Wednesday, 26 August 2015

This and that

Here's a selfie from the camera on my phone. It's not great is it?

It's been a wee while since I've blogged and I'm conscious of it. It's not just because Peter has all the best pictures. Time keeps getting away from me. I have ideas for blogging when I'm out running and then they're too difficult to explain. For instance, as a follow on to my last blog, I wanted to say that my understanding of where 'I' was when Kennedy was shot was too simplistic. What I was really looking at was 'Where were my constituent parts when Kennedy got shot?'. But the 'I' is not so simple. What is it? Where is it? Is it some cross-talk from the nervous system, that wakes up one day and becomes conscious of itself? I dunno.

Another question which occurred to me was, does your consciousness come on all at once, like the Christmas lights, or does it grow gradually until one day it reaches a kind of critical intensity and taps you on the shoulder and says 'I exist'?

Other thinkers have said, "I am what I am, I am my own special creation." See below

"Uh, thanks for the philosophy lesson."
"Uh, you're welcome. Have a nice day."

That was thought no.1.

Thought no.2 was on a different tack. For some time now I've been kind of falling out with running. Well it fell out with me first. All that heart business. And I did my best to stay with the running and then after I was supposedly fixed I was still crap and I didn't know why. And then there's the thorny question of how I developed a heart problem in the first place. Did you do that to me running? Did you? Well. did you? Hmmm?

Running says "Don't blame me. Nobody asked you to get so damned excessive about it." And the thing is, there's nothing like running. Even today, I have a cold, a real streamer and I hardly slept all night. It's raining and I feel tired and hot and dull but the thought of getting out for a trot and a bit of air was too tempting. "I won't run hard" I promised my cold, which was saying "Errr, are you really going out running in the rain when you've got me?" "It'll probably be good for you" I equivocated. What I really meant was "Get out the way, I'm going out for a run if it kills me."
And it was delicious getting outside. So lovely and cool. I wore a rain jacket but fortunately had the sense to wear a vest underneath because, as I suspected might happen, the sun came out and suddenly it was roasting.

So I really can't fall out with running, but to keep it in its place, I've decided to call it 'cardio' when it's getting above itself. That's what the weight lifters do. They regard it as secondary to piling on muscles and only do a very little of it.

So I'm glad we've had this talk and cleared the air.

In sportsland, I have tried very hard to improve my swimming over the last two months and the thorny test of it will be in a little over a week at the Craggy Island Triathlon. I hoped to swim a lot this week just to get some endurance in these here arms and lungs but fate had other plans. It's often the way. I went to the pool on Monday but if I went today I think I would drown.

See you again some time. Maybe after the weekend.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Show me the face you had when Kennedy got shot

Two very similar days activity-wise. We drove to Gullane. We ran 6 miles and then we went for a swim. Then we went to Tescos and then we went home. On yesterday's swim I got stung by a giant jellyfish. I am hoping to develop a jelly-type superpower as a result. Maybe even if I could get in and out of my wetsuit a bit quicker that would do....I didn't sleep so well the first half of the night as there was odd electrical activity in my arms and legs. The second half of the night I slept deeply.

Today's activity was augmented by having Amanda along. Peter and Amanda took off on the swim and I held back a bit. Yesterday's sea was right in tight to the shore and choppy, but today the sea was smooth and the tide was a long way out. I found myself out of my depth so headed for shore, and then found myself in water so shallow that my knees were nearly dragging, despite being some distance from shore. We swam most of the length of the bay, which was plenty.

On the way back in the car Peter and I were both tired. The conversation was constantly interrupted by neither of us being able to remember the name for anything.
"What was the name of that film?"
"Which one?"
"The one where a man goes in a tank and then has primordial experiences."
"Oh yeah, that one by that director. Ken Something...."
"Ken Loach"
", Ken Livingston?"
"No! Ken... Kenneth Brannagh?"
"NO!! He's very dramatic."
"Oh Yeah, he made that film about a prostitute with 'Blue' in the title."
"China Blue?"
"yeah! And he made that other one that was about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein."
"I think that was called 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein'."
 "Was it?"
 (I've just this minute remembered it's called Gothic.)
"So what was the name of the film? Different something....I want to say Different Strokes but it's not that...."
We had to leave it.

Then another thought occurred to me. "What was I doing when Kennedy got shot?"
"I don't know. You were a sperm."
"I was a sperm AND an egg."
"Oh yeah."
Googling has since been done. Eggs last a life-time but spermatogenesis takes 74 days! So I was an egg and some form of protein that was going to get turned into a sperm eventually - or whatever the precursor for that protein was. Maybe I was a blade of grass in a field that a cow was going to eat which my dad was going to eat and turn into a sperm. I've tried hard to remember, but I can't.

So now it is Sunday night and we are rocketing into another week.
Confident isn't a word I want to use in the same sentence as swimming, but I am now fairly confident that I can do a 550m sea swim all in one go. It's neither quick nor easy though.
Here's wishing you all a good week.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Haddington Half Marathon 2015 - a race report of two halves

It's such a long drum roll to the start of the race I thought I might write my report this morning and get it out the way. I'd write something like this. Aileen hared off but I caught her at about 9 miles. She'd decided to ease up to preserve her ropey hamstring. I gave her a pat on the back and stormed home to victory. 10 points! Ya beauty. Don't get me wrong, this wasn't what I thought would happen. It was just one plausible sketch. A likelier scenario was that Aileen would hare off at the start. I'd stay behind her all the way but not be all that far behind at the end. Just a couple of minutes or so.

So how did it play out?

Well, us super-vet ladies had a warm up. We were all quite stiff. That was reassuring for me. Thursday and Friday are my longest days at work and I spend quite a lot of time sitting down and Saturdays I'm always creaky, at least to start with. There was the usual too long waiting for the race to start and we were off in the afternoon heat. My mouth was dry as the Sahara and my throat felt dusty. My first mile was sub-8 because it was  mostly downhill but then I slowed down a good bit. My legs were stiff and I wasn't loving it but it was okay. After 4 and a half miles and the first water, however, my tummy started to cramp. At first it was just a minor irritation but it grew and grew in intensity.

Aileen was long gone ahead and at about 7 or 8 miles? (Not really sure) Anne Rutherford came past too, relegating me to 3rd in the Porty Super-Vet ladies race with-in a race for championship points. I couldn't do much about it, so I just had to accept it. Well to celebrate, actually, I accidentally self-harmed and put one arm in a very thorny bush that I never even saw. I only know because I saw the thorns and the blood afterwards.

At Bolton (For a minute when I saw Bolton I thought we were coming into Haddington and I was so relieved. I've come across races that were short, but never that short) my tummy gave me some decisive and unmistakeable signals. I broke out in a cold sweat and slowed to a walk. At the end of the road there was a convenient place where you could go behind some bushes for some privacy. It was nice and peaceful in the field. I'm sorry to say I had to sacrifice my favourite pants to this endeavour. I know I know, TMI. It was the navy ones. I KNOW, they were nice pants. There is a little corner of that field which will be forever mypantsland.

After this there didn't seem to be much of a hurry, really. I'd "run" a 14 minute mile. It's nice and quiet that far back in the field, for those of you who don't know, and I could hear the wind swooshing in the crops. I saw a hedgeful full of lovely little birds too, and I wished I had a camera. Sadly, my tummy had not quite given over with its complaining for the day and I had to be a bit careful. I had no more pants to sacrifice.

When I finally got over the line in 2hrs04mins there were some people still left out there. I tried to be cheerful about it. I wasn't looking forwards to Peter's "What happened???"
I saw Aileen and Anne and then there came Peter and a plate of cakes. "What happened???" he blurted out. He assumed I'd been rescuing someone, but had in fact been rescuing myself. I found the thought of cakes peculiarly off-putting but needed something to eat so I had a burger. An odd choice I know. And I was hoping it would be salty but it wasn't.

We'd been planning to go for a swim after but I still felt a bit iffy and in the end decided not to. It was just as well as my tummy had not yet finished its shenanigans. There were a couple more episodes. I don't know what was up. One possibility is I've developed a near obsessional love of the Co-ops baby gherkins and ate two jars of them over the past two days for lunch. Maybe it was the heat. I feel fine now, although a little delicate and I am 2 lbs lighter than I was this morning.

Anyway, I have just been remembering that Haddington Half was the reason I joined PRC. The reason being, the first time I ran it, the PRC ladies won the team prize and my time had been faster than the third counting lady. Realising I'd diddled myself out of a bottle of wine I signed up. Not the most noble of reasons, I'll give you that. Peter had been at me to do it for ages. Obviously when I joined the club there were all kinds of other benefits like the lovely people and pounding the prom... :-)

Okay, I'm off to do something else. Goodbye!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Donkey Brae 2015

Group shot nicked off fb from Robbie Yates...ta

It was Donkey Brae race at Aberdour Festival today. Being a Porty club championship race, there was quite a club turnout. I've just had a good google and I reckon there were only 3 ladies over 45, so I don't mind Shery and Aileen beating me. 8 points in the bank. In any club championships there are stars and grafters. The grafters are the unsung heroes, making sure to turn out, come rain or shine, when other people are injured or on holiday :-).

Aileen gave me a lift there and back and it was good to relax and not worry about whether my brakes would work or not. We had a chat about running, running times, running injuries, mental adjustments, retirement and Venice. The journey flew past.

Fiona W was with us on the way out but opted to stay in the park to sample the beers for a bit longer, rather than return too soon.

The race? Oh yeah, the race. Ahem. It was alright you know. Well fairly hard. I was keeping in the best mood I could, running along, feeling a bit challenged. My worst bit was running through the houses. I got caught in a father daughter thing with the father coaching the daughter and telling her every detail of the route. I didn't want to know any details about the route and was trying to drown him out with an internal "La la la, I'm not listening." For a while, running up the hill, the daughter had dropped back and the dad, looking over his shoulder, found out he had actually been coaching me for the last minute or two. That was almost funny.

But then he dropped back and the monologue continued. "It's just two miles from here and only one more hill." "Leave her alone, you'll put her off running for life." I thought. But then she chimed in "How many more hills are there?"  Oh for God's Sake. I ran away from them ill-advisedly hard up a hill, just to get some space. I think they maybe overtook me back. It's bad enough living with my own thoughts without having to listen to other people's too.

I'd love to tell you that I loved the race - and I think it was a good route - but I didn't love the race. I was glad when the race was over.

It was a nice finish and they did that thing where they read your name out as you cross the line. The crowd were on their feet roaring. Well, actually not. Monica Flanagan was lying on her back, enjoying the sunshine and lazily said "Well done Mary."
I got a bottle of water and a green banana and a medal. I got stuck into my green banana right away. It had been a long time since breakfast.

We milled around for quite a long while after that. They were having some trouble with the results. I went up to the school to get my bag and had the horrible realisation that it was all locked up and my bag was in there with my front door keys, credit card and phone. Oh Holy Shit. I rattled the door hoping someone might be left in the building and come and let me in, but nobody came.  After a while I realised that I was at the back of the school and that the entrance I'd used before was further up the road.  So I went there instead and gained easy access through the open door.

Fast forward, I was back in the field. There was some music from the 70s playing. Steve Crane and I were comparing notes on terrible concerts we'd been to at Knebworth. Did I ever tell you I went to see Deep Purple make a come-back at Knebworth in 1985 or so? Willie Jarvie was there too. I wouldn't like to think that he was one of the people peeing in a bottle and throwing it at the stage. I just went because I had a free ticket. It was an awful experience and it rained all day and all night and the buses got stuck and couldn't get out the parking area. Steve had had a similar experience in the late 70s.

There was an announcement that Cilla Black had died. Surprise, surprise. Apparently there were no suspicious circumstances. A lot of people seem to have been dying when there have been no suspicious circumstances lately. Hmmm, seems a bit fishy to me.

Well, you know, that's it. I was glad to make it in under the hour. The race was won by a couple of unknowns called Charlotte Morgan and Robert Gilroy. I'd be pushed to get my bike round in the times they did.

And next up is the Haddington Half Marathon. I'm going to have to work very hard to put a positive mental spin on that. Maybe I could try being glad I'm not in prison or something.

If you came to this site hoping to get a sense of the race route, my apologies.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Double Death

My car has been in the garage all week. Its brake failure was a bit of a mystery. First of all they thought that my new Master Cylinder must be faulty so they put in another one. Kenny took it out for a test run and...same thing...sudden failure. "you must have shat yourself" he said to me on the phone. He didn't realise that ladies never shit themselves - they merely perspire...There must be air in the system - but they couldn't figure out how there could be air in the system. Damned if I know. It's not something my brain can think about. I don't know enough about the systems involved. Anyway, they bled and bled the brakes apparently. It worked in the middle-ages for all kinds of illnesses so perhaps it could work for my brakes.

So I got the car back yesterday. Kenny had kept it for an extra day and taken it out on every small trip he had to take, just to test the thing. There was no reason to distrust it, except, nobody knew why it had had rogue air in the system in the first place.

I was uneasy taking it out - or I was and I wasn't. Sitting in the cock-pit of the Berlingo, I actually feel safe. We have flown many hours together. But...but...what if I suddenly didn't have brakes again? I took it the slow way, along the coast, to Gullane, knowing that I would have to try my brakes over and over and over if I did this. It's amazing how many people walk right out in front of you. I hadn't really noticed before. Generally they push their baby buggies out first, to test the water presumably, and then step out themselves.

I drove slowly and cautiously, conscious that the people trapped behind me were probably pouring out the same stream of frustrated sweary words that I do when I get stuck behind someone a bit slow. Still I wasn't taking any chances.

And there were no mishaps. None at all. But once the trust has long does it take to come back? Give it time. Fellow Porty  Aileen is giving me a lift to Donkey Brae tomorrow which is just perfect. It'll be a while before I feel like giving anyone a lift. Anyway, that was death no.1. I was anxious before taking the car out today.  I knew it was going to be okay but what if it wasn't? I've got a mind like that. "What if this is my last bowl of porridge?" I thought this morning. "Good-bye flat" I thought, "Good-bye dust. Good-bye pile o' dishes."

Death no.2 was going for a sea swim on my own. Buchanan is on day 4 of the Tour of Fife and is over the water with a merry band of Porties and honorary Porty, Nick from Dunbar. I'm on about 5 weeks and counting until the Craggy Island Triathlon and its sea swim out to Kerrera. The urge to improve at swimming and be able to cover some distance reliably is increasing in urgency. I've been going for two pool swims a week and then an open water swim at the weekend. I think I was a wee bit better this week, but there's plenty room for improvement. I've swum in the sea on my own quite a bit and Gullane is great for being shallow, but I was a bit nervous. I'm used to having Peter there swimming too. There was a brisk west wind blowing and I made pretty good headway going west. Swimming the other way was a whole other story. What if the wind or the tide is against us on the swim to Kerrera? It makes all the difference in the world.

Back in the winter, I read a thread on the Open Water Swimming facebook page that I found really  interesting. It was about people's fear of the water. This woman was linking their fears of what might happen in the water to fears in other areas of their lives. So this one woman who was afraid she might get dragged under by something realised that that was how she was feeling in her work-life too. It was a generalised fear. I had a laugh at Peter because he seemed to think that sharks could be a problem in the Forth. "You just don't know what might come up from underneath!" That doesn't bother me - but getting swept out to sea and not being able to do anything about it...that bothers me.

I've had a week off work this week and I fondly thought I might be going trips in the van in the sun-shine. There hasn't been much sunshine though, and I haven't had the van. So I've been running and swimming locally and reading a book called 'The New Black - Mourning and Melancholia' by Darian Leader. It's pretty interesting albeit quite abstruse in places. Did you know that Edgar Allan Poe's mother died when he was three and he and his baby sister were left over night in the house with her until a family friend found them the next day? Poor old Poe. No wonder he spewed out horror his whole life and then died of the drink.

Well I've survived my day of double death, so I best attend to the know, have a shower and all that, maybe do some dishes, maybe cook the tea, get myself ready for Donkey Brae tomorrow.