Monday, 31 December 2012

WWJMD (what would John Muir do)?

Matt and Ruby were heading to Space NB so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to do a point to point run. Matt dropped me off at the start of the John Muir Way on the outskirts of East Linton and I headed off uphill on the grassy track.

I've never run this section of the JMW and initially the tracks were ok, with some mud but I was still able to run on them fairly easily. As usual with trails in East Lothian I had to run though several farms, and as usual they were smelly and manky! There was no-one about, but with the wind whipping through the derelict barns and sheds it did make me slightly nervous. I often have visions of yer man from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre running out of a barn and chasing me up a track. I also often wonder if my little legs would save me or whether I'd be chopped into pieces and never seen again!! Probably the latter!

The map had told me the route was 5 miles, but the signs soon told me it was more like 7. That was fine, I had thought 5 wouldn't be enough to satisfy me today anyway. My legs felt heavy and my lungs weren't working all that well, so I was going through moments of pleasure and pain in equal measures. At about mile 4 the farm tracks turned into a wonderful wooded track, which was dry and undulating. This was more like it. A little flock of chaffinches followed me through the trees and I could hear rustling around me in the bushes. I could have run on this trail for ever, but unfortunately after only about a mile I was back on the most horrendous track at the edge of a field. There was no way I could run, the mud was so deep and there was no way around it, so I grumpily trudged through it for about half a mile. A short section on road was quite welcome and then downhill on a track that leads you right to the foot of North Berwick Law. I did swither whether to have a 'run' up the Law and to be honest I would have, had it not been for the fact that it was teaming with folk and their children and dogs! It's bad enough trying to get my big bum up a steep hill like that when there's no-one around, but with that many people around there was just no way my body or mind would have coped. So I headed on the trail that leads around the South side of the Law up towards a steading near Space. It was so narrow and muddy that I could hardly even walk, let alone run. Grumpy again, I made my way along the path and was very glad to eventually come off onto a road. I had to stop and clean off my shoes as I had half the trail stuck to them!

Downhill on road and into Space, where I felt very conscious of being covered in mud. No-one seemed to notice though and Matt and Ruby are used to it, so I treated myself to a bowl of butternut squash, sage and honey soup which went down a treat!

During my run I thought that maybe the JMW would be a good choice for my first foray into ultra distance, after all it's local and I could probably do it unsupported. But the problem for me is the amount of disgusting farm tracks you have to negotiate. I mean John Muir was a great man who devoted his life to protecting stunning landscapes, so why East Lothian Council felt is was necessary to honour him with a trail that takes you through some of the most manky farmland in the county is beyond me. I'm considering a strongly worded email to ELC to ask them to get their act together and at least make the paths usable.

I enjoyed my 6.4 mile run, mostly, but I think I'll attempt it again when the ground is drier!

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Starting the new year a bit early

The last few months have been pretty dire when it comes to running. Lack of motivation, along with the terrible weather and dark evenings has meant I've been a total slacker. It had to change, and not being one to wait for a new year to start making changes I decided to work off some of those Christmas cobwebs and get my hooves out onto the trails.

A couple of boring runs around Haddington really did nothing to motivate me so I took myself off into the Lammermuirs on Friday to see how those lazy days and mince pies would affect my fitness. Turns out that there's still life in the old dog yet!

I parked the van at Hopes and headed off up the track into a howling head wind. Because of the wind I ran along the low track that runs alongside the stream and heads through a wooded area and up to the reservoir. Then I cut uphill to the high path that runs along the North side of the reservoir. Low branches and mud meant I was going at a nice easy pace, so my lungs were coping well. I had thought about just running around the reservoir but I was at the turning point so quickly that I decided to extend my route. A bit of walking and running got me up to the main path that eventually leads you to Lauder. The snow which had fallen the previous day was melting fast and the path was essentially a river! That, plus a holwing head wind made the ascent pretty unpleasant. Luckily there was no-one about, cause I had to empty my nose slime many many times, and mostly it ended up on my arm! The path headed off downhill, and there was no way even my GTX shoes would cope with the amount of water and slush, so I ended up hobbling through the heather at the side. I was very relieved when I got to my turn off and finally the wind was behind me and the path was dry-ish so I managed to speed up and finally had a smile on my face.

Downhill steeply into the favourite part of my route 'Roger's Cleugh', where it was calm and even slightly warm. By this time my legs were feeling quite heavy and I was getting tired, so I cracked open the little piece of my Mum's Christmas cake that I had in my backpack. DELICIOUS!! The rest of the run was really good, with several leaps across swollen streams, a meeting with a 4 month old lab puppy and then finally seeing the van in the distance.

No GPS signal on this run, but probably about 7 miles and about 1000ft of ascent. Very nice reintroduction to my running and certainly inspired me. Slightly stiff left ankle the following day, and muscles were tender but not nearly as bad as I thought I'd be :)