Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hill runs

I planned a wee outing in the hills not far from me. First up though I had to retrieve my van from the pub. Half day friday now that Ive hit 50 is the law for me and invariably involves beer. So first up on Saturday morning was a run to retrieve the van. I ran up through Duns Castle woods (3.1 miles and 289ft of climb). Leaving home at 7am, this was a lovely trot up to Duns. It was murky but the colours of autumn were magnificent in the woods. I met no-one. It was just me, nature and my thoughts of the day ahead. 
My first hill destination was Earlston Black hill about 20 miles away. I do remember going up there as a kid 40 years ago, but other than that it was new ground to me. I parked up and headed upwards not knowing what to expect in terms of the route, the ground conditions, the severity of the climb. I always find it difficult in these situations to choose my shoes. I chose Inov8 Roclites and got this right. Long gradual climbs around fields led me to this photograph, from where I followed the hedge on the right up the hill, all the while thinking "that looks steep!"
As it turned out, the path swung left and then right so I had a long gradual climb to the summit, rather than a short brutal one (that was to come later!). Reaching the top without having had to resort to a walk was very satisfying. I could see enough to realise that the views are pretty spectacular, but it was too cloudy. In addition, I had forgotten my camera and so had to use my phone. Below is a photo that in no way does justice to the view and the lovely autumnal colours.

Me, the trig point and a very grey sky atop Earlston Black Hill (4.2 miles and 647ft)

Once back to the van, I headed over to Melrose, which has looming over it volcanic beauties called the Eildons. Looking at an OS map I see them called "Mid", "North" and "Wester". Well I was at school in Melrose and we always knew them as "Mummy", "Daddy" and "Baby", so I'm sticking with what I know !
After parking up in the town, I headed towards the hills, sticking with my Roclites. This was a mistake. Within a quarter of a mile I met this. I either counted 122 or 132 of the buggers!

I consoled myself that once at the top things would change. They did. The steps stopped but the gradient was the same. I started to try to take the whole situation in.  I had once before run here but I had approached from the other side, effectively half way up. What was in front of me was way more than I'd expected. I listened to my breathing and it was ok. I thought about my legs and they were all right too. Then I remembered that I'd gone up the Black Hill without having to walk. I'm not someone who has unbending will power, super inner strength or whatever you may call it. Sometimes though I get a thought that I really want to execute: run all the way to the top. No stopping, no walking, no excuses. Can I do it? Well yeah I did. 1.5 miles, 25 minutes, 1000ft. I may not look too happy in the photo, but believe me I am. I'm atop Daddy Eildon.

Running down "Daddy" was tough as its so steep, with loose stones but I made it to the Saddle before heading up "Mummy". Thats Daddy with Baby on the left from the Saddle.

As soon as I started up "Mummy", flushed with confidence having got to the top of "Daddy" without having to walk, I thought "Oh F*ck my legs have gone". I really wanted to walk up and be done with it, but how could I give in at this point?  Well I didn't and here  am atop "Mummy".

I headed down in quite a euphoric mood. I was aware that my Roclites werent the best shoe for this (X Talons resting in the van wouldve been the shoe but hey ho, they were in the van not on my feet). I only fell twice on the way down and by good luck rather than judgement, missed the rocks.
In summary: being able to run up hills gives me a great feeling of achievement. Running down them is simply great fun.
The day ended up as: 10.8 miles and 2150ft of climb (and a happy laddie)

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