Sunday, 26 January 2014

Shepherd's Warning Delivers

There was a fabulous sunrise on the 21st, making me gawp out the window when I should have been leaving for work again. Happily, little by little, dawn is coming earlier and I might start to get out the door in time.

It was one big portion of shepherd's warning and I'm holding it responsible for the weather this weekend. I should never have said out loud that I was going to do a hill run every weekend until the Carnethy 5. The weather Gods have got wind of it and are having a game with me.

Last weekend's weather in the Pentlands was pretty forbidding and the weather forecast for this Saturday was not good so I thought a shorter, lighter, quicker run was what was called for. No rucksacks or things to carry but head alpine style into the hills. My rough plan was to go in from the Balerno end, up the Drove Road, do West Kip, East Kip, Scald Law, down to the Howe and then the long trawl up Carnethy as featured in the Carnethy 5 - then back either through the hills if we were still fit, or down between the hills if we were not, to the car.

There seemed to be a weather window if we could get out there  earlyish - and get out there we did but by the time we were arriving at the car park the wind was blowing and the rain was lashing down. I started out quite cosy and was pleased with my Montane H2O jacket, which I have hardly ever worn. It's more for kit checks. It kept me dry for the first mile or two up into the hills although the wind whipping rain into my face was less comfortable. I lost the feeling in half my face and reflected - not for the first time - that it's a pity I couldn't get the dental work I'm needing done there and then, thus avoiding the need for needles.

By the time we were going up West Kip though an absolute deluge was tipping out the sky and being blown straight through our clothes by a freezing wind. I could feel little torrents of water leaking right down under my clothes. A sensation usually reserved for going in the sea in a wet suit.

By East Kip Buchanan was starting to crack so we headed down off the hill and ditched our itinerary. The chase back through what Graham Henry calls the coffin road was fairly desperate. The trail was running with water. The wind was inexplicably back in our faces. My legs seemed strangely detached from my body and my head and hands were numb.

It took most of the drive back home with the heater on full to stop shivering.

So today I still felt I had some work to do. The forecast was just as bad so I thought I'd stay lower and go round Arthur's Seat, throwing in some hill reps at the far-side before trotting home. The wind was pretty wild but it wasn't raining much and I met a couple of friends just as I was heading up the hill, which was cheering.

At the far side I devised a pyramid session based on drain covers. There was a drain cover at roughly 80 paces, one at 140 paces and one at 260 paces, all measured from the rough bit of grass at the bottom of the slope that comes down, below the crags, from the Commonwealth Pool side  of the seat.

I started off running to the nearest one and back, and then to the middle one and back, and then away up to the top one, and slowly back down. I was careful not to overdo it, as I really didn't want to put myself off! The whole thing seemed quite unappealing. Consequently the second last one to the middle cover and the last one to the nearest cover felt much easier and I did them much faster. Way to ease myself in.

I felt like I'd got off lightly and enjoyed the run back home.
Tomorrow I really do have to go to the dentist.
Maybe I should numb my face first.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Winter Sun

Happily I checked my diary to see when I was due at the dentist today and discovered it is next week!
Finally the sun had come out. No excuse not to run. I was a bit knackered though.
I bumped into Kerry from club half way up the hill round Arthur's Seat. Garmin says we chatted for 17 minutes. That broke up the run nicely.

8.5 miles done and the sun helped a lot. I thought it was going to be one of those sunny but icy days but in fact I was too warm in two tops and divested myself of one half way round. My plans have all gone a bit weird these last few days. I put it down to unseen forces.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Wet Weekend

Yesterday it looked set to be dull but dry and I've promised myself I'll do a hill run a week now I've gone and entered the Carnethy 5 again. (Sigh.) I mapped out a fairly demanding run that we were calling a Semi-Skyline. Peter wanted to come too, despite having a hill race planned for today. Insultingly, I think dawdling along at my pace is a rest for him.

Despite the 'dull but dry' weather forecast, the high peaks were totally clagged in and there was sleet stinging  our faces. The wind was blowing harder than I'd anticipated too. We got quite wet and then quite cold.
We'd taken some pastries to eat half way round so I ended up eating a cinammon whirl and (oops, by accident) more than my half of a Maple Pecan Plait, standing in a stunted little wood on the way down to the Howe. There were quite a lot of fallen trees in the stunted woods. It was quite Troll Hunter. That isn't to be my new name by the way.

By this stage I'd already trimmed the original route, thinking I didn't want to spend my Saturday with sleet pinging off my face as I got colder and colder.
We went over Black Hill, and reluctantly up onto Bell Hill and from there I rebelled and did more radical trimming, running down to the road and on to the car park rather than continuing on over harbour Hill, Capelaw and Castle Law as I'd planned. We hadn't really run far enough to justify pastry in the wood, but to hell with it. I had other things to do. (One of which is wading my way through a paper by Thomas Schwandt called 'Three Epistemological stances for qualitative enquiry: interpretivism, hermeneutics and social constructionism.) (It has 26 pages and I've now read 7. I don't know when it's really going to get going. It seems to lack action and a plot.)

Today was meant to be sunny. I was going to run further than usual today as I cracked a tooth on a rice-cake a couple of weeks ago and I'm going to the dentist tomorrow morning and anticipating an extraction. I've run before just after an extraction, even though you're not meant to and it was only when I got home I realised that I had pink drool coming out the corner of my mouth.
So today was to be a longer run, and sunny.
Oh no it wasn't.
I drove out to Gullane as the skies darkened and then opened. To be fair it was quite picturesque and very atmospheric, but I couldn't take a picture as I was driving and I couldn't say I was looking forwards to more running in the rain. It had mostly dried up by the time I parked up in Gullane. My windscreen wipers were on sporadic. I got out and got on with it somewhat reluctantly.

I planned to run 10 miles making most of it coast. It didn't take long to discover that despite yesterday's run being slow it had knocked the stuffing out of me. I was sluggish and lazy. I thought the clouds would clear and the sun would come out, but they didn't and it didn't. As I was heading back along to Gullane beach from the Yellowcraigs side, I'd run 5 miles and  it looked like it was going to piss down and I had no oomph and no reason to carry on. I headed back to the car. So now I am at home again sitting on my fat ass and I am going to have to read the rest of that paper soon. To be fair, shortly after I got back to the car, the heavens opened again and I missed a right soaking, so maybe my instincts are good... but I think the sun could have come out as bright as it liked and I still wouldn't have wanted to carry on. Some weekends you just don't have it.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The grey lagoon

A tootle round the lagoons on a cold, grey January day, trying to keep my heart-rate under 130. It was sneaking up but I think it's a static build up thing that comes with wearing so many layers and not sweating.

I've hurt my stupid shoulder again standing on my head. FFS.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Some nice sunrises and a Dawn Raid

There have been some nice sunrises recently - just at the wrong time, - or at the right time to make me slightly late for work if I hang out the window taking pictures. But it seems churlish to just ignore them.
Anyway, the sunrises and the fact that I'm still thinking about  getting my legs a bit more hill-ready in case I do the Carnethy and because the forecast said it was to be a clear sunny morning made me think that WHAT WE SHOULD DO IS... get up into the Pentlands for this sunrise.

This went down wonderfully with Peter who was exhausted from starting back to work on Friday. (hahaha), and as I went off to bed the agreement was that I could go to the Pentlands for sunrise tout seul and he would be dormezing until a more respectable time. However, when I climbed out of bed very early this morning there was a note for me that I should check in case he wanted to come too...

I think to both of our surprises we were actually half way up Turnhouse as the sun rose. It was a nice sunrise. Not the most spectacular because there weren't many clouds. What was more spectacular was the light in the Pentlands. Everything was covered in a light frost and the pinky light picked out the gingery highlights in the boggy grass and heather. There was a cutting headwind to start with though so there wasn't much time for hanging around drinking it all in. My hands were freezing in thin gloves and I bitterly regretted not taking thermal gloves and a warmer hat. Most of the time I have to take things off when I get running, but today by East Kip, despite the three layers I had on up top I put on my thin Montane jacket and kept it on for the rest of the run.

Coming down the path that cuts down just before East Kip it was a relief to get lower and somewhat out of the wind, but was also disappointing as it was deeply in shade and it was much nicer being in the light. I think it was this that made me want to go right up Black Hill rather than just skirt round the edge. Heading back with the wind behind felt a lot more relaxing and less serious. It was cold enough today to make you think quite seriously about what would happen if you broke an ankle and had to go slowly.

We crossed paths with another couple of unknown runners and that helped us keep our focus for the return journey. We weren't exactly racing them, but we weren't exactly letting them go either. Up the roundy hill after Harbour Hill (It might be Capelaw?) they were taking selfies next to the metal statue thing and at this point we passed and stayed ahead.

We headed back via CastleLaw  and got back to the car having run 12 hilly miles. I was quite pleased with the way it went. I never pushed, never really flagged but was damn glad to stop running at the end. Judging by the short walk from the car to the house my legs will be very stiff tomorrow.

Peter took millions of photos so no doubt the highlights will appear on his blog eventually.
UPDATE! Here's some more from today below.