Monday, 4 April 2011


It seemed about the right time to push my limits and go for a longer run. In the Fling last year I regretted that I never ran further than 31 in training. In the actual race I felt okay until 45/46 miles and then fell apart with a foot/ankle injury. In retrospect it seemed obvious. How could I build up the requisite strength if I never got near the distance in training?

The memory of this was what galvanised me to try to run a 40 miler. Peter, in his happy-go-lucky way decided to come along too, even though he know it would be a L-O-N-G day out.

 We'd been unusually disciplined for us and set a leaving time (10am) by which we should be out of the house. There was a train back to Edinburgh at 1943hrs which seemed our most likely candidate for getting back. By 10.15 we were out on the pavement and setting off.

The weather was bright as promised - with a strong westerly wind (which was why we were running in an easterly direction). The sun shone but the wind was cold and it wasn't a day for hanging about.

Both of us were pretty achy right from the start. Yesterday's 10k had felt good at the time but part of that must have been adrenaline because now we were both sore. I had a niggle in my left side and felt a bit sick. Probably just fear. We pressed on regardless.

At the Porty prom we met Angus McLean (wish we'd had the presence of mind to take a snap). He'd been doing some solo hill-work at Coillesdene and was now walking back along the prom with a coffee. We walked with him for a while and chatted. He has the Paris marathon on the 10th. At the end of the prom we got running again.

A bit further along we met Ruth bombing along towards us with Catriona McEwen who she's been training up to do the Edinburgh half next week. Very cheering to see  folk you know when you're out. Angus already knew this was us going for a 40 miler because he'd read my blog from yesterday.

Before long we were in the Pans and thought we should probably eat and drink although neither of us were particularly enthused about this. We spent too long standing in a cafe waiting to get served while 2 table fulls of women with  hangovers howled and cackled. I'll swear I was getting a contact hangover and broke out in a sweat standing there. I was glad to get back out into the wind, away from the cakes and the laughter. I wasn't feeling so good about my fellow man and we gave the trailers and caravans of show folk a wide berth just before the power station. I was waiting to get chased by a mangy dog but that moment never came.

The views along Longniddry were tremendous, with the strong wind and the clouds scudding across the sky and kite surfers taking full advantage. The next food stop was at Aberlady, but rainclouds were passing overhead so I ate a sandwich standing up as quickly as I could and moved on again. I really was tired and was careful not to think too hard about what was to come. Aberlady bay, usually a favourite place, passed by in a blur. The tide was right up tight to the shore so it seemed clear that we should go inland at Gullane and take the road for a while. I also thought we should chop that corner off and go straight through Dirleton and into North Berwick without bothering to go back down to the beach. I was having to acknowledge that I wanted a proper sit-down in North Berwick if I was to be able to carry on. I thought by doing this I might be reducing our run to maybe 36 miles but I was quite willling to make that adjustment by then.

This stretch of the journey (the tarmac sore on tired feet) was cheered by Coach Gordon pulling in on the other side of the road and giving us a wave and a thumb's up. Again, I wish we'd taken a picture but we weren't feeling so bright by then.

North Berwick was a fairly restorative experience. We had sandwiches and drinks and some chocolate pastry things I'd discovered in the Co-op there last time I was there. We started to feel mentally better although physically we seized up horribly after a short time sitting down. My Garmin had already started to bleep at me that the battery was running low, so, having planned for this I buckled on Garmin no.2 which was to see us through the next part of the journey.

We were at just over 25 miles.

The next part of the journey there was the highest degree of dissonance between Peter and myself. In North Berwick he'd downed a whole large can of some high caffeine potion called "Monster Chaos". He was now running hither and thither like a young thing and I was at my lowest ebb, my legs stiff as boards. He kind of half suggested that I should hurry up or we'd never catch the train in time so I had to let him know that the only way I was going to make that train was if  he could "keep quiet" and stop "distracting" me.

He galloped off, a bit offended but too distracted by the sights around him to bother for long. I have to admit I was pleased when a few miles down the road he started to shake his head and say "I feel really dreadful". Hah. The monster chaos had lifted him so high and then dashed him to earth again with a clatter.

I had done a rough calculation of how far I thought we had to go and how long we had to do it in and was trying to work to this using the Garmin. Anything over 11 min/miles was a bonus. Easy on flat surfaces but not necessarily so easy at the stubbly edge of fields and in hard pitted mud. A Clydesdale had been along before us with incredibly large feet - literally the size of Ikea dinner plates I thought to myself.

When we rounded the headland onto the estuary coming into Dunbar it was nearly certain that our train was catchable but I didn't want to leave things to chance so I kept working away and avoided all distraction. From the caravan park it was up through town - up an unfeasibly long hill, the painful adjustment that comes with getting on and off pavements...and finally, round the corner, the train station with 20 minutes to spare...

We had covered 39 and a bit miles.

I would have been satisfied with that and the thought of the run down the road from Waverley to our house was unthinkable at that point although so was the thought of splashing out a fiver to go a mile in a taxi. I shelved the problem. As luck would have it there were no seats on the train so we stood in between carriages doing stretching exercises and our legs were a bit better by the time we stepped off the train than they were when we got on. By that time the desire to nail it and run the full 40 was back so we ran another painful mile down the road to the Scotmid where we bought a bottle of red and went home...


Climbingmandy said...

Well done Mary. V honest report on all those miles... I couldn't drag my tired legs more than 10 miles yesterday over bog and hill.. not sure I would have your determination and focus. My report card would say 'must try harder'!

kate said...

a very well deserved bottle of red! well done, you must be feeling very well prepared now.