Monday, 25 February 2013

monday evening rad road reps.

I think a side effect of the Hoka shoes cushioning feet so well is that when I come to run in fairly thin trail shoes on hard pack and tarmac courses like the Devilla Trail race or Forfar Multi, it means my calves ache the next day. Or did they always?

Anyway I was hobbling around today feeling like I couldn't be bothered. And mostly I managed to avoid any serious industry or heavy lifting. But the weather outside was pretty glorious (from inside). And I notice from the running calendar that I tend to run Mondays and skip Tuesdays. But mostly just a gentle session.

Easter Road - up

Easter Road - down

However Mary suggested rad road reps and well I couldn't see why not although again with Carnethy behind us I couldn't really see why. I felt a little guilty I hadn't given Ally R the heads up as he was keen for a bit of rad torture. I hoped he had caught up with the Monday lunchtime Arthur's Seat folk. I don't know how anyone can face a big hilly session so soon after the exertions of the weekend. I keep meaning to go along but haven't yet found the will power.

So with the sun descending I took the camera and we headed up Easter Road – the radical road visible and the crags orange in the sinking sun. Hardly any wind was really helpful – there is often a cruel blast in the face around halfway up as you turn the corner.

Without any breather recovery we were off and I judged the first one spot on this time doing 4.57 – under 5 mins but with every possibility of doing the next 2 a bit quicker. At the top I took photos and waited on Mary. After she had caught her breath we continued along to the shoulder at Hunter's Bog and then took the muddy path down and along through the bog. Back to the start. Coach Gordon at club used this as a Wednesday Summer session – 3 laps and everyone racing. The climb was the killer.

2nd lap and the sun has gone.

When we got back to the start Mary again set off – no recovery as such. The long descent being the recovery. At first I was more keen to just descend the rad rd and run another but this route meant a cumulative 7 miles by the time we got home, - 5 miles run during the 3 laps.

The finish line

The second lap was the hardest to pace. Too relaxed and it wouldn't be faster than the first. Too quick and the third would be impossible. Its not just a case of a little more than last time as you tire with each so its a little more plus some. I put off my watch at 4.45, perhaps a little too fast if I wanted to take a similar amount off for the final lap.

The descent into the bog was darker and we decided the third lap to go round the front of the crags. Back to the start and off again. Its tricky to know where to pick the pace up. The start is steep and if you overcook it you will be spent before the path levels off a bit and you can leg it. I spent the second half using my arms more and trying to take longer more powerful strides. The top can't come quick enough and I was having a near death experience when I crossed the line. 4.40 Praise be and wandering around spitting, making funny noises and looking at the ground. Emo girls watching the glimmer of the post-sunset no doubt thought I was some idiot out abusing his long suffering girlfriend. 

Third lap and the street lights go on.

Taking photos and realising I hold my breath when releasing the shutter and that I couldn't because I was gasping too much. Mary appeared and we ran off and home. Good tough session on a beautiful evening.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Thrilla in Devilla

Devilla Forest Trail 15k
Shery and Johnny had run here last year (with Yana opting for the 5k). They and Michael F had voted for this as a PRC championship race not only because of the incredible amounts of beer given away at the end, but also because of the great course.

Tulliallan Castle

It was a splendid nomination for the club to support as it wasn't too taxing while being interesting and having a couple of challenging moments. Just under 9.5 miles it is mostly on hard pack trails through forest. It was sufficiently twisty and turny I would have trouble finding the route round again without the arrows and marshals pointing the way.
well marked, well marshalled

While warming up I checked out this but it did what it says on the tin.

I had studied the route the night before and thought I would know when I saw each of the 3 reservoirs at what point we were. Several folk were surprised at the mention of 3 reservoirs and you could be forgiven for missing at least 2 of them. So I was glad to be wearing the Garmin which let me know how many miles remaining.

Look Ma I've been drinking Red Bull.

We started from Tulliallan Castle grounds using the Police College facilities/changing rooms. Quickly we went onto the forest trails and I seem to remember a bit more climbing than the contour lines of the map suggested. Rab W (Musselburgh) took an early lead with Craig L in second and a group following with Johnny myself 2 Dunbars and a Musselburgh in the mix. We passed the familiar figure of Bob Marshall crouched by the side of the trail taking photos. I'm afraid to say the Red Bull made me show-boat, obscuring Stuart Hay and another. I hadn't remembered Johnny wearing a skirt though.

Next was the trickiest part. Wetter than last year we ran zig zag through trees with swampy knee-deep splosh and black mud waiting to trip and fell the unwary. Those in road shoes suffered more. Stuart H was just ahead and I thought Johnny and I might overhaul him but he did a reasonable job of it and I failed to catch him for the remainder.

Knees damaged by road shoes.

Team PRC (minus Yana.)

Then there was some tarmac I think then more trails. A bit of a climb then nice long descents on paths that would be scenic if they weren't awash with wheezing old dudes in shorts. Ian of Dunbar had got past and I swapped places a couple of times with Willie of Musselburgh. I “let” them run most of the course ahead of me then caught them both briefly before “letting” them all dash for the line. Ian gave Stuart the heads up that Willie was gunning for him which saw both of them showing fine finishing form with Ian in hot pursuit while I (after checking over my shoulder for Michael F) had insufficient in the tank for any last minute nonsense. I had seen Michael near the potentially dangerous 2 plank bridge. (Thanks marshal Baza for the caution.) As you climb away from the bridge you get a view to your left of the field 150 yards behind. Since Michael had caught up this distance at Coillesdene training the other Wednesday forcing me to run faster than is healthy, I had no doubt he would be figuring in the latter stages. It helped keep me focussed. However a fall early on had taken the wind out of Michael's sails and it was only the potential for team glory that kept him keeping on.

 Ian and Stuart
 Willie and Rab 

We finished and were faced with the hardest part of the day – removing the chip timing devices. While there were plastic loop type things the recommended method was through laces which meant cold fingers struggling with filthy muddy laces.

A couple of photos then off for good hot showers and the most generous prize giving ever. Not only 1st~5th for both genders but v40, v50 first 5 in both m+f cats then v60s and v70s and a team prize. 2 bottles of beer to every winner plus a generous voucher for Sweatshop. (And I forgot to mention a table of freebie health/sports bars / water / Mars Bars. The team prize was 4 person mixed and I'm delighted to say was won by Johnny, myself, Michael and Yana. Yana won first lady. Johnny was third. I got first v50. Shery was (fourth lady? and) 1st v40, Fiona was 4th v40, Emily was 5th senior.

Top race and well done to Carnegie for making it happen like a well oiled machine from parking through marshalling to hot showers and LOADS of prizes and BEERS. I will be back next year for sure.

Bob Marshall's excellent photos
Carnegie website and results
Stuart Hay's blog.

And lastly the most important bit HARVESTOUN Beer website featuring their delicious Beer Schiehallion which is 4.8% and its fab and really tasty and I'm drinking some now - ooooh that's better.

ps Nearly forgot: 
Last year while Shery was going round the course a deer, spooked from all the runners going past, bolted across the trail and jumped right over Shery's head. She says she felt it brush past her hair as it flew over. The bloke directly behind expressed his surprise after the race and reckoned she was super lucky to avoid any kind of injury.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Lammermuirs Dawn Raid 22/02/13

Mary put forward the idea we should be up the Lammermuirs for dawn today and witness the spectacular daybreak as forecast by the met office and BBC weather websites. Could we really be arsed getting up shortly after 5am and driving the 45 minutes via Gifford? Nothing ventured, nothing gained and it added to the possibility of making today a little bit special. I have been requiring special in my running calendar to get me out the door of late. A dull, routine run is just not cutting it. A dawn hill run promised spectacle and adventure.

I was quietly appalled by the numbers of early morning workers zooming about between here and there. I thought the roads would be as desolate as my mind at that ungodly hour. But hundreds of unfortunates were commuting. Does modern life really insist all these lost souls clamber out their warm beds to face the horrors of work long before sun-up (7.21am today) every day. And I thought my life was harsh. Get some perspective people. What is really that important?

Anyway, I tend towards the sunset rather than the sunrise and was curious as to how the spectacular colours and radiant sunshine would emerge from this overcast cold dark start. Unfortunately as we drove to, and parked up at Blinkbonny Woods it was fast becoming apparent we were on a fool's errand. No sunrise happened and no sign of blue sky or indeed the sun was available. Today's photos would have looked identical if we had slept long then headed to Lammer Law and the 21 mile circuit catching the afternoon light instead of the red-eye dawn express. It will be quite some time before I fall for that promise again.

Which is not to say we didn't have a fun run. The early start added some mild hysteria (and quite a bit of complaining about the inaccuracy of the forecast,) though this was tempered by the cold air on the first long ascent up Lammer Law. I wished I'd brought my balaclava as well as my 2 pairs of gloves, earband and hat. Over the top and the climate improved as we descended to Carfraemill where we stopped at the hotel and had a coffee and shortbread which lifted spirits. Mary was fairly chipper – I was concerned she had chosen quite a committing route. After you get about half way there is no short cut back to the car. We usually take 4 hrs.

Up where the track ends before the windfarm someone had laid out these 10 dead hares. 
They looked to have been snared rather than shot. We saw a few others - alive - but too distant to photograph.

Its 5 miles over the first hills, another 5 of mostly tarmac flat roads then you turn off the main road from Carfraemill and complete the circuit by going up to the windfarm, back along to Lammer Law and down towards Gifford again. Our faces got used to the cold and we even managed a brief stop after the windfarm for a quick sandwich before pushing on. It was not a day for hanging around.

On the way back we had fun breaking the ice puddles which crashed like thin glass in a satisfying way underfoot. The pace was very relaxed and I felt I could have gone a lot further. Usually I am pretty glad to get back to the car and change. The Hokas worked well today. I only just avoided getting them soaked at one of the stream crossings when the rock I was jumping from turned over as I leapt off it.

Yak and Yeti - conclusive evidence, massive even beside Mafates, of bigfoot.

The frozen ground captured prints of Inov-8s, hiking boots, bikes, sheep, wolves, etc.

When we got home we had to catch up on the missed sleep. I dropped off very quickly but woke up feeling it was like Sunday night not Friday evening. I have also been developing a cold which gains ground every time I exert myself – Carnethy – Weds nights at club – today. I could carry it forward to September at this rate. I should be looking forward to Sunday's trail race. May have to take it easy tomorrow.

Mary's blog here