Sunday, 16 January 2011

Livingston XC and a trip into the Lammermuirs

The weekend is getting away too quick so I'm going to have to squeeze things together.

Yesterday was the combined final leg of the East District XC league and the East District Cross Country Championships at Livingston.

The weather was so appallingly bad that it was all quite funny. The rain lashed down all night and abated a bit for the runners - but not all that much, and the wind likewise blew a hoollie all night and continued to blow throughout the day.

4 intrepid Porties set off together, myself, Amanda, Peter and Andrew. It was as if there was a curse on the Porty men and the 10 men the pre-entry list boasted was whittled down to a forlorn 5. When Gareth couldn't find the venue in Livingston they were down to 4 men; not enough for a team. The women did rather better having 4 out of the 6 pre-entered women finish and coming a reasonable 9th ladies' team. We'll come higher up in the East League team results I think but these are not out yet. Amanda came in an amazing 18th overall and looking pretty comfortable. Ruth, me and Jenni each came in within a minute of the last so we made quite a good cluster.

I think the course was really good but I found one lap was enough! I was a bit too far up the field in the first lap so suffered for it pretty badly in the 3rd quarter and then rallied enough to hold my place to the end. Peter has catalogued everything he didn't like on the Portobello Website.

Today we set off for an "adventure" with Scott and Amanda. Jim Hamilton, a club member, had suggested a route to Peter that starts at Longyester and goes up and through the Lammermuirs to Carfraemill. We thought it might be a reasonable out and back for a long run.

We'd arranged to meet Scott and Amanda at the car park at Blinkbonny woods at 11.30 and we even set off 10 minutes early because we've been late for them pretty much every time we've set a time. All was going well till the instructions on our Google map sent us off up the A199 heading for Dunbar and we had to turn around. We found Gifford okay but then the road out to Longyester got narrower and more confusing and we overshot the road we wanted and ended up stalled at a crossroads with signs pointing in every direction and none of them saying what we wanted them to say. A phone call to Scott sorted us out and we were soon with them - only 10 minutes late. It must be fate.

Amanda and I found we were decidedly tired and creaky after yesterday's cross-country. Peter seemed oblivious as usual. Scott was probably the freshest. He has a knee at the moment but you're not allowed to mention the knee.
We were soon in our usual positions with me puffing along behind. Out of the car it was pretty much 2 miles straight uphill. I was puffing an awful lot, I guess its carrying some extra Christmas pounds that's doing it.

From below it looked like all the snow had gone from the hills but when we got higher we found it. Some of it was reasonable to run on and some of it had been rotting in the recent thaw and we did a few dramatic plunges through the surface up to our thighs.
Once we were up the road undulated a fair bit. It was sunny and the there were good views in all directions. Quite a contrast to yesterdays dark and rain. We were making our way down the map pretty quickly so hatched a plan to try and make a loop rather than an out and back by going up some smaller paths and hooking up with another track that ran back approximately parallel further east. The first part of our detour involved passing through someone's courtyard with dogs in a cage barking, pickup trucks with lights and you could pretty much hear the first few notes of "duelling banjo" being plucked. (This after a less threatening theme from the James Herriot series which had been playing through my head as we ran down the small roads and tracks up to this point.)

We got past the house unsavaged by dogs and felt we might be safe. Then we got into a field and started heading down a small path that followed the fence. Then BOOM or perhaps splosh, I was down. (For the 2nd time that day. I forgot to mention I'd already taken a nose-dive earlier on and then slid along the glassy ice. The others suggesting I was doing a Torvill and Dean.) This time, looking around to see what had caused my topple I saw that I'd tripped over a bit of wire. Looking closer we saw that it was a snare. Then having realised there was one snare we saw that the whole next part of the path was littered with snares. It made for interesting running. A bit further on and we realised we'd been descending steadily but according to the map should be plateauing so we did a bit of running hither and thither and trying to figure out just where on the map we really were. Finally Amanda put her foot down and suggested we should just make our way back and that would be plenty for one day. Thank god someone did. We took one further short-cut which worked out this time and were heading back along the track, this time with the wind behind us and a 2 mile descent to finish off, which was fun. I had one more fall on the ice at the top of the hill, a proper face plant, which seemed to cause much laughter and no sympathy...

So 12 and a bit slow, hilly miles, but having made inroads into the Lammermuirs we shall explore further.
Now to try and cram all the other things we were supposed to do this weekend into the remaining few hours...

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