Commuting musings – Friday 26 Aug

Today after a misty kind of gloomy Thursday, the sun is shining.  I frequently walk along  various lengths of this stretch of the canal – and prefer walking over running or cycling.  The slower pace of walking is meditative and I see more. Early morning sunshine is always uplifting but maybe even more so when you live in a place where these few sunny days are to be cherished.  Late August there is a tiny hint of Autumn and a reminder that these lovely long days of summer daylight are beginning to shorten.  Sometimes when I start my working day with this 30 minute nature interlude the temptation to bunk off  work and just keep walking is very strong.

But so far I have not yielded to temptation …

 

Rainy Friday run

Most Fridays by the time I get home , I just feel like pouring a glass of wine, eating some salty snacks and mellowing out the week that was. Is a very nice way to unwind and start the weekend.

But now and again I make an effort to run after work on a Friday , and when I do wonder why I don’t do it more often.

A couple of glasses of Sauvignon blanc and some of my favourite Tyrrell crisps is an enjoyable way to soften the edges of the working week and to punctuate the start of the weekend – but an end of week  run seems to deliver a bigger benefit on the mood enhancing front.

And by way of a bonus – I am writing this at 8am the day after with a clear head and a bit more energy than usual.

This week I have not managed to do much running or exercise generally. I hurt my back on Sunday and it has put me off running a bit ( or maybe for once it made sense to listen to my body telling me to rest and recover).

The weather has been doing that cruel thing of delivering magical sunny, warm days during the working week – only for it to return to more typical Scottish August rain come Friday.  But despite this weekend change of weather, as I walked back from the train station dodging puddles and car splashes – I could feel the freshness in the air and was really looking forward to getting out in the rain – feeling it on my skin and clearing my head.

Maybe not the best conditions for taking pictures, but perfect salve for the soul.

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stronga, faster, longer – and other running ambitions

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This morning  I was running uphill into a big fat headwind when I saw a trailer captioned STRONGA – how very handy for me as I was very much in need of an inspirational slogan at that time. Out on my usual Sunday run but feeling a bit under-inspired, on one of those run days when the distance ambition in my head was not matched by the capacity of my legs.

Not by way of an excuse but aside from my body sluggishness, the  weather today was a bit weird as the air temperature felt like August but the winds were more like those we get in November.

I am not training for any race and am in a bit of the doldrums training wise – even though I keep saying I don’t really need a race goal to keep running, and just want to run for running’s sake, it seems a struggle to keep training focused when there is no looming race deadline, or a run streak challenge to fulfil.

Earlier this year I contemplated signing up for a full marathon, but talked myself out of it – maybe next year. So then I thought I might just train for a marathon but not enter one – so was planning to start running  longer distances, to see how it felt to run beyond my furthest distance to date of  13.1 miles , but I have not managed to run beyond 10miles since my last race in March.

It seems my need for a deadline to succeed pervades my running as it does everything else.

Goals aside – I am back into a running groove of weekend runs mostly with Alison, and we have a new favourite route that takes us from our usual start point pretty much downhill all the way to Stockbridge. There we sometimes round the run off with a coffee and then Alison’s husband very kindly meets us and takes us home – to save the uphill return leg.

Although I am not quite achieving any running greatness in terms of performance improvements – be that increased speed or distance, it is nice to try out new routes and make more of the social aspects of running , now we are both largely free of weekend parental responsibilities.

While I do take satisfaction from running faster, getting fitter and do harbour a small ambition to run a marathon one day- mostly I love running for friendship and sociability – for the shared confidences, the listening and the laughter, and as today’s run demonstrated the wide and varied topics of conversation we somehow manage to cover as the miles whizz past.

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Running undercover

I am not long back from a lovely sunny holiday in Ibiza. As is my new holiday habit, I took my running kit with me and despite the 30+ degree heat, I managed to go out on a few short runs.

While I love my regular runs back home, I always like running in a different place. Of course you can explore a new destination as a tourist on foot at walking pace, but there is something about putting on my running clothes and going out for a run- often early in the day – that makes me feel I am temporarily a local and getting a different sense of the destination.

Regardless of where I am running – early in the morning I will encounter much the same collection of folk – dog walkers, boot camp exercisers, shift workers , early morning night time revellers on the way home – if it is a city, the quiet army of people who clear up after the night before or set up for the new day, and of course fellow runners.

 

springwatch

This past week the sun has been shining most days and at last it feels as if nature is coming to life after a cold long winter and slow Spring.

I have been watching the BBC programme Springwatch these past couple of weeks and learning a lot about nature that I did not know. I tend to think I am fairly unsentimental about animals and nature and understand the natural order, ecology and how food chains work ,but it has been a bit of an eye opener to discover that birds I previously thought of as fairly benign garden visitors with a veggie persuasion are much more carnivorous and predatory than I realised.

It highlights the struggle that birds go through each season just to survive and keep the family line going.

Each year we have a pair of blackbirds who nest in our garden, and these together with sparrows, tits, starlings and the odd toad give us our own Springwatch. And coinciding with our garden wildlife getting active  – a week of sunshine has brought our neglected garden to life, perfect to sit in on these longer June days.

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Black Rock 5 – sunshine and salty air but no sand dunes

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In amongst the big ticket marathons and the associated ‘tarantara’ of commercially organised running events there are still lots of community based races with a history and character to remind you of the simple joy and fun of running.

The Black Rock 5 is one of those. Each year on a May or June evening, and always on a Friday but at a time depending on the tides, the Black Rock 5 takes place. It is an out and back from the centre of Kinghorn to the Black Rock.

Despite its’ name The Black Rock 5 race is neither 5 miles nor 5 k in length. I am guessing at some point it may have been 5 miles and the route has changed or maybe just calling it the Black Rock 4 and a bit miles had less appeal – who knows and as it happens it does not really matter.

Whatever the history of the route length ( and it has been going for more than 25 years ), the Black Rock 5  is one of those races that manages to achieve the balance between creating the buzz of a special occasion while managing to remain anchored to the  local community and true to its roots.

Of course it helps that the race takes place in late spring in a beautiful seaside location where when nights are long and if weather is kind – Scotland is just the best place ever ( is it not always ; )  ?

How lovely and lucky we are to run in the evening in the East coast light of a long Scottish day.

It really is quite magical.

Weather earlier that day had been good and the temperature at 7 PM was still warm enough to wear a running vest as runners started to gather. As it was the third time I had taken part in the race,I knew what was ahead of me and was happy to enjoy the pre-race atmosphere.

The first time I did this race I remember being quite anxious, having heard from fellow runners how tough it was and so wondering if I could keep going until the end after the rigours of running on the beach. This year with two previous attempts as ballast – and not setting any time targets – I was just looking forward to taking part.

So the route is as follows : You start underneath the railway arches then run mostly downhill through the town for a mile towards the beach, then a mile out on the sand – at low tide towards the Black Rock where you circle the rocks serenaded by Scottish piper, then back towards the town. Simple you may say – save for running 2 miles on wet sand and the killer hill sprint finish .

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This year I was feeling fit and in fine fettle – and  not under any pressure to better my time -I even stopped briefly on my way out to record the scene of the ribbon of runners heading out towards Black Rock. I was tempted to stop again a mile later at the rock to capture the image of the piper on the rock – but my running competitiveness and running rhythm won over my desire to capture the image – so one for my memory.

I did notice  a couple of fellow  runners recording the event – one with Go Pro strapped on his body and the other more cumbersomely holding a selfie stick aloft the whole way.

It’s a very photogenic race – but I could take a million pictures, videos or whatever – and none could convey the feeling you have as a runner. As you hit the sand from the road – the splishing and the sploshing – negotiating the unpredictable surface of ridged sand after the stability of the tarmac, that weird feeling as your feet get wet dashing though pools of sea water and best of all the salty sea tang you catch as you breathe.

This year – whether because my senses where heightened for some reason, or ozone was at an all time high – I felt acutely assaulted by the smell of the sea, of sea creatures and of an essence that it is hard to describe.

The salty air, the sploshing wet sand,the east coast light and the lung busting hill finish, makes this a race to remember.

And not forgetting – magnificent beer at the finish .

Black Rock 5 – Rock ON !

 

 

It’s all about the weather : days 22- 28 everydayinmay

Like many people who live in these meteorologically varied Isles – I spend a lot of time talking about the weather and I fully accept that I may be borderline nerd-like around the subject. I certainly tick a lot of boxes for a would be weather obsessive

1. I am British ✔️

2. I live in Scotland ✔️

3. I run a lot outside ✔️

all I need to complete the set is to take up gardening or farming !

Running or not, I enjoy weather watching and cloud spotting and am not just a fair weather friend of the weather if that makes sense. I love frosty mornings as much as sunny afternoons, get childishly excited when it snows and even like rain.

Harder to love is a grey flat sky, a north wind at a bus stop or a sneaky drop in temperature mid May when you have stuffed your opaque tights to the back of the drawer – but maybe these are just tests that the weather gods present me with to prove that my love is true.❤

Last week while running every day I experienced a few weather contrasts – Sunday May 22 was spent running in glorious Spring sunshine in Cambridgeshire, Monday 23 and back home my evening run was in bright warm sunshine – lovely. Tuesday 24 I caught the best of the day with a very early run and sunrise capture, but by Wednesday 25 the sun had vanished and my run was a chilly downhill to the train station against a cold headwind. Thursday 26  was just wet and temperatures in single figures. So by Friday 27 I was girding my loins for more cold, grey, windy running but instead enjoyed a late lunchtime run in equable temperatures, no sunshine but  without a breath of wind –  taking me to Saturday 28 – Day 28 of running everydayinmay, where the weather was pleasantly mild, even some patches of blue sky but as I was running with my good companion Alison and  know I am just 3 days away from the finish – I would happily have run through a blizzard🙂

Along with many others I am running everydayinmay to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, a charity that provides much appreciated practical and psychological support for cancer patients. If you would like to donate please visit Scout or Sally’s Just giving page. Thank You

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Day 22 – running everydayinmay… in May

I used to think the saying n’er cast a clout till is May is oot – meant you should keep wearing your vest until the end of May – and living in Scotland as I do that makes a lot of sense.

Then one cold May day, I was at some event or other and just chatting during a tea break to two very nice ladies and they kindly pointed out to me that the saying referred to May flowers – or the blossom of the hawthorn tree – which made more sense. Although of course as it happens, May blossom is often not fully out until the end of May certainly in Scotland, so I guess it works either way. There is a lot of folklore associated with the Hawthorn tree but folklore aside, May blossom in full bloom just so, so lovely.

This weekend I was visiting Cambridge and as I am running everydayinmay – on Sunday my day 22 run was a very enjoyable and easy trek along by the river Cam out of the city towards Fen Ditton and Horningsea following the towpath.

Although you can see and hear the motorway from some sections of the route, and now and then a glimpse of a train rattling along a couple of fields away, it feels very rural and pastoral and peaceful. I love how with running you can be just a few miles or minutes away from a city and yet be cast back in time and place and surrounded by nature.

It was a warm, sunny morning and my legs felt surprisingly fresh given that Sunday marked day 22 of consecutive running.  Surrounded by the heady fragrance of white hawthorn blossom, running everydayinmay in May – with a flat route, sunny skies, and a wonderful wildlife soundscape did put a spring in my step.

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Day 22 Miles run 10 – total miles 99

Along with many others I am running everydayinmay to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, a charity that provides much appreciated practical and psychological support for cancer patients. If you would like to donate please visit Scout or Sally’s Just giving page. Thank You

Friday evening run – day 6 everydayinmay now with video !

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So last Friday  I did my everydayinmay run in the evening after work and caught the best of the day. There are quite few people taking part in this collective challenge, with the shared objective of raising funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care – a charity that supports people who have cancer, providing both practical and emotional support.

We are scattered throughout the country and maybe even in some other countries too – but are connected by a common goal and of course the wonder and splendidness of social media. Depending on which is your channel of choice – you can tune in and find out how fellow everydayinmay companions are doing on any given day.

This is a big motivation for me and I  am sure others , as even when running alone, it never feels that way. And although I run regularly – there is a big difference between choosing to run on selected days and making a commitment to run or move for 5k EVERYDAY for a whole month.

So is quite the bonus to see a Tweet or a Facebook post or Instagram from someone who is just as dishevelled and sweaty and you are.

Rock on everydayinmay people !

In amongst this happy band of walkers, runners, bikers and swimmers sharing their efforts socially – I look forward to Helen’s  record – as Helen does a vlog , featuring live running and with her lovely anchorman son signing off each time – and often stealing the show with some unscripted comment😉.   Helen makes it look effortless (well maybe not the running bit🙂 ) and so inspired by Helen and flushed with misplaced optimism around my own technical competence I decided to have a go at recording my run last Friday.

I will leave you to judge – but while I was pleased that I could just about manage the co-ordination of feet, hands and looking vaguely in the right direction , I reckon I have quite a bit of work to do before I have any chance of becoming YouTube famous.

So in the interests of sharing that is an essential and enjoyable part of participation in  everydayinmay – here are the 2 videos that made it beyond the cutting room floor.

Sorry about the sniffing …

 

 

We are all doing this challenge to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, and it would be wonderful if you were able to  make a contribution or sponsor my efforts by sponsoring Scout or Sally here 

All out of sequence – days 9 and 10 everydayinmay

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My quest for life perfection ( hahaha) is a road full of twists and turns and with quite a few cul de sacs and wrong turnings to boot, so while I can just about manage to fit running everyday around working, eating and sleeping – finding time to write about it has stumped me once again.

It is true of course that much as I enjoy running and writing about running,like most of my fellow everydayinmay folk I am fitting time to do this around everydaylife .

So as I tick ‘writing a witty daily column in a national paper’ off my potential career change list, here is a bit of a recap of everydayinmay progress featuring  days 9 & 10 -the murky days in the middle.

Day 9 –  I ran in the evening as just could not drag myself out of bed on Monday morning to run before work, but as it turned out it was worth holding off until the evening as it was a beautiful sun filled, May evening with magical light and blossoms looking very pretty.

After a workday Monday this was a very pleasant end to the day.

While I am not doing big daily mileage – I have been doing some longer runs at the weekend and work is a bit full on just now – so today was a kind of rest day for me. Running on my own and without any time pressures, I was mostly ambling along stopping to take pictures, enjoying the sunshine , and amusing local dog walkers with my attempts at ‘selfie under blossom tree’.

Next to running with friends , this is my favourite kind of running –  it’s meditative,therapeutic and after a day at my desk  a perfect way to tease out the workday tension knots.

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Day 9 3.21 miles

Everydayinmay total 42.66 miles

Everyday tips and tricks – day 10

Everydayinmay Monday 9 - 1

As a 10 min mile pace runner, 3 songs usually equals a mile covered ( unless listening to my Ramones playlist). This otherwise useless fact is one of many of the mind games and tricks I use to get me get through the occasional patch of running ennui.

It is not that I find running boring – but not all runs are created equal and I do sometimes need to find some extra motivation. As a veteran of taking part in daily running challenges I know there will be days when I don’t feel like running but I also know that once committed to the task my stubbornness and desire for completion will not let me miss a day or give up.

On this current challenge – I don’t even have to run everyday if I don’t want to – I could be mixing it up with walking or cycling or such like – but having started running I recognise that I am now in that mildly addicted trainspotter mindset that I fall into.

I take pleasure watching the days tick off and seeing my monthly mileage increase, so allowing myself a day off running would feel like cheating on my self-imposed target.

Crazy me   

Of course I am only running 5k each day – and it’s a bit of a leveler to consider people who have chosen to run longer distances regularly – most recently thinking of  Eddie Izzard and his inspiring 27 marathons in as many days.

But as a fellow everydayinmay participant – Thomas –  highlighted the other day, most of us taking part in this challenge are doing it alongside our day to day lives, and without a team to offer support finding a time to run or walk or cycle 5k in between taking kids to school, working shifts, travelling on business, eating, sleeping – generally living.

 Just trying to be normal

Everydayinmay Monday 9 - 1 (2)

Day 10 3.17 miles

Everydayinmay total 45.83