Morning is abruptly started by the 6:30 alarm, dark outside with the orange street light glow coming through the gaps in my bedroom curtains. Coffee in bed gets me ready to pull on the running clothes. I pack the bag with all the things I need for the day ahead, towel and toiletries for post run.
Heading out the door my Garmin beeps to signal satellites have been found, setting it up before I leave saves me standing around in the cold.
Sunrise is around the corner, a glow behind the distant clouds making a curtain like barrier between dark and light. The promise of a good day signalled by the cloudless sky above. The paths between the housing estate, traffic free, are damp with early morning dew. I make for a cut between two houses bringing me out into civilisation and a quiet estate road.
The path, undulates with each dropped curb for ease of access to each house’s driveways, breaking up my stride as the road climbs ever so gently.
My rhythm is distrupted once more as my route it littered with wheelie bins and cars in the side roads I need to cross.
I step out of the estate bounded by a busy artery of cars and buses and press the button to request to cross. A slight break in traffic I use to bolt across, impatiently as the red light has just turned. I glance into the car windows of those I’ve inconvenienced, all faces of rush and stress as the traffic light holds them back.
I turn into the next estate and follow a road around. Speed bumps in place to make the rat run unpleasant for drivers, yet they still speed up the road. I’m on the pavement, climbing the gentle ascent toward the woods that crown this hill.
Again I exit the estate into a main road, this time no traffic lights yet a lollipop lady is holding traffic for the school run is crossing. I make use of this and jolt across the road and now I’m into a climb. The road steeply rises, the path narrow made impossible to pass by with cars parked half on and half off. I choose the road. The breath is clouding the air around me, I’m huffing and puffing like a steam train straining at the gradient. I glance to the right, where a road disappears downhill opening up a vista across the valley toward the Pentland Hills. The sun is just behind the curtain, the view is a hue of warmth.
The road stops, and the woods begin. Still climbing I know it will be over soon. My small steps are light and fast.
A short flight of steps rise me further, the woods are thick on either side, the floor muddy with leaves making a rotten carpet.
Suddenly the trees start to thin and there, a spectacular view can be seen across to the Centre of Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth and beyond to Fife.
I pause to take a photo, an old man soaking in the view doing his daily exercise of Tai Chi. I say Good Morning.
I start to drop in height, cutting between a pristine golf course, the castle is silhouette in the distance in front of the sun. The end of the road I can see a queue of cars signalling the end of quiet, traffic free running.
Immediately I’m in the thick of it. Car fumes cloud the air. I’m running faster than they can crawl. I smugly glance in their windows wondering if they could get to their destination another way, wondering if I look happy will that make them think they too can run/ cycle/ walk?
I pass the cause of the queue, traffic lights shrouded in a mist of car fumes and enter a long straight tree lined boulevard that heads ever so slightly downhill. The pavement is made soft by built up leaves fallen that have yet to be turned into mulch. The damp smell of rotten leaves take over from the car fumes before. My legs taking me faster with the descent, the heart rate slows and I get into a rhythm. The heavy backpack no longer noticeable carrying my change of clothes.
I’m stopped again by a main artery that snakes toward the city. Crossroads, with blind corners. I dare to dart across the street in between cars takin advantage of a slow driver.
I’m heading down a narrow street, heavy with parked cars. A runner in the distance gives me a target. I pick up the pace without thinking. I’m not gaining on them, I wonder if had I not had a backpack on would i catch them up.
A blocked drain holds a flood of water from the evenings rain, that takes up the whole path and half the beveled road. I run around it in the middle of the road. The runner had turned off my course as I take a sharp right.
I pass a cemetery on the right reserved for commonwealth graves whose gates are adorned with huge chains locked shut. I wonder how often they’re opened, if at all.
I’m now dropping into the picturesque dean village. I pass an opening in the high wall on my right and can hear the roar of the water of Leith below me in the valley.
I’m careful with my footing on this slippy cobbled street. I take the desire path directly toward the Water of Leith path. The high church above, precariously sitting on top of a cliff is lit up with morning sun, while im in the cool dark damp valley. On the other side, Edinburgh’s New Town, terraced tenements perch high above with cliff gardens snaking their way to the valley below. I’m passing other runners now, cyclists coming toward me, walkers on their way to work. I reach the end of the path, the water of Leith disappears under the stock bridge. I make the green man just in time, no rest allowed, I decide to run on the road as the path is narrow and busy with a traffic jam of push chairs. I pass and get impatient as I’m briefly held up outside the primary school with parents chatting, no where to go as the path is segregated from the road by a safety barrier.
My thoughts pass quickly to finishing, I’m just around the corner from work. Im steaming with sweat in the cold autumns air. As I slow to a walk, the Garmin beeps 8kms and i stop the timing.
Tired but awake, I’m ready for the day ahead.