Monday, 4 April 2016

Dunbar to Aberlady Marathon Distance Run

There's a belief in writing circles that if you constrain your writing in one domain it can improve it in others - hence Haiku, iambic pentameter...erm...the short story.
Today I have to write my blog in 25 minutes because I'm dyeing my hair and that's how long the dye needs to stay on. And if I leave it on too long I will end up looking like John Cooper Clarke again.

Peter has all the best photos from our run yesterday and is working his way through them as it drizzles on and on outside.
I had my waterproof camera along which is nice and light, but it can't see much at a distance, so my photos are kind of crap.

Anyway, as my most dedicated readers will be aware, I'm upping my long run distance sharply with a view to doing the JMW 50K towards the end of the month. After last week's nearly 22 miler I thought the next one should be the marathon distance. I remembered that back in the days when I was training for ultras I had run from Dunbar Station to Aberlady one day and that had been marathon distance. I checked Sunday's weather forecast and it was going to be reasonably dry and what wind there was was easterly, so it seemed like a good plan. It was a bonus a little disappointing to see that the first train to Dunbar wasn't until 11.05am. Practically lunch time! But as Billy Bragg says, you have to take the crunchy with the smooth.

Buchanan signed up to come along too. He was somewhat tired and a bit stressed on the day, which I found surprising. It was kind of a long run for me on so little training, but it was surely a walk in the park for him? But then I got some insight into what the matter was.
Don't judge us but we got kind of into a film I can only describe as dumb-ass, starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock called The Heat the night before.  To be fair to the girls it's as tight a buddy movie as I have seen, and they play it very well. You have to be in the mood for Melissa McCarthy's under-played, nuanced style. It was hitting the spot on Saturday night anyway and there we were guffawing on the couch when I noticed it was 9pm and time for me to be going to bed.

Peter's bottom lip stretched out because he wanted to see the rest of the film, but we saved it (it was taped, or whatever, digi-recorded) for another night. He was telling me as we ran down the road in Dunbar towards the sea and the lamas, that there had been another Melissa McCarthy film on the night before, after I went to bed.  But this one was really dreadful. I assumed he'd maybe just watched 10 minutes of it, but he told me how even the end really wasn't any good. Turned out he'd stayed up until 1am watching the whole thing.

Oh Jeez, I only have another 4 minutes. I can't do it. I'll be back.


I'm going to have to revise my writing plan. I've realised that the best writers don't just impose a structure that bears no relationship to the subject matter. The structure should echo the subject matter - so one short terse haiku was just right for Nick Williamson's hamstring injury.
And this just has to be long and rambling. A trip over rough ground.


I'm wondering why I feel a bit guilty about finding Melissa McCarthy so funny the other night. Back in the 70s, when I was growing up, it was fine to watch things you didn't really approve of on the telly and enjoy them. It was called escapism. It was perfectly okay to watch Miss World stand in a swimming costume in front of a panel of nylon-trousered, drooling old men and explain how she wanted there to be world peace or for all the children to have enough to eat while they eyed up her lady chests.


Anyway....oh my God we've not even got as far as the lamas yet. And I have things to do.

Yeah, so, the very best thing about yesterday was that the day before we went for a run and my achilles tendons were a bit sore the whole way round. I've had quite bad achilles tendinitis before and found that what can be really helpful is to give them a good, deep massage right where it hurts. I have no idea why this should be so, and I gather you have to be careful with achilles tendons in case they rupture altogether, but it's worked for me in the past. So when I got home I rolled and rolled my achilles with the magic massage stick and also got right into the lower, outer part of my calves which were also sore. It worked some kind of magic because I didn't have any problems at all yesterday and I'm still fine today.

It's quite a long time since I've been on the JMW from Dunbar to North Berwick and I'd forgotten a lot of it. The first part, to East Linton, was really delightful. I'd forgotten about the distinctive pines down at the beach and the watery bay and the bridge to nowhere. Nature was looking a bit more bountiful than it does in Edinburgh. The daffodils were bigger and yellower and smelled more strongly. There were more catkins on the willows beside the river and there were more flowers on the flowering current bushes. No sun had been promised by the weather forecast but it broke through from time to time and transformed everything. We were in high spirits as we cruised into East Linton at around the 7.5 mile mark. In true ultra style we went to the Coop and got something to eat. We had Stockan's oatcakes and slices of gouda cheese followed by Mrs Tilly's orange fudge. I don't eat much sugar and find the moreishness of this fudge quite alarming.

At East Linton - as fine an example of this kind of garden art as I have seen!

The next part of the journey. I don't know. I was just a bit off. I felt tired. Peter's chat was all a bit much. The stink at stink farm was excruciatingly bad. The east wind tricked us into thinking they weren't doing whatever they do - brewing up vats of fish-heads or something - and then the stink hit. We ran past, holding our breaths.
Then there are all these paths past houses which I don't like because I'm always waiting to be chased by a dog - which never happened. There's a good bit through the woods and then some annoying right angles around the edge of fields when you can see North Berwick Law straight ahead. It was a bit daunting that we were both feeling exhausted despite the fact we were both running really, really slowly and we'd only covered 13 miles.

We dropped down into town and went to a cafe and I had a big bowl of coffee and a chocolate brownie and Peter had beans on toast. This is the very abridged version of all that happened there.

Getting started again at North Berwick along the beach, then, was very hard indeed. My intestines were protesting about me running straight after eating and I had to stop every 10th of a mile for the first mile or so. Happily the sun came out, which made it at least nice to stare out to sea. I knew that if I could just stay relaxed this would pass and I'd be able to run again...which is what happened. And the second part of the run got better and better. There was sunshine for a good hour or so and the light was really lovely. We both got lost in our own thoughts and ran along sometimes together and sometimes not, not saying much, but enjoying it all. Peter was snapping lots of photos and I felt compelled at one point, as a beautiful, golden, hazy, light was shining through the trees and onto the dunes at Yellowcraigs, to get my camera out,even though I knew it wouldn't really capture it.
The sky clouded over more after that. There was some magical light in the distance, over the sea and over Arthur's Seat and the Pentlands, but it was all much more distant, whereas for a while we were bathed in it.

At Gullane someone was waving out a van window and shouting, "Mary and Peter! Mary and Peter!"
It turned out to be our friend Caroline  Clark. Jonny was going in to the sea to get in some early swim training for the Celtman later in the year. Caroline was on mum duty. I don't think I'd seen any of them since meeting Jonny on the Carnethy course two years ago. We were nearing our goal so pressed on. We had half a plan to have a pint when we got to Aberlady, but it didn't seem so appealing now it was evening and a lot cooler. As we were getting nearer I was realising the numbers weren't adding up and that it was probably 25 miles to Aberlady and that I'd probably added in the 1 mile up to the train to make it Marathon distance last time I'd done it.

It didn't seem that important. When we got there, we checked we weren't going to miss a bus and then ran up to the top of the hill and back again taking our distance up to 24.8 for the Dunbar to Aberlady stretch. With the extra mile added in that was 25.8, so as long as we ran more than 0.4 of a mile down the road from the bus to home we would make it.

We dubbed the bus driver Mr Generous when we handed over £7.60 for 2 singles to Edinburgh from Aberlady and then noticed the sign that said an all day anywhere ticket costs £3.50. We were paying an extra 60p for what? The hell with it. The sky gave a last few blushes as the sun went down behind the kingdom of Fife in the distance.

That was a long story.

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