Monday, 18 August 2014

a close shave near the Polloks (and throwing, up)

Something of a contrived title I admit.

Go to enough events and you are eventually going to forget your shoes, your shorts, or leave insufficient time to get there and miss the race altogether. Today was the closest I have come to the latter and it was only thanks to Steve and some expert driving and subliminal navigation that we arrived at the SVHC Glasgow 800, 10k champs at Pollok Park.

We set off at 11am and some time after 12 were crawling along the M8, taking 30mins to cover a half mile. We were still several miles away from the venue and it became gloomily apparent as the clock hit 1 then 1.10 that we weren't going to be taking part in the 1.30 race. Steve suggested we take the next off ramp and risk a sat-nav free last minute drive across Glasgow, navigating by smell alone, which we did. Around 1.20 I was planning what run we might do instead of the 10k as we were still hopelessly boxed in by slow moving traffic who had, like us, also abandoned the M8. All of a sudden the roads cleared, we got back onto the M8, back off a mile later and turned into the event car park. It was about 1.28 as we ran from the car and caught the last 2 ladies of the organising committee stepping out of the registration building. They kindly gave us numbers (only £2 a pop!) and phoned the starter to delay kick off while three headless chickens pinned on numbers, peed (faster, faster damn you), and sprinted the 2k to the start. Not simultaneously.

When we got to the start there was nobody there and the panic continued until we turned a further corner to find the start had been taken further back up the road to accommodate a slightly re-routed course. We arrived there breathless, and the considerate starter gave us a minute to recover, then we were off. I could scarce believe we were running in the race given I was convinced there was no way we would make 1.30. Sure enough it was 1.40 when we started.

I was also surprised by the low key friendly turn out. Last year (the only time I have run this one) the start was jam packed with hundreds of quality veteran runners. This year about 80 and they looked much more local and friendly. And no age group numbers on vest backs this time. The explanation being it was a British Champs race last year.

Now this race wasn't on my radar until last Wednesday when Steve told me it was happening and he was going along with Willie J. It is a Scottish Veteran Harriers Club event and if you want to be selected for the Scottish Vet XC team later in the year a good performance here might draw you to the attention of the team selectors. I had already mentally drafted my email in the car to the organisers saying how we tried to take part but sadly missed the start but that I was sure I would have been up there with the best of them! Now I was running down the road watching Paul Thompson up ahead and wondering if I could keep him in sight for at least a couple of k. I wasn't sure if I was under-warmed-up or over-. The weather was about right and although windy, we seemed to have got lucky with the direction: behind us on the uphill section as you exit the park onto the pavement, and only in our faces as we came back into the park on the flat and later on the downhill. I didn't have time to tune the garmin into Jodrell Bank so can't show you the elevation. I'm sure it wouldn't have been big pointy hills over the 2 laps but it is sufficiently undulating to discourage pbs. Or to put it another way, with the sort of energy I expended I was surprised to find my finishing time about 40 seconds slower than I thought it might be.

Anyway I sort of slipped in and out of consciousness while trying to keep the needle just into the red area, but not so much that I burst a major organ. I looked at my watch at 15 minutes and was a bit concerned to think we weren't even halfway. Oopsie. Possibly the travel-adrenalin and Red Bull worked together to hijack my race plan not to spend myself in the first half. Then another peak at about 27 minutes and just about had enough IQ remaining in the oxygen depleted brain cavity to work out there was still quite a bit of suffering left but that I should be considering the marvellous 27 minutes behind me rather than the 5 or 10 remaining gaspers ahead. And who are you kidding, much nearer 10. Good news: I could still see Paul T on the longer straight bits. Just.

Some folk came past and I overtook some of them back. Then one came past (Michael McL who I mistook for Dave Thom because they both share the same hairstylist) who I thought had already come past. I thought it unlikely he had taken a pit stop in the shrubbery but you never know. We went back and forth a bit with him finishing ahead: second 50 and me finishing 3rd 50 a couple of seconds behind. Dave Thom wasn't running and neither was Colin F so that was less of a whipping for me, for which I should be grateful. And I said hello to a Tour of Fifer who in fact doesn't appear in the results and therefore was another doppelganger. He must have thought I was awfully friendly for a stranger. Paul T (first 50) finished nearly a minute ahead so no room for complacency.

Paul and first 50 trophy

I made the mistake of checking last year's time and see the wind (and backdraft from Paul T's slipstream) slowed me down by around 40s this year. That would explain why at the finish I wasn't on the ground coughing furballs like last year. And the course (taking some steppy acute corner rather than swoopy long corner) measured 6.2 on a few garmins. And any other excuses.

2 other Porties in attendance not in the photoshoot were Willie Murray (there for a shot at the m70 xc team places) and Andrew Fraser, who was race walking the event, not running. Watch out for the launch of Andrew's race walking website and club, Scotia Racewalking.

Results here

Also looking at last year's blog of this event, I see I was complaining about Great Bake Off and how it wasn't unlike having a tv show telling you how to cook up your heroine or distill whisky in your garage...

Because baking is probably killing more people than heroin, cigarettes and whisky all in the mouth at the same time. But is there a warning on the packet? Is there a graphic picture of an obese person on a couch with crumbs on their chest? This is far more important than a nominally ambiguous independence so-called question, yet it is swept under the carpet because there is a porker on the Scottish throne.

And good to see the Independence debate (spelled debacle, pronounced debate) had already started shovelling shit into our living rooms as well. And now only a month to go before we can bury that one and never mention it again in our puffs. What would you say the total price tag of all the whitish papers, the newspaper columns, the hottish air and telly hours on that topic was? As much as the trams? More? All for a no vote we could have wrapped up in 2 weeks and £7.85 Because no light has been shed since then till now that wasn't coloured by an interested party. Anyway, nearly done.

So instead of complaining about that, perish the thought, I'd like to share with you a question that came to light while watching the throwing events in the European Champs. Sturdily built Eastern European men hurling hammers into the Zurich sky. I have little interest in Javelins, Hammers and Discii (discos?), and less in throwing them, but wondered about the relative distances of one against the other and the world's longest throws and any quirks attendant. Lots in fact, and courtesy of wikipedia so they may be wrong. (This went down inappropriately like a lead balloon at the bring-your-own-curry dinner party Saturday night and only Scott who knew quite a bit about the re-jig in '86 was even vaguely on-topic. Or just being polite.) (And today in the car on the way home perhaps the exertions of the race distracted the attentions of Steve and Willie in the front seats – they surely couldn't both have been sleeping?)

photo nicked off internet

Anyway, hier soir, while I was trying not to drink anything in quantities that would take the edge off today's performance I posed the question: which of the disciplines records the longest distance? As you would imagine it is the javelin, (max points to AGF and others). However did you know (as did Scott) that in 1986 the javelin was revamped and the centre of gravity/mass moved forward 4cm? Which lowers the nose in flight causing the spear to fall short by around 10%. Because as records extended over 100m there was a real danger of the javelin travelling the length of the stadium and landing in the crowd. And nobody wants to see that.

The hammer, 16lbs (male) 8.82lbs (female), rather than the 800grams of the javelin, travels up to 79m (female) or 86m (male). So it has a bit to go before it reaches the spectators. But will make a bigger splash if it does get there. The discus, a heavy lenticular disc, is, perhaps, more than the sum of its parts.

"There are six key movements of the discus throw: wind up, move in rhythm, balance, right leg engine, orbit, and delivery. The wind up is one of the most important aspects of the throw because it sets the tone for the entire throw. The wind up is both mental and technical. It is mental because the wind up sets the thrower up for the rest of the throw. Although the wind up sets the tone for the entire throw, the rhythm of the throw is the most important aspect. (Hang on there didn't you say the wind up was?) It is necessary to move in rhythm throughout the entire throw."

Now, racing down the wiki page I noticed the top women's record distances were all longer than the men's. Also they were all set in the 1980's and from countries like URS, TCH, ROU, BUL and GDR which coincidentally are the noises made as the discus is released. I thought maybe some dastardly programme of hormone doping might have bred a race of carthorse like men-ladies with the arms of scaffolders. However it is more likely due to the men throwing 2kg lenticular discs and the women's weighing just 1kg. Discuss.

"It is also important that the discus thrower keeps their shoulders at the same level during the throw until the end." Myron's Discobolus above disagrees.

Now to put all that in perspective the “longest throw of an object without any velocity aiding feature” (yes to a piano, no to a jet engine) is a little further than a javelin. (Even the pre1986 104m world record javelin throw.) It was, ahem, 406metres and it was an Aerobie (a flying ring used in a manner similar to a frisbee.) As yet not an Olympic event. So now you know.

Other useless but “fascinating” facts: my number today was 369 (the goose drank wine, the monkey chewed tobacco on the streetcar line etc.) My time today, 36 mins 9 secs.

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