Saturday, 10 November 2012
The Met Office were saying it was going to be sunny in the earlier part of the day. Neither of us had run for 2 days and we both were suffering from guilt and twitchiness. In a way it would have made more sense to wait until tomorrow for a long run as its meant to be sunny pretty much all day but neither of us wanted to wait - and weather forecasts can change - so we took the unusual step of getting up a bit early to get out there...Nothing too frightening. We were aiming to be out the door by 9.30am and by 10am we actually were.
It was a beautiful day and I got distracted by the pale golden stubble left in recently harvested fields, the brown and copper leaves in the trees and the perfect blue sky and missed the turn off we'd usually take from the A1 to North Berwick. No big problem, we'd come off at the next opportunity. This took us onto some winding B roads, definitely not the quickest route, that took us down past the Law. As we were passing the Law it occurred to us that we could park there and make up some extra mileage at the beginning and the end of the run and also avoid trying to get parked in NB, which isn't always that easy on a Saturday. Well that was what occurred to me. What occurred to Peter was that we could start off the run by running up to the top of the damn thing and down again.
This brings me onto my Hokas. Peter recently got a pair of Hoka Stinson Evo's aka large clown shoes, either made or distributed by the French, that work on the principle that what you want under your feet when you are running is a big, wide, thick pad of foam. They are the opposite of minimal. They have their devotees, who will tell you that they minimise injury and radically reduce leg soreness from running long. Peter's have given him a new lease of life as they've allowed him to increase his mileage again without exacerbating his plantar fasciitis. He now prefers them to most of his other shoes for most surfaces. Because he's so happy with his, I wanted to try some, but they're expensive and they're not particularly easy to get a hold of. I couldn't bring myself to part with the £135-140 you need to get the Stinson Evos and after a lot of googling I found some of last year's trail shoes, called Mafates, for the very good price of £75. (The new Mafates are c. £120.) Hoka's sizing is very small so the advice I'd heard was to get a half size bigger than you need, so I'd ordered some size 7.5 shoes on-line. The next day I got a call from Lancaster to say they'd sold the 7.5s but they reckoned you can easily go up a whole size with Hokas so I agreed to try the 8. When they sent them out I realised they'd sent the men's 8 rather than the woman's 8 so they were likely to be even bigger. They looked absolutely enormous - not least because they are a violent yellow. I hummed and hawed about whether to keep them or send them back for a few days. If I sent them back I'd still have the same problem. They are hard to find and hard to get in the sizes you want and the £75 price tag was still £15 cheaper than anything else I could find on-line. In the end I had the brain-wave of trying them on with my eyes shut and seeing how they felt when I couldn't see how big they looked. Actually they felt okay. So I decided to keep them.
I'd taken them out for an 8 mile road run on Wednesday just to make sure they wouldn't do anything disastrous to me before I committed myself to a longer trail run in them. They make my big toes a little hot but apart from that there were no real problems. You wouldn't want to wear them on a steep uphill or on wet rock and grass though. So my run up North Berwick Law felt very bad. I wasn't warmed up at all and my uphill running is all to hell at the moment anyway, plus the big yellow clown shoes were threatening to break my ankles. Plus I like to keep my average pace down for a run if I can and we got off to a bad start with our first mile taking 17mins 50 seconds. Apparently the view at the top was stunning. I was thinking about how to get down without breaking an ankle.
After that the run smoothed out a bit. This was my third time of running this circuit. A run on the road into the wind to Aberlady gets the least pleasant bit out of the way to start with. At Aberlady we'd run 9 miles and I was well ready for a second breakfast. Today this was pain au chocolat and a coffee sitting on a bench in the sun. Heaven. Some slightly creakiness getting started again, but now the wind was behind us and we were on to the infinitely more enjoyable coastal route. Lovely empty beaches, peeping birds and sunshine. The miles flew by. By 18 miles my legs were starting to tire and the last mile, all uphill to the car parked next to the Law was a bit of a grind, but all in all it was a nice run. Just over 20 miles. Peter suggested that we run up the Law again to finish. I suggested he go himself while I sat in the car. Oddly, he didn't go.
The Hokas were fine on the flattish trails and the beaches along the coast. Whether they reduce muscle soreness etc. I don't know. I haven't run far enough in them yet. I'm hoping they will be good for bashing out long, slow mileage over the winter to get ready for next April's Highland Fling. We're half formulating a plan to do a 50 mile run on April the 6th - maybe a bit close to the Fling but as the clocks will have gone forwards again the day will be longer - and inviting anyone who wants to come along to join us. This is meant to be to celebrate Peter turning 50 and to have a real high mileage week before tapering for the Fling. We're planning to get the 1st morning train to South Queensferry, then gather under the rail bridge for sunrise, and run all the way from there to Dunbar, with plenty of stops for food and drink, and getting the train back to Edinburgh from Dunbar.