Saturday, 28 April 2012

Rainy Night in Musselburgh

The team will never be awesome if we don't run. So despite it chucking it down we thought we needed to do a Friday night drive to the Musselburgh Quayside and bang out some quick, flat miles round the lagoons etc. Peter's PF foot seems to do better on the flat so that's what we're testing out.

We cowered in the car for a while as the rain blasted down but it wasn't getting any lighter so we got ourselves out in it. The first mile was the worst - running NE into the North-Easterly wind with the rain numbing our faces and hands and no cover whatsoever. I had hoped for a warm up mile but I was frozen after this one. Then things relented a bit and it was great to get inland and turn around and suddenly we were trucking along with the wind behind us. By the time we were finished the rain had stopped and the sky was brightening.

Next races - Black Rock 5 and then maybe a wee cheeky E2NB the next day, but only if the wind's right. In the last couple of weeks  the wind has turned Easterly and I'm not running 20 miles into a cold headwind.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Ghost of Jimmy Saville

We pioneered a new route around Gullane today, heading about a mile east and then taking a path down to the shore that skirts the edges of the affluent Archerfields golf course. There was a cold NE wind blowing off the sea, so the idea was to run back along the beach with the wind behind to Gullane and beyond, round to Aberlady bay and then  back to the car at Gullane. Managed not to go to a single food outlet in Gullane despite being starving.

There were some odd things in the woods.

My legs were a bit shot today from doing the bog trot yesterday.

Thats the end of my week's holiday and despite fighting it I have the return to work depression. Eric had an intuition at Lochaber that if he bought us a lottery ticket  it was going to win. He bought it and it won £19.60, so he was going to re-invest and try again. Go on Uncle Eric win us the Euromillions!!!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hunter's Bog Trot 2012

Today's enter on the day entertainment was HBT's bog trot. I wasn't sure if I would or should do this really and then I couldn't see a reason why not. Its in my back yard practically. A measly £3 to enter. I'd be going out today anyway. All morning it looked like it was going to chuck it down and Andrew Stavert tells me it did rain hard for a while. But I missed it. The fear of standing around getting freezing in the rain prompted me to take the car up to the start at St Margaret's Loch. A bit soft given its only a mile.

I needn't have worried. As we arrived there the sun came out and shone brightly. Andrew was telling me something about Liverpool and a 30 foot puppet coming out of the sea and a letter. I felt like I didn't know if it was a dream or a vision that he'd had, but apparently its something real. I decided to go for a leg stretch and  a pee. Not so easy at Arthur's Seat. I kept climbing higher only to find there were more people on higher vistas looking down upon me. I finally found a cunning spot beneath some damp crags amongst some jaggy gorse. I think I got away with it. The gorse is smelling of coconut in that summery way that it does.

The HBTs were running a tight ship this year and we were set off pretty much on time. I'd promised myself not to hare off this year as last year I  remember peaking too soon - somewhere around the bog at the start where it is tempting to race hard before the ground gets too steep. I took the 1st steep up  easier too, hoping to pace myself so that the 3rd climb would not be so hard. I felt pretty good topping out and running back to the start for the 2nd loop. Somewhere on the Rad Road however I ran out of something. I ran the whole thing, but at too great a cost, and not at all quickly either so by the time I topped out there I felt hellish. I was passed by a few folk  and I don't think I ever regained the places.

Peter was filming from the crags above and seemed to be suggesting I run harder. I had no intention of running harder! I thought I would run a bit slower so that I could feel better! And so I did. I took it fairly easy on the 3rd climb too (not that it felt easy - it didn't ) and then ran to the finish as quick as I could manage. I was  quicker than I was last year, but last year Murray Strain took us on a bit of a diversion so the route was longer. My average pace was slower than last year. Time to play the marathon card. I did run a marathon on Sunday. I don't know if that made much difference. Its a while since I've run at that intensity and my blood still feels a bit fizzy now.

Anyway. Robin Thomas gave his excellent safety talk to start with and kept us entertained with a random prize giving (including 3 bottles of beer for Portobello, just for existing I think) until the main results were processed. It was won by Ray Ward, 2nd Andrew Wright of Carnegie?, 3rd HBTs Dave Wright, MV40 Brian Marshall, The ladies race was won by Moorfoot Sarah McCormack, Christina Rankin (Kilbarchan) and HBTs Kate Jenkins with Hilary Ritchie as FV40 and Hilary Spenceley FV50.

A great "wee" race, low key, friendly and tough like the HBTs themselves.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


A nice run down the beach loosened off stiff legs and the fresh breeze and April showers helped free the mind. A trip to Falko's was disappointing - we discovered they're closed on a Tuesday but the situation was rescued with Billionaire's shortbread from the deli, ("because of inflation" quipped the shop man) and coffees from the SuperFry.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Bad for Age

PART ONE. The outward journey.

Yesterday's coming of age movie started at 5am. By 6.20am I was out on the street waiting for Eric to arrive in the silver Corsa as the sun rose over the B&Q at the end of the road. It was a beautiful, cold, clear morning. A perfect day for running a marathon.

We picked up Richard a mile further down the road and then, as it was early and the roads were empty, the miles flew by. I enjoyed watching the landscape change from Eastern Civilisation to the Wilder West and particularly enjoyed the drive through Glencoe, listening all the while to the ambient sounds of the Grand Prix in China which "the boys" were listening to on the radio in the front.

We spilled out the car in Fort William just a fraction under 3hrs after we'd left from my house and, having picked up our numbers and said hello to a few folk,  made our way over to the Morrison's cafe for coffee and cake.

After a bit of preamble we were piped out to somewhere indistinct up the road next to the shows. Slightly before 11am we were set off, a little unexpectedly, and the game was on. When my Garmin beeped the 1st mile long before I reached the 1st mile marker I was cursing myself for having started way too far back and giving myself some extra work to do. My plan was to knock out steady 8.11/8.12 miles, reaching halfway around 1.47. I knew I probably shouldn't but I ran a bit quicker to start with, partly to make up for the time I'd lost right at the start and partly wishing to just get some miles under my belt. I felt okay - not fabulous, but not bad either. At 5 miles I thought I should settle into the pace I intended to run rather than the pace I was running so allowed a relaxation. The time passed fairly quickly but by mile 10 I found myself looking for the next mile marker rather than just settling in. There was still plenty distance to cover.

 In a way the Lochaber route is boring as hell, being an out and back, turning round a marshal  at 13.1 miles. One of the benefits of it, though, is that you get to see the leaders coming back down the road. Its the 3rd time I've run the race and each time this has given me a kind of contact high. Seeing these proper athletes flying along the road is inspiring! This really kept me going to half way which I hit bang on 1.47.

I wasn't feeling all that great by this time though, and to say I wasn't looking forwards to the 2nd half would be...true. I wasn't.
 What followed was a long, tiring, non-heroic general slowing down and getting passed by lots of people, with miles and miles still to go and nothing much to think about. My legs were crampy. I think I was dehydrated but I didn't want to drink much. The Lucozade was vile and I drank as much as I could at the 4 fuel stops trying to balance taking energy on board with the rebellion my stomach was threatening if I downed too much too soon. I probably drank about half of the 4  330ml bottles I took. I felt I was near to getting a stitch, but without getting one.

 There were quite a  few clusters of enthusiastic cheering supporters and I really wished they weren't there because it seemed too churlish to go past them without acknowledging them but having to acknowledge them somehow dragged me back to the reality and misery of my situation. I wanted to get away on some kind of thing in my head to entertain myself as my stiffening, cramping legs made their way mindlessly home-ward.

If you're still with me, well done, you're looking good! I passed a few people who were looking worse than me in the last few miles. Without meaning to be cruel this was kind of cheering. At least passing other people gave me a sense I was moving forwards rather than backwards. I hadn't done the "ideal time, good time and acceptable time" thing. I just set out to run 3.35. When I knew that wasn't going to happen I figured the early 3.40s would be better than anything I did last year or the year before and would do. As the miles passed the possibility of doing this grew thin and died. With about 4 miles to go a cyclist passed and called out to me and another lady "keep going steady girls and you should go under 4hrs". Humph. At last something to kick against. "To Heck" with that. I had already told Richard that I didn't approve of jokes about suicide but if I went over 4hrs I was going to open a vein. I made a last ditch attempt to assess what could still be salvaged and I settled randomly on a Good for Age place for London - which meant going sub 3.50.

I can do sums but am not always inclined to. And in the latter stages of a marathon it becomes doubtful whether I can do them. I had it all figured out that I was going to float under 3.50. All I had to do was keep going quicker than 10 min/miling and I would be fine. But then I remembered that a marathon isn't 26.1 miles as I'd been thinking, but 26.2! Hell's teeth, I had made this mistake before! I upped the pace as much as I dared with the imminent threat of show-stopping cramps or a stitch never far away. I was actually pretty bloody sure I would go under 3.50. But then I remembered about the disparity between when my Garmin was bleeping the mile and when the actual mile markers came around. Often in a race, if there is a disparity, it sorts itself out. You realise that a mile marker was put somewhere not because it marks the mile but because at that point there was somewhere to put it or something to tie it to. Not so this time. Each mile marker remained stubbornly about 0.1 of a mile beyond my Garmin miles.

As I made my way up the short series of steep uphills on the lane up into the housing estate I started to realise that it was getting seriously tight. Never having been a priority before, this good for age place now seemed an essential target which could rescue something from the wreckage of my marathon hopes and dreams. I upped my pace considerably and started really pushing. The Garmin shows that I was suddenly running at 7.30 pace rather than err...umm pace. The 26 mile marker came and went  and there was still some distance to go and after a while I looked down at the Garmin and saw I was at 3.49.43 and realised to my surprise and horror that I was...not going to make it. 3.50 came and went and then at 3.50.58 (by my Garmin, results aren't out) I finally crossed the line with 26.4 miles showing on the Garmin face.

Richard was there at the end saying something about looking good and still smiling. Stuart Hay was there and I came out with some garbled something about not being good for age, which I could tell didn't make sense to him. Oh I was just glad to finish. He had run a corking 2.50, which only now occurs to me is 1 hour faster than me! The cheek of it. Shortly after Anne came over the line. I think she'd had a rough marathon too, with a horrible stitch for the last couple of miles.

I made my way over to Richard and moaned a bit again and then got round to asking him how he'd done. He didn't know whether to be pleased or disappointed having gone just 23 seconds over the 3 hour mark. A massive pb. I don't know if it makes it worse or better that the course was long. It means he really did go UNDER 3 hours for his marathon, but it means he's not getting official acknowledgement of it. At this point I still thought the over-distance thing was just me, but then I went for a shower and the topic of conversation was... the length of the course. Pretty consistently people were saying it was about 26.4miles. The air was full of the stories of targets just missed. A girl in the showers had just missed the 4hr mark. Another had just missed a pb. Greig Glendinning had been gunning for sub 2.40, running at consistent 6.06 pace. He thought he had it nailed and then found he'd crossed the line in 2.41, at 26.4 miles. (Greig wasn't in the showers, he was in the hall afterwards.)

I can hear the hill runners laughing at all this consternation about time. The hill runner in me is laughing too. And saying never again. Or maybe only once a year as a test of metal. I'd hate to become too pure to road run. Still, you set out to do something and you can't do it, you go home older and wiser. Failure is a richer experience than success.  I want to move onto the next part of this road movie. It was more fun and much lighter.

PART 2. The return.

Once I'd had a shower I found I'd put a lot less thought into what I would wear after the race than what I would wear during it. Therefore I found myself dressed as a gymnast from the Eastern Bloc in the 80s. I felt a bit embarrassed by this as I re-entered the hall. Richard, clad in his favourite blue fleece with a little white horse hair on it, assured me I was looking fine. Soon the Porty team found each other. Eric got over the line in just over 4hrs 30mins having enjoyed himself. It just shows, character is fate. He has a goal of finishing 60 marathons before his 60th birthday, and I think after yesterday, has just 17 left to do and 4 years to do them in. He struggles finding time to train so is kind of using each marathon as long running training for the next one. (Jon Pickard was not around at that point and was not heading back to Edinburgh so I didn't hear how he got on apart from he arrived in at some point between me and Eric.)
We thought it fairly unlikely that we'd be collecting any prizes so after some tea and floor stretching set off home. We were all much more relaxed and happily the grand prix was over so we had a good chat about all kinds of things in the car. All of our legs were cramping up so we stopped for a stretch and a chip supper in Callendar. I have gone quite rapidly from never touching chips to quite the old hand at eating them over the last few months. This time they were no less good. None of us were walking well at this point and we must have looked kind of odd, hobbling along and laughing. We took our chips down to the pond and sat and watched the ducks while we ate. I was disappointed in myself that I didn't have the camera because I would dearly have liked to capture the glamour of the moment. I remarked to Richard that I felt like we were out of an episode of One Foot in the Grave to which he intuitively responded "Do you mean Last of the Summer Wine?" which is what I had meant. It was freezing cold, so we ate with our collars turned up while a scabby pigeon pecked around our feet among the fag-butts.

Chips finally gone and greasy hands wiped on trousers we telescoped ourselves back into the Corsa and were back in the metropolis in about an hour, saying our fond farewells. It had been a long day and bonding had occurred...

So, no more words. This report has been another marathon in itself. As was getting up at 7am this morning to cycle to Musselburgh. Well done Porty. Thanks for a lovely day Richard and Eric. Vive Ecosse Ya Bass

Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Day Before

I've got 70s tunes stuck in my head. What the hell is it all about? Haven't thought much about 70s tunes since me and Inga used to play Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd  tunes on 1 X electric guitar and amp (Inga's) and 1 X acoustic guitar (stolen from the school?) in Inga's bedroom in a council house up the back of Stromness when we were in 5th year at school. We used to smoke up a storm in her bedroom too, sometimes also joined by her younger sister. Family politics dictated that I take sole responsibility for the smoking so Inga's dad used to call me Smoky Joe. But no adult ever entered the den so clearly nobody wanted to know any different.

The choice of music was Inga's. My contribution was an ability to pick up a tune. I had spent many hours on my own "being" the Jam, Mark Knopfler and Pink Floyd. I can quite like a bit of these old Rocky legends' music but always get tired of it. Their emotional range is too narrow and insistent, not playful enough.

Anyway its droaning on in my head and I think its something to do with the build up to tomorrow's marathon.
I was going to go up to Fort Bill and camp the night before but I've got the chance of a lift and an early morning drive up there so will today be mostly mooching around at home "resting". And by resting I mean not doing anything constructive but not really enjoying relaxing either. Oh well, I guess that's the way its gonna be!

Inga is now a marine biologist.
I hope that neither of us smokes but Inga might.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Number Crunching

No pictures from today so this one of Porty promenade was pinched from someone's Facebook page

Another Wednesday off. This time I thought I would do a "marathon pace" run - or a run with a 5 or 6 mile section at marathon pace. The point of this is to try to get a proper feel for the pace you want to go. I've done it before other marathons and its always a bit daunting because its so much harder to generate this pace on your own with only the cheering in your own head, than it is on actual race day. And if you can't manage it at all that's kind of a downer 8-(.

It was a perfect morning for running; bright, cool and nearly windless. Still I put off going running until I realised I had the fear. What was the fear? Well what is marathon pace this time? What's the best I can realistically hope to do? I'd kind of like to do 3.35, I'd be happy with that. I looked up the McMillan Running Calculator and based on my time for 10 miles at Lasswade I should be able to do this. Thanks Greg McMillan. And what pace is this? 8.12 pace. (Check out the Cool Running Pace Calculator to work out your pace and your splits.) So I set out to do 10 miles with a 5 or 6 mile section at 8.12 pace or better. I let myself have 2 miles grace to get warmed up and get most of the road crossings out the way and then reluctantly raised the pace. The first mile felt like hard work but then I was well under 8.12 pace, and the next mile flowed a bit smoother. The Porty Prom was fairly quiet still but people were cottoning on to the fact it was sunny and it was beginning to get busier. It can be a nightmare to run along when the sun comes out because suddenly its filled with dogs, small children, old people, children on bikes and scooters and  people in wheelchairs so I thought I should keep going to 6 miles before turning around which would mean I'd have finished the "pace" section of my run by the time I was getting back onto the Prom. To cut a long story short I was hitting all my numbers with room to spare and feeling the best I'd felt in a while. I'd run 8 miles by the time I got back to the Prom which was filling up with people as predicted, but as I only had to jog now it was fine. I'd had half a notion that I might stop and get a coffee and a bun on the Prom as I have run through here so often and never really stopped and participated, but the thought of eating a lot more at home drew me onwards. Plus it was warm running but I don't think it was at all warm for standing or sitting still.

12 miles in all, the last 4 thinking mainly about lunch.

Maybe Lochaber won't be all that bad after-all!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The Burpee

Today's run was just under 11 miles round the coast. Whilst out there I tried to do some Burpees, (according to Runner's World Website, the "best exercise you can do", developed in the 1930s by Lord Admiral Burpee). The article in Runner's World suggests you should do 5 sets of 10, or 4 sets of 10 if you're a beginner. To date the most I have managed is 5 and have never had the appetite for a 2nd helping.

It was grey and windy, nice to be out, but good to get finished, and made better by a stop off at the Gullane Superfry for chip rolls and diet Irn Bru. This is turning into a new vice. But is it really a vice? Is it so wrong to be happy? We shall see. Still not feeling marathon-tastic, but better than last week. Not got much speed. Maybe better lay off the cycling and the burpees towards the end of the week.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Good Friday Run

A wet run in the Pentlands this morning. It was drizzling and the tops were clagged in. We did a couple of tops, Turnhouse and Carnethy, and then headed down onto the relative flatness of the "low level" route. It was good catching up with Richard "Ultra" Dennis, who has been absent every weekend for some time, being off racking up the mileage and getting some pretty good results in recent races.

I had a not bad run yesterday after Wednesday's stinker, but today my legs were tired. Far from tapering for the marathon I feel I am training for it. Its in, let me see, a week and 2 days! I'm already rationalising it away as a training run for something else. Maybe Stuc a Chroin which I quite fancy doing again.

I'm working tomorrow, lured by the prospect of time and a third pay and seeing some old friends. Lets hope the sun is back by Sunday.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Kind of a crap run this morning. The weather forecast said it was going to be cold and windy but sunny and dry, so I thought I'd go and do a 10 miler round Arthur's Seat. I hadn't run for 3 days so was keen to get out there. I have a couple of weeks off university so I've got Wednesdays back to myself. After a few bad night's sleep in a row I got 10 solid hours last night and I was feeling great this morning. Despite the weather report however there was sleet and snow blowing about. I tried to wait it out but in the end thought I better just wrap up warmer and get myself out there. This meant putting on tights. I really hate wearing tights. They drag you down. Also a waterproof jacket.

When I first went out the wind was blowing sleet in my face and it was cold and I was glad of my clothing choices but after a couple of miles the sun came out and it was too hot. I stuffed my gloves down my tights and thought about hiding my coat somewhere - but there was no escape from the tights other than running round Arthur's Seat in my pants. That's pushing it even for me. So I just had a too hot run. My legs felt crap. My shoes feel like they've just worn out. It was an effort. The pace was b-a-a-a-d. Argghhh. Marathon in 10 or so days.

I was cheered only by Jimbo Ramsay posting a compilation of lots of people falling off treadmills and hurting themselves, which is hopefully appearing above. Enjoy. Some of them are clearly staged but others are not.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Buttercup Cafe

Today's plans to support the Porties en velo went somewhat awry. First of all when my alarm went off at 7am I didn't get up. Then when I did get up Peter had been messing with my bike. Its a long story but it meant when I finally did set off I needed to go and buy a new inner tube first. I went past Sandy Gilchrist's first of all, only to find it wasn't there. Maybe they're having a refurb or something. So then I stopped in Portobello.

By this time I didn't have much time left to get down the road before the runners would be arriving in North Berwick. I cycled as fast as I could, and it was quite fast as there was a good following wind, but it was not fast enough, nor was it ever really possible that I was going to catch up with the run. At 12.20, as I was 2 or 3 miles adrift I got a text from Peter to say they were all in the cafe. So I arrived in time for the best bit. Everyone there had had a good run. The conditions were ideal. The general mood was buoyant.

We were going to cycle back to get in some training but I had a brain-wave that we could cut in-land to Haddington and then come back via the cycle track and maybe get some shelter from the wind, so we turned down the road to Drem. My legs were pretty much spent however from cycling hard earlier, the wind was no longer so helpful and my posterior was registering some degree of discomfort. Drem just happens to have a train station so we went there instead. Peter affirmed that he had been "tricked". Whatever. 28 or so mile cycle. Not a bad day's work and my hip felt nice and loose afterwards. So I've been doing more funny exercises. Hope its still alright tomorrow!

Tomorrow's mainly going to be cycling too as I have business in Musselburgh in the morning and Edinburgh in the afternoon. I should be cycle-fit by marathon time.

Yesterday's Run

hillscape from Peter Buchanan on Vimeo.