Sunday, 22 March 2015


More of the same.
Being out for 5hrs yesterday was taking it's toll - not the speed or distance, just the fresh air really. So today we were very slow about getting along to Gullane for the weekly baptism. Luckily sundown is 6.30 these days. And waiting meant missing the drab earlier part of the day and getting a rather spectacular sky to run below on the nearly empty beach from Aberlady along to Gullane. Mary realised if she ran just over 6 miles (I think it was) it would take her weekly mileage to over 60, perhaps the first time in a couple of years she has hit that number. Neither of us were particularly filled with running joy though and when we got out the car in Gullane it was a real thought just to head off for 6 miles never mind contemplate a dook in the water what with the chilly evening air.

Once we got going it wasn't so bad. And Mary who had previously mentioned being tired of being hounded by her self imposed immersion every week, went from a position of definitely NO, to maybe a quick dook. But not in wetsuits because that is too much of a palaver. I am all in favour of palaver if it lessens the acute jeopardy of freezing water and cold air, however the idea of being as brief as possible; a momentary splash then out and back to car, just about won me over.

This toad might have slept in and missed party central on Thursday.

By Aberlady beach the wind was behind us, there was a splendid sky and things were looking up. Just the frigid watery bit to get past.

To make up the extra few yards to take Mary over 60 we ran back over the hill and through town to the car park. By which time there was a chill wind blowing, virtually everyone had retreated from the beach and the prospect of going in the water without a wetsuit was daunting. Horrific. We changed down to basics in the car then went down through the dunes. The last kite surfer was carrying his board up and I was going to ask him if the water was lovely and warm but he was looking a bit shell-shocked and beyond the point of cheery banter. Not a good sign.

I took my shirt off and ran up and down the beach hoping to generate so much heat a dip would be welcome. Instead I just felt breathy and sick. The kite surfer came back for his sail as we forced ourselves into the water. He shouted something I didn't quite hear and then repeated with gestures that we'd forgotten our wetsuits (pointing to his). Well he's cheered up I thought. We have a great regard for the surfers who hope for windy weather and spend hours on the cold beach or zipping across the tepid waters. I can believe 15 minutes of that is quite fun but I can't comprehend how or why you'd want to spend all the winter bobbing about on ice cold water every weekend. No doubt they think we are just as mental and without the board to keep us out the cold stuff. 

No messing about with any thermometer. We waded out to a depth between knees and shorts and it wasn't so bad. But then it was so bad and as the water goes over your shorts there is no inclination to duck under. Except Mary dives in and then comes up a second later, hypothermia contorting her face. I realise the only release is to get this over with and I wonder into how shallow water I can plunge. I must have done it because I am racing towards the beach, water dripping off my head. I can't remember the exact moment, my brain having shut down in disbelief, and we are running up the beach collecting the bag and walking briskly to the car. As we go past the surfer I shout see you next week and he laughs.

The only real advantage of not wearing a wetsuit is you are sitting naked in the car putting on clothes far quicker than usual. This is the point past which if you survive you will probably live to fight another day. Mary says the sky is going funny colours. Since it has been doing that since we arrived I am not surprised and only when I turn, I see that it has put away the soft orange felt pens and got out the fluro red and vermillion. I jump out and take a photo or 2 while Mary turns the car, into which I jump and we drive home via Tesco's to pick up stuff for dinner. Even though it can seem like a torture or self harming experience, there is something theraputic about these dips. It wipes the slate clean and you feel better after it.  

Next week (29th) is the last official submergathon and will mean Mary has done one every week from September till April. Hopefully there will a be a decent turn out going along to Gullane (or Mary Hunter Seaside as it has been renamed.) If you fancy it (and the water is really warming up these days!) then get in touch and we will let you know what time we will be there. Wetsuit not required but I will be wearing one.

setting the heather alight

What started as a rather unpromising day out turned into a brilliant afternoon. Mary (who has written it up here) was initially in a foul mood, being upset that an old radiator problem that took several trips to the Citroen Man to fix, may have flared up again. That red light on the dashboard meaning lots of peering under the bonnet and driving everywhere with a large bottle of water in the back. So rather than invite friends along we headed to the Lammermuirs on our own, in case hasty retreats had to be made or we didn't actually make it there.

Blinkbonny Woods near Long Yester

Although the plan was to do about 20 miles, we might turn around early or decide to change things about. The suggestion of an early pitstop at Carfraemill was met positively and underlined the rather relaxed approach to speed and distance today. So although the sun seemed to be poking it's head out between clouds the day did not start well. It was quite chilly and the wind was blowing in the wrong direction - well different from the forecast. But as soon as we began the 2 mile climb up towards Lammer Law, we warmed up and Mary even took a layer off. My gloves and buff stayed on but only just.

The farmer was out burning off the heather.

After the climb over Lammer Law there is an undulating descent to the road then about 2 or 3 miles along to Carfraemill.

Although it seems pretty here I didn't really enjoy this section and the thought of the Edinburgh Marathon and the obligatory tarmac training in the next 10 weeks was weighing heavily.

This wee bunny took cover at the side of the road.

So about 8 miles into it and we pop into the restaurant there for a coffee and shortbread. Slightly overpriced: £7 for 1 coffee a piece and one circle of (delicious) shortbread each. But then again it was well worth the caffeine hit that fuelled the next couple of road miles before the left turn back in to hills for the return leg.

Everything improves from this point. No more fast traffic overtaking on pavement-less roads, no more dead things at the side of the road. And the roads get smaller and prettier. High as a kite Mary was doing a dreadful rendition of some rock and I was taking photos of EVERYTHING. 495 images by the end of the day, with just over 1 in 10 making the blog. It really helped the sun came out, the clouds dispersed and the wind dropped making for perfect running conditions. 

Quiz question number one: what is going on with the lighthouse on top of the hill. I assume it is a trig point with a metal plaque reflecting the sunlight - didn't notice it till I saw the photo at home. We never climb this hill but take the ramblers path turning right (and following the valley) at the end of this long straight.

The sheep near the car park at Long Yester were already lambed but these ones and all the others up the hills were still heavily pregnant and so we were trying not to excite them. But they seem to enjoy standing in the way then acting up when you get near or run past. 

Frog or toad spawn.
There is a stream running alongside the path and twice crossing it. This can cause problems and often in the winter there are long stretches of muddy puddles and waterlogged sections that require careful navigation. Today although there were puddles (some harbouring spawn as above) they were limited and easily avoided. Not so the 2 crossings.

I think this is the second and I tackled it by running up the upstream trail that covers some rough ground before you come to a narrow section easy to jump across. Mary preferred the more labour intensive shoes-and-socks-off method reporting the stones sharp and the water hurty cold.

I waited along the trail until Mrs. Smiley-face caught up.

Bunny's Lodge.
The main path diverges around here. Normally we turn right up a very steep long climb which goes on for ages until it eventually fizzles out at a turning circle and you have to cross a lumpy sodden field to get to the windfarm where you turn left and head back towards Lammer Law. Today we decided to turn left and run past the lodge (another stream crossing where M nearly overeached a step out into the water) and then up the path to pick up the road that travels alongside the pylons eventually meeting the windfarm-to-LammerLaw path. The idea behind this was to clip 2 miles off the route from 22.5 to 20.5 and miss the long harsh climb. We didn't know for sure that this would work out but guessed it should. It did.

This puddle spawn was in danger of drying out.

Through the window of Bunny's lodge.
Quiz 2: what is the subject of the informative book on the table? Answer in a future blog.

After more undulations we met the road that runs alongside the pylons. We had crossed the top of this road many times and thought it must cut the corner of our usual route but you never know how these things will pan out until you try it. We stopped here for some snacks and a fence post selfie.

love the heat ripples

I saw these flies, enjoying the lack of wind, dancing in the sunlight. 

It's always a long haul up from the log cabin.

It was turning into a glorious afternoon. We saw a couple of hares, still white from winter, but they were going at 90mph and almost impossible to catch on film.

It was Billy Minto who suggested my running is brought on by letting Mary get away while I dick around taking photos then as I race to catch up I inadvertently do interval training. Which shall henceforth be known as Minto-vals. Anyway I saw Mary way ahead approaching that gate (above) and challenged myself to get to it before she did. She said it would have been better if I'd reached it in sufficient time to hold it open without her having to break her stride.

We reckoned the farmer was in the middle of this conflagration shouting OMG! WFT! What was I thinking! while trying to beat out the edges with his tweed jacket.

Then back round the shoulder of Lammer Law and you can see the coast (and Bass Rock and Traprain Law) again.

"Time to Fly"
I noticed the long shadows we were making and passed the last mile trying to take photos while off the ground. As I got to Mary she could hear me arsing around and said "what ever you are up to, stop it!"

The smooth road and pleasant gradient often induces a bit of a sprint to the finish.

I realised as we left the car park we hadn't taken any lamb pictures. (The sheep on the hills hadn't had them as yet.) So M stopped and I took a few snaps of the frolicking youngsters, because I thought you might like to see them! I am all heart!


There is a garmin read out and map on Mary's blog
20.5 miles. 12.21pm till just after 5pm with an hours stoppage for coffee and snacks.
Brilliant afternoon!