size again (well, maybe not just now after the Christmas excesses).

Anyway, that’s it,  I will maybe write another one of these tomorrow with 19 targets for 2019.  In the meantime, remember you can sponsor me for the RNIB doing the London Marathon at this link here.

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.

splits
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.