Running into a New Year

no miracles

There is nothing like running every day to make a month vanish, and let’s face it December is one of those crazy times when there is so much going on it seems to go from 1st-31st in the blink of an eye.

Christmas is over and we are now in the ‘in between’ days, pausing before the next celebration and the last hurrah and farewell to another year.

In these in between days we are making a short trip to Inverness, so I will be adding a run in the Highlands to my December adventure.

This year I am feeling good after 26 days of continuous running,  I am only running 3 miles most days and I have been better at stretching after runs –  as last year after December I did pick up an injury that kept me sidelined for a  couple of months.

running-shoes

And for those who wonder – why do this and why in December? My answer is this –  Oddly – rather than creating more stress in the busy month that is December, the daily task of running somehow forces you to focus on all the tasks you need to do and to just find the time to get them all done.

The downside is that it does require you at times to be quite selfish, at a time of year when demands on you are often increased. I am no elite athlete but running daily has given me a tiny insight into the dedication and single-mindedness required to train and succeed.

And as a wonderful bonus for me – I have lost weight :).  So to be able to enjoy December and all its excesses , keep fit , get fresh air , enjoy the company of friends AND lose 6 lbs, what’s not to like ?

farm track

Day 27

We were travelling to Inverness on Thursday and Alison was back at work so I ran alone before we set off. As ever the weather was grey, wet and blowy. I thought for a change of route I would run towards the Dell following the higher path that passes the farm, and then drop down to the Dell. I was listening to a playlist that my younger daughter made for me a while back, and I really needed the mix of Jay Z, Kanye West and Regina Spektor  to keep me moving through the wind and rain.

With a neat touch ELO Mr Blue Sky came on just as I neared the end of the run with rain dripping off my nose.

Lake Garda

Lake Garda

Note : I included this picture taken in the summer at Lake Garda to remind me of blue skies !

Dec 27 3.41 miles Total miles 92.18

I have lived in Edinburgh longer than anywhere else, but I grew up in the Highlands and was looking forward to running in Inverness as a change of scene. My niece Laura had said she would join me – we have both signed up to do the Inverness Half marathon in March.

Inverness

Inverness

After much discussion we decided to opt for  a run starting at her house – which is at the top of a hill ( I sense a recurring theme ). We set off and it was quite mild if a bit on the windy side. Despite our best intentions we could not avoid the uphill on the return journey, or in fact what seemed like several uphills. Just as well we had each other for motivation.

So a lung busting 3 Highland miles with grand views

Day 28 3.04 miles Total miles 95.22

We were travelling back from Inverness at the time I would normally run with Alison in the Dell, so again I needed to find time to run in the afternoon. Although I always feel better after a run- it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out sometimes, especially if you are running without a companion.

But I am 3 days away from completing this December challenge – so short of breaking my leg or similar disaster I am determined to keep on running. By this stage the end is very much in sight and although the dreary December weather shows no sign of improving, as I am still on holiday it is good to be able to run in daylight.

I do seem to moan about the weather a lot- but although I am hardly a fair weather runner, rain, rain and more rain does get a bit tedious, not to mention the constant washing of running kit, muddy, smelly shoes and socks that will never be white again.

Trusty shoes

Trusty shoes

With perfect timing rain started half way through the run and blue skies appeared as I finished! Still, I  believe web feet are an attractive feature in women of a certain age 🙂

Day 29  4.02 miles Total miles 99.24

Sunday we ran in the Dell – was very cold and windy so was good to have the company and distraction of Lil and Alison. Spent some time discussing plans for Hogmanay but conversation was snatched between gusty wind !

But today saw me reach the 100 mile mark – Hurray !! so only one more day to go to reach the end of the challenge and another year.

fish tin

Day 30 3.03 miles Total miles 102.27 

Last year when Alison and I took part in this Marcothon challenge, December 31 was a Parkrun day and we did the Edinburgh parkrun as our final run. This year Alison and I are both working so will have to make our own celebration.

We have decided to run after work, and Lil is going to join us.

As it is an after work run – we will be running our winter street route – the ‘triangle’ – not the most scenic of runs , but better to have company on a run especially as we have both got this far.

Edinburgh skyline

Edinburgh skyline

As we are running after work and Alison has had quite a challenging day it is well after 5pm before we set off. Hogmanay in Edinburgh- the local traffic is light so we don’t have the usual thrum of cars to contend with. In fact after a spell of wet, windy weather this evening is a beautiful starry night- cool crisp air and skies filled with sparkling stars.

The change in the weather, good company and a sense of stillness and completion made this run quite magical.

Day 31 3.15 miles Total 105.42 

Happy New Year !!

Lil, Alison, me

Lil, Alison, me

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Posted in December running, Friends, Inverness, Marcothon, Places to visit, running, Uncategorized, Weather | Leave a comment

Christmas is coming …

sunny holly

So after the joy of the shortest day and the hope of longer days and increased daylight Saturday 22nd arrived looking pretty much as Dec 21, 20, 19 etc etc had   – so grey, wet and windy! But not only have we turned a corner into the promise of longer days it is also the final countdown before Christmas work for me has finished and despite the absence of the kind of winter weather I love-I am feeling very Christmassy.

uniced cake

Today our Saturday run club is a full turnout, in addition to Lil and Alison – Claire, Alison’s daughter, has joined us. It is a squelchy rainy run , but with good company it’s  amazing how quickly the miles whizz by. I think we all have caught the Christmas spirit as the chat is varied, if mildly hysterical and pace quite fast for us.

Later that day I headed into town to do some last-minute  shopping and despite the rainy weather I had a very productive and enjoyable day, rounded off nicely by a well deserved martini in the Sheraton, before catching the bus home.

Shaken not stirred

Shaken not stirred

Cheers !

Day 22 4.10 miles Total miles 76.01

Day 23 – Happy Birthday to me

Today is my birthday and also a Sunday so I am going running with my running chums before any celebrations. The weather is still wet and with some wind thrown in for good measure, no crisp and frosty morning today.

Castle through the trees

But as is always the way, running with friends regardless of conditions is always uplifting, and we whisk through our usual route before I head home to open presents and have a lazy day.

Last year was a milestone birthday and I had a party with my older daughter, but this year I opted for a quieter celebration. After my run, I spent a lazy morning doing not very much, then went to the cinema to see Pitch Perfect with my girls then home to nachos and champagne. Being 51 did not seem so bad.

birthday nachos

Day 23 3.15 miles Total miles 79.16

Christmas Eve one more sleep till Christmas and only 8 more days of December running !

I had the option to run early with Lil and Alison, but decided I would prefer to do my Christmas chores first – so I set off for the butchers to collect the turkey, and to do the last-minute food shopping.

These shopping tasks do tend to take a bit longer on Christmas Eve but luckily I did not encounter any supermarket rage and got home in time to go running before it got dark.

The morning had been dry but almost as I stepped outside, the rain started, fortunately not heavy enough to stop me using my iPod radio, so I ran in the rain listening to the Festival of nine lessons and carols from Kings College Cambridge. Very festive.

Turkey bathing

Turkey bathing

Day 24 3.31 miles Total miles 82.47

Running every day in December means every day, including Christmas Day which is fine but unless your whole family is taking part, it does require you to find a slot somewhere amongst the other Christmas day ‘to do’ list.

This year we are having a fairly quiet Christmas and as my children are now teenagers they no longer wake at the crack of dawn to see what Santa has brought. But Alison is hosting various Christmas Day social get- togethers and so when we spoke about when we might run on Christmas Day, we thought we would have to run alone.

edge of pentlands cold sky

But on Christmas Eve after my run, I asked when she would be running and suggested we should try and run together but early – so we agreed to run at 7.30 –  Alison added that her daughter Claire might join us , so Santa hats were essential !

On Christmas morning I got up, put on my running kit plus Santa hat and headed out to meet Alison. When I got to her house Lil was also there complete with Santa hat, and then Claire made up our Christmas early morning crew.

We set off in the darkness, but it was a lovely cold, dry, morning with lights twinkling everywhere and when you passed windows you saw snatches of everyone’s  Christmas morning.

Claire and Lil set a cracking Christmas pace, but I was happier to keep my pace modest and chat to Alison – in no time we had completed a very enjoyable 3 mile Christmas morning run.

Christmas morning

Merry Christmas !

Day 25 3.19 miles Total miles 85.66

Boxing Day we opted for a later start so we could run in the Dell. Just the three of us this morning but a nice easy run to offset some of the previous days excesses. Not sure it made much of an impact but maybe I managed to run off a sprout or two.

Boxing day tee shirts

Day 26 3.11 miles Total miles 88.77

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Week 3 Running, working, partying and raining …

red sunset

Monday 17 and heading into the difficult third week of running each day in December. As midwinter approaches daylight hours are rare and a spell of wet rainy weather is set fast making even daylight grey. At times like this you completely understand why our ancestors needed a midwinter festival to keep them on the straight and narrow as the harshness of December prevailed.

My own version of light against the December shade is a night out or two – enjoyable but  adding to the logistical challenges of fitting in a run.

Monday 17 – I could not face a run before work and had too much on during the day to fit in a  run at lunchtime, so was running in the evening in the rain – dark and cold. On these kind of nights I have found you need to just get it over with, so I got changed and headed out and accompanied by Radio 4 on iPod I zig zagged around the streets near where I live listening to the Archers . Now I don’t imagine my fellow runners who are looking to increase their stride rate or up the pace would advocate speech radio as a training aid – but everyone has to find their own mojo, and sometimes when the thought of stepping out into a cold December night seems too much – the salve of  Radio 4 is the perfect companion.

red house lights

Day 17 3.27 miles Total miles 59.17 miles 

I was going out on Tuesday evening so had to run before work, quite a thought after running the previous evening , although when I do manage to run before work it really sets you up for the day and it a good feeling to get your exercise ticked off – a bit like brushing your teeth!

I don’t mind the dark or the cold, but I do fear icy pavements , and it is hard sometimes to tell when so dark what is ice, so can make for a tentative run. This morning although dark and clear overhead it was quite mild so the pavements were fine. I did a 3 mile circuit as the city woke up – no fellow runners en route with only the posties and bus drivers in evidence –   I stopped briefly to take a picture of my favourite Christmas tree, a twinkly beacon at the top of a steady hill.

Twinkly tree

Twinkly tree

Day 18 3.26 miles Total miles 62.43 miles 

Wednesday 19 I was working at home and so had the treat of running in daylight and with Alison – we took ourselves down to the Dell. I had been out the night before – a very enjoyable evening at Jamie’s Italian and of course a cocktail or two. Definitely needed to run off that ‘last’ gin cocktail  – even with the antioxidant properties of blueberries, it was maybe one too many. One day I will discover wisdom when out partying but yesterday was not the day.

I see from my running log I described this  run as a ‘swift refresher’ and indeed it was.

red dome

Day 19 3.02 miles Total miles 65.45 miles 

This is the second year I have done this December running challenge and as when I ran every day in June , there is always one day when you think – how will I manage to fit in a run on that day ?

Dec 20th was that day for me.

In December the problem  is often one of fitting running around socialising and /or work and family commitments. This running every day lark would be a piece of cake if I did not have a pesky job to turn up to 🙂 Today I had a meeting first thing followed by our Christmas lunch, then straight from work I was joining friends to go to the Queen’s Hall for an evening concert – Phil Cunningham’s Christmas songbook.

Even if I was able to run after a Christmas lunch there is the small problem of how to manage the transition from running in the rain to elegant socialite, so all in all there was no escaping an early run, but as I was travelling by train early might have to be ridiculously early – so I decided on a ‘compromise’.

cake snow scene

cake snow scene

Now on the Marcothon website there is a bit of discussion about what constitutes ‘cheating’ – the minimum requirement to meet the challenge is 3 miles or 25 minutes of running. I reckon this is because serious runners will no doubt rack up 3 miles easily in under 25 minutes whereas us lesser mortals are often willing the Nike+ to inch slowly to 3 miles to reach our daily goal. Given that this is a self-imposed challenge you may say – who cares if you don’t do 3 miles daily, just do 4 the next day – but of course that is the point of these challenges if you sign up to do it and can’t quite manage you know that you are only cheating yourself.

This year the Marcothon Facebook page has been great and my greatest admiration is for those Marcothoners – often women – who have managed to do their 3 miles around the demands of motherhood – sick kids , nativity plays and the like. One runner  was so determined to complete the challenge that she ran round her garden as she could not leave her kids to go out.

Against this backdrop my Dec 20th requirement to get up a bit early and run in the rain seemed quite modest.

Here is my Dec 20 compromise

I ran  the first 2.08 miles at 05.48 before catching my bus then ran/walked a further 1.07 miles along the canal on my way to the station – the second half of the run with the added joy of running in full party gear/ winter coat and in heels 🙂

wild holly

Day 2o 3.15 miles Total 68.6 miles

December 21 and the shortest day. This year I have managed to run on both the longest and shortest days and because of the rainy weather I might say harshly that they were indistinguishable  !

Like many Northern hemisphere dwellers I find the winter solstice a bit of a watershed – don’t we all look to that day as a magnificent turning point as we collectively dream of longer spells of daylight and the joy of casting off winter layers ?

Of course I am getting a bit ahead of myself, as it is still December and as I have kept a dairy of sorts this year I am aware of how much it has rained in 2012, and the associated greyness it brings.

But when you run in all weathers you do learn to appreciate your surroundings in a way that is absent if  you exercise in a gym or whatever. I love running in all types of weather but even I do get weary of perpetual wet feet and unremitting wind , rain etc.

running shoes

Today was my last day in the office before the Christmas break and I decided to run at lunchtime in Dunfermline. I have a 3 mile route that is quite easy so today that’s what I did. I quite enjoyed running past stationary traffic queuing for their Christmas supermarket shop, knowing that tomorrow I would  have a few more seconds of daylight to relish.

Day 21 3.31 miles Total 71.91 miles

cone of light

cone of light

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Heading to the halfway point

magical

magical

After my bridge adventure, my run on Thursday 13 was a bit more pedestrian as I had to run in the evening after work and on my own. I was a bit lacking in enthusiasm and kind of wishing I had summoned up the energy to run before work, and then to add to my general lack of motivation about running in the evening there was a breakdown on my usual route home so I had to make a diversion.  My diversion took me through Colinton village and it turned out that Dec 13 was the night of  a Christmas street fair, and it all looked very Christmassy and sparkly, with a selection of stalls and carol singers. I decided that I would make my run an easy local one and to ease my weary bones I would stop now and again to take pictures of Christmas lights.

house lights

I got changed into my running kit straight away and made my way out to the darkness. Living at the top of a hill I can never avoid the inevitable uphill on the return leg, and maybe one of these days I will simply embrace this, but sometimes when my running love is running low I dream of a chairlift, or similar transporter.

Today I did a zigzag route around the streets then trotted down to the village to take in the Christmas celebrations before slowly making my way back up the hill.

Sparkly lights

Sparkly lights

Day 13 3.17 miles Total 45.01 miles

Dec 14

Dec 14

Day 14 Birthdays all round

Friday was a day of Birthdays – Dec 14 is my older daughter’s birthday and she was celebrating her 19th.  As she was born  at 06.38 she chooses to get up at that time on her birthday each year – this is quite a feat for a 19 year old-  but she is a creature of habit. On the upside it allows us to have early present opening before my other daughter has to go to school, or others to work, or in my case today as I had the morning off, we opened her presents and then I whizzed down to join my friend Alison for a run on her birthday,which is also on Dec 14.

It was cold outside , but light enough to run in the Dell, and although rain was forecast we got the best of the weather including a light snowfall, well enough snow to make it a bit magical.

Birthday girl

Birthday girl

Day 14 3.03 miles Total miles 48.04 miles 

prosecco

Saturday 15 I joined Alison at our usual time for a run in the Dell. I had been out the previous evening with the family for a Birthday meal with the accompanying sparkly celebration so was not feeling as fresh as I might have been. From my bed the weather did not sound  too inviting either, as rain was pelting down but once we got going the skies cleared, the wind died down and Alison and I had a very enjoyable 4 mile run – including lots of chat about Secret Santa’s and what was and was not an appropriate gift …:)

After our run I went home to cook an early Christmas dinner. Neil’s parents visit his sister at Christmas so this was the only chance for us to get together and exchange Christmas gifts , when everyone was around. It is funny when you do a ‘dry run’ of cooking a turkey dinner on a day that is not Dec 25 – somehow it seems easier – and even although I was cooking for more than I would be on Christmas day , somehow there is less emotion invested in this meal, which despite the associated hullabaloo is really just a variation on a Sunday roast.

These days I don’t do nearly as much cooking as I used to so quite enjoy it when I do , although my timings can be a bit fluid . But on this occasion it all seemed to go fairly smoothly and I would like it recorded that we ate at a time only 30 mins beyond the original estimate 🙂

holly

Day 15 4.04 miles Total miles 52. 08 miles

Sunday Dec 16 marked the half way point of December running, that wonderful day when afterwards the number of runs to complete would be less than those already completed. On  our Sunday runs there are often more of us in the informal ‘club’ and today was no exception as we had a full turn out of 6 of us. In addition to Lil and Linda – both of Alison’s daughters joined us for a run. Alison’s older daughter has been running every day in Dec and she set a feisty pace.

Lots of chat and an enjoyable 3.82 miles to take us over the half way point.

Sunday runners

Sunday runners

Day 16 3.82 miles Total 55.9 miles 

 

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Take it to the Bridge

Forth Rail bridge

Forth Rail bridge

Wednesday Dec 12  was one of these numerically interesting dates :  12.12.12 , and on the Marcothon Facebook page there was some discussion about running 12 miles at 12 noon, although many Marcothoners are ultra runners – so from a different running tribe to me.

Sky FB

I am unlikely to run 12 miles very often, and certainly not slotted casually into a working day, and alas my weary legs and shortage of time in December meant it even less likely. Even 12 k would have been a tall order.

I did quite like the idea of doing something memorable on the date. Each day I cross the Forth Road bridge to get to Dunfermline from Edinburgh, and having cycled across the bridge, walked across it and of course driven, I had been giving some thought to running across it.

Forth Road Bridge plaque

Forth Road Bridge plaque

It would make sense to fit this around a working day, but given the short daylight hours, I had not quite worked out how this was feasible as I had no intention of running across it in the dark.

Forth Road and rail bridges

Forth Road and rail bridges

On Weds Dec 12 , I had a half day’s holiday, and this added to the auspicious date made me decide it was now or never. I got changed into my running kit at work and headed off to the Fife side of the bridge, parking near the Forth Bridges hotel. Unusually it was a lovely cold clear day – and just before I set off the skies were blue.

I had to run down some steps to get to the side with the path – I was running on the path that gives an uninterrupted view to the rail bridge. I was feeling a bit nervous about this – the only time I have walked across the bridge it took much longer than I had thought and was very noisy with the traffic , added to this I do have a bit of a fear of heights , but decided that as long as I did not look down it would be fine.

I set off into a bit of a headwind, and on a gradual incline – it is quite a steady climb to the first tower , and I was finding it quite hard work, but as I was on my own and in such an interesting location – I allowed myself a stop for photo opportunities.

Forth Bridge

Forth Bridge

The traffic noise is relentless and I did find looking down the small cracks somewhat unnerving – I don’t know how high up you are on the bridge, but I was trying to stop myself thinking about disaster movies and that famous footage of a suspension bridge in America where the bridge buckled and twisted until it broke.

A vivid imagination is not always a useful thing.

After the climb there is a nice downhill and conveniently the bridge is approximately 1.5 miles long – so across and back was going to give me the required 3 miles for my challenge. I  did the route in a fairly quick pace for me – fear is a good incentive for tempoing !! Ideally I would have done this at 12 minutes past 12, but work commitments meant it was not an option.

Bridge and Sky

Bridge and Sky

I felt quite exhilarated after the run, and will probably do it again with my running friends. Nice now to have crossed the Forth by rail, on foot and cycling – and if I ever overcome my fear of deep water maybe I will swim across one day !

View from a bridge

View from a bridge

Day 12 3.15 miles Total 41.84 miles 

Posted in Christmas, December running, Forth Bridge, Marcothon, running, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Getting into the running groove

Golden ship

Golden ship

Day 8 – early morning run after late evening

Was quite pleased with how the first week of  Marcothon running  passed with relative ease, even allowing for some challenging weather conditions.  Weekend running is easier as I have my regular arrangement to run with Alison and fellow members of our running ‘club’ but adding in extra runs during the week and with Christmas outings is the tricky bit.

Today was my first Dec run after a late night – our team night out was the day before and although I was home and in bed by midnight, it had been following a long lunch…

sparkly

There seems  to be a divide of sorts in the running community about the wisdom  or otherwise of running with a hangover. There as many  tales of PBs achieved the day after  a big night out as there are reported incidents of start line or nearby bush vomiting – but having read much of the evidence I would say the general consensus is that a run is mostly beneficial.

Given that I run most Saturdays and Sundays – I would add that based on my own empirical evidence  I certainly find that a run of the not too strenuous variety definitely makes you feel better.

NOTE – Always drink responsibly 🙂

Martini

There was an amazing red sky as I made my way down to meet Alison and the cold frosty weather was certainly head clearing ! The paths in the Dell were still quite icy in places and I had not worn my TRAKS so our pace was slow – this suited me just fine in my delicate condition – and after 3.64 slipperly miles I felt recovered and ready to face the rest of the day.

Red sky

Red sky

Colinton and Craiglockhart Dells

Colinton and Craiglockhart Dells

Day 8 3.64 miles total 28.29

luv to run

luv to run

Day 9 Sunday run

The overnight rain had melted most of the ice and the Dell was pretty muddy. Linda Alison and myself had an enjoyable run exchanging tales of Christmas nights out and a nice easy pace made for an good run. Day 9 completed.

God Bless Texas

God Bless Texas

Later that day we put the tree up in the house and with my older daughter home from university, one Christmas outing joyfully attended and a full week of December running done I was beginning to feel quite Christmassy.

Christmas listening

Christmas listening

Day 9 4.04 miles Total 32.33

Monday  10 Dunfermline lunchtime run

One for the Pars fans

One for the Pars fans

Last year when I did this Marcothon challenge Alison and I did a few runs before work, and although they were hard at the time, running early does set you up for the day, and of course good to have the daily run taken care of.

This year neither of us have seemed over enthusiastic about running before work , both finding it hard  to find the motivation when it is so dark outside and there is the risk of ice, and with so little daylight in December sometimes it is nice to be able to run during the day to ‘catch some rays’ .

Today I was running at lunchtime in Dunfermline – a place of many parks and hills- but I have found a route that is just over 3 miles and pretty flat , if  somewhat uninspiring.  as with early running – a lunchtime outing does give me a lift and stops the afternoon slump.

Day 10 3.17 miles Total 35.5 miles

Tuesday 11 Dunfermline run number 2

Dunfermline

Dunfermline

Tonight was the Hockey club Christmas meal – so my usual Tuesday evening run was not possible, but my work colleague Lorraine had said she could run with me, so we did a recap of Monday’s route. Lorraine is fitter than me, and an accomplished runner, but we agreed to keep to my pace, and is always the case running with a companion made the miles disappear that bit faster.

Day 11 3.19 miles Total 38.69 miles

Dunfermline Abbey

Dunfermline Abbey

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Snow is falling and I am running …

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

So December is here once more with all the sparkle and joy it brings, and it’s  funny how even although I know that Dec 25 will turn up at the same time each year, I never quite manage to achieve the calm karma that comes of early planning.

tree decoration

Tree snowman

Truth is I can’t quite bring myself to do very much by way of Christmas preparation until I ‘feel’ Christmassy – like catching the ripe pear window – I have to time it just right for maximum enjoyment!

My daughter is on her way home from University and Christmas nights out are on the horizon, AND I have decided to try and complete the running every day in December challenge, so hopefully one of these days I will wake up and feel properly Christmassy – and not too late to buy presents, send cards etc etc.

Weather does help set the mood of course and this year so far so good, with December being colder and drier after a wet November. I don’t think I am the only one who expects  December and Christmas to be snowy -ideally- but failing that at least filled with frosty days and crisp clear cold air.

Cold crisp air , my kind of running weather-  and as I will be running every day in December it would be nice if it could stay that way.

Marcothon challenge – here we go again .

So to sum up Marcothon = running every day in December. It was devised by a couple of ultra runners  in 2009 ,  you agree to run every day in December including Christmas Day and the minimum requirements are 3 miles or 25 minutes of daily running.

frosty windscreen

frosty windscreen

Day 1 Icy Saturday

My good running buddy Alison is also taking part in the Marcothon challenge which is a bonus as last year when we did it together , it kept us both motivated. Today is a frosty morning after evening rain , making the pavements treacherous-  but we had planned to run our usual Dell out and back route, which being a trail tends to be OK for running even if hard surfaces are iced over.

There is a downhill  tarred road to reach the path, and this morning it is like an ice rink, so we have to take a bit of a detour.  Around the Water of Leith and Dell there is a wide network of paths , but we tend to stick to the same route – so it is nice to have a reason to try a slight variation .

Unfortunately the icy/rain combination has made all the paths super slippery even on the trail sections , so our first day is one of a slow cautious pace as we gingerly avoid the worst of the ice. As we have taken a  detour we finish our run at slightly over our minimum required 3 miles, so have completed 3.71 miles on Day 1.

Day 1 3.71 miles Dec total 3.71

Weather Dec 2

Weather Dec 2

Day 2 Sunday running club

Today it is  a full turnout of our informal Sunday running club , with Linda and Lil joining us and after the previous day the paths although glistening  are firmer to run on , as there has been a hard frost overnight. As tends to happen when there are 4 of us we weave between partners, and for much of the run I pair up with Lil – a much faster runner than me , but in these conditions we are all taking it easy.

I quite often run with Lil, and over time she has helped me to up my pace, even when I really don’t feel like it. She is super fit – playing and coaching hockey and has been running for years-  I think she still holds an age record for some distance, so when I run with her I do find myself running a bit faster.

I don’t do much in the way of racing, but this year I did the Women’s 10k race in Glasgow, and got my best 10k time- 59mins 14 sec 🙂 . I’d love to say it was all down to dedication and following a proper training schedule, but I think more likely it was because : 1. this was the first 10k I had run after training for half marathons 2. I did not put myself under any pressure to get a PB and  just enjoyed the race 3. I had been ‘tempoed’ by Lil on our Sunday runs!

Day 2 4.14 miles  Dec total 7.85

Dunfermline

Dunfermline

Day 3 Monday lunchtime run

Monday I am back at work, and Alison and I can’t really face getting up to run before work so decide to run separately that day. I am going to run at lunchtime – which is something I mean to do more regularly but rarely do. When I set myself these running every day challenges I will always find the time to run, and then once the challenge ends although I am full of great intentions of upping my running frequency,  somehow it never happens.

Running at lunchtime can be a bit of a thought, changing at work and taking to the Dunfermline streets , but when I do I find I have much more energy in the afternoon, so maybe come January I will resolve to run at lunchtime at least once a week.

Today there has been a light snowfall and Dunfermline has a bit more snow than Edinburgh, so I take my Yaktraks with me in case the paths are slippy.  Yaktraks are ice grippers that go on the soles of trainers to give you more traction in icy conditions. They are pretty effective in snow and most icy surfaces, although I do sometimes wonder if it is like some placebo effect and by wearing them you feel more in control regardless of whether they actually make any difference !

Dunfermline is very hilly but I don’t fancy adding hill repeats to my repertoire today, so instead opt for a circuit that is part pavement part cycle path , but pretty flat. Is quite enjoyable once I am out and I keep to a fairly modest pace, even stopping to take some pictures. I return to the office refreshed and with the satisfaction of another Dec day ticked off.

East End Park

East End Park

Day 3 3.21 miles Dec total 11.06

Day 4 Snowy evening run

Tuesday I am running with Alison after work, and the weather has changed to  blustery sleet making the journey home slow as traffic grinds to a halt . When I get to Alison’s house the sleet has turned to snow and although always a bit daunting to get out and run in the dark and cold, the snow makes it a bit more appealing. Saying this I do realise that for many the thought of willingly taking to the streets to run in the dark with snow and wind for company and only lycra between you and the elements may not seem like fun, but running through bad weather can be quite enjoyable, in a strange sort of way.

We are doing our evening ‘triangle’ route, a 3 mile circuit that we choose when it is too dark to run in the Dell. The circuit includes a steady uphill and a nice downhill and although a bit harder to chat alongside traffic, we complete snowy day 4 in just over 30 mins.

Yak Traks

Yak Traks

Day 4 3.21 miles Dec total 14.27

Day 5 Wednesday morning run and Christmas starts here

I am taking a couple of days holiday to do Christmas shopping and to use up annual leave, so I can run in daylight for a change. Alison is able to join me before her own work commitments so we run our usual Dell route. There is not much snow lying, but the paths  are fine and the temperature is fresh and little wind around, making for a lovely run.

Fired up by my early morning run, I can feel the Christmassy vibes wash over me and am looking forward to hitting the shops . My older daughter is home from university so we head into town together.

Christmas Tree on the Mound

Christmas Tree on the Mound

As is often the case we have got ourselves into a ‘zone’ by that I mean we are both starving so talk on the bus is all about where we might eat and how quickly. I suggest the Dome as it is an Edinburgh Christmas classic – only problem is you can  have a bit of a wait for a table as it as it is very popular.

The Dome

The Dome

Luck is on our side as the queue is short and we get served quite quickly – the Dome is a must visit if planning a Christmas shopping trip to Edinburgh – an old banking hall now pub/ restaurant – the building is festooned with lights and decorations and Christmas ‘smells’ are piped through the rooms.

The food  is fairly straightforward and  generally speaking the service is fine and it is  a good place to stop off in between shops.

Dome inside

Dome inside

Day 5  3.21 miles Dec total 17.48

Thursday run before shopping

Today I am till on holiday and so I can run again in daylight – something to be savoured in December. But the windless cold day of yesterday has given way to my least favourite winter wetaher = windy and grey. To add to this the cold temperatures means that the paths are still icy. So ice and wind – my least favourite combination.

On the up side ,it is still quite early into December running so I am not weary of it all. Reading about fellow runners on the Marcothon Facebook page can be a mixed blessing as there are quite a few serious or ultra runners taking part in the challenge who post messages of running 7 or 10 miles , and it can make you feel a bit feeble , but then an ultra runner’s 7 miles is probably equivalent to my daily 3.  Although running is hugely popular these days I am a recent convert and you do have to find your own slot amongst the various running tribes. I am not and unlikely to ever be a  club runner – I came late to this and my competitive edge is unformed – my competition lies with my own conscience.

snow running

snow running

Part of me longs to be that runner who effortlessly breezes through 7, 10, 15 miles , but I know that it is probably too late for me to get there, or to make the effort required to overcome my body shape to speed up . I am good at beating myself up generally about not quite making the grade – but each time I run I need to remember that just a few years ago I could not have contemplated running any distance regularly and each time I step out the door I have crossed a winning tape.

Day 6 4.06 miles Dec total 21.54

Day 7  Baby its cold outside

Friday Dec 7 , week one of the December challenge, and because later today is our team Christmas lunch and so I am running before I go to work. Last year when we did this , Alison and I had a few early starts  to fit in our runs but this is the first time I have had to squeeze in my run so early.

It is raining when I go to bed so I am hopeful that it will not be icy in the morning. The dark and cold does not really bother me, but often running so early means that the paths and pavements are slippery.

tree soldier

tree soldier

Looking outside at 6.30 am there seems to have been a snowfall, as the pavements are white so I put on my Yaktraks and head out. There is something quite nice about making the first footprints on fresh snow  and it is crunchy underfoot, with the air cold and crisp. The crimp of my footprints is the only sound as the streets are empty making this early morning venture better than it might have been.

Princes Street

Princes Street

Some of the paths are slippery – and I try to remember things I learned years ago about frost and temperature, but regardless of scientific explanation I find I have to watch my step more in the sections where the pavement is sheltered by walls and hedges. Strange but true.

snowprints

snowprints

I get back just after 7am  and it is a good feeling to know you have just run 3 miles before many have wakened from their slumbers

Day 7 3.11  Dec total 24.65

Nike+ 1500 miles

1500 miles

Posted in Christmas, Edinburgh food, Friends, running, Snow, Uncategorized, Weather | 4 Comments