Sunday, 12 May 2013


Not a lot of people know this, but one of my “guilty pleasures” is the study of the origins of place names. I find it fascinating.

Take Penicuik, for example, it actually comes from the Old Brythonic language, and derives from  “Pen Y Cog” which can literally be translated as “who put that fuckin’ hill there?”.
One of my other guilty pleasures is lying through my teeth.

Yes indeed. Yesterday saw us off to the pretty little hill settlement of Penicuik to take part in the Penicuik 10k – a race, it turns out, I haven’t done for six years (I knew it was a wee while - but six years?).

In seriousness; it’s a craking race, really well organised and a great course – but not one for a PB. Oh – and it has a spread of home baking at the end that’s well worth a visit.

I’d toyed with the idea of doing this race for a week, but when I saw the weather on Saturday I must confess I was leaning towards the “oh feck this,lets not bother” approach to entry on the day.
Luckily, Anne is made of stronger stuff than me and we ended up doing it.

Registered and got our numbers and went out for a wee warm up. With “warm” being a bit of a misnomer – the wind was howling off the hills and it was bloody freezing. The sky had also turned decidedly leaden and fat globs of rain were starting to fall.

I don’t know why – but I’m starting to feel the cold in my hands a lot more than I used to and I was really miffed that I hadn’t packed my gloves. Non runners might think it looks strange to see someone, in a vest, with bare arms but wearing gloves. Well for some reason, while the rest of you can get fairly toasty while your running, the hands are often really cold.

As part of our warm up we ended up in the town square and were intrigued to see that some trees and a fountain had been “targeted” by some “yarn bombers”. Yes indeed – Penicuik … it’s that cold even the trees wear pullovers! Don’t know how long the woolly graffiti had been there, but it looked quite good. Those who are unfamiliar with the term “Yarn bombing” or “craft bombing” – it’s a sort of semi-legitimate form of impromptu art/vandalism for otherwise respectable crafters with far too much time on their hands! In fact - if they are looking for something to do with all their spare wool next year ... just knit a big pile of gloves and leave them for the runners at the start line!

"Yarn Bombing" at the fountain
Headed back to the start. Then at the last minute stripped down to the vest and left the long sleeve top in a tent at the finish line ready for me when I finished.

Lined up with the 220+ other runners (a record turnout I believe), a few words from the starter…and we were off.

Start was a quick dash from the park gates along to the high street and then after half a mile or so of quick downhill and a couple of turns it’s down to the serious business of the day and the first climb. A climb that just goes on and on and on… Pretty much for about two miles to be honest. Two miles of simply looking at the ground trying not to loose too much ground to others. As per usual, I wasn’t paying that much attention to who was passing me and who I was passing, but I knew I wasn’t loosing too much ground.

Once the top of the hill is reached there is a sort of “undulating section” of a mile or so where you can try to get into a bit of a rhythm. But the wind was so strong this year it was difficult – a couple of times I was buffeted so hard I actually ended up swaying over the pavement (apologies to anyone trying to pass me – it wasn’t a deliberate ploy).

On the down hill section I tried to get as much out of it as I could. But unfortunately even on the road my down hill technique isn’t what it should be. Got passed here by a couple of guys.

As we came into the last km Roy Buchanan of Portobello passed me and, rather sportingly, tried to encourage me to "hang in" - signaling for me to get in behind him. Unfortunately the down hill effort had taken its toll and the legs were unwilling to play along.
Photo (c) Bob Marshall

Got into the park and managed one final “sprint”. Finished in 37:46 – about 30 seconds slower than my last visit. Still, given the conditions, fairly content with that.

Did a nice slow 11 miler today – in the wind.

So. Three weekends and three races. Looking forward to next weekend – got nowt on.

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