I've been dreading this one for a while. The original idea had been that Graham was offering to take me and Richard a long, 25-30 miler down in the borders, at a slow pace, to help us get some long training in. Peter wanted to come too which I think initially bothered Richard because he worried it would up the pace but I knew it would be fine. Peter can run with me so can modify his pace for anyone. Then Graham had to be in town to attend to some business so we rearranged that we'd run round Edinburgh somehow or other. I knew it would be pretty much impossible not to go off too fast in the 1st hour with everyone being so much stronger than me and so accepted that this would happen and that the attrition would set in later.
Preparation was a 5 mile xc the day before and then plenty of wine at Ben's house as he and Allison are moving Down South (bad idea).
It was a bright day, but really cold again and there was plenty of ice anywhere out of the sun. Graham took us on a magical mystery tour out towards Portobello and Musselburgh via back routes, greens and alleys. After Musselburgh we started to head inland but I had no real sense of where we were. We ran up old cobbled farm roads, past disused barns....eventually popped out at Craigmillar and headed left over the hill and down the other side to the back of the New Royal. We then took an interesting route to Gilmerton through what looked like someone's front door onto a path, past a huge private house and then on into woods and paths and over fields - my brain has lost the sequence, eventually arriving at Graham's mum's house. She was out but Tinker was in and he showed as much enthusiasm for cake and tea as the runners.
After eating and drinking our fill of cake and tea and crisps (fruit was on offer but was mostly ignored) we headed off back out.
We'd covered 16 miles so were now looking for a further 8 to make the day's tally up to 24. At this point I seriously started to fade and it was a bit of a battle from behind from here on in. We headed off to The Hermitage and the Braids and took a really nice road I never knew about quite far up hill and down the other side to then reconnect with the golf course on the Braids, and then the 7 hills route back down into the Hermitage. I was ready to go the shortest way home and abandon the team by this time as I was pitifully slow but Graham wouldn't hear of it. So I carried on a bit longer and a bit longer.
My quads started to feel like they were doubling in size as I jogged round the side of Blackford hill and down to the pond. I knew I didn't have long left in me. Coming out onto the road I again made a bid for freedom but without effect so I shoggled along behind the still bouncy men until at Chambers St. museum I must have finally got some finality into my voice as I waved them off and told Peter I'd see him at home. I had run 24 miles. And then I had a lovely walk. It was a stiff legged walk right enough and people were giving me funny looks but I would have been quite prepared to poke them in the eye if they'd said anything and they didn't. My legs started to ease a bit by the time I got to Tron Square and as I waited for the green man at the big crossing there I had some ginger and honey fudge and the last of my drink. Half way down the North Bridge I knew from my daily commute on my bike that it was exactly a mile home so I thought I'd try and see if I could bump the days mileage up to 25. So stiffly I set off again and it wasn't too painful - just a bit of people dodging which was awkward.
Outside Dofo's the pet center I was surprised by the familiar form of John Blair who called out "Can't you run faster than that?" I think I managed to stop my swear words half way out as I realised he was with a small person. So I explained that I'd run 24.5 miles - really didn't know where I'd been, and no, I couldn't run any faster. Then who should happen along but Lynn Morrice, also of Porty, also of the Porty's rather good national xc team from yesterday. So I walked a short way and chatted to Lynn. Seeing the pair of them gave me a huge boost. I set off the last wee bit and it wasn't any bother at all and it was a delight to get home. The end.