I didn't write up my last long run at the time, because life has just got right in the way. But I have finally almost got my running diary up to date (sounds dedicated to improvement, but is in fact a load of photos of cats, pointless musings and an embarrassing amount of windblown selfies) by doing it at work when no one was looking.
Sunday gave us a break in the roaring sunshine up in Scotland, it was overcast and although still warm and muggy at least meant I didn't need to squint for the whole run. I was genuinely excited to make use of my new Camelbak water bottle (pictured, as large as I can feasibly go, the idea of a hydrating backpack makes me squirm) which lashes to my hand to make it slightly less annoying than my last one, which regularly freestyled its way out of my grip and made me swear. I also tried out my new threadborne backless vest (also pictured), which was flipping brilliant and I would definitely recommend the style. It wicked incredibly well, and the flappy back was really cooling in the high humidity. Shorts and vest though? Who is this girl! Teenage me, who styled herself on the highly-strung one from The Craft, would be horrified.
The plan was to go and blow my thoughts away up a hill as it was a tough day for me, and in related events, almost a year to the day since the seeds of running were suddenly sown in my life. They didn't germinate till a little later, but it was a bittersweet anniversary nonetheless.
The suburban run towards the Pentlands was boring and long but also gave me a chance to blast into Tesco and sweat onto the self-checkout machines whilst buying some top-up water. But once I crossed under the Edinburgh bypass things got much more interesting and soft underfoot, with some lovely undulating trails and fallen trees to steeplechase inelegantly over, bemused sheep watching on.
It was sufficiently overgrown round here that I became rather paranoid about ticks and horseflies, and scanned my legs obsessively whilst batting divebombing cleggs away. Somehow I remained unbitten, which is unusual for me—I'm a walking bug snack. I also went past an unnervingly tall fence out in the wild, scaled by equally tall stiles like eight foot painters' ladders, which I presume was to keep deer away but just made me think of dinosaurs and sasquatch. Who knows what sort of terrible beasts lurk in those crags...
Torduff Hill is a new one for me, just on the very edge of the Pentlands with a couple of little lochs nestled in its arms. It is only a baby hill at 252m to the summit but was enough for some deep breaths and contemplation. The day was beginning to creep away a bit at this point and the clouds frowned down on me, but the failing light made for a dramatic view at least! Away from Torduff and Clubbiedean everything got reassuringly flat again, and after a confused dead end in a ramshackle farm where I met a lovely sheepdog and her Jekyll and Hyde companion—which took a pat on the head and then barked and growled me out of the yard—my route home was long and straightforward via Poet's Glen and down an ankle-worrying rocky path towards civilisation, with only a few memorable moments.
Notably, Easter Hailes Gate, which is not in fact a gate but a massive, stone tunnel, ominously lit with firey red hues, clearly inviting me in to meet my doom. With a degree of trepidation I entered the glowing, toothless mouth of the murder tunnel, feeling like I was part of a short film about what not to do when you are a lone girl out in the bandit territory of Spylaw. It went on forever, but thankfully no one did me in and I emerged, blinking and relieved onto the leafy Water of Leith walkway.
Leafiness here may have been an issue as my relief was short-lived. Suddenly I got a massive burning pain in my eye. Convinced I'd been blinded by some sort of tree sap I grappled with the front camera on my phone, and eventually cajoled my eye open long enough to find an unfortunate bug swimming around in there. Goodness knows what it was, a long black fellow somewhere between a thunderbug and a devil's coachman. Whatever, he was expired and my eye was terribly sore. I tried to make myself cry but ironically enough, despite the subtext of my head-clearing run, failed abysmally. Luckily the pain subsided enough that I was able to continue on my way, but it still hurt the next day. Thanks for that, mystery poison bug.
Heading back into the city, I joined the Union Canal by way of an aquaduct. I am a simple country girl at heart, so discovering the canal up there in the sky on a bridge all but blew my mind. Boats have no business crossing roads up above, rivers should be at ground level and that's all there is to it. I ran alongside the water, bullrushes and ducks and all, listening to the rumble of cars below feeling like it was some sort of illusionist Escher drawing. Eventually the ground rose up to meet the canal, or maybe the canal went down to meet the ground, who knows in a hilly city, and I stopped to check on a bumble bee. I think he was a little too far gone to be fixed, and I had no sugary solution, but I left him the last few drops of my Tailwind just in case it might help to revive him.
I've had to rethink my shoes a bit for these longer runs because I stopped several times to unwedge rocks from my sole, and got home to discover an entire pinecone had made its home in the bottom of my left shoe. All in all though, It was a lovely run apart from my sore eye. Strava and my Garmin disagreed about the distance, somewhere between 22 and 25km, but I might take a bus out next time to get a better urban:wild ratio. Here it is on Relive! relive.cc/view/1705348259 It's missed off some of my photos, but never mind, it's on Strava if anyone wants to see a gloomy Loch 🤣 strava.com/activities/17053...