Saturday, 28 May 2016

New 20 miler; Innocent Railway to Hailesland to Musselburgh to Cramond Brig Inn

Another weekend, another 20 miler. Peter and I were having very different views about what we needed to do. His plans are too epic for me. Too epic and too late in the weekend and the day. I want something mundane and nearby and early so I can do other stuff. The week has taken the stuffing out of me. We reach an impasse. I formulate a plan....well I say I...but it kind of comes to me. I have a secret genius for dreaming up routes. Well I think it's genius. And that's all that matters.
I think of a longish and greenish way to get to Musselburgh and then plan to run eastwards along the Forth, as far as I need to go. I think it'll be about the Cramond Brig Inn for 20 miles, but I'm not sure.

The route starts off going round the side of Arthur's Seat. I am lucky with my timing. I had forgotten about the "EMF". Not the electromagnetic field but the "Edinburgh Marathon Festival", which today had a 10K, a 5K and some kiddies' races. The 10K has been by the time I get to the seat, and the 5K has been delayed, or I might have had a long wait to cross the road. I have the questionable benefit of large speakers playing disco music to me (yeah I know, not disco music, but I don't know what it's called. It was sleazy, pleading pop. What do you young uns call that?) all the way up the road. I'm tempted to use the Portaloos because they're there. Just like Mallory. But I don't. Instead I cut down the Innocent Railway Path.

My plan is to carry on along the no.1 cycle route as far as Brunstane. As soon as you cross the road from the Innocent Railway Path you are heading towards Niddrie, and it's not always a good experience. I used to cycle to work this way every day, back in the day, and I used to dread this stretch. My bike was a never maintained brown Raleigh bike with 3 Sturmey Archer gears. I never pedalled very fast because I never wanted to get to work. I spent a year out at Kinnaird Park sorting soil samples for archaeology. "Exciting" you say. Oh yes it was. What I did was sit on a stool in a lab and pick all the charcoal, bones and insect pieces out of soil samples, bag them, weigh them and label them. Call it a gap year if you like. I did go on to do a Masters the year after that but I didn't know that was going to happen at the time. The thing was, I was lost, and Thatcher's actions had precluded a career down the mines, and at least it paid the rent.

I was only joking when I said it was exciting. But I took a perverse pride in staying focused and doing it right no matter what. A big, gay friend of mine who I used to go out drinking with came and worked alongside me for a while. He made focusing more difficult. He used to bemoan the lack of romance in his life, quite loud enough for everyone to hear. "The thing is Mary." he used to say "You don't really know someone loves you unless you feel that sperm up your back."
Those were the days.

Anyway, I was meaning to tell you about that stretch of cycle path past Niddrie. It used to be one of these places where mattresses, burnt out cars and three legged dogs with bad tempers all accumulate. The river was full of shopping trolleys. The children were frankly frightening.
I saw very little of that today. The river was running clear. There were no burned out cars. There were no children. Has Niddrie been up-cycled?

Anyway. I knew there was a flight of stairs over a railway line and then nearby there was a path you could take through a field that took you down to Musselburgh, and that's where I was intending to go. However, right across the road from the stairs over the railway there was a new (to me) path called the Brunstane Burn path. I figured it was worth a try and it was a delight. A nice shady path which took me down to a junction. I knew I was near Musselburgh but I decided to take the right hand fork to Newhailes to see what that turned out to be. It turned out to be lovely running on grassy paths and through the woods past some grand old house in need of repair. There were lots more paths to explore, but I didn't want to get too side-tracked today so I'll be going back for a proper explore.

I emerged eventually onto the main road down to the West Side of Musselburgh. Time for a pee stop, a drink of water and some Mrs Tilly's Belgium chocolate fudge.
This was about  7.5 miles.

It's important to prepare well for a long run. I find if I can make my hair nice, I feel better all the way round!

Heading back into town from Musselburgh, the loveliness factor went down temporarily, although by this time the sun was shining and I was enjoying the whole thing a lot more than I expected to. I wondered about the owners of these flats... just down wind from Seafield Sewage plant and with a scrap heap for a view, did they really do their research before they bought?

And in only a couple of miles I was popping back out of town and things were opening out again. Coming away from the traffic I particularly enjoyed smelling the sea and hearing the waves lapping. I spent a fair amount of time at this point trying to think about my form. I had caught sight of myself in some glass at a bus stop and chin in the feet pointing characteristic knees up mother brown style....When I went to Rolfing the guy tried to help me sort out my form - the head needs to drop, the shoulders and arms need to come down, the chin needs to come in, the chest needs to rise up, the thighs need to rotate in, my bum needs to extend out the way...there it was...for whole pace improved and I could feel I was running more economically....

I am often bored by the Silverknowes Promenade, but today it was lovely. There was a nice cool easterly blowing me along...I had run 16 miles already and was feeling okay. The sun was out as were the dandelion clocks. Even the people and dogs and children on bikes did not annoy me.

To my surprise, along the Almond Walkway, Peter appeared running hard in the other direction. This was never part of the plan so there was no time for photographs. He stroked my ego as I passed by, asking me where I'd been and had I stopped for coffee. "Whatever" I told the shrubbery once he was past - and then remembered that I had stopped for coffee. Right at the start. I went over to the Co-op for some Mrs Tilly's fudge and thought that everything might work a lot better if I had an Americano and a Star bar while I was there. No wonder I had lasted so well...

Eventually I got to the Cramond Brig Inn and still had most of a mile to run. So I ran along the side of the busy main road there until I got to a bus stop. 20 miles, ya beauty.

A bus to the West End of Princes Street and then I hopped off for a 1.5 mile cool down back home.

I saw this reconstruction of last weekend's Hibs action in a shop window. If they'd knitted some bins and some beer they'd have got closer to it.

So now I have had two lunches and the day is nearly over, what with running and blogging. But I am pleased that I've got another long run in. The Orkney Marathon is getting closer and the time left to train is short. Tomorrow it looks like the wind's going to drop so it might be a day for a short run at Gullane and a swim in the sea....

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