Been out running with Jon today after he suggested some training together for the Highlander Mountain Marathon in three weeks time, so headed for a round of four ‘new’ hills (including Corbetts Geal Charn and Meall na h-Eilde) north of the ‘Dark Mile’ at the east end of Loch Arkaig. And this gave us a satisfying day out, with about 15.2 miles and 4,400 ft of ascent on runnable terrain with some interestingly varied contours (why we chose it!) completed at a respectable but reasonably comfortable pace. Some snow patches to cross, but nothing left requiring spikes/crampons or axes, which all got left in the van when we saw what it was like.
26 March 2011
13 March 2011
Might not have snow at sea level here, but 500ft or so up that all changes and along the main track to the Dam (at c.1,000ft) there’s way more than I expected. So perhaps the Dam (where I didn’t go yesterday because of the wind) wasn’t the most obvious target for today either but, sick of the roads and low-level village circuits that have formed much of this week’s weather-influenced fair, I stuck to it like a pig-headed bull, ploughing a furrow through the deepest snow of the year (fantastically sculpted into drifts of up to chest height), running as much as I could and taking about three hours for a return trip I habitually complete in well under two. But, strangely enough, also finding myself strong enough to be actually enjoying it!
Also met David Graham from Ardfern (who said he’d been expecting to meet me at any minute!) walking the dog up the Penstock track, so popped into The Ice Factor on my way home to say hi to Carol and young Tom, who he’d left climbing there.
12 March 2011
Just finished John L. Parker, Jr’s Again to Carthage (sequel to Once a Runner), which I’ve had begging for attention since receiving my pre-ordered paperback last July but only got around to reading this past week. And it’s another cracker… longer than its predecessor and perhaps yet slower to catch fire, but building a similar sense of unstoppable momentum (think he knows what he’s doing here!) as it proceeds. Have to say I was wondering how he could top (or even match) the perfectly-judged ending of Once a Runner, but (without even hinting at spoilers for those who’ve yet to read either book) can only observe that I found the conclusion of this one (informed by something I might have spotted but still took me by surprise) equally satisfying.
Now, on quite another note (if there was a prize for non sequitur of the day I’d win it?), I’ve been quite amused/intrigued by some ‘Piles of Stones’ shown (at OS 1:25,000 scale) on Meall a’ Bhainne, which I passed on Sunday’s run, find myself debating the difference between a cairn and a pile of stones (well, come on, a cairn and three piles of stones all marked in a line?) and know that I’ll have to check it out sometime. But it won’t be today, with wet, sleety conditions meaning that I’m keeping an eye out for a more pleasant running ‘window’ to head off somewhere not quite so far away! ;-)
6 March 2011
Thought my mileage was looking a bit weedy this week after missing Tuesday (brought my headache home from a late night at work!) as well as my usual Monday then turning down two climbing partners for Saturday to work on the boat with Twig (after which I managed just the 9.1 miles to the Dam and back by the Ciaran Path), so boldly set out to restore some 55-mile respectability (actually 54.7) by going for something reasonably meaty today. And this took the shape of a big loop up the brutal hill (toughest of any local trail) to An Cumhann and Loch Eilde Mor (where I met Martin and Liz Basil enjoying a walk), over the more runnable hill of Meall na Cruaidhe and through to Loch Treig by Loch Chiarain before returning by Luibeilt for a total of 22.7 miles at a modest 3,600 ft of ascent. So who knows why it felt as hard as it did in the end, but my gels and chewy bars just weren’t keeping me going and, in pushing for a >5mph average (doesn’t sound that fast but goes with the terrain), I found myself getting so dizzy coming down the final hill that I just had to blow that target (finishing with 4:34:34 ‘moving time’ from a total of 4:41:42) and take a sit-down stop to wolf down the better part of my 250g packet of apricots. And my head was spinning again by the back fence!
5 March 2011
Now, I know that’s (slightly) misquoting Kenneth Grahame, but there’s no doubt we’re making a mess in the boat! New forehatch went in today, but windows, pilot berth backs and acres of internal lining all came out. So Twig’s away with the windows (to make new ones) and one of the pilot berths (to study before replacing the tops) and it looks like I get to keep ripping out the linings (now planning to replace the whole lot), which at least has the beneficial side effect of removing some of the mankiest stuff instead of having to clean it! Not a pretty sight in the photos (remember the previous dehumidifier broke down, the hatch and windows leaked and things got/stayed wet), but no time for half measures when it’s worth making a real mess now to put a better boat (and there’s still a great boat here) back together in the end…