Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Mixed Fortunes

If you're not sure what mixed fortunes are, just think smiley face, sad face :-(.

Yesterday was a hectic day - to the end of my working day was pinned a job interview. A job interview for a job I wanted! What greater pressure could there be? During the night I hadn't slept well, my little mind awash with possibilities. By 3pm my mind was quiet on most subjects and so I took the risk of having a cup of coffee. I hardly drink coffee anymore so I certainly notice it and off I went on my bike in the rain and wind to my interview.
 I was early and it was a tense time waiting - an opportunity to review any advice I might dish out to anxious people.
Notes to self; self-talk  "For God's Sake, don't babble on and don't mumble!" - not helpful.
Reviewing last 2 (failed) interviews - not helpful.
Sitting in the waiting room and looking around for hidden cameras - paranoid thinking...not really helpful...

When I got in the room I would have felt better if I could have just pushed some things off the desk, say maybe the phone and the photocopier and then maybe empty the jug of water over everything - just to get it out of my system. After I sat down and got going I felt better. They were asking me about stuff I knew. Hurrah! Half-way through I had a little reflective pause to myself and dared to think "This is going quite well."
...and it continued to go okay to the end...but I was the first in and they would give me an answer tomorrow (today) afternoon.

Today I had violence and aggression training part 2 for the nurse bank. I had an early start and had had a long day the day before but found myself awake in the middle of the night again, for at least 2 hours, so when it came time to get up I was shattered and bleary-eyed. Restraining people is hard work and was a good diversion. Early in the afternoon I expected my phone to ring any minute and I'd left it on so I would get it. I wouldn't normally do this - I am usually most critical of people who can't be without their phones for a moment - but I just wanted to know the outcome of the interview and be done. By late afternoon I was feeling that it was not going well. Surely I would have heard by now? Then an unexpected and, I think, unrelated event took place. I took someone's arm to restrain them, leaned in and felt and heard a pop from my ribs. My emotion was surprise. (Raised eyebrows face, circular mouth.) "I can't possibly have just hurt my ribs - today is about whether I get my job or not, not about me popping ribs."
It didn't hurt at first and then it did. Not hugely but enough. I think (knowing nothing on the subject) that I have strained an intercostal muscle or ligament. 

So I'm depressed about that. Can I run? I'll find out tomorrow. What really hurts is flushing the toilet - a sharp downwards thrust on my right hand side. Maybe I can run if I just take loads of pain-killers. (The Hay Method. TM)

By the time I got home and there were no messages on the phone at home I felt bored of my life. Why bother to think at all? I had some things to type up from Monday so I decided to get that done rather than oscillating between hope and disappointment. And then the phone rang. The job is mine! And I want it! I wish I hadn't popped my rib.

Monday, 28 January 2013

To Hell in a Hand Cart

While Peter was out cycling 10 miles and running 23 yesterday, I had a bit of a lie-in and  then got up and caught up on some chores. Despite the evil weather warnings it looked pretty reasonable outside, so I endeavored from about noon until 3pm to get out running while it was still okay. Then the rain started to batter off the window. I waited it out a bit longer but realised with sinking heart that I had missed my weather window and would have to get out anyhow. I put on a good few layers of clothing and as I was going out the door gave in to the temptation to top it all off with an old rain jacket. I just didn't want to be cold and wet....

I was only planning to run once round Arthur's Seat but as I approached St Margaret's Loch I was stopped by police tape. The Borders Search and Rescue were there too. I assumed they were just on some practice manoeuvre, but it turns out they found a body in the loch. They think it is some poor young chap from Nepal who has been missing for 2 weeks.

I was redirected up Hunter's Bog. I had my road shoes on and the Bog, true to it's name was sodden and wet. The rain and wind were blowing directly in my face as I fought my way up to the top, and my big rain jacket made a particularly good sail and I had to fight all the harder because of it. I came out at the Commie Pool side of the seat. I had been looking forwards to a nice run down hill but I got overtaken by a killer stitch and had to walk for 10 minutes til it went away. It was a sorry effort of a run (expletives deleted), being a bit less than 4 and a half miles in length.

I thought I might make up for it today, but I have had a busy (but not active) day, and got too hungry and waited to eat too long and have now jammed my face with biscuits. There will be no running. I am off to whip myself with a birch twig.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Snowy Pentlands Shindig

Today we headed for the Pentlands. Down in Edinburgh it was cold but there was little in the way of snow and ice so it came as a bit of a surprise just how much there was a bit higher. The wind was icy but the sun was out which made everything look lovely. We'd made a rough plan to go up from Bonaly, go over Harbour Hill, Bell Hill, Black Hill and then down the coffin road and up the Drove Road to hook onto the high tops at the other side. We were thinking W and E Kip, Scald Law, Carnethy and then maybe come down to the road and then cut back over to Bonaly via Phantom's Cleugh.

The parts of the hill where walkers had been all had good trails to follow but come Black Hill we were breaking trail and did a good deal of post-holing through the crust. This was very painful and lacerated my poor shins. What I would have given for a pair of long socks.

The views at the top of Black Hill were absolutely stunning but then coming down the other side we had the same problem with drifts and post-holing through the crust. If you sped up you took chunks out your shins, but going slowly, fully exposed to the icy wind was pretty sore too. It all started to feel a bit serious at this point and I was keen to get back down to the lower ground. As we had done a 26 minute mile going up Black Hill and then a 27 minute mile coming down the other side we had eaten into our time-before-sunset quite substantially and so decided to take a lower route back to Bonaly. If the Kips etc. were going to be at all difficult we wouldn't make it round before dark.

We went, then, down the Coffin road and down to Redmoss Car park and then along past the reservoirs and up the track to Maiden's Cleugh. It was good to get moving a bit faster. The sun was gone by then so it really was cold. From the Maiden's Cleugh it was just back over Harbour Hill and then all pretty much down hill to the car.

It was properly dark by the time we got back and the Hibbies were all fecking off after the game so we got parked.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Amanda up Arthur's Seat

Very ordinary grey, January run round Arthur's Seat, just to get out. Best thing was meeting our friend Amanda and catching up with her.
Because I hate wearing running tights I thought I would try compensating for wearing shorts by wearing a warmer hat.
Did it work?

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Mussy 15

The Selkirk "Feel the Burns" Hill race is a Portobello RC championship race so it seemed like most everyone was heading there today, despite the snow and the ice. I planned to go a low pressure 15 miler, with a camera and at any old pace. Before I knew it, it was too long since breakfast though and I didn't want to eat anything else before running as my tummy has been a little "odd" (this phrase throws a veil over quite a lot of unpleasant experience). I took my cash-line card in case I needed to buy something to eat or drink en route and rolled out the door anyway.

It was a surprisingly nice day and it seemed like everyone had gone mad for snowmen. The sun was shining from time to time and the birds were singing. I was by no means an inspired athlete but I enjoyed being out. I knew I was too empty, but there didn't seem like much I could do about it. I know some people think that running on empty helps you utilise fat so I hoped I was utilising fat and kept going anyway. I went round the lagoons at Musselburgh and headed back towards Edinburgh. By the time I was arriving back in Portobello I was sorely tempted to get some cash and get something to eat and get a bus back from Porty. I'd only run 11 miles though and what stopped me more than anything else is that I've done this before and the bus takes ages and it's cold. I headed onto the prom and hoped I would just feel better or forget about it and think about something else until I got home. That kind of worked.

Home again and I've had a banquet of fish fingers and toast.

While I was out there I started to think about all the things I've meant to tell my blog people but have not.

Here are some of them;

I'm reading Seb Coes's autobiography and I'm really enjoying it. It started off a bit stilted, giving some background about his family etc. but as soon as he gets into talking about his running it takes off. Peter keeps saying "BUT HE LIKED MARGARET THATCHER". I know this is a problem, but when you're reading what the man says he is by no means simplistic. I remember watching the Moscow olympics and the epic rivalry between Coe and Ovette. Reading about what was happening behind the scenes is engrossing.

Also, partially to ensure I survived my operation, I bought myself a new Garmin. How could you die having just got a brand new Garmin? I got the 310XT because I admire its chunky orange looks and chiefly because it has a 20 hour battery. I'm still hoping to do the Highland Fling this year and I wanted the whole thing recorded. My old Garmin never gets much past 30 miles. I think it took me to 36 miles in the 2010 Highland Fling and then went blank. There's a lot of things about it I don't like so much. For some reason it's a hassle to get the computer to download from it. I have to "enable pairing" every single time, or the computer doesn't know it's there. It doesn't upload automatically to the Training Centre anymore either. I have to send my workouts to the Garmin Connect site and then export them and import them into the Training Centre program. I don't want to abandon Training Centre because I've got runs since 2005 in there. I can hear your soft snores...
The other thing I really don't like about the Garmin 310XT is its calorie counting policy. I can go out a 6 mile run and it'll go "yeah that was about 200 calories, maybe a little bit more, don't be snacking my friend!". This is patently unfair. Today, for my 15 miler, it grudgingly gave me just over 1000 calories to play with. I've googled this "issue" and find there are other people in the same boat. I haven't found a fix though.

In many ways it doesn't matter in the slightest. I don't count calories so it doesn't make any odds. What bothers me is it's just a bit like having someone around saying "but you know that wasn't really as hard as you think". I feel undermined by my Garmin. I'm still enjoying its orangey looks though and the battery is great.

Well it's getting dark and I should be having a shower and maybe even doing the dishes so I'm off.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Managing Expectations

I have been trying to prove to myself recently that my running is not quite as bad as it seems to be. With that in mind I went out for an 8 miler on Wednesday morning. It was very cold and there was very little wind so everything was stacked in favour of me running as well as possible. I hadn't run for 2 days so my legs were fresh.

Still it wasn't flowing and by the time I got down towards Porty Prom I had a bad stitch that was getting worse and I had to stop and have a think to myself. I keep pressurising myself to be running better than I am. How's about pulling back a bit and just allowing myself to be as I am? The run was somewhat rescued. I took off more gently and I avoided developing another killer stitch. I even enjoyed some of it.

Presumably I'm still "recovering", although I don't know what is recovering from what and what form that might take.

No racing for me this weekend then, which I'm glad about, and although I was sorry to hear Berwick XC has been cancelled, that gets me out of another race. On the horizon is the Forfar Multi-terrain half marathon which I've paid for so I'll do, but don't feel enthusiastic about, and the Carnethy 5 Hill Race which is still nearly a month away so might not be so bad.

The thing is (I am telling myself) to enjoy the running and avoid comparisons.

Thinking all this got me thinking about the phrase "All comparisons are odious" and wondering where it came from. This is what I found out (from a web-page here).
I wouldn't want to engendyr haterede after all.

Comparisons are odious


Literal meaning.


The earliest recorded use of this phrase appears to be by John Lydgate in his Debate between the horse, goose, and sheep, circa 1440:
"Odyous of olde been comparisonis, And of comparisonis engendyrd is haterede."
It was used by several authors later, notably Cervantes, Christopher Marlowe and John Donne.
In Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare gave Dogberry the line 'comparisons are odorous'. It seems that he was using this ironically, knowing it to be a misuse of what would have been a well known phrase by 1599 when the play was written.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Paxton XC

I think this is how you hurdle isn't it?

Bill Gauld, Man of Steel.

It was a cold, grey morning and no-one was too exuberant. I realised I'd formed the classic defence - if you think you're not going to do too well, get your excuses in early, go a long run the day before...that kind of thing. We got ready in near silence and went to pick up Tony en route. Even the always ebullient Tony was a little quiet. It was a nice drive down though - a good day for staring out the window at the sea.

The roads were pretty much empty and not at all icy despite all the warnings on MetCheck and Traffic Scotland. I couldn't remember the way but did remember that it had been very easy the last 2 times I drove there, and right enough there was a big, clear sign from the A1 saying "Paxton House". No problems navigating today.

When we got there Peter and I went for a warm-up. It seemed really cold when we arrived so I ran in tights and a fleece and my duvet jacket and half way into the warm up was very warm indeed. I realised after a while that we were committed to quite a long warm up and even thought I might not make it back to the start in time. Was there a spark of hope in there? Anyway, we made it back in the nick of time. Just time to strip off the layers and we were off.

The organisers had made more than sure that we would be going through some deep mud this year. Do they own shares in Persil? It was thick, deep and unavoidable and I'm still wearing some of it. They had also gone to some effort to keep it interesting which was much appreciated.

On the first proper uphill coming up from the river I was overtaken by Bill Gauld after which he gradually but steadily pulled away. Tony tells me he's going to be 80 just after the next Carnethy. I was doing all I could. I didn't really know why I was racing except it forces me to push myself. I did think longingly about dropping out before the 2nd lap but then had a word with myself. For god's sake just relax and see what you can do!

I was glad when it was over though.

On the way back into Edinburgh sleet was blowing around the car and Arthur's Seat was white so I reckon we got very lucky with the weather.

Time to get ready for the week ahead and maybe try to clean my filthy shoes. Tempted to just bin them.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Poor preparation

Went for another Pentlands run today - aware that maybe it wouldn't be the best prep for the XC tomorrow. Sitting in my pyjamas in the morning I came up with an ambitious plan to go over the high tops; Turnhouse, Carnethy, Scald Law, S. Black Hill, E and W Kip, and then run down the Drove road, back up the Coffin road(?), round the back of Black Hill, over Bells Hill,  Harbour Hill, Capelaw, Castlelaw and back to the car park. This all went to plan until I got tired of running up hills. It started to happen at the Kips and only intensified as time went by so I took a right after Bells Hill and got back to the road and back to the car park that way. Peter had the option of running more hills if he liked, and he did pop up Harbour Hill to try to catch the last of the sunset but then he "popped" back down it again and caught up with me.

It was a lot colder today and there was frost at the tops of the hills. The sun came out here and there but rarely where we were. It was good to get home and eat some tomato soup modified with the last of last night's dinner including rice. Just a fraction over 13 miles in all. I'm sure it'll be good training for something. (But definitely not Paxton XC tomorrow.)

Friday, 11 January 2013

Dark Arthur's Seat Run

Today I totally failed to meet RD in Gullane for a run in the afternoon. My shift at work had been busy, the sky was grey, the air was cold and wet, the streets were wet. I went back to bed instead and dreamed about meeting an old school friend called Erland out running. I asked how he was doing and he said I wouldn't like it but he was disabled now. We ran off up the aisle between the seats in a lecture theatre.

After getting up again I spent a bit of time trying to read some papers by the Scottish Government about improving the health of the nation and finally got my act together to head off out on a run. Peter hadn't made it out either yet so he came too. He quickly gave up trying to chat to me because it's hopeless. I can either answer and slow down or keep running and not answer.

Running around in the dark is not doing it for me, although I was better than I was on Wednesday. Getting away from the lights of the cars helps as you can see more from the ambient light of the orange glow of Edinburgh hitting the low clouds and bouncing back. We knocked out 8 miles without much communication and with Peter having to stop and wait from time to time. I guess it's all time on feet and calories burned and what-not. Very much looking forwards to going out during the day tomorrow and running when I'm relatively fresh rather than at the fag-end of a tiring day. I think we need to do a biggish run despite having the XC on Sunday. Maybe the Pentlands. The BBC forecast says the sun might peep out shyly from behind the clouds from time to time. I'll take that.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Dark Granton Run

Monday I thought I might get out for a run in the evening, but I didn't, I went for a snooze instead. I asked Peter to wake me up if he hadn't seen me in an hour and a half or so. He forgot though so I slept for 3 hours straight. I actually knew he'd probably forget, time urgency isn't really his thing, and if I'd been that concerned about waking up I'd have set an alarm. But there wasn't any time left for a run anyway.

Tuesday I thought I might get out for a run too, but when I got home from work I was so, so tired. I hadn't really slept right the night before, - something to do with having a 3 hour nap in the evening. So I went for a nap, but this time I made sure I'd wake up in an hour and a half. I did wake up after an hour and a half but I still didn't want to go running, so I didn't.

So this evening I really needed to go running. The guilt and fear had been building since Monday. It was a tiring day. I had to go and do an update on managing violence and aggression for the nurse bank. I spent my day doing break-aways and low level restraints. It was nice being up in the old training room. I've spent many an hour in there restraining and being restrained. It is socially rather odd. I found myself sitting on a nice lady that I'd just met that day. Sitting on her chest and trying to strangle her before she threw me across the floor.

When I got in I had to ignore the siren song of my bed. I used to be able to nap, that used to work for me. I could have a sleep and then wake up ready to run. But it's not working anymore. I was starving so I ate 6 rice-cakes and honey and got changed into my running gear so I wouldn't change my mind. Peter was heading off to club but I'm not ready for that level of punishment yet. Especially in the cold and dark after a long tiring day rolling around the floor.

I forced myself out to do the "old Granton Run", which is just 7 miles. It was still rush-hour, so it was pretty ugly, running along beside millions of cars. It was a struggle and I was glad I hadn't tried going to club. I would have done badly and felt rubbish. Thank god running isn't always like that. I'm off to eat my tea and watch Gok Wan give dating tips.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Pentlands 12 miler

A new route today, adapted from one that Ben came up with. Ben's route was (starting at Flotterstone)  Turnhouse - Carnethy - Scald Law, S. Black Hill then cutting down before East Kip to the Howe and running down the road for a while, then turning back up the track to Maiden's Cleugh, over Harbour Hill, Capelaw and Castlelaw and then down the hill back to F'stone. I modified the 2nd half by heading up to Phantom's Cleugh avoiding Harbour Hill, over Capelaw and then round the side of Castlelaw on the red crunchy path and back down to the car park.

Arriving at Flotterstone car park about  200 other people had had the same idea. The car park and all around it was absolutely jam-packed and we found ourselves in a queue for parking from which there was no escape. Hell's teeth! We had not allowed ourselves a lot of time to get the run done before dark and so we were quickly trying to think of other options when the familiar and friendly face of Ian Campbell (HBT!) appeared at the car window. He wished us happy new year and offered us his parking space as he had just finished running for the day. Rarely are the omens so good...

Going up Turnhouse was tough. I have a benchmark of 25 minutes for getting from the car park to the top of Turnhouse. Anything quicker is good, anything slower is a bit slow. 25 minutes ticked round as I was on the final push for the summit. It was 27 minutes to the actual summit. That did seem like the hardest part of the day though. Soon we were running down the other side, which was fun, and then up into the clouds at Carnethy. The whole upper part of the run (Carnethy, Scald Law and S. Black Hill) was in the cloud and was very windy on the west sides. Meanwhile I was getting a real surge of delight at being out there. It was filthy underfoot, the wind was battering us and we could hardly see.

Dropping down to the Howe was like changing season - it was pleasant down there - even a wee bit sunny at times. Running down the road was wonderfully easy and it was a thought to turn back up into the hills. Which is why I trimmed them a bit.

12 miles in all and we were out for about 2 and a half hours and finished just as it was getting dark.

I'm dreading going back to being busy this week...