Saturday, 31 March 2012

Pentland Run

A nice, relaxed run in the Pentlands today. Graham "Mad-Dog" Henry and Kathy "Biceps" Henly were setting off to do a Reverse Skyline this afternoon at 3pm. That was too hectic for us in our current "challenged" state. We thought it might be nice to intercept Graham and Kathy on their way round and maybe even film them so we set off up the Drove Road into the hills from the Balerno end round about 3.15pm.

The weather report predicted that the sky would be grey as a banker's suit, so we were very pleased when the sun came out. Up in the Pentlands the air was quite still in the shelter of the hills, but the clouds were scudding across the sky and their blue shadows were following across the green and gold land-scape. Both of us were glad to be out there.

We went over the kips and then up Scald Law and then on to Carnethy. After a while of taking photos we saw Graham and Kathy storming up the hill so got some pictures and had a chat. Kathy looked in fine fettle and Graham was horribly hungover, so struggling.

The hills seemed steeper on the way back, but its a while since we've done any hill runs, so that wasn't surprising. Its a nice long sweep down from the top of West Kip to the car park. A bit more than 10 miles and neither of us seem much worse than we were when we went out. Tomorrow's plan to support the Porties seems to be coming together. Peter's just finishing up the bicycle maintenance and I'm going to bed...
There were lots of photos but we've not had time to upload them yet.


Rather disappointingly, since last weekend, I've had a sore right hip. Looking at the picture above it could be my Tensor fasciae latae (whatever that is) - that's around where the pain is. It makes me hurple in an unpleasant way when I get out a chair. The possible causes of this? Well I felt okay after last Sunday's run although my hip was stiff beforehand. And then I've been doing these funny exercises in the hope (not yet extinguished) that I could be a stronger runner. The trouble with strength training for me, is and always has been that in the enthusiasm of trying something new I can often overdo it.

I've also been cycling a good bit more than usual - but it doesn't hurt on the bike, just when I'm getting on the bike, so I don't think its that. I went out a run on Wednesday and after the first mile really enjoyed it. Afterwards it just settled in grungy again. Its not all that bad and I'm trying to keep it that way. So no running on Thursday or Friday. Today Peter and I are going to head out into the Pentlands for some gentle off-road completely non-specific training and if we can get Peter's bike fixed we'll support the Porties who are doing the London Marathon on their last long run en velo tomorrow. Reluctantly thinking I'll need to miss Portobello Championship race no.4 - the Dunbar 10K.

So I'm going into the run up to Lochaber Marathon with no idea if I'll run it or not. I'm not going to start it if I've got a sore hip. And I find I'm not all that bothered. I'm not going to turn my major source of fun into something to bludgeon myself with. "You can't push the river Man".

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Last Long Run

Such a lovely day. Just right for a last long run before the marathon. Hmmm, maybe not though. The spirit wasn't really willing and the flesh was weak. I tried to think if I could squeeze a long run in during the week sometime - but there was no way. I sometimes have time on a Thursday morning and a Friday afternoon - but not this week. I've got a meeting on Thursday morning and I'm doing an extra shift on Friday afternoon and evening.  I dittered around at home for a while until I accepted the inevitable and until it got hotter and hotter outside. It didn't help that "they" had stolen an hour out of my weekend. Why does the hour have to come out of the weekend? Couldn't we each choose which hour we'd like to miss out on? Everybody gets a red card they hand in when they decide they want to go forwards an hour. I would have used mine up during the week.

When I finally got out there it wasn't so bad. It was nice and sunny and there was a  cool breeze coming from the North. The sun had signalled all the Scots to come out of doors. Wearing short denim shorts and tights appears to be a thing at the moment. The prom at Porty was hoaching. I've never seen it like that. And I didn't know if I was at the Pans or Cannes. Okay, that was a lie, made up for comic effect. I knew I was in the Pans. At the Pans my achilles were kind of sore so I stopped and had a calf stretch while keeping a weather eye out for any unwanted attention I might attract by stopping. By Seton Sands I was flagging so bought a can of Red Bull and a Cadbury's caramel out the garage and had a walk break. Around this time Peter came past on his bike, en route to Aberlady and all that. I didn't have much to say for myself. Things were going okay but there was still a good way to go. Keeping walking while I was eating worked well in terms of getting moving again. The Red Bull didn't give me wings but distracted me for a while. There are a couple of miles of off-road from here which give your muscles a change and a break until Aberlady. At Aberlady, feeling like The Fly, I had some tablet and a "refreshing Mango drink" that was also loaded with sugar. Everything was sticky and foul but it kept me going. At least the drink was cold.

After this I had to do some bargaining with myself. There were rumblings of an inner mutiny. "Okay team", I conceded. "Get me to 20 miles running and we can walk every step from there if you want." That seemed to work. I ran about half-way into Dirleton and the Garmin bleeped 20 miles and I stopped and walked. It was a good call. It was turning into a nice evening. A train had not long since left from North Berwick and there wouldn't be another one for an hour so there was no hurry. It was warm enough so's it was pleasant walking along in just a t-shirt and shorts.

Just as I was getting into North Berwick Peter arrived on his bike so we walked into town together and got some snacks and then got the train home. That wasn't the super-positive last long run before the marathon I wanted but then I maybe shouldn't have done a traily 10K yesterday and a beachy 5 miler on Friday. I'm thinking if I can run about 16 miles at some point next weekend that would do...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Pencaitland 10K Trail Race

The warm-up for this was a spot of Zumba, or so I believe. I am co-ordinationally challenged and was almost helpless with laughter trying to follow the moves. Looking to my left to see Richard styling it with an older chap from Dunbar was almost too much for me. But it did go on a bit long... I was worried they'd started the beginning of the race without us.

While the east coast was mired in a cold sea haar the sun burned through in Pencaitland and it was hot. Well Peter says it wasn't hot, but I was roasting and Amanda says it was hot too. The run was on very nice trails, some of which we'd covered before in our explorations off the Pencaitland cycle path. I was breathing very hard from the start and continued to do so. I passed Anne Hay around about 1K or so and was always wary that she might catch me if I slackened off. I had a kind of Scooby-Doo feeling of "I'm running really hard but I'm not getting anywhere!" when it turns out the evil mine-owner has switched on the conveyer belt and Scooby is being carried backwards to some horrible fate from which he will be rescued at the very last minute. I even checked my heart rate just to make sure I was working as hard as I felt I was. I was.

This is a small, little known race, organised by Pencaitland Primary School Parent-Teacher's Association. Maybe I could be in the prizes, I thought. But maybe there will be no prizes. Or no results. That's the kind of thing that can easily happen when non-runners organise a running event. They think its the taking part that counts. I have always hated not getting a set of results. It has happened in a few races I've been in. Its a non-logical thing because it doesn't make any difference to the outcome. Still I hate it.

I doubt I will ever see a set of results from today. We missed the prize-giving as we were inside eating cake and it presumably happened outside. Amanda missed it too, which is a shame cos she was 1st lady. I think I might have been 3rd.

On the up-side there were some very nice touches today. There were biscuit medals, which didn't last very long! There was a really nice atmosphere. The trails were great although hard and I was disappointed at how slow I was. We met up with an old friend of ours who we used to live very near to in Easter Road. He's been living in Pencaitland for the last 12 years and has a family now and has recently taken up running to beat that middle-aged waist thickening thing that happens if you work at a desk too much. He's even become a Jog Scotland Leader. (But, for some reason, doesn't wear the jersey.)

In order to save his foot Peter decided to stick with Richard, at least to start with, so he would pace himself. I think this proved better for Peter than for Richard!

Soon after we turned onto the main Edinburgh road we were plunged into thick fog and realised that not everyone had been enjoying warm spring sunshine. Back in Edinburgh it was cold and foggy and there were ill-tempered queues of traffic clotting the roads. Something - probably the football - had been on.


Yesterday we set off from the house in the van at about 5pm to go somewhere for a gentle 5 mile off-roady run. On our way along the main coastal road we saw our friend Amanda cycling at a sedate pace in her civilian clothing, having escaped work. We quickly pulled in and bundled her into the van. We then took her to her home to get her running shoes and press-ganged her partner and child, Scott and Horatio, into coming too. Scott is a fine runner but he has been taking an extended break involving sea-fishing, gardening, wood-chopping, any-damn-thing in fact but the running. Horatio is a good child. He has a hairy face, but there are children in Mexico like that. I have seen them on the tv. He has a few behavioural tics, but what child now- adays doesn't?

And so it was we all hit the beach just at sundown and had a good run around. Horatio had a few deep drinks of sea-water before we got there to stop it. Apparently last time he did that he did a large, soft poop on a white carpet afterwards. We were a little afraid for the fate of the van in that case. We needn't have worried as there were snores coming from the back of the van in the dark on the way home.

Great fun. Today we're planning on converging upon Pencaitland for a 10K trail race. I'm treating it as a speed session, Amanda as an "adventure", Peter really shouldn't be doing it as racing slowly will drive him batty and racing hard will kill his foot, but we're doing it none-the-less. So maybe I should wake him up!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Another Long Run

Another long run and I had to figure out where to go this time. The Alloa half marathon was a club championship race so there were no clubbies around to run with. In the end I thought maybe I should just go up the Water of Leith, turn around at the 10 mile mark and come back via the canal, through town etc. for a change of scene. I received some Jabra headphones in the post on Saturday to review, so I thought I could take these out a spin while I was at it. Not the best decision, maybe, as although the right ear-bud fitted snugly and securely the left one kept popping out for some reason. The headphones come with spare ear-buds of different sizes so this problem may well be fixable, but by the time I realised it was going to keep happening I was 3 miles into it and there was no way I was turning back to get other headphones. I had the opportunity to review an armband for an iPhone also but I haven't got an iPhone so I passed the opportunity up. I was really wishing I had a camera phone today. There were lots of good sights but no Peter to take a picture and I didn't want to hang a camera on my waistband as I sometimes do. I've been setting out on my long runs with the intention of holding a decent pace, so no time for fooling around! Or so I hoped. Actually there would have been time for fooling around.

Once I'd given up on my headphones I had to join the world of the other people who were (clogging) making there way up and down the Water of Leith. Either I had a bit of a jaded ear or everyone really was bickering. It wasn't pleasant. I felt crowded and irritated. I know this is why runners go out early and its all my own fault. That doesn't make it any better though! Just before the 8 mile mark, where there is a long and spooky tunnel, I saw what I thought was a large dog standing looking at me. Looking again I realised it was a deer, which hopped effortlessly over the fence and down the steep bank towards the roaring river below. Then another couple of deer came tearing down the (also steep) bank above and straight towards me! I must admit I was scared they were going to crash straight into me and foolishly shouted "Hoy, Hoy" at them. This made them pause for thought, and then they set off down the bank at a different angle, no longer pointing at me. They are hot at down-hilling. Very nimble! This sighting of wildlife worked away in my brain and when I saw a sign on the cycle path (which I must have seen many times but had never thought about before) that pointed the way to Colinton Village, I realised I was quite near to the road that takes you up to Bonaly and into the Pentlands. Instead of continuing this all-to-well-known and rather pedestrian grind through Mothering Sunday-land, I could head up into the hills and be above all this. I vacillated a very little and then was pulling up a steep road, wondering if I was making a big mistake.

The next 2-3 miles were more or less steeply uphill and my average pace withered and died. My only regret though was that I didn't have a camera and as I pulled up above Edinburgh, it was cold but there was a wide blue sky and the Pentlands were sending long blue shadows down towards Arthur's Seat. There was barely anyone around, which was a delight, and I walked and trotted the last few miles of the Pentland Skyline, dropping down into Hillend. There was another shortish rise to Fairmilehead and then a long, long downhill, from 15 miles or so. This maybe should have been easy but I was starting to feel pretty done in, maybe because of the sheer time I'd been out. I saw I was going to hit 20 miles round about South Clerk Street, so I promised myself I could stop there, get something to eat and some change for a bus home. This put a little more spring in my step. When I got to South Clerk Street I had only run 19.5 miles, but I'd been out for 3 and a half hours so I called it a day and went into a shop for a big flapjack and a fizzy drink. As I was tearing into this I thoughtlessly watched the no.7 bus pull in at the bus-stop right in front of me and pull away again. It took a couple of minutes for the cogs to turn over and for me to realise that had been my bus! It being Sunday, there wouldn't be another one along for half an hour so I thought I'd start walking to keep warm. In the end I jogged some, walked some home.

A good day out. Buchanan is dancing around Arthur's Seat in a light-suit for NVA so its on me to do the dishes and get and then cook the dinner. Hell's teeth. But I better get moving, I guess, while I still can.
Oh how I love the weekend. I'm yearning for a time when I have 3 day weekends again. 2 days is a crush.

20th Birthday

I forgot about it at the time but only later realised that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of me starting to run regularly. I had made a start on a number of occasions but failed with the all-important follow through of going out regularly until I got better. A year doing a masters in Stirling was what swung it. The other people on my course would not go out to the pub during the week, so there was nothing much to do of a week night (other than study). At first I went out only under the cover of darkness and was disappointed when the evenings got lighter and I had to go out and be seen.

Anyway, we went a kind of strange cycle-run yesterday. Peter had been so pleased with getting pictures of owls the other evening there that he wanted to set off cycling the 16 miles to Aberlady so we would arrive close to  sunset, do a smallish run, get in some nature photograpy and then either cycle back or go to Prestonpans or North Berwick station and get the train home.

The point of cycling was to get some fitness miles in and save Peter's foot. It was only a short while into the ride that I wished I had just taken the van to Aberlady and gone for a longer run myself before Peter arrived on the bike. He was pushing the pace and harrassing me. I was going fast for me and also didn't want to kill myself for today because I need to knock out a 20 miler. It was moderately good to be out on the bike, but that road is busy, I've got mountain bike tyres on so the vibration from my wheels was making my hands go numb, and the continual pressure to go faster (which I resisted) was pissing me off. If he had have been nearer I might have told him where to stuff his owls.

As it turned out all the owls were off somewhere else - maybe in the woods or something, we didn't see a single one. There were plenty of deer however and we did catch a spectacular sunset. After my legs got over the shock of all that cycling then the running was nice. It was a cold night though. The tide was right out so we ran round the mini-subs and headed back in.

On the way back to the bike under a darkening sky all I could think about was chips, so we stopped in Gullane at the Gullane Super Fry. Half the town seemed to be wedged in there ordering chips and pizzas. The chips hit the spot perfectly, washed down with Irn Bru. This gave us the courage for the rather alarming night ride onwards to North Berwick. The on-coming car lights were dazzling so I got an eerie feeling that I was cycling into total blackness and I just had to hope that there were none of the super-pot-holes at the side of the road that appeared elsewhere after the last two hard winters. We arrived in NB unscathed though and had a short but boring and cold wait til the train came.

So now I better get ready and get long running...It looks nice out there, maybe it is.

Friday, 16 March 2012


Both being crocked but sick of being house-bound we headed out to Aberlady bay the other afternoon. It was an unpromising grey kind of day to start with but the sun came out just before sunset and it got much nicer. The benefit of moving slowly is we saw and heard a lot more. Peter's foot is still sore and I was snorting and wheezing. We did a laughable series of run/walks. For some reason the beach at Aberlady often provides a ball. (Though oddly, never a beach ball). This time we got a ball each which provided some diversion. Despite the fact that Peter was running like an old lady with a hip replacement he thought it was fitting to mock my football skills. The cheek of some folk.

I'm loads better so will probably try to squeeze out another long run on Sunday, but I've taken the pressure off. I ran 4 miles on Wednesday so that's my current weekly mileage tally.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The House where People Used to Run

I've been out for 4 days now, and Peter for 4 weeks. The hallway, lined with trainers, collects dust. Running magazines flop through the door but remain in their plastic covering. Heart-rate monitors have nothing to monitor but the scurrying of the mouse's feet...
When we gave up climbing we never had the heart to get rid of our climbing gear so the hooks in the hall still have our climbing shoes and harnesses and quickdraws and trad. gear hanging there. Maybe it'll be the same with the running stuff - trainers with authentic mud from all over the country still attached, preserved for ever.

In the meantime I remembered last night what having a cold is for. Its for going to bed with a good book about climbing Everest. I re-started Stephen Venables account of climbing the Kangshung face. There's nothing quite like vicariously risking life and limb crossing treacherous crevasses from the safety of your own bed. I don't know if I'll finish it though because I discover I remember what happens all too clearly. Spoiler Alert! He gets to the top on his own but then they all nearly don't make it down because they're too wazzed. American climbing dude loses bits of his fingers which doesn't improve his rock-climbing.

On a lighter note, the final part of last Friday's story, which I didn't bother to relate was that Peter lost the headphones for his mp3 player while answering his phone when he was cycling to NB etc. He was so annoyed at himself when he got home and he realised what had happened he was going to cycle back down the road in the dark, nearly to Prestonpans, to see if he could find them. I took him in the van but there was no sign of them.

Well, just the other day, the same nice people who let me have a free pair of trainers, if I'd review them and put a link from my blog got back in touch and said would I review a pair of headphones with the same conditions attached? Of course I would. Looks like Peter's getting a new pair of headphones. Unless it turns out to be THE pair of headphones Peter lost. That would make a good story wouldn't it? Well, maybe not. I've still got a bit of a fever, so maybe only if you've got a fever. He did originally find those headphones on a train so there's a kind of finders keepers poetic justice going on.

I am officially off sick today, which is very unusual and is making me a bit paranoid. I want to go outside but am afraid of being SEEN. However, I need some fresh air. You can be ill and go to the beach can't you? Of course you bloody can, I'm off...

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Fuzzy Head

I think Friday's heroics were a step too far. Saturday I woke up feeling a bit crap and now I've got a streaming cold. Its ages since I've been ill. I'd kind of forgotten it was a possibility. I can't help thinking if I'd taken Friday a wee bit easier I'd be okay now. Baw-bags.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Last week's long run this week

Failing to do last Friday's long run left me with unfinished business and I wanted to try it again. Plus, the incentive is that if I can get my long run out the way on a Friday then that opens up the possibilities of the weekend. So the plan was as last week; go to work 8.30 - 12.30, get home, eat, drink and then run down that road to North Berwick. No socialising, no big curly babies, no distractions, just me and an indulgent playlist plucked from the 70s and 80s featuring Joy Division and New Order, The Sisters of Mercy, The Cure and various other bits and bobs. Peter really can't stand this streak in my musical vocabulary so I thought I might as well take advantage of the fact he is broken and absent. Also, I needed something that was going to keep me awake.

The forecast was for a relentless South-Westerly wind (hence the route choice) and for unforgiving steel grey skies. As luck would have it the cloudy sky was broken up with sunshine and it was actually quite nice, though blowy. Peter decided to cycle down the road and then go and test his plantar fasciitis out on the dunes at Aberlady bay while I plugged on down the road, pursued by a big gothic bat. I saw him briefly just before Prestonpans. All was going well for me and I was turning out a good pace. (A 20mph wind at your back doesn't hurt!) By the shop at Aberlady at 15 miles I was nearly a spent force and stocked up on tablet and a bottle of Mountain Dew. With a ton of sugar and a horse's dose of caffeine in my system I was able to motor on. Just before the 20 mile mark at Dirleton, Peter appeared again. I was sore by now, and tired, and it was starting to get dark. It felt like a very long day. He hadn't had an encouraging run, rusted up with nearly 3 weeks of inaction and his foot still hurting. He'd enjoyed getting out in the air again and had found a dead owl which he told me all about. The news from the bay is that the toads are out on their annual humpathon.

My leg muscles were sending angry messages to my brain which were getting turned into irritability at the junction of my mouth so P. cycled on and met me at the station. Job done. Slower than when I went out with the club but faster than last time I did that run. I can probably get another 3 long runs in before Lochaber, which should probably do, especially if I can keep the pressure up and try to push them. It is nice not training for further than a marathon and running as far as you can at any old pace. I am enjoying the relative boundaried-ness of marathon training. Well, when I say marathon training, at the minute I mean long runs and a hodge podge of any old other runs, whatever I feel like doing and races. Might go out a small one today as I notice I only ran 3 times last week.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Lasswade 10 2012

By the time I woke up this morning I'd already run Lasswade and clocked a time of 1.18.54. Imagine my surprise to find I still had it all to do. Peter was coming along with his bike to take photos and I was giving Richard a lift so he could run the race and then run home afterwards.

It was cold and I didn't warm up at all, feeling that 10 miles would give me plenty of scope for warming up during the race. This probably contributed to me feeling that everything was very hard to start with. I felt a bit flat and had little glimmers of hangover and feelings of tiredness and defeat.

From about 6 miles it is mostly a romp downhill, so I'd perked up by this time and enjoyed it more, although the last mile or so went on longer than I wanted. I was pleased to get finished in 1hrs 16 mins - faster than my "dream time". I have run it faster in reality but not since 2007. (I've not run it since 2007).

Peter's taken lots of great photos so they should appear on Porty website etc. I am clinging onto the remnants of the weekend and have not yet stretched or showered or anything so better get going...

I should say the race was well organised, welll marshalled, there was lots and lots of food and the prizes were given out pretty quickly. Thanks to Lasswade AC.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Big Curly Baby

Yesterday was pretty hectic but not quite as heroic as I'd planned. Our friends Ben and Alison and babies 1 + 2 have returned from SOUTH to God's own country, and settled in North Berwick, so we planned to go and see them.

1st of all I thought I could get my long run in early to accommodate the Lasswade 10 on Sunday. I work 8.30 to 12.30 on a Friday, so I thought I might get home, have a quick turn around and run down the coast the 23 miles to NB. Meanwhile the Buchanan would be charged with the responsibility of taking a change of clothes for me via train. He was going to meet up with Ben who would be finishing up work and commuting home and we'd all meet later. My mind likes a plan but my body doesn't always like it. I got home and I was tired and also HASSLED by the thought of everything that needed to be done. What I wanted most of all was just to chill out and wind down a bit. My weeks are hectic and bitty at the moment. So I revised my plan to going out a tough 10 miler incorporating Arthur's Seat, the Innocent Railway path and Duddingston.

By the time I got out I felt tired  and I had a sore left hip I'd picked up from somewhere. "Okay, maybe I'll do the 8 miler" I told myself. By the time I was round the back of Arthur's Seat 5 miles seemed plenty and I headed home. It was kind of humid and when the sun came out it felt really hot. Some flies obviously thought so too and hatched out from somewhere. One big lazy fly went in my left eye and while I was trying to blink it out another got me in the right eye. Ha, very funny.

Happily the rest of the day went much better. We met Ben catching the train and went to see where he and Alison and the babies are staying. We'd met the older one Reuben before but we'd never met Donald the big, curly baby before. Alison handed him to me for a moment or two and he squirmed like something possessed to get away. I could only just hold him.

While Ben and Alison got the kids off to bed, we drank wine in the kitchen. Then we had a big catch up and the hours passed like minutes. At about 10pm we had to decide pronto whether we were going to go for the last train or stay the night. Staying the night seemed a good short term solution but I was craving having a big long sleep so we decided to go for the train. We don't normally have a big meal and a pudding and lots of wine and beer before setting off on a run but that's what we did last night. It went surprisingly well considering. North Berwick was  pretty quiet and still as we raced down the road and hopped on the train. At the other end of the journey, Leith was just warming up to the task of a Friday night out. We avoided any interaction. As one young lady was screaming for her friend Chantelle I had to reflect that it seems like no time since people started calling their babies Chantelle, (What started it?) and now those babies have grown up and are young adults, screaming in Leith Walk. Time moves on apace and we can't seem to stop it. You make a decision and before you know it its an established fact, a part of history.....

And so to bed. I went out like a light and never stirred til 10.30 today. Today is to be a low-key day with certainly no running ahead of tomorrow's hilly 10 mile race. My weekly mileage continues almost criminally low but maybe I'll rectify that in March somehow.