Monday, 17 March 2008

Fisher on the Run

This weekend was Fisher's half marathon in Edinburgh, so we duly tottered down to Edinburgh on Saturday night to stay with Phid, who was also un-dulging. We had a most pleasant, chilled evening, chatting about houses and this n that. We pondered going to see Juno at the local cinema, but after a vast pile of yummy spag bol (they were carbo loading. I was a greedy fat pig) we none of us really felt like going out. Having risen early that morning to get acclimatised to the early start next day (it kicked off at 9am, which means runners getting up at 7 in order to eat properly) we were in bed by around half eleven and asleep by midnight.

Next morning we rose to a grey, wet, windy and feffin' freezing day. Nevertheless, the runners seemed in good cheer. The spectator was less so, but looking forward to finding a nice café in Musselburgh in which to curl up with coffee, breakfast and a paper. I'd then make my way to the finish line in order to cheer them on in full voice.

We drove to the start with relative ease, where I dropped them both and watched them trot off into the dreichness. I then pegged it to Musselburgh race course in order to find a good place to park the car. This was deeply easy. In fact, people with bollards were closing the road behind me as I went, just proving how early I was in preparation. But I didn't care. A lovely coffee shop and breakfast were awaiting me at any of the numerous café's I'd seen online the night before.

I parked close to the main entrance, then wandered into Musselburgh, shivering slightly but glad to see occasional patches of sunshine. Musselburgh is an interesting place in that it's a mix of utterly shite and very lovely. The river Esk runs through the middle and there are some picturesque old houses - but there are equal numbers of crap council houses, dirt and old men clearing their nose in the street while walking their dog. Pleasant. I suppose it's the same as any town, but what makes it slightly unusual is the fact that the shit bits and the nice bits are all intermingled in a way I've only ever seen before in Reykjavik.

Anyway, the first coffee shop I saw was called Coffee Stop and it looked pretty uninspiring, in a 'modelled on Starbucks' kind of way. I made a note of it and set off to find somewhere cosier.

Joy. After wandering the icy streets for some hour or so, I discovered that there isn't a single café open in Musselburgh on a cold Sunday morning - including Coffee Stop, which I eventually returned to in despair. With a heavy heart I realised the only place I'd get something to eat was the race course, so off I went.

Naturally, the bistro and all the other racecourse eateries were closed because it wasn't a horse racing day, so I had to make do with a bacon roll (don't like 'em) and surprisingly decent cappucino from one of the stalls. I took these treats to the grandstand, sat on a cold cold step (then realised I could sit on the thick jacket Fisher gave me to hold for her) and ate my way unenthusiastically through the bacon roll. Good bacon, soft morning roll - but still a crap combination in my view. I don't know what it is, but I just don't think bread and bacon go well together.

Anyway, just as I was feeling sorry for myself and starting to wonder if my hands were about to completely sieze up in the freezing wind blowing straight off the sea and into the grandstand, the first runners started to arrive. The winner did the 13 miles in around 69 minutes. The first woman finished in the top ten, but I forget her time. 78 minutes? Something like that. I clapped enthusiastically. It kept my hands warm.

Time passed quite swiftly once the runners started to arrive, and almost before I grew too cold to think straight, it was time to start looking out for Phid. Several small, blond people came round the finishing straight, but none of them had that distinctive run. Then one came round the corner who did and I started towards the finish line, only to hear behind me:

"Look! Look! It's Francis!"

I turned to see a family of 5 jumping up and down, pointing to the small blond runner. Boy are they going to feel stupid when they realise they've got the wrong person, I smirked. Then the smallest child shrieked:

"Go on, Daddy!"

Now slightly concerned for his social recognition skills, I backed away from the lunatic family and turned back to cheer Phid to the final tape - and discovered the small blond woman was, in fact, a lithe blond man of around 40 who, it transpires, is called Francis and is a father of 3.

Deeply concerned for my social recognition skills, I slunk (slinked? slank?) back to my elevated position in the stands and returned to ogling every small blond runner. I ignored everyone in a baseball cap until I realised the small baseball-capped runner just about to cross the tape was Phid. I lunged towards the finish, got there in time to shriek: "Go, Phid!" and went either entirely unheard or was studiously ignored. I imagine it was a little of both. Not only am I a poor substitute for Blarney when it comes to supporting, being unwilling to deck myself out in 8 foot, beribboned hat, bright colours and whistle, but Phid is an utterly focused runner. If three neighbouring runners were to explode in messy pieces of fillet steak all around her, she would simply tiptoe through the debris and continue her merry way, kicking a length of intestine from her ankles and ignoring the slightly warm, very brief and very red shower as she concentrated on her breathing.

I pushed my way through the crowd in search of the runner's exit - then pushed my way back through the crowd and actually found the runner's exit. There I met a slightly puffed Phid, whose faint sheen of sweat was about equal to my own, but whose beam of joy upon opening her gift bag and discovering a large tin of Green & Black's chocolate coated shortbread was a sight to stop the heart. We then pushed our way back through the crowd to my vantage point in the stands and awaited Fisher's arrival. We were expecting her around the 2h10m mark, having faith she'd beat her last year's time of 2h13. In fact, we were caught slightly off-guard. Phid was just giving me a brief run-down of what Fisher was wearing, her hair colour and general features, when I spotted her bouncing happily towards the finish, a very focused expression on her face (such as I recognise and fear on days the house is slightly messy and she's just bought a new hoover bag). She was a good 5 minutes ahead of her time, and I bounced up and down shrieking like a crazy thing. I went either unheard or studiously ignored.

It took a while to find her in the increased crush of people, but when we did she was delighted to have smashed her PB by 7 minutes - but her hip was troubling her. We went straight to the handily parked car where, after being given the run-around by traffic wardens and traffic jams for nigh on a hour, I discovered Phid's delicate sheen of sweat wasn't quite as delicate as it appeared. The car windows steamed up like the inside of a Swedish brothel (I've heard).

Back at Phid & Wheeler's flat, the conquering heroines washed (thank the good lord) and changed while I texted Pro with details of our lunch plans. Pro and Koi met us at the flat and we walked round to the Roseleaf pub, just down the road. It looked lovely - cosy and full of charm - but, alas, there were no tables free. Luckily, to Pro's relief, Phid had other options up her sleeve and we ended up eating at the 7 Diner round the corner.

The runners needed to replace protein, so tucked into burgers and chips. Fisher had one with cheese and bacon, Phid with blue cheese and onions. I contemplated the pita bread, soup and salad. Then I had the same as Phid. Followed by pudding. As we were sitting round, bellies stuffed with burger, giving the waitress our pudding orders, Phid shook her head in amazement.

"Is everyone having a pudding?" she asked incredulously, adding, as if as an aside to the waitress: "Oh, crème brulée please."

This is why my friends are the best in the world.

I must add, at this point, that lunch gave me the chance to set new perameters for my weight-loss bet with Pro. It is now set for the end of April. Loooosah takes the winner out for a meal - at a restaurant of the loser's choosing. (However, it's not allowed to be a chain restaurant.) Considering I stepped on the scales this morning (why, why?) and discovered I'd put on every single one of the pounds I've sweated off over the past months, I'm plunged in gloom and convinced I haven't a hope of winning. Never mind. I'm also determined to kick start my new health regime ... although today's lunch of dressing-drenched Cœsar Salad, with salmon fillet on top, and rustica bread with oil and olives was hardly an ideal start. Still, I had come back from a run - which I will get to in a sec.

Meanwhile - back at lunch ...

We ended up having my favourite kind of lunch: long, chatty, tasty and chilled. Afterwards, we bade fond farewell to all our pals and jumped into Helga. Well - I jumped, Fisher creaked. Her hip was really sore.

On the way home, we stopped at Tesco and picked up some food for the evening, which we shared with Arrow and Lu, who'd done their usual excellent job of seducing our dogs into believing we were never coming back and good riddance. Because we were pretty stuffed from lunch, we ate late and light.

Ok, we ate late.

I made 3 Chinese-style dishes - fillet beef strips marinated in white wine, with chilli, ginger, coriander and spring onions. Lu pointed out, with no small amount of indignation, that spring onions are no longer called spring onions. Supermarkets insist on calling them 'salad onions.' I made my usual grizzle about how the British are becoming colonised by American English, and are too weak to hang on to their own identity - but Lu said she wasn't sure Americans call them 'salad onions' either. I am plunged into doubt, and would like clarification on this issue.

Reader(s?): What do Americans call Spring Onions?

The second dish I attempted was sweet and sour pork, and it was tolerably successful. I just mixed orange juice, lime juice and honey together with a splash of Worcestershire Sauce until it tasted nice enough to dump all over some lightly floured pork strips and stir fry. Thirdly, I did teriyaki vegetables (yes, I know, pedants, that's Japanese).

Astonishingly, nothing tasted like crap. Fisher did the rice, owing to my rice-fear (of cooking it badly, not actual fear of actual rice grains) and we had a little booze to ease our tiredness. It was a lovely evening, and after Lu and Arrow left us to collapse in little heaps, we collapsed in little heaps. I watched Match of the Day, but couldn't keep my eyes open for the Spurs match I'd recorded. Good job I didn't struggle through, as I watched it today and they pissed away a 1-0 lead again! Watching us lose 2-1 to Man City didn't exactly start my day with joy - especially as Berbatov had one of his 'can't be fucked' games and slouched around like a teenager. Wanker.

The only other thing to report is the dull news I went for a run, as mentioned, before lunch. I meant to go for 5k but ended up doing the slowest 4 miles in the world, instead. I got screwed by loggers (not literally), who blocked my path and sent me round through the woods instead - which always buggers up my pace. Because this also put my distance off as well, I ended up rounding the run up to 4 miles by doing a loop at the end. My aged, crap sat nav then decided it had been far too conservative and jumped from 4 miles to 4.3 at the end - so God knows how far I actually went. Certainly not less than 4.3, and maybe as much as 4.5 - but as it was all in a laughably slow time, I don't really care. I mean, it was literally laughable. I stopped, looked at my watch, and laughed. Then I was sick.*

Not really, but I felt like it. I think it's all the red meat I've eaten over then last 3 days. Fisher and I are going to have a red meat free week, and shopped at Tesco accordingly, after lunch. We therefore bought:

1 x pack raw prawns
1 x pack sausages

We then went home. Clearly, our culinary imaginations are red-meat fuelled.

So that's that. Fisher's hip is still bollocksed, so she's off to the doc tomorrow, while my back is troubling me so I'm off to the osteopath. In the words of Phidippida:

"Oh, God, we really are getting old, aren't we?"

Yes, we are. Better enjoy myself more ...

*I've actually forgotten the actual time, but I think it was about 55 minutes. No, really.


Anonymous said...

Scallions (US version of green onion)

Seshat said...

Ah! Thank you, Anonymous. This saves me deep salad-related embarrassment next time I'm in the States.