Sunday, 27 May 2012

Possibly the fastest girls

What a hot day today for the Edinburgh Marathon and Relay. We didn't see any other female teams ahead of us at the change-overs (male to female and female to male but not female to female) so think we might have been the 1st female team. I've had a good scout around the EMF website and there is no mention of prizes anywhere - so I realise I'm not that bothered if we don't get prizes or crowns or something.

It was nearly too exciting running thinking we were winning anyway. In order to avoid any intestinal upsets today my strategy was to drink nothing. It was hot as the blazes and I was running with the fear as I was the anchor leg of the relay and I didn't want to blow it. The wind was behind me, running along from Port Seton, the road shimmered and the heat was relentless.

I had a nice little bit of unexpected glory when Kevin Clark appeared with my 3rd FV45 trophy from the Borders XC and a packet of veggie Percy Pigs! Hurrah!

Despite being careful to use the suntan lotion we've got left over from our last Spanish holiday c. 2004 I have some very hot red bits.

I was awfully glad not to be running a marathon today.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Lammermuirs Loop

Yesterday was a day of mixed fortunes. The sun was out. We thought maybe Peter would get finished work early and we would head out to the Lammermuirs to try a hard 20 or so miler on Peter's foot. As it turned out Peter got home early but not that early and to cut a long story short it was after 4pm by the time we parked up at the Blinkbonny woods. I had been feeling increasingly flat and tired as we drove out there and this wasn't helped by P having necked some coffee and chattering away about how amazing everything was.

Getting out the car I felt tired and achy. This wasn't good!

The first 2 miles are uphill and were into the wind yesterday. Plenty time to ease into the thing. By the top of the hill I was sure I wasn't going to run 20 miles and suggested we head left down a fair looking track that looked as though it might take us to the Hope Reservoir. It was very dry and the warm wind was blowing. The trail was white and dusty, feeling more like we were in Spain or America than in East Lothian. The novelty of going a different way cheered me up vastly. I thought part of the lethargy I'd been suffering from was sheer boredom. I felt okay now. The long, long downhill didn't hurt this.

Peter wanted to double back round the other side of the reservoir to extend the route and keep us off road but I wanted to just carry on, see how it all worked out and not commit myself to some long slog on more difficult terrain. I just felt like I needed to get back so pushed my agenda.

The trail joined nicely onto small country roads and took us back round to the road up to Blinkbonny. For the last half a mile I felt really wiped out. Total miles 8.5.

We drove home on small back roads and soaked up how good everything was looking in the sunshine. By the time I got home my stomach was feeling distinctly dodgy and has been so ever since. I'll spare you the details. I am trying not to be panicked by the thought of my glory leg in the marathon tomorrow. This'll entail standing around for a few hours before setting off for the finish. I need to be well by then! So while Peter is off to the Pentlands with Michael G. (They've planned it so they get the very hottest part of the day), I am lounging around in pyjama chic, reading, drinking and snoozing.

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Me and the girls. Surely Not!

It is summer break from university so I made it to the club session last night for the first time in maybe 10 months. The session was Gordon's "Follow the Leader" hill reps. Great fun. Everyone takes it in turn to lead a 4 minute trip along, up and down the paths of Arthur's Seat. I am anal enough normally to return people to where they're meant to be pretty much bang on time, but last night some de-mob happiness got the better of me and I took the team on a 7 minute run on the gentle paths and coconut scented corridors of gorse on Whinny Hill, arriving back at Gordon sans 2 people! Oh the shame. I was just going to go and look for them when they emerged on a headland some distance away. How could it all have gone so wrong?

Also, the ladies' relay team (known as  the Hairy Haggis relay) for the Edinburgh Marathon on Sunday had lost their last leg runner to injury, so I was quickly substituted in. Glory be. I get to run the last 5 miles of a marathon on fresh legs.

I have been tinkering with essays and snoozing all day so might go a nice run at the beach tonight when Peter gets home.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunny Pentlands

At last the sun has come out! It still seemed quite cold as I left the house so I was wearing a long-sleeved top over a vest, but I needn't have worried. As soon as I got going I was warm and the long-sleeved top came off. There was a bit of a sharp easterly which was quite refreshing really. Peter's not great in the hills with his duff foot and he has NVA (dances in light-suits) today so I went to the Pentlands solo. Not a bad thing. Had a sing-song in the van without anyone objecting.

I went up to the Red Moss car park, which was hoaching. There was something on. There was a tent with a sign up about beavers which I just accepted at the time and am only now questioning. There surely aren't beavers up at Red Moss?...Just googled it and I think its something to do with the scouts. How disappointing.

I ran up the Drove road and up and over the kips and then up to the top of Scald Law. Took too many similar pictures but it was so nice to see blue sky. Then I went down to the Howe and down the side of Black Hill a la the Red Moss Revolution. The Pentlands were pretty wet anyway but the side of Black Hill is a quagmire, and it wasn't nice running at all. Its rutted, rocky and filthy these days. I guess that's erosion.

By the time I got to the reservoir at the bottom  I was pretty thirsty and despite there being water everywhere I didn't really trust any of it for drinking. I knew I had a bottle of juice which would be warming nicely in the van. I can see a day, though, when I might want to swim outside again. The water looked lovely.

8.5 hilly miles and my ankle was fine. Its a while since I climbed anything so steep. Future challenges are closing in. Dechmont Law 10k in a few weeks. Maybe Michael G's uphill race? The 7 hills is also looming. We're signed up for the Tour of Fife again, and for the Aviemore Half in October and also the Southside 6 in November, which is 16 miles in Glasgow not 6. I think the 6 is the number of parks it goes through. I'm sure there are other things but I can't think of them.

Oh well. Sunday evening. I should probably put a wash on or something...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Another Pentlands Run

It had stopped raining at last. I was getting no trouble from my ankle. We were both agreed we needed  a longish run on easyish terrain so we settled for the low level Pentlands route. Its a little bit rough in places, but nothing major. Kind to recently twanged ankles and recovering plantar fascii. It was cold and still raining a bit at times but nothing compared to how its been. Once we warmed up it was a good run, uneventful, getting tired by 9 miles on the long haul back uphill to the Maiden's Cleugh and glad to stop just shy of 12 miles back at the van.

I wore my Skins calf thingummys, partly to conceal a nasty old grey compression bandage I had round my left ankle, and partly just to keep my legs warm. Peter took exception to them for some reason. We had a planned trip to Tescos on the way home and I was not to wear them, no matter what. It was nice having warm legs! They don't compress at all anymore, they were nearly falling down.

Meanwhile some football teams called Hibs and Hearts were having a match. Apparently the "Jambos" won 5:1, and now the denizens of Leith are using this as an excuse for bad behaviour. 2 meat wagons and an ambulance on our street alone when we arrived home. There is much shouting and singing. No reason to go out the house til tomorrow and its just as well.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The fickle finger of fate

The lord giveth and the lord taketh. Job 1:21

I don't mean to be dramatic and compare myself to Job out of the bible. (I don't really know the Job story, to be honest, just that God allowed Satan to 'test'  him, apparently just to see how much he would take.) but my point is that my running has been interrupted lately by strange twists and turns of fate, making it difficult to plan.

Last Saturday I had a sore neck but I went out running anyway, and enjoyed the process, although crossing the road wasn't easy because looking behind me entailed turning all the way around. It got much worse that night though, and so sore that it was even sore if I had my head the wrong way on the pillow. Running on Sunday was out of the question, which didn't bother me much because it was lashing down with rain. I sat in all day in my pyjamas and made a large dent in the essay I have to write.

Monday I was feeling a lot better but had to cycle to Musselburgh in the morning and then dash back to the other side of Edinburgh to a meeting in the afternoon. I hadn't had anything to eat since breakfast and I only had 15 minutes before my meeting so I went into Starbucks (I wouldn't normally do this) and had a muffin and a coffee. The woman doing the coffees misheard my order and made me a grande Americano, which for non Starbucks officianados is about double the size of a mug - more coffee than anyone should ever drink at one sitting. I thought I would just drink half of it but it was really nice and it didn't taste that strong so I finished it up. I felt fine for the rest of the day and well into the night. At 4am I was still awake. When I got up at 6.30am for work I felt pretty shabby. By the end of my work day on Tuesday I had a banging headache. Another coffee would have fixed it but I wasn't going to get into that. 

Wednesday morning I woke up feeling good! The sky was clear, I'd had a good night's sleep and I had time for a  run before going to university. As I hadn't been out since Saturday I was fresh as a daisy and by the time I was up at the park I was enjoying myself. I had lots of thoughts rattling around in my head, which isn't unusual and was just thinking I was going to have a secret race with a girl in pink up ahead ( a secret race consists of pretending you're going at your normal speed but actually going much faster than usual in order to make other people think you are amazing) when I twisted my ankle for no reason at all and had to pull up sharp and stand still until the TWANGING feeling eased off. About a minute later I gingerly tested it out with a few steps of running and it seemed like I'd got away with it, so I carried on for another 7 or so enjoyable miles over and around Arthur's Seat with the sun shining and the gorse smelling of coconut.

The first two hours of university consisted of a 2 hour large unstructured person-centred group (don't ask) - for the 2nd hour of which I was aware that my ankle was getting sorer and sorer and I had to keep loosening the laces on my shoe to try and ease the discomfort. I cursed myself for not icing it or anything when I'd got in from my run but it had seemed absolutely fine. By the end of the 2 hours I could barely weight bare on it and felt a little foolish because I'd walked into that group without problems and was now unmistakeably hobbling. Kind of like the opposite of a charismatic healing. One person ran to Tescos for me and got a bag of frozen sweetcorn, for which I was extremely grateful, so I was able to ice it and put it up and I still had ibuprofen in my bag left over from my neck fiasco at the weekend so I had some of them. Someone else had arnica tablets too. Maybe they helped as well. By the end of the evening I could walk, although with a limp, and found to my surprise and pleasure that cycling was still perfectly do-able

On Thursday it was a lot better although I could still feel it. I had a good bit of cycling around town to do so at least I got some exercise. I wouldn't have run on it. This morning it was sore when I got out of bed but hasn't bothered me since. So I guess tomorrow I'll go running somewhere flat and try to be careful. Another 2 run week...

So on the one hand, when I do get running at the moment I'm feeling fresh and really enjoying it. And on the other hand I'm really not getting much training in....Maybe its all for the best. Who knows? 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Fat Bikes and Sea Breezes

We had our challenges today. Driving the car was a team effort as I've got a crick in my neck and can't look over my shoulder. Peter's foot is still twinging. Michael's had a bad knee for a few months. Still, the rain had stopped at last and the sun had come out so we went for a flattish run round on the beach at Aberlady Bay, Gullane and beyond, taking care to have the brisk westerly wind behind us.

Michael wanted to go and see the mini-subs which meant a half mile run into the wind (its endless, they always look quite near but they're not). We saw there were fat tyre marks which could mean only one thing, Coastrider and friends could not be far away. We bumped into Bruce and Jason early last spring while out training for the Highland Fling. They were cycling over sea-weedy rocks on big fat tyred bikes so we had to ask them about it. We've kind of kept up with what they've been doing since. We often see their tyre tracks but we've not really seen them since last year. Today was the day however. We all arrived at the same point just beyond Gullane. It turns out they've bought 5 extra Surly Pugsleys and are going to start Fatbike Tours shortly, so that other people can sample the delights of riding a bike on the beach! Bruce makes great wee films out on his bike and so him and Peter had much to talk about. In the end we had to drag Peter away because our injuries were all seizing up.

Michael's injury has not really dampened down the fires of his enthusiasm for running. After half an hour or so of running with him  he had me convinced that I needed to do an uphill race at Glenshee shortly and  the southside 6 in Glasgow in November (16 miles of running from park to park and crossing busy roads). We're already signed up for the Tour of Fife. We should probably do the Dechmont Law 10k and the Musselburgh 10K too...  I had to keep reminding myself I've got an essay to 1. read for and 2. write and I'm not going anywhere until its done...

This was only the 2nd time I'd run this week, a consequence of resting a bit after E2NB last Saturday and then the bleak Bladerunner style all-day downpours that were around for most of the week. Sometimes not running can make you feel sluggish but I was feeling pretty good. Peter and Michael both being injured kept the pace manageable. As long as I do more running soon then it could be that I'm feeling quite good. Apart from the neck. But hopefully that's temporary.

In the end we ran a little under 11.5 miles and then found ourselves parked outside the Gullane Superfry. Chip rolls were eaten. Irn Bru was drunk!

Looks like the weather's due to close in again tomorrow. It was nice while it lasted.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Black Rock 5 and Edinburgh to North Berwick Doubler

Maybe its precisely because I've got an essay to write that I found myself signed up for the Black Rock 5 last night and somehow convinced that it was a good idea to run the Edinburgh to North Berwick Race today. It was very cold and quite overcast last night and a run down a beach and into the sea didn't seem all that good an idea. There was something going on with the trains so we decided not to chance it but to drive in a nice cosy van instead. It was a good move I think. I heard tell today some people only got home at 1am with train cancellations, having to get taxis etc. It could easily have been us. Anyway. Haven't done this race since 2006 and so had no idea what to expect time-wise etc. Always a surprisingly popular race - is there really such an appetite for running along a road onto a beach and into the sea round a black rock and back on a Friday evening and not getting your tea til after 11pm? Apparently. The numbers had swollen since last time I was there. Also they'd introduced chip timing, which seems quite bold, given the chips go in the sea - but it worked fine.

I had some notions about not pushing too hard but I probably worked as hard as I could. A lot depends on the sand. The sand had a nasty ripple pattern this year that was about 30 degrees off the direction of travel that made for a bumpy ride. There wasn't as much sea at the black rock as usual - probably down to the nearly full moon, which was a bit disappointing in a way. It was a long way back from the rock to the shore as there was a cold, nearly head-wind. I'm not good with long stretches where you can see just how far you have to go. I shut my eyes  for a few seconds at a time. Peter thinks I'm mad for doing this but I find it helps a lot. It was still quite busy where I was in the race though so I had to keep it to a minimum. I quite liked the last run up the road, steep downhill and steep up to finish. I had incentive in the form of Sandra Rathjen, who hammered me at the Hunters Bog Trot. I realised she was just behind me as we came off the beach so tried to push all the way home. I sensed there was no-one behind me for a while and perhaps got complacent and then there was a roar of "Come on Sandra" from the Bog Trotters at the finish so I knew I had to pick up the pace for the last few yards. I got about 10 seconds ahead. It was a nice confidence boost that I'm recovering from the marathon.

We got home as quick as we could really - it was far too cold for hanging around and I was aware I'd need to get up reasonably early to get organised for the Edinburgh to North Berwick race if I was going to do it. I had a kind of fitful night's sleep, I think due to the adrenaline of racing late in the evening and eating just before bed. However I woke up this morning feeling like I definitely wanted to have a shot at it. The weather  forecast said the wind would be behind us, although it seemed to me we had a very slight headwind. It was a bright but cold day. I ran around like a headless chicken trying to figure out what I was going to eat/drink. We had two old gels in a box so I grabbed them and went over to Scotmid and bought 2 bottles of Powerade which I split between 4 small bottles round my waist. We did have some orange Lucozade in the house but the memory of it from the Lochaber Marathon is still too fresh and I couldn't even look at it.

My next concern was whether I was actually going to get into the race as there were only about 50 places available for entry on the day, so I drove as fast as I (legally) could to the Bowling Club and legged it to registration. My legs were really quite fresh and I was ridiculously excited to be there. I think some of it might have been seeing so many people I know.

Anyway, the race. I didn't have a race plan and was just going to see how I felt. I saw Jim Ramsay take off like a bat out of hell so I thought I might slowly chase him down. I caught up with him at about 5 miles and we ran together probably to about 14 miles. He wanted to run 8.30 pace today and that sounded fine to me, I certainly didn't find myself wanting to work harder, so we settled in for a good long time and had a chat about things - something I wouldn't normally do, but it was enjoyable and we were keeping on pace. Round about Aberlady some girl went past me and this stimulated my competitive gland I think. I felt a sudden need to show her who was boss. This is a risky thing as as often as not you find out its not you. However, today it was me. It was saddening to pass the shop at Aberlady and not go in for goodies! I was feeling like a rest and maybe a coffee and a pastry or something, but it was not to be. The next few miles were getting harder although I was still alright, I was definitely slowing. Its amazing how much longer the last 2 miles are than the 1st 2 miles.
On the last wee bit I thought I might try an Ian McMillan mad man's scream and I did start it and it felt good - but I was really too embarrassed to follow through. I think you need the face paints too. So I just settled for running as fast as I could to the line and finished in 2.54ish. Not amazing but a fine training run. Training for what though? Oh who knows. I have to do this essay. I don't think I'll let myself sign up for anything until its done.

I don't have much awareness of what happened at the sharp end of the race except that according to Peter Stuart Hay is a God of running - and he won a prize. Oh and some girl came and ran it as a training run for the Comrades Double Marathon and won it and was about 6th.

I hardly touched the Powerade I had wrapped around my waist. Energy drinks are just not doing it for me. Once I start running I can't drink enough to get much energy down me. I don't know what the answer is...