Category: Sport

My Dad was a P.E. teacher, I like (watching) sport a lot!

The World Cup

There was a large sporting event happening in South Africa, you may have heard about it. I’ve been really good and, despite watching almost every game, I’ve not really mentioned it here and I’ve tried not to be too boring about it on Twitter (I feel sorry for my followers at times, I really do).

Spain won. I yelled and punched the air when this happened. I was most pleased. Mainly because Holland seemed to think the best way to stop Spain was to kick them (in the chest at one point).

And here endeth the football.

World Cup of *Yawn*

It must be a false memory.

Like that one where I’m still convinced that, when I was about 6, I used a toy phone to speak to my cousins in Dundee. I am still sure, to this day, that I did speak to them despite all evidence to the contrary. I’m nothing if not stubborn.

So it’s with an expression of perplexity that I sit night after night and watch the World Cup (of Football, in case you were confused). I hear the vulva horn thingies buzzing away and can see the pitch, the ball, the referee and the players. Every possible moment has a mention of England in one form or another, and there are liberal doses of casual xenophobia left, right and centre.

It’s definitely a World Cup.

But by GOD it’s boring. It wasn’t always this boring, I know it wasn’t. I got to watch ALL (every single game) of Mexico ’86 as I was off school with chickenpox. I kept my own notebook of scores, laboriously coloured in each flag and the mascot was painstakingly recreated on the cover. The football was fun, goals were score, crowds cheered, commentators fumbled over foreign names and got over excited every time one of those new fangled Mexican Wave things started.

It was exciting, entertaining, and engrossing.

Fast forward to South Africa 2010 and… what has happened? Dull, boring and I’ve even turned off a couple of the games through sheer disinterest.

It wasn’t always like this, was it?

And then… nothing

All quiet on the house front unfortunately.

But I have been able to crack on with some website work and as always it’s great when the client is accomodating, helpful and all round just a nice guy. Say hi to (then go buy one of his books!).

I’m also adding some functionality for a previous client, so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy AND I’ve found time to gently kick start my reading habit. Tackling the last of the Larsson trilogy which is a fun read in a Dan Brown kinda way. Mind you, I did read half of From Russia With Love before realising I’d already read it, oops.

The only other moment of excitement has been paying £4 for the privilege of receiving 4 rather shady looking photos of my fizzog. I need to renew my driving license and, amazingly, the photos actually look like me! (and no, I’m not showing you them).

Right, time to mark off another day in the “Hurry up I want an iPhone 4!” calendar.

Oh yeah, and football. World Cup and all that. If you need me, I’ll be in front of the TV.

Why you should watch the Olympics

One reason I like the Olympics, especially now the BBC red button is so heavily used for additional coverage is the.. er.. additional coverage that all the sports receive. So far I’ve watched a little basketball, fencing, archery, canoe slalom, badminton, weightlifting, boxing, cycling, swimming, and diving. That’s all before the athletics have started.

I’ve watched tennis and football too but they get enough coverage (thankfully there isn’t an Olympic golf contest!).

There is one thing that the BBC remain good at, and I guess it’s largely down to their researchers, is building stories into each event, adding personal backdrops to the unfolding drama and, for me at least, helping to drag you into the excitement.

Add in some skilled commentators who understand that their audience might not understand the finer points of the given sport and it’s an excellent combination (if only they’d managed to shut up during the opening ceremony, where they managed to spoil two surprises).

An example, the men’s cycling road race. At about the halfway point there was a breakaway of 3 riders. Now I’ve watched enough Tour de France to know that breakaways are difficult and that the peloton (the chasing pack) usually reel them back in (strength in numbers and all that).

However the breakaway pulled out a 30 second gap and managed to hold it. With a third of the race to go 2 more riders broke out of the peloton to try and reel them back in before the finish. They managed to get about 15 seconds out from the peloton but couldn’t catch the leaders. Then, with the race entering the final quarter, the last few kilometres, a lone Swiss rider broke from the peloton.

Now, this is a one off event, 3 medals and that’s it. Why the peloton didn’t work harder to catch the leaders I don’t know (there is an element of teamwork at play here too, with the Spanish riders in the peloton probably holding back because they know they have one of the front 3 riders).

Back to the Swiss rider then, and all of a sudden he’s catching the first 2 breakaway riders and no sooner has he done that than he starts to drag them up to the front 3. The kilometres are ticking down, surely the front 3 can’t be caught … but wait! there they are, just up ahead…

By now I’m on the edge of my seat. One man has to work VERY hard to close such a gap, surely he won’t have enough left for the final few hundred metres to the finish line, uphill!

6 riders turn the final corner, up out of their seats, legs pumping hard, lungs burning, adrenalin flooding their veins as they realise they could win! The Russian rider breaks into a sprint, but surely he’s too early!! The hill continues, the other riders are weaving hard now, focussed, determined, they catch the now fading Russian and pass him, the Spaniard edges ahead, the line approaches… HE’S WON!!!!

But what of the Swiss? Does he get anything for his efforts? Any reward at all? I’m desperate to know, unsure if he was beaten into 4th or managed to earn 3rd place and a coveted medal… the tension is killing me, come on commentator!!

He did it, he got bronze!! WOO HOOOOO

OK, so maybe I get a little wrapped up in such things a little too easily but I appreciate the effort, the training, the techniques and strategies at play, and not just in cycling. The mental pressures are as tough as the physical ones at times, and for some this is a one time only chance, the pinnacle of their sport.

How can you NOT be dragged into such drama? How can you possibly flick idlly to Eastenders or Big Brother when there is REAL emotion, real guts and passion on display.

Honestly, if you aren’t watching the Olympics you are some weird kind of cretin. It’s not about sport, it’s about passion, commitment and desire. It’s about despair and pain, about winning, about competing, about focus and drive. Tears, laughter and joy, not medals. It’s about being alive.

Isn’t it?

Why the internet is wonderful

Gather one, gather all, let me tell you a story, let me regale you with a simple yet powerful tale of the wonders achieved when the internet and compassion of (wo)man join in harmonious union.

OK, maybe not. But I do have an excellent example of how this interwoven online life we lead is actually a good thing… bear with me though, as this covers many tangents.

It all started with an RSS feed…

[cue wibbly wobbly dream sequence]
wibbly wobbly wibbly wobbly

[cut to dashingly handsome man, idly checking his RSS feeds]
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All this and more…

A little ‘achy’ after yesterdays run but none the worse really. Looking back I know that I started too fast, the kilometre long hill took more out of my legs than I thought, and ultimately it was just too hot as the clouds parted the minute before the race began and I reckon it was hovering around the 24C mark (possibly higher). Typical.

The timing was chipped (a little plastic dongle strapped onto your laces that records when you pass the start and finish lines) and my ‘offical’ time as opposed to the ‘time on my watch’ was 1:06:09, and I finished 671st out of.. umm.. I dunno actually but I’d guess at 800 or so entrants. I received my time by text message, and it’ll be up on the website within the next couple of days I guess. Clever stuff.

And yes, I did get to find my old B.B. captain and shake him by the hand. He was somewhat bemused mind you but I did say to him that he probably wouldn’t remember that conversation we had a year ago.

Well, that’s the first one done and I now have a time to aim for in the future. I’ve already agreed to do another 10K on 28th of October, and I’m looking at two more (10Ks) this year; the Great Glasgow Run on the 2nd Sept and possibly the Loch Ness 10K on the 7th of October. We’ll see. Suffice to say that I’m determined to get my time under an hour before the year is out!

After my extertions, we headed to my parents to celebrate Father’s Day and as it was so nice we ended up having a lunchtime BBQ. Steak burgers and ostrich steaks. Yum. A quick pit-stop to visit my Gran on the way home and pretty soon I was flat out on the sofa watching TV.

First up I watched that Mr. Hamilton whizz around a racetrack in his Formula One car. He’s quite good, isn’t he, or at the very least the car underneath him seems quite good. Mind you as the current World Champion has the ‘same’ car and he’s holding him off, then yeah, Lewis Hamilton seems to be pretty on the money. AND he seems like a nice guy. How very British.

In between that finishing and the Real Madrid game starting I even managed to get my Windows box and my MacBook talking. Now I just need to get the whole ‘aliases in Front Row’ thing sorted out and I might be able to stream stuff from the big box (Dell) upstairs to the little white slab (MacBook) downstairs. And if I can get THAT working then next stop is to hook up my MacBook to my 40″ LCD TV and… ohhh my… my inner geek just wet himself.

Right, I think the coffee has finished brewing, time to stretch the legs. I don’t want to be seizing up… I’ve got a 5K run tomorrow night to get through.

I'm like a bird

But no, I’m not going to fly away… instead a quick update and a couple of questions.

Current Events
I considered posting more on the “Cho shootings” but really can’t be that bothered. I seem to have fallen into a “you made your bed, lie in it” frame of mind. Which isn’t really a good thing but there’s just too much else going on so I’ll skip it right now. Today’s headline is tomorrow’s … what IS the completion of that sentence? “tomorrow’s budgie cage liner?”

Scottish Blogs
Over on Scottish Blogs I’ve been caught out, big time. I recently asked for some volunteers to help me go through the entire directory and weed out the dead, moved and unwanted sites. I figured I’d get 3 or 4 people and it’d take us a couple of weeks to get through a few batches at a time.

10 people volunteered, and after sending out the first batch of 30 URLs to be checked at the weekend, some are already onto their second batch. I can’t keep up!!

It’s great though, and has the additional bonus of restoring my faith in humanity. The downside is that I’ll need to buy them all a drink at the next blogmeet (most are coming I think) and you know what they say about us Scots. Yup, that’s right, we DO have big hands.

The new car, which I’ve not mentioned for.. ohhhh.. DAYS now, is still motoring along very nicely. I’ve finally stopped trying to turn the key to start the ignition, and the automatic windscreen wipers have stopped freaking me out. The only niggles I have include a weird clunking from the rear suspension when I first reverse the car out of the drive (fairly common in most cars apparently but was a first for me) and the fact that the automatic lights go from OFF to DIPPED, rather than staging up from OFF to SIDELIGHTS to DIPPED. All minor annoyances though, I’m still loving the fact that people are looking at the car as it drives by, another unique experience!

The Running Man
Still running, and last night saw, finally, a good run. It wasn’t that fast, or that far, but I felt really good. I’ve not had that feeling for several weeks now so here’s hoping it continues. I’m about to book my place in the Balloch 10K in June so I have a firm goal as well. Onwards and upwards.

The “other” me
Work continues on my other blog and on the re-vamping of my “online presence”. At some point this blog will move to a new host, and possibly a sub-domain, or new domain itself. Yes I’ll lose some visitors, yes it’ll piss people off but I’ve considered all that and can live with the consequences. It’s quite exciting to be starting a new blog as well, especially as I’ve a much better idea of HOW do it this time around.

Finally, a couple of questions.

1. I’m looking for a bag that will hold a 13″ laptop. Something functional with additional pockets, without being too clunky, and it can’t be a “black laptop bag”. Something with some style, some verve and that won’t break the bank. I’m off to a conference in June and my current option is the bog standard (huge and ugly) DELL laptop briefcase thingy.

2. Anyone got any tips for digging out a bamboo? It’s been in for a couple of years and I cannot even get a spade or fork into the ground near it, completely solid. I’m thinking a heavy dose of water to loosen things and a pickaxe. Alternatives?

Where There's a Will

After posting about my lack of willpower of the weekend, and receiving some useful and thought provoking comments (thanks!), I think I need to step back and see what else could possibly be the problem.

Or, indeed, if there is a problem at all.

I started jogging last summer, the inspiration for which came about at the end of a 10K race near where I grew up. We happened to turn up at Lomond Shores last June, only to find that it was the finishing line for the Polaroid Balloch 10K which was being marshalled by some local groups, one of which was the Boys Brigade. I bumped into one of the officers that I knew and got chatting in that “haven’t seen you for 10 years” abbreviated kind of way. I asked how long he’d been helping out with the race, and he said he’d been doing it a fair few years now and it was always fun to see ex-members of the Boys Brigade, he then suggested that I should be out there running it but “I guess you’d need to lose that spare tire, eh!”. It was a tongue-in-cheek comment and certainly not meant as an insult.

But boy, did it sting.

Like most fatties, I know that I’m overweight. I know WHY I’m overweight and I really don’t need reminded of it as I’m perfectly aware of the facts. Feeling uncomfortable in clothes, always wondering what other people think of you.. well it’s not the greatest way to live your life. I don’t worry about it all that much, to be honest, but jibes about my weight always hit home hard.

And so, two days later I found myself scanning the local free paper during some.. eh… private time (e.g.), when I stumbled across a small advert. It said that “JogScotland” was starting up soon and was open to everyone, of every level. It made specific mention of the fact that it would help you get from walking to jogging in ten weeks. In a rare act of spontaneity (I DO like to plan things), I phoned up, signed up and two weeks later I was standing about with a bunch of complete strangers. Most of whom were women.

My goal, even then, was simple.

I WILL run that 10K in June 2007.
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Tonight was the start of the next 10 week block of JogScotland. In 10 weeks time I’ll be running for a complete hour. Based on tonight it’s gonna be a hard slog.

On the other hand, if every evening I go out for a run in are as stunningly gorgeous as it was tonight then it’s gonna be a hard slog whilst admiring some gorgeously stunning skies and sunsets.

We occasionally jog alongside the lake in Strathclyde Park, and tonight, as the sun started plunging towards the horizon, we were doubly treated as the ripple-less water reflected every aching inch of the sky in perfect detail. Disturbed only by occasional serenely gliding swan, I could hardly tear my eyes from the surface as it slowly darkened from sunlight blue to peach to orange.

It was just lovely and reminds me of one of the reasons I enjoy running. It’s really quite obvious and I’m not sure why I haven’t realised this before, but the simple fact is that I just love being outdoors.

April Nike+ Challenge

I was gonna wait a week before doing this figured it would be good to match it to the calendar month (doesn’t make any real difference of course but.. what the hell).

So, I’ve setup an “April Fools” Nike+ challenge. It’s quite simple, most mileage wins. I average around 5-6km a run, 3 times a week, so that’ll give you an idea of whether to join, or not. Richard won the last one, but only because everyone else (um… all two of us) was sick!

Leave a comment or drop me an email if you want to join in. The more the merrier!