"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own" Sri Chinmoy
Arthur's Seat Hill Run - July 2018
With a view like that from the window of the student hall where we were staying, how could I resist a run up to the top? The hill is Arthur's Seat, with 2 distinct tops likened by some to a lion's haunch and lion's head. Fine imagery for a mountain, albeit a small one by Scottish standards at something like 800 feet. I'd been chatting to an old running aqaintance just a few days before at one of our Eastville Races (Warwick Forstescue, fell runner of some repute) and this had reignited my hope of resuming hill running properly at some stage. The niggles that have made road running sporadic and problematic for me over recent years also make running in fell shoes a risky proposition, but in bone dry conditions with a well worn trail I knew road shoes would get me up and down this particular hill.
I set off from the hall shortly before the kick off of England's World Cup knock out game against Colombia. While I'm sure in England the hills were less alive than usual, there was no shortage of scottish and visiting hikers on the hill. The path up was steep but the going was easy as it was all well-cut stone steps, so the climb required fitness but no technique. I got the oohs and ahs from walkers as I ran past, which I'd forgotten you often get fell running, as the people hiking up feel knackered and can't imagine running up something so steep. Of course if they got reasonably fit they could do it.
I surprised myself by arriving a the summit of the lion's haunch in 11 mins and the proper summit in 14, having jogged non-stop until just before the trig (and there I stopped because the path was too narrow to overtake, not because I'd run out of gas).
I have to be honest - it felt amazing to be running up a proper steep hill again on a rocky trail - even though it's only around 800 feet I felt I'd broken through a barrier, mentally at least. Since all my injury hassles I've felt that running hills was going to be too attritional and that I'd be better of sticking to the roads, but this run made me see things more positively and I might just get out there and do a hill race.
After snapping those selfies at the top (note my bottle of lucozade on the trig) I headed down hill on a stoney trail towards the lake at Hunter's Bog. The trail was lovely, leading past the atmospheric ruin of St Anthony's Chapel before skirting the lake and bringing me back on to the flat not far from the Scottish Parliament building. Back at Pollock Halls I checked my watch and saw I'd had a good 50 minutes of hill and trail and that really is a breakthrough in my running. The views around Holyrood Park are amazing - you see the whole panorama of Edinburgh laid out on one side, Pentland Hills in the distance and the Firth of Forth leading out to the open sea. On this particular warm, clear and sunny day it was perfection.
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