Sunday, 22 January 2017
It's shaping up to be a pretty good January. At least in our household. Placing world events to one side. And putting world events to one side is exactly what the hills are good for.
Yesterday was another day of sun in an other-wise uniformly grey world. In fact it bore an uncanny resemblance to the previous Saturday... ...The forecast said "cold and bright". We had thought about a Park Run, but the weather was too good to waste on a Park Run...we considered getting up for a potentially spectacular dawn in the hills...but we were too irresolute to follow through. As it turned out, I was awake early anyway, and could have made it, but I didn't want to disturb a soundly sleeping Buchanan, so I left him alone until 9am. We thought we might get going earlyish - but it was really the afternoon before we arrived at the Lammermuirs.
I was tired, but also hopped up on strong coffee. The first mile or so, still in the shadow of the hills, was dauntingly cold. Even though I was running up hill I didn't seem to be warming up. But after a while I did warm up and I was enjoying being out there. The higher we climbed, the better the views got. There was very little wind so it was easy to hear streams chuckling, and the moor birds calling.
There's a Strava segment on the last steep hill up to the foot of Lammerlaw. I don't know exactly where it starts and where it ends but I know it's there because I grabbed a course record on it last year some time. Obviously there's not a lot of competition...but a course record is a course record...After a while I got an email from Strava saying some other woman had taken my course record - so yesterday I set out to take it back.
Or that was my intention at first. After a while of running too hard up too steep a hill I changed gears thinking that I was in this, literally, for the long run - and what I wanted to do was good training, not just throw it all at one section early on in my run. So I took it down a gear and just kept working, but in a more sustainable way. Still I was blowing hard as the climb topped out. Peter was very encouraging. I listened closely to his tone for hints of sarcasm. He can be apt to taunt me and my running. But he seemed to be sincere. We've been running a few more hills and I am feeling better than I have in a good while on the ups. I don't want to jinx it though.
After this we set off for the windmills. I know, I know. There are lots of windmills. I don't know what these particular windmills are called. They are the ones I know the way to. It's down a steep hill to a stream crossing and a hunting lodge and then up a steep hill and along. There were hunting looking people and 2 X 4-by-4s at the hunting lodge which made me automatically stiffen up, on high dog-alert. On closer inspection there didn't seem to be any dogs though, and the men climbing into the 4 X4s called out cheerily to us. The world turned a shade friendlier.
There were misty hills rolling away into the distance. Near at hand there were patchwork heathery hills full of comical grouse. There was warm sun and icy puddles. The first hour seemed to go by in no time. It was pretty much exactly 7 miles to the windmills where we stopped and ate protein bars and drank juice.
Even a short time standing still made us realise that it was still cold out though. I had de-buffed and de-gloved as I heated up on the hills but now I needed my hands and head covered again, and I needed to get going.
On the way out we had discussed taking in the top of Lammerlaw as a little extra on the homeward trip. As we neared the juncture where we'd have to decide, my legs didn't really want any more hills, but it had been a great run and the sun was lowering and it seemed churlish not to push the boat out a little further and summit Lammerlaw. From the top we could see the fog was rolling in in spectacular fashion over the Forth and over in Fife. Then we set off back down - about 4 miles mostly downhill to the car. I gave myself a pep talk about not minding the pain shooting up my now tired legs from the impact of running downhill. If you didn't pay too much attention to the pain, it was a good feeling! Gravity was doing most of the work. We chatted as we ran downhill and I tried not to trip over my own feet. As we got lower we were back into the shadow-lands and it was noticeably colder again. There are a few small ups on the last stretch - by now not at all welcome, but we were prepared for them. The best form of defence being attack.
As we passed near a farmhouse on the last stretch to the van, I could hear a big dog barking, giving me a dose of the fear. Then there was a loud metallic creaking noise - I joked with Peter that that was the noise of Dracula's coffin opening - the valley now being in full shadow. It was meant to be a joke but I had in fact scared myself - and attempted to pick up the pace just in case....Peter remarked that it was a pity that if Dracula did actually show up he could run on ahead and I'd be the first victim. The fucker. I ran as fast as my little legs were able and was relieved to jump into the Berlingo, which is, presumably, vampire proof. We'd run just under 16 miles so Peter stayed out and ran a few more 100 metres, but I wasn't chancing it.
Another lovely sunny pretty-much 16 mile run in the hills. And I've got my course record back. I'll be interested to see how long that stands.