Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Long Slow Snow Run

Inspired by Richie Cunningham's remark the other day that he'd run 20 miles and this was about equivalent to twice as much in June I decided to go and try to do a long run despite the ever deepening snow. After a bit of head scratching we decided on catching the train to North Berwick and making our way back because this gives lots of different options depending how its going, nice off-road with a bail-out bus never far away if it all goes horribly wrong.

The train was a bit late setting off because apparently the staff were having difficulty making it to the train. In NB it was dreich but we were warmly dressed and pretty soon started enjoying the spectacle of everything under snow. I tried to see running through the deep slush on the pavements as strength training and be patient with it - but we hopped onto the road whenever it was quiet. We wanted to get a couple of miles along the road and then head along the John Muir Way to Gullane.

At Gullane it was time for a food stop already - it was hard work and we were both hungry  so we had some Orkney fudge and some Stoat flapjack bars and coffee standing in the doorway of a kitchen shop as the snow strafed the graveyard across the way.

As soon as we got down to Gullane Beach things took an upturn - whether it was the sugar and caffeine hit or the beautiful scenery or a bit of both. It was good to get far from the road - and some of the beach running must have been the easiest outdoor running to be had in Scotland today.

Time was moving on however and we didn't have long til sunset so we had to press on. At Aberlady we decided to keep going as long as we could before we got completely benighted. It was hard work breaking through several inches of snow all the way. At one of the car parks at Longniddry we came across a man with an alsatian who's Volvo was stuck in the ice. We helped him to move his car forwards a bit, but as soon as he went to reverse to get back out of the car park he slid back into the same place he'd got stuck in in the 1st place. It didn't seem likely we could do much more with no spade and darkness full upon us. He turned down offers of the use of my phone, preferring to go and see a friend up the road who might be able to help him. We made the last of the way to Seton Sands in the dark, where there was a no.26 bus sitting waiting for us! (We could have gone further but the pavements were both hard work and boring so we decided to call it a day.)

15 miles altogether today - and it took us a bit over 3hrs. 12 minute miling! Impressive. I think I'll be sore tomorrow...

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snow Business

Very grumpy today. Slept 12 hours straight but still tired when I got up. My head was beating whether with dehydration or a bit of hangover (drank a little yesterday - but not much). When we woke up the world was in white-out and you couldn't see Arthur's Seat from our house which is barely a mile away. We decided it definitely wasn't a day for driving to the Pentlands, just too much chance of getting stuck somewhere, so it was time to go and utilise Arthur's Seat.

The good citizens of Edinburgh had been exceedingly busy and there was a snowman/woman or animal every 40 feet or so, scattered through the Queen's Park like statues. I was glad to be out and the sun was warm but I couldn't match Peter's somewhat excessive enthusiasm for every inch of land and sky. AMAZING! AMAZING! he announced and I swore never to make him a coffee again. He usually only drinks tea, if that, and I think the caffeine was just too much for him.

We wanted to get a decent sized run in so covered pretty much every route around Arthur's Seat that we know, except the one over ice-clad rocks above a sheer drop-off which I didn't fancy. We were doing a finishing turn of the bog but Peter wanted to get up high one last time to see what was happening with the sunset so we crested just at the shoulder of the student entrance to Arthur's Seat and there was a veritable crowd scene - possibly 80 people all getting in each other's way and sledging down the main path and turning it to ice when there was acres and acres of more free ground if they'd care to walk another quarter mile or so. I realised it could be worse, I could be shopping in Princes Street, or fighting my way through the German Market drinking Gluhwein and throwing punches.

Another weekend goes by just like that and I have my homework still to do for school tomorrow...

Water of Leith Half Marathon

Peter and Richard had agreed to take over organising this race from Jim Bruce this year so we assumed we would  be too busy to run the race. The race already has a well established team of people who do all the various bits however so in the end there wasn't that much that seemed to be needing doing, and we did run it. It had been snowing over night and there was much that could go wrong and couldn't be controlled, so I for one was glad that a number of people had pulled out. All the fewer people to fall down dead, faint, fall and break themselves, get run over by traffic, drown in the water of Leith or get lost. I guess I don't have the right temperament for organising a race!

At the time I was still hoping that the Borders XC would go ahead so I was trying to save myself to some extent for that. Running 13+ miles probably isn't very good prep. for anything but what I did was wear Skins and other warm clothing which I knew would take the edge off my ability to race but would keep my muscles nice and warm and comfortable. I hadn't had much sleep the 2 nights preceding the race and so was frankly puzzled when my alarm went off at 7am on Saturday. Had I set it by mistake? It took a little while to realise it was set so I could get up and race.

There had been a pretty radical transition over night - Edinburgh was now nice and white! A shame for Peter's efforts the day before out making white flour arrows on the route. There were the odd traces of them in the lower reaches of the course but of most there was no trace. Someone had been out with red paint marking the 1st bit of the course - and this was nice and clear except there was a wee man in a tiny snow-plough snow-ploughing the pavements! He gave me a nasty look for running on the pavements and I gave him a nasty look for obliterating our race markings...

My handicap was unachievable so there were no real temptations to try to race at all. I let my companions go  (starting with the same handicap as me) right at the start of the race and had about the 1st 5 miles of the race all to myself. The sun had come out and I was glad I was running and not marshalling. The snow was pretty good underfoot, not very slippy. Much better than a couple of years ago when the course was seriously icy and there were quite a number of nasty scrapes and injuries. I think Lucy got dragged by Kipper a bit and got a scraped leg, but that was the only injury I heard of.

After 5 miles people started to come past me in dribs and drabs at first and then later clumps! I could hardly contain myself in the last 2 miles when Michael Geogheghan announced that I was 49th! Yeehah.

The last mile or so was the slippiest and most treacherous of the whole course so I rather unexcitingly stopped and had a walk in the last 100 metres or so.

A major disappointment of the day was that the cakes and homebakes for the finish were held up in Perth and never made it to Edinburgh. A couple of half pints of Guinness in the Waterline were nearly as good though and it was good fun chatting to fellow Porties. I later made up for the lack of cake in my life at Peter's mum's 80th birthday party with banoffee pie and cheesecake, followed by birthday cake. Not sure if its a hangover from drinking I'm experiencing today or some kind of sugar hangover. (Also, cos it was so cold it was difficult to drink anything to rehydrate. I take it fizzy white and red wine doesn't really do that?)

Hungover and a bit photophobic today just in time for some dazzling running in the snow and sunshine.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

A saunter round the seat

Today's run was the '8 mile loop';  - round Arthur's seat, then down the Innocent Railway path and back up via Duddingston and then home. Both of our legs felt a bit rusty as we hadn't run since Saturday. We unfortunately 'had to' speed up in the 1st mile (I like to take this really easy), because a jogger with furry ear protectors was trying to run alongside us. We had to teach her a lesson at much cost to my breathing  and composure.

The plan was to strike a balance - to get a bit of running in without knackering ourselves for club tomorrow. (I still aspire to go even though it must be 8 weeks now since I've made it). We threw in 8 or 9 strides along the way just to sharpen us up. I try to do these at '5K pace' - this ranged from sub 6min pace to 7.30 pace, so is probably an accurate reflection of my 5K pace!

It was a beautiful day - all the more so after 2 days of misery and wetness - so Peter had brought the camera along and stopped along the way to take pictures. The game then was to subtly increase my pace so it was harder for him to catch me than it ought to be....to make him feel old. Nice?

Most notable - apart from both of our various injuries having receded back to manageable levels was that we ran into John Forker who had been out buying DVDs so he could have a film fest when he got home. He looked to be moving well. Nice to see him!

Then home to - hot showers? No. It is my annus horribilis for plumbing! And thats not a metaphor! Nothing wrong with my water-works....Just the shower's broken. So its a nice sponge down in the shower with a bucket of hot water. Somebody less well mentally balanced might think that Jesus, or someone, wants me to get better at looking after the practical details of the house this year.

Apparently I'm not essential for helping at the WOL half this Saturday, so might just do it as a training run. Sunday will be the beginning of the Borders XC series. Looking forwards to it.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Cycle of Death and Rebirth

Well not really. Just trying to grab attention! More of a cycle down towards Peebles then over the Meldon Hills, thru' Rommano Bridge, onwards to West Linton and then home via the Deanfoot Road, a nice old road with stunning views of the Pentlands (when you can see that is) and back to Penicuik (which thankfully we'd driven to to start - another 10 miles each way would have finished us off).

Looks good on paper and would have been good except the rain predicted for the afternoon came in the morning and we got very very cold and very wet. We are comparative cycle softies having not done much other than commute with our bikes for a good number of years. By 'we' I mean Peter and I. Amanda probably does more and Scott does a whole lot more on the Fixie - especially as he keeps injuring himself.

The sun came out very briefly as we were setting off up into the Meldons and it really was nice. Lovely rolling hills and wildness and sheep - reminiscent of Yorkshire or maybe parts of the Lakes. After a couple of miles reprieve when we could actually look around and talk to each other the rain came back and it was heads down and work.

The next 13 -15 miles or so were into driving rain and no communication was possible. I lead for a while but then when the others came forward to take a turn at the front I dropped off the back, my little cycling legs quite spent. My chain started refusing to go up to the big cog in the first part of the journey so my cadence seemed to be about twice that of my companions. I welcomed the warmth this generated though. Too late I realised that waterproof shoes would have been better (not open mesh trainers designed to let your feet breathe). My big toes went numb fairly early on, but on the hills over to Rommano Bridge I lost touch with the 2nd and 3rd toes too.

Deep inside I was alright though. I could tell because I had the song from the Simpsons Movie stuck in my brain. "Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does whatever a Spider Pig does..." and then David Bowie "I'm an ALLIGATOR". I sang this to Amanda and she cycled off as quick as she could.

West Linton came at long last and we went to a cafe (I think it was called the Old Toll Inn). I knew right away that I wanted cake and a hot chocolate and a coffee. We made the other table of people in the cafe laugh with our extreme coldness and wetness and need for food, and we made the windows steam up as we all started to dry out. The coffee was really good by the way and the carrot cake was delicious, and I got a good big slice. The cafe people were good natured and friendly. Amanda, Scott and Peter had cabbage and bacon soup too which they said was good. I couldn't get enough sweetness really - like Brundle-Fly in The Fly - I was pouring tubes of sugar into my coffee too and I don't usually take sugar. I missed Amanda's screams as her hands came back on-line as I was away at the toilet...

Then it was an effort of will to go back out and face the last 7 or 8 miles. (I'm not sure about the distances as my odometer on my bike didn't tally with the stated number of miles - it might have been as many as 11 - I set my wheel-size in the odometer pretty much at random so that was no surprise really.)

The rain mercifully held off until we got going again, so at least we got into a rhythm before it started to teem down again - and not just rain but some hail as well. The hail pinged my bike  bell - 'too late for a warning' I thought to myself blearily....but pretty soon I could see the Leadburn Inn in the distance and to the right, and knew it couldn't be long til we came back out onto the A701 and on the downhill sweep back into Penicuik.

Character forming...

It was the East League XC at Broxburn yesterday so I'm going to post about that next, but today's efforts had more impact and I wanted to write about them first...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Surf's Up

To make up for skipping ANOTHER club night last night, and to get some of what light there is, I went out a long run today from North Berwick to Portobello.I went round the coast at Gullane, had a coffee and lion bar stop at Aberlady and then onwards to Portobello where I caught a bus at the Joppa end of the Prom. It was just shy of 22 miles, my legs were aching and the thought of dodging prom folk and then the remaining trudge into Leith was too much for today. Still - it wasn't a bad run at all.

I took my old camera for entertainment but was too stingy to throw out the half used batteries that were already in it which is a shame because yesterday's stormy weather had really whipped the sea up, despite the air being relatively calm. I got some pictures of the waves hammering in to shore before the batteries died. At Aberlady I had to choose between batteries or food so I chose the latter.

Back to work tomorrow. Cross-country Saturday.