Monday, 26 March 2018


My legs have eased off a bit so I've been taking them out for runs. I keep having to stop and stretch though, which maybe isn't ideal for a marathon. It did occur to me today that I could just take a very patient attitude to the coming marathon and let it take as long as it takes. In fact, if I was feeling evil I could collar someone who was working hard at my easy pace and let them know that I wouldn't normally be in this part of the field but  because of injury I've had to rein it in. Two marathoners have done this to me in the past and it filled me with love and gratitude. Oh no I forgot, it actually made me hate them.

Anyway, I've been interspersing runs with days off in an effort to be sensible, so yesterday I thought I'd go outside on my bicycle and let the wind take me to Archerfields Walled Garden, because I'd never been there before. Peter had been his 35 miler so he was content to come a little tootle on the bike. Well in theory he was but quite soon it became clear that he actually wasn't all that content. He kept saying things about people being slow and then taking it back.

I didn't tell you I've got a cold too. It came on suddenly and unmistakeably on Friday. Happy days. So PB was pecking my head to some extent but I was in a snotty dream world and didn't care too much what he had to say about the whole thing, or about anything. My eyes were weak and bleary and the sun hurt. I was a little bit impressed with how green the sea was at Portobello, but after that I wasn't impressed by anything. Having a cold has added to quite a long run of not getting much sleep and I'm jaded.

Look my foot doesn't move from this picture

to this one

to this one. No wonder I was going slowly. Lazy Moo.

We got to AWG amd Peter's brittle facade of geniality started to crack in earnest when he saw the prices. On the menu they appeared to be trying to cover up how expensive everything was by being quirky about their pricing. So soup was 5.5, unless you wanted a cheese scone in which case it was an extra 1.65. A burger was 13.5. At something like 2.65 for a cup of tea Peter wasn't having any of it. But I had a cup. And the cheese scone. He had soup and tried to burn holes in the waiters and waitresses with his eyes.

After this he was proposing we cycle back into the freezing head-wind, but I had a better idea and we went to NB and got the train home. "You're paying for it" he said warmly.

Today I had no idea what to expect from my leggies. I went out with a rucksack and some money and a camera so I had some options. If it was going okay I wanted to go further. If it wasn't I wanted to get home. I thought I'd run up the WOL a ways and then make decisions based on how things were.

I stopped at one mile for a stretch. I stopped here the other day as there's a handy tree stump for the hamstrings and a railing for standing quad stretches. I swear that sign wasn't there two days ago. I hope it's not from someone's gusset.

I wasn't feeling great to start with but the general springiness, birds chirping and tiny things pushing their way out the ground began to get to me and cheer me up.

At 2 miles there was another stump and another sign. Do you think all these signs are a sign? Of course they are.

The WOL at the Dean Village was blocked off as usual but it's easy enough to get through. At the far end though I met a wee woman who was putting up a sign and clearly wanted to tell me off for being there. "Can I ask you what you're doing here?"
"I'm out for a run" I said, sticking to the facts.
"Did you notice that the path is closed?"
"The path has been closed for a long time" I said; more an observation than an answer really.
"It's very dangerous along there. The council doesn't just close the path for fun you know."
I chose not to argue.

When I got to the next stretch of the WOL, that was closed too. I guess the council are not having fun along there too. I gave up on the WOL and went up Ravelston Dykes instead and headed for Corstorphine Hill. After a while I found myself overcome with remorse for the way I was treating the council. I thought about all the things they have done for me just to try and make me happy. They've made all those lovely trams and they've made cycling ever so much more interesting with the new cycle lanes on Leith Walk weaving in and out of traffic. Their liberal licencing policy has made it possible for me to listen to drunks shouting and fighting every night, long into the night, when otherwise my nights would probably just be boring and filled with sleep.


Hopefully Jesus will help me to be a better person. Anyway, I haven't been running on any hills because that's what was setting my legs off so I'm happy to say neither going uphill nor downhill was too bad. I went up beside the golf-course and then down to St John's Road and headed for home.

So nearly 10 miles in the bag, which is better. I stopped and stretched a lot and I have no idea if I should really be trying to run a marathon in a couple of weeks or not. I guess I'll wait and see how things go.

Sunday, 18 March 2018


It's the most unusual preparation for a marathon I've done yet. I haven't run a step since my weird knee flare-up last Monday night. I've google diagnosed myself with bursitis now, on the strength of this description of the symptoms..."pain straightening and bending your legs". The worst times have been at night in bed. I'm alright on my back with my legs straight for a while but then my back gets sore. Bending my legs once they've set straight is like opening a wound. Lying on my side is a challenge. Some nights my knees will tolerate it, other nights it makes them burn with the unholy fire of Satan. "What the hell are you talking about?" "Don't ask me. I'm a bit short of sleep."

By Friday at work I was a bit short of sleep and let it slip when, gazing out the window for a moment,  I told my colleague and buddy Ann "Oh look they've got one of those light-up Santas on the wall at the Clerry Inn". It seemed a bit puzzling since we were well past Christmas. This made Ann look up and as I looked a second time it morphed into a rather naff faux-bronze, faux-old fashioned lamp. No Santa to be seen anywhere. Oops.

"How are you holding up with the lack of exercise?" I hear you ask, " a seasoned athlete like yourself will be struggling without an outlet". Well as it happens I do have an outlet, but it's a bit...insular.

There's a whole preamble to this but I'll just give you the broad strokes. A bit back I developed a desire for a smart bike-trainer; one where you can hook up to a virtual world and go cycling in Cyber-Space. I can give you reasons why it's a good idea but the ideas didn't come first, just the wanting it. I've always had a thing for technology. The smart-trainer was quite expensive - I'm not telling you how much - and when I got it I discovered that neither my computer's nor my laptop's graphics cards were up to the job of running the software I wanted to use with it. By this time PB was having a hairy fit just at the sheer indulgence of it all - so was I, neither of us grew up particularly wealthy so the voices asking me why I needed an indoor bike-trainer and a virtual world when I had two actual bikes and an actual world grew quite loud and insistent. I stunned them into silence by ordering a quite expensive gaming laptop with a more than adequate graphics card. Take that you miserable voices!!!

It was a financial blood-bath.

But I couldn't have been set up much better for the current crisis. My knees don't mind cycling - well not too much - that's within their range.

So that's what I've been doing. I've cycled 84 indoor miles this past week. It's not a lot by cyclist standards but it is quite a lot of sweating in your bedroom. I need to put down a mat.

So who knows if I will be a runner again by Manchester Marathon time. I certainly hope so. My legs got a lot better towards the end of the week. I had a deep tissue massage booked already and that helped a lot - probably not the actual injuries, but easing up all the tissues surrounding them. Coming out of there I could walk normally on the flat for the first time since Monday. Not downhill though. On Thursday things seemed to continue to improve and I wasn't all that uncomfortable in bed. By Friday I was considering going to do a Parkrun on Saturday and then for some reason my legs gave me merry hell overnight - maybe I'd overdone it at work.

I'm starting to find going outside weird though. The sky is so high, and the air is very fresh, and nobody has their name above their head.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Chariots of Fire.

Oops. Not chariots - knees - my knees are on fire. I had optimistically thought I would go out for a run today but that's not to be, so I might as well catch up on some blogging.

After last Sunday's long, extremely slow run, I had gained a bit of confidence about going longer.
All you have to do is just go slow enough!!!

I had a dream in which Bert Logan from Porty, aka "The coach" told me that he liked to smoke a bit of dope around mile 13 when he was running a half marathon. I shrugged this off as being nutty, as dreams are, but then a couple of days later I had a flash on what it meant.

Bert was my inner coach!!! And he was telling me to take it easy, smoke some weed....metaphorically of course....I'm no advocate of smoking drugs. What I mean is the dream was saying "Take a chill pill" - well not literally, I'm no advocate of taking oral medication! It was saying relax. Don't do it. When you want to go to it....NO NO NO NO. Stop that. Phew.

Anyway on Wednesday I took Peter out for a longer run. And the sun came out and things were thawing up a bit and all the wee birds were busy, because their tummies were hungry.
They were mostly too quick for me and my camera.

Red throated angel.

Little Brown Bird #1 "You lookin' at me?"

Mr. Merganser with his bird.

Little brown bird #2. A thrushy robin.

We ran just shy of 14 miles and then I had two whole days off running before I pushed my luck too far.

On Saturday it was to be rain - all day. Michael Geoghegan got into my head a couple of weeks ago at my first Parkrun in over a year. He said that it was good to do a parkrun every fortnight or so. Whether that was true or not, it seemed like a good way of getting running out the way for the day. I had lots of things to do at home. PB was onboard. Onboard the good ship Berlingo. These were the views as we sailed into harbour.

It was raining hard and there was a freezing easterly wind. It all got so cold and terrible that I forgot about taking pictures, so that's your lot. I ran a PW but I was quite pleased with it. I'm pretty sure I actually ran better than I did 2 weeks ago, but the significant headwind on the way out made for slower times. Peter did a PW too.

So on Sunday Peter was heading down to...Berwick??? with Graham Nash to run a 40 miler. I had it in mind that if I could I should do another long run for the coming marathon. On Sunday morning I thought I could, so I took the first train to Musselburgh and ran down the coast with the idea of catching the train home in North Berwick.

It was meant to be a dry day with a bit of early mist - and for a while the mist looked like it might be going to burn off - but then it thickened and deepened for the whole stretch from Musselburgh to Aberlady. At Aberlady there were 11 miles on the clock and I had a proper stop. I haven't been in the Aberlady shop for a few years now. We used to stop there for machine coffee and pastries. To my delight they had cans of San Pellegrino limonata. This is just my favourite drink for long runs. There's something about the sharp lemon that picks you up and stops you feeling sick. They also had a very nice selection of fairly healthy  bars. I had a Trek peanut "protein" bar. (Apparently if you put protein in the name of anything just now, it will sell. Diet fad.) I had a proper seat on the monument just down the road from this and basked in the relative warmth and springiness of this spring day.

I never mentioned how magical it was in the mist. Especially after Seton Sands when I got off road. I could hear the sea but I couldn't see it. I could certainly smell it though! I think the recent storms must have thrown some deep-sea creatures on shore and they were now all rotting away. You used to get the same smell walking past the door of the Lobster Pond in Stromness.

I hadn't spent any time in the magical woods just before Aberlady in a while. Well we were there last week but we'd just come out from our boozy lunch-break and got moving again so we didn't stop to fool around. I wanted to replicate an old picture Peter had taken years ago of me pretending to sleep in a tree. To do this I had to figure out the self-timer on my camera though - and then get in position. 
I thought I'd done quite a good job until I got it home and saw my feet were still kicking about.

(look here's the original)

Everything was looking fairy-tale, so potentially a little weird and creepy. I saw this man (below) coming out of the mist and did wonder if he might be an axe-wielding maniac. He turned out to be nice though. I was taking a picture of some bark as he drew alongside me, and he said "Wonderful colours and texture isn't it?" Then he told me that he had heard the sun was blazing down in Gifford, and went on his way.

By the turn off to Aberlady Nature Reserve I was wondering if I really wanted to run what was likely to be 22 miles. My legs were already a bit shot. But that way is the nicest part of the whole journey and I couldn't really stand the thought of staying on the road. So I headed off into the misty wildness.

I had really wanted to finish the run by going for a paddle in the sea - and I wish I had really, but by then I was sick of running and sick of just about everything but drinking water and sitting down, so I headed straight up to the train station instead.

And then listened to families on the train on the way home.  

Last night my legs were very stiff as I went to bed, but then I woke up in the night and they were on fire. It's the same old stuff around the knees. I tried various things like ice and stretching but in the end I gave in and had paracetamol and ibuprofen, had a good sleep and they've eased off today. No running today or tomorrow and hopefully I can get away with it.