Monday, 26 January 2015

sunny delight

I was at a bit of a loose end on Saturday. The forecast was excellent but there were no pals to go for a run. Everyone off at the Devil's Burden. I realised I wanted to get out on the bike even though my running miles the last few weeks barely got into double figures. I also had to tinker with the bike a bit and it was 11am before I got my tool kit packed, sandwiches made and out the door. It was slow to get out of town but the fat tyres were pumped so hard the bike felt as fast as a road bike. Did the first 17miles under the hour and got into N Berwick (22miles) in seventy five minutes. (Although I put the Garmin off while taking photos at Musselburgh and at Longniddry for the kite surfers.) It didn't hurt the fact the wind was going in the same direction.

Don't think this NB Celtic Cross is a war memorial. 

There were a lot of pelotons out, most coming towards me. I wondered if you have to have a drop handlebar bike to join in and also what sort of speed they were going along at. Also what sort of clothes they were wearing. I had a fleece jacket on as I planned to do E2NB fast then potter around some off road trails along to Dunbar. It was a cold day and as well as sandwiches I was carrying various gloves, hats and other clothing options in my pack. I rang Ben's bell in N Berwick just in case he was in (and wanted to give me a coffee,) but it really was too nice a day to expect that.

I was a bit damp from racing along to NB but began to dry out on the road past Tantallon before taking the turn off to Seacliff. Instead of turning down to the beach I carried straight on, which is the road I normally come up from Peffer Burn when running the trails up Ravensheugh/Tyninghame Beach. There are a couple of signs saying Private Road and No Access to Beach but I assumed they were for the tourists and not nice young men like I! Strangely I didn't think of myself as a tourist. Also I wasn't going to the beach. 

This caravan looks like a vagrant in the street with his trousers hanging off.

Peffer Burn

The cold crisp air and bright skies made for good quality photos but I had to get the camera out a pocket every time I saw something interesting. When I run I normally have the camera in my hand and hardly stop at all. There are advantages and disadvantages to the bike. 

I went up the dunes to see the beach but then back down to the trails on the other side rather than get sand in my gears.

Met a couple of very cute ponies...

...but this one's manners weren't exemplary

they looked as if they had just been shampooed

Up this attractive path to the log cabin which has one of the best views in the world. It is available for rent but just looked very cold. (Maybe one for the summer months.) Although the sun was out I had been going very slowly and scampering about checking out routes and taking photos, and got a bit chilled. I was also needing something to eat but by the time I had eaten half my sandwich and a sports bar or 2, had to jump on the bike and cycle off down the interesting looking trails through the woods to warm up. It was not weather for hanging around.

best view

rickety cabin with bonfire

Came out of the woods and onto the secret trail (some technical singletrack which I found challenging with the larger 29" wheels, or my inadequacy,) near St Baldred's Cradle then followed the coast round towards the estuary. I tried to remember the trails I had been shown here by Bruce and after some sploshing about in the salt marshes came to the rise that gives excellent views of the estuary.

getting a bit speckled with mud (new fancy helmet.)

At this point the JMW on the other side of the estuary is where I want to be, but it takes a few miles of tarmac up Limetrees Walk and down over the last bridge before turning left onto the other shore trails on the Dunbar side of the Tyne.

Yes this looks attractive but it was the muddiest road of the day and although I tried to stay on the grassy centre track was cursing every time I dodged off into the mud. Subsequently bombing down the road to the bridge it was flying up off the wheels and hitting me in the face. Not fun. Must get mudguards.

Most of the puddles along the John Muir Way were frozen.

Looking back to where I'd just been.

If you shine a bright light in my left ear it comes out my right eye.

The sun was just going down when I got to this place, which seems to be marked Hedderwick Hill on a map I have, although there isn't that much sign of a hill. It used to be part of the Dunbar XC and is just amazingly picturesque. In fact I got so swept up in following the excellent sandy trails at speed along the coastline I forgot to visit the goats and then llamas you meet if you follow the fence.

I deliberately exposed this for the sky to cast the trees and shoreline in silhouette; it wasn't really this dark. (see below)

I coloured this red because it was a sickly greeny yellow.
Still not sure though.

As I was getting towards Belhaven Bay the sun was behind a bank of cloud and I thought this heron was going to be the last shot of the day, however a minute later I looked over my shoulder as the sun made a last effort to peep through.

I then bombed along the road to Dunbar Station not wanting to get there and find the train just pulling out (I hadn't checked the timetables before setting off.) Alas it was an hour till the next one (90mins between trains) and I swithered about cycling back to NB and their more regular service. (Gathering dark and fast roads didn't appeal.) I didn't have a padlock so couldn't risk sitting in a pub cafe. I bought a train ticket and decided to kerbcrawl around Sunny Dunny to pass the hour. All the cafes seemed closed so I cycled round the cliff top walk (what could possibly go wrong?) and down and round the golf course, taking in this war memorial. (Tynecastle Bikey Bronze?) By the time I got back to the station the (lovely warm) train was sitting there. Cracking day out. And wow did that leftover sandwich taste good!

45 mins in the back green with a headtorch, a toothbrush and 2 buckets of water to remove the mud.

Here is the garmin map and some of the first fast miles. (Final mileage was 22 fast 22 slow = 44+miles). I didn't have the Garmin set to show mph, just minutes per mile. Obviously 3 mins per mile is 20mph and 2 mins per mile is 30 mph. Now here is the tricky bit - I noticed mile 21 was about 2 and a half mins. (Dirleton to about a mile out from NB) Surely that pace is exactly halfway between 20mph and 30mph so 25mph. However it is actually 24mph. 1 mile in 2m30s is 2 miles in 5 minutes (x12) is 24 miles per hour. Can somebody smarter than I am tell me where that missing mph goes?

feel the burns

I am a bit of a charlie.

Turned on the news a while back and the top stories were all about religions. Was it an appreciation of how great they were and how full of spirituality the world is? Well not entirely. It would seem that stupid young men who like to wave assault weapons and shout about revenge, were doing so under the guise of religion, whereas it was apparent they were just bloodthirsty simpletons with a penchant for murder. The general response has been (mostly) measured and rational which is about the only decent thing to have been on the news of late.

Then the Pope was visiting the Philippines. Estimated crowds of 6 million attended. I was surprised to hear there were that many Catholics, never mind that many who would stand in the approaching path of tropical storm Mekkhala just to see a dude in a hat and gown. Instead of having a word with his contact(s) upstairs about the imminent storm, the infallible pontiff cut his tour short. Nobody among the 6 million appeared to see any contradiction there.

Meanwhile the heavenly Graham Henry proved he has a better relationship with the firmament by providing a splendid day's weather for the third running of the Feel the Burns hill race. Recalling the first year it was held, the day was blue sky-ed and snowy underfoot, a perfect aspect for a near perfect race.

I was feeling a bit below par. And concerned that my current 12~15 miles weekly may not be sufficient. (Must get out there in the dark evenings instead of falling asleep in front of the idiots lantern when I get home.) This was a difficult one to dress for: a lot of ascent at the start means overdress and you'll overcook. Not enough and you'll freeze on the hill tops. I went fairly minimal - just one long sleeved top and not a thick one. It was absolutely fine and the effort kept me plenty warm. Also I had a race vest pack on (containing waterproofs) which added insulation.

The start and finish were in the same field as last year. We jogged there after the traditional speech by Mr. Henry which was full of amusements and misinformation. Unusually I paced myself at the start, knowing there was not unlimited juice in the tank. Talking of liquids I carried only one gel and consumed it shortly before the water table. I didn't bother with a drink at the water table.

Note: the sharp right, up into the hills.

I was near Matt C as we left the forestry trails and headed more directly into the hills. Mike Moorfoot went past on the climb and took 2 friends with him, one being Wull H who I kept close to as he is in my age group. Wull later told me he was not enjoying the amount of slip in his footwear. It was maybe this slippage that allowed me to get past before the first top and I headed down the gentle angle over the heathery moors to catch up with Mike and Nick W just ahead.

I was watching Nick on the heels of a guy whose ego was troubling him - every time Nick or I got close he raised his game and fought for the place, but would then slow to a walk later. Thinking vaguely I should teach him a lesson I pushed on past and Nick came too. In fact I enjoyed the climbs of the first half more than the descents. On the next one up to the halfway point there was a Westie about 60 yards ahead and I mentally targetted him although it took till beyond the summit stile to catch him and I can't remember if he took the place back or not. Mike M caught back up and (somewhat hypocritically) I raised the pace to stay with him to the summit. There were snow covered icy patches looking to deck the unwary. Nick had faded a bit from what I could see and I hoped he was managing ok. The next time I was aware of him was on the fast descent and he was one of the 2 on my shoulder for the mile long descent and probably wondering why I wasn't going faster.

Wull on the first hull 

Three Brethren

chasing the Westie

The marshals at the turn around - long descent from here.

I have run this section too fast in the past and found myself spent by the burn at the bottom. This time I paced the downhill but was still spent by then. In fact Nick and Mike went past a few hundred yards before the stream and I was feeling a bit like the best part of my race was behind me. Round the diversion path at the old Hostel (now privately owned) then up the back to the muddy bit (VERY muddy) and on to the last climb. I saw Nick go down for a close inspection of the tussocky heather but he got back up undamaged and made his way up the near vertical ascent of the aptly named Foulshiels Hill.

Nick goes past. To the left, the last climb.

 Now from this point everything goes to hell. I must have accidentally turned the dial on the camera to "artistic" mode which resulted in all the rest of the photos being crap. A second rate instagram type setting. Makes the images look like they were taken, badly, in the 1970s. And not much I can do in photoshop improves matters. It aptly reflects my race also falling to pieces, and I struggled from this point. I had a gel near the water station but no water. Unfortunately it didn't compensate for the lack of training miles and as I climbed the last big hill slowly, I watched Jim H and a number of other runners close the gap. Happily none was over 50 but like the deteriorating photos it was not a fine finish to a very fine day out.

finishing as the start - near Matt C

Just about everyone in this photo incl. a few who hadn't come over the hill yet, finished ahead of me. I found this ground difficult and although I don't remember walking I can't have been going much faster judging by the places dropped. Just checked the results and the Westie I got ahead of must have finished ahead as did Jim H who cruised past, and Richard L looking very confident over the rough ground around here. (He was racing Tom M not myself and beat both, well done!) Matt had the decency to stay 2 seconds behind but a lot of people quite a few photos behind at the water jump (Selkirk Fund Runners fb page) made up a LOT of ground. Oh well, point taken, and will try hardier. 

Graeme (and Kathy) were wearing odd vests!

A rather lovely sunset slightly ruined by artistic mode.

I felt I just about got away with it. First 50 by 23 seconds. A good incentive to quit the messing about (filling the week with too much work) and start getting serious (filling the week with more running, biking and working out.)

Top marks to Sheila and Graham for organising a really splendid day out. Not just a terrific and testing route but the soup, haggis-neeps-and-tatties afterwards, and all for a tenner, is GREAT value for money. And somehow they manage to raise £1000 for Mountain Rescue at the same time. Much as I love the C5 this is now THE race that marks the start of the hill running year. (Not counting Greenmantle Dash). Big big thanks to all who stood outside in the cold so we could have fun!

If you are not doing the Borders XC final race on 15th Feb (day after C5) then have a look on Selkirk Fund Runners facebook page for details of a hilly 10k pay-on-the-day race Sheila is organising over similar ground.