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Club news and announcements

Lochailort, Lochaber, Highlands, Ecosse, Grande-Bretagne, Royaume-Uni.

Lochaber Marathon, 6/4/2014

The Lochaber marathon is an out and back course that starts in Fort William and heads out on the road towards Mallaig to the turning point. The course is fairly flat apart from a couple of small climbs in the last mile, I always said a decent time is weather dependent due to the out & back nature and the fact that Lochaber is the wettest part of Britain!

This was my first marathon in 2 years since the last time I scraped a sub 3hr in 2:59:46 at the same race (having being roared home by the Gruesome Twosome – Brendan Moriarty & Peter Gallanagh)! The weather started of overcast with a slight breeze and that was as good as it got as the forecast was downhill from there! Myself, Iain Burns and David Lafferty were the Bella team on the day with myself and Iain starting with 6:40 / mile pace in mind. We settled at that pace on the road out until 10 miles when Iain got bored with my patter and decided to push on ahead! The rain and wind at this point was in your face and I couldn’t wait until the turn with the thought of a tail wind!

With a time of 1:27:13 at the halfway turn, which I felt had been tough up to this point with the wind & rain I was concerned about being able to maintain the 6:40 pace. Iain by this point had created around a 30 second gap in front of me and was looking strong. I was now running on my own with a group of around 20 runners not far behind me. The runners were not the only thing to turn after 13 miles with the wind somehow managing to swing back into our faces with the rain now pelting down – not good when you are 13 miles from home and praying for a tail wind!

By miles 18 – 20, I had slipped to 6:50 pace and feeling the pain into the wind. To my horror I felt the first jolt of pain from the early onset of cramp, with 6 miles to go the wheels had started to come off! I didn’t just feel as if I had hit “The Wall”, I felt as if I was having to push the wall into the wind and rain for the last 6 miles with bouts of cramp starting to hit with the power of a Tazer Gun!

With mile 23 & 24 being the first miles to slip over 7:00 minute mark at 7:12 & 7:13. As I reached the 24 mile mark – BOOM my right hamstring & calf seized bringing me to a grinding halt, as I stood there swearing at myself I had a look at my watch which showed 2:42 and after doing the maths I got it into my head to run through it in the last 2.2 miles. The last turn with 1.5 miles was again into a horrible head wind that just would not go away, the last section is running through a housing estate and finishes on a sports field, by this point I had dropped to 7:30 pace and clinging onto the hope of a PB, as I entered the field I could see Iain in front of me and the clock @2:58:30 so I pushed on to cross the line in 2:59:05 with a new PB! Iain finished just in front with a PB of 2:58:48 and I was glad to see he looked as burst as I felt! David Lafferty finished in a creditable 4:10:06 in tough conditions with only 20 runners out of the starting 336 finishing in under 3 hours.
The Marshalls, supporters and organisers deserve special praise for being out there in awful conditions…the reason us runners run 26.2 miles in terrible weather to go through that pain barrier must be for the love of it!!! :lol:

photo by: byb64
Alloa Half Marathon

Alloa Half Marathon, 16/3/2014

In an attempt to re-discover my race legs I took a break from the usual Sunday morning marathon training and headed north to Alloa for their ever popular half marathon. Still smarting from being forced to travel “a bit” further north to do the Inverness half last year after Alloa had sold out, I had made sure I got my entry in early.

Having not raced much over the last few months I was quite looking forward to the race, that was until I checked the 5 day forecast in the days prior. A 20mph westerly wind was on the menu for Sunday, which for anyone who has done the race will know means a very unpleasant 4 mile stretch straight into the wind. Rather optimistically I figured that the weather would have calmed down by the time Sunday came but if anything the wind got stronger as we lined up at the start.

And so off we went, the first 2 miles way too fast as I’m sure we can all relate to, but after that I settled into a nice steady pace which I figured might bring me home in about 1hr15mins. Of course by this point I had completely forgotten the wind, the mighty wind…

It was only I as I took the left turn onto Tillicoultry high street at the 5.5 mile point that reality struck home, there was to be no avoiding it, the next 4 miles were going to be unpleasant. I tried in vain to make up the 50 metres or so to the group ahead but either they were somehow shrinking or more likely just easing further away, was I the only person affected by this wind?? Somehow I managed the first 2 miles to Alva but each mile was taking longer and longer. My prospects were starting to look bleak but then out the blue our old friend Ollie Scott came charging past me, a man on a mission if ever I saw one. This gave me the boost I needed and I managed to keep up with Ollie for the remaining stretch of the wind tunnel, after which is half a mile of respite followed by a nice steep incline to sap any remaining energy you might have had left.

Having made it to the top there is just one more gentle incline followed by about a mile and a half of largely flat and downhill to the finish, with the welcome feeling of a tailwind at long last. I finally crossed the line in 1hr17mins, which I felt was about the best I could have managed given that the wind stole about 2 mins off me over the 4 treacherous miles.

Lastly, can I invite all the other Bellas who ran on Sunday to back up my story, honestly I’m not just a lightweight, it was blowing a gale…

Bruce

photo by:

National Road Relays, Livingston, 30/3/2014

Hi Folks,

Twenty-four Bellas made the journey though to Livingston for the National Road Relay on Sunday to take on the top road runners from across the country. Cold fog and a hilly, twisty route greeted us, not to mention some top-notch opposition. The route was fairly scenic though with the best bit being the trail (eh, ROAD relay?) section along the river.

Ladies teams finished 17th (4th in the V40 category) and 27th.

Mens teams finished 18th, 37th and 6th in the V50 category.

Some really good performances in there, which is hard work when sometimes running alone in a race that gets very strung out.

Without any disrespect to all us runners, the grittiest performances of the day had to be from Iain O’Donnell and Carla Ward who volunteered to marshal in response to a request from the race organisers. Three hours standing out in the cold keeeping us on track – thank you both!

Thank you to all who turned out to represent the club at a very tough race. Full results attached below. I should point out that the organisers liked Graeme P so much, they added a bonus minute onto his time – well done Graeme! If anyone else notices any major discrepancies in the results lets us know.

Bruce

Clydebank Forth and Clyde Canal

Clydebank 5k, 15/3/2014

The Clydebank 5k road race took place on Saturday 15th March and there was another good turnout from Bella members. Some of us were returning to Clydebank for the second time in seven days after the previous weekend’s half-marathon. The race begins with a couple of laps of an industrial estate before heading towards Dalmuir, then turning along the Forth and Clyde Canal for the last mile. In such a short and intense race though, there’s little time to notice the surroundings.

There were high hopes for some PBs on what promised to be a fast course, and with that thought in mind we set off very briskly. My watch was showing a seriously ambitious pace but it felt good so I kept going. I was through the first mile under 3k pace. Optimistic arithmetic was going on in my mind… I should have known I’d suffer later…

Suddenly the slight headwind started to feel much more like hard work and the finish seemed a very long way off. For the last mile I suppose there was a tailwind, but it didn’t really feel that way as I laboured along at 10k pace. I rallied somewhat for the final 100 metres or so and was surprised to cross the line with a PB. I didn’t do it the easy way but it was a satisfying result nevertheless.

The results aren’t available at the time of writing but there were good PBs for several Bellas. Well done to all those who took part!

There’ll be a chance to do it all again at the National 5k race in Edinburgh on 7th May.

photo by: markyharky

UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships, Birmingham, 8/3/2014

On Friday afternoon I began the very long coach trip to Birmingham for the UK Inter Counties Cross Country Championships. The trip down was interesting in itself with the under 17 men deciding that they would have an smartphone/headphone rap battle…I was delighted and surprised when their batteries lasted for the full 6 hour journey (surely they can’t own an iPhone). The bus driver also thought that he would create tropical weather conditions on the bus (we were heading south after all) by putting the heating on full blast. On arrival at the hotel we were fed the hottest curry known to man, all of our mouths were on fire, not the normal pre race meal I would go for but there was certainly enough to feed a small army.

The race day was great if not some what intimidating. We all got rallied into pens, around 40 in total, with 6 ladies racing for each district or country. Looking around at the start most of the girls figures resembled those of models, they were so tall and thin and I must say I felt like a bit of an oompa lumpa stood next to them (this is my next fancy dress outfit!). The race started off at a blistering pace which of course I tried to go with…ha this plan would soon backfire! The course consisted of 1 small lap and 2 big laps totaling 8km. The course was hilly, muddy and technical everything that a cross country race should be. For the duration of the race I had girl A* running on my shoulder breathing like a dragon. I tried to run away from her mainly because her breathing techniques were driving me insane but no such luck she stayed right there with me for 8km! The race finished with a ridiculously steep downhill which was pretty fun to run down. With girls finishing on average every 2 seconds you can imagine the pandemonium the marshals had to deal with as girls flew down the hill and then suddenly stopped on the finishing line incapable of walking (I was potentially one of these girls). I ended up finishing 101st out of 270 which I was pretty proud of considering the caliber of runners and that I am in full marathon training at the mo.

Once the race was finished we dusted off the mud off our legs and clothes as best as possible jumped back on the bus and headed back home! Oh and before you ask we got to recreate the iPhone/Headphone rap battle on the way home.

It was such a great opportunity to race for West Scotland at this race and fingers crossed I can better my position next year!

P.s. I beat A* by 2 seconds :D

Carla

* Girl A’s name has been changed to protect her identity.  Mostly because we’re scared of dragons.

Carrera del taller – Madrid 10K 9/3/2014

This weekend was not spent getting a PB like the majority of the purple posse. Me and Iain headed to Madrid on Saturday afternoon to surprise his Mum for her 60th birthday. I had noted that a 10K was taking place on the Sunday at the stunning Juan Carlos park so decided to enter us both.

I was still mildly paralysed from attending Carla’s ETC circuit class on Thursday AM. I would highly recommend that you try the class if you fancy a hard work out due to the small class size of 4 it is like a personal training session and you have no room for skiving (read this as TORTURE) and Iain was recovering from a 15 miler on the Saturday so PB’s where not expected.

Iain had a humorous evening on Saturday trying to track down the office where we had to collect our bibs. – I will let him fill you in on this part………..

Having ditched my bags, I instantly left the hotel, I got to where I wanted to be via the Metro with one change, so far so good. On the Metro I realised I forgot my print which showed me where I was actually going. A quick swatch of the map of the local area had me off towards something that seemed familiar from the race website. As the registration closed in under an hour, I trotted along the boulevards of Madrid to arrive at the building I was aiming for, it was closed. After a quick recce to confirm the building was definitely closed, I had what was essentially a one way conversation with a Spanish security guard who assured me I was looking for the hotel next door. Entering the hotel which was really more a hostel I see the Cafeteria, which rang a bell, Success! However, it was closed. With no phone, I didn’t know the time, but was sure it was still before 9pm. I managed to find another Spanish security guard who had pretty good English & he eventually checked the website for me & told me I only had to go round the corner. In Madrid, round the corner can be quite the distance. I ran back down to the Metro I’d arrived at & up in the direction towards where I was supposed to be going. I caught up with & overtook a jogger who was making use of the cooler evening temperature to get his miles in, this after my 15 miles earlier in the day was def going to catch up with me! Having eventually got to where I understood the address to be, again nothing looked like a race registration area. Eventually I followed a couple of confused looking Spaniards down an alley into the car park of a block of flats. They stopped & started speaking to one another in Spanish, I just went over to yet another security guard in the hope that she spoke English. She did & pointed me round the corner where I eventually looked up our numbers & acquired our chips & t-shirts!

Sunday morning seen us rather jaded from the previous evenings celebrations (cue lots of fine wine and food and a 3am night cap). Iain had meticulously planned our journey on the metro however whilst on the metro I seen a pack of around 25 runners and decided to follow them, deviating from our planned route to the park. Whilst asking one runner if he had a safety pin in my crap Spanish, I think I was asking him for a knife ! He gibbered on a about a maratone… I then grew suspicious at the sight of the many gels on the runners. Then I clicked…. I was following runners to a half marathon at a different location.

Lucky escape and we ventured back on the metro to our actual race.

The race started at 11am and I assured Iain that there would be a water station, if we have one at the JI in November surely there would be one in 22 heat, however it was not to be. The route took us through the park and a few loops and stairs later we completed the race. It was all very welcoming and the crowd was friendly and encouraging.

In comparison to the Spanish in their fleecy buffs and jackets me and Iain looked half naked in our vests.

I finished in 50.04 so was rather annoyed that I missed out on sub 50 and Iain was 44.04 so we reckon the official clock was out by 4 seconds. The race was won by Roberto Bueno Losada in a time of 33:17, winning by more than one minute and 1311 participants took part in the 10K.

I have attached a picture of us in our semi naked state for your enjoyment.

The goody bag included a sports towel, technical shirt, cap with light, sun visor for the car and a fleecy buff, not bad for 7 Euro. However the organisers need a BO’D to get the pack collection and water station sorted out.

The evening was a follow on of sporting activity seeing Real Madrid beat Levate 3-0. We did not scrimp on tickets as they where a treat for Iain’s mum and where seated on the first tier above the “Ultra’s”. I was able to gain further running cheerspiration from what I can only describe as the conductor of the Ultras. A gentleman who faces the fans and not the pitch and directs the cheers via a microphone. I plan to adopt this strategy at future races when cheering you guys on.

I have also attached a picture of this ledged as he was as equally entertaining as the football.

There will always be other races, if I survive Carla’s class on Thursday I hope to see some of you at Alloa…. Mega congrats to all who took part in the Balloch to Clydebank race- I was over the moon to hear about your results via Iain who is getting the club champs data underway.

PS If you fancy a city break head to Madrid, it was amazing and on Tuesday Iain was being really good and did a 10 miler around the city ending in the famous Reterio park where we bumped into the AC Milan team strolling around.. So defo a city of sport.

Tammy and Iain

Balloch to Clydebank Half Marathon, 9/3/2014

For anyone who has never done this race, it is about 1500ft of descent and there is a 20mph tail wind all the way from start to finish. At least that is what you might believe looking at the results from todays race and some of the fantastic times achieved by Bella runners today. The biggest PB I heard of was 5 minutes but there were a few people who had taken 2-3 minutes off there PB times. Fantastic effort and well done to everyone who took part.

There was a massive turnout of purple vests gathered at Balloch – easily the most represented club at the event. There were a few technical problems which led to the start being delayed by 25 minutes but eventually we set off. Of course, I am joking above – the route is actually very hilly and there was a slight head wind all the way which made all the times even more impressive. As usual the Bella supporters were out in force, Brendan’s cowbell was heard in places and even though she was in Madrid, Tammy Ward could still be heard in places!!

This year the race had been moved back to March from its normal time in April resulting in a very strong field with people using this as an early chance to prepare for Spring marathons. The official results have not been released at time of writing but I know that I finished 5th overall, including a PB, so was very pleased. The men also took the first team prize with myself, Bruce Carse (dipping under the 75 minute mark for the first of many times) and Russell Whittington being the first three counters. In reality the men could probably also have been awarded the second prize as well but whether we got this, again, I don’t know at time of writing.

All in all, it was a very strong start to the season for so many runners. I think we might be hearing about a lot of PB’s as the season progresses!! Well done again to everyone.

Craig

Scottish National Cross Country Champs – 22 Feb 2014

There was a good turnout from the club at the Nationals, held once more in Callendar Park in Falkirk this year. We arrived with a welcome addition to the team in the shape of the Bella Gazebo. Despite one of the walls attempting to swirl round the course at one point, without a race number and chip it was never going to gain us team points.

Although it my first time participating in this race, there was no need to be nervous as there were plenty of club members on hand who had raced here before and were happy to explain the course and what to look out for. In addition, the familiar sound of Brian Burnett’s commentary over the PA made it feel like a Bella race in Bellahouston Park and I was immediately put at ease.

After my last cross country experience, I decided that no matter how slow I was, the one thing I wouldn’t be was cold. I snuggled into my survival suit and didn’t protest too much at Gerry H’s slagging about how many layers I was wearing. He had a point. Although there was a wind chill factor in the cold February air, the sun at least made an appearance, and the torrential rain promised for the Senior Men’s Race never amounted to more than a thick drizzle.

With the largest field for 20 years, the start of both the Senior Women’s and Senior Men’s races was great to watch and even better to be part of. Callendar House made an impressive backdrop, and with hundreds of runners lined up in club colours it was like being on the set of Braveheart. At the gun you could feel the earth shake under a thousand feet hurling themselves at the first hill, inevitably far too quickly for the long battle with the course to come.

For a road runner, cross country is always hillier and muddier than the routes we’re used to, and Callendar Park was no exception. The hill at the back of the course was a river of mud by the end of the afternoon. Wearing trail shoes, I found my legs spinning like Fred Flintstone, except I wasn’t staying still, I was going backwards. I felt like a particularly poor contestant on Total Wipeout and the question was simply ‘when’ I’d fall flat on my face in the mud and not ‘if’. Amazingly, it was another runner who got an impromptu facial mud mask, 10 points from the Russian judge on the sidelines, and I escaped relatively unscathed.

Approaching the end of the second lap two thoughts crossed my mind. The first was how quick Callum Hawkins was as he lapped me and disappeared round the last bend to win the race. I then contemplated how unfair it was that the men had to run a lap more than the women but concluded my indignation wasn’t because I was a champion of equality, it was merely a result of me being tired and feeble.

The third lap my over zealous start caught up with me and I blew up. Although I started the lap with Kevin he eventually finished a full two minutes ahead of me. Thanks must go to the Bellas who encouraged me as they passed me during the first two laps, but by the time I reached the large ditch with 1km to go, I was exhausted and the only response I could muster to the encouraging shouts of “Looking good Henry” from the spectating Bellas was to ironically raise a single eyebrow.

The Bella Men’s team placed 8th and the Women 17th. Well done to everyone that took part and Club Captains Bruce and Judith. It was a great day out, as usual the support was great and it was fun to travel with everyone on the team bus. If you missed it this year, make sure you sign up for cross country next season. After this wake up call I’m straight back to training to learn some pace control and improve my strength endurance.

Full results are available on the Scottish Athletics website.
http://www.scottishathletics.org.uk/calendar/events/16738-16123-scottish-national-cross-country-championships#results

Masters Cross Country – Hawick – 1 Feb 2014

The Scottish Masters Cross Country Championships have been held annually since 1971. It’s a chance for athletes over 40 to prove they’re not over the hill. At least not until they’re halfway round the course and have disappeared over it. Teviotdale Harriers celebrate their 125th Anniversary in 2014, which is why this year’s event was held in Hawick and not anywhere remotely nearby.

After seeing the weather forecast, I was clearly several chips short of a fish supper for not pulling out like almost half of the registered field. If, heaven forbid, “I’m a Celebrity…” is ever set in Scotland, Saturday’s event would make the perfect Bush Tucker Trial.

The weather wasn’t too bad when Robert, Peter, Shona and I met at the Ski centre shortly after 10:30. Once on the M8 though, the rain became torrential. Ever the optimist, our Club President assured us that it was always drier on the East Coast. Ever the realist, Shona reminded us that it was always colder too.

Two hours later we arrived at the Leisure Centre in a very cold, and very wet Hawick, and met Greig and Danielle, and Scott and Linda Kennedy but there wasn’t any sign of Hamish. We got our numbers, put our change of clothes in a locker for after the race and looked to get to the start. It was so cold and wet we decided to drive the 1/2 mile or so. A sensible plan if I had the first clue where we were going. After our impromptu tour of every street in the town, we eventually found the course 5 minutes before Shona’s race, up a steep hill and round a narrow farm track between two houses.
The course itself was well designed with a mix of hills, open terrain and muddy farmland, but that was irrevelent.

It was just so cold.
And wet.

The women’s race was won by Angela Mudge of Carnethy Hill RC in 26:06, almost a minute and a half ahead of second place Janet Dunbar of Edinburgh AAC. Shona placed a very creditable 36th in 32:41, and considerately neglected to say how much worse the weather was on the far side of the course.

I thought waiting for the 8km men’s race to start were the coldest 45 minutes of my life, as we kept running up and down the field supposedly to warm up. Only we weren’t getting any warmer. And there still wasn’t any sign of Hamish.

The relief of huddling together on the start line like a bunch of penguins was far too short lived. The first kilometer was ok, steadily up hill with footing that wasn’t too bad and I could see Robert not too far ahead. After that the course was onto the open moor, with horizontal hail and sleet and a wind that cut deeper than one of Malcolm Tucker’s tirades in “The Thick of It”. Foolishly I’d left my hat, gloves and long sleeved top at home (what was I thinking?!?). This meant my arms progressively turned white then purple, and as I lost all feeling in them, I idly mused that at least they were fetchingly co-ordinating with my Bella vest. I really didn’t think I was going to finish the race, but all of a sudden we were dipping down a short incline to give brief respite from the hail.

Onto the second lap and peering through the elements I could hardly believe my eyes. Sitting, cosy as you like, in his car by the side of course, was Hamish. We were halfway through the race and I shouted the most irrelevant thing I could think of: “I’ve got your race number”. Over the howling gale I faintly heard a reply about being late. I wished I’d thought of that excuse, and wondered if this was just a cunning ploy to get out of running the most miserable race of the year.

Second time out on the moor was no better than the first and I was just getting slower and slower. I was so glad to get round that lap and over the finish line, too cold to speak or hardly move.
Kerry Liam Wilson of Ronhill Cambuslang won the men’s race in 30:26.
Greig was first Bella home in 15th place – 33:06.
Peter was 58th in 36:07, Robert was 120th in 40:48 with me 142nd in the coldest 43 minutes 48 seconds of my life.

Greig was so cold he didn’t even notice he was being electrocuted by an electric fence as he was getting changed. And he was too cold to be able to say anything intelligible to the race organisers about the fence either.

Prizegiving was back at the leisure centre. As Robert pointed out, the prize of the day was given to everyone who took part. Simply the warm air that hit you as you walked through the leisure centre doors. Bliss.

With all the tables in the cafe area to choose from, special thanks go to Shona for choosing the one table directly under the leaky air conditioning unit. The occasional drops of cold water down the back of the neck prevented us from forgetting what we’d just experienced.

With at least one competitor treated by First Aiders for the effects of the cold, I’m not just exaggerating for effect. However, everyone I spoke to said it was still much milder than Kilmarnock two years ago. I can’t imagine what that was like.

Next Cross Country is the Nationals in Falkirk on 22nd Feb. If the weather’s bad you’ll be able to spot me a mile away. I’ll be the one telling anyone who’ll listen: “You think this is bad? You should have been at Hawick”. Or I’ll be sitting, cosy as you like, in my car by the side of the course.

Medals galore at Renfrewshire 5 mile race (2/2/2014)

With this race counting for both the club championship and the winter handicap, there was an impressive Bella turnout of 24 guys and 9 ladies. After a (mostly) straightforward distribution of race numbers up at the yacht club, and me recieving lots of envious comments about my fancy new Bella tracksuit (buy one here: http://www.bellahoustonroadrunners.co.uk/the-club/club-kit/), and some not so envious comments about the colour of my ridiculous new race shoes, the migration to the start area began.

A stiff breeze meant that the normally flat and fast course was likely to be a bit more tricky than usual. Everyone was shivering on the start line, subtly looking around for someone suitably large to hide behind in the wind, and simultaneously realising that unfortunately they were surrounded by scrawny club runners. Oh dear!

After a lap-and-a-half of Battery Park we were out on the road and up the one slight hill and down past the yacht club and onto the esplanade. The waves suggested the wind was at our backs to carry us (although I didn’t feel it myself) down to the turn point. So it was round the lone high-viz jacketed marshal who was acting as the human turn point, and back into the wind

It looked like there were some pretty serious battles going on at the faster end of the race, with an extra-fast field this year from all over Scotland (well, a few folk came through from Edinburgh). And it turns out Callum Hawkins set a new course record in a staggering 23.58.

After the world’s longest raffle (seriously, did anyone who bought a ticket NOT win anything!?) it was time for the prize giving. Inverclyde MP (that means’ Member of Parliament’, not ‘Marathon Pace’…) Ian McKenzie was there to dish out the prizes, not before taking a good ribbing from the race organisers about how sh*t he is at running. Anyway, little did team Bella know, untold bounty was headed their way….

Ladies:
Carla was 2nd in the ladies race, and Katie won a gold medal for 1st place FV40, with Mary Senior hot on her heels taking the silver for 2nd FV40.
2nd team prize (Carla Molinaro, Katie Mathieson and Louise Ross)

Men:
3rd team prize (Craig Reid, Bruce Carse, Bruce Carmichael, Iain Burns, Russell Whittington and Grant MacDonald)

There may well some male vets prizes to follow too, but Bella club captains were severely reprimanded for not filling in the entry forms properly with age group categories.

It sounds like there were PBs galore in some tricky conditions which is great to see. Your captains are proud, well done folks!

Bruce