Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Every year we come to Gleneagles to stay in my parent's holiday home for a few days. It's always a strange one for me as I really can't be doing with posh folk, but over the years I've come to realise the snobs go somewhere else and instead the resort is full of footballers, builders and 'new money'. I can cope with that lot even though they are sometimes more badly behaved than the toffs.

I had hoped to go for some nice runs while we were up here, but the bloody snow is still falling so heavily and there's just no way I'm confident or capable enough to head into unknown hills when it's so bad. My options were treadmill, roads or golf course trail. I chose trail! The good thing about the snow is that the golfers are nowhere to be seen, so I had the 3 mile loop all to myself (apart from another runner who was going the opposite way). You have to run the gauntlet when the golf course is in use as you cross the fairway in several places, but today it was quiet and white and rather nice.

I only had an hour before dinner so I chose 1 lap, but I think tomorrow I may do a couple. I doubt the snow will have thawed enough to let me go anywhere more exciting, and right about now I'm happy with any trail miles especially ones which allow me to soak up such beautiful scenery. The run was just under 4 miles in total, nearly all off road.

We're off to Aviemore on Saturday so that should be even more of a challenge. Hopefully I shall rise to it, as I packed more running gear than anything else!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Doggy style

I was supposed to be racing at Carron Valley today with Ruby and Nethy, but unsurprisingly it was rescheduled due to the freakish weather! So this morning I ventured out in the cold to Longniddry where the CaniX Edinburgh group were having a run and a Scooterjor tester. For those of you who don't know Scooterjor is being pulled along on a big 2 wheeled scooter by dogs. It was brilliant fun!!

I had decided not to tie Nethy to the scooter as I really don't want to put too much stress on her back end (her pelvis was smashed in 7 places when she was hit by a car 2 years ago) so I got to scoot with the beautiful Malamutes - Skye and Tamaska. Those who know me know I'm rather obsessed with Mals and Huskies and I'm currently working on Matt to get a rescue dog to add to our family, so to be hurtling along the Longniddry railway path being pulled by such a gorgeous duo of dogs brought a great big smile to my face!

By the time everyone had a go I was absolutely frozen so it was great to finally start running, although after only 5 seconds Nethy had to stop and take a dump and then I had to stop to tie my lace! So it was a sprint uphill into the wind to try and catch the group. I didn't quite make it, but luckily they stopped at the turn off point to regroup before we ran our short loop around the woods. Back onto the railway path for our return journey and the lovely Alison was chatting away to me and I was really struggling to respond! So a good hard effort for me, not so much for her!

It was only 3 miles in the end but it was really fast and it reminded me why I love running with the caniX group. It's the only time I've really pushed myself and that's what I need just now. It's also really nice running with a group, although I have to admit I'd be more reluctant to do it if it wasn't for the dogs. Not that I don't like the people, they're a great bunch, but I've just never been into running with others. Having the dogs there somehow makes it more fun :)

Only 2 days at work this week and then we're off to the North for a wee Easter holiday. I'm taking my running stuff but I have a feeling I may be hampered by the weather :(

Friday, 22 March 2013

Short sharp shock

I'm getting pretty fed up with this weather! This week I've hardly run at all.... on Tuesday I had to come home from work after only an hour because I was feeling terrible. My body was aching, my head was spinning and I just wanted to lie down - so I did! Wednesday I felt absolutely fine but I decided to rest just in case, then on Thursday I wanted to go and do the local caniX run but Matt wasn't due home until after 7 and local Granny wasn't available so I couldn't go.

So that left today and with ruby off school sick I was thinking I'd have to miss yet another day, but having watched the highlights of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc on Eurosport I was feeling inspired so I called local Granny and this time she was available. I'd love to say I drove up to the hills and recreated my own mini UTMB, but I didn't have that kind of time and I decided a local run was better than none so Nethy and I headed to Lennoxlove and then added the Amisfield loop on at the end. 

I have to say I struggled for the whole 6 measly miles! There was a bitter South Easterly wind which was chilling me to the bone but generally my body just felt sluggish and heavy. Nethy wasn't looking too sprightly either which somehow made me feel worse. We made it round our route and now I'm home and have had several hours to recover I do feel better for it, but it wasn't my finest hour!

I've been thinking a lot about my running lately and how despite the fact that I'm out there more than I've ever been I don't feel like I've got any better at it. I know some people will say you need to add in sprint training and hills to get results, well I get my fair share of hills but sprinting isn't really my thing. I guess I need to decide why I'm actually running, and to be honest it's because mostly I really love it. Do I need to get better? I don't know! I think if I could shift a stone (or 2) I reckon I'd be a better runner and I'd be able to get more miles in with less effort. That's easier said than done though.

I'll just keep at it and hopefully as the weather gets better I'll be able to do more interesting routes, maybe even push myself harder and try to do something 'epic'. My hooves certainly fell like they need a change of scenery!

No pics from today...too cold!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Some miles are harder than others

Yes Morrissey I'm thinking of you when I write this! It's absolutely true though and my run today was spectacular proof.

I was slightly hungover when I woke up this morning after a very pleasant evening in the pub with a couple of friends. I could have curled up in a ball on the sofa and eaten cake and drunk tea all day, but the rain eventually stopped and my head wasn't in a good place so I asked Matt if he minded driving me to Dunbar so I could run home. He didn't, so off we went.

I was thrown out the van with Nethy at Belhaven and by this time the sky was blue and there was some heat in the sun. We had to negotiate our way over the wet sand to start with which wasn't the easiest start, especially when Neth decided it was a good place to poo so I had to carry her steaming present with me for a good distance before I found a bin!

I could tell my legs were going to give me problems today, not only because of my hangover but from the 28 mile mountain bike ride I'd done on Friday. I decided that it didn't matter how fast (or slow) I went so I just relaxed into it and  enjoyed feeling the sun on my face.

The route from Belhaven to Haddington is almost entirely off road. It includes a section of the John Muir Way and then the Tyne river walkway. You would think the John Muir Way would be quite a salubrious path, given the greatness of the man it's named after but you'd be sadly mistaken. It consists mainly of paths which are generally no more than field margins and they are mostly very very muddy. It's annoying and I've mentioned it on here before so I'll not get on my soap box again!

The mud was pretty bad all along my route and trying to keep myself upright was taking it's toll. My legs were like lead and the rest of my body was following. By the time I reached East Linton I was tempted to call Matt and ask him to come and get me, but I'd set my mind on the full distance so I shuffled on.

During the last 5 miles we were snowed on, there was rain and hail stones and then it got sunny again. Nethy didn't seem to mind, she was more intent on trying to jump in the river! I have to admit I'm getting pretty damn tired of the terrible weather. What I'd give for a day on some dry rocky paths.

We eventually made it home, and despite how hard the 12 miles had seemed I was pretty happy to have done it. Nethy and I are both exhausted tonight and I may have problems walking tomorrow, but it was worth it.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Recovery jog

Won't get out tomorrow so I thought a very short recovery run would be a nice idea. In the end it was 3.2 miles at a very leisurely pace with the dog. We ran along the River Tyne towards Abbey Bridge and then up the road for a bit and back along the farm track that runs parallel to the A1. Out in the light, back in the dark. Very civilised :)

Wore my Vivobarefoot shoes since it was a short run. They still feel odd when I'm on tarmac and I feel like I'm running very strangely. On grass and trail they feel great and they are very grippy thanks to the rubber 'spikes' on the bottom. I love the wide toe box and they fit very snugly over the rest of my foot. They also look really nice which I know shouldn't matter, but I'm a girl so it does! I'm going to keep running in them on shorter distances but will stick with my Inov8 Roclites for longer runs. 

I also remembered to do some core work tonight when I got back. I've been really neglecting that side of things since I gave up boxing. I was pleasantly surprised that I could still comfortably hold the plank for over a minute, and managed 3 sets of 20 full sit ups (then got bored!) I also tried some push ups which didn't work out so well. I was up to about 20 full push ups when I was boxing twice a week, and today I struggled with 1! I did 10 modified and will try to build up again to a more respectable number. I love feeling strong so I'm going to start working on that side of my fitness again. Will get the barbell and kettlbell out into the garden again if  when the weather improves!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Spring has sprung?!

Not going to say too much about today's run - not because I didn't enjoy it, on the contrary I really did but I'm feeling sleepy and can't face typing!!

It was a short run of only 5.29 miles (although I think it was actually 6 miles as I accidentally stopped my Garmin again!) but there was a very long hill and it was very cold so my energy was being zapped with every step. The countryside looked stunning and despite me cursing the heavy snow earlier today I had a great feeling of joy at the top of the Garelton hills looking around at the beautiful scenery. It was over ankle deep at the top of the hill and Nethy and I stopped for a snowball fight. Fun!! :)

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Any run is better than none

This weekend I'd decided that I wanted to spend time with the family, so no long runs were planned. I didn't actually know if I'd run at all, but after a lovely afternoon climbing at Alien Rock we got home and the sun was out (mixed with flurries of snow!) so the running gear was pulled on, the dog was harnessed up and off we went.

It was about 5.30 so the light was already fading and I'd opted not to bring my head torch so I knew I'd not be out for long. I just headed out to the river and onto the short Lennoxlove loop. It was bitter! There was only a dusting of snow on the ground, despite the blizzards earlier, but the Lammermuirs looked spectacular in the distance and I kind of wished I was there instead.

It was only a mere 4.5 miles in the end, but it felt good to be out. I need to make some time to get a few long runs in over the next few weeks. I'm feeling a bit frustrated that I'm not able to get out more, but it is what it is, sometimes life gets in the way.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Navigating my way through wind and rain

Today I wanted to combine a nice run with some navigation practise. When I was on my recent Trail Leader Course my lack of navigational skills were exposed and now I'm determined to finally get serious about learning how to read and follow a map.

I chose Aberlady and Gullane as I felt that having the sea close by would mean that even if I was struggling with the map I shouldn't actually get lost (in theory!). Initially I'd wanted to start at Aberlady reserve and run right out to the headland near Marine villa at Archerfield then back again, but I only have 3 hours while Ruby's at school so I had to modify my route to allow for navigation, photo stops and travel time.

I parked near Gullane beach car park (I say near because I can't actually get our van under the barriers!) and then ran West to Gullane Point and then doubled back and ran East out to Marine Villa. Because I was avoiding the nature reserve I'd brought Nethy with me and she was determined to go in the water, even 'though the angry waves were crashing against the rocks. The weather was awful! It was misty, windy, wet and very very cold. When I turned at Gullane Point I was running into a howling head wind and it took all my will power not to stop at the van and just settle for the 3 miles I'd done.

I knew I'd soon be out of the wind and I could start my fun navigation exercise so I ignored the van and soldiered on. I used a combination of maps to get through the last part of my run including an extract Matt and Ruby used last week for their orienteering in the same area, an Explorer O.S map and a screen print of a Google Earth aerial image. They all helped in their own way, although I'd say the O.S map was the least useful as hardly any of the tracks were shown on there. While I was running through the woods I came across the freaky tree people that I'd seen pictures of on this blog. They are really interesting, but slightly disturbing. I wouldn't like to meet them at night!

When I finally reached my turning point I had a few wobbly navigational moments and while I was looking for the path I'd marked on the map I really chilled down. After a few minutes, some debating and some self doubting I decided on a track and just ran as fast as I could to get warm again. I knew I was going in the right direction and some of the features around me made me feel quite confident that I was at least on the correct path. I finally reached Muirfield golf course and the big metal shed that I'd marked on my map, so I felt really chuffed. From there it was a very straightforward potter back to the van.

When I downloaded the data from my Garmin I was really pleased to see I had in fact chosen the right path and I'd followed it exactly as I'd marked on my map. This has given me confidence that I'm not a total moron and that I can read a map when I need to. Up yours men who say we can't do it!!

Tonight I'm feeling physically exhausted! It was only 8 miles, but it was hard miles and the weather was awful. I was hoping last week's weather was the start of a glorious Spring, but apparently Winter isn't ready to loosen it's grip. This is extra disappointing as I just picked up my new BMC mountain bike and it is far too pretty to be messed up with East Lothian farm crud :/

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Run for Cuba

Yesterday the thing I never thought would happen (for a long time at least) happened...our 15 year old cat 'Cuba' was put to sleep. She'd developed kidney failure and was very sick, so the vet said it was the kindest thing to do. It didn't feel kind, and it was devastating for all of us. We'll really miss her and there's definately a feeling of something being missing in our house.

I didn't go for a run yesterday, despite the fact it probably would have helped. I was really tired from my weekend Trail Cycle Leader course in Linlithgow and I needed a rest. Today however was a different story. It was a gorgeous day and as soon as I could I was in my running gear and off into the countryside.

I decided on a fairly straightforward 8 mile loop along the Longniddry railway path to Cotterburn car park and then some road running up Bangley Brae, and onto a track leading to my favourite shelter belt singetrack. It was just before 6pm when I headed out so I had my head torch on over my wooly hat. It didn't have much charge though so I saved it for the last couple of miles which are all off road on tracks which have lots of mud, roots and rocks. Luckily there was enough ambient light when I was running on the road that I didn't need the torch, although I made sure I switched it on whenever I saw a car as I was virtually invisible in my black tights and my dark teal Montane jacket.

I felt like I was running fast, and looking at my Garmin stats at the end I was (for me at least!) The main difference on tonight's run was that I didn't stop once to take any photos. There wasn't much point to be honest, as the light was pretty bad from the start. I was also listening to a Trail Runner Nation podcast which was an interview with the amazing Anna Frost. I'd learned to run without listening to anything, but sometimes I just want something to distract me.

By the time I'd run down the shelter belts in the dark I was feeling great. I practically sprinted home (again sprinting by my standards!) and I was buzzing when I got in. I feel like I'm back on track and just need to make some time to get out more. Luckily the nights are getting lighter, so I'll be able to get out after work. Only problem is my lovely new BMC mountain bike has finally arrived from Switzerland so I'll be wanting to get out on that quite a bit! Not a bad problem to have really!

I certainly feel like my run did me the world of good as far as feeling sad is concerned. I'm not sure if it was because I was out running or if it's just that exercise is generally good at chasing the blues away, but whatever it is I'm thankful to be able to tap into my endorphines so easily.

 CUBA 1998-2013

Friday, 1 March 2013

New route comeback

After our weekend in Glencoe I was feeling wiped out so I decided to have some rest. The good thing about not racing is you can have a rest whenever you want and not feel guilty. I certainly didn't have any feelings of guilt but I did miss getting out, especially as the weather has been gorgeous this week.

I decided to run without the dog today, as I just wanted to do it without having to stop and pick up poo or shout at her for jumping in and out of the river. It turned out I missed her and wished she'd been with me, but given how tired she was all day it's probably better she stayed in bed. During the first mile of my run I was thinking I should have stayed in my bed too, my body was not happy.

I headed from Ruby's school, through the golf course and down to the river. It was such a glorious day and even though my body was telling me to stop I soldiered on. Once I was on the Tyne path I started to enjoy myself. I was accompanied part of the way by 4 Jays who were 'screaming' at each other and slightly spoiling the peace and quiet, but they are very pretty so I didn't mind too much.

I had set myself an 8 mile target and had thought about running out and back on the river walk, but as I reached Sandy's Mill (about  4 miles in) I thought I'd like to do a loop so I headed up the track towards the A1. I lost my satellite signal in the very strange tunnel that passes under the A1 but that didn't matter too much as I'd stopped to take a photo anyway! I crossed the old A1 and then into the wood that leads to Beanston House. The house is really nice and is where we've bought several Christmas trees over the years. You can actually cut them down yourself with a big saw :)

The next part of the run is a bit tedious as you have to run up the side of a field. Like most farmers in East Lothian at least, there is no way they'd leave even the slightest bit of walkable path so people can actually enjoy our wonderful Scottish access laws. Instead they plough right up to their boundary so you end up having to run in the mud! Ho hum!

The next bit makes up for it though as you run up into the Garelton Hills on a nice grassy track, and the stunning views of East Lothian appear all around you. There's an old ruin at the top of the hill which is really pretty, but also very spooky. I did stop and take some pictures but didn't hang around for long just incase the chainsaw weilding freak I always imagine in abandoned buildings appeared! You have to keep climbing until you finally reach a smelly cow field at the very top of the hills. Lucky for me the cows were in their barn, but they had left some rather large 'gifts' for me :/ At this point it's just a case of negotiating your way though some dense gorse and then it's all downhill through the shelter belts that lead back into Haddington.

By the time I got home I felt really good and was glad I'd chosen the harder, but more interesting route into the hills. I really need to explore more and find myself more new places to run. It was certainly a good way to comeback after my rest. It was 8 miles in total, although my Garmin said 7.69, but that was because I stopped it for about half a mile by accident!

This weekend I have a Trail Cycle Leader course in Linlithgow. It should be fun, but at the moment I'm just feeling anxious about it. I've been cycling for years without ant serious incidents, but somehow I imagine I'll keep falling off or crashing. Let's hope I prove myself wrong!