There’s a slight perverse pleasure I get from being claimed as a nutter. Being a runner you have to embrace the weather and in Scotland we’ve had some thrown at us over the past week. I’m in the middle of week 3 now and I think each week has had some sort of precipitation of the frozen variety to deal with.
I’m not one to shy away from it either, I’d rather embrace it but also know when I just need to get the miles in, so half of it is also knowing WHERE to run that can help shelter you from it.
Saturday is an interval day, but with my schedule I’ve had little chance to use or test out the new trail shoes I bought especially for the trail race I’m doing this weekend, so it was only Saturday that i could really put them to practice for a ‘dry’ run. I had to exchange them for the smaller size first.
Being interval day, I thought I could include this in the trail run, and run up in the Pentland Hills where I knew I would be guaranteed real muddly trails which would put these Mudclaws to test.
However, being hilly and high this also meant being snowy. I immediately thought ‘Awesome’! Normal people may not think like that as it was also very windy.
I pulled into the carpark at Harlaw in the Pentland Hill Country Park. I managed to get a space which is not normal but clearly the weather had put off a lot except the hardy and crazy. I changed into the Mudclaws, and exited the car wearing shorts, a longsleeve underlayer and a t shirt. I had with me a buff and a skull cap as being prepared is one thing in this environment that could help save your life.
Garmin on and off I went to find the muddiest of muddy trails, these beautiful yellow trainers needed some dirt on them and i knew exactly where to find it!
Thankfully the weather was calm as I exited and ran through the tress to Harlaw, enough time to get my body temperature up and ready to take on the ferocious wind that was waiting for me. The trail I chose was one I’m familiar with as I wanted to make sure that if I did get into trouble I knew where I was going and what to expect. I’d left a route map of my intended course on the computer a home and had put on the 920xt auto live tracker to makes sure that there was someone at least knowledgeable of where I was going to be going, even if they wouldn’t actively look at it until they noticed I wasn’t back!
Rounding Harlaw, the blue sky had appeared above, glorious and crisp with a biting wind, I exited the sheltered forrest area and went over my first bog, shoes handling very well underfoot I made a direct bee line toward blackhill. A steep descent into the Cleugh that runs between bells hill and blackhill where Threipmuir reservoir reaches is a nice muddy hill with exposed tree routes, I was impressed i wasn’t slipping at all.
The weather behind me was starting to cloud and I could see the next weather system was just around the corner. I made my way along the side of Black hill following a narrow path, hanging to the hillside, making fresh tracks and passing no one, this is the time I realise it is a good idea to have set the route and had a live tracking system. The wind was firmly on my back, and the first large snowflakes floated horizontally past like a speeding car. Before long I was engulfed in a white out, seeing only a few metres in front. I was pleased the path was well defined and also that the skull cap and buff had made an appearance to cover the head. I usually run hot, but the biting wind was cooling me down too much, so I hurridly put on the head covering to which I was really happy with.
Running through the cleugh meant I was running up and down the hill sides, with heart rate rising and falling on the descents mimicing that interval session I was due to have.
I made it to Glencorse, snow still falling, sticking to the frozen ground. I pass a couple of hill walkers, frightening one as I sneakily passed them bidding them a good morning!
Suddenly, the snow stops, and there above me is blue sky, though the wind is unforgiving. I round the corner and through the style to bring me up over toward Harlaw, now facing in the wind, this is a hard 2km incline and the resistance was epic. I was fighting for breath, I wanted to stop, I had to push on just to keep warm. I was fortunate the snow had stopped as running head on into snow is not fun!
The views were epic which made this all the more worth it!
Returning to the car, I was glad to be there, glad to have been out there, glad to have run in that weather, glad to have experienced the hurt but also glad to have experienced the pleasure of it.
Nutter? Maybe, but why not? Mental training done and that is a good thing!