Sunrise on Leith

Dawn beyond the apartment blocks and docks

I didn’t get around to posting this on the day we had a chance to be tourists around Edinburgh but I’m getting it out there now, for completeness. The title is a riff on that beautiful song by The Proclaimers, ‘Sunshine on Leith’ and the musical of the same name, which used many of their songs, and is a joy of a film.

20th September 2021

Having had about two hot baths in the aftermath of the race yesterday, I woke up early and my limbs felt nicely mobile, but, to be absolutely sure I had another quick one this morning. We got rid of ours at home when we renovated the ‘bath’room a few years ago. Ever since then, whenever we stay in a hotel, I feel I need to make up for lost hours, or something.

Anyway, it was lovely and restful, and I got out in time to see the sun coming up behind the flats on the water front.

I’m not normally up with the lark but I had almost fallen asleep at the restaurant table last night much to Anne’s amusement and we’d had to take the rest of the meal to go! So I was blissfully snoring away by about 8 in the evening.

Leith, or the part of it that we were in, has a lovely European vibe going on, especially when the sun is out, which it kindly was for us. There was water all around us with the small river, docks and canals. And the cafes and restaurants had a good footing on the pavements creating a convivial atmosphere along the streets.

A view from along the bridge

If we come back in a year or so’s time, the tram link will have been set up. Currently there are road works all over the place here as it gets laid. If a vocal minority of Leith had their way then it wouldn’t get built at all. They consider Leith to be a town in its own right and not just a ‘burb of Edinburgh, which is what inevitably happens to the satellites of main cities.

However the ease of getting in and out of the city will definitely make our life as tourists a lot easier. This morning though, after a fine breakfast in a local café, we walked, the fairly straight road into Edinburgh. It’s not really that long. You could speed walk it in under 40 minutes, but we leisurely ambled and later puffed up the last hill to the Palace.

We had tickets for a little tour around Holyrood, one time residence of the monarchs of Scotland, and still an occasional bolt hole for Queenie and her progeny. I’d never been inside it before so I was looking forward to seeing a bit of the history and be a voyeur on how the other 0.05% live.

The tickets included those handy little headsets to give you a guide to each section of the building and gardens. It is worth taking a couple of hours to stroll around the place if you like a bit of history. They ham up the murder of David Rizzio, the secretary of Mary Queen of Scots, by her husband, Lord Darnley, which happened near her rooms (you can still see the bloodstain on the floor!).

A 'blood stain' on the floor where David Rizzio was murdered.
How often does this stain need to be touched up?

Her own chambers, we found, were absolutely tiny, compared any of the other rooms in the palace. Mary is definitely the most intriguing past resident of the Palace and made me want to go away and read more about her life.

Because the day was so warm we were able to finish off the tour with a nice bit of coffee and cake sitting outside, at the Palace Cafe. I was definitely ready to put my feet up by then so we ordered an uber. We picked it outside the Scottish Parliament building which stands splendidly next to the Palace grounds. Apparently, there are guided tours here too so maybe one for us next time.

I managed to sit through the entirety of the evening meal this time, at a lovely restaurant called Fishers, handily a stone’s throw from the hotel. If you like seafood, which we very much do, I highly recommend it. The evening wrapped up a really enjoyable long weekend for us, and has me seriously contemplating doing the same again next year. Hmm, would be nice to try and improve on my time on the same course.

Life, Running

Pre-race Jitters

This bib coming through the post this week makes it official. Sunday (tomorrow!) is my first half marathon in over two years.

No more pretending it isn’t going to happen!

I don’t know if climbing ladders is good preparation for a race, but that is what I was doing all day yesterday. And although I knocked my knees a couple of times coming down ( oh my goodness, why does that hurt so much!), no lasting injuries were sustained. I’m building a wooden gazebo in the back garden, with the very kind (and honestly I couldn’t do it without him) help of my mate Gary. So far we have spent two and half days in total. But getting the days back to back has been problematic over the summer with both of us busy at different times. It is coming together as you can see, and I think one more day will sort this bad boy out and we have ourselves a nice, if somewhat airy, room on the outside.

Wooden gazebo with roof tiling half done
Nearly done but not quite yet!

At least I did something physical as I’ve barely run all this week or last. It makes me a little nervous as I find that doing a gentle 5k or so a day or two before the race ‘wakes’ (technical term) my legs up.

It is what it is though. I could have gone this morning but I still need to pack and do a quick tidy up before we get going, and, of course, knock out a quick pre-run blog. This doesn’t count though, as we always try and have a couple of cups of tea in bed and have a bit of reading time, so I’m focused on this for a concentrated hour.

I am looking forward to the big day though, even though the butterflies are setting in already. The course is apparently very scenic as we will run along the estuary. I have to think of it as a nice day out and not worry about the time. I have reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll take about 2 and a half hours but at least I’ll be well ahead of the sweeper bus, that will pick up people taking longer that 3 hours 15.

Plus Anne and I will have a lovely weekend in Edinburgh. We’ll be meeting up with family and have tickets to explore Holyrood Palace, erstwhile residence of Mary Queen of Scots, amongst other Scottish royals.

So, there is fun to be had this weekend. I will do okay on the day, and it can be my new baseline from which hopefully I will improve. Watch this space!


A Real Race

I had a little boost to my running mojo this week when I booked our hotel in Edinburgh for this September. The Scottish Half Marathon, which got cancelled last year, will be my first race in nearly 2 years!

Edinburgh castle from lower down the hill.
Edinburgh castle in a cloudless day, as it will be in September! –
Image by Walkerssk from Pixabay 

I know it’s absolutely ages away but still, a shining beacon of hope, no? After these crazy unprecedented times, I have possibly, hopefully, maybe got a little something to work towards again.

The irony is, that before this big world shut-down (or at least the shut-down of those parts of the world that were particularly pants at dealing with the virus), I was getting a little disaffected by the big races. They were expensive, busy, created ten ton of rubbish and were getting more and more corporate.

But having had nothing for so long, I am ready to mingle with the multitudes at the starting line again.

Metaphorically that is. The reality is I’m normally standing more than 500 metres back with the rest of the tortoises making way for the hares and the gazelles to speed away while we shuffle forward a bit at time, until we finally actually make it to the front. We’re knackered before we’ve even begun!

That, however, is beside the point. I will enjoy it all. The queues for the portaloos; the fiddling with the safety pins (for the number bibs); the standing around and interminable waiting before the start; the faint waft of Deep Heat mixed with varying levels of anxiety.

And of course the excitement. The culmination (if you’ve not been a lazy arse) of the hard work and training you’ve put in, ready to be put to the test. The knowledge that you and several thousand other people are collectively committing to this endeavour. It sometimes, in rare moments of softness, brings a lump to my throat.

I have been on so many runs where I have randomly chatted to lovely people along the way (once your breathing settles, it is possible to say a few words without gasping) and sometimes someone has pulled me psychologically to the finishing line when I’ve felt I can’t go on. Once, I even managed to pay it forward with another random stranger.

Then, crossing that line and knowing you’ve made it in hopefully a time that you’re happy with, or at least knowing that you’re done and you get to have a beer soon is wonderful. The nerves, and the anticipation is over and you can relax for just a little while.

All this and much more is why I just cannot wait for September.