Sunday, 26 October 2014

Recovery run and short, sharp swim

Another Sunday, another easy run and a swim. It was blowing a gale and we were both kind of cold and low blood sugary. We started off with the wind behind and I was surprised to find I was running 6.23 pace on a recovery run! It was a stiff wind.
We ran 4 miles around Gullane and then it was time for "going in".

I didn't time it but it's likely it took us longer to boot and suit up than we spent in the water. My head just wouldn't accept how cold it was, giving me a band of cold pain across my brow. So a quick flop about in the choppy seas and then out...leaving me feeling like a bit of a wimp. There had been surfers standing chatting in the car park as we made our way down to the beach and we skirted around them shame faced on the way back. And then we had the difficult task of getting out of our suits and in to warmer clothes with all our muscles clenched and the wind trying to blow everything away. I know, I'm not selling it.

If we really are just going in for a dip then it would be easier to run in in my costume and run out again. But if we're going to swim - and I really do want to swim - I'm going to have to man up somehow. Maybe goose fat on my face would do it!

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Fortunately, Unfortunately, again

I've been on about this before. The Penguin Book of Jokes...the fortunately unfortunately joke...along the lines of...unfortunately he fell out an airplane...fortunately he landed on a haystack...unfortunately there was a pitchfork in it. It could be the Tao for all I know. Anyway I've got a story like that for you again.

I had a particularly busy and intricate week during which I had to think on my feet and, I think, brought some long-standing issues to resolution. All work stuff y'understand. By yesterday after work I was feeling kind of floored. I was booked in for a day's Mindfulness retreat today and last night that didn't seem such a good idea. I felt like a days mindlessness would serve me better. I emailed the organisers to see if I could switch the date...

---but there was no reply - or rather just an automated reply saying the email would be manned on a Tuesday and a I decided just to man up and go to my Mindfulness retreat as planned - or should that be "Atman" up? Haha. That's a fecking good Buddhist joke by the way. You heard it here first.

One of the problems with going on the retreat was that I've set myself a weekly absolute minimum of running 30 miles a week, and as of last night I was sitting at just over 20. If I leave running until the evening these days I will leave has to be the morning. But I was aware I'd have to be out running by 7.30 in order to run 10 miles and get a shower before the course. It seemed harsh given how tired I was but...

Anyway, fortunately I woke up at 5am feeling not bad at all, and thinking if I just got up I would have the jump on the day - I could have a leisurely breakfast, get a 10 miler in as the dawn came up and be back in plenty of time for a shower and a 2nd breakfast. It was magically quiet and still at 5am eating my porridge and surfing around on the world wide web. I was out the door before 7am, and took my camera in case there were any luckies along the way. Actually it was really quite lovely as the sun came up but I haven't captured it particularly well. Leaving the flat I had been thinking it was Saturday morning but as I moved into Leith I realised that it was still late Friday night. I ran between a warring couple where the guy stood his ground and his girlfriend angrily stomped off. "Don't go after her." I thought to myself, and wondered why I was taking sides. Still once you start to do all that chasing and placating you're done for. He held his position. "Good man" I thought and ran on.

It was very dark in the park. I saw a tall man and a large bushy dog at the end of the wooden bridge. When I got nearer neither of them were there. What did I really see?

Being a morning runner I had forgotten how uncompromising the dark is. No light = you can't see. End of.
Running up the WOL from Stockbridge I remembered a joke one of my nurse colleagues made the other day. We work beside another colleague who has a lot to do with working with Mindfulness. The other day we saw him leave the office, and then when we left 10 minutes later we were surprised to see him sitting in his car, looking rather dreamy. "He's probably feeling the texture of a prune!" quipped my nurse colleague. I laughed at the time but now, running in the dark beside the river I could see just what a good joke it was. One of the Mindfulness exercises is to take 10 minutes to eat a raisin, noticing all the detail of eating you usually miss - so this notion of feeling the texture of a prune was entirely apt. The fact that he was miles away and didn't even notice us was ironic. Above all, I thought, it was just so have to laugh at everything - including Mindfulness. Taking things too seriously causes a sense of embarrassment to the Scottish sensibility. Or so I thought as I was running along. The joke struck me as being so funny that I laughed out loud.
It's just as well I did. Nano seconds later another runner and his collie emerged out of the dark, running the other way. We avoided a collision by inches.

I had dreamed up this 10 miler while I was lying in bed at 5am thinking about whether I should get up or not. There was quite a stiff south-westerly, so I didn't want any out and back courses where I was guaranteed 5 miles of head-wind. I went up the WOL to the Dean Village and then headed up the hill and down Orchard Brae and zig-zagged past Inverleith Park down to Granton. Once at Granton the wind was at my back for 4 miles. It was fully light by then and I was starting to feel tired. I arrived back just in time to meet Peter heading out to catch a bus to go a 30 miler with Lucy.

When I got in the organiser of the day retreat had written back to me to say it was fine to transfer my place to another day and thanks for letting them know. Hmmm. By now I was quite primed to go and do it. I'd already had a good morning and I was feeling like I was up for the whole experience. I emailed the organiser back to see if I could do a last minute switch-back, knowing full well she may not even check her emails again before it started, so setting myself up for a cliff-hanger. After an egg on toast and a shower I was beginning to feel quite sleepy though...maybe it would be better if they didn't get back in touch. Sitting in front of the computer, see-sawing about which direction I would like fate to take me in, I thought I might as well do something I've been putting off. My car insurance is up for renewal soon and I needed to check whether it was a fair price or not. It hadn't gone up since last year so I was almost tempted just to leave it - since 2008 I have trained myself to pay more attention to these things though, so I got onto Compare the market and all that. I am so glad I did. I'll be paying £200 less! Car Insurance prices have gone down. Just in case you didn't know.

So I am sitting here feeling rich with the money I will not be spending in November. It's notional money, it means I'll be putting less on my credit card. But that feels good. I think I'll have a snooze, and when I wake up I'll have a bit of a tidy.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Weirdly Warm

this was the other morning out the window

oops - saturation happy

The forecast (I know, so many of my blogs start like this) said wall to wall sunshine. Peter was off to run some long, long distance avec the Colquhoun. With payday still nearly 2 weeks off, I have spent most of my money, so I didn't want to put any fuel in the van. Still I wanted a longish run. So I set off for 15 miles round the Musselburgh lagoons.

The weather was much more mixed than predicted, and there was a strongish South-ish wind, which was sometimes in my face and sometimes not.

As Forrest Gump says "That's all I have to say about that." Apart from, I got home at the end of it and lunch was delicious. Oh no, there is more. The prom was hoaching like on a summer's day - except people were wearing coats with hoods. The eastern european chap was out playing his squeeze box and a small boy child had come off his bike right beside him, so he was screaming in a way that, to my rather detached mind, went quite well with the music. Dogs on long leads criss-crossed before me and I had to keep on my tired old toes. It was like some lavish, 3D game of Chinese Skipping. Do you remember Chinese Skipping? Upon reflection I don't think it had its roots in the orient.

While out I bumped into a man I knew many moons ago - I think I last spoke to him when I was 26. He was out on his bike. I had stopped to take pictures of wading birds and he pulled up beside me, also to look at the birds. We had a potted chat about where we were both at now and he cycled off to meet a bunch of cyclists who were all going out a cycle run together. On my way back from the lagoons, having run 9 or so miles, I stopped again, this time to take a picture of the rainbow at the bottom of the estuary. I was passed by a bunch of cyclists. Bringing up the rear was my friend Michael. I didn't want to be rude but I enquired as to why it had taken him more than an hour to come less than three miles. Apparently they had all gone to a cafe for a second breakfast first. "Leisurely" I remarked.

The last 2 miles were quite painful. I find 15 miles is about the furthest I want to run without taking anything to drink. I think the dehydration starts to make your legs ache.

Did I mention I got my dissertation back, and the final mark for my Masters and I got a distinction? Oh, did I not mention that? Hah. It was such hard work. The problem was I'd got good grades all the way through my course and I knew if I could get over 70% for my dissertation, a distinction was on the cards. A distinction really doesn't change anything in the outer world, except possibly people think you're a knob if you get one, but it seemed so defeatist to not try since I was so close. And then the dissertation didn't really flow. You know how sometimes things just work out smoothly and other times things require much effort, swearing, stress, blood, sweat, tears, extra nails, a bit of glue, and even then you're not sure if the whole thing isn't just going to come apart? My dissertation was put together with the 2nd methodology. I got feedback from two readers. Professor Martha was typically lovely about the whole thing, understanding what was good about it and not making much of a fuss about the spots on its face and its halitosis. Dagmar, however, took her typically blunt approach and flayed the flesh from the bones of the poor thing. I'm glad she did because it means I don't have to. I have mixed enough metaphors here. I hope you have been able to follow them.

Anyway. It's the end of an era, and a happy ending too. I hoped today to mark the occasion by having a bit of a tidy, and putting away the things I won't be needing (course stuff), to make space for the new in my life. So I better stop sitting here in my pants telling stories and get on with it.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Well timed neuroticism on a wet day

It was forecast to rain hard pretty much all day until 6pm or so, so I thought I might as well get out a run early and get it over with. But in the meantime I'd put a wash on and started to worry about leaving it on and leaving the house. "What if it floods the neighbours and I'm out and they have to break the door down and we have to pay out from our insurance again" I thought to myself, and realised I was trapped indoors until pretty much noon. This doesn't work well for me because I'm starving hungry by noon, but I staved it off with some rice-cakes and went out after my wash was done and hung up.

As it happened, that was the end of the rain. I was overdressed, as I had a long sleeve top and a waterproof layer on. The top layer had to come off pretty quick and for most of my run it was too warm. I'd taken the old camera thinking I might get some nice watery shots but it wouldn't be great for the camera.

Nothing much to say about it. The water of Leith was very high. I stopped to take pictures and perfect strangers came up to remark to me just how high the water was. "Isn't it high!" I agreed, "Amazing!". I felt like I was trapped in some slow sit-com set in the 50s. But what can you do. Actually you can run off. Which I did.

12 and a half miles. Nice easy slow run. Vegetarians look away now. By the time I got home I could have eaten a sheep's internal organs. So that's what I did. I'd been reading about how good liver is for you and I thought fondly of having a big fry up of liver and onions with my dad when I was a little'un. That would have been the last time I ate liver, apart from in a Fray Bentos pie. I mentioned this to Peter and he made choking, vomiting noises, so I thought since he was away at the Dunbar 10 miler I would have a secret liver dinner. But he got in 2 minutes after me. And after calling me a werewolf as I threw the bloody organs into a smoking pan, he had some too. Delicious.