Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Recovery & speed - in just one session!

Confused as usual about what I should really be doing. On the one hand I probably need to recover from the Speyside Way race and on the other hand, the reason that we did it in the first place was as a piece of experimental training for the Kielder Water Marathon to see how an extra long run affects the whole. And also we did it so we could combine a visit to my mum with a running adventure. In this sub-elite world of running, motives are rarely pure and goals are not singular. And we're fond of racing.

Anyway - we tested the water on Monday to see how we were with a run round Arthur's Seat and quite honestly I've felt worse after manys a long run. We took it easy and warmed up slowly and I was a bit stiff but really not too bad.

I don't have work today and although its club tonight, really just wanted to go and test myself alone and without pressure. Plus I hate waiting all day to run at night. So it was I went up to the Meadows for a combined recovery and speed session. I settled on 5 X 1 mile at what I wish my marathon pace was with half mile jogs in between. Usually I'd try to run a bit quicker in an interval session but I question the usefulness of that for improving my basic speed. I thought, "how's about practicing what I preach to others and doing something which is stretching but achievable?" So that's what I did. For the 1st mile interval the pace felt easy but I had quite a lot of stiffness in what I think were my left hamstrings and glutes. After the mile and during the recovery jog bit I stopped and had a really good hamstring stretch. This improved matters somewhat and so after the next mile interval I did the same thing and this loosened the whole thing off nicely. By interval 4 and 5 I was beginning to flail a bit, which is probably as it should be, so it took a bit more determination to make it at the pace I wanted. By this time both the right and left set of glutes were complaining, not in a "we're injured" kind of way, but in a "we're tired" kind of way, and I was glad to finally stop. Job done though! I did the session I set out to do.

An easy jog back home via Arthur's Seat rounded the session off nicely. On my way down Arthur's seat I saw the returning-to-form-after-a-long-absence John Blair galloping up the hill like a police horse or something. You wouldn't get in his way. It'll be interesting to see what he does at Berlin.

We have a couple of interesting races lined up in the run up to Kielder. The fast flat Stirling 10K, followed the next weekend by the long, hilly and arduous two breweries race.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Speyside Way Race; 36.5 miles

We camped at my mum's the night before the race which meant driving some distance in the morning. I got up at 4am and Peter got up at a more relaxed 4.30 to get breakfast and get on the road to register at 7am and get the bus at 7.30 to the start of the race. We got to the start about 8.40am and stood around shivering and flapping our arms til kick off which was at 9.02am. The weather forecast had softened a bit since earlier in the week and in the event there was a little rain and some wind but nothing like what had been predicted.

The first 12 miles were along a narrow path and were flat and it was tempting to race. I promised myself to go no faster than 9 min/miles or 8.30 pace at the fastest and then immediately broke this rule. I was cold and needed a warm up anyway. I'm not a fan of the flat and I was relieved after 12 miles and the 1st drop bag stop (I didn't bother leaving one) when the course took us up a good hill. The field really spread out at this point, I'm not exactly sure why, and I only saw and exchanged places with a few men over all the next miles until the next bag drop at mile 24. At mile 15 I was feeling tired and thinking what a long, long way it was to go and was trying to lift my own spirits. It was about 15 minutes to noon and I think it was the sheer tiredness of having been up for so long already. I somehow got out of this complete doldrum but ever after that was aware of managing my mind in order to not get too down about the distance to go. Somewhere about mile 18 I saw a competitor coming back up the road towards me and as I wondered if he was dropping out or what the story was I saw a white peaked cap in the road and thought that was likely what he was coming back for, so I picked it up and took it to him. We ran along together for the next few miles and chatted a bit. It turned out he was from Haddington and knew a lot of the same runners I do and it was a relief just to chat about other people's running and races and running routes we both knew and it took my mind off the road. At about mile 21 he dropped back and I didn't see him again. There were a lot of ups and downs on roads and forestry tracks along this stretch.

At the 24 mile bag drop there were a few people who seemed to be quite settled in there. They were there as I arrived and they were adjusting kit and stretching and eating sandwiches. I couldn't have eaten a sandwich and wasn't that interested in my chocolate raisins and Powerade but had some none the less. As I beetled along the road before this stop I tried to imagine what I actually wished was in my drop bag rather than what I knew was in it and all I could come up with was a lemon-scented face wipe like you get on airplanes and some painkillers would have been good as well. I also would have quite liked an espresso coffee. It felt like synchronicity then when the lady eating the sandwich asked if anyone would like a wet-wipe. Not quite what I'd asked for but similar. It was really nice to clean my face and hands.

I wanted to get moving again before everything seized up so I took off, albeit at a shuffle, along the road. While I had been stopped a lady called Elaine who I'd been chatting to before the event went by, barely pausing to pick up the contents of her drop bag. She gave me someone to  "chase" so I kept her in my sights.
She kept looking behind and I wondered why. The only reason I was looking behind me was to see if anyone was there to be affronted if I released some of the copious quantities of "air" I was making out of chocolate raisins and Powerade. Thankfully a lot of the time there was no-one. If there was someone, and it was you, I do apologise.

The path flattened out a bit and the sequence in my mind becomes hazy. We were back in more populated areas and so some people you met were friendly and encouraging and others were not so welcoming and friendly. I saw some kids on bikes weaving around the woman ahead in what looked like an annoying way, they were clearly asking her questions. I was glad it wasn't me and tried to look as forbidding as possible. Possibly it worked as they never came near me. At one point, as I ran into some woods, I suddenly got a sharp sting right at the top of the back of my right leg. I reached back and picked something furry off - but threw it away instinctively without looking. It must have been a bee or a wasp. So it was I was standing rather surprised holding the top of my leg when a couple rounded the bend behind me. "Are you alright?" the guy asked. "Yes but I've just been stung by something, a bee or a wasp." "I'll see if I can get the stinger out for you" he said and gave the sting a good squeeze which made me yelp. Its not on every occasion you would offer a perfect stranger your white bits, but it wasn't any old day. He said he couldn't see a stinger in there - so it was probably a wasp I guess. I think he got in trouble from the lady he was with, who turned out to be his wife, as I met her in the showers later on. She told me gravely that he was a pervert and he wasn't a bit interested if there was a stinger or not. I still think he was trying to help though.

The pain wasn't too bad and after I realised I wasn't going to go into anaphylactic shock and die (I've been stung just once before, years ago, by a bee that got trapped in my t-shirt when I was cycling in Ireland) I relaxed. The stingy pain was a change from the dull aches in my shuffling legs.

A while after this I got into a fruitless and interminable struggle with my Garmins. I knew the newer one (F405) would run out of battery power round about the 30 mile mark, its does it quite consistently now. In order to get a record (OCD - if its not on the training centre it never happened) of the entire route I'd charged up my old Garmin (the 305) and took it along so I could swap over when the time came. It had occurred to me a few times that I should power up the old Garmin before I needed it so that it could get a fix on the satellites, but I never got round to it, so when the newer Garmin started bleeping that it was dying I got out the old Garmin, strapped it on, put it on and stood still to try and get a signal as soon as possible - and then waited, and waited, and waited....finally (after 3 minutes and 2 people going by) I thought I can't stand this, I am off, maybe it will get a signal as I move. So I kept checking it sporadically for the next 2 or so  miles, but it never got there. At 32 and a bit miles newer Garmin went completely dead and I started the timer on older Garmin in the hope that even though it was saying it couldn't see the satellites it might record something of value but it was recording time only. I then had to just kind of guess how far I had to go. My brain, such as it was, had packed up ages ago so I figured out how far roughly I had to go and how long it might take and then forgot what I'd thought and tried to work it out again. I started to see Elaine ahead of me again - she must have had some adventure of her own to come back to me after I'd spent so long arsing around with Garmins.

We came to a caravan site where 2 ladies were taking numbers and handing out water. Elaine was standing there and I ran up and arrived while she was there. "You're looking strong." said one of the ladies and I said to her "I'm feeling okay, but I've run out of things to think about, have you got any suggestions?"
"Oh yes" she said, "You've won £166 Million in the lottery. What are you going to spend it on?"
I gave an involuntary squeal of delight. "I'm looking forwards to this!" I told her. And I genuinely was.

During this exchange Elaine had taken off again, so I gave chase. She kept looking behind her and she would walk from time to time. It can't have been comfortable. I was running along very slowly, but steadily now I had stopped fannying around with Garmins and I felt sure that sooner or later I was going to catch her, it was just a matter of when. In the meantime there was money to spend.

The path went into some woods and very nice it was too. Very narrow single track in woods with pleasant ups and downs, twists and turns and big red fly agaric toadstools. Well first of all I was going to get a house to live in while I was deciding what to do. Maybe in Gullane - just out of town - and nice and big, with wood surrounds. Not much more detail needed there. It was just an interim step. I considered not returning for my course  at uni in September but I discovered that I still wanted to do it. I would continue to do it. Work I would be giving up. Would I work the 4 weeks I was contracted to? Do you have to if you've won the lottery? Probably not. I could sort that out.

My neighbour has been annoying me so much I thought that, for mischief, I would either buy his flat out from under him and expel him back into the world or I would get someone even more annoying than him to live in our flat so he could have a little taste of his own medicine. Meanwhile I'd be living in my woody house in Gullane. What of cars? Well I found I didn't really care. Peter could choose because he's got stronger feelings about that than me. He'll point to cars and say "Oh look at that" or "That's a blah, blah, blah" whereas the only cars I recognise are other Berlingos and those little Fiat 500 cars because they're cute.

Then I thought of a good joke, and I wished I was at the end so that I could tell Peter. With my £166 million win I was going to buy him a new set of ladders for his painting and decorating business. Hahaha. "Hahaha" I laughed out loud in the woods. Like a loon. A woody loon.

And then it all got a bit tiresome. We spilled out onto the shore at some point and I realised I was running along beside the sea. I don't know when the river turned into the sea but there was a stiff breeze blowing in-shore. I was now reeling in Elaine and she must have just given in because I hadn't speeded up but all of a sudden I was upon her. "I knew you would catch me sooner or later" she said, "I'm aching all over".
"I know", I said, "Its horrible isn't it? Keep going though." and passed her. It was definitely more difficult once I was past her. Now nothing to focus on but the end the end where's the end. After an age, after a stone tunnel, a marshal told me there was 2 miles to go. Which seemed okay. And then after another age there was another marshal and she said "Keep going, just another couple of miles?" "???????" I thought, but smiled and said thank you. An eternity passed and I went past another marshal who said. "Just 2 miles to go". I don't think they were deliberately making fun, but it was cruel. That is what hell would be like. A series of marshals telling you you've only got 2 miles to go as you struggle on on your concrete legs with your aching back and your tired neck and your bored head on a grey day beside the North Sea.

At very long last I was set up a hill and I knew the finish would come soon and it did. I think the time-keeper said 6rs 41 mins, which is probably alright. It was a relief to walk now and not run. I got handed a sizeable goody bag, and had some of the water and saved the rest of the stuff for perusal on another occasion. I found my way through Saturday afternoon Buckie, up to the school to find Peter and Richard, relaxed and drinking tea. They gave me a nice, though embarrassing cheer as I came in the door, as everyone else turned round to look.

After a blistering shower my legs were working more normally and were fit for the drive back to mum's, where we got back  and ate, drank some wine and crawled back into the tent for 9pm and slept for 11 hours.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ho Ho Ho

So Saturday is the Speyside Way Race. A modest 36 miles compared to the Highland Fling which I didn't do earlier this year. I felt I could hear God chuckling when I looked in my diary and saw that I had a dentist appointment booked in for this week. "Not this time God, you big prankster!" I thought and postponed the appointment. So it looks like he's playing the cards he played at the Cape Wrath Marathon. Heavy rain and a good strong wind. Pointless to ask why I suppose?

Anyway, I need to go and organise drop-bags and read the race instructions and all that stuff. I don't know why it always seems like such a chore. It would be nice if the forecast was to turn out to be wrong. I'd like a nice dry day, with sunny spells, maybe 16' C and a gentle Southerly wind, maybe 7 mph. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

White noise and snowy white drives

White Noise 2 by =Falln-Stock

Feeling quite low energy and puttering about at home instead of being out running. Maybe I'll go to club later - maybe not. In the meantime I've been looking for techy solutions to long-standing problems.

Yesterday evening my twat neighbour was driving me crazy playing his music. Well I say "his" - but its not really his - its just music but I think the poor wee lad is making up for having no personality, no hobbies, no work and nothing of value to contribute by playing loud music and hoping that adds up to mattering in some way. I may be a little jaded on the subject. I'm not reacting to it in the best way either. All I have to do is hear a boom-box far in the distance now and my brain screams MURDER, MURDER, MURDER! Its stressfull.

Anyway - I think the noise levels were right on the margin of the environmental wardens being able to do anything about it and I wasn't in the mood for the pantomime of phoning the police and then waiting with baited breath to see if the sound will go on or if it will stop before they get here thus making it seem like a pointless call out and making me look like I'm wasting their time. Plus I think the boy's gambit is to garner attention to himself in some way and I feel that if I get so caught up in it that I'm waiting to see if it will go on or if it will stop then I have become a slave to his needs. So I tried to ignore it - but it was chipping away on the edge of my awareness making it hard to concentrate on anything else.

I had heard of noise cancelling technology so I thought I'd have a bit of a google to see what I could find out. I was hoping for a large ray gun which you could fire though walls but it turned out to be more about special headphones that keep the outside noise out by, em, cancelling it with a ray gun. I ordered the cheapest pair I could find, not because I believe that they will keep boom boy out of my awareness but because they also promised to be effective against snoring. Because SOMEONE in this house does snore, and its not me. Yet another sound that snags the edges of your awareness and can pull you back from the blessed relief of dreams into the boiling, gull-filled, dull world of irritation which is early morning.

Anyway, while I was stumbling about in google-world I was coming across references to white noise and its usefulness as a way of putting up a wall between yourself and irritating noises. First of all I came across a website generously selling the sound of your kettle boiling for $12 a download. "Surely to God you can get this stuff for free." I thought to myself and added the word "free" to my search and bish, bash, bosh I was at this guy's website. Or maybe its a lady, actually, I'm not sure. So I'm sitting here listening to whitenoise, with a heartbeat and some odd ambient sounds of the aliens leaving for space. I downloaded it onto my mp3 so I was armed against the all-pervasive bass beat of my neighbour but he had called it a day. So I have no idea of its effectiveness. I listened to it for a while anyway and imagine it was a similar experience to if you're in a light coma, flickering in and out of consciousness, with an oxygen mask on.

But what of snowy white drives? Well we have two old computers kicking around the house which in our inertia we're just sharing space with. They're too old to be much use to anyone and are (or have been) too full of passwords etc. to safely throw out. (Plus I think they need to be properly disposed of?) So I thought I'd try to address the first problem and have got a bit of software which is meant to "deep-clean" your hard drives. I'm kind of aware that this software is aimed at the security minded and at paedophiles, which is a bit off-putting. Anyway, today I switched on no.1 old computer and had the reaction I knew I would. I wanted to keep it - even though it has not been used since September 2009. It has a problem with (I think) its motherboard which means it started being very erratic about whether it came on or not. Apparently that's fixable but in the meantime its running Windows XP and its processor and storage capacity no longer seems as awesome as it once did. I'm in the process of cleaning it just now, which is taking an age. In the meantiime its memories are being chased and destroyed, presumably a bit like the plot of "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and I'm feeling a bit sorry for it.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Lomonds of Fife Hill Race

Peter decided to take it easy for this one and document the journey.

So we did it! Haddington Half followed by Lomonds of Fife. I am very pleased at how well I seem to have coped with it. I guess the Cape Wrath Challenge earlier in the year and the recent Tour of Fife has done something in terms of helping us to handle multiple days racing.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead. Slept through my alarm but woke up 10 minutes later. Sleepy and tired. Did think about just going and taking photos but once I was up I didn't feel too bad. The main mood in the house, I would say, was good-natured sleepiness. Yesterday had certainly taken any nervous edge off us. We set off a bit late after fuzzily fussing around trying to get ready, but we didn't worry and we got a parking spot and were soon registered and on our way to the new race start.

There was a veritable flock of Porties this year; Paul, Peter and I (Peter, Paul and Mary) as it has been for a couple of years now, but also Michael Nowicki, Gillian McKelvie and Michael Geoghegan who had stealthily snuck up from Englandshire and surprised us. He surprised us even more by wearing his road trainers as he'd forgotten his off-roaders. Well we wouldn't want things getting too easy would we? Rumour has it he was slipping and sliding coming off East Lomond - Peter suggested that maybe next year he should do it in roller skates...He was well up there anyway.

It was good to have Paul E. back in our midst after cracking a rib and having to back off for a while after the 7 hills. Good to have Gillian along too. For a warm up we walked up the cycle path to the start talking about the Himalayas and I had kind of forgotten we were going to race soon, which was fine by me. I had no idea how my body was going to respond to this race but I was feeling cheerful which is usually a good sign that I'm okay.

For those that don't know the route was changed this year as the farmer who normally lets the runners park in a field had put his foot down and said no. Much of it was part of the old route but there were going to be a couple of different bits. One plus was that we didn't have to go to the top of West Lomond as many times. I guess a minus was that there was quite a lot of running in narrow trods and contouring, especially after the Maiden Castle - or whatever its called - which is actually just a shaggy hump of grass. This made my ankles hurt like billy-o. My right ankle's been sore since the Maddy Moss Hill Race's endless contouring downhill on little narrow trods that cause those of us with long feet and a Charlie Chaplin style no end of bother. My left ankle is now nearly as sore as after the spectacular vertiginous bum-slide we headed back up the hill and then did the same contour/descent as in the 3rd leg of the Devil's burden. I have never been able to make any sense of this and today wasn't any different. I stumbled along losing ground, muttering to myself and finding nowhere to run. I walked straight into a boulder which was sore and pointless.

I am all out of sequence which kind of fits with the mood of the day. Jablonski was out and despite his protest that Largo Law was his longest run in a long time he was looking stronger and although we exchanged places a few times I knew he was going to sort me out on the bumslide and then the nasty rough stuff back to the forest paths. Judith Dobson was out testing the route for the first time and I was surprised and pleased to keep her behind me...

After an age lost on that final contour we were back into the woods and it was shady, there was a good path and not too far to go. All the kind of things that make you feel  a whole lot better. I was in a happy mood running down through the trees to the finish. Gillian and Paul arrived in shortly afterwards. We had cups of tea and went home! Oh yeah and there was a prize-giving. I haven't got all the mens' positions straight but I know Tom Bowie came a popular 1st V60 to much applause. I think Mark Harris won and Colin Donnelly was certainly in there - a name I hadn't heard in a while. Adrian Davies was 1st V40. Apologies anyone I got wrong or I've missed out. Again I'm hazy on the detail of the ladies' prizes except there were two unattached runners in the top three. Megan Mowbray was one of the top three but I'm not sure which one. What I am sure of is Hilary Ritchie came 1st V40 and Phyllis Mitchell was 1st V50.

A great day out, a great race and Gillian and I agreed that the roast chicken crisps we had at the end were the best we'd ever tasted.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Haddington Half Marathon 2011

A wee handful of photos from today there'll be more on the Porty site.

I had no intention of doing this race which is why Peter and I went for a 12+ miler round Aberlady etc. yesterday - and very nice it was too. We sat in the van after as the rain started to come down and Peter ate three Worcester Sauce crisp rolls while I tried to eat a Mullerlight strawberry fruit corner yoghurt with a milky bar. These cherished moments are what running is all about. Anyway; that brought my mileage up to 58 miles for the week which is by far the highest mileage week I'd done in ages. My plan was to cycle around Haddington today and take pictures, like last year - and keep something in the tank for the Lomonds of Fife race tomorrow. We wouldn't have been going anywhere near Haddington except Peter's had this persistent feeling that he has some good race times in him which you can only really nail down with a road race.

And when I got up this morning that was still the plan. I even went to the trouble on Thursday of at long last taking my winter gnarly tyres off my bike and replacing them with my summer slicks. I also shuffled around lithium batteries so my cycle computer would be working. But then I thought about how detached I felt last year at the the end when everyone had raced and I'd been caught up with phoning ambulances and all that malarkey. Entertaining as that was it wasn't racing. And for the first time in a very long time I found myself WANTING to do a half marathon. So while Peter was out getting a racing haircut and finally picking up the newly engraved team trophy for last year's Moray Marathon so it can go back to the organisers, I got changed into my racing kit. The decision was made.

Off to Haddington we went and the sun was out. No surprise. This is the hot half marathon. There were many Porties already there when we arrived, which was a bit of a surprise as we were really quite early. Knowing that we were entering on the day we didn't want to risk getting caught out and not getting in.
I felt a bit stiff as I went in search of loos but soon eased off. There was the usual pre-race nervous chat...and we were off! How to play it? I didn't know. I don't think I've run a half marathon this year. I think I ran a bunch of disappointing one's last year until I couldn't really stand the distance anymore. It was hillier than I'd remembered, which was all to the good really - and we were out of town and into the countryside quicker than I expected. Everything was looking very harvest lovely. I was doing my best not to get caught up in trying to run faster than I am able and then feeling disappointed when I can't sustain it. I tried to run with an appreciation for how it was good to be out running on a supported course, much faster than usual, in the company of other runners, on a lovely sunny afternoon in August! I partially managed this.

The miles took their time ticking over but I was feeling okay. I spent a bit of running time with other Porties - 1st Alan Aitchison and then Sandy MacDonald. In the distance - but not that far in the distance I could see Helena Sim, who I spent most of the Tour of Fife chasing. I tried to keep some kind of contact and the distance didn't seem to be extending too much. Sometimes I felt I could run more aggressively and other times it was just a rather lame hanging in there feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead! At around mile 9 (the details are hazy here) ( my head was baking by increments) Aileen Ross drew level with me. I tried to raise the pace - (I'm always concerned just in case there's a team prize place at stake). I did raise the pace, but I didn't want to and didn't feel confident that I could sustain it. Perhaps because of this I caught up to Helena Sim who I tried to encourage. She was telling me before the race that this is her first race out as a V50 and she was a bit disappointed that that put her in the over 45s category rather than a 50s category. Helena's a very good example of what's good about running. You'd never guess she was 50 by the way she looks or by her attitude. She's buoyant and she's very funny so it was with SOME regret that I went past her.

The last few miles were a confusing, hot muddle of trying to speed up and trying not to slow down. I think Aileen had disappeared for a while - I couldn't hear her anyway but as we were coming in for landing; coming into the town and near to the sweep down the hill and into the field and finish and all that, there was unmistakeably women's breathing right behind  me. It could have been Aileen or Helena - or indeed someone else - it made me work very hard all the way to the line anyway. I was profoundly glad to stop and get something to drink. I was crusted with salt as were most of the other folk I spoke to.

Peter had run a stormer and was moderately spaced out and on another planet. He brought home a  bronze Masters East District Championships medal and a 3rd share of a big box of beers (which we are drinking). Gareth and Johnny were the other Porty team members. Willie won something too - I couldn't hear what it was - maybe 1st O50. I think Shery might have been 3rd lady and won an East District medal too? I couldn't hear so well as I was sat on the grass eating sandwiches and a bit far back from the prize-giving. The ladies - Shery, Yana? and  Emily won the ladies team  prizes and got a bottle of wine each. So a good day for the Porties.

Eek its 8 O'clock and I'm sitting drinking Hobgoblin beer and blogging - maybe better stretch and have a shower and get something to eat for tomorrow is the Lomonds of Fife Hill Race. Some numbers here - I have unthinkingly run 72 miles for the week. That wasn't really a plan. And that was race no. 30 for this year.

Monday, 15 August 2011


1st stop, Seton Sands

Next weekend's challenge - The Lomonds of Fife

Fred Flintstone?

It being a nice day, and me not having any work this week (huzzah!), I decided to try another long run and see if it would go any better this time. Right from the start my legs felt almost unnaturally good given they got a fair thrashing yesterday. It didn't hurt that I had a good following breeze, the temperature seemed  lower today and it was a little over-cast. I tried to rein in my optimism afraid of having another real stinker of a long run but 8 or so miles into it I was starting to feel confident that it was going to go well after all. I decided to give Prestonpans a miss for refreshments as it keeps weirding me out. I pressed on to the more salubrious Seton Sands where I got a nice filter coffee and a caramel slice. (I know, I know, I don't need 5 cakes on a plate - but am I to live like a puritan, eschewing all earthly pleasures?.) Disaster was only just averted as at the very last moment I spotted the little dog who was just about to lick my caramel slice as I was distracted taking pictures of the Lomonds of Fife.

I had a walk along the front at Seton Sands to let the coffee go down and then set off on the paths beside the beach. Nature has been going a little wild since I was last along. I guess all this sun and rain has been good for something. I took photos of a tiny fraction of it all but it was burgeoning and the usually fairly well defined path was overgrown at times. My pace slowed because I was off-road but still there was no sign of the aching stiff-leggedness I was struggling with last Wednesday. Pretty soon I was in Aberlady and thought I better make sure I had plenty energy reserves. (yeah  I know, shoosh). Chocolate raisins went down well. It took discipline to put the bag away. Mango flavoured Lipton's tea also went down really well.

I went round the shore beyond Aberlady but headed back in-land at Gullane as the tide was now tight up against the shore. Since I had to run on the pavement I tried to inject a bit more pace and to my surprise my legs responded. I wasn't flying or anything but I was able to pick it up. I had my ipod along and was enjoying listening to Amy Winehouse. Its a shame her music went so much on the back-burner - she's got (had) an amazing voice. If you forget everything you know or have read and just listen to her voice - oh well I've already said it - its amazing. It was giving me chills. Or maybe it was the combo of coffee, caramel slice, tablet, chocolate raisins and Lipton Tea ...

I got a bit of a funny feeling right knee in Dirleton so stopped and stretched and backed off a bit - it would be a pity to run straight into an injury. Still, I wasn't particularly tired. I ran on to the Co-op in the centre of North Berwick taking me up to 24 miles, and had a cold drink.

There were "youths" on the train on the way home but even this couldn't spoil my happy buzz. I don't know what was different about today. Maybe the cooler temperatures, lower humidity, being better dressed for the occasion, favourable wind and recent proximity to Graham Henry all helped me, but it was a relief to get out there and actually enjoy it. Another mile down the road from the station took me up to 25 for today. And that will have to do as preparation for the Speyside Way Race as its in less than 2 weeks now.