Monday, 1 September 2014

Barry Buddon Half Marathon 31/08/14

A good day full of incident.
A bad start: although the sun was shining I was getting nervous as the clock went from 8.15 to 8.25. I was standing in the street and Steve, who always operates with military precision, had not appeared and I was beginning to wonder if I would make the 8.30 bus at Portobello. I didn't have Steve's mobile number on my phone and I was busy working through the address book to find the name of someone who might be on the bus, to tell them I was running late. Ellie was first up and when I got through to her she was also running late and in the vicinity and very graciously offered to take a detour to pick me up. She arrived just as did Steve about 8.30. (I phoned Mark but he had accidentally left his phone in his office all weekend.) And we raced to Porty to catch the hired coach. Steve had been going through the stuff of nightmares. They are doing work on the pavements near him and if you park in certain unspecified places they will tow your vehicle to a random place a couple of streets away. Steve had been sprinting round his area trying to locate his car, phone the police, and myself. My number was incorrect in his mobile and he wasn't getting through. During his enforced warm up he lost his hat and it cost him dearly, later in the baking sun. We all arrived at the coach rattled but relieved. Willie had held the bus.

There were a number of uncertainties for this race. I bought new shoes the day before (R&B finally open!) and took them out for a 4 mile test drive to make sure they would be ok. My 7th pair of Hokas: Mafate Speed. And really they are primarily for next weekend being a trail shoe. However they were comfy enough for the Half and it was either them or the Speedcross 3s!

Next 4 photos all thanks to David Limmer who wasn't running but came along to cheer and take photos - what a guy!

The bus got us there in plenty time although it chose to park up at the low bridge rather than take us further up the road and come in from the other side to park nearer the race hq. This gave us a mile walking warm up but as it was nice weather it wasn't a problem. As predicted Summer had returned and it was warming up in a worryingly dramatic fashion. There were excellent changing, toilet and showering facilities and Alan Lawson seemed to have everything running very smoothly. Although there had been a number of last minute injuries and cancellations Porty still had a good sized team running, headed by Gareth whose time in Edinburgh is coming to an end. Hopefully he will still wear a Porty vest from time to time.

We all assembled at the start and Alan described the course - flat and fast - and we set off ahead of schedule. The midday start was good for travelling but bad for sunshine and although the first few miles were ok by halfway it was becoming evident that there wouldn't be quite as many pbs as such a course might suggest. About a mile into it (I did my best not to set off at Parkrun pace) I caught up with Martin from Carnegie (one of several Tour-of-Fifers) and we exchanged brief pleasantries, running together for the next few miles. This all went quite well until Robert with the C on his vest came alongside and edged past. I ran quite a bit of the second half of E2NB with Robert and hadn't forgotten his cheeky sprint past in the last 10 yards. He surged past strongly and I lifted my pace to try and stick with him. I think we must have pulled away from Martin at this point. We were just getting to the convolutions of the Lighthouses section. 

The course wasn't a natural circuit and doubled back on itself round a couple of loops that went round coned off turning points. As Robert and I went past a marshal I saw the flour arrows going back right, and for a moment wondered if we were going the right way. The marshal assumed we knew and I had to shout to confirm we were going in the right direction. It wasn't a particularly intuitive course - this would be my only real criticism of the day - it was a bit of a soulless place that didn't really reveal itself - you were never high enough to get an overview, and the twists and turns, while admirably flat, didn't give you a sense of "ah now we're at the turnaround and heading home" kind of thing. The only scenery of note were the 2 (rather dirty!) lighthouses. I was glad I hadn't bothered to run with the camera. I'm not going to suggest the lighthouses are long overdue a coat of paint as I do not want the job.

Robert and I changed places and at the couple of cone turns we would say hello to folk coming in the opposite direction. Gareth was running a stormer in second place and Willie was not far behind myself, mixing it with Martin and the Dundee Hawks, from the ToF. It was looking good for the team prize! My shoes felt petty good and were saving my legs however I could feel a couple of hot spots that were in danger of becoming blisters - this is the risk of wearing new shoes. The sun was now blasting down and although I felt I was making the effort of about 5.40 pace the Garmin was saying it was nearer 6.30. Not good for fast times but otherwise I was pleased with my position. Jennifer Emsley was one place ahead and going for it. On more than one occasion Robert suggested we crank the pace and catch her, however neither of us were anywhere near man enough and she steadily disappeared on the long harsh straights of the last couple of miles. I also pulled away from Robert a bit. Remembering his fast finish in N Berwick I continued to push over the last mile and got far enough ahead to dissuade any monkey business in the last bit through the complex to the line. My brain was pretty melted by then and I found it hard to identify the route which we had had a good look at beforehand, and exactly where the line was. (Also I called Jennifer, Gillian at least once - really sorry my brain was baked!) I was very pleased to be finished and to be stopped running. The sun had taken it's toll, and the time - a bit over 1.22 - was a good few minutes adrift from what I had hoped for, however I was pleased with 8th - just one place behind Andrew Joyce and ahead of Robert, Martin and Billy - all quality runners. Gareth had held onto second, running a phenomenal 1.17 and Willie (2nd 50) wasn't far behind myself, giving PRC first male team.

One reason I was particularly pleased to be first 50 was I had seen the trophies - possibly the best race trophies I have seen. Winning male and female got the 2 taller ones, first m50 and F45 the shorter. And everyone got a coaster. (Team prize was a handsome towel round a bottle.) PRC also won the female team and mixed team. Willie, Gareth, Jacqui, Dottie and Kathy won prizes.

delighted! photo Kathy

I was a bit disappointed the route didn't give us any vistas of the sea or do any beach trails, although that wouldn't have gone down so well with the roadies. One treat and the only wildlife I came across the whole day, was this brightly coloured shield bug which landed on me and hitched a lift for a while after the race.

Great to see Jim back running.

Kathy, Alan and Graeme. Photo Kathy

Jacqui - third lady. photo Kathy

great photo from BB website

You can see how the course runs about, and doubles back after the first section. Also you can see the heat take effect as the miles get slower till mile 11 then I can smell the end and pick it up a bit. 61 mins at 10 miles. Big thanks to Alan Lawson for going to some trouble to arrange all of this for our running pleasure. I suspect people will be initially disappointed with their times due to the heat, but will return on the basis of it is a fast flat course on good smooth traffic free tarmac. Funnily enough some people were mentioning that it didn't seem that flat. Another effect of the heat. Check out the profile above the map - about as flat a half as you could find. Thanks to all the helpers. Large amount of goodies to eat and drink afterwards. Just as I got to the front of the queue I got called away to the prize-giving.

Friday, 29 August 2014

thursday night fever

Thursday nights are hill intervals with the Carnethy crew. Just a mile up the road from my house we meet opposite the rad road at 7pm and run hard up hilly bits of Arthur's Seat for around 40 minutes, a different session each week, a short but tough workout.


The light was so spectacular last night I took the camera along. The session was also more apt than usual for photos: normally we just do one climb in any of half a dozen places, doing a pyramid session or say five reps of 4mins. Recovery is the jog back down to the start. The variety is essential as mostly you don't want to repeat a tough workout ever again having burst yourself on it. (It's a while since we tackled the Rad Road and I dread it coming round again.)

back down

So with Iain (who usually leads the sessions) going to the last of the British Champs races at the weekend he decided we would do a relatively mild workout last night, travelling round the park doing 2 mins sustained uphill followed by 1 minute recovery jog halfway back down the route we had just climbed. This suited me fine. I had had a very tough workout out the previous evening with Porty, and thought I might have to go home half way through. Possibly because of the 4hrs on Tuesday, following on from Sunday's race. I don't know if it was the joyful weather last night or the magic massage stick I'd used an hour before going up the road, but I was feeling in considerably better shape for the hill reps than the night before.

more up

and back down again

As we climbed the hill there was more to take photos of and I developed a reluctance to descend for the minute recovery only to climb the same part again. This slacking was duly noted.

and back down again

After getting most of the way to the top we went over to Whinny Hill and continued the 2 / 1 repeats. I was distracted by the fab scenery and had to stop at various points to take photos, falling behind the group. Normally I am a bit more conscientious.

a fine photo ruined by unfortunate grouping

and that was the end of the session - I went back up to the summit to take some more photos 

Whinny Hill from above the Dry Dam

artist's impression of a nuclear device detonating at Faslane

So although it can be quite intense I would very much recommend this weekly session. A variety of folk attend (from 3 to 15 in number) and, usually being reps, allows people of all abilities to take part. If you can stick it the night after a club session then I think it works even better although it is a long time since I combined them with a Tuesday night Meadows session as well. Good luck to the Carnethy team at the weekend and see you there next week.


Thursday, 28 August 2014

summer into autumn

26/08/14 Harvest Run
August tends to mark the transition from Summer into Autumn. The festival tourists usually suffer a few days of rain and harsh winds. The last few days there has been a chill in the air and I was about to draw a line under the comparatively spectacular summer and say that's all folks, get the long sleeved tops out, then the forecasters told us that next week might be a bit of a return to high pressure and more decent weather. That would be particularly good for the inaugural Tiree Ultra, the enjoyment of which will be largely weather dependent.

After a 10mile week last week and work dominating my running diary I thought I might up the mileage this week, putting Tuesday aside for a longer trail run as the forecast was good. I am kind of skiving this week but calling it closed-for-essential-repairs, while I get a haircut, do some internet shopping (still can't believe R&B are closed) and try to find my running mojo. So I opted for a favourite route on legs a wee bit trashed from Sunday's race with a swig of caffeine juice to fire me up. Jumped on the 2.43 train to NB then a quick hike up the Law to see the harvest fields and the panoramas along the coast. 

A project which will possibly have to wait till next year (although the water will be at it's warmest currently) is to swim to islands off the coast here from Eyebroughy to Craigleith each one being a bit further. See map below.

panorama from the bunker up the Law

Isle of May.
I was really pleased (again) to have such a good zoom (x20) on the new camera which allowed close ups of stuff not visible with (my) eyes.

Craigleith off NB harbour 
(looks a doddle of a swim! ha!)

top of the Law

love this out of focus shot of...

this which is Mary sending me a signal to come home and cook dinner
(she had to cook it herself, and did an excellent job of it too.)

Back down the Law and there were a couple of large velvety black butterflies (Red Admirals I think) distracting me, which I completely failed to get anywhere near. I was also forming a plan. After about 4.5 miles along the JMW there is a turn off to a pond that quite a few dog walkers use as a circuit. I had been nominated for an Ice Bucket Challenge and felt I could be doing something a bit more original than all the iphone videos posted on Facebook. I did have plans to go to the beach with Mary and a couple of buckets and remake the Matrix but both of us having the time off together was proving difficult to co-ordinate. 

As there was a chill wind in the air I had worn a long sleeved top with a t-shirt on top. I planned to take the pace very slow and was stopping a lot to take photos. However I was well warmed up and by the pond had decided that an immersion there would maybe count as an ice bucket challenge. I hadn't planned this so I had neither the Aquapac to keep the new camera dry, nor a towel to dry myself afterwards. I had previously discounted the pond for swimming as the edges were very overgrown with rushes and the algae and surface debris did not look encouraging.

Hoping for no company, I got undressed near the wooden hut where there was an old jetty onto which I clung as the underfoot conditions were sketchy to say the least. Lots of bubbles from the goop on the bottom and black filth under very dark and opaque water. However it was relatively warm what with all the sludge. And more sheltered than the beach where rogue waves might overwhelm the camera. It was also a chance to see the extent of the pond - something that is harder from the shore due to the rushes. 

I did 2 "takes" as the first time I wasn't inclined to put my head under the water, then got out. It is always a bit risky doing swimming things solo - it did have the feel of a suicide venture and I had no intention of following through. Also I still had 15 miles to run. I shook myself dry, skiffing off the water with my hands occasionally finding a mud patch and having to get partially back into the water to wash it off. Evidently I missed a couple though as when I showered at 10pm there were dobs of mud falling into the shower tray from god knows where.

a still from the video (on facebook) as my head disappears into the black filth

I took a couple of selfies and was wondering (when I saw them later on the computer) why the serious face until I remembered I took them to check I hadn't wiped a smear of mud into a big mexican moustache etc. in case I met anyone later.

So what part of the bull does the bullrush come from?

And almost immediately (while trying to photo young pheasants/roadrunners in the next field) I did meet someone. Mowgli the dog! Star of videos like THIS. And with Francisca just back from her holidays, not Bruce. She told me the pond was previously a curling pool for the Big House, which you pass just a little later on. 

Then back onto the JMW and back off just before Stink Farm heading over to Binning Woods. Always a delight. I must go and get lost and explore some new paths there next time. I have taken the same route last few times there and although it is magnificent I no longer feel I am exploring. I even forgot to nod hello to my dad who is a full time resident. 

Then out and down Limetrees Walk. I should also find an alternative to this. I have tried a couple of other ways and done a fair bit of bushwacking and wall climbing as a result but there is better running and trails rather than this long boring road section.

However there were a couple of nice distractions. One was the field next door which had just been harvested last time I was there and seemed quite empty - this time it was jammed stuffed full of bluey-green veg (cabbage or the like). And a big combine hogging the entire road coming towards me. 

Then further on a field as yet unharvested - I saw a deer with only its head above the crops. I whistled to see if it would smile for the camera but it just lazily ducked down out of sight. 

After the pan tiled cottages and a bit down the beach dirt trail I headed left into the woods and succeeded in getting properly lost. I had to double back a couple of times before picking up the wider path for the coastal trail. 

At this point the trees block the view to the coast but you get the wonderful aromas of the beach - seaweed and salt water and what is that unmistakable shoreline stink? -  letting you know it is just a hundred yards away. The joy of anticipation. 

This is possibly the archetypal photo for today - blue sky and warm sun on turning leaves and berries.

St Baldred's Cradle panorama.
(Nicely straight horizon!)

deep joy!

All along the route today combines and tractors throwing up a dusty signature. This section in the photo above usually has some folk camping on nice weekends either in the trees or nearby on the beach. On more than one occasion rough looking types. I quite fancy spending overnight here but have wondered if you would likely get a middle of the night visit from someone whose clothes smell of bonfires and breath of cigarettes and strong drink. 

I clambered up to and along the headland. You get a better perspective than on the beach. However I lost the path and it was a bit of a fight through the bracken and jaggies (see left of above pic.) Mowgli's chum Bruce was within a few hundred yards of here about half an hour later.

If you've ever wondered what beast deposits those hay rolls here's one being laid.


ok Mr Lumix I think we can see the join
Panorama mode often fails when there are large exposure differences, ie sweeping past the sun. I must find a trail alternative to these last 4 road-bound miles from Seacliff to NB. 

That would be the steps out when you swim over. (In my dreams.)

Exactly like the deer, this hare couldn't be arsed doing a gallop for the camera and just disappeared by lying down.

I went past the coop to get some snacks and drinks for the train making almost entirely bad choices. (incl cider and donuts.) I didn't even bother with Tesco's since they had snubbed me last time. The donuts were pretty bad and I only ate 2 on the train. They were supposed to be glazed but were more like sweaty. Shamefully I ate the other 2 with fruit and yoghurt after dinner. The ticket dude on the train told me the sunset was much better 20mins ago, as I took these photos out the window. Well hey, thanks for that. I like the one above for focussing on the dirt on the window. Splendid day out with a lovely sunset to wind it up. 
19.7miles plus 2 to and from Waverley.