Monday, 16 January 2017

Blue (Sky) Monday

I had no intention of making today another big runny day. I have things to do, I tell you. I had things to read, things to tidy, a bike to wash. But the sun came out unexpectedly.

Peter had things to do too. So we went a run up to the park. 7 miles up and down the hills and then a prolonged rest down at St Margaret's Loch.

I'm kind of glad I'm back at work tomorrow because it means I'll rest my legs.

Sunday, 15 January 2017


All very well running about in the hills, but I was needing to get back down to the beach to see the sanderlings today. It was a much softer, warmer day than it was yesterday. We were both very stiff from our run yesterday but after a mile or so we had eased off.
The tide had clearly been far up the beach with the recent full moon and Aberlady bay was full of razor and clam shells.

I'm trying to train myself out of a horror of barnacles by just looking at them. I have no idea why but this picture gives me the shudders. They look a bit like teeth and just looking at them I'm afraid they start growing on my back. What can you say?

I'm still experimenting with the range of my X30 lens. Some of the results are impressionistic in the low light. Above is a dream of sanderlings.

This is a dream of tankers.

The weekend has gone by sooooooooo fast again. Dishes to be washed. Showers to be had. Clothes to be washed. All that. Better go again.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Best Part of the Day

I was going to run a Park Run today. I'm sure I probably told you. One of our championship races is 'any parkrun in February' so I thought I should go and get in some practice, face the boak, all that. But then the weather was primed to be just superb today AND  it looked likely to be slippy. Slippy at Cramond would be bad, but slippy in the hills is good. I said to Buchanan that we should get up into the hills before dawn and get pictures of the sun coming up. It would be lavish...

...but early. Not that early, but a bit early for a Saturday. I actually woke up at 5am so could have set the whole thing in motion... Peter will usually comply given cups of tea and a bit of persuasion - but it's been a long week and instead I went back to sleep and felt much more reluctant to wake up at 7am when my alarm went off. There had been a kind of hanging shelf in the middle of a section of Marks and Spencers, and my clothes were neatly folded on it. But I saw some of them had fallen on the floor. I went to pick them up and put them back on the shelf and then they all disappeared. Nothing but a white shelf.....Don't you just hate it when that happens? 

Anyway. We didn't quite make the crack of dawn. In fact, we still weren't out the door at 10am. The sky clouded over as did Peter's countenance. Had we missed the best part of the day?

We went to Bonaly this time. There were too many cars up at the top car park. The council guys were just arriving as we did, to open the over-flow parking field, but it was all getting a bit hectic, so we went and parked further down and then went up into the hills from the far side.
There was a tiny bit of bickering but it was warm in the sun and the sky had cleared and pretty soon we were just enjoying it. We hadn't settled on a distance but wanted to get some high tops in to strengthen our hill legs, so we went over Capelaw and skirted round Castlelaw over to the Flotterstone side of the Pentlands. 

It was warm on the lower hills on the North side of the Pentlands,  but the South was all iced up. The paths were partly packed down by walker's feet, and very icy in places. Peter said he was going to run all the way up Scald Law so I set out to do the same and then surprised myself by falling uphill and being nearly unable to get up, doing a Bambi thing, as I found myself in the middle of an icy bit.
The top of the hills was bitter and we didn't hang about. We went a visit to South Black Hill as it was looking lovely in the sun-shine, but it was a relief to run down the side of East Kip. As soon as we got lower and got some shelter from the wind we warmed up and relaxed a bit. I was finding my appetite for running up hills was waning and was happy to find P was feeling the same way. We took a somewhat lower, perhaps cheaty route, but still ran more hills than I really would have asked for. The miles clicked by.

From just before Harbour Hill we turned left and it was nearly downhill all the way back to the car. My legs were sore so I cheered them up by making up songs in French, about how I had mal aux jambes and mal aux pieds mais je sont un hero tres fort. It was shit French but strangely cheering and took the sting out of the whole thing. 

The lowering sun had a pink tinge and lit up the heather something lovely, which Peter has probably captured, but I didn't, because I couldn't be bothered to stop.

We arrived back at the van just shy of 16 miles so ran the last 0.15 for the sake of the OCD.
It's a long time since I've run 16 miles in the hills. My legs are shot, but I am happy.

Oh yeah, and here are some pictures from Thursday evening when I totally failed to capture the magic of the large full moon over the city.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Unracy weekend +

While I freely admit that most of the time - especially in recent years - it's me that's dragging my race feet, this weekend it seemed to be Peter that talked us out of a couple of races.

I have been kind of wanting to do a Park Run, especially since I'm 50 now. Last week's promathon surprised and impressed me that I can still actually run faster than 8 minute miles. I'll get a new age-graded percentage for whatever time I do. It's almost like starting all over again. And the Porty club championship races include any park run in February. From my forays into park running, way back when, my experience was that the first few are hideous and then you kind of get the knack of them. So it would be good to knock some out before February.

The forecast said there wouldn't be much wind on Saturday morning, and that's a good starting point. I said to Peter I was thinking about this and he said he didn't think it was a good idea. It would leave us spent for Paxton. I was kind of surprised. I wasn't expecting this kind of sensible talk from him. Usually it's me that might be making this kind of argument and him making some derogatory remark implying that I am a woman.
Anyway, I didn't put up much of a fight. I still remember the feelings of deep, churning stomach cramp and that hovering feeling of nausea immediately post-run.

We took a long, long time to get going on Saturday. I quite often hit a slump on a Saturday. It's like the whole week catches up with me. I never sleep that well on Friday night because I only really let go of the week when I get out and get running. Falko's being shut isn't helping. The promise of coffee and cake can over-come quite a lot of slump. But there would be no Falko's. I did a fatal thing. I had a cup of strong coffee at home and then still didn't get moving. By the time we got to Gullane I had hit another slump. I could barely get out the Berlingo. This was serious. We went in search of a Falko's substitute and found Gannet's Deli - which is either new or I just haven't noticed it. There were quite a lot of very  nice looking bits of cake in there. I opted for a cheese scone in some misguided nod at 'not over-doing it' and nearly had to run back afterwards to get the almond croissant that I had really wanted. The cheese scone was pretty good anyway, and I had a strong and bracing black coffee which gave me the courage to start to move those reluctant legs.

I started off creaking and groaning and then, after a while, I started to feel good. I was explaining to Peter that there was probably a Scandinavian term for what I was feeling, which meant "strong-weak". "It'll be strongenweaken or something" I told him. He looked quite far off and disengaged. I don't think he's over the fact that my lens is longer than his yet.

Anyway, it didn't wear off. I felt better and better and then realised I was on for a pb for the course if I kept going. The sand was in perfect running condition - lovely and smooth, and what wind there was was behind us. The cherry on the cake was that the tide was out from Aberlady point to Gullane, meaning we could run on the sand instead of going over the hill.

I pushed the last couple of miles and we arrived back at the Berlingo, fighting to the last. It was a significant pb and where I had been cold and tired I was now roasting and cheerful.

I don't know when PB started making noises that it might be good not to do Paxton. Maybe just after this. I had so accepted that we were doing it that I hadn't considered an alternative. When I thought about it I was in about a 50-50 split. Paxton has spanked me so hard in recent years I just can't be excited about running there...but I really enjoyed the fun of being out and about amongst other runners last weekend; it did me a power of good and I realised I'd been missing this aspect of my life. But it's a long drive for a 4 or so mile run....I asked Peter if he was serious, and he said yes, so I set to dreaming up something else. At this point he was thinking he might go and do a longer trail run with some serious runners, push the pace and all that. When I thought about what I wanted to do I thought more time in the Pentlands was warranted. The Carnethy 5 is looming in the not too far distance. (2,500 feet of loom). It's a while since I've tackled the high tops, so I dreamt up a route that had many options - start off from Flotterstone, do the big ones (Turnhouse, Carnethy, Scald Law) then there's the option of continuing West or cutting down the side of East Kip to either the road back or into the parallel hills for the return route.

So that's what we decided to do. It was a kind of thrawn, grey day, with low cloud covering the tops. There was something atmospheric about it though, and both of us were enjoying it. It was pretty warm for a day up the hills in January. The walkers trudging along looking over-dressed are always an incentive to keep the pace up. Pretty soon we'd done the big three.
My legs really aren't used to proper hills, so I voted for turning right just before East Kip. There's a very nice little path there that hooks up with the Carnethy 5 route towards the Howe.
I had a bit of a sing-song running down here and Peter ran off into the distance so nobody would think I was with him. I was loving being out in the middle of nowhere.

Down between the hills I surprised myself by feeling that a few more hills would be okay rather than the rather dull, but solidly downhill, run down the road. We went over Black Hill and over the side of Bell Hill, by which time I'd had enough. Peter suggested that if I didn't go over Harbour Hill then I was in fact a lady and I had to tell him that if he didn't shut up I was never taking him to the Pentlands again. Then we ran down the rocky, muddy road in companionable silence.
I pushed the last couple of miles again, just feeling I wanted to. We were both in good spirits arriving back at the van - just shy of 10 miles and 3000 feet.

There was a bit of a twinge when we got home and we saw the posts from Paxton. People had had a good day. Some of the pictures even looked like they'd got some sun! But mostly we were pretty content with the day's running. I slept for something like 10 and a half hours.

Pictures from Peter.