Saturday, 24 November 2018

Rainy run with a little sun.

 Today's run was surprising and fun. We were going to head to Gullane but the forecast was terrible. It was forecast to be wet here too, but not as wet and not until later. We were thinking of going round Arthur's Seat and then I proposed a detour past the station for a coffee and then  a quick trip to the West End and back just to see what horrors Christmas was throwing up, working on the "so bad it's good" principle. Peter was up for it, slightly to my we got coffees and stood on the top of the Waverley Market trying to figure out if a swan dive from the Scott Monument into one of the bucket seats on the "ride" right beside it would be possible. Then we tried to make our way through the crush...

We had thought about taking a look at the German Market - but the crowds even on the pavement of Princes Street were too impossible, so we headed up George Street to see the Silent Disco. I can't imagine that anyone is going to pay £4.50 to get a set of head-phones to dance in a silent disco in this structure of light. Maybe I'm wrong but...why would you? Peter marvelled that someone must have screwed in all the light-bulbs. Then he started making noises about Corstorphine Hill. Well actually, when you're at the West End it's not that far. We took a route that avoided Shandwick Place but expected to have a clear run along St John's road - the pavements are ample and there's never anyone there except at the bus-stops...or so I thought.

We hadn't bargained with there being rugby on. The pavements were four and five people deep all the way along to Murrayfield, so we ran most of the way towards the traffic in the bus-lane. The odd taxi drove towards us on purpose, but mostly the traffic left us alone. It was noticeable how much more good-natured this crowd was than the usual crowd of Hibbies on Easter Road. We got a few smiles and hellos and exhortations to run faster. Mostly cheerful men in skirts having had beer for breakfast. Just the thing to put you in a good mood.

I was running at top speed so have no record of that part of the journey. 
At the wee gate that takes you up C Hill beside the zoo we had a change of gear. For a short while the sun came out and it was quite warm and bright. 

 As we rounded the top of the hill, however, the first rustle of rain in the tree-tops started and quickly gathered momentum as the skies darkened. We took shelter under some trees at the edge of the golf-course for a short while, but when it became clear that the rain wasn't for stopping we set off again. The 4 or so miles from Ravelston to home were more of a grind with the north wind and the rain in our faces, but we both knew we'd be home soon.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

And Conan grew strong...

I pushed the mileage the week before last, so last week I took it easy running-wise, but I seemed to be alright. Come Saturday I felt fine. It was bright, although a bit hazy. We headed down to Gullane. 
We're in the habit now of setting a photography theme for the day, with a competitive edge. In the summer we had bee and butterfly-offs. Moving towards autumn we turned to orange leaves and bright berries. When choosing a theme it's best to pick something that is available so we usually establish the day's target in the first mile while we're warming up and seeing what's there. This week, in the low winter light, it seemed evident that our photo-challenge should be Back-lit Beauties. Buchanan got straight to work on the dandelions. I was too proud to get sufficiently near, so I think he won.

Anyway, it was a lovely day and I was surprisingly swift. Sometimes we can both be a bit tired and fractious on Saturdays, but for whatever reason we both seemed to have the joy and we both loved our run round the beach. It helped that everything looked spectacular. The tide was way out below the Aberlady nature reserve so we went a visit to the subs.

What happens if you pan with someone running on "panorama" mode? This. This is what happens.

We were in such good moods we didn't even fall out in Tescos later doing the shopping for the week.

Then Buchanan was pulling for a longer run. He didn't run a step during the week because he's a lazy old cow. I think it's why he's lasting so long and so well. (Touch some wood or something - no not that.) Then at the weekend he's too fresh. He got a notion he wanted an ADVENTURE on Sunday. The sun was going to shine. It was to be a lovely day. All memories of my long year of injury were erased from his eager mind. We should run 18 MILES. I would be FINE.
I was pleased with how well I was standing up, but knew my abilities were not going to keep pace with Buchanan's enthusiasms. And it was too late really to get him to hook up with someone more his own size for a big old run-out. I wanted to run 10 miles max. Somehow I compromised with a suggestion of a 15 mile hilly route through town.  So anyway, that's what we did. It wasn't such a nice run. It started off with Peter all impatient and pushing the pace and ended with me complaining for pretty much the whole of the last 5 miles. I never noticed the moment when it stopped being him behaving badly and started being me. I was bloody glad to stop though. I was running 10+  minute miles towards the end and my legs felt like old wooden poles.

I know I keep taking pictures of this way into the park, but it's great isn't it?

We ran through the posh back streets from the Commie Pool to Blackford Pond. I nearly got in an altercation with a rude fat lady in an Audi who beeped me unnecessarily as she drove too fast round a corner.

Ex-PRCers Fiona and Keith Mayfield were out for a walk in the Hermitage.

 I was having a very welcome seat on some blocks at the side of the canal as Peter enthusiastically photographed something when I saw this on the ground. I thought that a melancholic goth must have been sitting there contemplating the decomposition of violets and lost their crucifix. This may have been true. On closer inspection the cross and the chain didn't actually go together and the crucifix had the full Lord's Prayer written on it in tiny silver writing. If it's yours I popped it in a nearby tree.

This was my nod to the beauties as I was coming off of Corstorphine Hill. My legs had gone peg by this time however so I wasn't feeling it.

Beautiful cranes.

The next day I went out just a wee three miler expecting my legs to be dead wood, but they were in fact inexplicably good.

I got my date through at last for my heart stress test. I had thought this was going to be on a treadmill with an admiring audience cheering me on as I belted out "Proud Mary" and ran my socks off. It turns out, however, that they're going to do it with me lying flat on my back and them filling me full of drugs that make my heart beat fast while I just lie there. As Peter says, there was a time when that would have been my ideal night out. Now I'm not so sure. I've got work straight after as well. It sounds like the kind of thing that'll give you a headache.

I'll tell you all about it anyway. :-)

Monday, 12 November 2018

Armistice Day - the final 30!

Apologies in advance because I'm about to make Armistice Day and the whole Tynecastle Bronze thing about me.

Okay, let's go!

I've recently been having an unexpected but deeply welcome improvement in my run-ability. In the last month or so I've been able to ramp up my base mileage, and do some races, and throw in some longer runs...and I've been surviving! I'm miles from taking this for granted. Anyone who saw me gimping about in the late winter/early spring (no offence to gimps everywhere) would be surprised too. Quite honestly it looked like I was done for. As Peter said one evening, looking vexedly at me,  probably because I'd got some new injury from sitting funny or sleeping funny, "Don't you think there's something wrong with you?". Yes there was something wrong with me - but what the right course of action was wasn't so clear.

Like many fellow running obsessives, I'm sure, I have spent many hours on the internet trying to figure out what I might be able to do for myself that might help. Maybe I was short of Vitamin D or magnesium, certainly I needed to back off the high-impact stuff. Strength training and stretching - Peter will tell you - I do them. I do a bit of yoga.
I backed off from running. I did more cycling. I like cycling and in a way was grateful for the push to diversify a bit - when you've got running, why would you do anything else?

I started doing this thing called Feldenkrais, which I haven't read much about, (on purpose, I like to just try things) but it's about tuning in to your fine movements and the way they connect up inside. I know that probably doesn't make much sense. It involves lying on the floor in a class with about 6 other people often with our eyes closed doing tiny movements. If you were at a gung-ho stage of your running you wouldn't do it. I have been un-gung-ho for some time. Maybe that's what was needed.

In the late summer I was feeling better and thought I might have a go at the Skyline again and got into some hill training. It went okay at first and then a 10 miler in the hills one Saturday sent me back onto the injury bench. My legs weren't having it. Oh well. What next? Who knew.

Then for some reason I involved myself in Peter's Dumfries Half Marathon, which was slow, but I survived it, and enjoyed the social side. So then it seemed fair to try the Dunbar 10 miler - where I ran a bit better - and still enjoyed the social. Then I even tried a Parkrun. I was still in one piece - what was happening?

I've continued doing longer runs - but nothing above 15 and a half miles I don't think, so it didn't make much sense that when I realised Peter et al would be doing their last Tynecastle Bronze 30 miler I also realized that I wanted to do it too. Well first of all I thought I might get involved in a supportive capacity, but that idea slowly morphed into me running some of it.

So we reccied the first half of the course, which I liked - and I figured it couldn't hurt to just do the first half and then get the bus from Balerno if need be. "It couldn't hurt" is just a figure of speech by the way.

So, fast-forward - I've been enjoying my running so much that I've been increasing my mileage at a fool-hardy rate. I  went straight from a 30 mile week to a 47 mile week. Nothing bad happened and I had a few days off work so I racked up 32 miles during the week last week and then in a nod to sense took the Saturday off. My right foot is a little bit sore. Nothing major, but enough to inject some caution.  Then Sunday dawned....

We'd booked a taxi for 8 people to get to West Linton and others were making their own way there.

It was a pretty dawn but the weather was forecast to cloud over and rain a bit - which is exactly what it did.

All the logistics seemed to work out pretty well and a group of us gathered in West Linton outside the Gordon Arms and set off just before 9am

There were a lot of things I wasn't bothering to focus on. One of these things was the calibre of the runners I was running with. "Everybody will just be taking it easy" says Peter. I know what that looks like. Feckers running along at 7 minutes mile while chatting easily and me grunting along behind in a blind panic. So be it.

Off we trotted, at a gallop, with feckers talking easily and me grunting my lungs out and watching every foot-step, as the potential to take a header into the void was real and present.

photo: pb

Very soon I was way too hot and had to take my vest off. Photo pb

At just before  11am on 11/11 we stopped our running so we could do a minutes silence - or was it 2 minutes? I don't know. I hadn't been paying attention. It was long and quiet. Then we had a toast of whisky and port Peter had prepared earlier. Ah, drinking spirits in the hills in the morning. Why wouldn't you? It was superb. Very warming. Very cheering.

Nick had been out at the ceilidh for the Scottish Islands Peaks Race the night before so he had an ebb-tide hangover and then whatever the opposite is - another tide coming in - of port and whisky. His waters looked troubled for a little bit, but then cleared. What are you on about? It's an extended metaphor, you chump, just poorly handled.

Poor Mr Froggy. His appearance here was incidental. Not caused by us, but his passing was marked by us.

Part of the route that I'd cried out of last week was the trek up onto Hare Hill to where a plane crashed with 4 German pilots on board in WW2. I'd never been there before but the site is hard to find. However, Mark Hartree knew exactly where it was and led us straight there and some Harmeny Runners had already been up and marked it. Mark read out a poem he'd prepared earlier.  Graham Nash produced a clear liquid in a bottle. Did Toby say that he'd imagined it might be a thirst-quenching lemony drink, or have I just made that up? Anyway, rather than thirst-quenching it was a mind altering mixture of gin, vodka ("french vodka" apparently) and vermouth. For a while all I could hear was light air-craft landing and taking off in my internal airport. All I could think was "Achtung!". I ran down hill as never before. Fleet-footed and fearless but with a numb face. I think Helen was experiencing something similar. If only we could keep drinking what in the hell had GN called it....Vespa!!! If only we could keep drinking Vespa, I would never have to stop running. After a while the euphoria wore off. Euphoria's like that. Very unreliable. Flirt with it, but never marry it.

Then we "regrouped" at the Grey Horse. I had been hoping for another pint of Wee Beastie but apparently they swap the ales around. I think I had a pint of Pentland Firth.

photo: pb

After this I took up my rightful place at the back. I wasn't relishing the thought of running the Water of Leith. We had run 17 miles though and I didn't want to give up yet. I thought I could leave at Colinton and get a no.10 if need be. If it seemed like I was becoming too much of a problem I might take myself off in a soldierly way, but people were looking after me. As far as I could tell they weren't wishing I would drown myself so they could speed up. Or maybe only a wee bit.
photo: pb

photo: pb

A welcome break at the Corn Exchange. I think we were all having a far better time than our faces would suggest.

And then...oh it's time to summarise. There are things I have to do today....we were starting to fall to bits and pieces towards the end. Who knew..there are a number of ways to wind up at the Teuchter's Landing in Leith - and we all did get there.
photo: pb

photo: pb

It was great to see Steve Crane who has been missing in action for some time.

David Allwood was cruelly struck down with a chest infection just before armistice day. He came along to the end though.

Richard H had joined us just after Balerno and I cursed his fresh legs from a distance.

Christina, Richard D and Benedict were already there. Richard had completed his "winter double" of 2 TBs over the course of 2 days in winter.

Roly had spent hours secretly and  painstakingly creating awards for the "winners" - Richard and Peter - who ran 30 miles for each of the months from the July 2014 to November 2018 including summer and winter doubles.

photo: pb

My Garmin died at 27.27 miles, but Peter's watch said we'd made it, and after the pub he, Steve Crane and I ran the mile and a bit up the road home. I have never eaten so many peanuts in one day.

So it only remains to thank everyone who was there for a lovely day. Some of the Carnethies in particular I don't know so well, but I feel like I know them because Peter tells me stories about them. Despite being surrounded by an uncomfortable level of eliteness (in ability I mean, not attitude) I felt good-naturedly included and welcomed. I am very pleased to have run 30 miles and survived. It means I ran a 62 mile week! My legs, today, are better than my head, which is somewhat shell-shocked.