Sunday, 24 February 2013

Rude not to

This weekend I'm celebrating a 'milestone' birthday. The number's not important as I'm of the opinion that age is mostly a psychological thing. Anyhow we decided a trip up north with our very good friends was in order and Glencoe was our chosen destination.

I've spent a lot of time in the Highlands since I was young and my preference has always been Speyside, but recently we ventured back to Glencoe and climbed Buachaille Etive Mor. From the moment we summited the Munro and looked out upon the vast ranges of snow capped mountains beyond I was in love. It put me in mind of the Alps where we'd spent a glorious few weeks last Summer but this was virtually on our doorstep. When it was time to choose my birthday destination I knew Glencoe was the place.

This blog is about running, but it wouldn't be right not to mention our walk up the Devils Staircase where we played in the snow and slid down it on our bums in the glorious sunshine, or our scramble up the Lost Valley where we saw icicles as big as the kids and pools of water so deep and clear you could get lost in them.

I was desperate to run part of the West Highland Way as soon as I knew we were going, but this visit was about being with my family and friends so I decided a short birthday run in the glen this morning before breakfast would be enough to satisfy me. It was only 5 miles in the end on an out and back route, but what a route!

Friday, 22 February 2013

New kit

If it hadn't been for the fact I have a shiny new Garmin 210 and a shiny pair of Evo Barefoot trail shoes to try out today I may not have gone for a run. When I woke up my throat was sore and I felt pretty lousy, but thankfully I'm a sucker for shiny new things so I put my running gear on, grabbed the dog, dropped Ruby off at school and headed down to the river.

I've been running in Inov8 shoes for about a year now and they are classed as minimalist but the Vivo Barefoot trail shoes are more like my Vibrams or my Merrell pace gloves i.e. very little between your feet and the ground, and I've not worn either of them running since the Summer, so I was cautious when I put the Vivos on today as you should really ease yourself into this type of shoe. They did feel strange initially while I was running along the High Street but as soom as I was on the trails they felt wonderful. I'm going to do a proper review of them once I've worn them a few more time, but so far so good.

My Garmin was also pretty wonderful, although I did eventually tuck it up my sleeve cause I kept looking at it and was at risk of falling flat on my face! I really like that it splits your pace into individual miles as it made me realise that I'm not a super slow runner but actually my average time (as displayed on an app like Map My Run) is just really slow because I stop and take pictures, and go on trails where it's sometimes hard to walk let alone run. But looking at the Garmin data I was pleased to see that 4 of my 6 miles were run in under 10 minutes, which for me is quite fast. That lifted my spirits! The data you get back from the watch is pretty amazing and I'm looking forward to playing with it over the coming weeks. I'm hoping I don't become a slave to it, as then the fun would be gone!

Nethy and I ran a nice loop that took us into Lennoxlove and as the mud is drying up nicely we strayed off the main path and into the woods. It was tough going in places due to some extremely jaggy gorse, and the fact that the foot bridge over the river had been almost completely destroyed, but it was nice being off the beaten track and it was good to see the big patches of snowdrops growing up through the leaves and the mud.

As we approached home I checked my Garmin only to find I'd done just short of 6 miles, so we ran past the house and did an extra wee loop to bring the tally up to just over 6! That's a new and rather exciting experience!

My legs are really tired this evening, but I'm hoping to get some more miles in this weekend. It's a bit of a special few days for me as I'm turning 40 on Sunday! It's only a number....

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Pea soup

Not much to say about today's run as I only had a spare hour so didn't go very far, and I could barely see a thing due to the thick wet fog that descended over Haddington at about 3.30pm.

Took the dog up to the shelter belts and ran up the hill only to bump into Ali Black, a local CaniXer who owns several huskies and a malamute (jealous!). He'd run from Dunbar (without aforementioned dogs) and was looking fresher than I was, even though I'd only gone a few miles at that stage!

Managed to run down the farm track without falling this time. I did note how nice it is that the trails are drying up. I think we've gone about 7 days without rain *shh don't mention it*! Couldn't see very far infront of me at this point and was nervous of running on a short stretch of road that leads South towards the river, so we opted for the same track as we'd run on yesterday. Better that than being squashed by a car I guess.

Got home in time to make dinner for daughter and mother in law.

In additional new my lovely Husband bought me a Garmin Forerunner 210 for my forthcoming birthday. I'm not sure what I'll do with it yet, other than have a more accurate record of where I've been. I believe it does all sorts of fancy things like tell you what speed you're going (probably be stuck on slow in my case) and you can even tell what your cadence is if you put a foot pod on your shoe. There's also the heart rate monitor, which will be handy if I do decide to try metabolic training. It looks good though and I'm sure it will be fun looking at all the data I gather while I'm out.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Running with the girls

What a glorious day! White frost covered everything this morning but the sky was a brilliant blue and the sun stayed out all day long! No way I was going to go on a night run in Dalkeith on a day like this, but Matt wasn't due home until 6pm so I had to take the girls with me!

Didn't take much to talk Ruby into jumping on her bike, but I couldn't persuade her that cycling shorts were probably not the best idea! I had 3/4 running tights on too, but I was fine as I build up a good heat from running.

We just did a little loop through Amisfield and then over Abbey bridge onto the track that runs parallel to the A1. Running back into the sunshine was glorious. The countryside looked splendid and I could have run for miles. Ruby was happy enough, but feeling cold so we stuck to the loop and I didn't push my luck by asking her to go further.

A great start to the week, and hopefully a glimpse of what's to come weather wise :)

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Making up for lost miles

This week has been poor for running mainly due to lack of time, so today I'd thought about doing a long run. Trouble was I wanted to go to Vogrie for CaniX as it's good for Nethy and I both to run with a pack, not to mention the fact that I end up running the 5k route much faster than my usual pace so it's a good workout for me. So in the end I did Vogrie and an additional run this afternoon.

Matt was taking Ruby and her friend to Dunbar swimming pool so they dropped me off at East Linton and I set off on the John Muir Way. It's a really nice part of the JMW as you only really have one short stretch of muddy field margins and the rest is a mixture of well made and beach trails. The pace was leisurely due to a combination of tired legs from the morning's run and the usual stop offs to take photos. I was also listening to a good podcast on Trail Runner Nation by Dr Phil Maffetone on training at slower paces (i.e. aerobic pace) to improve your speed in endurance races. I'm really interested in metabolic efficiency training mostly as a way to burn fat. I also think the idea of training your body to use fat stores during long runs to prevent you hitting the wall makes perfect sense. I might look up Dr Phil's book and when I get my new GPS watch and HRM I might get a bit more serious about things and try some of these techniques. For now I'm running slow because that's the only speed I can run!!

My favourite part of the route is when you get onto the dune trails and into the woods at John Muir Country Park. It's so nice running alongside the beach and then onto the dry, pine needle covered tracks that wind through the woods. It's certainly a welcome relief from mud! The clifftop path that leads you into Dunbar is also really nice, apart from having to skirt the golf course. It does have some great views of the Bass Rock and as the name suggests some rather splendid cliffs.

I felt really good when I reached the leisure pool at Dunbar and had clocked just over 7.5 miles, further than I thought it would be. Matt and the girls were still in the pool so I settled my muddy self down at one of the poolside seats after purchasing a banana and a cuppa. I have to say that Dunbar pool seems to attract a very unhealthy looking bunch of people. It's not like it's actually a 'swimming' pool in the sense that you can get some good exercise and burn some serious calories. This is a leisure pool so bobbing and floating is the only activity most people get. Not really a good enough workout to justify a large plate of cheesy chips and a can of coke now is it??! And couldn't you have gone to get your clothes on before you ate your greasy fare instead of sitting in your bikini right infront of me?? It's no wonder we're a nation of fatties if our sports centres can't even supply healthy nutritious food for us to eat. I don't think I've seen so many fat kids in one place, and it really made me sad :( Luckily for you I didn't take pictures of them, instead here are some of the beautiful countryside...

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I did a race.......and I liked it!!

The other night whilst browsing through Facebook I came across the Tri-Trail page. It's basically a series of trail running races that Stuart McInnes from the Tri Centre in Edinburgh is organising. There was a race in the Pentlands in January to set things off and tonight they were putting on a night time 10k race in Dalkeith Country Park. I couldn't not enter. I love trail running, I love mud and I love running in the dark...the decision was made.

My friend picked me up and we headed to Dalkeith in the almost horizontal and torrential rain. Luckily I've been out a lot in these conditions recently and I was in Dalkeith running with the CaniX group a few weeks ago so the course wasn't entirely unknown to me (even although in the dark it all looks the same!). There were over 150 entries but I'm not sure everyone showed up. The sign on was in the old stable area, but unfortunately the weather was so bad that most of us spent the hour before the start in our cars with the heaters on!

Eventually we had to brave the elements but Colin and I kept our coats on until the very last minute and then Stuart let us put them in his van which was great, especially at the finish when I would have chilled to the bone if it hadn't been handy. There was a good atmosphere at the start, although I do feel sorry for the people who are interested in getting placings as it just seems to detract from the fun in my opinion! The start was fast, and I made sure I got out of the way so I didn't get trampled but I also made sure I wasn't right at the back as I didn't want to get dropped straight away.

I was very conscious of pacing myself, and 'running my own race'. The problem I found was that I had no idea how many miles I had done at any point so I didn't know when I was nearing the end and therefore didn't know when I could step up the pace and make use of all the energy I'd been saving by pacing myself!! I believe there are devices out there that go on your wrist like a watch a can tell you that sort of thing, maybe I should investigate!

The course seemed longer than 10k and the mud was horrendous in some places. There was a point where the lead runners passed in the opposite direction and I was expecting a turn around point at any moment but we had to go around a field and it seemed to go on for ages! That was mentally challenging for me as it made me realise how far back I was. I did know there were people behind me though as I saw their headtorches on the far side of the field as I passed the turning point. The way back was much easier as it was on a track which (apart from potholes full of water) was pretty easy on the legs compared to the mudbaths.

I was in a group of 5 and although we were spread out with a few metres between us we were pretty much running at the same pace. There was someone running close behind me for the last few miles and as I saw the big house I knew I was close to the finish so I decided to speed up a bit. As the stables came into view the person behind me tried to get past so I sprinted down the hill to the finish!! Haha, I didn't realise I was so competitive!!

My time was 1:06:15 which I was pleased with. Considering the conditions that's quite fast for me and I wasn't last! I really enjoyed the race, but I'm disappointed with myself because I've actually been saying things like 'If only I'd pushed myself harder' and 'maybe I should start speed training'. I hope I don't become one of those people who enjoy racing and train for events!

Will be looking out for the next event in the series, which is either at Foxlake in Dunbar or in Penicuik Estate. It will be a daytime race so maybe not as much fun, but I may well enter anyway. Who knows, I might even train a bit harder....d'oh!!

14/2/13 Edited to add a couple of pics taken at the race courtesy of bob Marshall photography

Why on earth am I heel striking in this picture?!? Can only say it was at the very end and I was tired, but that's really not a good excuse!! Must to better.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Pentlands jaunt

I've been feeling a bit weird all week. I felt like I was coming down with a lurgy, but it never materialised. My body has felt tired and my motivation low. This morning I was teaching a balance bike class and then straight after was a meeting about the new bike club we're setting up - East Lothian Trailblazers c.c, so by lunchtime my brain was frazzled!

I go to see my Mum and Dad on a Friday afternoon in Edinburgh and I'd already mentioned I'd like to head up the Pentlands for a run, so when I saw what a beautiful afternoon it was I dropped Ruby off at her grandparents and I headed off with the dog to the hills...

I had intended to do the Balerno loop (7 miles) but because I was still sitting in a traffic jam on the Sherrifhall roundabout at 2pm I knew I wouldn't make it around that course in time. So I decided to park up on the main road at Hillend and run up the track to Swanston, then onto Allermuir. This is a very tough ascent to start with. It's 1024ft from Swanston to the top and today there was the added obstacle of snow and ice! I still find hill running a strange thing, you spend a lot of time walking, but as long as your brain is prepared for that it's great fun.

At the top of Allermuir you get a great view to the rest of the hills further South, but you also get an icy blast of Arctic wind in your face, so we didn't hang about for long. The descent would have been fun if it wasn't for the ice. I ended up walking most of the way down that bit too! The next bit - Caerketton Hill ridge was awesome. I had a great big grin on my face, and so did Nethy. I slipped several times on the downhills, but nothing serious. We also stopped a few times for snowball fights!

Because of the ice and very deep snow (knee deep in some places with a very sharp icy layer on the top) I was quite relieved to be down level with the ski centre. The trail from there was pretty nice, and only a bit boggy. I did stop to have a look at the people skiing as the slopes were mobbed with children. Although I don't ski it gives me a warm fuzzy glow to see kids out on the slopes, instead of being at the shops!

Nethy and I had a definite spring in our step as we ran back to the van. She was covered in mud and I was glowing :)

Spending the weekend in London so no running for me. Will be nice to have a few days off as it makes it even better when you come back to it.

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Recovery run sponsored by Instagram

My legs were still feeling very heavy today after Sunday's mtb ride, despite resting yesterday, so I decided a recovery run was in order. Ruby and Matt were off to North berwick when I got home so I had the chance to run in the daylight. Nethy hadn't been out all day so she came with me.

Not much to say about the run, other than the first 2 miles were hellish as my legs were like lead. It soon occured to me that stopping and taking lots of pictures along the way would make the whole thing much more enjoyable, so I did!

My new phone is a monster, but it's also very light and the battery is unbelievably frugal for a smart phone, so it hardly even registered that I was using Map My Run and Instagram at the same time. My old HTC would have drained faster than a fairy in a vampire nest! I decided to use Instagram, but alas I didn't use any of the fancy filters cause I have no idea what I'm doing yet, so they just look like regular photos.

My run took me past the Burns Monument, which is actually to mark the spot near where Rabbie Burns' old mother had a cottage. There's a Burns Well too, but I wouldn't drink out of it if you paid me! Nethy had a sip or two though :) We ended up in Lennoxlove again, although the difference being that it was daylight. It is a beautiful Estate and I'd love to live in one of the lovely cottages that are dotted around the grounds. We saw 2 deer grazing nearby and they didn't flee when they saw us, probably because they were so confident I'd get nowhere near them at the pedestrain pace I was plodding along at!

I felt much better by the time we got home. My legs were lighter and as always my mood had lifted. I need to get some longer weekday runs in though and I'm desperate to run somewhere new. Haddington is getting old! This weekend we're in London so I must try to get out for a longer run in the next few days.

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