It's so much harder to enjoy a film or book when it's been oversold. The anticipation is everything and if you've been told this is totally awesome then likely as not, you'll expect more and receive less.
The opposite happened today. Our film was undersold. The grey overcast skies promised nothing but a long slog. We dragged our heels and it was 3pm before we planted the first step. Mary was not in a jolly mood so I didn't fight for an alternative start to the usual 18miler out North Berwick. We follow the road 7 miles to Aberlady, have a snack break, then cross the bridge and follow the trails and beaches 11miles back to NB. Takes around 4hrs and is more about time on feet than pacing. So we carried head-torches to brighten the last few unlit miles.
Every time we do this I complain that there HAS to be a better route out of NB than that rooty main road to Dirleton. It is so drab and you can see the eminently preferable golf course just over the way there. However I didn't want the grief so set off feeling light on my feet and thought I'd maybe knock out a few fast miles to start the run, turning every couple and returning to see how M was faring, then heading back out. It was a good distraction though somewhere along the way I turned the Garmin off when I meant on, and I lost around half a mile.
I don't wear a Garmin often enough to get properly tuned into the timer stopped, timer started button. Mary was thinking on the hoof and a little later she had me halt and set the Auto Pause on it. Works superbly! When I see a dead something at the side of the road and have to take a photo, it notices the pace has dropped to zero and pauses the timer. When I start again it gives another bleep to let me know it knows and I don't lose any miles. I was deeply pleased.
After Dirleton, just round the corner, I was getting bored with the pavement and needed a pee so jumped over the wall into the woods that keep the great unwashed a safe distance from the knobs of Archerfields. I was a bit quick to do this as the path doesn't get going for a couple of hundred yards and I was having to jump over logs and fight through bracken. Just then there were 2 very loud and close shotgun reports. Cut to Mary back on the road and she looks in the direction of the gun shots to see me leap 25 feet in the air like Wile E Coyote and she thinks (I quote) “I find him annoying as well but that's probably going too far.”
Eventually we got to Aberlady and the Londis shop. The shop owner apologised for not having any coffee (machine broken) so we got a posher more expensive one from across the road. To compensate for our non-golfing clothes we sat outside (hardly weather for it) and this allowed us to eat our Pain au Chocolats from Londis which were MIGHTY FINE. There had been much talk of the pain of chocolate and whether it was a pain followed by death by chocolate. The mood was lifting.
I had to break a fiver to pay in Londis, then break a tenner to pay for the coffees. As we started running again, the change, which was all in coins, hit the off beats like a snare, while the glug of the juice bottle did the bass drum. Amusing as this was, I stopped after 100 yards and properly tied down the percussion section.
I don't drink coffee Monday to Friday to get maximum warp drive from the pre-race caffeine drink. Similarly, strong proper coffee has a nearly psychopharmaceutical effect. By the time we had crossed the wooden bridge at Aberlady I was no longer considering £1.95 per cup to be a high price for the trip. The grey skies had emptied the coastline of humans and we had the place to ourselves much more than yesterday when we covered a lot of the same ground. Strangely the tide seemed to be doing different things on each of the beaches, sometimes in, sometimes out. The sky was flat and the lack of wind for a few days meant the water was also fairly still.
I had only taken the compact camera thinking there wouldn't be much worth taking photos of. However the stillness and greyness had the restrained qualities of ambient music and I hoped there was enough light to capture the nearly mystical beauty. I had the feeling it was a day the animals might be out and about. I had seen a large tawny owl hunting and a couple of deer off the John Muir Way through the golf course. And some eider ducks near the beach. The flat light made it difficult to get decent photos though.
Someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to make a superb path above the beach before Fidra. We've had a bit of a tidal soaking here before when the water is right in so it was very nice to find this new path up through the jaggies to above the beach and along past a rather well cleared out pill box or WWII emplacement. Bruce would tell you what is was. I took a couple of photos and we moved on. I was counting the rhythms of Fidra light. Every 48 steps it lit up with 4 short flashes. If you pressed the shutter release at the flash, the delay would mean a snap of the dark between illuminations, so a degree of anticipation was required. Also the results in no way reflect the work put in here. I suspect a tripod, bigger sensor and longer exposure are needed to do it justice. It all helped pass the time though.
Around Yellow Craigs I had the last of the juice from Aberlady and got out the head-torch. Mine was considerably brighter than Mary's and I kept shining it in her direction to take photos. She assumed I was just shining it in her eyes to annoy her and show off, and there was some bad language. However it was turning into a rather magical run. The lack of big vista almost forced you to listen to the waves and their relaxing heart beat. While you wouldn't say it was warm the lack of wind made it pleasant and we both really enjoyed the last few miles that are often a dull slog alongside the golf course and featureless beach leading into North Berwick.
Mary had an idea which she described as romantic of setting up a photo of her disembodied head in a lobster pot, which we played around with. I admired her pluck for lying down amongst the beach debris on a forlorn stretch of dark coast to make “romantic” images but felt it was a bit more gothic than romantic. You can see the result on her blog. And facebook page.
We got back to the car feeling daylight runs are perhaps over-rated and next full moon we should organise some more head-torch fun. I shouldn't oversell it though because if you're expecting it to be TOTALLY AWESOME you may be disappointed. (But it was.)
18 miles, give or take.
18 miles, give or take.
3pm ~ 7pm, 4 hrs total, 3hrs running.