Monday, 27 June 2011

My Little Pony

One of the great things about running down the coast is seeing what the sea has thrown up on the shore for you.
Yesterday it was My Little Pony, CoastRider and an embarrassment of jellyfish.
At first we saw only lone jellies, like itinerant eyeballs staring up from the sand. But further along the shore there were obscene quantities of them, stranded and drying. I thought briefly about a rescue mission involving a shovel and a wheelbarrow but having neither had to move on. Maybe jellyfish are fine waiting for the tide to come back in. What do I know?

Further along we saw two blokes on bikes on the beach. We assumed they were poor fools out wrecking their nice bicycles, but as we got closer we realised that they maybe knew what they were doing. Specially adapted for the shore the bikes had super-fat tyres and some other technical adaptations that went over my head. Something new to want. It does seem to make sense to find more ways to use the shores given that we're surrounded by them. Mr Coastrider gave us a demo and cycled over weedy boulders and pebbles with ease. He said it was really good on the hardpack snow going over the Lammermuirs in the winter as well.

Neither of us were feeling all that lively for some reason so we just knocked out the miles slowly. 19 miles in all (we started at Prestonpans). The furthest, though not the longest, we've gone since Cape Wrath.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Today we went for a swim with Lucy at Gullane beach which was smooth as t'mill pond. We also took along a waterproof headcam which was an ebay impulse buy and has been gathering dust (on top of the piano) since November 2009.

The sea will never be calmer so I had no excuses. Lucy and Peter swam expertly off and I puddled along in very shallow water the best that I could. New discovery for today was that the wetsuit rubs your neck unless you protect it in some way. I also seem to have sunburn on one eye-lid. Bizarro.

Afterwards Lucy was driving up north and we went a wee 5 mile run along the beach and back to "see the mini-subs". I wasn't very impressed. Just some sea-weedy rusting rubbish on the beach, but Peter loved them. Maybe I was just too hungry to appreciate them properly.

Portobello Road Race

Here's a link for photos for last night's road race. Results are being worked on and should be up soon too.

Here's a link to the Portobello Website page with results and more photos. There are a few issues with cat. positions and name spellings to be ironed out. Any comments to the website please as I can't change them.

Check out the website also for pics and results for the kids race.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Few PRC LVs at the HBT RLF RMR with MMR (lol)

Denise not happy about her shoes

Apparently there's a resurgence of measles happening in Europe and now the UK. Its thought to be due to low uptake of MMR vaccine due to fears of a link with autism and also global migration so that the percentage of people with immunity to measles in the populace is down. As a defender of you the public's health I magnanimously acceded to having my first MMR jag yesterday even though I'm not a baby. The work linking MMR and autism is apparently now discredited and I think the most convincing argument being that since the introduction of MMR vaccine in the 80s, the incidence of measles has gone way down while the incidence of autism has stayed the same. I find this slightly surprising because as autism only started to receive much attention in the last couple of decades you might have expected an increased number of cases diagnosed even if the incidence remained the same....

But I digress. While there is no evidence to show that the MMR jag is performance enhancing, there's also no evidence to show that its not. I clung to the hope that it might somehow give me an edge at last night's HBT RLF Red Moss Revolution.

The PRC championship series is a hell of a thing if you're an LV these days. That's where most of the fast ladies are, and where I used to routinely be the only lady turning up for championship races, thus winning my category for four years, there is now predictably a good turn out.

I used to say that it would be great if more women came along but I realise now that that was a lie. I still turn out routinely for my dose of having my butt kicked, because I like a race, but its demoralising. I'm looking forwards to getting to 45. Last night, unusually, there wasn't much of a showing of the LVs. Emily and Jim had got stuck in traffic and I guess maybe Shery was put off by the rain. Amanda was in America. Ruth would apparently rather go and run with a 35lb pack in the rain than go to another hill race! Maybe this was my night? Maybe it would be 10 points at last? But no, there was Denise Muir announcing that she'd never done a proper hill race before and would she get her new shoes dirty? To my surprise I'd beaten Denise on Sunday at the 7 Hills Race but she'd said she hadn't been feeling that great and knowing that she can roast me over the shorter distances (and probably the longer distances, having a 3.09 marathon to her credit) I knew that victory was unlikely. Still, she might not take to the hills...

Due to the chatter in the assembled crowd on the road and having to slap midges I missed the pre-race talk and was therefore a little mystified when Jamie Thin started singing a song about the reds and the greens or something. Peter tells me that he'd asked that people sing a song as they crossed the finish line. Its a great idea. Maybe next year.

Anyway - off we jolly well went and it was good to be moving and away from the midges. I'd promised myself I'd keep it even as its mostly uphill for the first 2 miles. Last year I went off as fast as I could only to develop a crushing stitch as I summited Hare Hill and get passed by everyone I'd been trying so hard to keep behind me. This year the ground was very wet and Hare Hill was at its most taxing. I struggle on the lumpy ankle-twisting surface and wonder how on earth people can keep their speed up and not end up injured. There were a couple of twisted ankles though and neither of them were mine. I just tried to be patient until I could get onto an easier surface.
Denise had passed me shortly after we came off the top of the road and set off up the Drove Road - and although she wasn't going much faster she was pulling away convincingly. I wasn't going to be going forward to meet her so it was up to her whether she was going to come backwards towards me! I "let her go", and didn't see her again until after I'd finished.

On the way up onto the side of Black Hill I passed Derek Elms who was walking at this point. The damp seemed to have improved the path here. Its been getting more and more rutted of late but seemed relatively flattened out. I kept a nice steady pace down here and found myself thinking about other things, work things. It was exactly a year yesterday since I left my last job and it had been quite a year. I had to pull my mind back from this fascinating review in case I unthinkingly slowed to a comfortable jog. There was no-one around me and it would have been easy to forget that I was in a race.

Towards the end of this path, at the reservoir, a couple of men came past - one a Carnethy. Last year at this point I still had a stitch and had particularly hated getting onto the flat and having to run the last mile and a half into a head-wind. I had been passed here last year by more club mates and had felt unable to respond at all. This year there was a gentle following wind and I felt a whole lot better. I had no strong feelings about trying to beat the men who had just come past me, but I was aware of danger from behind. Gillian would be there and Fiona Mayfield and I didn't dare slacken. Running at a pace that felt right I found I was gaining on the men. I passed one, in a green shirt, just going into the wooded area. I passed the next one - the Carnethy, in sight of the green hut that signals you're very nearly finished. A moment of complete panic when I found the kissing gate at the side of the main gate was locked, only to find the actual gate was open! At the next gate there was no sign of an obvious way through so it was over the top of the gate. At the last gate there was a side gate which I went through - at which point I could see Derek Elms coming back determinedly for me! A final sprint for the line on unhelpful gravel - I knew I was done for really but kept going as best I could. Pipped to the line by Derek Elms. It was almost worth it to see the big grin on his face.

So. There was Denise looking woefully at her shoes. They would never be the same. They had been Green Cleughed. The off-roadyness didn't seem to have given her much trouble though...

As usual at the RMR the midges were out amongst the trees in the car-park so the desire for post-race analysis was off-set by the need to stop getting bitten. Gareth Green had come in 3rd. Kate Jenkins ran after winning the WHW again on Saturday. I won't really know what else happened til the results come out. Eilidh Wardlaw was running even though she also won Glen Rosa Horseshoe last Saturday and turned out for the 7 hills on Sunday. I had taken a minute off last year's time so was pleased with that. I enjoyed it a whole lot more too.

Not sure what the next raciness might be. I'm contemplating a Park Run on Saturday morning but not sure if I can really force myself to get up early on a Saturday morning just for the pleasure of getting roundly spanked. I haven't done a single park run since they lengthened the course to 5K. (conformists).

Photos all by PB except for the Denise and her shoes taken by her sister.

Monday, 20 June 2011


We heard the awful news today that our friend Andrew Henderson  died on Saturday. He ran in the relays at the Highland Fling and did a fine job, went into hospital around the time of the Stornoway Half (28th May) and we gather found out he had pancreatic cancer. We googled this and it isn't good. I think mainly because it can stay asymptomatic for so long and the cancer has usually spread by the time its detected. We knew he was in serious trouble but I guess you don't give up hope until you have to. (I mean me, not Andrew, I hadn't given up hope.) We certainly thought we'd be seeing him  at the Tour of Fife. I haven't digested what's happened yet and I don't really want to say much more except Andrew was a lovely guy with a really robust, calm presence and he was great fun and I can't believe for a moment he's dead.

We're sad and upset at the thought of the sadness and the upset Andrew and his wife Julia have  both just been through, and that Julia's still going through.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

7 Hills of Edinburgh

Isobel Knox's photos show what the HBTs were up to. 
Meanwhile in Porty land...

Oh how I love this race. I have to overcome this growing aversion for road-running though as I was hating it all the way to Corstorphine Hill and then cheered up once I got amongst the bushes. I came off Corstorphine Hill a new and unplanned way which happily came out alright - emerging from the woods just above the steep road that takes you down to the main Corstorphine Road. Again - not much pleasure to be had at Balgreen etc. or wherever it was. I was a little bit surprised to be passed at this point by Don Naylor. Gordon's training is working for me but maybe not that well.

At Craiglockhart I caught up to and passed Paul Eunson on the muddy scramble up the side of the hill. I only found out later he'd had a nasty knock from falling while coming down from the castle and had not recovered - and later dropped out.

I seemed to be catching up with the Challengers sooner than usual but this turned out to be because there had been less time between their start and the Race start than usual. All shortcuts worked well except one that we'd planned coming off Blackford Hill - I went further left than I intended and had to run back on myself. Probably only cost a couple of minutes but put a knock in my confidence and I spent the next mile thinking that I was going the wrong way. However it all worked out. Come Pollock Halls getting over the wall was easy and also very gratifying as as I landed I saw a bunch of people I'd been with at the gates of the Halls now probably 300m behind and I never saw them again.

Going over Arthur's Seat I snuck past Michael Nowicki and another Porty by going left over the climby stuff rather than the slower more sedate path and again never saw them again. Coming down the other side I was pleased to see Jim Ramsay still going strong and up for a bit of banter. Shortly after I could hear him talking to someone - who was it going to be? The fleet of foot Gillian MacKelvie floating downhill as she does. Eek! Luckily she floated a bit too far downhill and I veered off left taking a shorter line and then, reluctant as I was, kept moving as best I could. I was given extra incentive in the closing  moments of the race as 2 Edinburgh ACs who I'd swapped places with a couple of times came past me. As each time I'd got past them it had been on an uphill I felt I really had to fight this one out so went back ahead and stayed ahead.

Its a great race to finish. Much banter and chatting at the end. There were a good number of Porties set on going to the pub for some pints afterwards, which sounded pretty good. Let it be known, lest we become known as HBT2 however that what we were drinking was lager based drinks and white wine...

Talking of HBTs I thought Izzy Knox and Deborah MacDonald were just playing a cruel joke on me by pretending to finish after me but it turns out that, like Don Naylor, they were taking a thoroughly relaxed approach to the whole thing. Ian Campbell was likewise relaxed, telling me he's putting his energies into coaching rather than self-glorification these days. I saw Ivor. N. to say hello to but never got any of his chat.

Special mention should be made of Michael Geoghegan who also did Glen Rosa yesterday and took some kind of epic tumble today so he had a bruised forehead and a black eye by the time he got to the pub.

Good results for the Porties - I think Shery was 3rd lady in the race and Emily won the ladies' race in the challenge. Willie was 1st Vet (Vet begins at 50 in this race) and Portobello won the 2nd team prize.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Urban Parks Run

Pictures by PB

We needed to run about 12 miles today and we needed a new way to go to beat the staleness. We came up with the idea of a themed run - Parks of Edinburgh.

It was a grey, drizzly day and we cleverly timed our run to coincide with pretty much rush hour on a Friday but it was good fun doing something new. Parks we linked up; Leith Links, Victoria Park, Inverleith Park, Princes St. Gardens, The Meadows and the Queen's Park. 12.65 miles. Job done. Saw a few sights along the way and many traffic jams. Good to not be in them.

Next run what will it be? Catholic churches? Tescos of Edinburgh? We shall see.