Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Shining Skull

That's better! My essay is written and submitted (electronically) which means there is no point trying to do any more to it. I just have a hard copy to hand in and I am free..............for the summer. Now I can concentrate on the things that telling you about our yoga class.

Me and PB have signed up for a 6 week yoga class - we're on week 3. Neither of us are showing any signs of loosening up and we have to sit apart so as not to catch each other's eyes. The chap who takes it is Indian and clearly knows his stuff - he can DO all the things, like put his foot to his ear "like a telephone" and look into it "like a mirror". Sometimes it's hard to understand just what he's saying though.

Amongst other things he has us doing breathing exercises. Monday night's one was "Shining Skull" which is blowing out explosively through the nose from the lower abdomen - apparently this is supposed to super-oxygenate your brain. Unfortunately I hadn't taken in the instruction to allow yourself to breathe in in between out breaths and saw stars and very nearly hit the deck. It was only later on, googling it, that I realised my error.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Edinburgh Marathon 2013 - The Day in Pictures

I did a sneaky wee half marathon in the morning - hoping to go sub 2hrs. I was sure I was on for it until the very last minute. I went under the archway at 2 hrs and 37 seconds. The Garmin says the course was too long. I was robbed. However  I had a plan to put into action so there was no time for recriminations. I wanted to get back out on the course in time to catch the marathoners on their way out and then again on their way back.

My plans were scotched however by discovering that I had beaten the baggage truck. When at last my bag did arrive I had some haggis, neeps and tatties. It was only 10.30am and it was an odd kind of 2nd breakfast but I'd been up since 5am as the Edinburgh Half starts senselessly early, and was now very hungry.

I still thought I might get out and catch the marathoners until I tried to get out of Pinkie Park the front way and realised that I was stuck. There was no way in the world I could cross the road without pushing runners out of the way (and apparently that's bad form). I had to go all the way back through the park and down Pinkie Road to get to where I could walk out the far side of Musselburgh and start to photograph marathon folk. The only benefit of this was that I got to pass the garden pictured above. I would never have seen it otherwise. What a wonder it was!

I had hoped to catch Peter who was pacing Angus Farquhar who wanted to go under 3.30 for the first time but had long since missed them. I settled in for a long sit down.

There's a lot to be said for having a nice long sit in the cool while people marathon past you though. It was quite enjoyable. I wasn't a perceptive spectator however and several people I knew had to draw my attention to them - which seems unfair since they were already doing the hard work of marathoning.

I never once wished  I was running the marathon today. It looked pretty hot, although I got cold sitting on the grass and was glad I'd brought my hat - which I'd used to wrap round my camera so it wouldn't get damaged in transit. I drew a few funny looks sitting wearing a woollen hat.

After Peter and Angus went past I headed back to Pinkie Park. It was now hoaching with people who were lame with distant gazes and froth around their mouths. I tried phoning Peter but wasn't getting a reply and was just making my way out of Pinkie Park - not wanting to do anymore circuits of it - when Peter returned my call. They'd made their sub 3.30 so were celebrating. Angus was celebrating by lying on the ground screaming and swearing with cramp. A good day out then....

I enjoyed today most of all because I have an essay to do and have not been doing it. Tomorrow - I'll do it tomorrow.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Inaugural Muckletoon Trail Half Marathon

It was Graham Henry's idea. Or at least it was Graham's idea for Peter to run this race, and then, when I looked at the course I thought that maybe I should go along and do it as a training run. And once I'd thought that I thought Amanda might like it, as we've been getting in the habit of doing a flattish, beachy 10 miler of a Saturday - it would be something different.

It was a shame that it had to be quite so wet and windy for it! The weather continued looking ominous for today all week - and proved to be correct. The skies were uncommonly dark as we set off to pick up Amanda, Alison and dogs just before 10am and soon it began to rain.

It was varied though. A mixture of light rain, drizzle and heavy rain. It was a long way to Langholm and I'm guessing it wasn't just me that had had a long hard week as I wasn't the only one yawning in the car. We had one mild navigation fiasco because Buchanan had put the map I had given him to navigate with in the boot - and so we drove through Jedburgh only to find that we should have branched off before then. It was no real problem though as we had heaps of getting lost time factored in and it was raining so hard no-one was all that keen to get out the car at Langholm.

Beforehand it was hard to decide if the race would be more like a road half or more like a hill race. It turned out to be a riot of different surfaces. The first mile took us along the road and up the first part of Kirk Wynd - a steep road up - but then this turned into steep muddy hillside with streams flowing down the paths - eventually, out of the mist, the monument came into view. Assessing those around me in the race I figured I was in the part of the field where there are people that like an adventure but didn't have much experience of full on hill-racing and didn't have the speed of road racers. It was a nice part of the field for me to be in because I didn't feel as utterly hampered as I often do these days. I found I could pace the hill by walking and running and match pace with others who were determinedly running every step. And then when we went over the hill and started running down the other side I was more comfortable than most of the people around me. The first climb was a good 1000ft and I was mighty glad to get it over with. Then there was a long, enjoyable sweep downhill and some chemical thing must have happened in my brain as I found myself thinking "This is great, I'm really glad there's still another 11 miles to go". Hahaha. Another couple of miles on and I had grown a bit more jaded and thought maybe the 10K would have been a good option but it was too late for that. Anyway the course was keeping me busy. There were good trails, bad trails, rooty muddy forest sections, sections of road, thin muddy slippy trails with 50 feet drop offs to the river which reminded me of being in the Himalayas - if you'd have started down one of those steep banks there would have been no way to stop...

I can't remember much of the sequence - it was all pretty full on. A couple of times I knew I was near the finish  because I could hear the loudspeakers in the Rugby Club grounds but I wasn't near the end of my race. A couple of guys passed me. One, from Motherwell, was very unhappy. "I've fallen 4 times" he said "It leaves you disillusioned." I was sympathetic to start with but then he carried on, "This is not a half marathon it's a trail race!" "Clue's in the title" I thought to myself and jogged on.

I passed a guy from Newcastle who was much more upbeat. "What distance does it say on your pedometer pet?" He asked me. My Garmin blanched at the insult. "9 miles" I said. "Only 4 to go" he said and smiled "easy!". We both laughed. I was utterly fecked by this point. He was obviously doing a bit worse as he disappeared backwards behind me. A bit further along the road I came to the nightmare scenario in a trail race. Arrows in 2 different directions and no marshal. I ground to a halt and tried to use my brain. A girl in a white top came running back along the road towards me - apparently she had gone the wrong way so I followed her the right way. That was a bit of luck. In retrospect I think the yellow arrows might have been for bikes and the white arrows for runners, but no-one had said this. Quite a few people went wrong in the race apparently and I wonder if it was this point, just about 9.5 miles, which caught them out.

The next bit was a bit of a blur. A long flat section beside the river I felt tired and de-motivated and wanted it to end. Then a bit of a climb seemed to take my mind off it, and then a steep downhill, always welcome. Into the last mile, there was a bit of running on the pavement  and into the rugby club grounds again for a cruel full lap of the (wet, muddy) field before finishing. Aaaaah.

I was thinking I'm going to move on to a new system where I am issued post-op pbs. So I have a new post-op pb for a half marathon of 2 hrs 28 minutes! Yes I know but wait - it really was hard. Peter ran 1.37 for 3rd place and he'd expect to run kind of 1.20 - 1.22 at the moment so it truly was tough.

Amanda had won the lady's race. Her and Graham H. had been near each other in the last few miles of the race and Graham had pipped her. Alison had managed to have quite a good day with the two dogs and it hadn't rained all that hard for the duration of the race. All was well. I was very glad to stop.

There was a bit of a wait for prize giving so it wasn't even me who held everyone back! And I beat first local woman. No prizes for this though.

It was one of those races that leave you feeling somewhat proud of finishing so I'm glad I did it. Definitely worth thinking about for next year...

Peter has some pictures which will appear on his blog in due course.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Peaked too soon

"Real life" is encroaching on my run time. I have something to do this morning as well as this afternoon and evening. I thought that this precluded having a run. But I like my Wednesday run.

I was all set to go out yesterday evening. By "all set" I mean my Monday self had decided that's what I would be doing on a Tuesday. In actual fact, as the years go by, I hate running after work. I had a wearying kind of day at work yesterday, lots of hassles and none of it was improved by the cold wind and occasional rain storms. On my bike on the way home I thought to myself - "Nuh, I'm not doing it."

Reluctantly I formed the alternative plan that I would get up early today and get out for a run that way. Before the business of the day began. I wasn't keen but the only alternative seemed to be not running at all  and that didn't seem right either. The running has been going a wee bit better so I'm reluctant to drop that ball. Don't get excited. 9.20 min/miles are the new black, but it's better than 10 minute miles, a pace I've grown more familiar with than I ever wanted to.

So my daring plan was to get up at 7am today. Before you start about that not being early, I just want to say it's all relative. I got up at 5am for years and years to do shift work so don't get all superior on me. 7am is too early to fit in with my current life-style on a Wednesday. That is all. Anyway, something or someone had other plans. I had a short dream in which I turned into the road for Leith Academy and there in front of me was a car with the registration plate LMAO, which as users of facebook will know stands for "Laughed my arse off." - and then I awoke, at 5.42am, ready for the day.

So I got up, and instead of the 5 miler I had planned, I pushed the boat out and did 8.5 hilly miles round Arthur's Seat. I have now had a long hot shower and have the happy contented feeling that God's own people enjoy. However I'm a bit sleepy and could do with a nap. Better get on with the business of the day though...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Rad Road Reps South-West Side

(There were lots more whippets than this)

You wouldn't want to be suffering from seasonal affective disorder this year, that's for sure. Well into May and the sun's disappeared again. When I got up and saw another cold, rainy, windy, grey day I could have spat. Not enjoying the new ice age in the least.

I grumpily did some stuff I had to do on the computer. When Peter surfaced the question of what and where to run arose. We'd thought about going to the Pentlands but the thought of going out there in this unwelcoming cold didn't appeal.

I remembered seeing a girl doing reps on the easy side of the rad road a few weeks ago. First of all I thought "LOSER that's the easy side!" Then on further reflection I realised it was quite a good idea. The SW side of the rad road has a much nicer angle than the NE.

So today's plan was to run round Arthur's Seat the usual way but instead of coming home when we got round the top road we were to do 5 reps of the easy side of the rad road. Peter thought he might do 6. In the event I think he actually did 7. But I did take a bit of time out to take my long sleeved top off as things heated up.

The first one was the quickest but probably felt the worst. Within a few seconds my legs were feeling empty and I was having to blow out hard to get enough oxygen back into my lungs to keep my legs moving. I've taken to wearing my Polar HRM on my left wrist with my Garmin on the right. I got some ECG gel for the chest strap and it's giving me consistent and believable readings which I'm finding ever so reassuring. I tried putting on my Garmin HRM before coming out today as this would cut down on the need for gadgets but the numbers were flicking around all over the place. I put the Polar one on and got nice steady understandable readings. I don't know why this should be. Anyway, at last I'm seeing numbers that I can relate to. On the uphills my HR was rising to 167 which used to be about average for a park run - so I figured 5K effort is good enough and it stopped me giving myself a hard time for running slowly.

I don't really want to say this in case it turns out not to be true, but lately I've been feeling like I'm getting better. I feel more like an ordinary unfit runner than someone who has something wrong with them. Fingers crossed.

After the reps we were both in better fettle than before. It's amazing what a shot of self-induced suffering can do for your mood. We jogged back via Hunter's Bog. There was a woman there with what appeared to be a herd of whippets, all with bells on. It seemed unlikely but we both saw it so I guess it was probably real.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Blog Wars

I don't know how well it's working - having two bloggers in the same household. There is an inevitable degree of crossover which I'm finding troublesome. What in the hell is the point in both of us blogging about the same things?

So I think I should shift my attention to the in between days - the days where there are no big events and that we do not share. Today for instance.

Today I was free of commitments - well in terms of going to meet the outer world that is. I have a presentation (which I'm grandiosely calling my "speech") to prepare for uni on Wednesday. I've been studiously ignoring the whole thing for some time now but the tension has been building in the hinterland of the mind where things you are ignoring lurk. Today was the day I'd set aside to tackle it. I prepared something a few weeks ago and then shoved it today I thought I'd read it over out loud to get a sense of how daft it was and how long it would take to say.

My neighbour has a pretty  steady relationship with "the drink". I think vodka is her thing. It makes me not worry too much about talking out loud and even having the odd sing-song to myself in the flat on my own. She sets off her smoke alarm from time to time. Another Fray Bentos pie blackens as she falls asleep on her bed watching day time telly. Who is there to judge? Nobody. So we each do our thing.

I thought I would just read it over once and then get out a run. I should have known better. This kind of thing always takes over. Several hours later, still in my pyjamas, several re-writes further on I found that I was starving and I would have to eat again before I went out any run.

About an hour after that I finally got out.

Yesterday's 3000 or so feet of climb and descent had really stiffened up my legs, so I was kind of dreading going out, but to my surprise when I got outside the wind had gone round and was coming from the South and it was nice and warm out there. Unexpected and enjoyable.
When I got to Arthur's Seat I was surprised to find that a lot of other people seemed to be celebrating my day off until I remembered that it is a bank holiday today. Going round Arthur's Seat wasn't all that bad. It was good to work up a sweat. It's been too cold to sweat for months now. On a whim I'd put on a heart rate monitor to go out, for the first time in months. To my surprise and pleasure it was showing some fairly normal numbers...until I started running downhill that is. Then my heart-rate shot up to the high 180s and kept climbing. I stopped just to take my pulse by hand and it wasn't anything like that. Either I have funny electrical currents or the damn thing doesn't work on me. I shouldn't have worn it because it got me thinking about heart rate again and I have now ordered a strapless hrm where you can take your pulse by putting two fingers on the watch thing and also some ECG specific gel which might create better contact between me and the chest strap...

There's a new trail race on the block - the Langholm trail race, which I am, perhaps foolishly, thinking I could use for a training run while Buchanan races his socks off. I don't know if it's a good idea. My last 2 attempts at going to races have put me in a very dark frame of mind - but given that I have no previous with this one and time is moving on and I'm adjusting to how things are for me now, maybe I could just enjoy it...

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Aberlady and An Everest of Allermuirs

Yesterday's runniness was a run round Aberlady and all that. There was a very stiff westerly wind which would have been quite good for the Edinburgh to North Berwick racers. The tide was getting surprisingly far out by the time we got to the shore next to Archerfields so running on this stretch of sand seemed extra good. It's usually under the sea. Inspired by this and the wild west wind I tried to jump quite a wide stream that was coming down the beach. I had new shoes on and was trying to keep them out the sea as I think the sea-water is the reason that all my trainers for the last 3 years have ended up absolutely minging. Too much vertical height and getting blown sideways by the wind led to failure however, and one very wet foot.

Over the weekend, Ian Campbell of HBT has been doing a self-set challenge he has called "An Everest of Allermuirs". The aim was to do the same amount of ascent as the height of Everest (29,029ft) but by doing 29 reps of Allermuir Hill at the edge of the Pentlands. He'd given himself 3 days to do it in, which was just as well. Because all the focus was on the height he was climbing I never really thought about what that would mean in terms of distance, but after we'd been up and down twice today we had covered just over 5 miles. Someone with more patience than me can do the maths. If it was 30 reps then that would be 15 X 5 = 75 miles, so I guess he ran about 73 miles over the course of the weekend.

We knew he'd be finishing up today although we didn't know when would be a good time to arrive. We just arrived when we were ready and in 5 minutes Ian and an entourage arrived back down the hill at Swanston car park with just 3 more to do. In a nice overlap of worlds, Bruce Mathieson aka CoastKid, who we usually see on the beach was there on his bike supporting, because he is Ian's brother-in-law.

There was a good and changing band of runners running, people dropping in and out. Ian must have had quite a weekend. He said Friday night was particularly hard going. Today, he was in good spirits and even managed a sprint up the last steep climb on the last summit...

On arriving back at the car park, he and some of his HBT people went off to the pub to get some restorative brown beer. We headed for home (no white, yellow and blue drinks to be had) and gave Maggie Spalding a lift home as she stays on our side of town. Maggie's had a cardiac catheter ablation too so I was able to talk about all that with her. That was a treat. It's kind of a niche market, being a runner/heart patient. It can be a  lonely place.

Ian's Everest of Allermuirs was to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK because his dad died from prostate cancer last year. You can sponsor him here.