Monday, 5 March 2018


We didn't plan an epic. Like the best days out it just happened. The plan was to run 20miles with the wind behind us, so North Berwick seemed a good place to start now the trains were running again. We left the station just after midday and headed beachward as the coast was probably the best place for the least snow. And it was quite a good call.

Mary spotted these handsome memorial chairs by the large war memorial in Waverley. There is a new plaque going up for the Jellicoe Express that was still a work in progress. They will be useful last resort memorials for any TB runs that start or end in Waverley where memorials have been hard to come by. 

We actually arrived with 30mins to kill in Waverley. Prob that strong coffee Mary made us, which had us in attack mode and up the road in ridiculously prompt time. There was quite a lot of fooling around in the station and then on the train due to said coffee. I had taken swim goggles as they were the nearest I had to snow goggles. However with the wind to the back of us today they stayed in my back pack. Apart from on the train.

photo Mary

The general plan was to run towards Edinburgh for about 20 miles or until something broke. We had return tickets and would run close to the bus route for the second half.

Around where NB beaches turn into Yellowcraig beaches we bumped into Neil (and Harry) and he ran with us, turning off at Yellowcraigs. He is also doing Manchester marathon.

We were in very jolly spirits for quite some while. Despite the dull overcast weather and regular drizzle. I reluctantly put on my waterproof jacket and it stayed on for the rest of the day. We opted for the woods at Gullane which were for once, well lit, due to the carpet of white. You could see which direction the snow had come from by the feet at the bottom of the trees.

The birds have been very noticeable this winter. Huge flocks of them (several hundred) were gathering in the tree tops near Gullane then taking off as we got close. Tricky to photograph and I was unsure what species they were. 

Someone remarked that Gullane Beach has lost a lot of sand. We didn't see it as we came in high, from the woods, went across the car park then dropped back down at Gullane Point. From here the going got tougher and the pace slower. The weather seemed to deteriorate and then the sand was very soft at Aberlady. The trails back into Aberlady were choked with snow drifts and even harder work. Mary had an ache that sounded like it could threaten the days running and I wondered if we would get much further than Aberlady. We had only gone 12 miles!

the white cliffs of Aberlady

hard work!

We limped into Aberlady. I was ready for something substantial to eat. Mary was too, but didn't realise, having gone past the low-blood-sugar point without noticing. Very easily done. Eating a cold sandwich in the street just wasn't going to cut it. The Indian restaurant was open but looked too nice to traipse in with soaking shoes and damp kit. Then the Old Aberlady Inn materialised in front of us. Has it always been there? Never noticed it before. It seemed to have a fairly casual menu so we went in and it was the best thing we could have done. We had lagers while checking the menu and warming up, and due to the miracle of alcohol Mary went from crocked and unhappy to joyful and relaxed in quarter of a pint. She finished her half pint and would have finished my pint if I hadn't bought her the second half. The turnaround was impressive (the beer seemed to fix her lower glute ache) and by the time we had had something to eat (and warm up a bit) Mary was just about singing and dancing out the pub, totally convinced of the Graham Nash approach: (1 pint at regular intervals - but never 2!)

We floated round Aberlady Kirk which was looking very charming in the snow. I was looking for war graves either for the next TB run or because a notion was forming in my head. It seemed unlikely I'd manage 30+ miles today but if Mary was going to catch the train from Longniddry or Prestonpans maybe I would run home and with a couple of laps of Leith Links... but that was a long way away. It didn't do to think about what would happen later. The best way to handle a long run is just to breeze along in the present tense enjoying the surroundings. Look there's some piggy wigs.

photo Mary

The pace picked up once we came off the beaches and trails and onto the tarmac. There were some clear pavements but also others with compressed and rutted icy snow and worse still, large deep puddles of slush and icy water which would submerge and soak an unwary trainer. I knew I was tired when instead of this sign, the Prestonpans war memorial, reading "in memory of the men of the burgh" I briefly read "in memory of Ken and Barbie." Mary seemed to be staying strong and there was less chat about catching a train and more about maybe heading home on foot. She also realised that I had crossed the road to take photos of the war memorial for a reason, that I was entertaining the idea of a Tynecastle Bronze. Having run the coastal road many times in marathon training we knew the rough distance it would give us. We would get home with about 28miles on the clock. It would be dark but SO much more satisfying than catching a train. 

The plan I eventually formed was to run ahead and then back to Mary. If I did this enough times I would increase the distance over the same course. And it would keep me warm. Mary had worked this out ages ago. I gave her every option of chumming her to do 30 as well, but she was not interested. She has notched up a couple of TB runs in the 3.5 years but was in no hurry to make a third. 28 would be the longest she had run in a couple of years, and more than enough for marathon training. She stopped at the Quayside to re-arrange socks and damp toes. I bombed ahead at what seemed like 10k pace although EVERY time I turned to run back to Mary she was only 100 yards behind. Not possible! I set off again at 5k pace and ran for a mile. When I turned back which was a really difficult mental hurdle, to head away from home in the dark and rain, to cover ground I had already covered only to have to turn round and run it again, there was Mary after only 100 yards. Someone was definitely playing tricks. I reckoned Mary had a wee bike stashed somewhere or a taxi picking her up as soon as I headed off. It was quite uncanny.  

I got to Tumbles then headed back to the flagpole passing Mary (after 100 yards) saying I was going back a-ways. She trotted on and I ran flat out from there till I caught her just before Leith Links. It certainly added some interest to the final few miles although once I caught her I was so wrung out, we ran home together from that point. I got there a quarter of a mile shy of 30 so ran along the street and back. It was very satisfying to have made so much use of one of the worst days of the year. A day when others were staying indoors and running insane distances on treadmills. Much better to get outdoors surely? We both felt very pleased with what had started out as just a bit of fun and nearly finished, on a bus, at 12 miles. Mary got 27.8miles and I have ticked off the Tynecastle Bronze for March, nice and early in the month. And it made dinner taste AMAZING!

photo Mary

Mary's account of it here.

out for just over 7hrs, 6hrs22 running, 30.04miles

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