Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Swings and Roundabouts of Outrageous Fortune.

Who actually did kill Bambi?

Saturday we were both signed up for the Nationals XC at Callendar Park. Peter's knee is not yet fixed and it didn't seem so much fun going without him. In fact it hadn't seemed like much fun anyway, but even less so with him broken. I decided not to go and we went and did a test run on his knee - the first since last weekend - at our usual run round Gullane. There was a stiff westerly and it was very good to get it behind us on the beach. The run was over before we knew it. Peter's knee was better than it had been but not properly better.

We considered plans for today.  The better weather was earlier - still windy and rainy but with some promise of sun. We thought about going to the Lammermuirs with Peter on the bike and me running. No firm plans were made until I got up today and saw what the weather was doing. It looked like the weather window was too small. I decided to do something more local, less exciting, more prosaic...sigh.

What did I need to do anyway? I hadn't given it much thought. I have a marathon in May. Maybe I should be doing something about that. I wanted a longer run just because. I tried to think what on earth I have signed up for...and remembered the Edinburgh 10 miler towards the end of March. "Jeezo", I thought to myself, "better do some training for that then." It was only later it dawned on me that run is actually at the end of April.

There hasn't been a whole lot of forward-planning going on. You might have guessed. Or there has been some forward-planning but not "joined up" forward planning. Just kind of random events, not in relation to each other. Or they will relate to each other, but it's hard to say how. The more steering I do in life the less I'm inclined to. "The best laid plans" and all that.

So ANYHOO, I had to think of a circular run to do that would give me a bit of cover from the wind while running West, and would be about 13-15 miles. The most obvious contender was running the cycle-path to out Barnton way, getting down onto the path beside the Almond and then home via Cramond. I cycle the first bit of this to work so I wasn't thrilled at the prospect. I kind of know all the litter in the trees and every puddle. It gives you a little taste of nature - there are birds (and rats) -  but it's more like a window-box in a prison cell than the real thing.

I couldn't quite figure out the numbers before-hand, and I thought it might be as much as 17 miles, so I thought I should maybe take a drink and something to eat. I had a look in Peter's "Ultrabox" (Shut up Midge) and it was woe-fully bare. He had some Tail-Wind things that said they were for endurance though, so I asked if I could take one. Peter said to help myself, which was nice of him. I didn't look closely. Just popped it in my rucksack pocket. I also took my soft-flask - which is too long for the pocket it goes in and has a habit of popping out disconcertingly - a blue nipple - makes me feel a little awkward...
Peter said he might follow on the bike, or might not. A Sunday ride to Cramond in the rain is not the most gripping prospect.

For the first part of the journey I was consciously distracting myself. I felt tired and sore and it dawned on me that this is how I felt for most of my longer marathon runs last year, and it didn't augur well. My hips have been a bit tight, but beyond that it was the...ah it was the boredom. There was a time when I was into my times and my speed enough that I did not give a hoot where I ran, but that's no longer the case. My head and heart demand that there's something in it for them too - something of interest and something to excite...Better to think about this at the start of marathon training than later I suppose. It was okay. I did my best to stay interested. I did a little secret racing with other runners. I always like running through Barnton and deciding which house I want. Running down to the Almond I felt a bit rubbish. I stopped to "regroup" and thought I might as well have that gel that I had taken from Peter. It was 7 or so miles in. I ripped the top off the tube was a powder. Oops. I was supposed to make it into a drink. My perception of things altered. It looked like I was going to do one of these runs where you intentionally deplete your glucose stores. Or...there was a cafe a bit further along the river - maybe the right thing to do would be to stop and have some coffee and cake???

If I'd been a dog my tail would have started wagging. I suddenly felt a bit happier.

The ubiquitous kingfisher.

Being down beside the river was a lot nicer. It was wet and muddy but I felt a lot better. The information board made me laugh, with its rather clumsily depicted Kingfisher. I have never seen a kingfisher there. Never ever ever - and I have been there a lot. They are full of shit actually.

Discovering that my gel was a powder should really have got me down, but it cheered me up. Now discovering that the wooden stairs are closed off gave me a second unexpected boost. Suddenly there was a little jeapardy, or something to think about. The first move through the tape and onto the treacherous stairs was very easy. At the top there was a more formidable obstacle. In order to get onto the next - safe - pathway, you had to step out onto a muddy slope 20 feet above the shallow waters below. It seemed quite an attitude from the health and safety people really - if you're going to risk your neck, we're going to make sure you really do! I saw it as a challenge and I rose to it.

I was thoroughly enjoying the whole thing but kind of hoping Peter wouldn't come this way. It was easy enough on two legs, but if he was there with his bike on his dicky knee - and his bike isn't light - would that be as easy? One thing I knew for sure is that there was no way in hell he would turn back. He would much rather die.

I had no way of knowing whether he was still in bed or right behind me anyway, so there was nothing I could do. I ran on, thinking about the cafe.


I've passed this cafe lots of times and not gone in. We did go once - I remember going for cake and coffee with Peter when I had some kind of a shin injury after the Highland Fling race. At the time I had the intense fear of piling on weight of the injured runner, so I couldn't actually enjoy the cake. I could feel myself growing hopelessly rotund with every mouthful. That was in 2010 I think.

I went in and ordered an apple scone and black coffee. The food was nice but the person who served me was unaccountably rude. I wondered if it was me. Was my blue nipple hanging out? Had I walked into their living room by mistake? Were they not open? I could not discover my crime. Still the waitress, who was the daughter, made it clear that she couldn't bare to look at me and said only the minimum to me that she had to to complete the transaction and put some distance between us.

Delicious. If a little lonely. I won't be going back.

I watched out the window in case PB went past - not sure what I would do if he did. If I ran out the cafe they'd surely think I was trying to escape without paying. I didn't see him however. I had to wait around for a while for anyone to appear so that I could pay. Some other punters came in, so the daughter came through and said it was £5 without looking at me and put her hand out. When I said thank you she didn't acknowledge me. 

It was good to get outside again, even though it was spitting with rain. At Cramond proper I could see there was a swirling, swooping flock of gulls. I drew a little closer and noticed that Peter was at the centre of this ruckus. "Film me" he said imperiously. So I did, inadvertently draining the last of my battery.

There he is.

I didn't hang around as I still had 5 or 6 miles to run. The wind was behind me so it was easy in that respect - but again - running that way - especially on tired legs, gives me a heart sink.

I got home with a bit more than 14 miles on the clock. Not as much as I'd thought.

I think that run, uninspiring as it was, has raised some good questions for marathon training this year. How the hell am I going to keep it interesting? And what the hell am I going to eat? I was never more glad to discover a gel was not a gel. I'm done with gels.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Three days.

Three days worth of photos, so I might as well blog. I was writing an essay last week and wasn't letting myself off the hook even long enough to blog. I was too scared I wouldn't do it. Because I didn't want to do it. Still it is mostly done now. Ready to submit tomorrow.

I've been out a few runs during the week and my hip flexors are snapping a bit after the Carnethy. And then on Tuesday for some reason I went out and blasted the Arthur's Seat 10 miler which has a fair proportion of hill. And on Friday I thought that I would run up the tourist route to the top of the seat. The path was very busy as it's a school holiday. There were lots of French people for some reason. At the top it was hoaching. Instead of taking photos of the view I took photos of the people.

I have been keeping quiet about running as Peter's knee continues to give him trouble. He was trying to be sensible and rest it. It seems it's more like a kneeling injury from work than a running injury.

Saturday, I got him to run up and down the street a few times to see if it was fit for a Gullane run. He said it was but he was lying. Not as bad as last Sunday but it was still hurting him. A few times he fell behind me. You'd think I'd enjoy it, but I don't.
Still, the sun came out for a while.

Storm clouds gathering.

So today we thought we'd go to the Pentlands and I could have a longer run and he could take his mountain bike. Some of this went well. The middle bit was fun. Somebody doesn't like getting his bike muddy though. And I was ordered not to publish any photos of him pushing his bike "like a pussy". As if a pussy could push a bike.

It all went black and white after the muddy bit.

Except for this chap.

Here's to better knees and fewer essays in the future.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Carnethy 5 and a breezy 8 miler.

This photo is pinched off the Carnethy web-site. I don't know who took it but it's great.

Yesterday was (I think) my 13th Carnethy 5 Hill Race. I was kind of hoping it would be a warmish day, a bit sunny, not too much wind. Instead it chose to be uncharacteristically bad. For the first time in my memory of the race there was a cut-off time set for the Howe. It was cold with sleety rainy in Edinburgh. Ooyah. I put on some layers and packed some more.

Happily I recently bought a water-proof that is genuinely quite nice to run in. Up until yesterday it had gone untested. I put it on before the race and then couldn't bring myself to take it off, and never regretted the decision. I took some photos on the way up Scald Law, and after that it was all about survival. There was near white-out at the tops.  A small girl running next to me got blown clean off her feet on South Black Hill. Just whipped her away. She was fine. Popped back up and ran on. It's lucky the Pentlands are mostly pretty benign though. No steep drop offs.

None of the hills seemed too bad yesterday. In terms of climbing I mean. The conditions just felt quite alarming and so I think I had a good steady flow of adrenaline going into my system for the whole race. I found the run from West Kip down to the Howe the worst bit because the horizontal sleety snow was really hurting my eyes and I could barely see. I was lucky I didn't put my foot in a hole.

Going up Carnethy I still had it in me to do some running and I really appreciated the time we have recently spent out in the hills. There seemed every incentive to try and move as fast as possible.
The top of Carnethy was unreal. There was just this ripping headwind full of blinding ice-pellets. I couldn't see and could hardly move forwards. I don't know how the marshals survived up there. Then it was a relief to go round the cairn and set off back down the hill. Except for that stinker of a descent which I am no good at and I had the usual AaaaaH! Chagrin!! As people I had passed on the way up the hill yomped past me as if there was no problem when clearly it was nearly impossible to move. Now out of danger my legs felt all weak and cottony too. Eventually I got to the bottom and could run again and enjoyed the run in through the filthy bog and up to the finish to the sound of the bagpipes.
I was pleased to have made it in under 90 minutes and in the best time since getting AF and all that chapter.

Today it was pretty bad too, but you can't waste a weekend day indoors so we headed down to Gullane despite being tired and quite sore. Peter had a bit of a knee and I had a bit of an all over body ache. My arms were sore today for some reason.

We stopped at Yellowcraigs at the toilets. There are David Lynchian distorting mirrors. There weren't a lot of people around so it didn't seem too weird to get the camera out.

Instant slim.

OOps. Easy come, easy go.

Down at the shore we had the wind behind us and the air smelled good. We both got a lift out of how wild it was.

There were surfers in the sea at Gullane. Which was impressive. But we were both thankful it wasn't us. Jeezo. It's Sunday night again. How did that happen?

He's up! But not for long.