#22: Perth

Why is it called a belly button? There’s no button there is there? It’s more like a belly hole, or dent. Wifey suggested ‘belly crater’ which is my current favourite.

I’ve been wracking my brain recently to think of a time in my life where my body has been free of any bruises, cuts or other similar minor injuries. Currently, I have some bruises on my wrist and abdomen where I tried to get on my bike and somehow managed to mess it up and fall onto my bike. There’s a cut on my thumb, and a bruise on my right shin just below my knee, neither of which I can explain. This is all before we get onto the sorry mess that is my feet. Whilst at the airport heading home from our holiday, we were talking to the parents in front, one child in particular was pointed out as being a little clumsy. In the short time that we were in the queue, this child fell over 3 times. I’d love to have assured those parents that it’s something they will grow out of, but I’m not exactly living proof of this.

My current trainers are the first that have really caused me any sort of foot issues. The odd thing is that they’re really quite comfortable, and I never notice that while I’m running they are quietly savaging my feet. This all seems to have been a teething issue, and now that I’m 85 miles into them they seem to be relaxing slightly. The thing I’ve learned here is that I clearly had a lot of skin on my toes that I didn’t need. Having had bruises under my toes before, I know also that I can expect the new decoration I have on my big toes to last until this time next year. Real value for money there I think.

Whilst away on holiday, I obviously took my trainers (since I have now admitted I have a problem, this is OK). Worse still, I actually went out and ran in them. It’s pretty warm in Spain at the moment, so I was often out by 7am, which got me back in time to make best advantage of a pretty well stocked hotel buffet breakfast. The good thing with this is that once I’ve taken myself out for walkies first thing, then I’m pretty happy lounging around for the rest of the day. It sounds slightly perverse, but in order to relax, I need to do some sort of activity first. I then am much less of a fidget and general pest, which suits wifey very well.

During the time in Spain, I think I saw 2 clouds, both of which were quite small. I could easily be made to believe I imagined them. I can understand why some people are so bemused by the British obsession with the weather, since in some parts of the world the weather is the same every day. By contrast on Friday in Edinburgh when I walked to the shop it was sunny in one direction and heavily overcast everywhere else. The temperature was quite warm save for a stiff cool breeze, all of this punctuated with a spritz of drizzle, which was just enough to be noticeable but not really coming to much. This lasted for about an hour before it all changed again. In short, we talk about the weather a lot, because there is a lot to talk about.

One of the few races I signed up for this year was the Black Rock ‘5’. By all accounts I was pretty lucky to get a spot, with the race selling out within an hour. I think I was on my way to Aberdeen at the time, and had to get in touch with wifey and beg / plead for her to do me a big favour. Really good I job I did as well, since this race is just the sort of silliness that I can’t help but love. The premise is pretty simple, there’s a black rock out in the Forth estuary, we’ll wait till low tide then go and run around it. There’s a piper stood on the top of the rock, because OF COURSE THERE IS, and depending on how quick you are getting to the rock you’ll have about a foot of water to splash your way through as you go round. A stiff breeze on the way out meant that we definitely earned the post race beer, and that on the run back to Kinghorn I could happily admire the multitude of ways that sand can be shaped by the sea. The atmosphere was something like a village fete, and even though every single bit of the course was tough it was hugely enjoyable. Since the race though is on Friday evening at 8pm, it meant that the parkrun on Saturday was always going to be a bit challenging. I’d thought a while ago that something near Fife would be ideal, and I’d opted for Perth a few weeks back. Back home via chips, alarm set for 6am and ready to do it all again…

My alarm going off for the first time in a few days caused me quite a bit of confusion. Eventually coming to my senses, I got myself ready. In an attempt to preserve something of my trip to Spain, I’d made some crushed tomatoes the day before. I can very much recommend these on a buttery. It turns out also that this makes a pretty good pre-run breakfast, but I do have to caveat this by pointing out that I usually eat about 3 hours before parkrun at the moment.

You know you’re in for a good day when the squiggle that the inspector on the train does on your ticket is a smiley face. My route through Perth was to head straight for the river, then follow the Tay up alongside the town and then along the paths to the start line. I had a good bit of time in hand so was able to stop and take a photo which I should add to the album of photos that do amazing views very little justice.

The silvery silvery Tay

Sidling up to the front end of the mob, I tell myself that today I’m taking it easy. I’m probably a bit tired after the Black Rock, less sleep than I’d ideally like etc. Take it steady. STEADY. GO!

Off we go up the side of the golf course, the course gently curving round to the right. We have a mini lump to go over then through some gates. This reveals the next section of the course which curves in front of us to the left, up a small hill then sharp right to follow the stone wall going across in front of us. The enclosed section quickly takes us to the riverside and a hard left to follow along by the river. I love being by water. As we hit the river path, and the Tay unfurled into the distance, I started to really get into my stride. We had been warned of tree roots in this section, and as we crossed them they looked like veins in the tarmac to me, small ripples giving texture and life to the path. This enclosed section ended, feeding us into a bigger expanse of wild flowers and lush green as the river shimmered to our right. Mile #1 done in 6.58 and my plan of going steady has gone out of the window. I’m feeling pretty good somehow, and now that I’ve put in a good first mile I’ve now made sure I’ll have to work for the other two.

Onwards we go up the path, and I’m starting to pick a few people off as I keep to the cadence I’ve now tied myself to. As the path winds, I see the point where we’ll soon be turning approaching. This gives me a bit of a boost knowing that we’ve hit half way, I thank the marshal as I go past and as we turn we’re onto a grass section. The grass is hard packed and slightly uneven. It’s forcing me to focus, and as I pick off another runner I get a chance to notice the buttercups and violets amongst the wildflowers. Mile #2 is done in 7.00, and the uneven ground of the last half mile hasn’t done me any harm.

Off the grass and back along the enclosed section that’s like we’re running over my own hands I target the next few runners up the road and concentrate of bringing them in. We reach the end of the enclosed section and hard right to take us back to the other side of the golf course and home. I’ve overtaken the last two in front of me I can see, and am now huffing and puffing quite a lot. I can only see one other runner who is a long way ahead of me, but it’s enough so that I know where I’m going at least. Through the gates and I can now see the finish line, a few hundred metres yet. Head down, push push push. Knowing what I have left to do I can now start to really put the hammer down and drive for the finish. Mile #3 done in 6.47, a negative split, and if I weren’t already motivated to finish this in style that will do the trick.

Scores! 19th place, 21.11



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