Friday, 24 May 2013

Missing satellites

Earlier today Nethy and I went to Butterdean Wood to do a recce of routes for Trailblazer's kids club next Friday. It's still pretty dry in there, which is always a miracle in Butterdean! The addition of a dog poo bin at the car park also means that there is hardly any crap on the paths which makes a huge difference. Why they didn't do it sooner I have no idea. We used to have to take our crap home in a bag in the van, not pleasant!

Driving home from Edinburgh this evening the sky was so blue that I decided I needed to go for a wee run before settling on the sofa for the night. My running mojo still isn't at full capacity but tonight certainly helped boost it. I only did a 5 mile loop but I felt like I was running fast and strong. Trouble is I have no way to prove it as my Garmin failed to find a satellite for most of the run! Come on! There must be satellites above Haddington! Surely?! And why is it that on the occasions where you are satellite-less or you forget to put your watch on you feel like a super hero? That can't be a coincidence. Maybe I should just leave my Garmin at home all the time!

My body is suffering from the HIIT workout I did the other night, and although it didn't affect my running I suspect that tomorrow morning I might struggle to get my old bones out of bed! Ho hum.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Lazy bloggers recap of the week!

I haven't run much since I did my 17 miles last Sunday. Mostly it's been due to lack of time, but also  didn't feel like I wanted to. My legs were fine and I didn't feel too tired but I just didn't feel I wanted to go out. I did hoof it out on my bike though with a bit of mountain biking on some local trails and the regular road ride on Thursday night.

At the weekend I was stuck indoors (not a bad thing on Saturday given the horrendous weather) doing a '12 hour wilderness first aid course' in Dunbar. I need this so I can complete my Trail Cycle Leader qualification. It was really good actually and I finally feel the info I'd learned at previous first aid courses has really sunk in now. One complaint would be the amount of gorey videos and photos! I only became squeamish when I had Ruby, and I had to close my eyes several times during the course. Obviously I'd not do that if faced with a real life degloving (when the skin on your fingers is peeled off exposing the bone, due to a ring being caught on something) or a compound fracture (when the bone pokes out through the skin!) EEK!

We finished early on Sunday so I drove into Edinburgh to meet Matt and Ruby at the Meadows for the start of the Pedal on Parliament. Due to Matt's injury they'd got the bus into town but I brought my bike and Ruby's and we had the pleasure of riding with several thousand other cyclists along George IV Bridge and then down the High Street to the Parliament. We met up with lots of old friends from the Edinburgh Road Club and listened to Graeme Obree and other speakers talk about their passion for cycling. It was actually quite emotional and I felt very privileged to have been part of it.

This week I've been out running twice. Nethy and I headed out on our Longniddry Railway path/Letham loop on Monday after dinner. It was like pea soup! Warm and foggy and very little air. I really struggled to get breath into my lungs and Nethy was foaming at the mouth! It wasn't my finest hour, but it was good to be out on my hooves again. Just under 6 miles in the end.

Yesterday Ruby had a day off so we went to Saughton skate park. It was brilliant and I wished I could have gone on with her, but I don't do anything that well and I would have looked like a big jessy so I just watched. I'm learning to skate so one day I'll shred it up with her! :)

We'd stopped at Decathlon earlier in the day and I bought Ruby some running tights and a tshirt so when we got home we harnessed up the dog and headed over to the park near our house. Ruby is really fit but struggled to run the full distance so we did a combination of walking and jogging. When she got bored I decided to use the time to do some hill reps. It's hardly a steep hill, more an incline but I did about 10 reps with only a jog back down as recovery. It was better than nothing and I'm looking forward to going out with Ruby again and seeing her doing the full route without stopping.

Tonight was bmx club and it was raining again when we got back so I did a HIIT workout in the lounge. It's been a while since I did one and I found it tough. It's disappointing to have lost so much strength since I gave up boxing and I've decided I need to get back into it. I feel fit enough but my back's been getting sore a lot and I think it's my core being neglected that's causing it. I guess there's just not enough time to do everything so I might need to work out a plan...double EEK!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Upping the miles

I wanted to crack 20 miles today so I'd planned out a run from Haddington to North berwick via Longniddry, Aberlady and Gullane. My idea was to do the run and then to catch the end of the novice triathlon as I know some people who were doing it.

When I realised my only options to get home from North Berwick were to wait for a bus (dodgy at the best of times but almost non existent on a Sunday!) or to run back I threw a mini hissy fit. Normally my lovely husband would have picked me up but he happened to fracture his collar bone on Thursday after crashing into a punter on a bike (very strong distinction between a 'cyclist' and a 'punter' IMO) so he is out of action as far as driving is concerned.

By 10.30 I still hadn't come up with a good alternative route and was ready to take my running gear off and forget the whole thing but luckily my broken husband came up with an to Danskine Loch and back. At first I rebelled as I don't really like out and back runs but as I looked at the map I realised I would be running almost 98% on trails and very nice trails at that. So it was settled!

Nethy and I set off and at first I thought I was underdressed as the cold wind ripped into us as we ran towards the river. I always overdress though so I resisted the urge to stop in mile 1 and put on my jacket and this proved to be a good decision. As I ran along Grants Brae on a lovely little bit of trail I saw 2 women up ahead of me who were going out of their way to avoid the trail and instead were running on the road. They had to stop several times as cars whizzed past and it made me wonder what was going on in their heads. I know some people prefer road running but why would you risk being run over when there's a really nice trail right next to you?! Needless to say I didn't stop to ask!

Running on the trail from Bolton to Gifford was a real treat as it's normally a mud bath and today it was bone dry. I'm getting used to dry trails and hate the idea that at any moment the rains will come and everything will turn to shit again :(

We had to run for a bit on road into Gifford and then into the Yester Estate. I've never ventured in here before because I get a bit worried about roaming through Estates. I am a bit fan of the Access Code and I'm always quoting it to people who dare to tell me I'm not supposed to be somewhere, but obviously there are rules when it comes to houses and the people who live in big houses can often be very aggresive if you get too close. I've experienced it before at Gosford and it kind of upset me. The fact that there are signs at the gate saying Private Property and Strictly No Dogs says a lot and it put me on edge straight away. Luckily the surroundings were so stunning that I managed to relax until I came within sight of the big house and I saw that there were some cars in the driveway. I checked my map but couldn't work out which track to take. Both options looked like they'd take you really close to the house so I ventured onto a dirt trail that rose sharply to our left into the woods. It skirted around the house and I finally chilled and enjoyed the surroundings.

The trail started to get very muddy the closer I got to Danskine. It obvioulsy never dries out and although it was much better than the last time we'd been here walking it was still pretty awful. Thankfully the foliage is so unbelievably green and vivid and the stream that bubbles and falls alongside the trail is so pretty I forgot about the mud. I let Nethy have a swim on this stretch as it's not near any fields so there's no danger of there being any pollutants in the water. As we approached the last stretch of our run - Danskine Loch my watch was showing just over 7 miles so I knew my run back wouldn't take me to 20 miles but it would still be a decent mileage, and trail miles are harder anyway!

A lap of the Loch and a wee stop to refuel then we headed for home. The great thing about trail running is that it looks completely different when you run in the opposite direction! And I guess the great thing about an out and back route is that if you've been running uphill to get to the turning point  you get the pleasure of running downhill to get back home (tough luck if your run takes you downhill for the first leg!)

By the time we approached Haddington we were both feeling very tired and I was soaked through thanks to a combination of drizzle and a leaky hydration pack nozzle. My Garmin was running out of charge too and as I ran into the town I noticed my distance was 16.1 miles and if I ran the normal way home I'd miss out on 17 miles so I started winding my way through some back streets but still as I reached the hose it was only 16.7 so to the bemusement of Nethy I passed the house and did a lap around the block! Unfortunately my Garmin died before it could log the full run which I'm guessing must have been about 17.3 mile! The funny things that Garmins make you do!!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Roots bloody roots

Tonight I didn't feel like driving to Dalkeith for the CaniX run so after dinner I went out for a ride on my mtb. I've been feeling quite ropey today and didn't want to go too far so I decided to head to Butterdean Wood.

I thought I'd try to be a bit more adventurous en route and investigate trails that I'd never been. The first one was a bit of a disaster as I had to lift my bike over a barbed wire fence and then belly crawl under it. I survived this only to scrape my shin on a jaggy tree stump! I wonder what it's like to be a woman who doesn't have skint shins and bruised legs. I guess I'll never know! It would have been worth it had the track been decent but it was unrideable so I cut my losses and climbed over a less jaggy bit of fence back onto a quiet lane.

My next adventure took me into a field and I rode down the very dry and bumpy margin towards a wood. Unfortunately there was no way into the wood so I had to ride on the field margin for about half a mile. It wasn't very glamorous and I was feeling a bit dejected by this time, but I consoled myself in the fact that it's better than being on roads.

More farm tracks ensued as I made my way towards Butterdean. At least these ones were well defined and I felt a certain sense of satisfaction knowing I'd struggled on this section last year when it was super muddy. Finally I reached the wood and in I went. It was utterly deserted which was good as it's mostly frequented by dog walkers who often don't like bikes being on the trails. I remembered the wood being quite rooty but it's totally insane now. There has been so much erosion on the trails that the tree roots are all exposed and this makes for a very interesting ride. I used to hate roots, until I learnt how to navigate them properly and now I actually enjoy them (except when they're wet and slippy!).

Amazingly there were still some vaguely muddy patches in places, a sign of how bad the drainage in Butterdean is. I made my way along the paths to the south of the wood and finally when you can't go any further you turn to the West and here the path gets very narrow and winding. My legs were suffering at this point but I was enjoying the technical trails. There's a brilliant long straight that's got crazy roots running across it and I had a great time riding that bit. By this time the sun was beginning to set and it was shining like laser beams through the trees. I was tired but had a big grin on my face by the time I reached the car park marking the end of my loop.

I retraced my route back towards Haddington, adding in the trail that leads through Letham. It's a lovely path with nothing technical on it so you can get a good speed going through the low hanging trees. I thought how nice it would be to video this bit and decided I might try to find someone who's willing to lend me a Go Pro camera. I'm not a huge fan of these cameras as nearly everyone is wearing them on mountain bike trails now and they can make things a bit dangerous if the rider is looking to give the viewers a thrill, but I think they are good if used carefully and sparingly!

Just made it home in time before the light completely faded which was lucky as I didn't have lights with me. My legs are well and truly shot to hell now but I have 2 rest days coming up so time to let them recover before I subject them to more punishment :)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Foxlake Tri Trail 17km race

What a beautiful morning in East Lothian! The sun was shining and I was excited about the Tri trail race which was being held at Foxlake. Viv from the CaniX group picked me up with her gorgeous Husky 'Storm' and off we went, talking all the while about how we just wanted to treat it like a regular run rather than a race, and to ignore all the fast people at the start. That was my strategy and I stuck to it!

Foxlake looked particularly stunning today. It always seems to be sunny in Dunbar, and windy! I was particularly taken by the colour of the water which looked impossibly blue, and as it turns out it is impossible and aparantly the colour is thanks to an organic food colouring they add to the water! Weird (but effective)!

The pre race was fairly relaxing with everyone sitting around in the sun, I didn't feel nervous at all despite all the fit looking people. Lucky for me it was a relatively small field, so not as many fit looking people as there could have been.

At 9.30 we were off and it only took a few hundred yards for me to realise my shoelace was undone, so without having to strategise I was immediately dropped and had no need to worry about keeping pace with the group! It took the pressure off me a bit but I was a bit miffed that I was off the back so quickly. With the exception of the first few kilometers today's route is one I know well so I was comfortable pacing myself, although when I did check my Garmin it did appear I was running a bit faster than normal.

It was really warm and I regretted wearing my gilet but I had nowhere to put it and my number was attached to it so I just sucked it up. There was a woman in front of me who I ended up tailing for about 1.5 miles. We were running at the same kind of pace and as we were on a bit of singletrack I couldn't get past her so I just stayed put. I had a chance at the 7km mark where we both stopped at the aid station to have a drink, but we seemed to do that in sequence too so I ended up behind her again for a bit! Eventually I got past her after apologising for heavy breathing so close to her for so long. She just laughed and said no problem.

As I ran towards the toilet block in the John Muir Country Park I could see Ruby Matt and Nethy. It really lifted my spirits and I was delighted to get some more water and a kiss from Ruby. I told them I couldn't stop, mainly because I didn't want the woman I'd finally passed catching me again. I also knew I'd see them on the way back.

Part of the route took us out across the bridge at Belhaven Bay and by the time I reached it the tide had started coming in so I had to wade up to my knees to cross. It was very cooling and I was glad I had on my Inov8 Roclites as the water just poured out of them. On my way back towards the Country Park I came across 3 runners (2 women and a man) who had been doing walk/run up ahead of me. I passed them while they were walking but they caught me again and squeezed past me on a really narrow bit of track that runs alongside the Llama field at East Links Family Park. Then they ran close in front of me and made it impossible for me to pass had I wanted to. When we got onto a slightly wider farm track they stopped again and this time I had to go out of my way to get around them! I was really annoyed cause they're behaviour seemed downright rude to me. I decided to up my pace knowing there was only a few miles left. No way I was going to let them sprint past me on the line! haha! As it turned out they were spent and I think they walked the entire way back to the finish.

I managed to do a mini sprint over the line and felt pleased I'd finished, although slightly disappointed the organisers had shortened the route by a mile to avoid a bit of farm track that was being used. Never mind, it was a lovely route and it was a beautiful day and there was a little group of fellow CaniXers there to chat to afterwards (including Alison who made us all proud by taking first female). So all in all a very nice morning. Turns out I was 11th out of 19 women, so not too bad. I don't think I'll go back to do it again in June, but I may enter the Pentlands race in August.

The other thing that made my day was getting my new CaniSport decal for our van. Viv's husband Ali found them online and organised one for us all. Mine is especially great as the runner has dreadlocks and the dog looks exactly like Nethy!