I've been tagged by allybea, which means I need to answer the questions that have been set. I'll try my best.
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
I was just about to attempt my first WHW race. With the benefit of hindsight I was hopelessly underprepared, had no idea about what lay ahead, and on the day I dropped out at Tyndrum. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I actually carried a spare pair of shoes in my backpack all the way from Rowardennan to Beinglas Farm. Today's first timers don't know how lucky they are having access to such high quality advice from the likes of me :) However every cloud has a silver lining: the failed attempt was a great learning experience for my successful attempts in later years, and as a bonus I ran some fast race times later that year, no doubt a result of all the training I did for the WHW race (for example Irvine 10k in 36.23; a club 5k in 17.41; the Glasgow half marathon in 1.20; and the Inverclyde marathon in 2.56.)
2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
Best - I have great memories of many races. Every WHW finish is great, particularly last year when I ran a PB; all 5 of my sub 3 hour marathons were fantastic experiences, but Zurich last year was particularly good as I didn't think I would ever run a sub 3 marathon again; I was on a high for days after my 1.17 half marathon at Ayr in 1996; and I was chuffed to bits to beat the hour (59.07) at the Round Cumbrae race in 1996, probably because I had gone to Millport for my summer holidays for about 10 years as a boy.
Worst - I try and put the bad runs out of my mind, so I'm struggling to think of too many. One sticks in my mind, however, from the beginning of May in 2002. Allybea was away, and I took the boys to my parents' house in Kilbarchan and went out for a quick 4 mile run. About half way round I tripped, landed hard on the pavement, and dislocated and fractured my right shoulder. It was excrutiatingly painful and I spent the night in hospital in Paisley. Even worse, I damaged a nerve in my right hand, and couldn't write for 3 months. Not a great running experience.
3. Why do you run?
I love being able to compete against others and against myself. I love feeling fit. I love the cameraderie amongst runners - particularly the WHW runners, many of whom have become my closest friends. I love doing things other people consider unachievable at best and insane at worst. I love being able to eat and drink whatever I want. I love the feeling of release I get from running, whether it is through towns or through some of the world's best scenery.
4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
This is a hard one. There was a saying in the original scottishathletics business plan which I found quite inspiring - "the only limits are self imposed". In terms of general sports advice, I'll never forget the time when, 18 years of age, I was standing with a friend in the clubhouse at Old Ranfurly Golf Club, watching the pouring rain outside, and considering whether to go out or whether to give up and head back home. One of the older members came up and asked us if we were going to play. When we told him we weren't sure, he came back with the unforgettable line "Well boys, just remember that a faint heart never fucked a pig". He had a point. We played.
Worst advice - in 2000, I had a pain in my foot for a long time after the WHW race. My physio was convinced it was a stress fracture. I knew it wasn't - it only hurt some of the time, and I was convinced that a stress fracture would hurt all of the time (obviously having a much better knowledge of sports injuries than senior members of the medical profession). After a few months of no progress at all I was sent for an MRI scan - I'm not wanting to make any political comment here, but there are times where private medical insurance can be of great benefit - and guess what the MRI scan showed? No stress fracture. The (now ex) physio was embarrassed, but once he realised it wasn't a fracture he was able to treat it properly, and I was running again a few weeks later.
5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
Here's a selection:
Despite looking in my late 20s, I'm actually 42. Last week at Sainsburys the checkout boy asked me if I was over 18 (honestly!)
In first year at secondary school I played Oliver in the school production. For the next 3 years peope used to shout Aw-lee-ver whenever they saw me in the playground, which was hugely annoying. 30 years later, I still remember the words to all the songs.
In my teens golf and football were my main sports. I managed to get my golf handicap down to 8 at one stage, although now I struggle to play to 18. In football I played in a school team that won the U16 Scottish Cup.
I worked for two summers as an auxiliary nurse in the Western Infirmary, Glasgow.
I love karaoke and think I am great. Not everyone agrees.