Sunday, 31 March 2013


Good Friday vs Evil Saturday 29&30/03/13

There is something appealing about a high intensity workout on a Friday evening that gets me out the door when the thought of a low intensity 10 miler would have me feeling lacklustre and I'd probably end up dicking about on facebook until dinner, and oops I've missed another run.

It was a low mileage week as I've been doing long days on a huge work project that has left little in the way of time or energy for running. So I wasn't looking forward to Friday evening's obligatory run until Mary outlined three x 1 mile reps up the steepest part of the Queens Drive from St. Margaret's Loch, past Dunsapie at the top. A mile and a half warm-up to get there, then 3 mile reps with a jog recovery back to the start of each makes 9 miles and sufficiently full on not to notice the miles shoot by. Sounded good.

The mile and a half there warmed us up and I had to rein in the speed on the first climb aiming for negative splits: each mile quicker. I hadn't worn a Garmin which was my undoing. Mary told me the mile finished around the top of the steps (down to Duddingston) at the far end of Dunsapie. We should tempo pace up the snakey road then raise it to a sprint once onto the flat round the loch side.

Wasn't going this fast.

6 minutes to the level then another 2mins to the steps. While I waited on Mary I took some photos. I was trying to find a long exposure setting (it was almost pitch black) on the compact so wasn't paying close attention to the road. Then I took some more photos and realised I was getting cold – Mary couldn't have taken this long surely. Was it possible she had arrived and turned early (7.54 minutes is a l-o-n-g mile even with all that uphill). But she would let me know wouldn't she? Maybe she stopped for a pee. Lots of things went through my mind as I ran back the mile to the start trying not to panic. Near the bottom and here comes madam on her second interval and she complains because I interrupt her to ask why she wasn't murdered in the bushes. I think she saw me at the top but assumed I was busy taking photos and would catch her up.

Not a good start but things improved. I tried NOT to use all of the available adrenaline and shortness of temper in the second interval, reaching the steps in 7.45 which are about 80 yards beyond where the Garmin mile ended and Mary turned. Which explained how she had ducked under my radar.

Third mile and I gave it everything which cleared out any remaining resentment and ideas of heading home without waiting on Mary since she so enjoyed her independence. (7.28) I walked back round the loch as she scooted along the last stretch of her final mile. She came back to suggest if we continued round we would take the mileage up to 10 so that we did, stopping off at Scotmid on the way home for a bottle of Les Crouzes currently £4.99 and tasting better than many a bottle twice that price.

Fidra at top, deer below

Saturday (warning: not for the squeamish)
Started well with the sun peeking out from the blanket of clouds that has been around all week. The wind direction hadn't changed much from last weekend but because it was reduced to a very light breeze Mary suggested we do an E2NB following trails and beaches from Aberlady and making 27 miles or so. All going well we could join team Porty for the road version on Sunday.

Mary looking/feeling iffy.

As we were leaving Mary had a twinge in her tummy and mentioned things being not quite right. A mile into it she was feeling worse. Not an auspicious start to a 26 miler. I said we should run to 3 miles and if she hadn't thrown off the bad feelings should return home. At the Bowling Club she was no better and decided after a pause and consideration to return home. I texted AGH to see if she was up for a few miles for company. I also found I had to take an unexpected break at the Joppa public toilets. The signs were there but I was too busy anticipating the forecast sunny skies and good running down the coast.

I had worn the Garmin for this run. Every now and then I would check to see how my pace was. Without Mary along I thought I might try a faster pace but found if I didn't consciously raise my game my pace slipped back to the sort of speed I would go if running with Mary. There's no way you can push it over 26 miles and expect not to suffer later so I carried on at a leisurely rate putting it down to the hard week at work, the session the night before and the cold headwind. Although it was a light breeze it was Baltic cold and I could feel it giving me a chill on my front. As ever I focussed on the positives and ignored all the bad omens.

AGH texted to say she hadn't been running this week so wouldn't be joining me. Unspecified illness. So it was going to be a solo jaunt. Just after Porto Setonia I ducked off onto the sandy trails between the beach and pavement and enjoyed the familiar routes through the Bents car parks and the magic forest. The trails continually improve from this point out making this direction preferable, however there are still 16 miles to Aberlady, (17 to the bridge,) and its only then that you leave the road behind for the finest 9 miles. The weather though cold was brightening. I called into the Londis shop but the coffee machine was still broken. I reluctantly bought a cold caffeine drink from the fridge. I had a brief stop to eat a Pain au Chocolat, drink my miserably cold drink, and eat a Star Bar. I ran on at a jog – difficult to get fired up again – and waited for the energy drink to kick in. It never really did and I had to admit I wasn't having a good run. The tide was as high as I've seen it at the wooden bridge and again once I got over to the beach it was nearly touching the “Footpath” signpost just beyond the dunes.

I was trying to enjoy the visuals and was taking loads of photos but I couldn't get rid of the chill in the top of my stomach. Around Gullane point I put on my rain jacket to cut the windchill. I had 3 thin layers below it and although gloves and hat and earband were keeping the extremities warm my core felt dangerously chilly. Everyone else I passed (and there weren't many) was wrapped in heavy coats and long warm trousers. (I had tights in my backpack but was saving them for the train home.)

One-legged Oyster Catchers

Getting to Gullane car park I decided to throw in the towel. I was tired and every time I stopped for a photo I found I preferred walking to running.

Only the thought of a long hike to the road, a stand at the bus stop in the cold, then an hour or more on a slow cold bus was so unappealing, I found myself drifting out the other side of the car park and into the dune trails thinking it was a quicker route home via North Berwick train station. I was glad the jacket obscured Mr Garmin and I could no longer see what pitiful pace I was doing. I was now feeling mighty strange and jogging/walking where ever the trail led. I had a vague notion to go through the woods as they would cut the wind. Also the tide was still very high making some of the beach trails unmanageable.

2 deer - unconcerned

Earth Stars - not the prettiest of fungi

I was still trying to be positive. Usually in an ultra you will have bad moments. Here was a whole heap of bad moments and therefore good training in the “toughen the f**k up” stakes. And the surroundings were so familiar that I felt I was amongst friends in a favourite part of the world. I came round a corner to see a couple of deer. They looked quizzically and I heard them decide that I was definitely not a threat, and that as soon as I had dropped dead they would search my corpse for sports bars. Earlier a cluster of Oyster Catchers in a huddle by the shore looked up as I stumbled past. They kept half and eye on me but I could see that they were all hopping weirdly on one leg as they didn't think I merited a two legged retreat.

Marine Villa and I was pleased I was hitting the beach just at the right point – the tide was receding sufficiently to let me get past without having to hobble over the rocks. 20 minutes later and the sun would be disappearing behind a bank of cloud down at the horizon. What time was it? I reckoned possibly 4.30 so was mildly appalled to pull back the jacket sleeve and reveal 6pm. We set off before 1.30. I was trying to remember what time the trains were and figured at this pace I might catch the 7.21 if I didn't have too many walk breaks. I was thinking it was 27 miles (I had done 22.5 by 6pm.) However my addled head forgot the last mile was down home from Waverley.

After Yellow Craigs I stopped to walk and had to gather myself as I nearly threw up right there on the beach. The top of my stomach was now a substantial ache although I hadn't eaten anything in ages. I put it down to the cold headwind and knew that if I took much longer it would get dark which wouldn't improve things. There is a terminally long beach with high dunes on the right before a bridge across the stream at the golf course. I noticed a jump-able section of stream which saved the normal 100 yard detour over the bridge and was very grateful, though the effort of the jump nearly forced me to stop and walk.

As soon as the edge of North Berwick appeared I took the shortest line across the golf course. We normally run along to the traditional finish on the putting green but today it was straightest possible line to the station. I crossed the main road and finally looked at my watch – I had been putting this off in case I left myself with an unlikely sprint over the last mile; it was not a day for sprinting. I was expecting 7.15 and so it took my eyes a while to work out what 6.40 was doing on my watch. When I got to the platform there was a small crowd waiting on the 6.51. I ran till the Garmin bleeped 26 miles then stopped, and wondered why the usual relief at stopping failed to materialise. As I stretched I almost felt worse. Getting onto the train I tried to sit far away from the Saturday revellers and folk talking loudly on mobiles. Everything seemed to be annoying. I even had an ache in my camera arm. I have run with the camera for 30 miles before and it has never caused my arm to ache. Still oblivious, but the evidence was now all there.

I texted Mary to say I was on the train and she texted back to say she was really sick. As it sunk in this might be more than just a bad day's run I could feel the rising nausea. I looked along the carriages to see if I could see a toilet. None. I could imagine sprinting down the corridor spraying the carriage with... and reached into the backpack to remove a freezer bag only just having time to remove the contents before I bent double behind the seat and filled it up like pulling a pint. Four or five power heaves later and I wondered what was going to happen when the contents, my contents, became greater than the volume of the bag. I stopped before that happened but had to carry my bag of toxic bio-hazzard off the train and through the station like a terrorist. Luckily its all downhill from the station and after I had sourced a drain and nearby litter-bin I jogged the last mile.

toxic bio-hazard

After a quick shower I joined Mary in bed (8pm) and we compared horror stories. (She had had it much worse than I did, having regular occasions to empty herself.) I drank a 2lt bottle of water and by 2am had the strength to eat a bowl of cereal. I realised I probably wouldn't make the Porty E2NB run at 9am.

Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, forceful vomiting, watery diarrhoea, and abdominal pain, and in some cases, loss of taste. General lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, headache, coughs, and low-grade fever may occur. The disease is usually self-limiting, and severe illness is rare.

1 comment:

  1. Tough as nails Peter! Semi glad I wasn't well enough for this particular adventure.