Saturday, 30 June 2012

Gullane, Interviews, stress etc.

Its been kind of a strange week. My heart-rate has been unreasonably high all week and yet I feel better in action than I do when I'm resting. Maybe I'm tired and I think I'm kind of stressed. I applied for a job the other week there which I may well get and I got a letter today inviting me for interview. Positive in many ways - its more money and much more autonomy and doing what I'm good at than what I'm doing now, but I've just settled in where I am and I know all the people better and the thought of all the upheaval entailed in starting another new job is well... a thought. At the same time, I'm not really earning enough to live on. If I was I wouldn't be constantly looking for new jobs to apply for.

The job interview time is while I'm working so I'll need permission to go and do the interview anyway. Feels a bit weird, like getting your husband to baby-sit so you can go out on a date...I'm comforting myself with the thought that by next weekend it will all have played out and I will know what's happening.

After getting the letter inviting me for interview today and writing an email to my work to ask for the time off (it won't arrive til Monday but I wanted to get the confession part over with - the email is sent, the deed is done) instead of being happy that I got an interview I worried myself into a right tangle about the whole damn thing. I was longing to get out on the beach and into the air. Peter put in a really good bid for a new run from beyond Tantallon castle to...somewhere or other...but I didn't want any interesting new challenges today, I just wanted to be free from trying to sort my life out.

So we went to Aberlady beach, Gullane etc. and back via Archerfields. 10.5 miles pretty much. And in that time it was windy, sunny and rainy and despite knowing this stretch intimately these days we got fooled by how different everything looks since the sun and the rain made all the grass grow 3 feet longer and had a 12 minute mile wading through long weeds and thorns  to get onto the path we had thought we were on. Hence we have many scratches and itchy spots now.

Once we'd finished running I went back to feeling a bit crap again and my heart was still racing. I had a look back to Wednesday's training session (during which I felt fine) to see if my heart rate was normal then and saw it was all over the shop. Normally it has a big jump to start with which I put down to not having good contact with the chest-strap yet...but normally it also settles down. Not last Wednesday, it was unfeasibly high maxing out at unfeasibly higher. So anyway, if this goes on and on I guess I will probably have to go and see my doctor - but I'm in no hurry, I'm hoping it'll just settle down by itself. I have done an extensive Google of course.

Its Saturday night, which is a good thing, and we're well into a season of Dexter (from Lovefilm) where Jimmy Smits, once the saintly Bobby in NYPD Blue, is playing a mad, bad killer. As Dexter is realising he needs to kill Jimmy Smits, Jimmy Smits is setting Dexter up to be killed...Now how on earth will this play out. I must go and see. Credit to Jimmy Smits for playing a bad guy so well. He was so irritating as Bobby.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Bonus Day

Since Richard dropped out of the WHW (as did another 58 people I think) we didn't spend the night in Fort William and so we were unexpectedly at home today and free to go a run. Well I was. Peter is dancing about in a light suit on Arthur's Seat this evening so by rights shouldn't really be going running anywhere, but when I said I was going to go to Gullane and do a 12 mile loop he got more and more morose and then said he was coming too. I tried to talk him out of it but he was set!

I really wanted to train a bit harder than we sometimes do. Some of the club were out running 15 miles this morning as they've decided to do the Loch Ness Marathon. I do admire them and they are going really well, are motivated etc. etc. but the thought of all that road running was putting me off. (Also getting up early!) I wanted to do something comparable to what they had done in effort. I could see Peter was in the mood for running along chatting - which is fine for him, but takes all the wind out my sails if I'm trying to make an effort and someone is telling me a whole argument that they had on facebook last night and then "Look at that over there! The Red Arrows! Oh no its not!" So I had to lay down some ground rules. No talking. It was clearly such an effort for P. I nearly relented, but did not.

So I kept on trucking and he clearly kept taking pictures of his grumpy little girlfriend!

The day was fabulous. There was the odd surly shower of rain but then followed by magical blue skies and hot sun-shine. All the wicked weather seemed to have scared most people away and so most of the beaches were deserted and empty, flat and unmarked. I usually don't like running on the beach; too flat, too unavoidable! But today I was enjoying it. We had a slight tail wind, and maybe going to Bert's interval sessions at club is helping me to face the flat, unavoidability of running.

At Yellowcraigs we came back up off the beach and onto the road back to Gullane, picking up to about half marathon effort (but not pace) to finish off. In the end I was well pleased with the run.

Peter is off out for his 2nd running session of the day. A 6 hour shift up Arthur's Seat. We'll see what that does for his plantar fasciitis....

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Wet Highland Way Race

Karin McKendrick's photos of Inversnaid (above) capture the wetness!

Older and wiser than we were in 2010, Peter and I agreed to crew for Richard for the 2nd half of the race - meaning the bit after it gets light so you don't have to stay up all night and get bitten by midgies. First of all we were going to camp somewhere in striking distance of Crianlarich, but after it had rained all week and looked set to continue we adjusted our plans and decided just to stay home and get up early on Saturday to drive to assume our crew duties. 

Richard was setting off carrying a quad injury he's had for the last 3 weeks. It was still raining late on Friday and things were not looking good. Still, you can't abandon months and months of training without giving it a go so he set off regardless. We were just about to leave the house at 8am when we got a phonecall from him to say he had pulled out and he was going to get a ferry to Inveruglas, go to the cafe there and await rescue.

It was fairly bright, although windy in Edinburgh as we left but as we got onto the M8 the weather deteriorated rapidly. It was actually quite enjoyable going for a long drive with music on and the roads were fairly empty. The rain poured down and the windscreen wipers creaked.

Inveruglas was half full (haha) - half full of sodden, aimless tourists trying to put on a brave face as they enjoyed an awful holiday in Scotland. I expected Richard to be a crumpled, sodden heap in a corner but he was actually quite bright and cheerful. His leg had stayed manageable but his feet had fallen apart with the continual drenching of running through standing water in torrential rain all night. His legs were also a morass of midgy bites which he told me he had thought was "itchy mud" in the dark. And so our crewing duties were pretty minimal and we never even really got wet. News from the rest of the race has been trickling in from the website and from facebook. Apparently there was a new course record! The man must have duck in his genes. There have also been a lot of DNFs. I'm glad Richard didn't make his leg any worse. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

The View from the Control Room

Well that was a different experience of a race last night. The Powers that Be at Portobello had decided that we should drag our epic 4 mile prom run into the 21st century by using a computer as well as a board and sticky label system to collate the results. This year was the 1st time so we had two systems running simultaneously and myself and Jennie were manning the laptop. (Smaller than shown above.) Quite a hectic experience really. As it happened  there was a big brooding storm outside so I think I got lucky, consigned to the GP room at the Portobello Bowling Club, where so many inspirational speeches and attempted stretches have occurred before and after our winter club sessions.

Luckily it was a Dunbar championship race or there might have been nearly no-one at all. But the brave Dunbars weren't put off by a bit of rain. I didn't recognise Brian Davidson of RunTwo blog fame because he didn't have his dark glasses on, so apologies for being a bit glaikit. It was only when I saw your entry form that I realised who you were. If I'd realised it was you I'd have tried to scare you about the Lairig Ghru.

It was no surprise, then, that Dunbar RC carried off the male and female team and numerous other prizes. I was quite glad there wasn't that many folk but apparently that's not the right attitude. I would like to see us have a small trail race somewhere with cake afterwards...

There are some photos of the race taken by Alex Oliver here.

The results are on the Portobello website here.

And now I need to go and get organised for supporting our pal Richard Dennis on his 2nd WHW race. It is pouring with rain and seems set to continue. What will we take? Maybe a towel? A hot water bottle? Wet-suit? Some motivational marching music? Goodness knows.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sunday, 17 June 2012

7 Hills of Edinburgh 2012

Another year, another 7 hills of Edinburgh. I wasn't going to do this again this year. Normally the impetus is Peter who LOVES this race. I like it too but I've run it 7 times already - well now I've run it 8 times. I had a look about to see if there were any other races on this weekend. There was Durisdeer yesterday but it was a SHR championship counter which is Scottish Hill Racing percentage death and also Peter can't run in the hills. (With his foot y'understand.)  If I could have found a nice trail run somewhere that would definitely have been my preference. But there wasn't one. Its a PRC championship race this year which finally swung it for me, so I set out to get my greedy little hands on another 10 points if possible, although this was by no means a certainty. Aileen is being a good sport about this championship. I don't think she's bothered and so is generous about me nipping in just ahead of her.

Its been uniformly pissing down for the last 2 days and today it was meant to dry up. All the weather forecasts said so. But nobody told the sky and it pissed down again today. I was afraid it might get cold and stuck a t-shirt on under my vest, but I needn't have worried. I was soon too warm and had to perform the tricky procedure of taking off my vest and t-shirt and putting my vest back on as I ran along beside the stately homes of Ravelston. I'm sure I put a few wealthy folk off their morning coffee, but it was a necessity. If it gets too warm its important to get your pits out. I thought about throwing my t-shirt away but it was my Highland Fling t-shirt and couldn't quite bear to part with the fruits of running (okay walking and running) 53 miles so I just ran with it in my hand and hoped I might see a Porty spectating along the way.

Thinking about strategy before the race I had a kind of a plan. Since I usually try to run half marathon pace at the start of the race for the 1st 4 miles and I can never run at this pace towards the end of the race, "How's about" I thought to myself, "going off a bit more comfortably?" Ah sweet reason. As soon as I had suggested it to myself it seemed to make sense. I usually take a bottle of Lucozade or sports drink with me too, so this year I thought I might take advantage of the support on route - if I wasn't running so hard then I could maybe stomach the jelly babies and raisins they usually have at the water tables, and I could run kitless and free.

I was a little disheartened then to  get to the 1st couple of tables and find only a wee drop of raisins left and no jelly babies. The economic downturn is ruining everything. It wasn't a major problem anyway. I wasn't very hungry.

Things really started to get more interesting at Craiglockhart. Happily Gordon the coach was there and he was willing to take my t-shirt off my hands, which was good, because I was soon needing my hands. The muddy bank, for the "super-heroes" route was the consistency of a thick chocolate icing and though less delicious was as supportive. I was soon clawing my way up the slope, desperate and scared, and grateful for little roots and strings of ivy to cling onto for dear life while gravity tried to take me back down the slide. From the shrieks around me other people were making a worse job of it, which was heartening, in a heartless kind of way. I was hyperventilating - just the adrenaline kick I guess - which took a wee while to subside. And then afterwards I had that kind of intense sleepiness that you get after an adrenaline rush. But there was to be no resting! Half way up the hill I tried to get some of the mud off my hands by wiping them on the soaking grass. I had convinced myself there was going to be Jelly Babies at the table at the top and I was needing them. But it was not to be. I know how ungrateful this sounds and I'm sorry. Raisins it was then. I chewed them thoughtfully as I took off down the hill again.

The little lane tricks and Fly Walk and all that went alright for the next bit. Nice going up and over the Braids. Very few golfers out so I took a more direct route than usual to where I wanted to go. The path down the other side to the road was alarming. Just a crazy mud slide with gorse to hang onto. I was catching up with more and more challengers now and I was grateful to be "held up" a bit as otherwise I would have had to try and go a bit faster and I didn't really want to.

I hadn't worried much about what the slope out of the Hermitage would be like as I remembered it as shorter and easier than the slope at Craiglockhart, but as it turned out I saw several versions of my untimely demise flashing before my eyes on the way up,  as just as I got far enough up the bank so I was going to hurt myself if I fell back down I ran out of all hand holds and I did that fatal thing which is stop. A little  below me were three nasty metal spikes ready to slice a bit off as I accelerated over them. The worst thing you can do if you're going wrong on a climb is stop and freeze in terror,so I forced myself to get going again. I used a knee to augment the minimal grip provided by my toes and my clawed hands and I was ready to start using my elbows too, as a kind of ice axe, until finally I managed to grovel and wallow my way into a tree's root system and gratefully hugged a tree.

So I was pretty muddy by the time I topped out at Blackford Hill.

Last year we had a clever plan for a new route off B-ford Hill, but I messed it up by going the wrong way and adding maybe 2 minutes to my time. This year I thought I might give it another go. Part of it was the feeling that it would be nice to get away from anyone I might have to race with. Of all parts of the race, the run to Arthur's Seat from Blackford Hill is my least favourite.

"Our route" is a series of left and right turns through Morningside and the Grange. There were no other runners around and the few citizens that were about on this rainy Sunday morning were too polite to stare as I plugged past, covered in mud. I had the usual feeling that I was going in completely the wrong direction but it all came out right - although I was slow and my legs were feeling crampy. Pretty soon I was at Pollock Halls, and then messed this up by having to run around the back for a while until I found where the turnstile is. Some delightful person has crow-barred one of the bars further open on this so for the first time ever I risked limbo-ing though the gate instead of climbing over the wall. That made life a good bit better. Then there was only Arthur's Seat to tackle, and I usually quite like this bit. I have  plodded my way up Arthur's Seat so many times over the years I can pretty much do it without thinking about it. People were avoiding the airy scramble which is on the most direct route but I forced myself to do it. More out of pride that I'd survived the two terrifying mud slopes than anything else. I didn't want to let myself down now.

And then a bit of a run through the Race for Lifers, and up the last hill, and having to go round a clump of big burly challenger blokes who were WALKING and CHATTING on the steps on the final run to the finish ( and then decided to come with me "for fun") and I was at last in and finished.

No records were broken, in fact it was my 3rd worst time, which must be my 5th best time. Immaterial really. I didn't care...except...Aileen was doing the Challenge which sets off 30 minutes ahead of the race and she was standing chatting having been finished for a while. I decided to just be direct and ask her what time she had run. Slower than me. Hurrah. Another 10 points for my over 45 campaign on the Portobello Championships. I believe that'll be 50 points then! "Job Done" as the rather unlikeable Gordon Ramsay says. Did I ever mention he was born the day after me, but in Glasgow, not Ednburgh? The slight difference in our planetary line-ups must account for his dreadful skin. But there are similarities.

So anyway. 7 Hills 2012. Another year, another coaster. As a fellow runner remarked at the end, "I've got a house full of these coasters and I've never used them all because I never have that many friends to my house." The hall-mark of a runner. Unless you're an HBT.