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

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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

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Day 10 3.17 miles

Everydayinmay total 45.83 

 

  

 

 

Cool and breezy afterwork run – day4 everydayinmay

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So the whole May the 4th thing passed me by today, not that I am really up with Star Wars and forces aside it was one of those work days when I was looking forward to my after work run to provide some much needed balm.

The sun appeared briefly but as I was running and chatting with my friends Alison and Lil ,I did not stop for pictures and by the time I got back  a cool breeze had whipped up which is tricky to capture on a still photo.

Weather aside as is often the way – running with good friends gave the work day a much needed perspective 🙂

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Day 4 3.39 miles

EDIM total 15.9miles

 

Music for all seasons – day 2 everydayinmay

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I don’t very often run listening to music, as when I am not running with someone and chatting, I just like to keep my ears open and listen to the sounds of the air. It’s one of many things I notice about running, you hear much more – or I do.

But  waking at 6am to a noisy wind and rainy sky Monday, I thought some music might be needed. My music choice is limited as I don’t seem to ever get round to updating the handful of playlists on my phone, although when I do these daily running challenges  I quite enjoy the repetition of a familiar playlist.

So I know that according to my  ‘Edinburgh Half’  playlist – by the time I get to ‘The Hollies – the Air That I breathe’ – I am pretty close to my 3 mile finish, and that when stepping out on a dark frosty morning ‘the Carpenters -Top of the World’ is pretty essential listening.

This helpful ritual only works if you don’t accidentally switch to shuffle – as I did today – and so instead of Karen Carpenter’s upbeat trill ; first up was Dean Owens’ Snowglobe – a very lovely if poignant tune about loneliness and depression at Christmas time and as the title suggests painting a rather wintry vibe, complete with sleigh bells. Swiftly  followed by ‘First Aid Kit – Emmylou’ – another favourite of mine but featuring these unseasonal opening lines ‘the bitter winds are coming in and I am already missing the summer …’

Luckily shuffle segued neatly into ‘The Kinks -Sunny afternoon’ – so despite running into a headwind and heavy rain, I could just about believe it was May 2nd.

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Day 2  3.17 miles

EDIM total 9.41miles

 

 

May Day run – but not yet casting my clouts :)

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Yesterday as on most Saturdays, I joined my good chum Alison for one of our weekend runs. The  sun was shining, birds were singing, the sky was blue and everywhere there were signs of spring.  We were glad that we had chosen that day to do a longer run than usual and completed a very enjoyable 10 miler along a familiar route – out and back to Balerno on the Dell path.

Today is the first of May – May day. A day when tradition has it that young maidens might rise early and wash their faces in morning dew, a day to set up the Maypole and dance around with the May queen, of Beltane and other festivals to celebrate that Spring is here. (apologies for this rather uninformed brief skim around May traditions – more research needed).

But today the weather is not very May-like in Edinburgh at least – so my May 1st run was under grey skies with a blustery wind and temperatures back into single figures and to be honest did not feel very Spring like. While yesterday I was running in a sleeveless vest, today it was back to Scottish running wear and plenty of layers. I certainly will not be casting my clouts just yet – even though yesterday the May blossom was well and truly out.

No matter – I like to run in all weathers , and today is the first day of a challenge I have joined – Everydayinmay.  This event was set up by Sally Pinnegar to raise funds for Dimbleby Cancer Care, a charity that she has a very personal connection with and sits well with Sally’s approach to life in general – eating healthily, living well and getting outdoors.

As the name suggests it is a challenge to undertake self-powered movement every day in May – walk, cycle, run ,swim, kayak,dance whatever. Being as I am a creature of habit I am aiming to run 5k each day – and looking forward to being part of the collective effort to raise funds.

I am going to try to blog about my efforts reasonably frequently, so just a bit advance notice of repetition. I am not actively fundraising – but if anyone reading this would like to make a donation to this very deserving charity you can sponsor Scout. Scout also takes part in Everydayinmay and writes a very funny blog about his adventures. His Just Giving page is here

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Food for free ramsons reminisences

Earlier this month I made wild garlic pesto with my daughter and thought it a very current thing to do. Foraging,making food from scratch and connecting with nature definitely seems in vogue right now.

The day before we had taken a walk to collect the wild garlic from a woodland path and then, with a 21st century twist to our attempts at wild survival,had Googled to verify the plant type lest we pick anything deadly and then referred to Google once more to find a recipe.

Was very enjoyable to first harvest the leaves, then make the pesto together – even if the pine nuts, pecorino and olive oil were neither free nor foraged locally. But satisfying still to make food with a tiny connection to the land and to enjoy a bit of mother – daughter bonding over a shared food discovery at the same time.

After our pesto adventure I  came across my ageing copy of Richard Mabey’s book -Food For Free – given to me as a school prize for Modern Studies in 1976. Prize winners were free to pick their own book and my choice of this guide to feeding yourself from nature’s larder was, I imagine, something that fitted with me going through something of a mildly hippy phase – along with dressing in cheesecloth and listening to Bob Dylan.

In the mid 70s at the school I attended my favourite teachers seemed to me very modern and liberal – certainly after my village primary school. My teacher of Modern Studies,with her views on the Russian revolution and questionable power of the media certainly appeared to be interesting, worldly and cool to my 14-year-old self.

Choosing the Richard Mabey book coincided with a rather fogeyish interest I had at the time around the disappearing skills of food preservation and cooking and wanting to know more about how things were done in the ‘olden days’ – quizzing my  farmer dad about how to preserve food, make butter and making a reasonably successful  attempt at crowdie – basic cheese making.

With the benefit of hindsight I could say  this was me reacting to the change  I saw in eating patterns and dominance of factory produced ready meals – Vesta curry, Findus crispy pancakes  and the like, but I don’t know that I was trying to make a social comment  or that I was ahead of the curve, more likely I was just a bit of an odd child.

Is interesting now as with a renewed interest in food provenance and craft skills  more prevalent to think of that curiosity and my childhood experience. Many things I took for granted growing up in the countryside  around freshly grown food and a kinder approach to farming now seem to pop up on lifestyle and food programmes,  magazine articles as a return to a better way to live and eat. Reassuring I suppose to know that while food trends and fashion ebb and flow the fundamentals of good taste, heathy food and craft survive.

These days I no longer live in the countryside so my foraging is of the urban variety and I am really just a dabbler in  trying to find food for free, but through the small act of gathering wild garlic and making pesto with my daughter, I felt I had gone some way to rekindle my latent hunter gatherer.

jar of home made pesto

 

Sunday morning sun-filled Cambridge run

Running in different places with a poor sense of direction has seen me lost on more than a few occasions, but if I stick to an easy landmark and use my eyes over my shortcomings in map reading its usually OK.

Sunday morning in Cambridge the sky was blue after two days of grey , so although my legs felt a bit creaky and my body a bit weary after 2 days of walking everywhere, I knew if I did not run I would regret it later.

Maybe it is my imagination but each time I visit Cambridge it seems that on the day I am due to go home – usually a Sunday – the weather is often at its best , and leaving when the sun is shining adds to my feeling of missing or loss. Maybe it just highlights my general low mood , knowing I wont see my daughter again for 8 weeks or so.

The route I followed headed out of the city towards Fen Ditton, and beyond. I followed the river starting from Newmarket road and as I could see runners and walkers on the opposite side I knew there had to be a crossing point somewhere.  It was a beautiful spring morning – skies blue, sun reflecting on trees and a day full of hope.

I had no real time pressure and was aiming to do around 6 miles – but once out and enjoying the windless almost perfect running conditions and the fun of exploring new territory – I kept going, crossing at a lock then on a bit further – catching a glimpse of a farmer tending sheep on the opposite bank then turning back for the return leg into Cambridge.

 

 

Spring morning run – with local history bonus

daffodlls and wild garlic

I don’t know why but having Tuesday off work this week seemed like a huge treat – so much so I reckon if I could work out a way to wangle a 4 day weekend every week, all would be good in my world.

I did not even feel the usual clocks going forward weirdness, such was the joy of getting up to do just what I liked. The only thing that could  have put the icing on my ‘life is good’ cake would have been some bright sunny Spring weather – but grey and cool was fine.

Tuesday or any day  – running early in the morning is almost always a special time – a quiet secret hour or two before the day starts proper – shared with birds and dawn wildlife, and fellow early risers- shift workers, bread and milk delivery folk, bus drivers.

Today although the pink sky peeked at through bedroom curtains earlier had turned a bit grey and overcast – the air was fresh and paths were deserted and quiet – save for a morning chorus of birds and the occasional dog walker.

Having  set out with no route planned and no distance in mind, it was nice to just keep moving. I meandered through Colinton village then onto the Dell path that runs along by the water of Leith running as far as Currie Kirk . A few months back while running along the same path, I met two local ladies who in the course of conversation, gave me a local history lesson and told me about St Mungo’s well, a local spring and shrine to St Kentigern (another name for St Mungo).

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I don’t know a lot about local history or saints but having lived and studied in Glasgow I do remember a bit about St Mungo – patron saint of the city. His miracles are remembered in the city coat of arms –  – Here is the bird that never flew,Here is the tree that never grew,Here is the bell that never rang, Here is the fish that never swam – Let Glasgow Flourish.

As the ladies had told me a while back – the well is not much to look at, in fact takes a bit of finding and is somewhat neglected, but given that I have probably run past it many times – it was good to seek it out. I did not drink from the spring but maybe will try it next time.

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Now if I had taken a drink from St Mungo’s well – I could say that renewed and invigorated I sprinted off with extra vim – but as I am not a fiction writer, my renewal came more from my reduced pace and ambling along taking pictures, rather than life enhancing water.

So continuing on the local history theme – I turned off the path towards the Pentland hills and the Poet’s glen.  As the knowledgable ladies had told me when we met – the name comes from a local man, James Thomson, who was a weaver-poet living near the glen and a contemporary of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns.

 

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I took this section of the run at an easy pace – walking up some of the steeper stony sections , then out of the glen to the path that runs alongside first the Clubbiedean then Torduff reservoirs to a big downhill and home for breakfast.

 

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Soul food running

If last Sunday was all about racing, this week it was all about running . Running the way I like best; no pressure, straight out the door with the sun shining and a good companion.

After what has felt like a very long wet winter, I was happy to be woken early by birds chirrupping outside and daylight with proper sun streaming through the curtains at silly o’clock in the morning.

If only I was  a bit more flexible I would have jumped out of bed – and cast the curtains open wide – ‘a la Maria in the Sound of Music’ – but as it was the rarity of a blue sky at 7am had me scampering skittishly and thinking how best to make the most of the day.

Edinburgh is a compact city made up of interconnected villages and skirted by the Pentland Hills, a low range to the west of the city. I live close to a country park at the foot of the Pentlands, and can be in open countryside within a 15 minute brisk walk.

My running companion Alison lives close and our regular route tends to be variations along the Dell – a path running alongside the Water of Leith following the route of a disused suburban railway.

But today with the sun in the sky early and not a breath of wind we decided to take to the hills – and do a circular route that took us from the Dell via the Poets Glen to the country park and skirting two reservoirs.

It was glorious.

Pretty much all the ingredients for a perfect run were there. Sun in the sky,no wind and with an equable temperature. Birds singing and buds emerging. Wild garlic carpets and trees losing their gaunt winter look.

When conditions are like this and there is no time pressure – it makes for a joyful outing. We stopped now and again to take pictures and chatted about topics wide and varied ( but to be fair we do that in all weathers ! )

The air felt clear and fresh and 7 miles passed quickly, leaving us plenty of time to enjoy the rest of Sunday.

Food for the soul 🙂