The South Wind Blows

Sunset Beach Runner

The south wind blows. It brings with it enough sunshine to put a spring into everyone’s step and, it seems, sand from the Sahara.

Yes, the southerly breezes are literally transporting dust clouds all the way from Africa to these Irish shores.Isn’t that wonderful?

The folk from Met Eireann, well used to delivering a monotone of sunny spells and scattered showers, are thrilled to tell us all about this piece of exotica livening up our shores.

Mind you, I’d rather I`d heard it before I shampooed my car oh so carefully yesterday. One shower of rain later and it was covered with a fine film of dirt.

But isn’t it amazing to think that same dust may have swirled around camel’s hooves, or entered the tent of some wandering Berber tribe before descending on Ireland’s shores?

And, of course,  Saharan breezes through Ireland’s hesitant spring, makes for perfect running weather.

It seemed like sand was the perfect place to bask in this geographical miracle, so naturally, I hit the beach. I wasn’t the only clever on there however; there were lots of walkers and runners about. We’re all very keen in these parts, to shake off winter’s gloom.

Runners Beach

With the tide well out, the long strand seemed as vast as the Sahara itself.

And my running focus was just to bask in all of it.

After a winter of pavement pounding, the sand was a joy underfoot. And, even though my feet got wet, this was salt water, this was the sea, so soggy socks were swiftly forgotten.

I delighted in the cry of gulls, the laughter of children and the slap of wave on the shore.

Estuary Rocks

Winding the corner down along the estuary, I soon got lost amid rocks and dunes. The sun, a pool of watery red, played peek-a-boo behind the cloud bank before suddenly disappearing and leaving a watery haze in its wake.

It was a haze that I’d noted earlier that day. Temperatures were too cool for it to be a heat haze. Perhaps it was part of the Saharan delivery, a fine haze of dust in the air?

By then, however, I had become a little at the sudden onset of darkness. It coincided with my looping back towards the roadway and lack of high viz clothing. And then the rain started. Long fat streaks of the stuff, tapping me on the shoulder, laughing at my sodden t-shirt and teasing

“Ha, you forgot about us didn’t you? Got lost in your little Saharan dream of Berber tents and Arabian nights. Silly runner in your silly, silly shirt”

The enclosing rain and darkness made me run all the harder. It’s about all I can say in its favour.

But  savouring sand sea and warmth had kept a spring in my step. I had run farther than I had planned and needed to push harder for the finish.

I was soaked. But so too was my car. In fine fat Saharan bearing raindrops. Would I wash it? Would I what?

There’s a cool map in this link here, showing the pathway of the Saharan dust and bearing the news that the dust will continue to wing our way “for the next few days”.

It makes for dirty cars, but the upside is that it makes for perfect running weather.

Long may the south wind blow.

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Day Run

You all know how I hate to brag… still, it`s Christmas, so I`m going to allow myself this one exception…

I ran five miles today. Yay! Christmas Day run done!

Perfect running weather. Temps just hovering at freezing point, which made the road  a little hazardous in places but all that crisp air and silence-oh, boy the silence!-made for a perfectly relaxing run down by the river.

Heron

Experiments with my new iphone camera weren`t quite as successful as I`d hoped. Still, it was cool spotting this grey heron and running beneath these blue skies

 

River Vista

 

And really, really cool getting home to this big bird….

Turkey 2013

… and for this, my most favourite dinner of the whole year…

Christmas Dinner

Spot your red cabbage, Sharon?

I realise this mix isn’t to everybody`s taste. But I could eat it for two weeks straight. Which is just as well, because, with all that`s left over, it`s likely that we`ll get the next few dinners out of it!

Crash time, now. I`m glued to the sofa about to dig into some of my Christmas reads. I got two brilliant books to add to my stash this Christmas.

But more about them in another post. Hope you`re enjoying the down time, and the running time in your place!

Skerries By Night

Moonlight on Skerries Bay

Moonlight on Skerries Bay

Easing myself back into a running routine again. A moonlit run along Skerries coastline seems the best way to do it.

Teen Girl is in tow. But, at her request. Damned I am if I`ll ever drag anyone running-they`ll really need to want to be there to fully enjoy it. And that goes for my teens, especially. But this is her second time to run with me this week. Her third time in two weeks. Could it become a habit?

I wouldn`t have run two yards when I was Teen Girl`s age. Not willingly, at any rate. So I chose Skerries by night, for our jog.. A run by the sea on a moonlit night has to embed itself in her memory forever. Maybe the sights and sounds of the night would serve as enough incentive for her to keep this whole new fitness phase going for a little longer.

The temperature is a surprising 17 degrees Celsius as we set off along the promenade. Sounds of laughter, chat and lapping waves accompany us as the last of the day`s light seeps westward. Soon all was shadow-the Martello tower, and distant windmill to our right, the softened curves of eroded rock, beachside. Faint orange pools of nearby streetlights, and the silvery rays of moonlight light the path before us.

Teen Girl is getting fitter. She easily keeps pace with me all along the route. Our cadence is mismatched-much like our views on most things- as she has a longer, slower stride. That creates an  amusing contrast between the sounds of our footfall and yet we`re both side by side for most of the route.

Overhead, the azure sky begins to reveal its constellations. The Plough, of course, points to a faint North Star, while Cassiopeia sprawls languidly in a faint, broad W. And Orion, the hunter, is struggles to stand guard and overcome the brightness of the moon.

Twinkling lights line the coast, silvery waters slap the blackened rocks and a solitary lighthouse stands guard on Rockabill Island.

I see all these things and wonder what Teen Girl can see. I wonder what treasures here might draw her back; what payback she sees in pounding the concrete path and panting and sweating her way around the bay.And, critically, if she will want to come again and shuffle along a running route with her uncool mother.

Run over, we take a little time to stretch out, walk and cool down. And then Teen Girl drops the clanger

“Please Mum, can I go to the disco next week?”

Fish and Run

Ceviche

Rachel Allen -yes, she of the perma grin, grating accent and stylish clothes-introduced me to this delightful dish last week. As she promises on the RTE website it`s a zingy, refreshing dish, and, as I discovered, perfect recovery fuel for my long runs.

The interesting thing about Ceviche is that the fish is `cooked` in lime juice. That`s it. No pan, no oven, nada. Just marinate for a couple of hours and the acid in the juice will cook the flesh.

You can use any white fish. I used haddock. It didn`t slice up as neatly as Rachel`s. But then, I`m not Rachel. And I differed in the amount of certain ingredients, preferring 1/2 a chilli to one whole one, and adding coriander because I am particularly fond of it with avocado.

Anyway, be sure to see Rachel`s pic. And I`ve copied her recipe here.

Ceviche

500 g skinless white fish fillets (such as pollock, haddock, cod, plaice or sole, cut into strips 5mm thick)
juice of 6 limes
3 spring onions (trimmed and sliced)
150 g cucumber (peeled and cut into 5mm dice)
2 avocados (peeled, stone removed and flesh cut into 5mm dice)
1 red chilli (deseeded and finely chopped)
lime slices, to serve

Method
1.Place the fish pieces in a large bowl, add the lime juice and mix together, then cover with cling film or a plate and leave in the fridge to chill for at least 1 hour.
2.Remove from the fridge and mix in the remaining ingredients. Divide between plates, add lime slices and serve.

I loved this dish. I`ll confess I let it marinate in the fridge for three hours. Just being a little nervous about the lime juice cooking process and wanted to ensure the fish was well-cooked. Next time I`m going to marinate it with more of the other ingredients just to allow for a greater fusion of flavours.

Beach run

Beach run

This morning`s beach run peaked my interest in some fishy lunch. I rarely run before breakfast but the configuration of today`s activities meant I either took my chance early this morning, or forget about it. I am curious about the whole carb fuelling thing anyway. I have a theory that if we get used to running hungry we might cope with the glycogen crash that hits in marathons. In the weeks prior to last October`s marathon I deliberately stretched the time between meals just to get used to that hungry feeling.

But enough about my crazy running theories. Had a really nice beach run, of just four miles. Perfect conditions, warm sun, cool breeze, empty beach and all done before breakfast.

With a run done before breakfast, and a perfectly fishy lunch, it`s been one of my better Juneathon days.

How was yours?