Friday, August 28, 2009

Off to Paisley

That sounds like a euphemism for something, but tomorrow I really will be off to Paisley. As in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. And yes, it was once a textile powerhouse, from which the paisley design takes it's name.

This particular Paisley is over on the west side of Scotland right by Glasgow. They're having a 10k race on Sunday that I'll be running in. It's only about an hour and a half away, but with Sunday morning public transport being what it is, it's not possible to get there in time for the race. So, I'll be taking the train there tomorrow and spending the night. And hopefully seeing a few things in the afternoon, if I get there in time and am in the mood.

I hear there's an Abbey.

Anywho, the 10k race. I have high hopes that it will be better than my last two 10k races. After all, I haven't been sick recently, nor have I walked up any big hills since last weekend. And it's supposed to be flat. Still my actual goals for the race are pretty modest:

Goal 1: Don't be last. I'm actually not kidding. This is going to be a much smaller race than either the Great Edinburgh Run or the Great North 10k in Sunderland, and I'm still pretty darn slow. Not that there's anything wrong with being last, but I've already been last in a race. There were only about 40 people in that race, but still. I've had my turn.

Goal 2: Beat my times from the Great Edinburgh Run and the Great North 10k. Seriously, if I just run the whole race for a change, this should be possible.

I've got a couple other goals with respect to finishing time, one of which is possible and one of which is likely not in the legs yet. But who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself!

So, off to Paisley tomorrow. That still sounds like a euphemism for something.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hill Work Saturday

Today was the day for hills! It was also the nicest day we've had for about two weeks. It hasn't rained (yet), and we actually have had sunshine and blue skies!


This morning, I ran the Horrible Hill Route. Just like last week, I was able to run all the way up the hills, although I had to drop down to a walk at the top of the Horrible Hill to get a handle on the gasping and wheezing. But I didn't stop! That might be a first. And I shaved about a minute off my time from last week. Woohoo!

But that is not all! I also spent a couple hours rambling up and around Arthur's Seat. It's a regular walking club walk, but I somehow found myself running just a bit late, and then I had the worst bus karma, and then I had to stop at the loo and there was a queue. Yes a queue for the loo. In short, I was about 20 minutes late. But this weather was not to be missed, so I started rambling around on my own on some of the less well traveled paths, and lo and behold I actually ran into the group from the walking club about an hour later. Woot!

A bit more walking, a pint of cider, and a small ice cream (dipped in Belgium chocolate) later, and I am back home, writing this. Unfortunately, in my rush I forgot my camera, so I shall leave you with this picture taken back in July, when I walked up Arthur's Seat with Little Sis. The picture is looking down the back of Arthur's Seat toward Dunsapie Loch.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Aberdour Castle and Modern Scottish Wedding Attire

After my walk on Saturday, I decided that I still had enough time and leg strength left to go see Aberdour Castle.

It's pretty old, a bit of a fixer-upper really.

Although the doocot is still is pretty good shape, should you be in need of a source of protein and open to the idea of raising doves and pigeons.

Much to my surprise, they were in the midst of a wedding at the castle. I was told to just ignore the wedding party in the terraced gardens.

I can see why you might want to get married in a castle. It's very romantic after all, and you can send any kiddies off to explore the ruins. Part of the castle even still has a roof, where the ceremony can be held. And the gardens are pretty.

But then you get people like me, who insist on sneaking around the ruins taking paparazzi-like pictures of the ladies in funny hats.

And the men in kilts.

I'm ashamed really. Sneaking around a castle to take pictures of men-in-kilts and then posting these pictures of strangers, who didn't give me permission, on my blog. Ashamed. I'm sure Karma will make me answer for this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I came very close to running the whole Horrible Hill route tonight. I ended up averaging only about a 13 min/mile pace, but I'm just going to roll with it and be happy. I think my idea of walking up hills as a form of cross training might actually be paying off.

The question is, can I do it again? Check back next week for the answer to that scintilating question.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Walkabout Scotland: Kirkcaldy to Aberdour

As previously mentioned, on Saturday I conquered went for a really long walk up in Fife. With a bunch of strangers. Fife is fairly close to Edinburgh, being just across the Firth of Forth to the north. The 9-mile walk was part of the Fife Outdoor Access Festival and led by some folks from the Kirkcaldy Ramblers.

It was a very enjoyable day, and I had a fun time chatting and meeting the people on the walk. I have to say, though, going on these walks is not necessarily the way to meet guys my age, if that were my goal (which it is not). I was easily the youngest person on this walk by 15 20 years.

Anywho. The walk started at Seafield near Kirkcaldy (Kur-caw-dee) and ended in Aberdour (Abber-dower). The beginning and end of the walk was spent along the Fife Coastal Path. For the middle bit, we detoured inland at Kinghorn to the Fife Ecology Center, where we stopped for lunch, and then onto Binn Hill above Burntisland for some terrific views.

If you like maps and/or care where I actually walked, here's the approximate route. If you're only here for the pictures, skip below. It was a beautiful day, and there was some beautiful scenery to view along the way.

View out over the Firth of Forth near the start of the walk. Far, far in the distance on the very left you can see Berwick Law.

Seafield Tower, dating from the early 16th century.

Seals! No really, there are seals out on the rocks! Click the picture to make it bigger.

Thistles gone to seed. I really like thistles, especially when they are all fluffy and soft like this. I think the ones that are gone to seed but not yet fluffed out look like they could be used as paintbrushes.

Daisies. Yes, I like flowers. You will just have to put up with it, just like the other folks on the walk did.

I think this is a cormorant out on the rock. I'm also thinking I need a pair of binoculars.

Cool tree!

Just a picture from along the Fife Coastal Path. Far in the distance you can see the Pentland Hills. And on the very far left, you can see Arthur's Seat (the saddle-shaped hill).

Pretty, pretty flowers. Anyone know what kind they are? I think this is my favorite picture of the day.

Boats along the beach in Kinghorn.

View from the beach in Kinghorn.

Kinghorn Loch.

Lunchtime view at the Ecology Center.

Thistles on the hill.

View from Binn Hill.

View from Binn Hill, looking south toward Edinburgh and Arthur's Seat.

Looking east towards the Forth Rail Bridge.

Looking back toward Binn Hill.

An unexpected waterfall along the Fife Coastal path, heading toward Aberdour.

The end of the walk for me, Aberdour Station, the absolute cutest, railway station I've ever encountered, almost crossing the border into twee. It apparently has won awards.

Next post: Aberdour Castle and Modern Scottish Wedding Attire!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I conquered Fife!

Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration. Unless you define conquer as walking 9 miles from Kirkcaldy (pronounced Kur-caw-dee) to Aberdour (pronounced Abber-dower). And because my legs hadn't yet fallen off, I decided to spend another hour or so rambling around Aberdour and Aberdour Castle. Because who knows when I'll get back to Aberdour.

For the record, my legs do now feel like they could fall off.

Aberdour Castle was fairly small, and the price to get in seemed a bit steep for what you get. But what made it worthwhile was the wedding they were having there! The wedding was in pre-reception mode, a.k.a. drinks out on the terraced gardens. So I entertained myself mocking in my head the hats some of the ladies were wearing. (Oh to have had my little sis there to mock the hats with!) And taking stealth pictures from inside the castle ruins of the crazy hats and the men-in-kilts. Heh, heh, heh.

Pictures to come of both the walk and the crazy hats!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Autumn of 10k Races

I haven't blogged yet about the Bupa Great North 10k that I ran with my sister last month. While it was a lot of fun to run a race with Little Sis (who did terrific, by the way), my actual race was extremely meh. As with the Great Edinburgh Run, waaay too much walking had me finishing in 1:20. Gah!

I'd like to blame my performance on walking/climbing up Berwick Law two days earlier. About halfway through, my legs just decided they were done, which has never happened to me before. I tried arguing with them, but nope. Done.

So I've decided to make it my mission this fall to improve my 10k time, and in the process to build a really solid running base for a change. My goal: to run a 10k in under 1:15, shooting for a lightning-fast 12 min/mile pace.

Stop laughing, speed is relative.

There are a few 10k races happening within a couple hours away over the next several months. I've already signed up for the Paisley 10k at the end of August. I'm also looking at the Linlithgow 10k and the Jedburgh 10k in September and October.

Oh, and needless to say, I'm giving up on the idea of a half marathon for now. Maybe next year, after I finally have that solid running base.