Sunday, 28 March 2010

E2NB3 BST 26.35!

Just back in and enjoying a beer after this week's long run. This time, (direction chosen with the wind in mind) Edinburgh to North Berwick, but using every coastal diversion to make the distance and time on feet longer. The Highland Fling is getting closer and we should be peaking about now I guess.

We decided against making a rigid plan and slept until we woke up. Which, with the time change thrown in turned out to be nearly midday for me. Must have needed it.
We got on the road by 1.35pm.

At first we thought we might be overdressed but then when we got onto more exposed patches we were glad we were wrapped up well. The wind was fairly blowing and we watched for a while as Fife was clearly "getting it". Big dark rain clouds bellied over that side of the Forth. We kind of hoped against hope they weren't coming our way - but of course they were. Just next to the lagoons in Musselburgh we got it - some cold hard rain to think about. For awhile it was heads down and keep going.

Luckily the strong winds were pushing the weather through quite quickly and shortly it was more bright and breezy again.

We stuck to the coast as much as we could and the high energy weather was making everything look spectacular. The skies and the light were constantly changing and the colours out at sea and on the horizon were deep and lovely. Dark greys and greeny-greys. Peter had his camera along, of course, and I lost hiim a couple of times, just jogging on and then discovering that he was nowhere to be seen.

Neither of us was particularly fresh as we ran 11+ miles yesterday and did the Park Run so it was easy to just daudle along and the discrepancies in our abilities caused little friction.
Its quite a good feeling giving yourself a license for once just to go at whatever pace feels comfortable - a nice antidote to the usual pressure, and I found I was thoroughly enjoying my day. Because its much more spring-like now there was plenty to look at. Round the corner from Seton sands things got even better, running along little sandy paths parallel to the beach. My left knee is a bit loose in its socket at the moment but oddly running off-road helps it. I think its something to do with the way I run off-road rather than on the roads.

Just before Aberlady we ran through the strange stunted woods and I climbed a tree just for the photo opportunity but was a bit embarrassed when some regular punters came walking by.

Before Gullane we decided to branch out and run round the Nature Reserve instead of following the road. By this time we were nearly at 18 miles and we were getting a bit silly. The sign at the start of the walk said something about disturbing animals so we decided that it meant that we should watch out for disturbing animals. I thought it might be monkeys with their throats cut and their heads lolling off but grinning and chattering anyway. That would be disturbing...We moved onto man-eating swans ( we saw some very big looking swans) and a ghost owl. The landscape was marshland and was very flat and surreal. Here we decided to try out some small bottles of Lucozade "Alert plus" that I picked up at Boots last time I was there. They contain 120mg of Caffeine and some B vitamins.

At first they didn't really seem to be helping but then I'm guessing by the nonsense I was talking and the amount of laughing we were doing they did work...We made some navigational errors a little bit further on and found ourselves bush-whacking on thorny hummocks at the bottom of a golf course - in the end we had to give in and retrace our steps. Then again we went wrong and found ourselves clambering over slippy green rocks on the beach until we could climb up the headland and get up onto the grassy paths above. It was all good though.

We got into Gullane at about 21 miles. It was shortly after that we started to think about the likelihood of catching the next train. We knew they went at 20 minutes past the hour but it was hard to gauge how far there was still to go and how long we were likely to take. We were pretty knackered but were in good spirits. At first we thought we'd just go with the flow but then as we got a bit nearer we started to realise that it was going to be quite tight. If we missed the next train by just a little we'd have a whole hour to wait for the next one. We took a path that goes past an airfield at Archerfield and were delighted to see first hares and then a deer and then a tiny light aircraft looping the loop above the ploughed fields and just over our heads.

By now we'd decided to throw everything at getting the next train - and the limiting factor was me so I had to get my head down and concentrate and just turn out the best pace I could. We ran the fastest 2 miles of the day and caught the train with 36 seconds to spare. It could easily have gone the other way!

The train journey home would have been better if a couple hadn't got on at Drem, sat in the seats next to us (in an empty carriage) and then started snogging each others faces off. It was disgusting. They were making sucky noises. In the end we moved although I could still hear them from the next carriage. Yech.

The last mile home from the station made today's mileage up to 26.35 miles. A good weekend's mileage and hopefully will help us through the 53 mile run to come.

Another beer? Don't mind if I do

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Park Run Plus

I had a couple of different boxes to tick running-wise today. I wanted to get back into the Park Run thing, painful as that would be and also make up my weekly mileage to over 50 miles.
Going back to the Park Run was never going to be psychologically easy having not been since I did a pb in December. I knew there was little chance I could match that and was scared of how much worse the news might be. Then there was a stonking great wind forecast - as it turned out, accurately.
The sun was out however and we were fairly chipper as we set out in the van this morning. Getting up was surprisingly easy now that its lighter and we've both been getting up early for work recently.

I'd forgotten about the initial dread just before the start. Then we were off. A good strong tail wind to start with so I felt fine for a while. I ran my fastest ever park run mile - 6.32 - and then things slowed down considerably. As usual my plans to find someone to hide behind for the mile and a half into the wind fell apart. I couldn't keep up with anyone that was going by! I tried not to flail too much now running in slow motion into the constant headwind. Clare Gordon's dad Alan went by and I managed to hold onto his shirt tails for a while before he too moved on ahead. Still - its only 3 miles, and it wasn't long before I could see where the path diverges for the finishing straight. There was some shelter from the trees and change of direction once there and I managed to pick it up for the finish. Started to feel better after some  heavy breathing and the desire to puke subsided.  21.55. Liveable with. Hopefully I can build on it. It could have been worse.
Peter was not as philosophical about his performance. Its a painful business losing speed and facing up to what the damage is.

Part 2 of the day was good anyway. There was a fair handful of Porties there. I saw Bert, Jim Scott, Willie and Douglas. I heard Michael Fullerton was there but didn't see him. Apologies if there were others. Post-race analysis is one of my favourite sports. Love to hear what other people have to say.

There was a big HBT lady turn out - dressed as yellow and brown hens. I thought it was as a nod to easter and all that but it was a hen night - or day. I saw Brian Cruickshank in the distance looking lean and mean.
Karen Munro was supporting on her racing bike. A good melee of runners.

After chatting til we got too cold we headed out for some more slower miles up beside the Almond. Our original intention was to do the airport loop but instead we took the path that runs towards South Queensferry and then looped round to where the Cramond Ferry goes from to see if there's a path up the river on this side. Pretty soon we were bush-whacking though and were getting lacerated by thorns so we turned around and ran back the way we'd come. There's a lot of spring activity on the go and its very nice. Wild garlic, crocuses, blue skies, bursting rivers, ducks, crows and dogs.
I wish I could run all my 5K miles at 6.32 pace.
Tomorrow we must go long again....

Monday, 22 March 2010

Bright and Breezy airport run

I'd left myself with the option of doing a long run today or not, depending on how I felt after the Alloa half yesterday. I woke up in the middle of the night sore and semi-hungover and swore I wouldn't run a step today and got up this morning in a similar frame of mind - but then somehow I didn't really feel all that bad and I thought that maybe if I took it really easy it would be okay.

The day dried up, which also helped. Peter had to work so it was going to be another solo run. I filled up my ipod with a bunch of new stuff for entertainment.

The first mile was to the bank and back to pay in a cheque. Then I headed out towards Cramond and the airport run. I've overused this route in the past but its been months since we've been out there so it didn't seem so bad. The reason I wanted to do it was there was a Southwest wind which would be in my face on the way out and then would help me on the way back when I was tired.

Pretty soon the sun came out and turned into a really nice day. There were big boiling clouds scudding across a blue sky making the light change constantly and before long I was feeling positively cheerful.
My legs felt surprisingly good considering I ran a half yesterday and I started to feel a glimmer of hope that all these long runs are doing something. The legs stayed  fresh up until about 18 miles when I started to suffer a bit, but nothing too unbearable. Whether I get struck down with double-DOMS tomorrow remains to be seen.

Today's delightful repast was Boots bars and dates again, same as last week. I've discovered, however, that the dates won't do if I plan to run faster as they scoot through the system a bit quick. I had coffee and dates in preparation for last Wednesday's 8 mile tempo run at club - and the last mile, though not the quickest, required the most concentration as I had to get to the toilet at the clubhouse fast....I know. Too much information.

So today - 21.24 miles. I'm not saying how long it took. Av. HR 135 which is about 73% of max which is probably about right. As I write I can hear what I'm writing being narrated by television's David Mitchell, so if I sound a bit posh that's why. Too long out alone under the maddening skies...

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Alloa half marathon

Alloa half today. Done this a few times too many although the course has altered a bit. Neither of us was particularly hopeful of a good performance although I was a bit more upbeat than P on the way out in the van. He must have been depressed because he didn't even protest about the music on the way out which was coming out of my i-pod and filling the air with some 80s sounds. (Not just the 80s either but back to the 70s for the "Heeds man" (thats the Talking Heads to you) and maybe back as far as the 60s for the Velvet Underground.)

We overtook the club bus at Barnton and after swapping places a few times on the A8 we overtook decisively on the M9 and let them eat our dust. Haha!
Into Alloa in plenty of time and the Porty bus was not far behind. I expected its inhabitants to spill out chanting and singing, the pre-journey hype having reached such a pitch, but actually people looked a bit quiet and tired and nervous.

Alloa is getting a bit big and quite a bit of queueing followed. Very well organised though. It all went off like clockwork.

I wanted a proper warm up so had several guest warm-up partners who joined me for a while and then left me as I jogged round the building and round the carpark at the back. Karen Munro and I had to try not to stare as some man in black was warming up by jiggling his buttocks with his back to us. Running up the hill with Kathleen Bolt and Peter I found a tenner wet with morning dew. (I hope it was morning dew.) Anyway its spent now if you're looking for it. Used it to buy soup and rolls when we got home.

The race, I'm avoiding the race! Oh the race went fine.  If I'm 100% truthful I'd have to say its good training but mentally its too hard. I've run too many half marathons! I'd rather be running off road and I'd rather not know the course. Having said that I was quite pleased with approx 1.39.20. (I never heard the start) - gun-time. Its not that far (about a minute) off a pb. time and I've not been doing training that would automatically lend itself to half marathon running. The fast girls must have got stuck further back at the start and so I was sorry to see them go past at about 2 miles. Mel was certainly happy at the end. I didn't see Amanda or Jacqui to know how they got on. Emily did a very good 1.36 but she was disappointed it wasn't a pb. Bloody road racing does that to you. You can run a stormer and then be disappointed about your time.
I'd hoped to beat the 2 psychiatrists from my work who I knew were also running - Pete Le Fevre and Norman Nuttall but they've been doing something right and took a couple of minutes off me. A blow to nurses everywhere but I'll get over it.

There was a massive, massive Porty turn out which made the whole day tremendously friendly and good fun.

I have tomorrow off so have to weigh up whether its better to crank out another long run or to just rest up and wait for next weekend to go long again...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Weight and Slipping Household Standards

I've got two things to rattle on about today. One I hate to mention because its such an old chestnut, but its weight. I've noticed a long time since that although there are thinner girls who are slower than me at club, all the faster girls are thinner than me. Its undeniable; leanness makes going faster easier. Often when running on a slight downward slope and suddenly 7 min/miles are easy I wonder if this is how it would be if I was lighter. Yet I've adjusted what I eat really as much as I'm willing to - we are SUPER healthy to the extent that the workers in Scotmid make comments about it and it is embarrassing.

I'm not willing to starve myself and don't think its a good idea anyway but always in the back of my mind I guess there's some hope that I'll find something that will unlock the key to me losing a few more pounds without eating toilet roll or making myself vomit. Thus, when I found myself in Waterstones looking at the books in the sports section I found myself drawn towards "Racing Weight" by Matt Fitzgerald. A whole book about weight loss. How is it possible to read that? I'm doing quite well, I'm forcing myself and I'm on page 98. The wisdom I have to share for today is that he reckons that your body naturally adjusts to the demands you put on it - over and above the straightforward arithmetic of how many calories you burn - so for runners he thinks you should keep up your training volume as much as possible without getting ill or injured but backing off in intensity at times in order to recover. By doing this he says your body just does what's most economical and cuts down on the amount of fat you carry so you can run as efficiently as possible. Well who knows. It was enough to tip the balance and get me to go out for the last 8 miles I needed to get my 50 miles in for the week with enough time left over to rest up for Alloa. And mighty tired I was too as I was at club last night and nearly done meself in. (It was a good session though. There is a sudden rise in the numbers of female runners who are about my standard, which is a new experience for me. I am used to running in no man's (woman's) land.

There is much more to the Matt Fitzgerald book than this. It is well written, readable, doesn't come across as faddy and sounds like he knows what he's talking about. His slant is that you need to focus on your weight and your body composition - get a handle on what your ideal racing weight and body composition should be and then work towards it. Maybe I'm liking it because by his method of reckoning I need to lose 5lbs (of fat!) rather than the 20lbs suggested in other books. (Bob Glover). Although I may have done my sums wrong. It cheered me up so much and made it suddenly seem possible that I'm best believing it.

The 2nd thing I would like to write about today is a cautionary tale about how your house might end up if it contains two runners. I think the photo above speaks for itself. Peter will be annoyed at me for putting this up for public viewing but I'm more of the "accept who you are and be honest about it" bent. In a year's time, will we have a new tap? Or will we have adjusted to them grippy things. Maybe we should just put an "H" on them and be done.

Monday, 15 March 2010

...and another long Pentlands run...

Decided to go back to the Pentlands today for my long run and do what we intended to do last time we went and do 2 circuits of what we call the low level route. The weather out the window didn't look too promising but the BBC weather said it would be dry with sunny spells so I chose to believe that.

On the van on the way out it was difficult to ignore the fact it was actually raining and that clouds were scudding across the sky, powered by a strong, cold wind. I got a bit lost on the way also because I forgot where I was going and out of habit had headed out the Colinton road to where Peter is working before I realised what I was doing. I had to cut back through never before driven roads, passing the old psychiatric hospital at Craighouse before I got back on track.

At the Flotterstone carpark it was distinctly grey and windy but I felt okay anyway. Off I trotted.

This is the 1st long run I've done on my own in a long time and so I was determined to keep the pace truly comfortable. I was a bit bored for the 1st three miles which are uphill and into the wind, feeling that I had nothing to think about, but this passed. I amused myself trying to dodge puddles which there were a-plenty and listening to the random rubbish going on in my head.

As I headed down to Threipmuir reservoir I remembered that last time we'd been here the path had been closed. Was it going to be closed again today, meaning I'd have to reclimb that nasty hill up from the car park at Red moss?
The path was indeed closed so after weighing up my options I decided to head back up the long hill and cut round the side of Black Hill. Before I went back up however, I wanted to explore what was across the road from the Red moss carpark. I'd seen an intriguing looking path going the opposite way a few times but had always been too busy on a mission to explore further. What I discovered was a raised wooden walkway over the local boggy vegetation. Presumably its for bog enthusiasts and twitchers but is no different from mountain bikers North Shore (whyever its called that). It was great to run over anyway. Some of the planks are collapsing a bit so I had to be careful but mostly it was a glorious wee run. I think more of the countryside should have a raised wooden walkway through it.

Back to Black Hill then, stopping to eat some of today's trial food - very good - Boots "cereal bars" - indistinguishable from chocolate bars but I'll go along with it - and pitted dates. Both things went down easily and sat well. It was hard to leave some for the next stops though.
The run round the side of Black Hill has obviously been seeing more use as an alternative path to the road at the side of Threipmuir so it wasn't as nice as usual. It is very, very muddy and boggy. I had my road shoes on so it wasn't easy going and my feet are filthy...Nothing much happened for a while. A minor incident with a dog that wanted me badly held by a pinch-faced bad tempered looking owner. Nothing of note. Coming up the hill the wind was behind me and it didn't seem much effort. Coming down the path between Black Hill and Harbour hill was easy going though wet. It felt good in an odd sort of way to head back up the road to the Howe for lap 2 because at least that meant I was getting into the latter stages.

The weather got really pretty filthy for a while and there was nothing to do but plod on with my head down. The mist was swirling around the tops and the wind was blowing rain right into my face. Just after the Howe I had an unscheduled stop as I had to wait for a flock of sheep to pass over the narrow red path. I knew if I moved or hassled them they'd panic and take longer so I just stood quietly and took pictures of them, getting a bit cold.

As I set off up the side of Black Hill for the second time the sun unexpectedly came out and gave me a massive boost. All of a sudden the rather bleak looking landscape was transformed. The Forth looked blue and the still snow-capped hills of Fife looked magnificent in the distance. I could feel the warmth of the sun on the backs of my legs and I felt comfortable and happy. Maybe I can get into this ultra-malarkey after all!

Climbing up the hill was again easy with the wind behind me and everything looking better. I paused to take a photo at the top of the last hill at 19 miles or so.

My legs stayed in reasonable condition - a bit achy at times but nothing too bad - I think keeping a really moderate and consistent pace helped this. I ran down the other side of the hill thinking of a fat man I'd seen exclaiming "Sheeee-it" in a film and trying to think who it was. Was it the Sheriff out of the Dukes of Hazzard or was it Every Which Way but Loose - or what the hell's the name of that film with the guy with the black hair and the thick black moustache? Or is that the same film? With such lofty stuff going on inside you can understand it wasn't long til I was back at the van, my last mile being the fastest one of the day. Altogether 21.68 hilly miles. Time to get a shower.