Saturday, 31 January 2015

Humble Beginnings

I was busy all last weekend with hardly any time for running (had to get up at 5am on a Sunday to get one in!) and my nod at swimming was going into the chill waters of Portobello on Sunday night with Peter; an event that had the flavour of a crime somehow, despite no laws being broken, dog-walkers looked at us narrowly and I was glad no-one tried to intervene...

So today Peter was off to some Master's XC stuff and I thought I'd go a longer run in East Lothian - maybe a 16 miler to kick off the marathon training. I tried to ignore the coldness of the wind and a certain lack of enthusiasm for it all. Maybe it would change once I got going. I went to NB and set off from there - an age old strategy to do the stretch into the (stiff, icy) breeze on the road and get it over with as quickly as possible, having it behind for the more exposed and longer stretch back on the beach. My legs were stiff from the outset and I was a bit bored, which is a bad sign. You need plenty of enthusiasm for a day like today....

I stopped at Gullane, 4 miles into my run, for a black coffee, in a now flagrant attempt to find some va-va-voom...and I enjoyed it. Real coffee gives me a rush these days. It was bright and bracing out there on the veldt...oh well, down from Gullane Golf Course I's just you wouldn't be surprised to see lions and giraffes and maybe zebras in the grasses on the marsh. Well I wouldn't. I'm probably mixing up my continents. Salamanders and crocodiles and alligators and congor eels and echidna and penguins. Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. You know.

Getting round the headland and back near Gullane I just knew I was going to cut it short. My marathon schedule doesn't even say I should be running 16 miles anyway. It says I should be running like 12 or something! Anyway!

So I ran back by the road and that took long enough.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Action Packed Saturday!

Well I say action-packed. Peter was off to  a spin class so I sat about in a warm room playing on the computer for a while in the morning. When he got back we got our kit together and headed out Gullane way. It was bitterly cold outside and really the old actor's self-inquiry "What's my motivation for this?" doesn't touch the level of self-questioning that the thought of going in THAT IRON GREY SEA encourages. Habit is the key. I haven't missed a weekend yet and now I just plain don't want to. I've been doing this malarkey since last September. Next weekend is where it gets interesting. I'm doing a therapy weekend thing and my only time to get in the water will be Saturday night (IN THE DARK!!!) or Sunday night (IN THE DARK!!!!). I'm thinking it will have to be just a cossy on and into the water at Portobello...

Anyway, arriving at Gullane it all seemed so difficult. It occurred to me that we should go to Falco's and get a big coffee each for some courage...but it doesn't seem right to start drugging to get it done either. As the fates would have it, we set off up into Gullane for our run and a frantic knocking at a window drew our attention to Lucy and Amanda. Lucy's just temporarily moved into a house in Gullane. So we got to say Happy New Year to friends and we got our big coffee and then set off again half an hour later with an extra runner!

 This kind of tom-foolery is really the only way to get going.

Six miles done and Amanda declined our generous offer of having a swim in our sea with us! With the coffee and the run behind us we had more courage and we listened to the 3rd movement of the stirring Symphony no 5 by Sibellius on Classic FM as we struggled into our wetsuits in the car in the carpark and tried not to look like doggers as the windows steamed up.

Our thermometer showed the water was a little shy of 4 degrees Centigrade. It was quite a thought. Maybe I really am adjusting because there was less protest from me than from Buchanan, who claimed that his teeth were hurting with the cold. Because of this he took to back-stroke. I really tried to do some proper swimming. Which is never much. It goes okay but then my arms and legs just gradually stop working.

Swim done we went to do a Tescos shop in Musselburgh so I could take advantage of the fuel saving on my Clubcard. I know, you couldn't be more thrilled! Shopping in an unfamiliar Tescos is challenge enough but we were cold and it was dark and we hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we decided it would be best all round if we ate something. Don't ever say we don't know how to enjoy ourselves. We had a romantic dinner for two in the Tescos cafe. I went to the toilet and discovered I still had sand all over my face. I probably smelled salty too, but that's the kind of thing you don't know about when you're in it.

You'd expect the excitement to end there...but no. That morning Edinburgh Bike Co-op had phoned to say that my mountain bike was ready to be collected. I haven't seen it since early December as my suspension fork went to spend Xmas in Amsterdam. I don't know what it had been up to there but it was looking good, and I had to hand over a disheartening amount of cash to get my bike back. I suspect it's practically perfect now though. We arrived at the EBC at 5.30pm and Buchanan shot out of the van like a greyhound out of the traps because he wanted to take advantage of the Sale. I picked up my bike and at 5.59pm he emerged with his arms full raving about all the new things he had.

You'd expect the excitement to end there but....I had to go to a friend's house to pick up some keys so I dumped Peter off and went on to the next part of my mission, hoping that he might take care of tea and do the dishes, but when I got home he was still standing about looking at his new cycle helmet in the mirror and writing things on facebook.

This morning he is off to the Feel the Burns Hill Race and I'm going to stop whizzing from one thing to the next....

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Geek Week, a swim in the sea and Paxton XC

There's too much going on really. So I'll try to be concise. First off Geek Week. After hearing all about Strava I finally signed up this week. Actually it's a handy thing - tots up all your mileage for you and awards you cups for achievements...some kind of achievements...well I don't really get that bit yet. People seem to label tiny little stretches of bits of roads and then race them. It made me strap on my Garmin for my work commute - and I made myself late because I couldn't remember how to toggle between running and cycling.

The best thing about Strava is the amount of calories it awards for running. Garmin Connect is stingy and I can run 8 miles and be told I've only burned 500 calories. That's kind of a downer. But Strava goes the opposite the way. I ran 10 and a bit miles last Monday and it said I'd burned 2,200+ calories. Yeah I know it's not real.

We went out a lazy, windy run late Saturday morning. I was having trouble getting started. Peter had already been out to a spin class but decided to come too. Then we had some lunch and headed down (with sleet battering off the windscreen) for the dreaded weekly dip. My new wetsuit is a bit harder to climb into, but it's worth it. It wasn't nearly as painful getting in the water as it has been. By the time we got there the sleet had passed and the skies were clear and the wind was howling and the surf was up. It was exciting. I probably stayed in too long and it was murder trying to get out of my suit afterwards. I got both arms stuck half way and nearly panicked. I thought I was going to die there like that, in a rapidly darkening car park.

In further Geekiness, we had got interested in what the actual temperature of the air and the sea was because some, or a lot, of the pain seems to be subjective and highly contextual. We found out the sea is definitely colder than it says on this surfing website. I had been wondering how they knew. Nice of them to take a stab at it, but the sea was definitely 5 degrees. The ground temperature was 2 degrees. Why doesn't the sea feel warm in these circumstances? Why were my feet so chilly they did not thaw out until after I'd got home? As my dad used to say "Why does my heart go boom?" I think it was a song.

Next up...Paxton Hoose XC

Sunday morning dawned and it was...kind of challenging. Steve Crane had kindly offered to give us a lift to the XC at Paxton House. It was quite a novel experience for me going to a race and not driving. I observed that Steve is a good listener. Either that or Peter is a good speaker. Maybe it's both.

At Paxton we KNEW that we'd feel better when we started running but the mind and body don't believe it. I try to go easy on the caffeine lifts these days but today felt like a day not to be too rigid. Plus I read recently that despite a link being looked for there is no proven link between caffeine use and atrial fibrillation. So I'm trying not to take that as carte blanche, but anyway I had a big coffee and after that not only did I think it was fine to go out for a warm up but I found myself in the back of the car later thinking that I'm going to do quite well at the Edinburgh Marathon later this year. How do I know? Well I can just feel it, that's all!

How did I jump ahead to going home in the car? I don't know.

Trying to recce before the start, it quickly became clear that the course had changed...I let the advance party go their way without me, as 2 years ago I ended up so far away from the start that I had to sprint to get there in time....

I ran on bits of the course without knowing how they tied up. Obviously, something in the race went wrong, I've no idea what. Just a little after the 2nd mile a marshall told me it was a sharp uphill and then finish. This was totally unexpected, although not unwelcome really. I was over the line in 2.6 miles.

Later we went to warm down/top up our mileage and try to figure out what had gone wrong. We followed bits of tape round which took us another way - although we thought it might have been the juniors route, so we were still feeling none the wiser. We were a bit taken aback when a big marshal came and angrily accused us of going on the bit that was marked out of bounds. We certainly hadn't. It was a shame. Organising a race is stressful but so is getting a diatribe for doing something you haven't done. Oh well.

Anyway, home and I ate the amount of calories awarded by Strava and not the Garmin Connect site, and I am feeling happy and contented. Except I still have muddy legs under my tights. Come on girl go and get a shower....

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Special guest swimmer

I was up for running 4 miles but the boys said 6. Then we went in for a swim. Me with my new wetsuit. (Does my bum look big in this ocean?). An old buffer totally showed us up by going in for a proper swim in speedos and a swim hat. And Michael Geoghegan also took the plunge in good style. I felt a little bit soft for having a wetsuit on, but not warm. 200 strokes and my tongue had gone numb and my accelerator heel was still numb as we arrived in Edinburgh.