Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Captain Kirk is climbing a mountain

I thought I'd let William speak for me today.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Grim Sunday Run

Random pictures of critters along the WOL

I don't mean to  be negative but what a dreich, damp dark day today was. We went out for a 'long' run - up the Water of Leith, back along the canal and into town which then gives options of how many times you want to run round Arthur's Seat to make up the distance. As it happened I didn't want to run round Arthur's Seat at all. Not even once. I left Peter circling and called it a day, arriving home with 15 and a half miles on the clock.

Tomato soup slightly improved matters. Peter arrived home having done 20.

The Water of Leith is laughably broken up in the last few miles. (The first few miles of our run today.) Not possible to run along it without diversion after diversion. As the WOL half is a matter of weeks away we kind of need to figure out exactly where people are meant to go.

And now we are plunged into darkness again for another winter. Only 2 months until Christmas and another 3 months to get us back out the other side and into spring.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Icy cold Gullane run

Peter was off to the national xc relays at Cumbernauld today. It was freezing cold but the sun was due to be out in the morning so I headed off to Gullane fairly early (for me) to knock out 10 miles and see what was happening at the beach.
I wore my skins compression calf things just to stay a bit warm without resorting to tights. They kept on falling down so I guess my calves have lost a little of their manly girth. The Kenyans don't go in for big muscly legs either so I am not bothered.

It was icy cold to start with and the first couple of miles were into the wind. Once I got going it was lovely though. There were very few people at the beach, probably something to do with the eye-stingingly bitter wind.

Before I knew it I was at the end of the beach and it was time to turn up Archerfield for the final 3 miles back to Gullane.

In order to get myself in the frame of mind for ultrarun training over the course of the winter I got Marshal Ulrich's Book "Running on Empty" off Amazon. MU is hard as nails. He thought running Badwater with support was too easy so did it self-supported pulling a cart with all his requirements in it. That was when I first heard of him, years ago. Since then he's climbed Everest and had all his toenails taken out. Anyway I'll probably tell you more when I've read the damn book but Peter got to it first and read 100 pages last night. So I probably have to wait.

Tomorrow might be a longer run but there is a miserable looking forecast of rain and wind. Not keen.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

I've smoothed out my curves with jelly.

No I've not gone all Nigella on you. I've just been trying to get to the bottom of the heart-rate spike in the first mile question. Is it static? Is it something peoples' hearts do?

In my quest to find out I got a Garmin premium chest-strap (2nd hand off Amazon, so for £20 rather than £35 although I fear it smells of someone else when it heats up!) because someone in net-land said that Polar heart-rate monitor chest-straps don't get a build up of static and the transmitter on the Garmin premium chest-strap can be snapped onto a Polar Wear Link chest-strap. Well the Polar chest-strap turned out not to give any different results from the Garmin chest-strap - but I was by now too deep into this to just forget about it. Another suggestion I'd read on-line was to use a conductive gel on the sensors rather than just water - and that you could use ultrasound gel rather than specifically gel for heart-rate monitors at a fraction of the cost. So I ordered up some ultrasound gel - and I used it yesterday. But then we drove all the way to North Berwick before we started running so I think the gel had dried up. I did get a heart-rate spike of over 180 but it didn't seem a fair test. So today I gelled up and out I went for an 8 miler.

The results are above. I got a brief reading of about 150ish, which back in the old days I wouldn't have blinked at. So there seems to be a change anyway, if not a complete answer to my questions. The other things suggested on-line are to only wear cotton t-shirts or to run bare chested. I'm not about to adopt either strategy.

It was a nice day but it was kind of a forced run as my Sunday runs seem to be these days. I was pretty knackered after yesterday. Arthur's Seat seemed to be teeming with Portuguese people this afternoon.

North Berwick Loop

Our plan was to leave the house about 10.30 and head to North Berwick in the van. From there the plan was to run 7 miles on the road into the wind to Aberlady, refuel at the shop there and then head back to North Berwick via the coast which is another 11 miles.

Yesterday the met office were saying it was going to be bright and sunny today but today they had changed their tune and at 10.30 it was drizzling lightly outside. Peter had still been up at 2.30am reading "On the Road" on his new kindle for an up-coming book group so I knew he wouldn't be too disturbed at our setting off a bit later. I spent the morning up-dating all the Portobello championship results - I think next year we should have fewer counting races. It  took time and concentration and I was in a bad mood by the time I'd finished. Not what weekend mornings are for!

So it was a bit after 3pm when we finally set off running from NB. It was a bit grey and cold and I was already hungry so I just got my head down and worked at getting to Aberlady as quickly as possible. That took about an hour. Once there  I repeated the magic formula I used last time I did this run and had a little lion bar and a cup of coffee to get me geared up for part two of the run. It worked as well this time as it had before. An extra bonus was that the sun came out and now the wind was behind us. We realised that we'd left all this a bit late in the day, but it made it extra atmospheric. Our shadows were long and were ahead of us all the way. The lowering light was mesmerising. Peter kept falling far behind as he's got himself a new camera and needs to play with it. I had to stop and wait for him a few times at crucial junctures. There are a lot of different routes you can take running along there.

The last couple of miles into North Berwick we were struggling to see our feet and all the lights were dancing in the harbour. It was a lovely run. We were very glad when we finally got home that we cooked enough last night so dinner was already made.

I seem to have signed up for the Highland Fling again! So hopefully here comes another winter of long runs and taking photos.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Gullane Beachy 12 miler

After yesterday's heart rate monitor thoughts it occurred to me that I could run today with my Garmin to get my mileage and wear my polar heart rate monitor to watch what's going on with my heart rate. I was hoping that during the first mile my heart rate would rise gently in an orderly way, but it didn't - I got similar high numbers as I get with the Garmin HRM - until nearly a mile today, and then it fell back to a sluggish 105. So what is going on with all those people on-line? I don't know. Its a mystery. If I get a chance I'll ask a cardiologist. Anyway, I felt fine.

The skies were dark and it was raining when I arrived in Gullane, so I sat out the worst of it, listening to Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen's spot  on Classic FM. This is a new quirk I've developed in the last couple of months. It may be the beta-blockers.
A mile or so into the run the sun came out making it a lot nicer to be out. The sea was quite churned up and there were loads of things thrown up onto the beach. Sea-weed and lobster pots.

Heading inland through the woods I discovered that the population has increased since last time I was there. I remembered that we had christened the first woodland person "The ghost of Jimmy Savile". I felt a little creeped out for a minute or two until I realised that I wasn't really in his age range! I would be fine! He's lost his white hair anyway and doesn't look like Jimmy Savile anymore. Just down the path there were another two totem people. I like them but they're a little bit Wicker mannish and I didn't hang around.

The last deserted beach at Aberlady bay was really the best bit. Silver seas and golden sands and tangles thrown up on the beach. Then 3 miles inland and into the wind to get back to Gullane. A cheese tongue from Falko's. God they take forever to serve you in there. I didn't think I'd worked all that hard but I realised as I was standing in line that big drops of sweat were sliding off my pony-tail and landing on the floor. And my legs were all muddy up the back. So I retreated back to the car for a cheese tongue and lemonade feast, listening to whoever had taken over from LLB on CFM.

So that's the weekend nearly done. Another busy week looms. I seem to have shaken off my cold though, I slept fine last night.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Re-routed run and misleading monitoring,

Sleeping has been thin on the ground this week as my current cold makes my nose block as soon as I get into bed. I've been having fevery hot half-dreams and then probably punishing Peter with excessive force when he snores and brings me back to unwanted consciousness. Its not just Peter, its all the idiots out in Leith who get pissed and shout and laugh and argue every fecking night. And the twatt with a fancy car with one of those growly engines. He seems to spend half the night parking and re-parking it just outside our house.

Anyway, this morning the dark grey skies, cold wind and sporadic rain didn't seem all that appealing for running in. My head was hot and my nose was snivelly, but I'd only run 22 miles for the week so I needed another 8 to take it up to 30.

To try and make this entertaining I thought I would go and explore the water of Leith with a camera and see what kind of floods I could see after yesterday's unreasonable downpour. I took a camera in anticipation that there would be something to see.

Its not so easy to get on the Water of Leith these days though. I had to go the long way round on the cycle path to avoid where work along the river has closed the road at Powderhall. My next point of access was off  Inverleith Row. Last time I was there there was a foot of river water for a good 20 yards that had to be waded through and I was a little disappointed that somehow or other "they" have contained the river here and there was no flooding. The next run along the river, which comes out at the pizza restaurant in Stockbridge has been closed forever so I had to just go through Stockbridge itself to get back on the path higher up to go through the Dean Village. Along this way I came to a dead halt as apparently there'd been a landslip and the path was closed. A sign sent me up some steps which took me out near to the top of Orchard Brae.

In the meantime I was getting increasingly concerned about the readings on my heart rate monitor. My heart rate had flipped up as it always does for the first mile or so and then dropped back down to the torpid early 100s I'm accustomed to seeing these days. But then after another mile it shot back up to the high 180s and early 190s and was refusing to come down.

I didn't feel any different. I felt the same as I did when I set out, which was pretty lethargic and crap but not truly bad. These numbers were giving me the willies. Running down Orchard Brae it fell back to 105 and I thought that would be that, but as I got back on the flat it started to shoot up again. I was running up a street parallel to Inverleith Park (the Water of Leith was now abandoned, I was sick of its inaccessibility) which I'd never been on before, straight up towards Fettes College. Its quite an amazing looking building and I thought I'd stop and take a photo and see if I could settle my heart rate down at the same time. It did come down but as soon as I started running again it went up way too high. What was I going to do? Was I pushing my luck? Should I stop? In the end, sheer compulsion to get my 30 miles done for the week won out and I ran on anyway, taking a turn of Inverleith park before heading home to make up the mileage. But I wasn't happy. It felt like more evidence that I'm just not working properly anymore.

Anyway, I was letting the Garmin upload my run to the training centre and looking at other stuff on the computer when I noticed it was still on and it was saying that my heart-rate was 120. I suddenly thought, "I'm sure its not" and took my own pulse and sure enough it was sitting at 60. "The little bastard" I thought. I tried on my polar hrm (I've got a kit addiction) just for a 2nd opinion, but it agreed with me, not the Garmin.

For a few years my Garmin has been saying that my heart rate shoots up for the first mile or so of a run and then calms down and until recently I just thought it was because of an initial poor contact between me and the chest-strap and discounted it. Then when I realised I do have problems with my heart I started believing it. But after seeing how my Garmin could blatantly lie to me I had a google for 'Garmin hrm readings too high' and found a load of stuff. Its a known issue. Most people seem to put it down to static, but lots of people get the same thing - either a big spike in the first mile or unfeasibly high readings. So now I don't know. I've been cautious about running too far just now on the basis that running obviously churns my heart rate up - but now that's in question. One person on line said that you never get that problem with the polar heart rate monitors and one fix is to get the garmin heart rate monitor strap that has a detachable heart rate module that will snap onto a polar strap. So I've ordered that garmin chest strap on-line. I already have the polar strap. It would be nice if my heart didn't do anything funny when I'm running apart from beating stupidly slowly, I'd feel more confident to push a bit, But maybe I'm grasping at straws... we'll see anyway. I'm going to test it out.

If you have read all that you get 50 geek points.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A trip to the doctor's today. It was much anticipated. My fear was that they would leave me in this limbo that I'm in. I've not raced since June for goodness sake.
"Why would we want to pay tax payer's money fixing you up Ms Hunter? We  have heard you are a bit of a shit runner." My only comeback would be that I read on an American site that the procedure to fix me costs about 5 years worth of medication, so if I manage to survive more than 5 years they're quids in. However, I doubt that's really true because the drug companies have 10 years to charge a lot for new drugs under patent after which any one can make them and the price comes down, and I think my drugs have been around longer than that. So what comeback would I have then? Threaten to go on a burger binge and then call out expensive reinforced ambulances as I tipped 50 stone? It seemed extreme.

Happily the real doctor was a bit more sympathetic than the one I had imagined and no such bargaining took place. They're going to do it as soon as they can. So that's good.

What a busy old week it has been. I didn't get my new job. I don't really mind although I wouldn't have spent much of last weekend reading about dementia just for fun. I had a fair run round Arthur's Seat yesterday despite having a snivelly cold. I am back to thinking running the Aviemore half is pointless, especially now I've got a cold, so the weekend will be a muted affair. I need to get the running club championship points up to date, so maybe I'll do that while Peter, Richard and Willie Jar Super-star go on a campaign up north.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Beachy 10 miler

Another sunny day so we went for a run round the beach. Peter has a new camera which he's still figuring out how to use so I got away ahead on quite a few occasions. Its a good feeling.

It was perfect out today; cool air and warm sun. The tide was out and the sand was mostly smooth. Back in Gullane we thought about going to Falko's for treats but the big queue put us off. Bananas in the car then.

Photos of flowers and now P has gone out to take pictures of the sunset from Arthur's Seat. Is he turning into a lady?