Saturday, 16 February 2013

More Borders Abbeys Way

Today I ran another section of this 60 or so mile trail route that takes in Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick, Selkirk and Melrose. Melrose to Selkirk and back was todays outing. Below are some photos, but as usual with me they have uploaded in a random order, so a bit of wordy stuff first.
I had two aims in mind for this run. Firstly it would be my last long one before the Northumberland Coastal ultra in two weeks time. Secondly I needed to learn how to take walk breaks in a structured way for this ultra.
My life is pretty unstructured and I am not good at following plans etc so i have not trained for this race in any recognised fashion. However, I have realised that walking is an important part of "running" an ultra. With this in mind I decided to run 55 minutes and walk 5. I am pleased to say that I (almost) managed this (I was 5 minutes late for my last walk break!)

I set off just before 8 am in good running conditions, even if they did not lend themselves to scenic photographs. The first 3 miles are run along the banks of the river Tweed and are very gentle, ideal leg looseners in fact. Quite soon I realised that I was having a touch of what we can euphemistically call "runners tummy" :-( Fear not dear reader, for I have learned from previous mishaps and today I was packing Andrex. So much nicer than leaves! Enough I hear you cry. OK, Onwards!
The route leaves the river and heads past Abbotsford, former home of Sir Walter Scott, climbing quite steeply. This section is road, changing to forestry track. Cauldshiels Loch appears and I start running on proper hill ground: muddy, wet, a bit boggy and exposed. The views would have been very impressive had it not been for the low cloud.
After passing the donkey sanctuary, the route drops sharply down on tarmac to Selkirk. I couldn't help thinking that this would be tough on the return journey. It was, although my second walk break coincided with this. All in all, this is a very pleasant section of the Borders Abbeys Way.
I often struggle to remember what I thought about on a long run. Today I have two quite clear memories. I thought about how I sometimes think of a holiday in the sun and realised how stupid I've been. As I approach 50 years of age, I am discovering some fantastic amenities pretty much on my doorstep. Like the Borders Abbeys Way, Southern Upland Way, Berwickshire and Northumberland Coastal Paths. They're not new, they've been there for years, only I havent found them. Thanks to runningI have now. Took a bloody long time!
My second memory of todays run occurred as I took my last walk break. I asked myself how I felt physically and was delighted to feel absolutely fine after 17 miles. It amazes me what the body can get used to. Its not long ago that really struggled to run a half marathon and all but collapsed at the end.
I also wondered where the last 3 hours had gone. How could 17 miles and 3 hours pass seemingly unnoticed? The best answer I came up with was that my life, and indeed all our lives, is dictated by time out of necessity. I have to be at work at such and such an hour. An appointment at 11 am or whenever has to be kept etc etc. Yet whilst running long this doesn't apply. I could have taken 3 hours or 6 hours so time was irrelevant. And this was a very liberating thought. On the downside, I also realised that I only had 2.5 miles to go and so another long run would be over all too soon.
In summary: 20 miles, 3 hours 32 minutes of hills, mud and tranquility. You gotta love running.
 Cauldshiels Loch about 6 miles from Melrose

I was tempted on the downhill into Selkirk:-)

Donkey sanctuary

Not the best day for views

 Winter hasn't gone entirely yet.

 The Eildons come into view
 Ive seen more useful bridges!
 A steep pull up
 The river Tweed