Tuesday, 5 January 2016

January Tynecastle Bronze

The two Richards had been discussing an early Jan TB. As long as it wasn't lashing rain all day I said I would join in. And Nick was up for it, making the Fantastic Four. Richard H had a large Edinburgh circuit planned although there was room for maneuver route wise, and we tended to follow our noses rather than pick a specific line and stick to it. It was very much in the style of Graham Henry who is probably still suffering from chronic knackeredness and has been doing his TB runs as walks. He would very much have approved of our methodology. We met outside the Commie Pool at 9am although all of us had done a mile or more to get there.

Coming towards us is Graham Smith. He ran a remarkable 1.35 at the WoL Half. Remarkable because on the first of Feb he is 72 which you would not know by the speed he went past us. What a guy!

Richard H had also sourced us a war memorial at Colinton. We stopped by to pay our respects. WW1 names on the front, WW2 round the other sides with an optimistic couple of lines below, a sentiment perhaps naive to our more modern thinking.

After Colinton we headed up the road at Bonaly and into the Pentlands on trails that Graham has led us on previous runs. We talked about the lack of a Graham H run either on Boxing Day or during the holidays and that it was a shame to have not had his special brand of lunacy leading us astray. Hopefully his situation will improve soon and he will get back to running.

It was not a good day to be in the Pentlands. Having been there not 24hrs before I knew into what we were heading, and had worn 2 layers and a gilet as defence against it. And was carrying a waterproof in the back pack, but never had to get it out. However there was a drizzle hanging in the air and the same freezing wind of the previous day. The night before, I had sewn up holes in a pair of warmer gloves I had stopped wearing, and enjoyed their fleecy insulation all day. We started on some thin contours that provided some fun (for those in road shoes and Nick in his bald Hokas) and feet got the first cold soaking of the day. Then, nearer Castlelaw we picked up the broad gravel trails and ran round to the Castlelaw car park from where we headed down the road. I would normally be less pleased to be leaving the Pentlands for roads but it was a relief to be out of the low cloud.

Next photo opportunity was Glencorse Parish Church. I liked the vertical dynamic of it and there was another wm to the right of it. We bumped into a minibusing geocasher while there. From there I had ideas of picking up the Esk-side path we had done last month on the Carnethy run, between Rosslyn and Polton. We got very near it but in not taking the turn off to Rosslyn Chapel we somehow ended up (or remained) on the cyclepath to Dalkeith rather than the Esk-side path. I know Richard had planned to take a cycle-path to Dalkeith but I was never very sure if this was the one he had in mind. (Bert's gang would recognise it from his previous runs out of Dalkeith and back. I think Doug Runner once described it as that anonymous dog-turd strewn run from the Dalkeith Bowling Club. 

On the upside the cyclepath was quick (not too muddy) and didn't involved much navigation. We had done over 15 miles when I suggested that if there was a suitable spot up ahead we should stop for something to eat. There wasn't a picnic table handy and it wasn't really weather for sitting down outdoors so we slowed to a walk and ate sandwiches. I had the usual honey, cheese and lemon curd. I never have these at work; only when out ultra-ing. I had also taken quite a handful of sports bars and confectionery, none of which I ate at that point. 

On the outskirts of Dalkeith I realised it had been some time since we had had a photo and looked around for something scenic. Nick is pointing out this rather lovely mattress. However we were soon on more pleasant trails that skirted round Dalkeith. Richard mostly kept us on the sustrans cyclepaths with detours where there seemed nicer trails.

We picked up the South River Esk and followed it and then the Esk. I began to recognise where we were from a run once done back from Newton Grange a while ago. I thought we might do more of the Duke's estate, but before that we took the sustrans route out the other side of Dalkieth and then back through Whitecraig passing Carberry. Then onto the riverside paths down to Musselburgh. Although it is pretty, my memories of these paths are filled with aching legs and the last couple of miles of too many longer runs and marathon training. Returning from the Winton Estate or runs out the Pencaitland cyclepath. By this stage I am usually head down and flagging. Today by comparison we were all feeling pretty chipper. Richard H was feeling it having not done a longer run for a while but we were all going at a decent pace and were upbeat, likely to be finished long before dark. It had all passed very quickly as well, such is the boon of company and chat; the miles just melting away as 15 turns to 20 then marathon distance, then... 

Christina had offered us refreshments at her place in Musselburgh. I wondered about the wisdom of stopping at 28 miles: would legs seize up and discourage getting back out for the last couple? Would they be completed on a bus holding the Garmin out the window? However a cup of tea and some banter seemed to refresh legs and the aches had left by the time we set off on the last handful of miles. We had started from different places and now went our own ways. (Richard D stayed behind to clear up.) Richard H to his home in Porty, Nick and I ran to the prom where he turned up toward where he had left his car at Duddingston, and I continued along the front, then through the links and home. A bit over 33 miles on a day which was bleak and grey but due to the company, felt like the sun was shining all day. Not a route I would rush back to repeat, although it could be refined into something with a few less road miles and a tad more scenery, but the best possible use of the last day of the holidays: to burn off some of the seasonal excesses, to notch up another successful TB, and to spend time in excellent company. Didn't notice the miles flying by which speaks volumes. I think I would have thrown myself under (or onto) a bus about 25 miles into this had I been doing it solo. Take note all those planning long runs and training for marathons and ultras. Thanks to Christina for allowing 4 mud covered, possibly smelly runners into her lovely flat and giving us tea, and to the 2 Richards and Nick for a splendid day out. 

The UltraBox. My father once asked me to get a craft knife from the drawer in his studio. I went into the wrong drawer and was surprised to see not art stuff but a collection of confectionery; Mars Bars, Twix, Boosts that sort of thing, incongruously, like a bulimics stash or a bottle of vodka in the cistern. Of course I knew he had a sweet tooth but I was never in his studio often enough to know about his stash. And I only saw it once. A large part of my starting to run was to avoid middle age spread. My dad wasn't fat by today's standards but he wasn't big on exercise and towards the end was running out of teeth. So sugar took it's toll and was perhaps the closest he came to an addiction. Rather than swear off bad habits, I decided it would be easier to enjoy food (and drink) if I did some running, rather than restrict my intake. One of the fringe benefits of running 30 milers once a month is I get to eat like a king. If a king ate Star Bars and Double Deckers. There is an old Cliff Bar box in the cupboard we refer to as the UltraBox. It is my stash of things that come out on long runs. This particular run I only ate my sandwich (2 slices of homebaked seeded wholemeal) and burned 4,000 calories if Mr Garmin is right. On the way across the Links I was feeling lightheaded and realised I should eat something so had a Double Decker and it was superb. It did seem strange to eat stuff and walk, a mile from home but I have previously fallen foul of the not-bothering-to-eat-due-to-almost-being-finished then nearly passing out.

Anyway I am mentioning this to flag up the UltraBox (which makes Mary sing ahhh Vienna despite herself, when I mention it) and to show that no matter how we try to steer our own course we often end up on the same path we were trying to avoid. Not that there's much wrong with a line of sugar now and again - my dad made his mid-eighties without a day's exercise outside of his twenties. I know sugar is currently the devil's bumstick but wait 5 years and fashion will probably dictate you have at least a tablespoon of sugar on your frosties. And whatever happens, stop eating avocado/quinoa/sun cream: it's a certified killer for sure. 

anticlockwise appetiser 

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