Saturday, 5 January 2013

100 miles of Christmas

I pretty much hate Christmas – the few cards I printed and sent didn't even mention the c-word. Its the materialistic epicentre of the year and my work and therefore wage is usually at its lowest ebb. This year I thought I was ahead of the game till a large contract got postponed. So December swallowed up my set-aside and I was back to square one.

Then there are the streets of dog turds. Round here the locals stop picking up about late November. Presumably a combination of bad weather, hangovers and their mutts eating then re-creating iceland chocolate logs from mid-November. I bought a newer brighter head-torch for runs after 4pm.

Then the bills – January sees my business insurance and income tax owing. As if December hasn't already emptied my account.

And it's dark as the middle ages. Some days the sun just doesn't bother getting out of bed and I feel much the same. Then the crappy weather of drizzle and damp and dark brown skies. Not to mention the office parties and the zombies christmas shopping: armfuls of shit nobody needs. And lying in bed listening to the drunks staggering home, fighting and shouting in the street. A pox on it all.

And all the murdered trees taken indoors for a fortnight then dumped back out in the street like unwanted friends. And the TV. What mental deficient plans the tv schedule? We REALLY DO NOT NEED more “celebrity” chefs instructing us how to put on weight. Have they not looked at the public out there. They do not need more delicious food. If it's one thing they do not need it is encouragement to make and eat more delicious food. This cannot be overstated. Am I the only person that sees all this stuff and finds it intolerable?

Christmas Curd.
Neil Firth, a great friend from the long ago, gently spread lemon curd on his granny's specs while she sat sleeping (wearing the said specs.) Not recently, you understand, when he was a good deal younger. I'm not entirely sure what he was hoping for, but he was a little underwhelmed when his granny awoke and called his name like an accusation. Similarly, I feel that a good thick layer of lemon curd would improve the television set in December. As long as one turned the volume down. Just a foggy yellow light mumbling in the corner, warm as a mug of Lemsip. Ahh that's better. Nothing much on since Lund acted entirely out of character and jumped ship with the haste of a scriptwriter absolutely certain he didn't have a Forbrydelsen IV in him. Hell he didn't really have a Forbrydelsen III. It was more a re-tread of the first series with the same great acting, jumpers, production values and totally implausible denouement, struggling to extend a 2 episode plotline to 10, except with more going downstairs into unlit basements with a torch and gun. While I enjoyed it, I also talked through it more, (impairing Mary's viewing, no doubt.) And what about those dreary politicians? Not watching Borgen, Series 2. No Lund, no jumpers, too much curd.

What got me through this awful time was the running. I wasn't Marcothoning this year but taking a more intelligent approach (yuhuh!) of training harder then having a rest day when needed. Last winter I ran 101 days consecutively and brought on the worst injury I've had in my running career. On the 22nd December (as all of the above tried to lay me low) I started a 10 day period where I ran 116 miles, before the Promathon on the first of January. I wasn't trying to rack up mileage, (or train for the Promathon!) – most of these miles were off road and hilly. It was with close friends and really just for fun, enjoying being out and away from the zombies on Princes Street or TV. Here are some images, many of which are warmed over with CameraBag2: a retro / nostalgia photo software programme to unimprove digital images making them look more like slightly botched photos from the days of film.

22nd Dec. Stormy grey run on coast near Gullane. Michael G, Mary and I: big waves.

23rd Dec. Pentlands with Mary and Michael G. From Balerno up Beech Avenue, Drove Road, West Kip, East Kip, Scald Law then Michael and I did Carnethy while M turned down to the Howe and we followed her back to Balerno with a lap of the elevated walkway at Red Moss to finish. Big wind on tops.

24th Dec. 2 laps of Holyrood Park (dropping down to Duddingstone from Dunsapie.)

25th Dec. Early morning Seat summit with Neil, my brother, and Mary. A great start to the day.

26th Dec. The legendary Graham Henry Boxing Day run. An early start but easier this year as no snow or high winds. A bigger group this year as well. Word is getting out. Link to video.

27th Dec. One of Michael G's regular routes – 10 miles he reckoned. Up the WoL path to the start of the WoL Half then continue along Harlaw Road until you are within shouting distance of Bonaly Reservoir then head back over the Bypass and back along the Water of Leith and canal to Meggetland. We set off too fast and finished faster with some scenery and cross country along the way. Oh and Mr. Garmin says 13.44

28th Dec. Recce for Selkirk “feel the burns” hill race. Soft ground, heavy going, less obvious route than it looks on the map. Graham Henry leading the troops round this testing course. Link to complete recce photos.

29th Dec. 18 miler with Mary. Parked at North Berwick then ran roads to Aberlady for coffee and snack. Then ran beach and trails back to North Berwick with sunset blazing to our backs. High tide meant wet feet. Called in for cuppa to Ben and Alison's.

30th Dec. Snowy Pentlands circuit with Ben Kemp. Very picturesque scenery further enhanced by Ben handicapping himself with wine the night before. I usually only get to photo his back disappearing whereas today (almost unheard of) I got to snap him coming up the hill towards me. His busy work and family life have reduced his weekly training dramatically. There was considerably more biting wind and snow blasting going on than the photos would indicate. Great fun though, if an early start.

31st Dec. We were just about to road run locally when AGH got in touch to say she was in Aberlady at her sister Alison's new flat (ie the new Porty gang hut/coffee shop/meeting point in Aberlady.) We jumped in the van and picked up Amanda and drove to Gullane to do the 10 miler down the road to Aberlady across the bridge and along the beach and trails to Archerfields where we turned inland and followed the path through the trees back to the road and along to Gullane. Via the Jimmy Savile woods. We named them that a bit before news broke of the fall of Jimmy S, because the initial tree decoration had a white wig on a short tree stump and looked like Jimmy Savile or the queen mother. Various other characters have appeared since, mostly shell based icons but always worth a diversion through the woods. A christmas card was nailed to the original recently. I have thought about making contact – assuming the creatives behind it are of this world.
This was a perfect way to round off the year as we have run the East Lothian coastal trails more than any other venue this year – the tides and constantly changing nature of the beach always providing a profusion of distractions and reason to get the camera out. (Often dead creatures, but in a way that reflects the abundance of life there.) We have made friends along the way and had great days as well as terrible ones. The essence of why we leave the house in trainers. Happy New Year and welcome to my new blog.


  1. Fantastic pictures Peter - especially love the one of Mary stepping down with the ocean below. Welcome to blogging!

  2. Thanks Mindy. I've been meaning to do this for several years now and finally I've made a start. Mary and I will try and vary which images we both use.

    See you've got snow over there!