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.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Extraordinarily long run.

On Sunday, Beast from the East or not, we needed to do a long run. Well Peter's fine really, but the Manchester Marathon keeps getting closer and I haven't done more than 19 miles. We kicked around ideas for finding 20 miles in town, but when I saw the Edinburgh to North Berwick train-line had opened up again after a few days of all the trains being cancelled, we were pretty much agreed a run from NB was our best bet. The steady, cold wind from the east was persisting and it was best to have it at our backs. After Friday's run home from work - which is pretty much all downhill - I had irritated the tendons at the sides of my legs again. I think it's from excessive braking. I was reluctant to do anything hilly as a result.

Looking at the pictures, we were remarkably cheerful and optimistic given how dark and grey it was.

Our plan was to head to the beach straight off the train from NB in the hopes that it would be snow-free and easy going. This was pretty much the case, at least at first. After a couple of miles we bumped into Neil Jones and Harry who were just turning around for their return journey, so had a catch up for the next section of beach. After Yellowcraigs we had to head up onto the snowy trails. We were still quite fresh and were enjoying the unusual mix of snow and sand. The bright reflected light from the snow gives an illusion  of it being brighter than it is.




Morale stayed fairly good, in fact, to Gullane and about 8 miles. I was starting to struggle a bit - some of the snow was quite deep and uneven. I hoped that the wildest and least inhabited stretch along Aberlady bay and over the nature reserve would be restorative, but instead the sand was quite sinky and my right leg started to hurt, just under the glute. Then back up on the nature reserve there was quite a lot of difficult snow. I think I had low blood sugar by this time. Peter had eaten a bar of something or other earlier, but I hadn't felt hungry at all and wanted to hold off until Aberlady. I realised I was quite grumpy when the fact that Peter seemed to be able just to skim quickly over the surface of the snow while I felt I was wallowing clumsily in it was making me quite angry. How come he could run so much better than me? It didn't make any sense. My legs were stiffening up like concrete - a familiar feeling, although I don't know why it happens - it didn't used to.

It was a bad low point. I didn't see how I was going to run 20 miles - I had just run about 10 - and yet I couldn't pull out of it. The thought of the places we still had to run to was making me sick - that whole stretch past Prestonpans and beyond. My leg felt really sore and I wondered if this was a new injury. We were turning out 14 and 15 minute miles but I couldn't go any faster. Aaaaaaaah!!!!!


When we got into Aberlady, Peter was cracking on about wanting pizza. I thought he was off his head. I suggested we go and have a banquet for two at the Grace of India and then see how our running was with a big curry and extra poppadums on board. The thought of getting something cold out the shop and then sitting on the cold, wet wall outside was just too grim though. We had a look in the window of the old Aberlady Inn. I don't know if this is newish but we didn't remember seeing it before. It looked fairly informal and had food so we headed in. I was at my wit's end anyway so went with the plan of having a half pint of lager and lime and thinking about what to eat, while Peter had a pint. Even sitting down the top of my hamstring in my right leg was spasming. I really thought I was done for. But lager and lime was delicious. There was live music playing which at first we weren't pleased about but quite soon I was feeling like singing along, or maybe doing a solo turn. We looked at sandwiches and stuff on the menu - Peter had soup and a cheese sandwich - but it was the dessert menu that spoke to me. I "plumped" for the chocolate fudge cake and cream and a toasted tea-cake and a big Americano and another half of lager and lime. And continued my transcendence from zero to hero. A while later, back out in the sleet, I had to run slowly because I was full as an egg, but I had forgotten about the future and the Pans and all that and was back firmly in the present and enjoying it. My leg had eased up entirely and I was relaxed and warm and good humoured. The battery on my camera was nearly done so there are few photos from Aberlady on. 

The going was objectively tough. There was some uneven snow and some very nasty cold, wet slush - but it never got me down again. Our pace was glacial but our hearts were happy. Peter had a growing ambition to "do" a Tynecastle Bronze. I thought I would ship out at Prestonpans Train Station. My mileage was up to 19 miles by then so I'd make over the 20 running up to the station and back down from Waverley - but I felt strangely reluctant to call it a day. I don't really know what moved me to say I'd carry on. Peter wasn't bothered about pace - I was a bit worried I'd kill him with the slow pace as he was wearing less than me - but he was trying to make up an extra 2 miles along the way by running forwards and then back to meet me.

So to cut a long story short I kept on keeping on. At Musselburgh quayside I had a sit down to take off my trainers and check my feet. They'd been soaked for hours and I felt like I was developing hot spots. Seeing my feet however, there was nothing to be done. They were all shrivelled up. I'd just have to hope they were tough enough to withstand it.

Along Porty prom it was dark. Peter put in a lot of work to get his extra mileage in so that we could finish together. We made it back to the house and I had run 27.8 miles and Peter had to just run to the end of the street and back to make his mileage up to 30.

So if there's a moral to the story, it's something about living in the present and staying relaxed and happy. I know that in principle anyway but alcohol made a remarkable difference. Peter told me it was the Graham Nash method. I was pleased about it anyhow. It's been a while since I actually impressed myself - but yesterday I did.