Glasgow Half Marathon

I am just up to the computer now after doing the Glasgow Half Marathon 1:30:36  – having a massage (very nice too) and a spot of lunch.

the route

This morning cousin Benji came across to race as well – he did a 1:38 3 weeks ago and has a PB of 1:28 but both of us thought a 1:35 time was on the cards so we were probably going to run together.

Glasgow was mobbed – we must have been a good 100m from the front – luckily in the first group to go – so the off was more like a slow amble and then the first 2km were just weaving through people / runners I suspect not entirely truthful about their finish times and maybe a bit closer to the front than they should have been. Well actually maybe it was simply that i was too far back because in 21km only a handful of runners passed me and I must have overtaken a good 1000 others.

Perhaps the euphoria of always overtaking explains my time … I felt great and was feeling very fast and steady. Ran with cousin for the first 5km and then gradually edged forward and lost him about the 9km mark. Whenever there was a corner I looked back figuring he would reappear at some point but it wasn’t to be today. As I was crossing the bridge a few km from the finish i figured i was doing well and thought it may be possible to pass the 1H30 mark easily besting my PB of 1:31:27 …. well as it happens it wasnt to be. Still managed to leg the last section past a Mr Weavy – one of those runners doing the weave of fatigue we have seen in old marathon films. Then as i crossed the line felt great then looked ahead as a runner was emptying a bright orange stomach content a few foot away – I did not need to have seen that ….

The glasgow course is great – pretty flat and apart from my little moan about the crowded start was a fun event. Well marshalled good water points and managed to see a few faces i knew ….

At the end my gps (and cousin Benji’s said it was over HM distance … his said 13.3miles and mine said 21.3km – so only a bit over. If so I broke my record for the official HM distance. HUZZAH

Did you run Glasgow today? If so let me know

A slower run and a longer look

Sometimes it’s the simple things that we take for granted that would give us the most pleasure just back from a run around Glasgow Green and having to take it a lot easier than normal in order to keep my heart rate below a certain level I found myself looking around a lot more and sometimes are looking around in these slower runs – you see things which you don’t normally seen on a normal run birds rowers- the list is endless.

strava route

This was part of my half marathon training which dictated running at least an hour and keeping my HR below 75% …. It a lot harder than you think – luckily the polar RCX5 does my thinking for me and beeps if I stray.

level HR

Run time

Starting training for glasgow half marathon …..

Time for my run – no wonder I feel tired – you can see where I woke up loads last night ….

Stepped out and saw the sun and that always makes the morning runs a bit easier. Ran down to glasgow green then followed a loop someone had mapped on strava and did it twice as wasn’t sure where the start or finish was and wanted to make sure it registered.
Not the quickest run but it’s been a bit and need to start stepping up the game as the Glasgow half marathon is just over a month away now …..


Angus half marathon – pants for me

Pants – for once I am first back at the finish line in a half marathon …. Problem is it was to hand my number back in after pulling out after 3 and a bit km’s.
Sitting in the car now waiting for my cousin-in-law to finish I know it was the right decision – another 19km would have probably done damage (I nursed that last km at 4:50 pace) and now as I sit drinking coffee the rain is just pissing down.

It got me thinking a bit about knowing when to quit …. Last weeks duathlon – my calf felt tight but I was nursing it a bit and think the ride between the runs must have helped. Will have to get home tonight and go on the turbo trainer and try get some exercise in today. Our friends we stayed with last night – Tom was heading out for a 70km ride – in retrospect I should have joined him …… Never mind.

Next marathon is a mtb one so time to refocus…. And retrain …..

Trouble shooting – weird Heart Rate spikes, dropouts and how to eliminate them

For those who train with heart rate monitors, you have probably encountered a session where your HR graph just doesn’t make sense. With my garmin it used to start fine then my HR would skyrocket up to the 180’s 190’s and I would be dead if I was there 200’s. With my Suunto – sometimes I would get no reading before it kicked into life …

Suunto no record then suddenly pop into life ...

After you finish your activity and get back to your computer, you’ll probably see something like this – a major HR spike a dropout or even a level no read situation, followed by more normal HR activity: Below is my reading from the Alloa Half Marathon on the weekend with flouro yellow highlights of bits that don’t make sense ….

Frustrated, you wonder if the battery needs changing but then the next time it is fine so you forget about it …but here is a reason why this might be happening.

I presume everyone can put their strap on correctly – that is the right way up and against the skin just under the ribcage …

So assuming that you’ve got it fitted right then let’s look at what typically causes the spike or dropout in HR

1) Are you wet yet?

During the winter months and in the case of Alloa on Sunday the air is often fairly cold, and fairly dry.  This means that you’re less likely to have moist perspiration on your skin (from heat) and even less likely to be generating any sweat right from the start of the workout.  This in turns lowers your belt’s conductivity ability to read your heart rate beats …..   Simply introducing any moisture at all will usually remedy the situation – at least until you begin sweating enough to let sweat do its job.

2) Synthetic quick dry shirts:

At Alloa I was wearing a synthetic shirt as opposed to my ‘normal’ nicer smelling Merino. An unfortunate side effect of synthetics is that they can dry out the body and the skin’s sweat making the belt so dry that it can’t ‘read’ the skin. Another issue is that synthetic material can build up static which can cause electrical interference with the HR belt.

3) Your mum is a gorilla:

I have heard some people of the hirsute variety have more errors ….. you need to be very hairy for this to affect the HR belt but if you are this way inclined … a) shave or groom b) stay swinging in the trees instead of running c) if female remain indoors and plait that hairy back …..

How to lick the problem:

It is pretty easy to fix

1) Sweat it: This first one is a bit obvious – but will explain why the problem often goes away after just a few minutes of activity.  Once you start sweating it improves conductivity.  This in turn makes the HR strap work …. but you still have the earlier misread ….

2) Lick it: This is the simplest option and what I do all the time. I just give the sensors a good gobbing – but hold onto your bogeys for the run.

HR gel

3) Heart Rate Gel: If you suck at licking, then you can instead use electrode gel to improve conductivity.  This is what’s typically used in medical environs for scans and using TENS machines …. it just ensures a good contact moisture seal between belt and skin. They are cheap as chips – about £5 for a big tube that will last years … If it is a dry very cold day and I remember then I use gel on the belt before heading out.

4) Shift the strap:

If you spot a dodgy reading then adjust the strap – a quick shift up and down normally gets the belt to rub against some sweat and the belt normal corrects pretty quickly. Some people shift the strap so it is half on back and front or even all on the back … i have not tried but it seems to work as an option.

5) Replace the batteries:

Finally, it could be as simple as old depleted batteries – most belts use CR2032 batteries so i always make sure I have a handful around ….

Alloa Half Marathon – race report

Woke up at 7am and looked out the window to the most glorious weather … Bright sunshine and hardly any wind. Temp slightly fresh at 4 degrees but bound to warm up.
Had my staple breakfast of raw porridge and banana and picked up Findlay at 8am for the drive to Alloa. We arrived early and had too much time on our hands for parking, registration and in findlays case, plenty of time to regret the curry he had the night before.
Temp was still hovering around 5 degrees but I learnt my lesson running the Jedburgh half marathon when my legs were sweating for most of the run, so shorts were donned but realised I only had a vest which might be a bit chilly. Borrowed findlays spare t shirt. Which was two sizes too big but had my vest on top to keep it snug.

Course map – showing long straight where the wind was in our face.

This time I remembered to take plasters to tape over my nipples – one of the problems of being born with nipples which seem to come out under the side of my chest … Maybe I was born to breast feed small animals anchored under my armpit hair.
I have only done one run, 7 miles in the sweaty heat of Baghdad where the seam of the vest chafed away at me and I finished that run in agony. LESSON LEARNED.

Back to the run. Organisation at this event was flawless. Good start zone, electronic chips for the shoes, plenty of changing facilities and loos both on the leisure centre and portaloos near the start.

Start was massive – so many people that it took me about a minute to cross the start line. The first 2 km were spent weaving through slower traffic and over eager athletes that had pushed to front of start line. From 3km there was plenty of space to pass for those overtaking and for those being overtaken. The police did a great job of marshalling and the cars were either kept back or their speed was curtailed by the often passing police motor cycle.

My legs post injury are still not up to speed so I kept my pace quite regular around the 4:30/km. I knew I wasn’t going to get my 1h31 PB in this this race but by the end was very chuffed to get a 1h36m as I was only hoping for sub 1h45

Alloa is a great race and I think I will do it again next year.


Only one slight problem with the race was my polar HR belt had a slight wobble. I don’t use gel on the belt but think that maybe the wicking nature of the shirt meant I dried up on my chest. Suddenly my HR said it was 97 – if only – I only noticed this after 3 km of bad reading – I was only glancing down at monitor every time the watch auto lapped the km to make sure I was doing alright and not flagging too quickly. I can only think the belt was dry as soon as I shifted it it read accurately again.
Still love the RCX5 though …..

Jedburgh Half Marathon

breakfast of champions

It is strange having to set alarms for the first day after the clocks change – my two watches are radio sync watches so wasn’t sure if the time was going to change automatically or not. In the end I set about 3 alarms to make sure I didn’t end up leaving an hour early for the race. Initially Findlay said he would drive – saving me the 2hr car trip – but as he was doing gigs up in Perthshire he decided to head straight there. So my routine on race day was wake at 7am … tactical ablution then the breakfast of champions, raw porridge oats, banana and a bit of honey. Clif Bar was for eating in the car. Picked up Douglas at 8am and hit the motorway for a quick stop an hour later for an espresso hit. Registration at 10am (the roads were also closing at 10:30am so had to be inside the cordon for then. Then tog up – stay hydrated and slight warm up (at this distance I don’t think a long warm up is needed in the same way as you do for a 5km race)

The weather was actually pretty good about 11C degrees, no rain as forecast earlier in the week – think that passed over on Saturday night … but there was a bit of wind which would change the second half of the race.

Race headed out and I got to see the leaders leg away into the distance …. in Fact when I was at the 9.5km mark I could see the leaders coming back at around the 12km mark … Winner Male – Robert Gilroy – 1 hour 12.04 minutes

Had a gel pack with me on the run that Fin had bought me … used on bike before but never running – had it just before half way – then picked up a water as well to wash it down and wash my hands which got covered in gloop …. quite good – should maybe have saved it a bit for later but who knows what the effect really was.

The course is great – although it won’t be the quickest as it is quite hilly and on the return we battled into a headwind of around 15mph. I got together with 2 other guys to push the pace up – figuring out on taking turns at the front to set a better pace … I had my brother in laws time in mind (he is 10 years younger but did a 1H31m time in the Glasgow Half) this worked well although the one chap dropped off about 3 miles from the end  and the other about a mile from the end. Was running then with Fiona who had a Glasgow Traithlon top on and her coach / hubby who was heckling encouraging her around the course. The last big hill he was going ‘c’mon the hills are your friend’ So i said out loud ‘they are not my friend so don’t worry if you don’t like them’ …. the other runners laughed, she grimaced and the coach didn’t express anything ….

Footpod out slightly laps are about 1.05km long ... 11sec less /km

Last push over the hill and saw the 1H31s tick over on my watch … the 6 miles into a headwind had sapped my last effort to break 1H30. Still only my second half marathon and 10minutes quicker than my first ….. I am going to train properly for the next one and smash 1H30.

elevation profile

Douglas got a 1H48 and Findlay a 1H51 PB’s all around – did you run – if so how did it go ……?

So the result 1H31m 26seconds (chip time)  66th out of 527 finishers and 19th out of semi old over 40 farts. ave pace 6:59/mile or 4m20/km and lastly but not least a medal for effort (which we like)

When the rain and mud cant put you off line

Incentive for the half marathon in the rain and wind – if Danny Hart can do this in downhill – a little jog shouldn’t put me off

Great Britain’s Danny Hart gave us a master class in downhill racing as he demolished the wet Champéry track in a show of dominance not seen here since Hill’s infamous run of 2007.

Coming off the back of an amazing 2nd place at the last round of the World Cup in Val di Sole, Hart went one better to cut more than 11 seconds off the time set by silver medalist Damien Spagnolo (FRA)… even finding time to showboat over the last jumps.

A defining moment in Downhill racing, the 2011 World Championships are sure to go down in history. Roll on the 2012 season…

The Running Track

So I have been living in the east of end of Glasgow for two years and didn’t realise there is a running track under a km from the house … well I haven’t looked but noticed it on a satellite view of my endomondo track the other day so today i decided to investigate.

Wow a running track from space

According to my walkjogrun Advanced half Marathon guide I should be doing a 30min workout today – this includes 3to4 short pickups of 30-60seconds where I run at a fast challenging pace. So I thought the running track would be perfect – so reset the watch then ran 3 laps at a fairly brisk warm up , then 4 reps of 400m fast with a 400m section between each slower to get HR down.

Garmin Connect


Jedburgh Half Marathon on Sunday and the weather is …. SH*TE – predicted 27mph winds and rain ….. oh well its only weather isn’t it …… I wonder if Findlay’s training is going well???


Kiting then Run

Went down to the coast this morning as the forecast was great (wasted an hour trying to get my Go Pro to switch on) think it is flecked and it has only been used once…. will check the battery compared to a pals otherwise will have to send back to B&H

troon in better weather

It was a lot windier than this pic and both Leo and I were out on our 7m kites … winds were gusting from 19knots up to about 32 – quite a change and got hit by gust twice in mid air so not the best. Leo bust his footstrap doing his 2nd kite loop so we decided to play a bit – first heading offshore to the reef … then going upwind towards prestwick past the long reef. Leo was tucking into small barrels about 3 foot from the windward side of the reef – I gave a healthier 20 foot berth to the sharp rock. I then went into the river mouth north of prestwick as the sandbar here throws up some nice waves.. Then after two hours I was knackered and headed for home ….. a good day.

Once back in Glasgow it was time for a run – today was a long run day and had intended a 20km run before I went kiting but once back and legs already a bit tired I headed off and did a shorter run  13km in 57min (a 4:24/km average) – I am planning to taper this week as I am running the Jedburgh Half Marathon next week ….. Was dreaming of a 1H30 finish but think it will more likely be a 1H37. Will see how enthusiastic race day makes me …..

Summary from Garmin Connect
BEST DISTANCES (from endomondo)
  • Cooper (12 min) 2.87 km
  • 1 km 4m:02s
  • 1 mile 6m:39s
  • 3 miles 20m:23s
  • 5 km 21m:07s
  • 10 km 43m:08s

How was your weekend?

That was a lot harder than it should have been – felt sick on the run

This morning was bathed in glorious sunshine even it was very chilly with feb cold in the air. I had to go through to edinburgh early to scout 3 locations for a whisky shoot on Sunday …. did a nice 40min walk down to Leith in the sun sorted out first location and had a nice lunch and half a Hoegaarden ….. then quickly up the road scouted two more locations then hopped on the train back to Glasgee ….. so much more civilised than the car.

Got home and donned the running gear – incl merino gloves as it was cold … run started off well and was breezing through a nice 4min/km pace with my HR only around 155 when suddenly near the mid way turn around I burped a beery coffee beer burp and suddenly thought I was going to throw up …. had to stop for about 15sec. Stopped again for about 10sec at the turning point then started running home at a slower 4:35-4:40/km pace …. wasn’t feeling great so kept that pace all the way home.

Garmin Connect with 2 big 'I don't feel well dips"

I blame the coffee or the beer or the early filming start the other day …. or my mum.


Anyway long run planned Saturday otherwise just a few small runs next week before the Jedburgh Half Marathon on the 30th …. is anyone else going to be there? Let me know if you are as Finley (thebarrroommountaineer) and his band man are too and we could all use a friendly wave.

Longer run and bits Slooow and other bits fine

Nice run today – phoned the Barroommountaineer to come and join me and to drag him away from his ProTools misery ….
route on endomondo
I wanted to do a 1H30m run (part training for the Jedburgh Half Marathon) but had to do one slightly shorter as I had to get across town to my daughters class at Scottish Opera …. We started off alright but then getting back into Glasgow Green after 4km+ Findlay started slowing down. I went ahead then turned and retraced my steps once I got to the bridge … When I caught back up to Findlay I think I gave him a hard time as the pace had dropped to a bad 5m07/km – a full minute down on the solo km’s I had just done.
HR a bit off at beginning until strap properly wet (sweaty)
Then home shower – wolf down some soup and head out the door again.
longer slower run
Start Time
Oct 15, 2011 12:43 PM
14.86 km
Avg Speed
4:46 min/km
Max Speed
3:52 min/km
1157 kcal
Heart Rate
138 / 150
with fin – left fin then caught back up to him on return and slower finish. HR reading a bit weird – think belt a bit dryROUTE BELOW

Running in the dark and pissing rain

It takes some strength to get out of bed in the dark and to look outside at a cold and wet ‘not yet morning’ and then don the running gear.

I did that this morning – glugged down half a glass of water and headed outside into the rain. The original aim was to do a 12km run this morning but by the bottom of the road I had decided a shorter faster run was needed.

I’m going to be honest here.

I’m sick of running in the dark.

I’m sick of running in the cold.

I’m sick of wet feet and gear.

And that’s not to say I don’t enjoy it. Much to the contrary, the very thing that gets me out the door is knowing that no matter how much I “don’t feel like it,” a mile or two in, I always end up warming up, finding a groove and being all together content in my run. Every. Single. Time.

But let’s be honest: only running in darkness before and after work five days a week is hard. Not only for motivational reasons, but also running at night on the trails is different. While often magical, it slows you down.

All that being said, guess what people? The days are getting shorter so there is no choice.

Ran down and around Glasgow Green – the main roads actually have lights on them so was in no need of the small torch I had brought with me for the run. Was thinking that a run of 1H30 in the Jedburgh Half Marathon would be good – after this morning I think a time of 1H30 would be both good and impossible …. I ran a 4:18/km pace and I would need to do a 4:16/km pace in order to make that time on race day (for a full23km) My last (and if I may admit only half-marathon) some years back was run at 1H41 which is a 4:47/km pace so I hope I can at least trump that.

Race day and people running along always help with pace so at least that is on my side.


Sunday interval Session: longer but less

Following on from a chat with my colleague about interval training it was suggested I swap my 10 x 1 min interval sessions for something longer, especially in light of the Jedburgh Half Marathon I am training for and running along with Findlay Napier(see also barroom mountaineer posts on this blog), Douglas and cousin Benji Napier (no relation to Findlay just to me).

So the routine is this

  1. have a slow warm up (in my case run just over 2km down to the park)
  2. then run as fast as possible for 1 mile (being a metric person I was trying to remember the actual km distance … I knew it was 1.6 and there was a 9 somewhere so I made sure I ran 1.69km – the actual figure is 1.609km = 1 mile)
  3. Recover for 12min with Heart Rate in recovery (below 70% max) for me >127bpm – I was about 129 but close enough I think.
  4. Then another mile as quick as possible.
  5. Recover slow run home.
interval graph on Garmin Connect
No fixed distance but I ran 11km in this session – was thinking that 3 intervals might be better as this evening my legs are actually feeling quite fresh. I prob wasn’t giving it enough being early morning and a bit tired my HR was only 163 when it can easily hit 175+ when i work hard.
Interval Session Details
Still pace interesting – BEST DISTANCES
  • Cooper (12 min) 2.93 km
  • 1 km 3m:37s
  • 1 mile 5m:58s
  • 3 miles 21m:39s
  • 5 km 22m:27s
  • 10 km 45m:55s (with recovery 12min in middle)
The Garmin FR60 once calibrated gives very good results – the only thing lacking is a barometric altimeter – and Garmin Connect with better analysis software …

The new blogger and the Jedburgh Half marathon

So previous post just up is from my twin from another mother Findlay Napier (CLICK THIS to see all his posts) …. when i say twin we share a birthday but are born 9 years apart ….  he is a talented musician, friend, surfer and he writes funnier posts than me so he has now become officially co-opted.

Our most recent joint madness is entering the Jedburgh Half Marathon …. I want to get a unatainable 1h30m finish time and Findlay wants glory whatever the time. Douglas the other male bit from Findlay’s band is also in as is Jolene’s cousin whi is a real runner.

So this morning once guests were up and watered I dressed for  the Monsoon’onic weather and left the house. I needed to calibrate the footpod on my new Garmin FR60 so I was also running with a Garmin bike GPS to get a more accurate distance. The info sheet suggests a run of 400-800m to calibrate but I figured that 12km would be REALLY accurate. As it turns out the footpod is about 7% out … so calibrated and hopefully the next run will be accurate and wont give me a despondent 4:55m/km reading for pace …… as it turns out it was 4:46m/km which is better but still slow.

My cold is shifting so looking forward to quicker runs and interval sessions this week.

The route is great – down to the occasional war zone of Glasgow Green then along the river – leaping over the police tape then running until I hit the 6km mark …. then a return.

the stop was me having found a torch on the path trying to give it to one of the rowing coaches that follow the path on their bikes … they are the only other ‘users’ at this time of the day when it is is pissing down with rain …..

Why Run a Half Marathon?

So here was yesterday’s attempt at killing Peter Currie. You can see the points where we came close.

Thought it might be worth publishing photos of the reason I’m doing this. So here it is… The 70’s swallow tail single fin. It’s probably about the same age as me and in marginally better shape.

[This post originally appeared on Findlay Napier’s blog]

Day 2: Jedburgh Half Marathon Training

Out into the eye of the storm. What was I thinking about. At least on
the fast run I can get back to the flat and hide in my bed… that was
the thinking anyway. Here’s what I managed. First time since I started
running about four years ago that I’ve actually felt my eyes pop out my
head. Finished the run with a fairly unpleasant 1km ‘sprint’, which in
reality was a crawl, into the wind along the side of the pond at
Alexandra Park.
[This post originally appeared on Findlay Napier’s blog]

Jedburgh Half Marathon: Training Day 1

The tail end of a Hurricane is not the perfect day to begin training for a half marathon. Sure enough it meant there was less people to watch me dragging my sweaty corpse up the hill at University Avenue around seven last night.

Sunday 7 miler

Sunday 7 miler

Am I ready for the Race – No! Am I entering …. YES

It’s done. Weekend planned heading down to Wales for this ……

MTB Marathon – Ruthin 18th September 2011:
Following the ELBNO Night Marathon on the evening of the 17th September 2011, the MTB Marathon is the daytime alternative or the extra ride for the real ‘hard core’ riders out there. 

The route will cover four different course lengths:
full marathon – approx 100km course
middle marathon – approx 75km course
half marathon – approx 50km course
mini marathon – approx 30km course

The Sunday courses will use some of the ELBNO course. But we can promise you that it will feel completely different to ride this course first at night and then again in the daytime. As in previous years we will be working with LPFRA (Llanferres Playing Field and Recreation Association) who did a fantastic job providing 65 marshals and making all the tweaks to make the Ruthin course work. 

For 2011, LPFRA are intending to rework the 2010 courses adding some new sections for good measure, polishing off certain sections and include lots of the best bits from the former Ruthin rounds – fast and flowing tracks along the open hill-tops mixed in with challenging and technical single and double tracks through the various wooded areas whilst providing spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and N. Wales coast. 

They are all well-experienced mountain bikers with extensive local knowledge who work in partnership with North Wales Mountain Bike Association (, so once more we keep the riders on their toes and will create an event which will stay in people’s minds for months to come. Well worth checking out if you are new to the Ruthin location or if you are a regular. The marathon will be once again based at the Ruthin RFC, which will be signposted from Friday afternoon onwards. 

Start time:
The MTB Marathon will start at approx 10.00am on Sunday the 18th September at Ruthin’s RFC. 

Registration opens:
Saturday from 12.00pm – 8.00pm
Sunday from 7.00am – 9.00am

And even pre-booked the ticket