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 

Making time to stand and stare – day 5 everydayinmay

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“What is this life if full of care we have no time to stand and stare ?” – so said WH Davies in his poem Leisure “…. no time to stand beneath the boughs and stare as long as sheep and cows “.

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Like Shylock’s soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar learned in English class aged 15 and many public information films watched regularly in the 70s  – these scattered  lines are locked nicely in my brain and pop to the surface easily.

The poem Leisure has a simple message with an easy rhythm and while it may not be to everyone’s taste I like it for a couple of reasons. First up it reminds me of my Dad. He was not given to reciting poetry often, but I am pretty sure he introduced me to it quite possibly while out walking the fields. Growing up on a farm I often watched our cows standing and staring and they looked to have the right idea.

And I  like the poem because the sentiment resonates with me  – as a reminder to remember to take some time everyday to just be.

My memories of my Dad are few and fading, as he died many years ago from cancer when he was only 58 and I was not quite 21. Before that my mother had died from a different cancer, so very young at 38 and long before I was old enough to remember her.

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So many of us have an experience of cancer whether through a close family member, a relative or friend. But what I find hopeful is how science and research are progressing in the areas of prevention and cure, so in the space of a generation, a cancer that killed my mother can now be prevented in many cases through vaccination.

And better still, attitudes and support for those who have cancer have got so much better through charities and organisations who exist to provide practical and human support- so far removed from a time of not speaking about the ‘big C’ or other euphemisms around the illness.

Charities like Dimbleby Cancer Care exist to provide the softer care and support for people who have cancer, and they rely on challenges like everydayinmay help to raise much needed funds to help them continue with the support and services they can offer.

Maybe for those of us taking part in this collective challenge it is a way to feel joy in being healthy and alive and having time to stand and stare like those clever cows.

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Day 5 4.03 miles

EDIM total 19.9 miles

If you would like to you can sponsor me via Scout’s page here

 

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

 

A game of two halves -day 3 everydayinmay

Today Leicester CIty football club won the English premier league, and breakfast radio was full of football chatter as well it might be. The win is a fantastic achievement by an unheralded club who had narrowly avoided relegation in the previous season, and says much about teamwork and charismatic management.

Nice to wake up to good news for a change.

So by way of a small homage to the beautiful game – my run today was a game of two halves.

At 6.15 and catching the tail end of a heavy rain shower I did 1.55 miles zig zagging up and down my neighbourhood streets. Several years experience of December daily running has given me a curious knowledge of how you can tally up a mile or two close to home.

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Then as my Nike+ lady might tell me – ‘half way point’.

Next I jumped in my car and drove from Edinburgh to Dunfermline where on Tuesdays I do a training session before work with my PT Katie. The park where we train is hilly – but I volunteered to have lots of hill work for today’s session to fit in some distance. Meaning that the second run was mixed up with frog jumps, squats, walking lunges, and press ups.

Commentators might describe my second half performance as lacking the enthusiasm and brio of the opening first half minutes, and as I discovered it takes a fair few sets of hill reps to cover 1.55 miles.

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Day 3 3.15 miles

EDIM total 12.5 miles

 

 

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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Great Edinburgh Run race report. 10 miles – 9 of them hilly !

As the name suggests there is something great about being one of thousands of runners pounding past the capital’s historic landmarks creating a ribbon of gaudy lycra through its historic streets.  As city races go – Edinburgh provides an impressive backdrop.

This was the second time I have taken part in this race and as with the Inverness Half earlier in March, I really noticed the difference during the race from losing some weight and improved fitness. On a route that is not short on hills it is very nice to be carrying fewer pounds when pushing up the inclines and aside from the physics – I feel more confident in my running these days.

The route starts and finishes at Holyrood Park with Arthur’s Seat – a popular walk and run route – lumbering behind. Despite it being mid April it was a very chilly morning – with a temperature of around 3 degrees and a biting wind – so waiting for the race start in shorts was somewhat character building.

As I don’t very often race this distance and with only 1 previous attempt I had given my time as 1. 45 – meaning I was in the slowest pen and amongst the last to leave. On a cold race day morning this was maybe not one of my better ideas – but although there was a small delay in starting – the race organisation was good , and runners all got away safely and without too much fuss.

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As is often the way on race day – waiting around gets the nerves going and in my case the inevitable – do I need a wee ?  The wave I was in set off just after 9.50 and after all the hanging around I was very glad to start running to warm up . It was pretty easy to find space to get past slower runners and looking at my race splits I did the first mile in 8.46 – so a bit faster than my start in Inverness.

The first mile is a loop that takes you back almost to the start and the back of the Palace of Holyrood House ( the Queen’s residence in Scotland ), then on up the first of the many hills as the route follows the Royal Mile before dropping down past Waverley station then a route change to the second hill – straight up Market street to the Mound to rejoin the Royal Mile before heading towards the University area and the Meadows and a chance to gather breath.

The route then does a chicane of sorts after a length of the Meadows  to Lauriston place then doubling back along the Cowgate before another longish climb up past the Pleasance heading towards Holyrood park once more.

There is a lovely section from miles 6 – 8 where the race route follows the path of the Innocent Railway to Duddingston village – then a short but nippy hill from Duddingston to the low road beneath Arthur’s Seat. Mile 8 – 9  was a bit tough as we were into a headwind – but the sun was shining by now and the goal was to get to mile 9 and the promised downhill finish.

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A short slog to the mile 9 marker and then the end was in sight. This is the only race I have taken part in that has such a long downhill finish and it is certainly very welcome. But even with the downhill run, I could not quite work out exactly where the finish was , although I  could hear the PA announcing runners’ arrivals. I kind of mis-timed the very last 1/3 of a mile section as my legs started feeling a bit jellyish after the long downhill – but I still managed a decent sprint finish of sorts to cross the mat with a time of 1.32.35 – a full 8 minute improvement on my previous time for this race.

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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 🙂

 

Inverness half, sunlight on the river and no regrets

River Ness, Inverness

As I should really know by now – I never regret a run , and with the small exception of how I feel around about mile 3,7, 8, 9 ( insert as appropriate) I never regret entering a race.

I love that euphoric feeling of bouncing over the timing mats and crossing under the finish gantry – and while I have not and am unlikely to ever, experience tearing across a finish tape, one of the many reasons I enjoy taking  part in the Inverness Half is that it finishes on a running track, so I even get to attempt my version of a sprint finish. For someone whose teenage experiences of athletics in this very stadium was only ever as a spectator – it never fails to give me a small ripple of joy.

Not that you could  tell how joyous I felt if you check out the running photos , but mastering that perfect race finish look is still on my ‘to do’ list.

So despite my anxious day before reflections, the worries about jinxing my chances by contemplating improvement and my usual pre race jitters – it all turned out fine in the end.

More than fine really.

I was feeling in better shape than in previous years, and hoped that this would convert to a better time. The night before the race I had spent with my niece who is a competitive swimmer, and we had talked race tactics – or more accurately she patiently explained the concept of pacing to me.

Strangely talking about pace and races was quite settling , and maybe I stored some of the advice somewhere, as on race day I ran faster than I have done before, 9 minutes faster than on the same course in 2015, and 6 minutes faster than my previous half marathon PB of 2.08.

Running into the stadium on the race track, I was pretty sure I was going to meet my goal of 2.05 and so was very pleased to see the clock showing a gun time of around 2.04, but even happier when my chip time was confirmed as 2.02.09 .

Looking at the race splits – I can see how my mid race wobble was my main  undoing but more importantly it feels achievable to target a sub 2 hour half marathon time. Which means I will more than likely be doing this all over agin this time next year.

Ness bridge Inverness twilight