Sunday, 16 February 2014

Carnethy 5 and a bit of a Sunday Run

Thanks to David Allwood for the nice Carnethy Picture

The Pentlands turned out to have more snow on them than I anticipated, and there was a nasty, icy wind blowing. I enjoyed myself more than I thought I would just because it was fun to see people. Stomping up Scald Law my hands and feet went numb and I wondered how on earth I was going to run downhill if I couldn't feel my feet.
How I was going to run down hill was mincingly with frequent bouts of throwing my arms out and squeaking. Not the best of downhillers, yesterday I was diabolical. My mudclaws soon had a build up of ice between the studs = no grip. It was good to get round to the Kips and into the sun a bit. The marshals up West Kip looked like they wouldn't live much longer if they didn't get out of the cold soon.

The Howe side of Carnethy was balmy in comparison, and I even took my buff off for a while.

I knew my time was slow and I couldn't see any point in knocking myself out. I started running a few times going up Carnethy only to draw comment from those around me. "Oh Well Done" This kind of thing always sounds sarcastic to my jaded ear, and the subtext I hear is "Stop showing off" and "I hope you die". I have to be in fighting mode to ward off this kind of dark magic and I wasn't in fighting mode yesterday. I let them have their way with me. The miserable walkers.

As I eventually dropped down (screaming and windmilling - but not going very fast) from Carnethy, a marshal told me that Peter had been looking for me...but he had given up. Nice.
I had thought I was at least faster than last year (which was a PW by some stretch) - but when I checked up on this at home I found out that I was even slower by another 3 minutes. Jeezo.

My tummy had behaved itself quite well and only really started playing up a couple of hours after the mandatory Carnethy chicken pie in the school hall.

Who cares about races? Not me. It was very good to catch up with Michael G and also our friends from Cumbria who we have not seen in ages. They came round for a cup of tea and we chatted about all the people who had died since we'd last seen each other. I think we're reaching a certain age.

I hoped that a really good night's sleep might work to soothe my over-wrought digestive system and get things back on the path of righteousness, however, I was awoken at 5.08am by the sound of a mammal of some kind squeezing its fat furry body through the space between the outer wall and the skirting boards.I could hear the little scrabbling noises of claws. It wasn't conducive. I would have liked it to be a badger or a mole, but given that we live 3 storeys up in a tenement block my bet would really be on it being a rat. I couldn't get back to sleep anyway. So I got up even more tired and did more reading.

But it's a bright sunny day and it would have been just plain wrong to stay indoors all day - so I've been out for a wee recovery run. Despite the bright sun there was nothing much to see. I like the rather literal flower beds at the allotments at Leith Links. I don't really like the art in the window of the art shop down at the Shore but I couldn't go home without any pictures at all.

So now I better get back to....reading...and doing a research ethics application form. I might want to talk to some runners, but I can't tell you about it until I get ethical approval.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

You're my Venus

First of all a warning. This post really does contain too much information.

But don't worry. It's not some ghastly nonsense by Bananarama or some sticky valentine twaddle. The first thing I want to tell you is I got up the other morning and saw this very bright light in the sky. At first I thought it was a plane, but it didn't move. So then I set out to get a photo. Then I googled it. Apparently Venus is exceptionally bright in the morning sky this February.

The next thing is;
I wouldn't normally do a pre-race report but it's the Carnethy 5 race today and I'm exhausted already. I know I'm just a string of physical complaints these days, but, well I am. So my latest thing has been quite a few days of a dodgy tummy. For some reason my colon seems to want to fill up with fluid and fire it out. I try not to take drugs for things these days but I woke up this morning to hear, issuing from my intestines, the whole soundtrack of 'Walking with Dinosaurs'. It made me think  I need to take control of this if I can - so I've been down to Tesco's and got myself packets of Loperamide and anything else I could see that might slow this thing down...

Now I just feel tired. I've been trying to study but I can't concentrate, so I thought I'd have a bit of a blog.
Not looking forwards to standing around in a cold field with 100s of other hill runners this afternoon. Wish me luck.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Pentland's Panda

At some unknown juncture between Thursday afternoon and Thursday night I hurt my lower back. All I know is it wasn't yoga this time because I didn't do any. I sat writing things for uni for quite a long time in a cold room, so that's probably it I guess.

The weather forecast for this morning was pretty rubbish and what was going on outside the window wasn't that appealing either but I'd promised myself I'd do a Pentland's run every Saturday until the Carnethy 5 hill race. We set off, dragging our feet a bit. We aimed to be there for 9am and were there for 10.

Down in the car park it didn't seem so bad. But the higher we climbed the windier it got. I had to move gingerly, particularly at first, because I was getting twinges in my back. Downhill was worse and took more adjusting to. So times were slow. But despite the wind and occasional rain, it was actually warmer than it has been recently, and I was finding it quite nice to be out. There were periods of sunshine which lifted the whole experience from ordeal to almost enjoyable. Peter took all the photos though. I had enough on my plate just trying not to do any one foot slides and jarring my stupid back.

There were many runners out today. Some looked like they were recceing the Carnethy 5 route. Others seemed to be going further. We had no fixed agenda, as before we set out, I didn't even know if I'd be able to run. We ran Turnhouse, Carnethy and Scald Law, and then, as the rain was coming on, we headed down the side of East Kip to the Howe. I was kind of assuming we'd go back via Black Hill etc, but some carnethy 5 recciers made me remember that last week I intended to do the evil climb up Carnethy that you do in the race - but I'd backed off because of the sheer frozen fury of the wind on the tops. So I suggested this to Peter. He gave me the international signal for "Whatever!" - a shrug.

It was as if traumatic memories from previous races lay frozen in the ground and were awoken by our passing. All the many, many long marches up that hill and screwing up the courage to run for bits came back. Peter was suffering a similar hell. There's always someone sitting at the top of the green slope in the race, wrapped in lots of layers, eating something and drinking something out of a thermos, making you long for the race to be over.

The summit of Carnethy was in a filthy mood the 2nd time up. It was a head-down stomp, leaning into the side wind, feeling my face go numb, wondering how long you would actually live in this if you couldn't get out of it. We were the only people wearing shorts today.

The run down Carnethy and back over Turnhouse was rather desperate. The sky was chucking everything at us now. As we got lower, everything calmed down a bit. At the bottom of Turnhouse I got my camera out and took a picture of that fine specimen of a socky, glovey panda thing.

So next week is the Carnethy 5. Hope I have got over the sore back and not acquired any new tics or diseases by then.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

More Skies, Gulls doing counting, a beach run and poor Mr Blackbird

You missed one out!

The title says it all. Except, what was that thing on the beach? I really have to work, I can't be sitting around like this.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Hill Training on the Seat

Today I stayed lower and warmer and went up Arthur's Seat to do as much up-hilling as I could face. It is much harder inventing routes to go up than just being faced with a bloody big hill and getting over it however you can. Each of my last three runs in the Pentlands I have fallen short of what I set out to do though, so I was determined to at least push it a bit.

It was a lovely sunny day, albeit blowy and it felt a lot warmer than yesterday. Half way up the back of the crags I remembered what I used to know - that you can run up any hill if you just slow down enough. I got into my super-low gear and was really very comfortable. The sun-shine made the whole thing enjoyable and before I knew it I was having a good time. I went up the back of the crags and then down Hunter's Bog and up to the top by the well traveled main track - then I ran down onto and round Whinny Hill, and  after having a word with myself about determination, I reluctantly ran up the front of Arthur's Seat from the top loch. The low gear did the trick and it wasn't so bad - so then I ran back down to the crags side and along another path near the crags, one last long downhill into the Queen's Park and then home.

I am so pleased with myself I am this far from ordering a new pair of Mudclaws even though I don't know if I'll have a job in less than a month's time and I really shouldn't.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Omnibus Edition

Pony's hoof? No, it's my tooth.

Les Parapluies de Leith

Is it always the same gull sitting up there?

It's been a busy week. Too busy for blogging. On Monday I went to have my tooth seen to. One side of it was wobbly while the other side was not. It was broken under the filling and under the gum. It's the same tooth that I had root canal work done on 4 days before the 2011 Highland Fling, so that as others were making their way along the WHW and as whoever it was that was Royal got married, I was in the dental hospital getting some antibiotics as my face had blown up like a balloon.

I think my dentist's always felt a bit guilty about that because she said "Because you had the root canal treatment I think we can save the tooth!" I don't know why she wants to save the tooth. The half that came out was a horrible thing not unlike a small pony's hoof. She poured in a lot of amalgam. Hopefully that will be that with that tooth. It's cost me about £150 so far, and a race.

I missed my run on Monday because of the tooth shenanigans.

On Wednesday I had to be super-brave and go out in cold and rain, way early in the morning, because if I didn't go then, I wouldn't be going at all. I did it and I liked it!

Thursday I was at a cardiology appointment to see how I am a year or so after getting the ablation. Apparently I've got and have  always had an abnormal ECG. The consultant (who was the same one who did my operation, and who I like) told me he's 90% sure it's "just me", but it could be a sign of something bad they can't see, so I'm not discharged yet. I was a bit disappointed about not being out the woods but then I realised we're never truly out the woods are we? Even if we get out of one woods there's always another woods that we can happen upon and get lost in. And it's not that bad in the woods.

The weather forecast for this morning was dreadful last night. I thought I'd play it safe and not go to the Pentlands. Just make up something on Arthur's Seat where if I get too cold it's 10 minutes home to a hot drink and a shower. But then this morning the forecast had changed again, the sky was clear, the air was baltic and there was a freezing wind. It was a little intimidating but the thought of trying to invent some artificial route on Arthur's Seat that would give me sufficient hilliness just seemed exhausting. Once again I headed to the Pentlands for some bigger hills.

It was bright and sunny on the drive there but pretty soon the sky was lowering and I had a stiff and very constant wind in my face all the way up the Drove Road. Up West Kip the view was stunning and I wanted to get my camera out but the wind was desperate and was threatening moment by moment to knock me off the ridge and down the steepish slope below. I probably would have come to no harm but the loss of control entailed in suddenly being thrown down a slope didn't appeal so I fought bravely to stay upright. It was icy underfoot and  the traction wasn't good. Meantime my hands had frozen solid. Because the last few weekends have ended up feeling a bit survival-ish I had a warmer hat and warmer gloves in my rucksack, along with a jacket and windproof trousers. It didn't seem like the time to start faffing around with kit though. It seemed like the time to get the hell off the ridge. Going over East Kip my heart was gladdened to see some fast runners doing what I reckon was a Carnethy recce. The middle one was Stewart Whitlie. The one at the back could have been Gareth Green - but I couldn't be sure. The wind was pushing on my eye-balls and blurring my eye sight. And all hill runners look much the same, except for Stewart Whitlie who looks like a bear. ( :-) )

I had thought about dropping down to the Howe from East Kip as the wind was so intimidating - but then the sight of those proper runners gave me a surge of pride, so I went up Scald Law too. Coming down the other side Carnethy was in sunlight and looked quite appealing and I thought maybe I'd go up there too, but once out of the wind I found I didn't want to go back into it again. It was just so sapping trying to fight it and not get knocked over. So I headed down to the Howe and from there back down on the path to the car.

8 miles and not that many peaks. It's still not really what I'd like to be doing in preparation for the C5, but was probably better than what I would have managed running up and down Arthur's Seat and getting fed up.

Peter is off to some Master's XC  in the borders today as preparation for the Forfar Half marathon tomorrow. Meanwhile I have rather a lot of reading articles and writing things to do, which is a shame because I fancy a snooze.