Sunday, 27 February 2011

Dunbar XC

Last and I thought best (although I missed Norham so can't comment on that) of the Borders XC. I didn't have ideal prep. with 17+ miles in my legs and  2 and a half glasses of wine yesterday, and then I started having computer problems after midnight last night so was up til 2am tearing my hair out. (Its half fixed - don't know what's wrong - sometimes will boot up and sometimes not).

So didn't feel great crawling out of bed at 9am with gravelly eyes.

Andrew S. came along for a lift and we travelled down together.

The route had been changed at the 11th hour to White Sands, just beyond Dunbar. The landscape seemed vaguely  surreal as we approached on the single-track road. It was something about the flat expanse of wild grass, the cement factory billowing grey smoke and the wide sky above us.

At the car park there were more and more increasingly familiar faces! A few Porties, including Ian Goode, Johnny Lawson and Lynn Morrice showed up. (Lynn brought cake again!)

Mercifully, we got the running into the wind on soft sand over right at the start, running to one end of the beach and then turning around again, but with the wind now behind us. We ran back along the beach, up onto the headland and then a lot of enjoyable single-track, through gorse bushes, opening out onto paths and narrowing back down again. A tall, implacable, white lighthouse looked on.

Discussing this later, it wasn't just me that felt that the lighthouse took forever to pass and then forever to get to coming back in the other direction. Some trick of perspective made it always seem equally far away. Or maybe my fever is back. One of my ears blocked up again in protest at the cold wind. My heel  grumbled mildly but wasn't terrible.

Knowing that the last few weeks haven't been ideal training for ANYTHING I had really let go of all expectation, and although the cheerful Mr. Stavert taunted about how he was going to beat me today, I found I didn't mind. I kept myself busy focusing on another woman who was now a little ahead, now a little behind. She quite markedly struggled on the uphills so I tucked away that knowledge for later on, and sure enough, on the return journey, I caught her on an incline and then tried to keep going steady so as not to lose my advantage. I tucked in behind a Gala Harrier and then passed him and he tucked in behind me and used me shamelessly as a wind-break until the last flailing sprint during which he overtook me. I'd have done the same.

Then it was all over. A couple of the Portobello team were blooded having come unstuck on the final bit of gravelly road.

Back at Hallhill we got showers and heaps of soup, sandwiches and cake. Peter took home 3rd in his category (45-49) and Lynn and I took 2nd in our respective categories (39-39 & 40-44), so we were well pleased. Elegant trophies. Everyone who completed 3 races got horse brasses too which was a nice touch. Well organised event with millions of prizes.

A good finish to the XC season. Now I am icing my heel and wrestling with my laptop...

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Pans 2 NB

Today's aim was a 15+ mile run to start increasing the see whether the Highland Fling is now out of the question or salvageable. We kicked around all the 15 mile routes we could think of and weren't inspired by any of them so we decided to buy day-saver tickets to North Berwick, jump off the train at Prestonpans and run to North Berwick, getting the train back home. Peter's mileage is increasing nicely. He did a 30 miler on Tuesday and still went to the club session on Wednesday, so he was just along for the extra miles and as moral support.

Both of us had tired legs right from the get go. Peter's getting close to an 80 mile week so there were no mysteries there about why his legs hurt but I last ran 4 and a half miles on Thursday. Why then do mine feel like set concrete?

Nice day. Definite signs of spring on the way. All spring was out of my step by 9 miles or so however and it gradually became undiluted hell on a stick. I used the cover of the roar of traffic in the last couple of miles into North Berwick to shout profanities as Peter looked on and laughed and pointed at his head. I enjoyed letting loose with the histrionics. Don't usually make a fuss. Then I realised that we were dangerously close to the time of the next train back to Edinburgh so I had to concentrate and try to get a move on. Got to the train about a minute before it pulled out the station. So that was good.

15.8 miles plus 1 each way to and from the station. The jury's still out about whether I can up the mileage enough for the Fling. The Borders XC tomorrow should be interesting...

Sunday, 20 February 2011


It was the crack of noon. The phone rang. We had not long since rolled out of bed. It was Amanda! We were supposed to be going a run! Ahhhh. Most of our usual 12 mile-ish routes would be thick with mud or were just TOO boring. So we set out to do the route we meant to do yesterday. But the tide was in yesterday! We looked at the Leith tide tables, and they showed the tide being high in Leith 15 mins later than yesterday - so we were able to work backwards - we started at about 2.30 yesterday and pretty much hit the high tide...if we could set off at 1.30 today that would hopefully give us enough time in hand to get round the trickier bits of headland before full high was by no means a sure thing but it seemed a reasonable enough punt to take...

And so it was. We set off from the same place, an hour earlier, with Amanda and Scott. It was the same grey day. The wind was forecast to be 7mph compared to yesterday's 6mph.

I felt a lot better than yesterday. I hoped I might. 11 hours sleep can do wonders.

Long story short, the tide was pretty far up the beach but we made it round with some minor diversions inland. Scott and I ran in shorts and got our legs lacerated by the thorny bushes and the sharp grasses.

We finished up with...cheese tongues and I had some more of that diet Irn Bru.

How the weekend flies by and I have not yet done the things that I need to, to prepare for the week...
Nice day out though and my heel wasn't too bad. Fingers crossed I can start increasing my mileage again in earnest. My legs were like concrete by the end of the run...

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Time and Tide

Orange stains from crawling through the thorny bushes.

Due to sore heels and lingering flu bugs we gave the Nationals XC at Falkirk a miss and went for what we planned to be an easyish 12 miler round the beaches of East Lothian.

 We headed down to Yellowcraigs and planned to run along the beach back to Aberlady and then back to Gullane to pick up the car but the tide was in and halted us in our tracks. We had to go a bit inland for a while but found ourselves bush-whacking through those thorny bushes with the orange berries, (Does anyone know what those are?) beside a high green fence over which was, I think, the grounds at Archerfields. Peter climbed over the wire but I didn't want to, even if it hadn't been a difficult climb (nowhere for your toes to go), the woods were full of the sounds of gunshot.

So we back-tracked a bit, wondering what to do, when we noticed a little sandy path back to the beach and by this time there was a thin margin of beach over which we could run, if we were careful and quick. I managed to move considerably faster than I have all year, but only for a short while.

There was a bit more climbing and crawling involved to get over some cliffs as the tide was right in beneath them...

The extra-curricular bush-whacking and climbing and what-not was a bit exhausting so  when we got to Gullane beach we headed straight back to the car instead of taking in the next bit of headland. Predictably we found ourselves at Falko's. Today they were selling cheese and sausage tongues! Delicious washed down with diet Irn Bru.

8 and a bit miles. I felt very sluggish after the first couple of miles. I am hoping it is just the toxic effects of work wearing off...

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Doldrums

My deaf ears are clearing slowly and I'm not coughing so much. I went an 8 mile run on Sunday after Carnethy on Saturday and my heel got sore again so I backed right off. I ran tonight for the first time since then and my lungs are clearer but not clear and my heel is better but not completely better. So I better take it easy, be cautious, take some more time, ho hum.

I've had plenty of work this week and it has been a welcome distraction. If you  notice that the mental health of South Edinburgh has improved a bit recently it might be down to me...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Carnethy 5 Hill Race

I was more than strongly tempted just to stay in bed yesterday morning. My ears were still bunged up and I could feel my sore heel. I'd run 6 miles the week before last and 12 miles this week. Why go out and hurt myself under such adverse conditions?

In the end the answer was that I had to do SOMETHING today so why not make it the Carnethy 5? Peter was quite hyped up and seemed a lot better than me from the recent flu etc. I considered taking a camera for taking pictures en route and then thought that that was too defeatist  even for me in my current defeatist state of mind.

As it turned out it was a genuinely lovely day. It must have been the warmest Carnethy I've ever been at. I'd put a long sleeve Helly Hansen on under my Porty vest thinking to protect myself but 5 minutes into the warm up it was obvious that I was going to be too hot. Fortunately I had a spare t-shirt in my rucksack, left over from some other escapade, that I'd never bothered to unpack.

If I pushed too hard on the uphills I went into uncontrollable paroxysms of coughing, so I had to hold back just a bit to keep my breathing right. Because of this I welcomed the downhills more than usual. It was a relief to just shut my mouth!

There was quite a turn out from club and Shery and Kathy, also in my age group, were there. Though they are both better road runners than me, if I was fit I would have hoped to at least give them some kind of challenge in the hills, since I've had more experience there. As it was I gloomily wrote off my chances, aiming only to do myself as little damage as possible.

To my surprise I was still near to Shery at the top of Scald Law. I think she went past me there but was not too far ahead for some time. Between South Black Hill and East Kip I overhauled Kathy who I hadn't seen at all since before the start. I think we exchanged places a couple of times over the next bit. The foot of Carnethy at the Howe seemed to come around really quite quickly. Probably as a result of having done a good few long hill races towards the end of last year. As there was only one hill to go I dug in and forced myself to run 50 steps for every 50 steps I walked. I passed Kathy quite soon and then Shery about 2/3rds of the way up. Its a high risk strategy as you can feel people willing you to blow up! However I've done this so many times I was pretty sure I could keep it going. The trick is that the running doesn't take that much more out of you than the walking and it gives you a change of muscle groups.

There could be no complacency though! Having got these 2 behind me I still had the worst descent ahead and had to try to neither end up tip-toeing down with most of the field blowing by, nor killing myself in an attempt to stay ahead. I'd put my buff back onto my head at the top of Carnethy with the intention of keeping my hair out my eyes, Rambo style, but it turned into a bit of a liability as it kept trying to slip over my eyes!  I was nearly losing the will to live trying to get through that long heather that was tearing my legs up and trying to trip me up simultaneously when the cheering presence of Ruth and Jenni came into view. They put the fun back into it which was what I needed to hold it together for the last bit downhill and then as fast as I could across the bog. I was surprised (and very pleased) not to get overtaken by Shery, at least on the flat bits but apparently she went for a bit of a swim in the second river running across the bog. Some people just can't get enough sport!

Amanda had run a stormer - I didn't expect anything else! I think she was 10th lady. With Rachel coming in a minute ahead of me, together we made up the 3rd finishing ladies team, which is a pretty good result for a race like the Carnethy 5.

Peter had a horrible race, running 7 minutes slower than last year and feeling utterly disgusted afterwards. It is a shame, he looked a cert for going under the hour about 3 weeks ago. But as Forrest Gump would say "Running is a total f*-ker that way".

It was an enormous Portobello turn out. I hope this trend away from road running continues.

Last night we had some ginger beer and wine and watched Batman (Somebody said it was meant to be "deep", what twaddle! Some of the action sequences were good though. I thought Christian Bale looked off-puttingly like a slightly taller Tom Cruise.) and today I am hungover.

Thanks to Jenni with Shery's camera and Bob Marshall for the photos.

Friday, 11 February 2011


Imagine camouflaging yourself in bed in case you get a job to do.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sudafed Up

A 5 miler round and about Arthur's Seat yesterday went okay and didn't seem to make me any worse. The hills made me cough and I was deaf when I started running, deaf during the run and still deaf at the end. Apart from occasional fits of coughing the main legacy of the cold is blocked eustachian tubes which are making me a. deaf and b. hear the constant hissing sound of my brain working.

Today I thought nature has had its chance to clear my ears for me so it was time to get in there with the drugs. I had a bit of a google to see what was good and found that pseudoephidrine looked good but its sales are restricted because it was getting used to help prepare methamphetamine. I was HOPING I could still get some in Tescos, but they only had preparations containing the less bioavailable phenylephrine hydrochloride. "Boo! You're joking!" I hear you say. I don't know what the story is with pseudoephidrine, whether you can have it if you go and talk to your local chemist or if you have to go to a doctor. Personally I find it insulting when you have to go in to a chemist, ask for something and then they read all the warnings off the back of the box before giving it to you. Too much interaction.

"Why so keen on the pseudoephidrine?" I hear you wonder. Well I remember being just about dead in 1994 with some kind of bronchial thing that might have been pneumonia and a young Peter, my flatmate at the time, offering me some Sudafed tablets with pseudoephidrine in them that were just short of miraculous. I had a big weight on my chest, sort of like a large, hot, unwelcome cat and when I took these tablets suddenly all the irritated and bunged up bronchi cleared and opened up and  I was breathing cool clear air again.

I would like that level of relief. Still we'll persist with the phenylephrine for now. I've had some encouraging nose blows but not much else...

And what of the day? Lovely day. Lovely blue sky and it was actually warm in the sun. We went a 7 miler from Cramond round the airport loop. The ground was pretty muddy in places but we were wearing our trail shoes and it didn't matter. The Almond was swollen and you could see along the riverbanks that there's been some very high water. There were a couple of trees down too. Pity all I could here was a lot of swooshing sounds and nasty, raspy breathing...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Essay Time


I was allowed to go for a run today if I wanted to. I'm still a bit deaf with a head full of gunk but definitely feeling better and able to breathe at night so I'd told myself I could go for a run in the morning if I wanted to see 'what condition my condition was in' (Big Lebowski 1998).

It is however essay time again and having suddenly realised that my being ill and not having any work booked for the week was a good opportunity to get in and get the next essay's back broken, I spent a restless night half thinking about what I would write.

Its torture when the ideas start coming and you can't get them pinned down so I was ready to go when I got up this morning.
The next thing I knew 4 hours had passed and Peter was asking me about something. What was that by the way? Then the next thing it was 4.30 and we decided we'd go for a run in an hour if I had a snack right away. I don't know what happened to Peter - must have fallen asleep on the sofa, but the next thing I knew it was 7.30 pm and I had written 3,100 of the requisite 4000 words. I caught myself re-reading and starting to do a bit of a re-write and add in some more and recognised from the numb feeling in my brain that I was done for the day and that no re-writing or re-reading was going to do any good for today anyway. Hah! The day has flashed past.

Already clouds of doubt are starting to emerge about whether I have understood this and that concept a-right but it really is time to stand away from the doors please...

So no running again today which is probably wise. Another day, head a little clearer perhaps...Today was day no. 8. Because I have felt so ill I've not really missed running. What I've missed is the opportunity to get some last minute hills in for Carnethy, but  I'm at that stage of loss which is bargaining - which is - so I have a shit Carnethy - I am willing to trade that for getting properly well and being able to start upping my training again for the Highland Fling. So Jim, if there IS a Jim, could you fix it for me?

Saturday, 5 February 2011

My hair hurts

Thank you for kind wishes to get well again! The dream state goes on. This consists of me and P. floating about the house sniffling and groaning, sometimes finding it all quite funny and other times succumbing to the terrible aches.

"Inception" arrived from Love Film so we settled down to watch that last night. Initially really off-putting, like having someone strutting about boasting "look how clever I am, you can't even understand me!". It wasn't maybe as clever as it thought it was but it had some good bits in it.

No running again today, - we're both still fevery and I'm coughing like I've been on the Capstans. But the sun is out so maybe we'll take our expensive new exhaust system out for a test run and go a walk on the beach or something...

I think its fair to say the Highland Fling training is not going very well... I had one of my classic anxiety dreams last night where I had a Higher Geography and I think Chemistry to sit imminently and had not done any studying for the last 2 years while I was supposed to be learning it. I was looking around for a book that I could read at the last moment that would  outline what I needed to know. I did see a book by Mary Webster who might have written one of the Higher Physics books we used back in the day...

Oddly, I think it will all work out fine. At least I'm giving my heel injury a proper rest, something I was finding it impossible to do.