Saturday, 26 March 2016

It's a long road...

I had Good/Bad/Black/Easter Friday off (I always get confused about this. Good Friday? That's a bit of an attitude isn't it?) and it looked like it was going to be sunny. I tentatively said to Peter "No promises, but I'm off on Friday and the weather looks good and I need a longer run - maybe we could go to the Lammermuirs."

I'm always a little trepidatious about saying things like this to Peter. He wields his disappointment like a heavy, black hammer...("But YOU SAID!!!!") He knows it as well. "Oh we're definitely going to the Lammermuirs on Friday?" he says, with a big smile on his face. Jeezo.

But I need to get my mileage up and the Lammermuirs is a big, fat, slice of running pie. It's remote and steep and committing and tough. I've got a 50K in less than a month and I haven't run even the marathon distance in nearly a year. That would have been...let me the marathon last year.

Oh that marathon? The one you spent 12 minutes in various Portaloos along the way?
Yes that marathon. Funnily enough I haven't felt like running very far since.

And on Friday, when I got up, after a crappish night's sleep, tired from the week, I still didn't feel like running very far.

Going running with Peter is a nightmare, really, if you're feeling at all bad about your running. I can be going eyeballs out, breakneck, hammer down, heart attack hard, and he can still be jogging along beside me, quite oblivious, telling me the things that he has seen on facebook that annoyed him; wrongs he has had to put right. Subtle and less subtle feedback doesn't really work. Setting off for the Lammermuirs on Friday I felt like a condemned (wo)man. I was really too tired. It's a walk in the park for P who has taken to doing regular 40 milers at the weekend. After a bad few years  and last year being a particularly stinky failure of a year for long running for me my confidence and morale is in bad shape.

We drove to Hope Reservoir to start - we usually start from Blinkbonny woods but more recently there has been an unfriendly sign there saying not to park. We've parked there anyway but the aura of unwelcomeness has taken the shine off. I was hoping starting at Hope Reservoir would trim the mileage in the hills, but if anything, it added to it. My survival instincts were kicking in and I knew that if I was going to survive the day I would need to mete out my energy very carefully, especially as the run starts with about 3 miles uphill.

Mile 20? Nope...about 2 miles in.

So as Peter ran hither and thither, snapping pics and shouting about the blue skies, I just kept my head down and kept on keeping on. Part of what was weighing me down was tiredness, and part of it was fear, and part of it was the Mrs Tilly's fudge in my rucksack. But that was for later....

After maybe 4 miles I was warmed up and although still really feeling too tired I was willing to speak.

Part of the deal was that when we got to Carfrae Mills, 9 miles in, I was going to get a big round piece of shortbread and a large coffee.

I know, I'm sounding like bloody hard work. And I was! But then it was! And quite honestly Peter is!
So we might as well all knuckle down.

Carfrae Mills cheered me up. They didn't have mugs of coffee but they did do top ups, so two biggish cups of coffee and  pieces of shortbread the size of saucers later, we were having more fun and giggling. Running along the road to get back on the path through the hills is always quite frightening. It's a narrow road but a fast one and there's really nowhere for pedestrians to go - and the side of the road is littered with skulls and bones to emphasise the point, as if it weren't fairly obvious, that it's not safe there.
We got round the corner and relaxed a bit and shared a stoat's bar. I was hoping it wasn't going to be yet another run where I somehow end up eating more calories than I actually burn while I'm out. Spirits were higher. I often take to singing loudly when we're out running and I want to feel better and, well yes it kind of is a way of torturing Peter too. I tackled 'Poor Leno' by Royksopp - which has quite a challenging vocal harmony.

What I was coming out with wasn't even close. Especially in the upper reaches. My tonsils were a bit sore and all I could muster on the higher notes was kind of a screech. And I didn't really know the words either so I was making them up. A heady mix, you'll agree. Peter ran off down the road a bit.
I'm particularly good at singing because I sing the instrumental bits as well. I'm available for weddings and events.


The second half of this run is the better half. It always feels slow but it's only looking closely at the elevation on Strava that I realise, for the first time, that it's pretty steadily uphill all the way. It's a valley so somehow it doesn't look uphill. Well not to me.
There were a few challenging stream crossings for tired legs and big Hoka feet. Peter was watching me very closely with the camera. I think he's hoping for that £250 film clip for 'You've been framed' of me toppling into the river. He says not though. He says they don't take stills. He's clearly looked into it.

At Bunny's Bothy behind me there I had oatcakes and Mrs Tilly's fudge and had a bit of a revival.

At some point over the years I made a rule for myself which is fairly arbitrary but it serves me well so I keep it. It is this. If your legs are hurting after running 15 miles that's fair enough because 15 miles is quite a long way to run....

I found my legs being a bit sore at 9 miles worrying and at 13 miles quite dispiriting, because in my head "13 miles isn't that far." But when they were creaking a bit after 15 miles that was fair-dos and to be expected.

The last few miles over the hills were pretty tiring. The wind blew up quite strongly, although happily it was behind us a lot of the time. I was much happier and relaxed inside though. It was getting to be late afternoon and the light was fine and we were tired but we were going to make it. I knew for a fact that the last 3 miles were pretty much downhill - actually too steep to run fast on sore feet - but also fairly effortless.

I even got my own camera out for the first time on the trip. We trundled into the car park quite happy with ourselves at 21.75 miles. 4 hrs 15 mins of 'moving time'.

That can count as 22 miles I think. Next weekend I should probably be running the marathon distance. A week to think of somewhere nice to go.

No comments: