Sunday, 5 January 2014

Heart of Midlothian Run

Early January is a risky time to plan a l-o-n-g training run. I watched the weather forecast with dread wondering how to get out of a Graham Henry special if it was likely to be 8hrs of rain and wind. However yet again it appeared that GH has influence upstairs and we got some of the best weather of the holidays for what turned out to be an exceptional day of running, from pretty much dawn till dusk.

The run starts at the Heart of Midlothian beside St Giles. (I don't know why.) I have run most days leading into this so had made sure and prepared for today by 
1/ doing the roller thing to unstiffen legs 
2/ spending about £8 in Scotmid on pastries, Soreen, Tunnocks Caramel Wafers and some chorizo.
3/ getting at least 7 hrs sleep
4/ taking a wee bottle of caffeine drink to fire me up
5/ wearing Hoka shoes. I'd like to dedicate this report to my Hokas and also my Helly. You were fab. (3 of us were wearing Hokas.)

We set off on the bong of nine.

Many were invited but few turned up. On the day it was the perfect crew. The dream team of Graham, Emma, Kathy and myself. The early morning sunshine was reassuring and after a quick hop over Calton Hill and Holyrood Pk. we headed via the old training fields at Duddingston / Porty Rugby Club towards Craigmillar Castle.

From there we went to Kathy's house which is near Ikea. I didn't reconise many of the twists and turns we took but they were mostly low traffic areas and cyclepaths and a lot of off road stuff which does minimal damage to legs on a long day out. I have been on GH tours of duty before where scenery seemed to be of secondary importance but today, from the off, I was pleasantly surprised. It was almost as if he had planned it.

There is almost inevitably incident on a journey like this. When we got to Kathy's house the girls who had been following Graham and I said they had come across something. Emma had found 2 twenty pound notes. It was certainly a good omen, if one ignored the bad omen that Graham and I must have run past them.

Bilston Viaduct

Rosslyn Chapel

Until recently I had never been to this place. Then the Eskapade brought us here, and today within a month I am here again.

Shortly after this bridge we parted company with the route of the Eskapade.

Out towards the Pentlands.

Graham was scratching his head saying there was a gate somewhere. (It was about 20 yards to the right of this photo.) There were admirably few fences to climb today.

At the trough.

Around here Graham found a (working) bike rear light that must have jumped off a passing bike. Which is very handy as mine is currently held together with elastic bands. Another great find.

Emma was considering maybe catching a bus from Balerno.
Someone had thoughtfully left her bus fare here. (Although she did actually have £40 for a taxi.)

Richard had bequeathed us a whole bottle of whisky.

Which we drank at West Kip base camp.

We then took the Drove Rd over to Balerno and Beach Avenue.

Emma had been flagging but after we all stopped for a picnic at Graham's strategically positioned car near Balerno there was no more talk of buses. Perhaps the highlight of the food (after Smokey Bacon crisps) were these whisky and cinnamon mini cup cakes impressively discounted to 8p for 6. Look at Graham's face light up!

Some of the trails back from Balerno I was familiar with. But GH was still leading us down alleys and through folks' back gardens, and we came across various treats new to me. This open mouthed house for instance. Although when we turned left we were were back on the WoL cycle path just 80 yards away.

At Colinton Dell Graham recreated the moment from last year when Roly inspected Graham's injured foot. He had stood on a nail at 3 miles and 19 miles later, when it was giving him serious pain Roly had taken a look, and declared it fine to continue. Graham ended the day in hospital and was on a zimmer for a week.

Graham kept the troops motivated insisting we charged up the last couple of hilly bits.

Along the canal.

Past Gorgie Rd

To Tynecastle where an obliging WPC took this photo of us next to this memorial. GH is planning a Memorial run sometime in the near future and this will no doubt be on the route.  

Conference Blue

And back to where we started. The Heart-to-Heart part was 37.1 miles and about 7.5hrs running (incl. stoppage.) The weather had been brilliant considering, and the company excellent which made the day fly by. I was probably talking for most of it (after too much caffeine drink) for which I apologise. But what a day! Emma and I ran down Leith Walk bringing my total (with my first 1.3 to the start line) to 39.6 miles. I think it shows considerable maturity that I didn't run round the block to bring it up to 40 miles. A fabulous day out - many thanks to Graham for making it happen.

One of many things we talked about: Graham's son who was over from France visiting recently.
This is a photo from a few years back. A chip off the old block.

Splits and time (without stoppage.) The elevation at the top shows the rather nice long slow ascent to the high point at 22.5 miles in the Pentlands from which it is just a long roll down back into town. 

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