Sunday, 26 February 2012

Porty Long Run up Pencaitland

Well I did get up for the early run with the Portobellos. It was calm and light at 7am and there seemed no reason not to. I think my body thought it was getting up for a race, which is probably just as well. There was a nice band of Porties collecting at the Quayside and at 9am Jenni and Ruth led us out round the shore and then up the Esk. I usually go up to the Pencaitland cycle-path just up on the road - which is not very nice, so it was good to get a new route - continuing through Whitecraigs and then up a road past Smeaton Farm.

I'd like to think I could find it again on my own but I'm not at all sure! On the way out Bob was telling me stories which helped me ignore the fairly stiff hill we were going up. It was a nice quiet road - which was a bonus - and brought us out on the road that the cyclepath starts from, but from a different direction than the one I'm used to taking. I was still running with Bob, Paul  and Angus and although I was going much faster than I normally would on my own it seemed just too defeatist to drop back, because I was enjoying the company, so I decided to hang in as long as I could. About half way down the cycle path Keith joined us. Kevin turned back and then Paul Eunson did. We kept going to 10 miles.

At 10 miles I was thinking I didn't want to get dropped yet so I think I put on a spurt. I was soon gathered in again though, by Angus, Paul and Keith and at about 14 miles I started falling off the back of that pack. The distance grew for a while and then I unexpectedly caught up on the downhill, just briefly, at about 16.5 miles. As soon as we were on the flat again however I fell off the back of the train, but I had run so far so much faster than I thought I could that I was well motivated to just try to settle in and run as well as I could to the end. I had a serious drop in pace after 18 miles and nearly tripped over bumps in the pavement, so the cracks were beginning to show, but I was very pleased to finish in 2hrs 50, which according to the Garmin was 8.30 pace.

What a difference having company made, and runners that are nearer (better than but not too much better than) my ability. I may have to do this again.

I feel I should mention Gareth Green, who turned up not really planning to do 20 miles, (he was 3rd in the Conic Hill Race yesterday), but when he realised we were he took a bit of water and a bus pass and did it anyway. Afterwards he shared his prize from yesterday - a tray of jellied sweets! Hill-racing is a low-key affair and the prizes often reflect this. Sounds like he had a great race yesterday - he said it was the most exhilarating race of his life, trying to chase down the guy ahead and not get chased down by the guys behind.

There were lots of nice things to eat on offer after the run. I was trying to avoid the gimlet eye of Kathy "you don't need all those cakes" Henly. I did not badly. I had a jellied sweetie, caramel shortcake from Angus and some heavenly tray-bake from Ruth made of chocolate and peanut butter. I have a spare piece to give to Peter which I'm trying not to eat.

Now I don't know what to do with the rest of the day. I have peaked too soon. Maybe a 2nd breakfast and then a snooze is in order...

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Like Johnny missing Alistair

Peter hasn't run in a week. Would it be pushing it too far to compare us to Alistair and Johnathon Brownlee? Alistair's torn his achilles so he's wearing an air boot and can't train. He's missing the training. His brother Johnny is missing his training partner. Is Johnny careful about mentioning the "r" word? Does he pretend every run he goes on is so-so?

He'll be back soon, faster than ever. In the meantime I've guiltily entered the Lasswade 10 and I'm planning (if I can get up!) to go the long run with the Porty Punters at the crack of dawn. And I'm thinking I want to do Lochaber marathon - and then skip the Highland, no, not literally skip it like a girl, I mean give it a wide berth. And then I'll be nice and fresh for the week after when there is the magnificent Stuc a Chroin Hill race, which I've been missing these past few years...So I'm trying to go about obsessing quietly. There seems to be an awful lot of people injured at the moment. Must be something funny in the stars.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Airport Loop

On Tuesday when I couldn't be bothered with the long run I'd embarked on I thought "Why didn't you just drive to Cramond and do the airport loop?". So the idea was already kicking about in my mind when I was casting about this morning for a run de jour. Its been a windy, drizzly day so the riverbank up the Almond seemed a good idea - some protection from trees on the way up the river into the west wind and then a following wind for the 2nd half.

The sky was grey and lowering, the river was full and roaring, the wind was brisk and blowing. There was plenty going on. My shoes lit up the dark woods and showed me where to go. Another run without Peter and I'm missing having someone to blame for giving me a stitch. Near the airport I could smell aviation fuel which made me think of holidays...

7.5 very enjoyable, mostly off-road miles, then home for soup de jour. Today - Granny's Leek and Potato Soup. Because there was a bit of a queue in the Scotmid I read the back of the can and discovered it was "semi-condensed"...and that I could add half a can of water to it... news to me. So I did. The product put me in mind of Raskolnikov in prison in Crime and Punishment, eating cabbage soup;

"And what was the food to him—the thin cabbage soup with beetles floating in it? In the past as a student he had often not had even that. "

I should be off and do some stuff I suppose.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Abandoned Long Run

As I mentioned in my last blog, I recently got an email asking me if I wanted to review a pair of running shoes and keep them in return for putting up a link to an online sports shop site. I have been on an enforced economy drive and have been re-assessing the usefulness of trainers I had once cast aside but not thrown out. I recently took the insoles out of a pair of Nike Pegasus I had started wearing again and found that I'd written "July 2009" inside them. Presumably to stop me from keeping my trainers too long. I've even been getting some use out of my Asics 2050s which are a bit too stability for me - by deciding to break them down through use to better suit my needs. In the old days when you got a pair of shoes you wore them in. That meant enduring rubs, blisters and battered toes until finally your feet prevailed and the shoes started to conform to your will. And the old days are back, or so it would seem - just today I discovered that the Cashline has started dispensing fivers again. At first I thought I was having a flashback to old university days.

So, anyway, of course I wanted a free pair of shoes and would be only too pleased to write about them and provide a link. It was that or start running in climbing shoes or football boots.
I had a limit of £50 so chose the Nike Pegasus 27+ Trail Shoes in an attractive grey and lime colour scheme. "Did you CHOOSE that colour??", expostulated Peter, just showing that tastes vary because I think they are HOT. I chose them because I knew they would fit and I've had them before and they're a good all-rounder. They're cushy enough to use on tarmac but grippy and firm enough to hold your foot on trail or rough ground. They are, in fact, ideal for bimbling down the John Muir Way on trail, road and beach if you're going a long way and are more worried about comfort than speed.

I thought I would take them out on their inaugural run today - and do a long run down the coast to North Berwick and get the train back. You know the script. There was the prevailing westerly to blow me along the coast. The only snag was the sky was terminally grey and I was a bit hungover and I didn't feel like it. Somehow or other I woke up feeling gloomy but thought I might perk up once I got going. It was a lot less fun setting off alone now that Peter is injured. The sun came out briefly but then tucked itself away again behind layers and layers of grey cotton wool.

The shoes were fine - a little heavier than road shoes, but they're meant to be. My spirits were refusing to rise however and as I approached Prestonpans I played with the idea of getting a train home and eating chicken soup for lunch instead of carrying on. If I had a tail it would have wagged at the idea. The deal was sealed.

As I had 15 minutes to wait for the train I ran up a trail (the only trail, sadly, my shoes got today) beside the railway and came upon a large depressing looking monument to a dead Colonel, with four lions, one at each corner. Somehow or other it seemed to sum up the atmosphere of the day.

There are some good prices on running shoes at Sports Direct. Worth checking out.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Nationals XC 2012

It was a day of mixed blessings. I recently got contacted by an online running shoe seller asking if I wanted to do a shoe review in return for a free pair of running shoes. I assuredly did. They sent them off to me and today I got a card through the door saying the postie tried to deliver them yesterday but I wasn't in. It was even true! I wasn't in. So I thought before going to the XC today we could leave a bit early and I'd pick up my new shoes from the depot.

Town was chocka today for some reason and it took longer than I'd planned for making the short trip to Telferton to the Royal Mail depot. When I got there - my shoes mysteriously weren't there. "But the card was for yesterday" I protested. "Erm, it happens" said the shifty looking bloke. He gave me a number to phone on Monday. "He'll be able to sort out your problem."

"Oh its my problem is it shifty?" I thought loudly - but I didn't have time to stand and argue - or enquire further - so I got back out to the van and drove off. We were now distinctly off our ideal time of departure and fearful of getting snarled up going across town I took the much longer way on the bypass. Peter wasn't too bothered as his race didn't start for an hour after mine so it was just me stressing - and trying not to speed as a ticket is the last thing I need.

We did get to Callendar Park pretty much on time in the end and found the Porty tent without much problem.   A quick warm up and then we were off. At first I felt superb as I haven't run since Wednesday. I cracked out a decent first mile - even sneaking past Emily as she was skating around in the mud. I continued to feel excellent til running into the wind towards the end of the far side of the course I developed a sore tummy. "Boohoo" I hear you mock "A sore tummy". Well I did anyway. It was all quite grim for a while and a good few folk took advantage of my flattened spirits and went past me. About a 3rd of the way into the 2nd lap it all faded away and I found I could run a bit better again so I did my best to adopt the best form I had and clawed a few places back. Quite satisfying really.

Then it was time for a quick change and to get out on the course to take photos of the men. Once I'd stopped running it was baltic. I took far too many pictures and got trapped on the far side of the course as no sooner had the 2nd lappers gone through then the leaders came zooming round for their 3rd and final lap. It was at a very narrow part of the course and I couldn't have risked getting in anyone's way so I sat tight. Eventually I got out and made my way as fast as my now frozen legs would carry me to the end to get some finishing snaps. The light was lowering and the shadows were lengthening and it wasn't easy to get a clean shot. There was much competition.

As soon as I could I went back to the Porty tent to find an unhappy Buchanan. His plantar fasciitis foot had started hurting into the 2nd lap and he was now walking with a limp and looking mighty f*c&ed off.
We were intending to go and finish off the Borders XC series in Kelso tomorrow but it looks like Peter'll have to rest that foot and my legs are done in too, so maybe we'll give it a miss. Shame though. I liked the sound of Floors Castle grounds.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Click on the picture above to see me catch the train!
(How could you not?)

At last, more than 20 miles in a single run. Peter really should have been working and shouldn't have been running on the road because of his plantar fasciitis but he couldn't cope with my going an extra long run so came anyway. It was nice and sunny and there was a brisk west wind blowing us down the road to North Berwick. We got our headphones on 4 miles into it and entered the mindset of knocking out some road miles.

At 15.5 miles we had a stop in Aberlady - where we fueled up on tablet (me), a double-decker (Peter) and we had a bottle of Mountain Dew - as loved by Americans - each. The sugar and caffeine got to Peter first who despite having music on started pointing things out to me. "Kestrel!" he gesticulated wildly. I pointedly ignored him - feeling like shit and not in the mood for bird-watching. By half way through Gullane I was beginning to feel a bit better. By Dirleton I started doing the sums as to how long it might take us to get to NB and when the train might be leaving. The result? - No margin at all - move those burning legs Berty Boy! So I chugged into full steam ahead and held it. Bloody painful. Haven't run more than 16.5 miles in months. (I think.)

We caught the train with maybe a minute to spare. Result. And once the leg aches passed I was pleased with myself.

The mile down the road from the station took it up to 23.5 for the day.

Apparently you can be friends with Mountain Dew on facebook so I'm off to do that.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Another shortish longer run

Okay, no points for guessing whether we got up at 7am and went for a long run or not. My alarm went off at 7am at which time I carefully considered my options and fell promptly back to sleep. At 9am the alarm on my watch went off so I thought I might as well get up but forgot to act on this, so finally at the crack of 10am I finally rolled out of bed and up.

The day seemed to have little to recommend it. It was coldish with a whitish sky. I did some practical kind of things like putting washes on and Peter emerged not long after me. He'd been fiddling around with photos til 3. Finally, we got out the door early afternoon and by 2.25pm we were leaving from Gullane. Peter wanted to run off road more than on and so we hatched a plan to go to Gullane, run back to Aberlady bay and from there go all the way round the coast to North Berwick and back along the road, which would give us 16 or 17 miles.

By this time the sun had come out and it was really pretty nice. Both of us had varying degrees of the DOMs from running the Carnethy 5 yesterday so weren't for pushing the pace. All went well until at 10 miles or so Peter confessed he'd left his money in the car. Our plan was to run without food or drink but to pick something up at North Berwick for the last few miles home. I had been fantasising about getting one of those chocolate and pastry twists at the Co-op at North Berwick and a big, cold drink for the last mile or so, so the news that we were penniless was kind of a bummer. We cut the nose off the run - the last mile into NB and therefore the 1st mile out. The sun had gone down and now it was pretty cold. Once we got going on the road and in a rhythm it didn't seem too bad. Some people only have 2 Percy Pigs for a whole long run!

I think it was the thought of running without anything to eat that was more of a problem than actually not having anything. In the end we clocked up just over 15 miles.

So.... another not very long run for a long run! Not ultra-training - not even marathon training really. And yet I feel weirdly confident that all these mid-range runs may stack up and be helpful somehow. Too bad if they aren't. I've got Wednesday off so might try to churn out 20 nasty road miles if the weather's half decent.