Saturday, 28 February 2015

Long, Bad Saturday

Disclaimer: The puddle just below me is nothing to do with me.

Today's fun and laughter was to be 19 miles of running. Peter had run out of races for this weekend and thought he'd come along too since he could think of nothing more inspiring. What my plan lacked in imagination it made up for in simplicity. We got a train to Musselburgh, and ran down the coast to North Berwick with the wind behind us.

It didn't take long for us both to realise we were both pretty tired from the week. Several sense of humour failures resulted in short-lived spats. What was wrong with this week? Well really we have to lay the blame at our friend Ben's door. We thought he had flu but it turns out maybe he had blood poisoning and by the time he came to the attention of the medical establishment he had pneumonia. One lung had stopped working and he was in the ICU. We were both amazed to get a text from his wife Alison on Sunday telling us this. We pretty quickly decided that nothing could happen to Ben. He (and Alison) have climbed the old man of Hoy. He ran the London marathon in 2006 with a broken wrist. We supported him to run the WHW in 2013 off the back of not enough training and he stormed it in 19 hrs and 16 or so minutes.

So we were thinking maybe we could visit him on Monday and then we got a horrible text saying he had to go on a ventilator, it was life-threatening and the next 24 hours would be crucial. Jesus. Him and Alison have two little boys. That stopped us in our tracks. And there was nothing to do but wait. I don't think I slept properly on Monday and Tuesday night because I was busy keeping Ben alive. One day he'll thank me. I didn't sleep on Wednesday night either. The news on Wednesday was miserable but less frightening. He was still with us, his chemistry was looking a bit better. He had a lung drained and it was functioning better. He was not conscious; sedated to stop his diaphragm fighting the machine I think.

So that's about where he is now. Improving a little bit. Still not conscious.

And it was spitting a little bit on our run. Very sombre and grey. I had a lie down in the strange little woods before Aberlady and at Aberlady we had an extended stop for coffee and chocolate (they've got a new and much improved coffee machine at the Londis!). This was good, but getting going again was a bit of a nightmare. After Gullane or so maybe the caffeine kicked in and the miles were a bit quicker, although still a struggle all the way to North Berwick.

At North Berwick we called in to see how Alison was. Remarkable calm reigned in her home. Ben's folks were there and were helping. The boys were making a shoe shop out of old shoes. We promised ourselves we'd have a party one day with Ben back.

On the train Peter and I had a discussion about where Ben is now. Peter thought he was on a life-raft on his own at sea and he needed a lighthouse to get him to shore. I thought he was having a rest on the life-raft and when he's ready he'll float into shore where we will be ready with a barbecue and a beer or two to welcome him back.

And then we got  home and I ate so much my stomach hurts. And I think I'm going for a sleep on the sofa.

Sunday, 22 February 2015


The weather forecast for today wasn't nice. It looked best round about sun-rise at 7.21am. I did suggest to Peter that maybe what we should do was go for a run in the dark and then be in the water for sun up. It was a lovely pink sky this morning but we weren't in the sea for it.

I started waking Peter up at 8.15 with a cup of tea because it was going to be dry in the morning and then get nasty. But it was still somber and grey and neither of us really wanted to get moving. I don't know what time we finally left the house but it had started to rain. We went a run in the rain and mucked about on the way - stopping to do bad planking, headstands on the beach and make shell patterns. Eventually we arrived back at the car and it was time to go in the water.

Just no putting it off any more! Once we were in it was - well Baltic, but quite nice. It was nearly 3pm by the time we were back in the car, dressed. How did that happen? We were starving. Peter raided the local Co-op (rather than go in the Gullane Superfry) and we stuffed ourselves with oatcakes and cheese and olives with the heater in the car on full blast. And now it's...Good God is that the time? Need to rinse out wet suits and get the tea on and all that...

Better go.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Lovely Lammermuirs

Peter was off to do some longish Carnethy thing today. I've had some annual leave this week. As a result I've run more than usual, and I knew 12 miles would take me over the 50 mile mark. Looking back I don't think I've run a 50 mile week since last March.

As often happens, I've only really got into my holiday stride in the latter part of the week and now I am sick that I have to go back. Not because I don't like work, but that I've thought of lots of other things I could be doing. I didn't fancy any of my usual 12ish mile runs so I thought I might venture  further and go into the Lammermuirs.

Going there makes me a bit nervous. One thing is that I'm shamefully afraid of cattle and sometimes they're out, grazing on the path. Another more ineffable reason is that I find the Lammermuirs kind of eerie. I've been on about this before. It is well-tended to and yet nobody is there. And there are traps everywhere. The long straight roads and wide panorama make you feel like it doesn't matter how fast you run you never get anywhere very quickly. If something happened to be tracking you, you wouldn't stand a chance. It makes me a bit paranoid.

Damn it's a hilly route. Looking back on Garmin Connect I haven't been out there since 2013. I'd forgotten how unremitting the hills are. You just have to settle back into tractor pace and take your time. I stopped half way up the first two miles of hill to take a photo and discovered my battery was nearly flat so I had to go very easy on the photos. It was a shame. I saw an arctic hare and lots of bird life. Maybe I could have captured some of it with the camera. On the other hand, maybe not. The hare wasn't hanging around.

I went wrong twice. I wondered if I would still know which way to go and the answer was no. I set off down a path which seemed to be veering the wrong way and belatedly realised that I was heading for the reservoir. Reluctantly I set off back up the hill again! Then I took another wrong path. It looked too green to be the right one and I soon turned back again. Finally I came to the right one to head off up to the windmills. It was steeper than I remembered too. I thought there was a flattish bit before it dives down steeply to a little wooden hut. I didn't find a flattish bit today. The climb back up from the hut is hellish. But kind of good.

All my detours were adding on the miles and I thought I wouldn't go all the way to the windmills as I wasn't in the mood for an epic run. I turned around at 7 miles and headed back.

On the way back the wind was behind me and there was, on average, more downhill than up, which was good, because my legs were shot.

Beautiful sunny day though, and nice to get up high. I'm not really looking forwards to my sea swim tomorrow. The weather says teeming rain and 50mph gusts.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Carnethy Spectate, Conundrum XC, Sunday Swim and a Monday Long Run

Hmmm, snappy title!

Saturday dawned and I'd, rather wisely I thought, decided not to run the Carnethy 5 Hill Race this year. I chose instead to have my first run up in the hills in ages and take the camera and get some pictures of people coming off of Scald Law and then Carnethy.

It was very misty at the tops and  other photographers got nice clear clag-free shots. I wonder if maybe I should have been more flexible in my plan and stayed a bit lower. But it's authentic having hill runners burst out of the mist. Here are a few shots.

I ran 8.5 miles and chatted to a few dads. That seemed to be the theme of the day. First of all I met Mark Johnston who was with his daughter while Tracey was off for a run in the hills. Then, at the top of Carnethy I met Jonny Clark who has been struggling (sports-wise) these past few years with illness and injury. Back down at the Howe I met ex-Porty James Harrison. I asked him if he was still doing triathlons. (He was in the world triathlon championships a few years back.) He snorted and said he was a dad of three now. He's still running though and will be at the National XC at Callendar Park next week.

That was the most hill running I had done in quite some while and I knew my legs would be a little tight for the XC the next day...

Sunday came and we were off to Conundrum. Yes a place called Conundrum. Get over it. I wish I could. You see there's a joke in there but I can't quite get it out. It was well over an hours drive down into England-shire. Mike Lynch was along with us for the ride and was coming for his "maiden voyage" in the sea at Gullane later. The sun came out and I was beginning to think that everything was beautiful, but then it got all misty and it was mostly grey and cold for the XC.

I haven't got any pictures, I'm sure Peter will come up with some later. Notable on the course were some llamas and a vast estate of pig houses. It would have been nicer if they'd had little gardens. I was a bit scared they would chase me. And eat me. Haven't you read that Thomas Harris novel Hannibal? It helped me keep going when I wanted to stop. Come on, the pigs'll get you. They're coming for you!

I managed to keep pushing hardish all the way round, although it started to feel a bit desperate in the last few ups and downs to the finish. At the finish I had some kind of deep abdominal cramping pain going on. I have no idea which organ was implicated in this! I had a nice chat with Brian Davidson though, which took my mind off it.

After getting warm and getting some spicy parsnip soup and a roll and catching up with Peter and Mike, things started to smooth out again. Everyone who completed the series got a classy black buff, and Peter won a trophy clock, a clocky trophy....a...something! for being 1st over 50. He's awful proud of it.

Jeezo. Then it was time to be thinking about swimming. I wasn't feeling like it.
Mike took this picture of me and Peter crossing the road. I'm trying to teach him to look both ways.


So on the road back the sun came out again. Mike changed into his newly acquired wetsuit in the back. He had a few blips, finding he'd put a leg in a sleeve. I'd promised not to look so I don't know quite how this worked. When, further down the road, I chanced to look in the mirror, I saw that he'd also put on his hood and goggles. It was kind of surreal. Peter, there's a frogman in the back of the car.

At Gullane the skies had opened out. Jason Liddell of the fat bikes was also there and took some photos from the shore. The beach was silvery and the sea was calm but had regular well-formed waves rolling into shore. Occasionally it's breath-takingly beautiful at Gullane and yesterday was one of those occasions. Some kind of beginner's luck attaching to Mike I think. The sea is up to 5 degrees, which isn't warm, it's fridge temperature, but it was less severe than it has been. We had fun. A lot of floating about on our backs. Mike seemed to get suspended in a wave like a cling peach in jelly.

Photos from the waterproof camera. The next three photos are Jason Liddell's.

So today I wanted to do a longer run. Or maybe I could do it tomorrow. But I didn't want to put it off. But my quads were like bricks! So maybe if I went a flat run I wouldn't have to use my quads. So I went a long run.
I am proud to say I went out for 17.2 miles. There was a west wind and so I had to slog into the wind for 8 miles on the way back. It helped that the sun came out and there were all kind of things happening along the Portobello Prom to take my mind off my legs, including a young guy doing some kind of high tumbles on the sand.

Well that was a blogathon. Real life is catching up. My legs have stiffened into the shape of the chair. There's nothing for tea. I probably have to go to Tescos! I was going to start taking the wall paper off the hall today....I better get moving...