Monday, 30 April 2018

2 weekends and a Wednesday.

Hello again. Not sure exactly why I haven't been blogging, maybe I've been busy. Other people have been away doing big, huge marvellous things - like Nick W going away and running the WHW by himself over the course of 2 days, or the Manchester Marathoners, or on Saturday the Highland Flingers. Meanwhile I have been cultivating the art of the small. I don't know what that means either. Anyway, 2 weekends ago the sun came out, even though it was mighty chilly. My legs are still a bit dud for running, but as long as there's no hurry I can do a bit. Given how broken my running has been of late it's given me time to think about just exactly what I need it for. In the end I think it's best quality is it's the best way to get off road. A fat bike might be good too but there's no more room in our hall. 

Back to 2 weekends ago. Chilly, sunny, nice. I had gone a bit daft and bought another wetsuit - this time a shorty - it was on sale ffs. Since I'd got it, I wanted to try it out. Peter wasn't for it at all. There was a cutting easterly wind. He went trotting about inland while I took my wetsuit in for its inaugural ducking. I was proud of myself for going in, and I discovered a shorty wetsuit is infinitely easier to get on and off, which is pleasing. But perhaps not unrelatedly I woke up with a cold the next day. I'd only just had one recently, so I was a bit cross with fate. What exactly was its point? Why was it picking on me?

The next day wasn't all that nice and neither of us could be bothered to go running, so I set us a challenge - cycle 3 times round Arthur's Seat and try to do each lap faster. Peter was on for it.

Instead of doing every lap faster, I went as fast I could on the first one and then slowed down. Peter managed every lap faster however. It wasn't a bad way to get out the house and do something.

I can't remember now when we actually went to the Botanics - and frankly who cares? But it might have been about Wednesday. Yes it was because I went out a run on Monday and I was moving the best I had been in some time. That got my hopes up and I thought on Wednesday I might be really fine - but I wasn't great. Humph. So let's look at some flowers and a cute squirrel.

It was a hectic week at work because we moved base from Clermiston to Craigroyston. Stuff happened, as stuff does, so the key had gone missing out of my set of drawers - ooerr Mrs - meaning I couldn't get into my card that gives me access to the computers. That was a hassle. And then the printer didn't work. And I'd moved everyone who I was going to see on Tuesday to Friday so they wouldn't end up waiting ages longer - but it was a bit too much. I spent Friday typing like crazy in between seeing people. I'm usually pretty good at being careful about my posture when I'm working on the computer because I've had my share of sore shoulders and funny necks from spending too long in Cyber-world in a trance and forgetting I've got a body too. Anyway, I forgot, I think. I felt fine on Friday night and was really looking forwards to getting out a wee run and hopefully going a bit better, but on Saturday morning I was standing in a trance in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil when "TWANG" something nasty happened in my neck and shoulder on the right hand side. Noooooooooooo!

I was still able to drive, although I couldn't look over my right shoulder easily - had to swivel from the waist. I was in a dark mood anyway. My legs were alright but not great. Peter was darting around complaining about there being no butterflies and I was stewing on why all my bits keep breaking.

I stopped for a stretch and saw this hideous, black fungus growing out of a fallen section of tree. It was so horrible it kind of cheered me up. I thought I would make a point of taking a photograph of anything horrific or dark for the rest of the run.

And then before I knew it I was noticing nice things.

So in the end we had fun. I discovered a way to tire Peter out which is to get him to leap as high as he can over and over again "for the camera". Similar to throwing a stick, I guess...

And then I had a wee leg bathe which always feels great. Afterwards at least.

I wanted to get out for longer though, and long runs are just not an option, so yesterday I persuaded Peter to come with me on a reverse of the route I did last time on my good bike.

There was a cold north-east wind blowing so we headed inland for the outward journey and went to the new Falkos at Haddington and had big egg and bacon rolls. Then we went up the Hopetoun monument. I'd been up it once before with no light and had to come down the worn spiral staircase on my bum like a child because I was too freaked out by it. I had a bike-light this time so I managed to stay on my feet for the downward journey - but I was....cautious.......

Is that the shadow of my monument or am I just pleased to see you? Ask yourself that.

Then we had a long, fast swoop down to the coast and came back with the wind behind us this time.

Nice, although I need to think of a new route now.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

90th Birthday Bash

I'm going to have to keep this short because I've just been swimming and I can hardly lift my arms to the keyboard - but we were up in Aberdeenshire for my mum's 90th birthday bash at the weekend. It was the third day of her birthday celebrations so she was looking a bit done when we arrived on Friday night - but none of us were looking our best.

Saturday was a surreal day of no wind and sunshine. We got up, mildy hungover and took in the millions of birds (she lives next to a woods) and the pond-life in my brother-in-law Andy's pond - and then headed up Bennachie. I didn't know how running would be for me - it was kind of middling. I had a few stops and I was slow but we went up Bennachie and then along the trails at the back and did a little over 8 miles in all. I still have a mystery ache in my legs but I'm hoping now that I'm not actually trying to do marathon training that if I back off it'll come right. I've been doing IT band exercises religiously too. I still think I've hurt the tendons at both sides where they attach under the knee and it was running in the Pentlands in my shorts in the deep snow that did it. Since then I've just been irritating the same injury over and over. My only faint worry is that I've got something like a

This is a very rare sighting  of my mum. She'll scuttle away if she sees a camera.

Will is the Monarch of the Glen


stress fracture but it seems unlikely I'd get it on both sides. Anyway, I'm trying to do other things, like cycling and swimming and that's pretty good.

 I've been for 3 swims in 3 weeks which I'm quite proud about. Today I was up at the Commonwealth pool which was pretty empty and hassle free compared to my last swim in Leith Victoria baths during the Easter Holidays. That was a broth of your older swimmer and chubby young people on inflatables. Peter kept whispering to me were the coloured things bobbing in the water or the young people "the inflatables". You'd think since he was one of the only people who could legitimately use the fast lane he would do it and stop poking fun at the others.

Anyway, back up North - it was great to get up a hill on a sunny day and I got an extra bonus surprise when the someone waving at me from a rock turned out to be my cousin Alison who I have not seen to speak to since I was 19 years old. Apparently she did see me at my sister's wedding in 2003, but that's a bit of a blur. She'd flown up from Birmingham on spec and happened to go up Bennachie at the same time as Peter and I, and also at the same time as one of my sisters and her family. They came down the hill at just that point. It was enjoyably spooky and coincidental.

Later on I drank quite a lot for someone who seldom drinks and did quite a lot of damage to myself falling into a metal planter while looking at the stars on my way to the caravan at the bottom of the garden where we were staying.

The next day we drove home. I am still tired. I did a wee 3 miler today and didn't have to stop until after 2 miles. It looks sunny on Saturday so maybe we can go a run/walk around Gullane and then I've got an ambition to get back in the sea again.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Hop Along Home Alone

So it was the Manchester Marathon weekend and "everyone" was heading down, except me. Well a selection of high class Dunbars and Peter and Craig Taylor from Porty.

I didn't have any time to feel disappointed during the week as simple daily tasks were still a struggle - like walking. Taking my bike up and downstairs for work was a significant challenge. By Friday it was all getting easier and I thought I could at least get out a bike ride on Saturday.

I never used to really feel that there was any need for padded shorts on a bike. Not that it doesn't get sore - but I felt like wearing a big pad didn't really help. However, on recent rides out I would have welcomed a bit of gel between me and the saddle, so I went on to Wiggle to get some bike shorts. There are super-expensive ones for Italian men with shaved legs, and in a lower price range there is DHB which I think is a brand specific to Wiggle and generally fine. They didn't have any of the padded shorts in stock so I bought bib-shorts, which are no more expensive. Why not?

Why not? Because either you wear the bib on the outside and you look just bizarre or you put the bib under your jumper and then you have to practically strip off just to have a pee.

Anyway, Peter took off with Nick Williamson to go to Manchester and I set off tout-seul upon mon velo for un cycle to East Lothian. I didn't feel very adventurous as I had no idea if my legs were going to act up or not, so I was thinking I'd just go to Gullane and have a paddle in the sea.
That coastal road can get old, however, and by Aberlady my legs were still fine so I decided to head inland up and over the hill to Haddington and beyond. To fortify myself for the journey I stopped off at the wee cafe in Aberlady though. I don't remember it being open before, or if it was, I couldn't tell. 
I had a big piece of chocolate and raspberry cake and a large Americano. I now have a loyalty card, too, so I have to go back. After that I was well set for the homeward journey.

I had a rough route in my head which I'd done years ago which would take me back through Pencaitland and then Cousland, back into Musselburgh and then home - but I went a bit wrong and went through Ormiston by mistake, onto Tranent and back to Musselburgh that way. I saw lots of things along the way I'd have liked to photograph but I wasn't in the mood for stopping. Which means I have to go back. It started to rain at about Tranent and then got heavier until I arrived back in Edinburgh pretty soaked but in a good state of mind having covered 41+ miles. I'd forgotten what a mess you get in in the rain with no mudguards.

I wasn't sure what to do with myself today. My legs had taken yesterday's punishment very well and they felt like they could run - but I wasn't really sure. It was a nice, warm and still day though so I thought I'd just go to Gullane and try running and definitely go for a paddle after no matter what.

It's been 9 days since I've tried to run which must be the longest in probably more than a decade. It wasn't terrible but not easy either. I just stopped every time they got stiff and sore. I'm not even sure stretching helps - I think just stopping helps. I ran Westwards and out onto the beach at Aberlady Bay. The tide was way out and the mini-subs were showing so headed out to see them. Then I walked and ran on the way back, having moments of running free and other moments where my legs really hurt.

The sea felt very cold at first and squeezed my legs like a vice, but then they acclimatised without having to go out and in again, so I think it's warming up. While I was standing there a girl headed out into the sea in just a swim suit. I would like to be that brave. I don't know if she went in or not.

When I got back to the car Peter had texted so I saw how some of the people had got on in Manchester. Stuart Hay lead the team in in 2.58. Peter was a minute over 3 hours and Craig Taylor was a couple of minutes behind him. Nick was disappointed with running 3.05. There will be beers drunk tonight and I will hear stories tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018


Well sadly my marathon training has ground to a complete halt. After a middling run on Friday and then an hour on the bike on Saturday my right knee seized up completely - not right away, but overnight. Sunday morning was forecast to be sunny and Peter and I had planned to go and do an easy run around Gullane. We hadn't been there for weeks. It was not to be though.

It was not to be for me because it turned out I couldn't walk - well not normally - let alone run. It was not to be for Peter because a crisis was developing at his mum's house. So it's a long story but instead of going for a run on Sunday, we spent the day replacing a carpet in his mum's bathroom with vinyl flooring. I wasn't good at bending or walking or going up and down stairs so I was of limited use. Well I was good at driving the van. It wasn't what either of us was expecting but actually it was laugh and I quite enjoyed it.

I'd already decided on the Saturday that Manchester was a daft idea and I wasn't going, so there was no need for my leg to underline it quite so heavily.

As you all know it's been raining and snowing every day of this glorious Easter.

Today me and Buchanan went and braved the pool together. I had no idea how it would be, but my knee doesn't affect my kick for front crawl at all, so I was relatively less disabled in the water. If I can find the necessary self-discipline I'll go some more. I always want to be a better swimmer but I'm not quite ready to put in the necessary work to get there - especially if running's an option, but at the moment it's not.

I cycled to work and back yesterday too and I'm alright once I get going and applying an even pressure. Getting my right leg on the pedal is pretty sore and I'm afraid I was screwing up my face and making a noise every time I had to.

I wanted to walk to and from the pool just to be outside, despite the sleet and my gait, which is like Frankenstein's monster's. It was Leith, so nobody gave me a second glance.