Friday, 29 August 2014

thursday night fever

Thursday nights are hill intervals with the Carnethy crew. Just a mile up the road from my house we meet opposite the rad road at 7pm and run hard up hilly bits of Arthur's Seat for around 40 minutes, a different session each week, a short but tough workout.


The light was so spectacular last night I took the camera along. The session was also more apt than usual for photos: normally we just do one climb in any of half a dozen places, doing a pyramid session or say five reps of 4mins. Recovery is the jog back down to the start. The variety is essential as mostly you don't want to repeat a tough workout ever again having burst yourself on it. (It's a while since we tackled the Rad Road and I dread it coming round again.)

back down

So with Iain (who usually leads the sessions) going to the last of the British Champs races at the weekend he decided we would do a relatively mild workout last night, travelling round the park doing 2 mins sustained uphill followed by 1 minute recovery jog halfway back down the route we had just climbed. This suited me fine. I had had a very tough workout out the previous evening with Porty, and thought I might have to go home half way through. Possibly because of the 4hrs on Tuesday, following on from Sunday's race. I don't know if it was the joyful weather last night or the magic massage stick I'd used an hour before going up the road, but I was feeling in considerably better shape for the hill reps than the night before.

more up

and back down again

As we climbed the hill there was more to take photos of and I developed a reluctance to descend for the minute recovery only to climb the same part again. This slacking was duly noted.

and back down again

After getting most of the way to the top we went over to Whinny Hill and continued the 2 / 1 repeats. I was distracted by the fab scenery and had to stop at various points to take photos, falling behind the group. Normally I am a bit more conscientious.

a fine photo ruined by unfortunate grouping

and that was the end of the session - I went back up to the summit to take some more photos 

Whinny Hill from above the Dry Dam

artist's impression of a nuclear device detonating at Faslane

So although it can be quite intense I would very much recommend this weekly session. A variety of folk attend (from 3 to 15 in number) and, usually being reps, allows people of all abilities to take part. If you can stick it the night after a club session then I think it works even better although it is a long time since I combined them with a Tuesday night Meadows session as well. Good luck to the Carnethy team at the weekend and see you there next week.


Thursday, 28 August 2014

summer into autumn

26/08/14 Harvest Run
August tends to mark the transition from Summer into Autumn. The festival tourists usually suffer a few days of rain and harsh winds. The last few days there has been a chill in the air and I was about to draw a line under the comparatively spectacular summer and say that's all folks, get the long sleeved tops out, then the forecasters told us that next week might be a bit of a return to high pressure and more decent weather. That would be particularly good for the inaugural Tiree Ultra, the enjoyment of which will be largely weather dependent.

After a 10mile week last week and work dominating my running diary I thought I might up the mileage this week, putting Tuesday aside for a longer trail run as the forecast was good. I am kind of skiving this week but calling it closed-for-essential-repairs, while I get a haircut, do some internet shopping (still can't believe R&B are closed) and try to find my running mojo. So I opted for a favourite route on legs a wee bit trashed from Sunday's race with a swig of caffeine juice to fire me up. Jumped on the 2.43 train to NB then a quick hike up the Law to see the harvest fields and the panoramas along the coast. 

A project which will possibly have to wait till next year (although the water will be at it's warmest currently) is to swim to islands off the coast here from Eyebroughy to Craigleith each one being a bit further. See map below.

panorama from the bunker up the Law

Isle of May.
I was really pleased (again) to have such a good zoom (x20) on the new camera which allowed close ups of stuff not visible with (my) eyes.

Craigleith off NB harbour 
(looks a doddle of a swim! ha!)

top of the Law

love this out of focus shot of...

this which is Mary sending me a signal to come home and cook dinner
(she had to cook it herself, and did an excellent job of it too.)

Back down the Law and there were a couple of large velvety black butterflies (Red Admirals I think) distracting me, which I completely failed to get anywhere near. I was also forming a plan. After about 4.5 miles along the JMW there is a turn off to a pond that quite a few dog walkers use as a circuit. I had been nominated for an Ice Bucket Challenge and felt I could be doing something a bit more original than all the iphone videos posted on Facebook. I did have plans to go to the beach with Mary and a couple of buckets and remake the Matrix but both of us having the time off together was proving difficult to co-ordinate. 

As there was a chill wind in the air I had worn a long sleeved top with a t-shirt on top. I planned to take the pace very slow and was stopping a lot to take photos. However I was well warmed up and by the pond had decided that an immersion there would maybe count as an ice bucket challenge. I hadn't planned this so I had neither the Aquapac to keep the new camera dry, nor a towel to dry myself afterwards. I had previously discounted the pond for swimming as the edges were very overgrown with rushes and the algae and surface debris did not look encouraging.

Hoping for no company, I got undressed near the wooden hut where there was an old jetty onto which I clung as the underfoot conditions were sketchy to say the least. Lots of bubbles from the goop on the bottom and black filth under very dark and opaque water. However it was relatively warm what with all the sludge. And more sheltered than the beach where rogue waves might overwhelm the camera. It was also a chance to see the extent of the pond - something that is harder from the shore due to the rushes. 

I did 2 "takes" as the first time I wasn't inclined to put my head under the water, then got out. It is always a bit risky doing swimming things solo - it did have the feel of a suicide venture and I had no intention of following through. Also I still had 15 miles to run. I shook myself dry, skiffing off the water with my hands occasionally finding a mud patch and having to get partially back into the water to wash it off. Evidently I missed a couple though as when I showered at 10pm there were dobs of mud falling into the shower tray from god knows where.

a still from the video (on facebook) as my head disappears into the black filth

I took a couple of selfies and was wondering (when I saw them later on the computer) why the serious face until I remembered I took them to check I hadn't wiped a smear of mud into a big mexican moustache etc. in case I met anyone later.

So what part of the bull does the bullrush come from?

And almost immediately (while trying to photo young pheasants/roadrunners in the next field) I did meet someone. Mowgli the dog! Star of videos like THIS. And with Francisca just back from her holidays, not Bruce. She told me the pond was previously a curling pool for the Big House, which you pass just a little later on. 

Then back onto the JMW and back off just before Stink Farm heading over to Binning Woods. Always a delight. I must go and get lost and explore some new paths there next time. I have taken the same route last few times there and although it is magnificent I no longer feel I am exploring. I even forgot to nod hello to my dad who is a full time resident. 

Then out and down Limetrees Walk. I should also find an alternative to this. I have tried a couple of other ways and done a fair bit of bushwacking and wall climbing as a result but there is better running and trails rather than this long boring road section.

However there were a couple of nice distractions. One was the field next door which had just been harvested last time I was there and seemed quite empty - this time it was jammed stuffed full of bluey-green veg (cabbage or the like). And a big combine hogging the entire road coming towards me. 

Then further on a field as yet unharvested - I saw a deer with only its head above the crops. I whistled to see if it would smile for the camera but it just lazily ducked down out of sight. 

After the pan tiled cottages and a bit down the beach dirt trail I headed left into the woods and succeeded in getting properly lost. I had to double back a couple of times before picking up the wider path for the coastal trail. 

At this point the trees block the view to the coast but you get the wonderful aromas of the beach - seaweed and salt water and what is that unmistakable shoreline stink? -  letting you know it is just a hundred yards away. The joy of anticipation. 

This is possibly the archetypal photo for today - blue sky and warm sun on turning leaves and berries.

St Baldred's Cradle panorama.
(Nicely straight horizon!)

deep joy!

All along the route today combines and tractors throwing up a dusty signature. This section in the photo above usually has some folk camping on nice weekends either in the trees or nearby on the beach. On more than one occasion rough looking types. I quite fancy spending overnight here but have wondered if you would likely get a middle of the night visit from someone whose clothes smell of bonfires and breath of cigarettes and strong drink. 

I clambered up to and along the headland. You get a better perspective than on the beach. However I lost the path and it was a bit of a fight through the bracken and jaggies (see left of above pic.) Mowgli's chum Bruce was within a few hundred yards of here about half an hour later.

If you've ever wondered what beast deposits those hay rolls here's one being laid.


ok Mr Lumix I think we can see the join
Panorama mode often fails when there are large exposure differences, ie sweeping past the sun. I must find a trail alternative to these last 4 road-bound miles from Seacliff to NB. 

That would be the steps out when you swim over. (In my dreams.)

Exactly like the deer, this hare couldn't be arsed doing a gallop for the camera and just disappeared by lying down.

I went past the coop to get some snacks and drinks for the train making almost entirely bad choices. (incl cider and donuts.) I didn't even bother with Tesco's since they had snubbed me last time. The donuts were pretty bad and I only ate 2 on the train. They were supposed to be glazed but were more like sweaty. Shamefully I ate the other 2 with fruit and yoghurt after dinner. The ticket dude on the train told me the sunset was much better 20mins ago, as I took these photos out the window. Well hey, thanks for that. I like the one above for focussing on the dirt on the window. Splendid day out with a lovely sunset to wind it up. 
19.7miles plus 2 to and from Waverley.