Sunday, 23 December 2018

The Strange Tale of the Christmas Sparkle

 Yesterday was the second edition of Megan Wright's Binning Woods Races. The first was in 2016, and it was a good event, so when we heard it was on again we didn't really question if we'd give it another go. This year the course was a bit different, and Peter and I both thought it was better. I couldn't even tell you why. It was good last time.

Before arriving at the race we'd been talking, inevitably, about Peter's dad, who is buried in the woods somewhere. (It was all above board all you amateur sleuths - this isn't a confession.) We wondered if he might give us a sign - bubbles of light in the trees - that kind of thing. I didn't see any bubbles of light in the trees. But I'm going to come back to this theme. Please be patient.

The Hays

And Nick and son Jack.

So anyway, we arrived. We saw nice Dunbar people. Binning Woods is a lovely woods. I went a long warm up lap because I was freezing and because I think my whole system works better after running a couple of miles. I ran my warm-up lap in a jumper and duvet jacket and by the time I got back to the start I was roasting.


I know I look a bit mental. I was excited. Be kind. Anyway, I am a bit mental.

It was a good strategy. It wasn't hard to take off my jacket and jumper just before the start. I was glad to be stripped down and even in a t-shirt and shorts I was too hot after the first lap.

I was determined to run within myself and pace it and not get caught up in mini-races. This isn't so easy. It's not bad when you don't know anyone around you but then I was in bunches of people I did know. I stuck behind Anne Hay for the first wee while and used her intelligence for path finding. She was going for straight lines rather than trying to dodge the muddy bits and that worked well. There was plenty of mud but none of it was that deep. Neil Jones appeared from somewhere. He appeared to be enjoying the mud so much he'd been rolling in it.
I lost Anne for a while. I got a bit stuck behind a mother and baby unit who were running side by side and there was no way past without really barging, which seemed unnecessary, so I hung back. Eventually the path widened and I got by. It had given me a nice wee breather. I didn't know if I would see Anne again but I found myself just behind her again and this time I felt like I could keep going so I did. After a while I went past Neil with his muddy back and elf ears too, but he wasn't keen and after asking if I'd like an elf hat to wear (which I politely declined)  surged off forwards. I didn't try to give chase. I have no idea what shape anyone is in and I went back to this plan of running steadily. After a while I caught up to Ian of HBT and an HBT lady and I went past both of them. The HBT lady came back at me and did that thing - unintentionally I think - where she went in front of me and then slowed down. This switched on my fighty brain (technical term, it's somewhere in the middle of your head) and I went past her and kept moving faster for a wee while. Lap 1 was over and I headed off back out into the woods. The 2 HBTs did not come back. After a while I drew even with Neil Jones again, who by now had lost the elf hat. I sensed he was somewhat spent, and this time, when I passed, he let me go.

Now you can't afford to get complacent in a race, but I was enjoying myself. I was mostly on my own and it was peaceful. I think there's a Japanese thing where you hang about in forests to restore your aura. It didn't seem beyond the bounds of possiblity that my aura was being restored, because I did feel good. I thought it was possible that Peter's dad was giving me a hand too.  Whatever it was, I was clicking along nicely. It didn't seem that long before the 4th mile beeped on my Garmin and there was only one last mile to go. I had no idea what other 50s ladies were in the race so I thought I shouldn't let any available places go - just in case. (I needn't have worried. As it turned out the race was bristling with top over 50s talent and I wasn't in with any kind of a chance.) There was an older looking elf up ahead of me for a long time and I thought I would take her if I could, but in the event, she drew slowly away ahead. I ran mostly on my own to the finish.

Ah, the finish. Such a good place. I stood about in a daze slowly cooling down for quite some time. Be still my beating heart.

Nick attends to his nutrition.

Peter was 2nd V50 and Willie was 1st V60. I don't know the name of man no. 3 in the picture but he was 1st V50 and was very speedy by all accounts.

When I got home and I was downloading my photos from the day, I came across a curious thing. There were weird sparkles in some of my pictures. I shouted Peter through and he looked at me suspiciously. Was I at it? Had Peter's dad decided to give us a wee message after all? Later I looked at what the setting next to "automatic" on the dial of the camera was and found it was set on a filter called "Sparkles". Well, that was some kind of an explanation, but it's never happened before. Did Peter's dad change the settings? He didn't used to be so very technologically gifted, very often bewailing the fact that Windows 95 had become redundant. But maybe he's been taking a class.


Today, Peter was off to run 25 - 30 miles with Nick and Nasher. He was crying as I waved him out the door, but there was nothing to be done. He was undoubtedly in for a thrashing and it would do him good anyway.

I set off a little while later on a more leisurely journey-run of my own making.

I've got Strava Challenges to be met and I wanted to get a bit of distance in today, and do a bit of ascent too. I also wanted to take in a bit o' "Christmas" towards the end. I thought I might use my new found sparkles to good effect. So I set off at foot-off-the-gas pace round Arthur's Seat. At the top of the hill I spotted this fine pheasant fellow and stopped and had a breather. Is he even real? Does he know he's made out of felt? No matter.

In the distance the Forth was looking ethereal. I threw in a bit of sparkle.

Fife seemed to be getting the best of the weather, which didn't seem right.

The forecast had promised a bit of sun, but there wasn't much sign of it.

Edinburgh looked quite dull.


I made my way over to Blackford Hill through the quiet back-streets.

From the top of Blackford Hill I could see a grim looking fog rolling over the Forth. Again, Fife and the Ochils seemed to be blessed with all the sunshine. It seemed the sun's benificent rays couldn't penetrate the atmosphere of seething commercialism over Scotland's Capital City however.

So we were blanketed in a chill, damp air.

As soon as I hit the more densely populated regions my good-ish mood evaporated. There were scores of yacking people in parkas with legions of dogs with them. I saw one posh looking lady kicking some leaves over a spaniel turd so she wouldn't have to bring it home. I told her what I thought of her with my eyes.

I stopped at a wee cafe just out the gates of the Hermitage and had a coffee and a tiny brownie. (To eat.) (Just a cake, shut up.) I sat in the wrong place, just inside the door where the counter was. A dad came in who obviously wasn't used to wrangling children. His 4 year old came and stared at me as I drank my hot coffee and ate my cake. I found this uncomfortable until I realized that in her all-in-one romper suit and bobble hat she looked kind of like a penguin. When I thought of her as a penguin it didn't feel so uncomfortable to be stared at unflinchingly. She wasn't getting a bit of my brownie anyway. And I couldn't take a picture, which is a shame. The cafe had a heavy door that sticks, and while the dad ordered things at the counter his penguin toddled right behind the door. If anyone had come in, the door would have knocked her hard in the head. I couldn't relax, waiting for the impact. "You're a fucking moron". I thought, as I looked at the dad. The brownie hadn't fixed my blood sugar.

Time to move on. Joy to the world.

Then it was difficult for me not to think of this as some soft-eyed paedo Santa who keeps a stable of captive bears.

"Everyone has a price little Ted" said the cynical Panda.

Even my sparkles couldn't fix the dense and dank heart of the capital.

I had thought about running a half marathon but it was time to be getting home. I arrived home having run just shy of twelve.

Tune in a gain soon for more "Bah, Humbug!!!"

1 comment:

Louise said...

I dont know how to do the sparkly thing on my camera phone! I need this sparkly effect in my life!