Thursday, 25 November 2010

Still running around like a headless chicken

I could claim illness (it was a v mild cold). I could claim lack of time (work has been marginally busy). I could claim cold weather (but we all know I looooove to run in the cold).

So really, I've just been a bit of a slacker.

I have made a small electronic thing with random flashing lights at Granny Greens - it involved soldering and everything. Never happier than when surrounded by pliers and doing a task that's both tricky enough to demand a little concentration - but also not so fiddly that you're tempted to throw it across the room in frustration. Also re-started my enormous blanket. It's such a big project that everyone who sees it says I might finish it before I'm 90, if I'm lucky!

Had a wonderful cocktails and dinner at The Dogs with the cheeseboard. Nothing makes you feel old like finding the music too loud somewhere (although I thought the dj was doing a stonking job) - and having to find somewhere else quieter.... a bit of a contrast to bouncing up and down to ska. But life needs all of these things. Everything in abundance - moderation is for the weak!

Then RF threw a party. A lovely winter country party where incredible food was pulled from the aga - the mountain of mash was unending (in a good way) - and the bed after whisky was comfortable (beside the stove for me!). The company wasn't half bad either. A short walk and tasty lunch - I had an Afternoon Tea with HH - were the perfect antidote to some mild hangovers.

And after those days of excess I've been constantly telling myself I was *just about* to go out for a run. But then something always came up, like lethargy, or a cup of tea. Or more cake with friends.

But today - after stepping on the scales and finding myself at the top of my personal comfort zone I know the time had come. So me (and the newly mental gold dog) went out for a run. Up The Seat again. 5k - 29. 14 - my uphill doesn't really seem to be improving (10.48), but my flat and downhill were better (the quads will be screaming tomorrow) 9.17 and 8.20 respectively.

So I'm .... Oooo - just checked the last runs, I lied - it appears my uphill is considerably better. Hmmm, as so often happens after a break - the legs are keen for a run-out. I'll continue to be happy if I can pull off that trick again... Where was I. Oh yes, so I'm quite happy with that really and psychologically it's always great to get under the half hour. If only I can actually keep up some sort of running regime I'll be happy. Still need to work on the 3 times a week that it used to be.

It feels like just getting out and going for a run should not be a success - it should be sodding normal.

Well, what with life being more complicated now and with me desperately trying to make my way in the world - please, go on, buy stuff from Lucklaw Silver - save a starving (*cough*) runner and her little dog. I'll have to pimp out the dog for pats soon, and she'd like it, I know she would - but I'm not sure she'd cope with the shame. ;-)

Now I'm just waiting for snow and looking forward to seeing the Christmas lights as I know Edinburgh does a good line in twinkly at this time of year.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Big Smoke

As an alternative to Auld Reekie it does alright. I'm very glad to have both in my life.

I've not really taken 'full advantage' of all London has to offer this time. But as such I'm a more relaxed, and financially better off, person. (Not a bad combo I think.)

However, there has been great Thai food; a fantastic roast with new friends; catching up with an old school chum; a pub quiz*; and tonight some Ska in Camden ... so maybe that last one is a 'bit London'.

And I even managed to fit a run in. 31.35 for a fairly flat 5k.... it seems to mock me when I know I go faster when there's a big hill - possibly a case of rising to the challenge (both literally and metaphorically). Big News from the run was that the gold dog is now up to speed - she was ahead of me the whole time and seemed to love it - either that or the biting wind made it her only option to keep warm.

But I've been a tiny bit under the weather so the rest of the exercise has been walking... lots, and lots of walking. Baffie fulfills her roll as *squirrel patrol* and we wander about enjoying all that Autumn has to offer. Although - much less pretty post storms... boo. I'm in awe of the leaves still holding on in the face of winds that brought down a 30 foot rowan.

*Getting back to the Pub Quiz. A Pub Quiz is, done well, a many splendored thing. This one was a corker. The quiz master appeared in biker leathers and on first glance (and second and third glances) looks a lot like Jeff Goldblum (not relevant info, just adding a bit of 'colour'). Enormous booming voice that easily informed and controlled the room. There were 20 basic questions per half and about 4 bonus questions. A picture sheet with all sorts of stuff on it (good mix) and a maths/knowledge puzzle at half way (worth a massive £240 - no one got it; I wished RockGod had been there as it was a F1 question I think he'd have nailed). There were also a few bonus, free drink questions. A better time could not have been had. I discovered that the chg ROCKS at pub quizzes. Far too many times for my liking I was left saying, "but HOW do you know that?!" However her knowledge of crisp flavour colours was shocking :-p (Do you see the tiny fragment of dignity I'm clinging to here? And also my personal level of general knowledge...)

So I'm mostly just stopping in to get back into the habit of blogging. Because sometimes it's easy to be too self conscious; too concerned about what you've got to say - and the point (of this blog anyway) has been far more free-form than that. It's a bit of a verbal wander pegged to some dodgy running stats. (Think this should be the tag line?)

Right - off to walk the paws of the dog before getting ready for some serious Ska North London action whilst watching Mad Men on the big TV.... oh, this is the life!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


It's been a busy week or two (as usual it appears). Although I'm not sure I'm actually achieving much!?

I discovered that my old dog wasn't just the usual 'old-d0g-itchy' but had a skin infection. So: pills, shampoo and consultation - £98.... really... ah well, better that's she's comfortable. (grrr)

Had a delicious mutli-course dinner with the fabulous Miss Lane. Spinach & Watercress soup ROCKS - and had it been on a menu it would have been a tough sell, but in person - stunning.

Quick trip up to Perthshire to see ceramics friends & celebrate their wedding. Also saw Dotty which was wonderful - some good natter over cups of tea with dogs sleeping in the sunshine.

Pickle then visited Edinburgh and I took her to sample the delights that are The Phuket Pavillion - I love that Thai, and they have the knack of remembering you, which is just such a nice touch.

Coffee and chat with Smoothie as her son was doing gymnastics. Good to just catch-up and find out how her mammoth trip to Africa was. (Pretty bloody good.)

A bit of careful planning meant that CHG's visit to Edinburgh was timed to coincide with my first proper dinner at the new place (I'd call it a house warming, but that felt a bit too overwhelming). I gathered as many as could be seated, and tried to feed them well. I think the lack of left overs means that they were quite happy with the grub:

Home hot-smoked salmon with beetroot & horseraddish cream.
Roast Venison with dauphinoise and green beans.
Cream cheese brownies with a massive stack of berries.

(A menu that enabled lots of prep before-hand and simple enough to make the night easy.)

So after that wonderful weekend, where the sun was gracious and enabled a lovely walk on Sunday, I decided that the new week was going to include what I now think of as: The Revenge of the Brownies. (Da da dahhhhhhh.)

On Monday I put on my running gear. This is the first time I have done this in Edinburgh since moving in. I thought: I'll run through the park along the flat sections and once I get to the 1.55miles just head back. This will avoid most of the hideous hills.

But for some reason, as soon as I entered the park I found myself heading up hill - just going straight up the steep side of Queen's Drive. I don't know why this happened, but once started it seemed churlish to give up. And my only aim was to get to the top without any walking.

I was genuinely apprehensive. I don't really like running up hill. (Some people do - Wheeler - and they are generally known as nutters!) And I haven't run up that hill since my very first 5k years ago. But, it wasn't too bad. In fact it was confusingly un-bad ('good' would be over-selling it).

November 1st:
1mile up - all up - 11.45
I mile across the top and back - 9.51
1 mile all down hill - 8.59

Total for 5K - 31.30
I was satisfied by this, but a little irked that it's over the magic 10min/mile pace - a pace I desperately worked to get under. But I suppose that is what you get for not training enough and running up big hills.

After this run I felt the pain. Not horrible, but definitely pain. The ache in the legs and the slight wince going up and down stairs (not useful when you live on the 3rd floor). I tried to walk it off by doing another 4 miles that day heading to and from the fabulous Granny Greens.

So, in a bid to quash the pain I went out for another run today. Conditions were much better - it was dry for a start; and this time of year is just the right side of cold (for me). All I need are 3/4 leggings and a long sleeved shirt. It works perfectly.

Mile 1 - 11.43 (now I swear this could have been faster but the golden dog needed some time to warm up... and she seriously pulled me off my stride)
Mile 2 - 9.43
Mile 3 - 8.39 - the dry weather made the fear of slipping on the downhill negligible so I could go a wee bit faster.
Total for 5K - 30.57

Honestly, despite a lack of form and not being quite where I want to be with running I was bloody delighted by this. It's 17 seconds slower than I ran the race 3 1/2 years ago - but it also isn't hard to do. I'm not killing myself to get there, I'm just able to do it with relative comfort. (Mental note: must actually try harder.) Also it is *just* under the 10min/mile pace - which always makes me feel better.

Now this renewed interest in running is both the old feeling of just bloody enjoying it, and the fact that the council gym in Edinburgh (about 3min walk from my door) is £6.50 a visit. Holy Shit that's expensive. Now I know that if I pay monthly, or buy a discount card it gets significantly cheaper - but I still think £6.50 to use a gym is just taking the piss. (Or have I lived in the sticks too long?) Rant over.

The running really does give me a weird sense of satisfaction and I'm beginning to believe that my basic level of fitness might be ok. I can top it up more easily now, and am surprised by what I can do, rather than frustrated by what I can't. I'm not sure if it's just getting back to a low level of consistency - or all the city walking - but things definitely feel easier now.

So all I can do is work on further and faster...