Monday, 30 May 2016

mystical journey to the land beneath the waves

Great weather on Sunday, in fact if you ignore the chill winds, it's almost as if the summer was under way. Great running weather. We drove to Gullane with the wetsuits planning for a swim after a run. Both a bit tired after Saturday's longish run, but happy to see the skies clearing as we left the car around 2pm.

North Face shoe triallers and a couple of imposters
Thanks Lucja for the photo (used without permission!)

First, a quick note about Thursday eve hill reps. It was a filthy evening and I left the flat unsure if I could be bothered. A cold drizzle fell and I had until the end of the road to decide on a short quick 4 miler or the hill reps session. I turned right for Holyrood Park although it was 50/50. I was running late; usually I time it fairly accurately to arrive on the stroke of 7 as I live a mile away and give myself 9 minutes to run up the hill and cross London Road. When I arrived there was nobody at the Octagon. I was 30 secs past the hour and saw a group of runners 100 yards along the road heading towards St Margaret's Loch. Must be them although I was surprised at such a large turnout on a horrible evening. 

I reached the back runner just before the Loch and asked what group this was. The reply (from Avril) was a cheery #never stop edinburgh group doing a road test of some North Face ultra running shoes. But I was welcome to join in. Since I had seemed to have missed the wintervals boat and this group was going for a run anyway I might as well. Jim H had just climbed out his car in St Margarets car park (Holyrood ca park being closed) and I called him across to join the group. He had seen Ross and Anthony and myself but was scratching his head. It'll be fun I said, rather pleased to have a legitimate excuse to miss Thursday evening torture. This was far more pleasant. Our group climbed up Whinny Hill to eventually summit Arthur's Seat. You could only tell there were a couple of imposters by our footwear - Jim and I weren't wearing the North Face shoes. 

I began to feel a wee bit guilty about skiving hill reps and suggested to Jim we skirt round Hunters Bog and see if anyone was there. Olly and Matt (2 mins late to start point) were dutifully doing reps up the steep hill at the end of the Bog and we joined them for the last minute rep. As Jim said afterwards it's surprising how much difference there is between a jolly round the hill done at chatting pace and flat out reps. Sixty seconds and we were both reduced to heaving gasping wrecks. Which is why we do them. Most weeks. It was a pleasure to bump into the North Face group and thanks for having us along and to Lucja for her photo above. People seemed to be giving the shoes the thumbs up - plenty of grip for the trails and wet rock of Holyrood in bright colours.

Onwards and upwards and back to Gullane. Having done some warm up press ups (Mary won - not only doing way more than I did she also made me burst out laughing (obscenities) while I was doing mine,) and visited the toilet block we set off down the path to the beach. We ran past a woman taking her kids down the same path and I thought she looked a lot like Avril. I turned around to check this out and could see she was similarly trying to work out if I was that dodgy guy who joined her group on Thursday. Nice to bump into each other again and as we were chatting this deer popped out the grass nearby. What a difference in weather. The deer bounced away as did Mary and I due to the strong coffee from Falkos. 

Also due to the coffee there was a LOT of senseless yabbering. Mary decided she was going to do sea-personations: marine based show-and-tell mimics of the local residents. I don't think we got much beyond seal and pirate.

It was becoming evident the tide was not just out but FAR out. We were able to run below the usual lines and skirt round the rocks before Aberlady beach. The black velvety covering on the rocks were tiny mussels that made you feel guilty for walking on them. (Checking the tide tables it was not an extravagantly low tide - just we were there right at absolute low tide - about 2.30.) I think it has to be the lowest tide we've experienced. Aberlady beach looked massive and the subs at the far end were a long way from the water.

subs a long way from the sea

The warm day made for heat shimmer and mirages.

powering inland

That may be the remaining pier from Cockenzie on the horizon.

The low water was revealing a number of shipwrecks and remains that aren't usually visible. Way beyond the subs was a thin line line of what I imagined was the remains of a boat. I took a photo on full zoom (above) but the screen was barely visible in the bright sun and assumed I'd find out what is was when we got closer. It looks obvious from the photo above but if you look just right of Mary in the photo below, that was the view we were getting and all I could see was something like a dug-out canoe.

As we got closer all of a sudden the dug-out canoe exploded into the water. It had been a colony of seals and they decided to race into the sea in an explosion of surf and flapping of flippers, lolloping their massive bodies into the safety of the sea. Funny to think how timid they are given they have large heads and an impressive set of teeth. I had been taking photos in the opposite direction and so missed the photo opportunity of the day. By the time I zoomed in they were floating in the shallows keeping an eye on the dangerous interlopers. 

The beach went on and on. Normally we turn around at the subs but today the beach stretched out for what seemed miles more than usual. We would imaging the depth of water above us at high tide. NB Law looked strange and yet familiar. Arthur Seat was a shadow above the haze. I was disappointed there wasn't the bones of fishy dinosaurs and relics from a bygone age. It was just acres of sand all round with mirages on the distant horizons.

The sun reflects off a shiny surface in Edinburgh, hidden by the heat haze.
Or it was a ufo.

About the only thing on all this exposed beach was seaweed.

and of course the subs, this one looking green and clarinetty

Now while the good weather brings out the best in most of us, there's always someone spoiling it! I'm not sure why some folk feel compelled to walk about without clothes. I don't think it is a perversion - it just looks that way to the rest of us. As Mary said, her and I enjoy those freedoms at home (not all the time you understand) and occasionally if there is nobody about we will go for a skinny dip. But Aberlady is a known spot for nudists/naturists and you will get weirdos people in the dunes sans clothes. This dude was looking for a nice spot for a sit down. And knowing how sharp those grasses are it really isn't a place for no shoes or shorts. Nice ponytail.

if you've got it flaunt it!

w i d e s c r e e n


yacht a little too much out of focus.

meanwhile back in St Tropez

This was the map I was looking forward to seeing. Mary's Garmin output showing how far out to sea we had gone. The thing that limited us going any further was the Peffer Burn* which is the same stream that the wooden bridge to enlightenment crosses at the start of the nature reserve. It hugs the coast of Aberlady when the rest of the sea has regressed and would have been possible to cross although the sand was getting a bit swampy over there, so we set sail back along the beach to Gullane. I felt like we had been on a long adventure to a distant land but we had only jogged <7 miles. Great day out though! (We decided that was sufficient and the wet suits stayed dry today.)

*Peffer Burn: I know what you are thinking, isn't Peffer Burn the inlet at Scoughall off Tyninghame Beach where I struggle to keep dry shoes? Well yes. I double checked and the OS maps say both streams either side of East Lothian are called Peffer Burn. Are they one and the same? Probably not although that might be an adventure for another day - to try and follow Peffer Burn inland from Tyninghame then cross Athelstaneford to pick up the other Peffer Burn and follow it to Luffness and Aberlady.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

airport run

Looking at the forecast for this weekend the good weather was on Sunday, less good today. So it would make sense to do the longer run tomorrow somewhere nice like the Lammermuirs. This was a loose plan until M flipped and said she was doing a 20 mile road run today to Musselburgh and along Granton. And early, before the sun comes out. I sat indoors righteously in the huff as she headed out to spoil the weekend. Then the sun came out and I thought I suppose I could belt out a few narsty road miles and it would be good training for that why-have-we-signed-up-for-a road marathon in July.

I considered what might be the nearest to something bearable and chose the airport route. I have been royally spoilt the last few weekends with the result that I can't be bothered doing a hard grind of a run that doesn't have scenery and wildlife to snap. At least the sun came out as I tried to keep the pace going on the cyclepath.

hello peloton 


The riverside paths by the Almond are a relief from the road miles. There were a few muddy puddles but nothing you couldn't get around. Lots of wildflowers out. The pace dropped horribly though as I got distracted and slowed to take photos.

Looking back down the river I could see a couple of strange looking things. I thought maybe exotic birds or swimming weasels and took a photo. Later at home I see it was just a couple of mallards bobbing for weeds.

After doing the square at the airport I ran back the way I'd come. There is a spot just below the rapids, a flat area with trees where it is nice. Unfortunately I'm not the only one to have noticed this and as a result people have pretty much spoiled it with litter. I'm thinking young people but I could be wrong. But it looks like a young person's space where they have failed to tidy up. Empty bottle of vodka, pair of socks, litter, pair of trunks. You get the same thing happening on the outskirts of the Pentlands. Young people have no place of their own so they go outdoors to get away from parents etc. But leave the place looking like a tip. It certainly spoiled that area for me. 



The Salvesen Steps are currently barriered off and there is a notice saying not to use them as they are unsafe. 

I nearly ran past the weir thinking I always take a photo and it's never that good or different from the last one. Then I saw this shrub growing in front and thought oh well. Actually the light on the falling water was rather nice today and I was glad I stopped. Just after the weir I bumped into Mary. I had thought she would have been past an hour ago and the first thought I had popped out before I could stop it. "Did you stop for a coffee?" When she replied no* I realised my comment was unsupportive and hurtful. Now I'm done for. I shouted that I'd see her at home. She said she only had 2 miles to go. I thought we would stop for a chat but I suppose with only 2 miles to go....
* in fact Mary had stopped for a coffee, right at the off, when she was buying snacks at the Scotmid across the road.

When I got onto the esplanade I realised Mary had taken the right direction along it. There was a good stiff breeze and I had to really step on it to keep the pace going. At least it was a distraction. I was hurting by now and wondering about the sense in signing up for a road marathon. The miles before the off road stuff were reasonable as was the pace for the last few miles - the middle section was slow-ish and probably because I was taking photos and enjoying not hurrying. I passed David F powering onto the Silverknowes end of the prom but he was focussed and didn't see me 10 yards away taking his photo. Well I was trying to take his photo but sometimes when running, my finger touches other dials and the camera says Hey you want to change the white balance well that's great! and won't take a photo until I address that setting. Sort of thing that makes bad words come out my mouth. By the time I had sorted that there was only a view of David's back.

I made an effort to push the pace for the last few miles and it was horrible! The wind tunnel training was useful for Orkney, although Mary is of the opinion that the wind will/could be favourable. I am not. We are running West. Once off the foreshore things improved. The pace came down to an average somewhere between 7.30 and 8. Not great. I saw a friend was offering a free place for tomorrow's marathon on facebook. Very glad I didn't jump. Still some more training required. I was actually home before Mary as she was sat on a slow 41 from Barnton. The best thing about today's run was it got some training done and afterwards Mary cooked a big plate of black pudding, egg and beans.