It was that difficult 2nd long run today. Last weekend I got all happy with myself and thought it would be a good idea to enter the John Muir way 50K ultra at the end of April. My reasoning being something like this - I'm bored at the thought of a long, slow build up to a marathon in July so why not have a 'short, sharp, shock' and a reason to get that mileage up smartish? Also, ever since I heard of the JMW 50K I've wanted to do it. It seems like it's practically in my backyard. Maybe it was the sunshine, or the bird-song after a long, grim, wet winter. The decision came from a place of unreasoning enthusiasm.
I knew right away when I got up this morning that it wasn't going to be easy. I did 15 last weekend so was looking for 17 miles today. But I was just tired. It's been a tiring week. When is it ever not? The sky was leaden and grey. I looked and there were no Double Deckers in the ultra box. Peter was off to do a 48 mile run so presumably they went with him. It's his ultra box so I have no right to complain. I stole two measly flapjack things and swallowed them down with a big mug of coffee. My morale improved by a couple of points. Yes, I did measure it on my morale-o-meter if you must know.
I've over-used the Water of Leith as a place to train and I can hardly stand it but I couldn't think of a better 17 miler to do.
So off I went.
This is Dracula's actual coffin. I would never come here after dark.
Nothing sinister about an open shallow grave filled with lime. I wonder who it's for? I picked my speed up here.
Obviously there were nice bits.
And sometimes I was just looking for an excuse to stop.
Is this so wrong? 12 miles done at the King's Theatre. I thought an almond and apricot pastry and a coffee might be good for morale...
So standing on the steps at the back of the theatre I ate pastry and realised I was standing opposite one of the first flats I ever stayed in in Edinburgh...
Let me tell you about that. There's nothing to say about the running. My feet and ankles were a bit sore from the out-set. Maybe something to do with upping the mileage too quickly. The WOL was thick with black mud. Other people seemed kind of irritating. 12 miles seemed like a long way.
I still had 5 to go. Time for a trip down memory lane.
I stayed in a flat over the Burlington Bertie for most of the summer when I was 17. I'd moved down to Edinburgh just for the sake of it and because my friends Paul and Maggie were here. Paul was at college studying photography but he never actually went.
Maggie was from California and she had spent the winter crouched over a 2 bar electric heater in my caravan in Stenness in Orkney. It was hard to know what size she was because she always had so many layers on. She had sold her car in San Francisco and was using the proceeds to try living in Scotland for a while.
I got a job in a hotel as a slave, just to make enough money to get by. I was certainly getting ripped off but I didn't care about anything. I was on a peculiar high just living in a different world from the one I had grown up in. I had to clean the rooms and got to see all the seedy things people leave lying around. I served the food and ate uneaten potato croquettes off the plates before firing them into the massive dish-washers. The other kitchen staff were bitter and unpleasant and I think they probably picked on me. I remember washing dishes and one of them telling me that if I'd seen a plate, I'd taken too long with it. It was all a big pile of whatever. I knew I was going to university at the end of the summer so I was just playing really. I never said this.
I saw another job in a jeans shop on the South Bridge which paid nearly twice as much a week so I applied for it and got it right away. I went back to my old job and said I had to stop working there because I'd been to the doctor and it turned out I had jaundice and had to go to hospital. I was hoping they'd feel sorry for me and pay me back my "lie-in week" which was a week I'd worked for no pay to start with. They said they were very sorry I had jaundice but never offered to give me the £40 I'd worked for a 40 hour week when I started there. At the time the government was paying employers £15 a week for taking on people under 18 years so they were only really paying me £25 a week. I was learning ugly things about the world, but I found it quite funny.
The Jeans shop was tedious and they played the same music all day on a loop. I remember 'Wake me up before you go go' from before George Michael was gay and 'Jump' by Van Halen. They got you to write all your sales down on a sheet and whoever made the most sales got a bonus at the end of the week. If the sales assistants get too intrusive with me in a shop I'll leave pretty quickly so it's not really in me to push too hard. The girl I worked along-side was into the whole sales thing and she did make more sales than me. We were working in a basement, down a set of stairs, so it wasn't easy for customers to retreat once they'd come down those stairs. She would follow them around badgering them until they bought something. Three weeks into the job I'd decided I was leaving the next day. I decided to give her a little whup-ass as a present before I left. I figured if I stood at a certain part of the floor I could see customers coming down the stairs before she could. So I'd be - whoosh - right across to them. And I was much, much nicer to them than she was, and I hope my customers went away with jeans they actually liked. And her thickly foundationed face was a bit crest-fallen at the end of the day when I had far out-stripped her in sales and I got a surprised congratulations from Tom the manager who was responsible for the wall-to-wall Wham! and Van Halen.
Before I finish this I have to tell you about my landlady though. Maggie and I needed to get a place quickly so we took a double room with a double bed as a temporary measure. We were paying over the odds for it which bothered Maggie more than me. As I've told you, I didn't really care about anything at the time. Maggie was a bit older and she got fed up with things. We had a neighbour, for instance, who listened to the telly with the volume up full and the window open. "Is he fuckin' deaf?" She'd explode. "People can be so fucked!" and she'd write away in her diary.
Rosalind, the landlady, was not only over-charging us but she used to trap us and talk to us. She had broken up with some guy she couldn't get over and she now never left the house in case he phoned or turned up. She kept going to mediums to find out if they'd get back together again or not. They all said they would but still he never phoned her. A friend of hers had seen him with another girl at a club somewhere and told her. "But she didn't have a pretty face" Rosalind told us. "He'll come back. Once you've gone out with someone with a pretty face you can't settle for less."
She did have a pretty face but she had a thick set of legs on her. She had done a little modelling when she was younger and had an album of photos of herself that she showed us one evening when she was waiting in for 'him' to call. The piece de resistance was one of her on roller skates with knee-pads which were cutting in a bit to her thick legs. Maggie and I held it together pretty well while we were there but then we went downstairs and cried with cruel, heartless laughter over a couple of pints of Warsteiner in Burlington Berties.
Ah now, have you run those last 5 miles yet?
Yes I have, and I've had lunch too.