Phone Box Thursday: Mylne Avenue, Dollar

Here’s a well-kept phone box from Mum and Dad’s adventures.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Mylne Avenue, Dollar, 31st July 2020.

(Coordinates 56°16’33.8″N, 3°68’04.7″W.)

Unlike a lot of phone boxes we’ve seen recently, this one looks freshly painted and well-maintained (the phone inside is still intact and seemingly in working order).

Interestingly, the ‘Telephone’ plate at the front has obviously been replaced in recent years – the Street View image shows a ’00s-era blue ’email/text/phone’ plate (for a while, these were installed in certain phone boxes along with basic computers that allowed you to access email – my student flat in 2003/2004 didn’t have internet connection, so I used the email-enabled phone box on the street corner all the time!).

Nice to see a phone box that’s still loved. Hopefully this one won’t be going anywhere anytime soon!

Legs ready to go

One last long-ish easy run today…

…and now the next few days will just be gentle recovery mile-long runs in order to save my legs for the Virtual GNR on Sunday. I’m getting really excited now!

Other than my run and my yoga session, I’ve just spent today doing a bit of work and sorting out some pre-race admin. Same again tomorrow!

My new frames, ready for me to put my running collages together. I’m really hoping that I will actually have some time to work on these at the weekend!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Toni Braxton – ‘Unbreak My Heart’
Elvis Presley – ‘It’s Now Or Never’

And a couple of bonus tracks that Geth was humming earlier:

The Lancashire Hotpots – ‘The Technical Support Song’
Eiffel 65 – ‘Blue (Da Ba Dee)’

Race Review: Inverness Half Marathon 2020

It was meant to be the start of a fantastic race season. Training was going brilliantly for my second London Marathon, and I was also looking forward to improving my PBs at all my usual spring races before spending the autumn exploring a few races that I hadn’t done before. While the Tokyo Marathon had been cancelled for all but its elite runners a couple of weeks previously, it just didn’t seem likely that the coronavirus pandemic would have that kind of effect here in the UK.

That was early March, of course – we had absolutely no idea what was about to hit us – and six months down the line, with everything else now officially postponed to next year, it is definitely the case that the Inverness Half Marathon was, and will remain, my only race of 2020, not counting the two virtual ones that I will be running in the next month.

I’d probably better get round to reviewing it, then, seeing as how in hindsight it was the highlight of my ‘season’!

Inverness Half Marathon
A stream of runners along the banks of the River Ness. (Photo © John Cooke 2020)

My initial, fairly modest, aim for Inverness was to run sub-2:35 (for context if you don’t know, I’m a slow runner who has been gradually bringing my half marathon times down from 3:46:45 in my first Great North Run in 2016). I had run a new PB of 2:36:32 at the 2019 GNR, and at that time had set the goal for my next half as sub-2:35, with the additional hope that I would further improve this to sub-2:30 by the end of 2020. (There were a lot of half marathons planned for 2020… sigh.)

However, the combination of my London Marathon training and my new habit (started on New Year’s Day 2020) of running every day meant that my pace was really improving, and it was starting to seem possible that I would be able to run closer to 2:30 by the time of the Inverness half. Geth was predicting an even bigger improvement of 2:25 based on my recent times, and I knew that if I had a good race I would probably be able to do it. However, I kept my goal time modest, because – as is always the case in half marathons – I was worried about pushing myself too hard and burning out. I promised myself I would be happy with anything under 2:35, which would be a good PB.

Pre-half marathon
All ready to run! Pre-race in the sports centre.

Inverness is a great course. Most of it is fairly flat, with the exception of a long-ish climb round about miles 4-5. This climb is early enough in the race that it feels like you’re getting it out of the way early on. The middle section is a bit suburban and twisty, but the first and last couple of miles feature stunning views of the River Ness (the last mile back to the stadium is a bit of a slog, but you just have to power through at that point!).

It was cold on the start line (though not as bad as 2019!), with everyone eager to get going. As such, I went off far too fast for the first mile, and it took until about mile 3 for me to settle into my target pace. I was a bit worried that this would come back to haunt me; however, I was able to maintain my pace really comfortably for the rest of the race. I finished in 2:23:42 – a huge PB of 12 minutes and 50 seconds. This was massively promising for the rest of the year!… at the time.

Obviously, that planned ‘rest of the year’ did not transpire, and I have a general rule of not thinking about the parallel universe where coronavirus didn’t happen, so I’m not going to dwell on what might have been this year. However, I’m hopeful that when races finally start back up again, I will be able to get back to chasing down those PBs – my next scheduled in-person half marathon is Edinburgh in May 2021, which is meant to be really flat and fast. 2021 could be the great race season that 2020 originally promised to be, assuming that things continue to move slowly back towards normality.

Plus, of course, I’ve got the Virtual Great North Run this Sunday with the local social run group – and my long runs with them have been promising pace-wise, so you never know…

Next level

Several shorter runs today…

…as today was my first session of specific training for my 24-hour London Marathon challenge, i.e. first session of running several mile(ish)-long runs on the same day. I’ll be doing this quite a lot over the next few weeks in order to get used to the hourly runs scheduled for the 4th of October. I’ve already learnt quite a few things just from doing four runs at three-hour intervals over the course of today!

When I’ve not been running, I’ve been working. As I explained yesterday, the September rush has started, so I’m juggling a lot of clients at the moment. I don’t mind busy work weeks like this, though, as it means I have more momentum than on weeks when it’s a bit piecemeal and stop-start (i.e. most weeks!).

Have also enjoyed a nice yoga session, and am now putting my feet up with some YouTube videos this evening.

Between runs
I spent most of today hanging around in my old trackies from my 1990s teenage years in order to keep warm. Planning lots of kit changes for the 24-hour challenge because I felt a bit grim being in the same stuff all day!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Rizzle Kicks – ‘Down With the Trumpets’

parkrun tourism: Inverness

With the – tentative! – news that parkrun events may be starting up again in England by the end of October, I thought I’d better finish off my pre-hiatus tourism reviews!

Geth and I were in Inverness on the first weekend of March for the Inverness Half Marathon. It was our second year running the race, and last year the Saturday was a bit hectic (we got the train up on the Saturday and due to rail issues didn’t arrive in Inverness until very late at night). This year, I wanted a much more relaxed Saturday before the race, so we spent a couple of days driving up (staying in Edinburgh en route) and arrived in Inverness on the Friday night, in time to attend Inverness parkrun for a shakeout on the Saturday morning.

I’d been worriedly following the Inverness parkrun social media pages for the previous few weeks, as the bad winter weather had meant that they’d been cancelling every week. Inverness has two different courses – the primary course in Bught Park and the backup course in Whin Park – and thankfully the weather leading up to the half marathon weekend stayed dry enough that they were able to use the Whin Park course. We were on for Geth’s 100th parkrun!

Inverness parkrun
Post-run selfie with that poor collapsed pop-up sign! I think Inverness maybe need to order a new one from HQ…

The Whin Park course is three and a half laps of a pleasant park with a nice lake. There was a section that was a bit difficult and muddy due to recent flooding, but other than that it was fairly secure underfoot. Geth and I jogged round together at a fairly leisurely pace, saving our legs for the following day, and it was a really nice run.

Post-run and post-return-to-hotel-for-showers, we headed into town for cake. There’s got to be cake on a milestone parkrun day!

parkrun milestone cake
Milestone cake! Geth managed to squeeze in his 100th parkrun before lockdown started – he’s been on 100 ever since!

I don’t know when I’ll be back in Inverness, but I’d be happy to do this parkrun again!

September rush

A very nice hill repeats session today…

…which I really enjoyed! I’ll be incorporating more of those sessions into my training once my autumn challenges are done.

I’ve spent most of today (and most of the weekend) doing day job work. The early autumn rush has started – thankfully! It usually starts in August, and I was a bit worried it would be a lot quieter this year with people falling behind with studies due to the ongoing uncertainty about pretty much everything, but it has finally picked up and so I’ll be working pretty much non-stop for the next few weeks. Lots of running and cross-training to do too, but today I managed a really good balance and I’m hopeful that the next few days will be similar.

More day job work and more running tomorrow.

We actually had post today, whoop! Quite incredibly, it included the hearing aid batteries from the hospital that I sent off for weeks and weeks ago and assumed had been lost.

Today’s earworm playlist:

U2 – ‘Elevation’
Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon [Theme From The Trap]’
Kiki Dee – ‘Star’

Head clearing

Three miles today…

…which was a nice way to start the day and clear my head, as I was really busy with day job work today. I was able to get out for a walk to the supermarket with Geth at lunchtime too.

Other than that, I’ve just been getting work finished for clients today. There’ll be a bit more work over the weekend, but hopefully tomorrow will be slightly lighter.

I’ll be back with another update on Monday. Running vlogs as usual for the next couple of days!

Hot chocolate
My new evening treat – hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows. A bit lighter than the ice cream I’ve been having over the summer!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Roxette – ‘Sleeping In My Car’
Carl Orff – ‘Gassenhauer’
Kiki Dee – ‘Star’
Rizzle Kicks – ‘Down With The Trumpets’

A pleasant new pattern

Another short run today…

…followed by a nice walk in the sunshine. I’m really happy with my daily routine at the moment. I’m usually done with running/walking/yoga by noon, and then I can crack on with day job work/admin in the afternoon and be done by eight or nine at night so that I can relax for a couple of hours before bed. I’m not at all a morning person, but strangely, I have turned out to be a morning exerciser – I feel very unsettled on days when I have to do it in the evenings – so keeping to a more traditional nine-to-five schedule for work and then running afterwards just wouldn’t work for me at all.

Tomorrow will be busy as I’ve got a couple of clients with tight deadlines at the moment. It looks like I’ll be working over the weekend as well, which is often the case at this time of year, but I’m really grateful that the work is coming in, as it looked for a while like September might be quieter than usual.

Wall art
I’ve been digging out more art for the walls. I bought this one from Vincent Fantasy Art at UKGE a few years ago, but haven’t found a space for it yet. This is the week!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Carl Orff – ‘Gassenhauer’
Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’