Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Swallows and stings

The wind had died down today and the sun was shining so I informed Matt early on in the day that I intended to head out on my mtb this evening when he got home. I've been keen to try out my new skills so I chose a nice (but tough) loop starting on the River Tyne path.

I'm pleased to say it's still as dry as it was when I ran on it last week, but the sunshine and light showers means the plants are growing fast and the path seemed much narrower in places tonight. The Tyne path is very bumpy which I don't really notice when I'm running but on the bike you really feel it. I remembered what my coach had said about using the attack position to stop yourself being thrown about on the bike so I was standing as much as I could but my legs were really tired and my back was sore because my stem is too long (getting new short one on Friday).

I really noticed the difference in my bike handling today, using as many of the techniques I'd been taught as I could. I felt much more in control and didn't have to stop for as many obstacles as I would have previously.

Wildlife was abundant on my ride and best of all was the sight of 3 swallows at Hailes Castle. First ones I've seen this year and they were having a great time swooping down on the river to catch flies. I stood and watched them for a few minutes before pushing on. I also saw a very cute Dipper living up to its name on the river.

I turned off the river path at Over Hailes and headed up the long hilly road to pass under the A1, then a bumpy track led me around the back of Monks Muir retirement park towards Beanston. At this point I almost literally bumped into a female Roe deer who ran across the path about 3 metres in front on my. She was so silent, and joined a friend in the field before they bounded off into the distance at top speed. Beautiful!

A bit more on road and finally I turned onto the ridge trail which leads you onto the Garelton Hills, past the ruin where my bike did some more posing. This is where I had my second  'first of the year' experience when I got off to take a picture and accidentally stood in a patch of fresh young nettles. Cue much swearing and itching and then the realisation that this was just the first of many stings I would get this year. By this time the sun was setting and East Lothian looked stunning. A long climb past the farm up to the top of the hill and then into the bumpy cow field. My thighs were filled with lactic acid and feeling very heavy. Luckily after a brief stop at the telephone masts I was ready to start my descent back into Haddington. At this point my camera went into the bag and never came back out again. You can't stop to take pictures on a great descent like this!

The shelter belts are an awesome way to end a ride. The single track winds tightly down through the trees and some kindly trail fairies have been adding berms and jumps near the top which I took great pleasure in trying out. A few times I did stop and push my bike back up so I could do bits over again!! I was glad the trail was deserted and no-one heard me whooping!!

I arrived back in Haddington with a huge smile on my face and rode back home feeling like I'd done more than 11 miles. Unfortunately my Garmin ran out at the top of the hill, I keep forgetting you need to charge it.

There will be more bike rides working their way onto my blog in the future. I may be using my hooves in a different way, but it's all part of me getting out into the great outdoors and enjoying a good workout. if you don't like it you know what to do!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Two timing bitch

Yesterday I did a 6 hour mountain bike course down at Glentress. I've never had any tuition in mountain biking and although I feel fairly confident riding on trails I always feel I'm relying on luck rather than skill. Given what I learnt yesterday it appears I was right.

I did my course with Dirt School's Andy Barlow and wasn't disappointed. He is an amazing rider and a fantastic coach. He's very animated and enthusiastic and really knows his stuff. We spent a lot of time standing on the trails going over specific skills like riding corners and berms (sloping sweeping corners). Then we did drop offs (slow and fast), manuals (lifting front wheel without pedalling), wheelies (we all know what they are) and bunny hops. I'm pretty useless at wheelies and manuals but managed to do my first bunny hop (at the age of 40 that's not bad!).

By the end of the 6 hours we were all mentally and physically exhausted so we didn't really get a good chance to try out what we'd learned on an actual ride, so I'm desperate to get back out and practise. I did show Ruby my Bunny hopping on the way to school this morning but she wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped saying "you're not lifting your back wheel very much Mummy". Kids!!

I've just entered the Selkirk mtb marathon in June. I'm doing the short course (25k) and according to my friend who designed the course I should manage it no problem. We shall see.

My legs were very heavy today after my hill run and all the cycling so I'd intended to rest, but it was such a lovely day so I decided to meet the CaniX group at Dalkeith. As Nethy is is season I was dogless but thankfully one of the members very kindly agreed to pick me up and lend me her Malamute 'Skye'. Score!! Thanks Viv :)

Skye and I were both pretty tired this evening so we had a plod, and even walked at times. It was just nice to be out with the group in the sunshine, and it was especially nice to be running with my dream dog (sorry Nethy!)

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Run for the hills

Today Nethy, Ruby and I were supposed to be racing at Duncarron at a CaniX race. Unfortunately the pup came into season on Friday and was therefore not allowed to race. The song 'My Milkshake brings all the boys too the yard' kept popping into my head for some reason! :)

After a nice relaxing morning visiting the School Fair and Farmers market I had a spare few hours as Ruby was going to a party and Matt was riding with the Fat Bikers down at North Berwick. I thought about attempting a long run but it was such a beautiful day and the hills looked stunning so I jumped in the van and off I went to Hopes.

I haven't run in the hills for ages, and I think last time it was snowy. Today it was bone dry even though there are still a few snow patches dotted about. I ran through the spooky wood towards the reservoir. It's not really that spooky but there is a little abandoned 'house' that Ruby always says is where Voldemort lives! I was feeling quite good as I ran up the track, but as soon as the going got steep I was tired. It's not surprising really given that I went to my bed at 1.30 am last night after drinking half a bottle of Prosecco and the same of red! I blame Green Day who were live at Irving Plaza in NY on Scuzz tv.

I recovered again on my favourite bit of single track that runs parallel to the reservoir on the North side. It's such a nice little trail and takes you through some really nice gnarly trees. The next bit is always a struggle as there's only a very thin sheep path which winds part of the way up a cleugh then you have to battle your way through the heather to get to the main path high above. I did see a very cute lizard just by my feet and as it scuttled away I started to freak out that there might also be Adders about as it was so sunny. I've just looked up what would happen if I did get bitten by an Adder and it's not deadly, but could make you pretty sick. The advice is to call 999, which would be interesting if you're in the Lammermuis with no signal! On the NHS website it also tells you not to attempt to remove any of your clothing (eg trousers) but I can't imagine why you would do that anyway unless the snake had slithered up your trouser leg!

I finally got up to the main path, without being bitten by a snake, and broke into a run again. I thought about a detour to the top of Lammerlaw but decided against it as there were quite a few walkers about. I countinued on the main path until a left hand turn takes you down to John's Cleugh and then finally back around towards Hopes. The path was really stoney at this point and a few times sharp stones seemed to penetrate the thin sole of my Inov8s and it was really painful. Dreamy visions of Hokas appeared in my head a few times, but I cast them aside and carried on. I do enjoy the last part of this loop which takes you back towards the reservoir. It's nicely undulating and you have to hop over a few streams which always adds to the sense of adventure.

A nice downhill section and a flat run back to the van saw me at 6.45 miles. Not a lot, but the terrain is very demanding and probably I put in more effort than if I'd done a long flat run.

My legs are heavy tonight and I have a whole day of mountain biking tomorrow so that will be interesting. I'm off to bed soon to let my legs recover. No Green Day for me tonight!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Get out while you can!!!

This evening I had an almost spiritual experience, I ran 6 odd miles on a trail that was bone dry. This is a trail that is almost always muddy, slimy and covered in either weeds or debris from the overflowing river. The trail in question is the River Tyne walkway which leads from Haddington to East Linton. This evening Nethy and I ran it in reverse as Matt and Ruby were heading to North Berwick for bmx club. I always find running home is psychologically much easier than running away! Anyway, it soon became apparent that the trail had taken on a new lease of life. The dry weather meant the puddles and mud had disappeared and the cold meant that the Spring foliage that would usually have engulfed the trail by now was still only in it's early stages of growth. Hooray!

I'd decided to follow the old adage about not casting a cloot and opted for longs, but I was a bit sneaky and wore a running tshirt under my gilet with my armwarmers. They were rolled down at about mile 2 as the warmth of the sun cancelled out the chilly wind that was blowing in my face. My longs were rolled up at mile 4 and I made a mental note that I need a new pair of 3/4 tights for the Summer (I don't do shorts!). The trail was so green compared to last time I was out. The wild garlic smelled delightful (another mental note to pick some and make pesto before it's too late). The trees are still really bare but it won't be long before the narrow path disappears under knee high nettles.

There was not another sole on the entire length of the path so Nethy and I had a little chat as we ran (as you do!). She finds it incredibly difficult to run alongside the river as her natural otter instinct is constantly telling her to jump in. I told her she'd get her swim when we were back in Haddington so she relaxed a bit. By the time we got back to Abbey bridge in Haddington I had a huge grin on my face. How wonderful to be out in the sunshine running without being covered in dirt! Nethy got her swim and was a happy girl too. If there's a trail you've been trudging along all winter I'd urge you to get back out onto it now while the conditions are so good. God know what weather we'll get next. There are forecasts of heavy frosts at the weekend :/

I left my Garmin at home by mistake and didn't want to use my phone to track my run as I was listening to a Trail Runner Nation podcast so it would have zapped the battery too much. It was nice not looking at the time and how 'fast' I was running but I did miss looking at my route afterwards (although I've run that so many times I have it recorded) but I like to keep it as a record. I did take some pictures though that show the big changes in the path since last time we were running on it.

The Tyne path in January...

And today....

Monday, 22 April 2013

New route with the poop otter

We had a fantastic weekend of mountain biking at Glentress and I was feeling very tired this morning but I knew I wanted to run this evening. Usually I go with the CaniX group to Dalkeith but I didn't fancy driving there and opted instead for a local run on a route that we found when we did a family ride with the Trailblazers.

As usual Nethy accompanied me, and as usual the start of our run was hampered by poo action. This time she opted for the middle of a road (albeit a quiet one) but as much as I was very pleased she decided to do it there instead of on the pavement it was a bit embarrassing when a car appeared and I had to mouth my apologies while Nethy finished and I scooped the poop. Even more mortifying when she squatted again and a bit got stuck!! Haha TMI??

We finally got going and struggled into the wind along the Pencaitland Road. I hate the wind - it's so tiring and noisy, I had to turn my podcast up and tighten my cap! Finally we turned into the Clerkington estate. The dirt road is like a pump track and I have no idea how people drive up it to the cottages. The paths are so dry just now and it's wonderful not to be ankle deep in mud for a change. There are definate signs of Spring, but it was still depressingly cold and I was glad I'd put on my Montane jacket.

I saw my first Sand Martins in the river bank as we passed over the new footbridge, they're probably wishing they were back in Africa sunning themselves! We ran through the Lennoxlove Estate and it was nice to see the daffodils have finally appeared, even though they were a bit sparse. Nethy was looking a bit hot under the collar at this point so I promised her a swim in the river when we reached it.

As soon as I took off her harness and shouted go she was off! I've never seen her move so fast and a huge splash let me know she'd reached her target. I didn't let her stay in too long as the river was flowing pretty fast and she was struggling to stay in one place. She did look very happy though (she is part otter after all!)

The run ended at 5.22 miles. Not very far but it's early days post tonsillitis plus I had some tough Mountain bike miles in my legs so I'll settle for that.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Getting back into the swing of it

I've not run since last Monday when I went out with the CaniX group and had a wonderful 5k 'sprint'. At the time I thought how great it was that I'd not lost much form despite 2 weeks off due to my tonsillitis hell. Stupid me didn't take into account that I was being pulled by a large Malamute and my own dog Nethy!! D'uh!

Last night I was out with the group again and this time I had no Malamute to haul my sorry ass around the course, and Nethy was obviously feeling tired so she wasn't pulling at all. This made me feel like I was running with lead in my shoes! I managed to get round in 30 minutes which included poo stop (Nethy not me) and getting lost for a few minutes so not too bad given it's an off road course with a hill in it.

I decided I'd get out again tonight as I'll be at bmx club tomorrow with Ruby and road bike training on Thursday, but the gale force winds were really putting me off. Luckily Matt came up with a great idea - to drive me to Longniddry and let me run the 5 miles home with a tail wind!

It was a really lovely night (apart from the wind) but the first 3 miles of the run were HELL! It's slightly uphill and despite the tail wind I was totally struggling. I felt like I'd never run before and I just felt wrong! Thankfully at mile 3 the trail starts to head downhill and at that point everything changed. My pace increase and I started to really enjoy myself. My form came back, my legs eased off, even the tension in my upper body disappeared. By the time I arrived back in the town I was flying and we even managed to sprint the last 100 yards back to the house!

For me the joy of running is about how it makes me feel mentally as well as physically. I've had some really low days over the past few weeks while I've been recovering from my virus and I know that's mainy because I haven't been getting my endorphin rush. I'm hoping this will be the start of my recovery and that I'll be back to doing my regular runs over the next few weeks.

I think I'll also take this opportunity to shake things up a bit and to start doing intervals and hill training again. My longer slow runs are great and I'll still do as many of them as I can but to be honest I would like to be faster, and I certainly think my body would benefit from some short fast runs. We'll see how that pans out...

Don't want to close this blog entry without mentioning the horrific events in Boston. It's been weighing heavily on my mind today, and was especially in my thoughts while I was out on my run. My heart goes out to all the people affected x

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Not quite dead, but almost!

Just a short post to say that I've not died, although it did feel like it at the weekend as I got a very nasty bout of tonsillitis :( It's not something that had ever bothered me in my lifetime until I had Ruby and now I've had it every year since she was 1! I have to say it's the most ill I've ever felt and this time I could barely even swallow water for 2 days :(

It's very typical that you run throughout the winter (and the extended winter) and then as soon as the sun does decide to shine I get sick! I'm trying to be relaxed about it all as it's outwith my control and the rest won't do me any harm, but I am starting to get itchy feet and hope to get out for a wee run over the weekend. We shall see how I feel.....