31 May – 100 Runs Down

brown tiger
Photo by Nishant Vyas on Pexels.com

And a mere 145 more runs to do. So not quite half way there yet, but the 123rd run is scheduled for 30 June and that would be the 50% run rate done. Distance a different matter of course, but I am confident I’ll be ahead of the magic 1009 kms.

This really is a numbers game, each and every time I go out, I try and squeeze just a little more of a run out of my legs. It can’t always be done of course, but I give it a go in the hope that the extra metres will allow me some rest when my body or mind is too tired to do the running. And this has worked in May – a combination of migraines and the infamous sore toe, has meant I’ve taken 4 extra rest days than I had originally planned. The upside is I had the kms in the bank to do it, the downside is that I had hoped to be just that little bit further ahead than I am. Nonetheless I haven’t lost ground, and now face a ‘cooler’ three weeks in London, where hopefully the temperatures will make it easier for me to get out and for sure the lack of hills will help too.

Today’s route – a rehash of an old one, because GPS  errors had me completing 35km in a staggering 2 minutes per km. Therefore I chose a known route from my phone and just monitored my timing. Today is molto scorchio and at just before nine, the temperature was over 23 degrees. I tootled along Mill Lane and to Lovers’ Lane – no sign of Albino or Anouska today, I must have missed them. Back down the Hill That Kills – mercifully all in shade and down to the bendy, scary road.

My legs felt quite perky so I was making good pace until I saw in the distance my nemesis, a molto chic podista, running up the hill. Tall, lithe, blond, Nike swoosh ponytail and golden earrings. Blimey, they were making short shrift of that hill, I felt exhausted just watching. On I pootled, seeking shade where I could and just before the fish shop turn, I was overtaken by the molto chic podista. He had run up that bloody hill and back down and still beat me, oh the shame of being a slow snail runner!

Nothing was going to upset me on my 100th outing however and an old cyclist in his Bahrain cycling top, went past me and said bella è brava. I’ll take that as a compliment, as I didn’t really feel bella at all.

And that was my 100th run, just a shade over 10km and pro-rata I’m 86kms ahead of schedule, those extra few steps and metres each time start to add up. Oh and I found out I run in perfect time to Tigerfeet. Any other suggestions for the Dad Dancing playlist are welcome…

Playlist

My inaugural outing for my new ‘Dad Dancing’ inspired playlist

Tigerfeet – Mud

It’s Not Unusual – Tom Jones

Rasputin – Boney M

YMCA – Village People

The Can Can – Bad Manners

New York, New York – Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett

Dizzy – Vic Reeves

You Can’t Hurry Love (twice) – Phil Collins

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Ballroom Blitz – The Sweet

Sit Down – James

Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones

Money For Nothing – Dire Straits

This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us – Sparks

School’s Out – Alice Cooper

Eye Of the Tiger – Survivor

Jump Around – House of Pain

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – BTO

Stats

Distance 10.28km

Time 1:12:30

Average Pace 7:03 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 41 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 938.40

Kms to be Done 1079.60

 

 

 

30 May – Roses Are Red

IMG_1860

 

Roses are red

And the air was blue

There’s no fool like an old fool

Overtaking teenagers times two

Another day of enforced rest due to migraine – boo hiss, so today after taking the nuclear tablet option of migraine cures, I was able to go out for a run in the early evening.

I’d decided on a quick 6/7km and blimey it was muggy, it felt like running through a wet blanket. Good news was my pace was blindingly fast, in fact according to Mechanical Voice Lady on Map My Run, I managed my first km in just 1 second. Aha, a significant GPS failure. I pressed restart and it wasn’t any better, so I decided to use a route I’d done before and just take the timings manually.

I passed the man with the missing dog – this time his dog was present and correct. Socially,  we’ve now progressed to nodding, a smile and saying the ‘Salve’ greeting. All was quiet and in the distance I could see two runners, evidently quite young, one wearing fluoro and proper running shoes, the other some fashion baseball boot type shoes and baggy shorts down to his knees.

Coincidentally, they seemed to be going my way, or rather I was going theirs. After a while I caught up with them, not deliberately I hasten to add, I was beyond the toxic 10s and in a good rhythm. I ended up about 3 steps behind them and they were going at that really irritating speed that meant I’d end up looking at adolescent acne’d neck for all of my run, unless I did something about it.

Not in too much of a hurry, I switched to the opposite side of the road and overtook them. Evidently that hit the teenage boys’ egos hard, and I could hear them talking together. About 10 seconds later,  baggy shorts boy overtook running shoes boy and pressed down on his accelerator and away they zoomed. Baggy shorts boy was the pacemaker I think. I was the tail walker in comparison. It did make me smile, but in fairness to me I reckon they were about 13/14, so I am at least 4 times their age. And they had longer legs. That will teach me to be a smart arse runner – Stupid Tart Syndrome strikes again.

I continued at my own slower pace and came across another dog walker – well the dog looked more like a wolf to be honest. This was not a recognisable mutt nor owner, but this isn’t my usual time for running, so maybe I was unrecognisable to him too.

I finished my run and walked up Argo’s loop home and saw the beautiful roses above, and they matched my face perfectly. It was both red from exertion and embarrassment.

I vow that the next time I see acne, long legs and baggy shorts I am just going to mind my own business, slow down, and not try an overtaking manoeuvre.

Have you ever done something a bit silly (along the lines above), that you regretted afterwards? Or is it just me?

Playlist

Dancing Queen – ABBA

Mamma Mia – ABBA

Money, Money, Money – ABBA

Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake

Mr Brightside – The Killers

Upside Down – Paloma Faith

Darling Nikki – His Purple Highness

Disco 2000 – Pulp

Marvin Gaye – Puth and Traynor

Modern Love – David Bowie

Night Fever – Bee Gees

Is Vic There – Department S

Rio – Duran Duran

You Love Us – The Manics

Cabron – Red Hot Chilis

Stats

Distance 7.16km

Time 47:49

Average Pace 6:40

Elevation Gain 64metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 928.13

Kms To Be Done 1089.87

 

28 May – Give Karius A Hug Day

4CB1E6EA00000578-5778843-image-a-1_1527500154496

After squeaky bum time, came  broken dreams time, when Liverpool had a nightmare of a game on Saturday night. It wasn’t that we were beaten by an incredibly strong Real Madrid, we were beaten by some misfortune and a couple of mistakes of our own making.

Our goalkeeper  Karius gifted their first goal by mishandling the ball and then to compound his misery, he was a contributory factor to their third. They beat us 3-1 and injured our star player Mo Salah too.

I hadn’t expected us to win, even with good luck on our side, Real Madrid have form in this competition, they’ve won it more than any other team. Although Liverpool FC are the UK’s best team in terms of European competitions, we fall a long way behind Real Madrid.

And so why should today be ‘Give Karius A Hug’ Day. Just because the poor guy has been receiving death threats on social media for his part in the defeat. Now I was as shocked as anyone and yes I howled when he made his howler, but it’s a football game, no-one died. Even though our famous manager Bill Shankly always said football was a matter more serious than life or death!

I can remember just under a year ago, having one of my worst runs ever, it totally floored me and I really lost motivation and was quite upset. And what made it better was the unending support I got from my C25K forum buddies. They came to my aid at my moment of great distress – in fact I look back on that run now with some embarrassment – I can’t believe I made such a fuss. But at the time it felt devastating to me and for Karius, Saturday night must have been too. He has apologised to the team and fans for his errors and says he will come back stronger, but I noticed on the night that the other Liverpool players were too shattered and upset to go to his aid. He was all alone with his despair, amongst his team and thousands of fans. How horribly lonely that must have seemed.

And so today when I was doing my run, which went brilliantly well – I planned to do 10km but managed over 12 (yay) – I was thinking about Karius. To quote from The Green Mile, I said he was a ‘Dead Man Walking’, because if his team-mates couldn’t be there at that precise moment, when he needed them, then clearly there’s something not quite right.

But thinking on it again now, he was alone, horribly alone, with all his self doubts and worries and I’m not so sure being surrounded by 11/12 team mates would have helped anyway. Today, I had a good run, my legs felt fine, my toe was not hurting, I wasn’t too hot, nor too cold, it was just a fab run. I hadn’t planned it that way, it just happened.

And that’s what Saturday was like for Karius – he didn’t plan on doing what happened, it just happened. That’s why today should be ‘Give Karius A Hug’ Day, because when the shit hits the fan, your mates rally around, just like my C25K buddies did just under a year ago.

Playlist

7 Seconds – Youssou N’Dour & Nenah Cherry

New York Minute – Don Henley

Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day

December 1963 – Frank Valli and The Four Seasons

Night Fever – Bee Gees

Summer of 69- Bryan Adams

Winter Melody – Donna Summer

Year Of The Cat – Al Stewart

Holding Back The Years – Simply Red

1999 – His Purple Highness

Disco 2000 – Pulp

Dancing In The Dark – The Boss

7 Years – Lukas Graham

Spring Affair – Donna Summer

Have A Nice Day – Stereophonics

Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones

Fall At Your Feet – Crowded House

Sunday Morning – The Velvet Underground

I’m Gonna Be 500 Miles – The Proclaimers

8 Mile – Eminem

Step On – Happy Mondays

One Step Beyond – Madness

Stats

Distance 12.49km

Time 1:22:02

Average Pace 6:34 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 125 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Done 920.96

KMS to Do 1097.04  (yes I have beaten the 1100 marker!)

 

 

 

 

26 May – Squeaky Bum Time

Today is Champions League Final Day and my team are in the final. To quote Alex Ferguson, today is squeaky bum time (I don’t like him much, but this is a great quote).

I hope and pray that Liverpool will win, but they are the underdogs in this fight for glory.  My little challenge is also at its squeaky bum time, I’m getting searingly close to the halfway kilometrage mark, but things are occurring outside of my control.

The heat – Summer has arrived and today’s temperature is up on yesterday’s,  I went out in 24 degrees this morning and got back at 26 degrees. This will continue, so I need to have a game plan for dealing with the heat. I do actually have one, chock full of useful hints and tips, the most important of which is getting up early enough to avoid the heat. With my now infamous sleeping habits, as a teenager when it comes to sleep, this is not going to be easy.

The opposition – Real Madrid are a tour de force and have some of the best footballing talent in their team. I run in the lanes of Real Marche and my opposition is the combination of inclines and traffic, both of which can end up as a near lethal cocktail. As the countryside verges grow ever taller, I become increasingly less visible, even when wearing my high-vis running kit. Safe running is a necessity, I may need to change my running venues.

The fitness – Real Madrid have some of the finest and most experienced footballing athletes in Europe, Liverpool are building theirs and I dearly wish they can teach the ‘show pony’ Ronaldo, a lesson. My lessons are that I really need to improve my core and overall fitness, as this will help carry me through the challenge, although the big toe issue is not helping one little bit. And to mix metaphors, this toe is becoming my Achilles heel. I saw a documentary on fitness that was talking about using your own body as a counterweight and that may be the route to better fitness that I have to take. Wall sitting anyone?

Managing the game. Liverpool’s big problem this season has been a leaky defence and an inability to shut the game down when it matters. For me, this is all about focussing on the task in hand – I want to do the 2018km challenge – anything else frankly is of secondary consideration. For example, I had toyed with the idea of running a half marathon during this year, but now that I’ve looked at various training plans, they all require me to be doing less weekly kilometrage than my challenge would permit. Somewhat reluctantly, I’ve kicked this idea in to touch. So my slow slog will continue, without the sexy addition of a half marathon as spice.

Finding the magic. Liverpool ‘found’ (although ‘bought’ seems more truthful) the magic when Mo Salah joined the team, he gave a different dimension and possibilities. For me in the running, this is a difficult thing to uncover. What is the magic of this challenge?  – I suppose it has uncovered my sheer bloody-mindedness at wanting to do it, despite being ill-prepared, the wrong age, not a natural athlete, an inexperienced runner etc., etc., etc.,

How did these factors coalesce on my run today?

Heat – I was not up early enough to avoid the sun, but I can blame lack of sleep these past few days, but I have to get a grip on getting up earlier. JCR – you can do much better here.

The Opposition – I ran one of my usual routes, including the very fast and dangerous ‘all roads lead to Rome’ road. But I stopped my run early so I could walk the last part in safety. If I get up earlier, there’s not so much traffic – back to point 1 JCR!

The Fitness – well I did do some squats last night before going to bed and tried the wall sitting, but didn’t want to do it in jeans. Let’s just say an attempt was made. Good news though, the toe wasn’t playing up nearly as much, so that is a good result.

Managing the Game – I tried fartlek during the run to improve tempo, not sure it was a resounding success, as I ended up running much slower at the end of the run. My times now have to allow for shade seeking and shelter, but I am okay with that. It always was going to be a marathon challenge and not one to be sprinted through.

Finding The Magic – the nearest I got to Mo Salah’s standard was reading about him in an Italian sports supplement, (which helpfully captioned the photo in case you didn’t know who he was!). The bloody-mindedness kicked in, as today is officially my rest day and I managed to run just over 8kms. And then managed the 4km walk back up the Bitch of a Pitch. so a small sprinkle of magic occurred today.

Playlist

Ode To Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry

Soul Man – Sam & Dave

Help Me Rhonda – Beach Boys

Stand By Me – Ben E King

Let’s Dance – Chris Montez

Bad Moon Rising  – Creedence Clearwater Revival

You Never Can Tell – Chuck Berry

The Israelites – Desmond Dekker

I Only Want To Be With You – Dusty Springfield

It’s My Party – Lesley Gore

Wonderful World – Herman’s Hermits

Jumping’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones

Aint Got No – I Got Life – Nina Simone

Paint It Black – The Rolling Stones

Born To Be Wild – Steppenwolf

Under The Boardwalk – The Drifters

Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations

Be My Baby – The Ronettes

Keep On Running – The Spencer Davis Group

Mrs Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel

Californian Dreaming’ – The Mamas and The Papas

Stats

Distance 8.33km

Time 1:02:11

Average Pace 7:27 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain – 36 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 908.47

Kms to do 1109.53

 

 

 

 

 

25 May – Who Left The Oven On?

IMG_1845

Another disturbed night’s sleep. We have a new security camera (consequence of last year’s burglary) and it’s a bit sensitive to movement. It sends deliberately noisy alerts to my phone, which countermands the ’night time’ setting – which would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact I’m here home alone.

I tried to go to bed early, I did the crossword, followed by sleep-inducing exercises – then we had a second’s worth of power cut, which set off the house alarm, just as I was dropping off. That’s not the most soothing lullaby one can have. All my senses were now on alert, I checked out the security cameras all of which had lost their pictures – this is no good for calming you down.

Eventually, after going back to reciting suitable mantras – which weren’t that effective really, I fell asleep, only to be woken up at 2.30am by the insistent alert on the phone. Of course you wake with a start, sit bolt upright, heart racing, and then wonder which bogeyman is out in your garden. Of course there wasn’t one, I think we had a rather randy firefly who was getting ‘jiggy’ with the green ‘on-light’ on the new camera. He kept on doing his thing for a little while longer and as I turned the light off once more to sleep, he performed some new acrobatics and the camera sent me another security alert. Aarrggghh, Mr JCR is away, and all I need is a calm, peaceful, uninterrupted night’s sleep, to face my demons by staying here alone overnight, without having minor panic attacks.

As my friend C pointed out, we were burgled in the winter, when we weren’t here, it was obvious we weren’t here, we had no alarm and they had all the time in the world to ransack the house. No self-respecting team of burglars is likely to choose a time when the house is clearly occupied, oh and it has security cameras and an alarm. I know all of this to be true, but still evidently I’m a scaredy-cat and afraid of a randy firefly!

The firefly incident has messed up my body clock and I was woken by Mr JCR, phoning to make sure I was fine. At that point, I thought I’d get up to run ‘early’ before it got too hot. Not that early, I’d overslept the alarm, as a consequence of Mr Firefly and his night of love. I left for my run and it was 23 degrees at 9.30am. Having had hailstones on Tuesday evening (the size of marbles), now we are sweltering in the heat.

I’d taken a look at my cumulative target and saw if I could muster up the energy to do about 11km, I’d sneak over the 900km milestone. As Mr JCR said, you could just do 2 x 5.5k runs and get there. Yes, that is true, but where’s the challenge in that?

Well, what a foolish thought that turned out to be. The first 3kms are all downhill on the Bitch of a Pitch, and apart from the occasional yelps from leaping into the nettles and brambles on the verge in my attempt to avoid oncoming traffic, that was fine. It was the next 8 that were the problem. Laundry Lane was bathed in full sunlight, with hardly any shade to be found. I know now that my pace noticeably deteriorates after the third consecutive day of running. This is my 4th day, so inevitably I was going to be slower. But add in the sun, which had risen even more and the tarmac was developing a heat haze, so my pace dropped to below snail level.

I was carrying just short of a litre of water, which I was sipping at regular intervals. And then half way through the run, I got another bloody camera alert – this time from the kitchen camera. Realistically, no-one can get in without triggering the alarm, but my heart still skips a beat when you get the alerts. So a faffing stop was called for, first of all for me to check that I had actually put the alarm on and second to check that the kitchen camera was a false alarm. And yes of course it was a false alarm – I’m guessing a buddy of our randy firefly was buzzing around.

At about the 8km mark, I realised if I continued my route, I’d end up running the Slope Of No Hope, which includes a 15% gradient. That was definitely out of plan, so I did some mini u-turns on Laundry Lane to avoid that fate. I just about scraped the 10.3km mark and that I knew was enough to get me over the 900km line. I couldn’t have done much more, the oven had turned up another notch or two and when I reached home, the temperature was up to 25 degrees.

Now that summer has officially arrived and the oven is going to be left on for at least the next 3 months, I need to go to bed early, so I can get up early to avoid the scorching heat. Mmm, I wonder how that is going to pan out exactly – two more nights alone, with a sensitive security camera and a randy firefly…

Playlist

Rest – Charlotte Gainsbourg (how apt, given my lack of it, that this should be the first track)

Keep On Running – Spencer Davis Group

Happy – Pharrell Williams

Tiger Feet – Mud

Pink Panther Theme – Henry Mancini

Smile – Gregory Porter

Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice

Nowhere Fast – Eminem and Kehlani

Love In An Elevator – Aerosmith

Compression – Francesco Digillio

To Jan – Leonard Anderson

Miami Vice Them – Jan Hammer

Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty

Running Up That Hill – Kate Bush

Snail – The Smashing Pumpkins

Smile – Lily Allen

Ju Ju Man – Dave Edmunds

Gotta Keep Smiling – Scouting For Girls

Marathon – Rush

The Streak – Ray Stevens

Help! – The Beatles

Tread Softly – Tiny Ruins

The Winner – Status Quo

Down Under – Men At Work

Stats

Distance 10.47km

Time 1:29:33

Average Pace 8:33 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 162 m

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 900.14* (yes – that’s another milestone done, now to get beneath the 1100s)

Kms To Run 1117.86

*I just got a note from the Under Armour Challenge for their Run the Year Challenge – telling me I only have 118km to go to meet their challenge – oh I wish!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24 May – Busy Doing Nothing

IMG_1838

Mr JCR is in the Alps, either on/in his bike depending on whether you are English or Italian, or he could be watching the Giro D’Italia.

I am at home, alone, busy doing absolutely nothing. This morning’s packed agenda – get up, run, shower, and go out for coffee.

All done with the minimum of fuss or effort. This afternoon’s packed agenda – yet to be decided, but I am thinking lunch and maybe wine, oh and launder the sweaty sports gear.

At coffee my friend C was telling me how she keeps fit – she does a sports called hydro-bike, which is an exercise bike submerged in a swimming pool. Yes you pedal and you also do upper body exercises too. I’ve never heard of this but the course is fully subscribed and closes next month – oh well maybe something to try another time then. But it sounds quite good fun.

Todays’ run, hot, sweaty, quiet and short. Done. No people, lots of dogs barking – I just typed that in a Spoonerism way and it came out bogs darking… Not much shade actually,  as the temperature has risen after the recent cold snap. Didn’t enjoy it much, but that’s the way it goes from time to time.  Am hoping I can pull together enough fitness and enthusiasm to get me over the 900km mark tomorrow.

Playlist

Sugar Baby Love – The Rubettes

Bye Bye Baby – Bay City Rollers

Shang A Lang – ditto

A Little Bit More – 911

When You Say Nothing At All – Boyzone

Mandy – Westlife

Boxerbeat – Jo Boxers

Everybody – Backstreet Boys

Bye Bye Bye – NSYNC

Shine – Take That

It Only Takes A Minute – ditto

The Chauffeur – Duran Duran

Rockin’ Robin – Michael Jackson

Fun, Fun, Fun – The Beach Boys

Mama Do The Hump – Rizzle Kicks

Everybody In Love – JLS

Stats

Distance 5.67km

Time 40:03

Average Pace 7:03 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 42 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 889.77

Kms to Run 1128.23

 

23 May – Vino Collapso Necessary

IMG_1836

Last night we watched the UK weather forecast and news, seeing people in London and Manchester wearing tee-shirts. We however were sheltering indoors from rain and hailstones the size of marbles. The skies were very grey and overcast, and we did wonder exactly why we had chosen to be here when we could be at home in the sun.

I think this is Lucifer’s revenge – the summer here last year was ferocious, with temperatures regularly topping 40 degrees and some places hitting 50. Evidently Lucifer (as last year’s summer was called here) decided that this year is the UK’s turn and so we in Italy will suffer from rubbish weather.

The hail and rainstorm brought a lot of greenery, gravel and mud onto the roads and so this morning, we awoke hoping that the night had cleared the weather and the roads too. Ahh, no such luck – it was throwing it down once more. Now I don’t actually have wet weather running gear in Italy, mainly because it is almost never required and whilst I don’t mind getting a bit wet, the thought of running in torrential rain didn’t really appeal. Today was looking like another enforced day of rest.

Mr JCR is off to the mountains with his cycling buddies and they are going to both cycle and watch the Giro D’Italia. Having dropped him off at the allocated time and place, I meandered my way slowly back home, avoiding the puddles, branches and general clag on the roads. I decided to take a chance and go for a short run, the thunder clouds were being somewhat menacing over the hills, and it was drizzling slightly, but not too much.

Off I trotted, to Mill Lane passing the water station, which reminds me Watergate Part III has occurred. The Water Company’s engineer turned up to make sure that our leak was genuine and that we hadn’t been filling up swimming pools or selling water to the locals. He asked to look at the water meter and when he saw it said ‘ Oh it’s only a small loss, the meter is hardly moving at all and the reading is very low’. We then had to point out, that he’d missed the critical ‘1’ figure to the left of the dial, at which point he visibly blanched and said ‘I have to talk to my boss, I’ve never seen a loss as big as this, you’ve used almost 10 years of water in 2 months . He then went onto explain that up to a certain limit the water company will do you a deal on lost water, but that we were almost double that level of loss, which way exceeded any authority or guidance he could give.

Then we had to eat humble pie as he explained the benefits of switching your water off at the mains whenever you are away. What was even worse; he felt compelled to show us how to do it…. We often say we need a tee-shirt  for Italy with the slogan ‘I am English, not stupid’  written in Italian, but in this case, we may be English but we were most definitely stupid!

Anyway, I digress, having flicked the V at the water pumping station, I continued into Lovers’ Lane, managed to upset the barking beagles and did my usual tour of Villa Bali, with yet another school trip witnessing my ungainly strides. I turned back, descended the hill that kills, and took the slope of hope, to Laundry Lane, which was nice and quiet save for a lady who was frantically un-bunging a road drain, thereby allowing all the muddy slush to disperse. The rain had stopped, but my hair already resembled an unkempt haystack, I could feel it escaping from my ponytail band. No swooshy, sexy Nike advert ponytail for me…

I turned back on Laundry Lane aiming for home. No-one around, just grey clouds scudding across a greyer sky. Then I saw a lady walker in scarlet with a very bright white ponytail, all nice and swooshy, no fuzz and frizz for her – I wonder what’s her secret. She was taking a gentle stroll admiring the countryside, whereas I was huffing and puffing, wishing the run would end. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am better running in the mornings, I seem to have better energy and humour. In the afternoons I am more sluggish, maybe it’s the post lunch lull. Certainly I wasn’t running particularly fast, given my ‘toe’ situation, I’m deliberately keeping a measured pace.

At just over 7km I finished my run and was walking back up the Slope of No Hope, when I saw my friend C in her car. She stopped and reversed and we had a little chat, she was telling me what great shape I was in and I was telling her how many wrinkles I had… Upshot is I have a coffee invitation tomorrow morning – now do I brave it and run there and back which is a cool 12km or thereabouts? The run has hills, lots of them and some of them are up to 18/19% in gradient, so it’s hardly an easy one, especially with a toe that will probably need amputating at some point (okay somewhat overstated the injury!).

Or do I drive over and back and do my run afterwards, at which time the weather forecast is telling me we will be hot and sunny…, which means I will have to wait until late afternoon to run. Which takes me right back to my earlier point, I’m not very good at running in the afternoon.

The decision will have to be made over a glass of vino collapso, although I’m on my own, and in truth don’t like drinking alone. Maybe a mug of tea is a better decision making tool. As you can see from the pic, our wine making grapes are a long way off being ready, so if I wait for them to mature, I won’t be making a running decision until October at the earliest, and that’s a little bit too late for tomorrow’s run.

Playlist

Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse

Inanity Over Christmas – Madness

Art School – The Jam

Distant Dreamer – Duffy

Glory Days – The Boss

He Can Only Hold Her – Amy Winehouse

The Things That Dreams Are Made Of – Human League

Blue Jean – David Bowie

I Would Die 4 U – His Purple Highness

Help – The Beatles

Darlin’ – The Beach Boys

The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow) – The Jam

Lola – The Kinks

Money, Money, Money – ABBA

Running Bear – Stiff Little Fingers

You Love Us – The Manics

Stats

Distance 7.28km

Time 51:47

Average Pace 7:06 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 83 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Done 884.00 (Officially more kms than I ran in all of 2017)

Kms to Do 1134.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22 May – This Little Piggy

IMG_1840

 

went to market

and this little piggy stayed at home…

Unfortunately, one of my little piggies – namely my right big toe, is doing its level best to keep staying at home. Monday saw another unscheduled rest because after Sunday’s run I was hobbling like a lame horse, dragging a useless limb behind me.

Yesterday was all about resting it a bit and doing some much needed gardening. Except in the JCR household, gardening is akin to Jeremy Clarkson fixing cars – he wields a hammer for every foreseeable automotive complaint, whereas we wield various cutting tools, to keep back the jungle threat. There’s not much planting goes on, it’s more a case of ‘gardening by machete’ – this is because in Spring we alternate between rain and sun and everything seems to grow in front of your eyes. It’s like having time-lapse photographic growth. I swear you can almost hear the earth creaking as the grass grows.

Lawnmower – check. Decespugliatore – check – this is a ‘zapper’ but on an industrial scale. Secateurs – check, tree loppers – check, hedge trimmer with extension bar – check and finally the daddy of them all the motosega aka chainsaw. We are fighting a war against vigorously growing greenery/dying greenery. And we have to do this in the full glare of publicity, as most of the locals stop and stare at the ‘inglesi’ working. If they don’t actually stop and ask us what we are doing – really this happens, some will rather unsubtly slow their car down to crawl past, have a good old nose and then move on.

It’s quite funny, because we don’t know what it is that we are doing that is so very different to our Italian friends and neighbours. But whatever it is, it garners comment and questions, including one from an old lady who asked me one summer (when I was wielding secateurs) ‘are you looking for truffles?’

Having spent a day in the garden, I provided a much needed blood feast to the local mosquito population, and ended up with a mossie bite necklace, a mossie bite on the nape of my neck, one under my armpit, and one under the leg line of my running shorts. This morning’s run was therefore punctuated by me scratching various parts of my anatomy whilst running. Not my best look it has to be said – I did avoid scratching under my armpit and my leg elastic, just to try and maintain some kind of decorum.

On my way down the bendy, scary road, I came across a molto chic podista – I remember this lady from last summer’s runs.  Abso-bloody-lutley typical, there was me looking at my hot, sweaty, bumpy, lumpy worst,  and I see the young Nike advert ready podista! I’ve said it before these ladies/men ought to be banned, it’s just not fair to us mere mortals, who don’t look Jessica Ennis/Kourtney Kardashian or for the male version David Gandy/Usain Bolt.

Whenever I saw her last year, I was always hot, sweaty and wearing next to nothing in a vain attempt to keep cool. She was always wearing long running tights, a vest and had the Nike Swooshy ponytail, and sporting a caramel tan, with sunglasses perched perkily on top of her head – today no exception.  Even though I am wearing shorts, the weather hasn’t been that hot so my legs are a fetching corned beef colour too. Thank heavens I wasn’t scratching anything as I ran past her, otherwise visual humiliation would have been complete. But now I know why she is able to look cool when she is running, – she doesn’t actually run up the hills. She walks up them and only runs on the more or less flat bits. That makes me feel a whole lot better, I may take pauses when facing slopes, but I do at least run them.

Today was pretty uneventful, except for my pronounced limp and attempts to run on the outside of my right foot, to take the pressure of the home loving little piggy. By deliberate choice, I am running more slowly, in the hope that this will alleviate some of the pressure on my foot. But the extra days of rest being taken, are reducing my ‘run surplus’ in the bank, so I need to do some spreadsheet jiggery-pokery, to work out how much I can afford to reduce my weekly kilometrage, to give me rest, whilst not getting too far behind.

To end the nursery rhyme ….this little piggy, cried wee, wee, wee, all the way home. I didn’t actually cry, but I did yelp from time to time but got home having made just over 9km. I did run –  I may have looked like an advert for a bubonic plague cure or similar, but me and my mosquito bite necklace made it safely back, for more dousing with the ammonia anti-bite fluid. Not only did I look like pork scratchings today, I actually smelt like piggy wee too…

Playlist

Shang A Lang – Bay City Rollers

Pass The Dutchie – Musical Youth

A Little Bit More – 911

You Raise Me Up – Westlife

When Will I Be Famous – Bros

ABC – The Jackson 5

When You Say Nothing At All – Boyzone

What I Go To School For – Busted

The Reflex – Duran Duran

Stay Another Day – East 17

A Million Love Songs – Take That

Boxerbeat – Jo Boxers

Daydream Believer – The Monkees

Relight My Fire – Take That and Lulu

Bye Bye Bye – NSYNC

Everybody – Backstreet Boys

Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble – PJ and Duncan

Step By Step – New Kids On The Block

Shine – Take That

The Call – Backstreet Boys

Love and Pride – King

Stats

Distance 9.43km

Time 1:04:46

Average Pace 6:52

Elevation Gain 35 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Done 876.73

Kms To Do 1141.27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 May – ‘Toetally’ Shattered

IMG_1828

 

I was supposed to run yesterday and was visited by both Madame Migraine and a foot problem, which meant I was limping, even when wearing slippers – so an enforced day of rest really messed up my running plans. With both my head and foot pounding with pain, I stayed in bed for most of the day, drugged up and dopey.

When I decided upon this challenge, I had read how middle/long distance runners get many, many ailments and I thought to myself. ‘that’s not for me’, the more I read about them the more likely it is I will suffer from them. I studiously avoided reading up on them – there are many weird afflictions with peculiar names and I wanted none of them. I’m happy to Dr Google (well in truth Dr NHS) only if the need arises.

During one bout of consciousness yesterday, I thought I ought to check out my foot pain, just in case I could fix it with a plaster or something. That’s when ‘runnerchondria’ struck – there are many ‘little’ problems you can get – blisters etc and then there’s the big stuff. Naturally enough, I think I have a ‘big’ problem, I am getting stabbing pains under my big toe, it’s like having rhythmic cramp and it hurts, a lot. Suggested diagnoses include a stress fracture, bunions (no it’s not one of those), hallux rigidus (basically a knackered toe, due to age and general deterioration),  and the remaining long Latin-named problems are equally as frightening.

Most of the problems, have solutions all of which start with the recommendations ‘rest and don’t run’. So I didn’t yesterday, but I did today, and what can I say? I had to run slow, not least because it was quite warm this morning. But the upside is that the pain did subside a bit, it’s not quite as bad as yesterday, but I do still yelp when I catch myself unawares. Now I am in the horns of a dilemma – do I continue to run with the toe hurting, which can be managed by judicious use of ibuprofen, or do I rest up, and try and get into see the doctors when I go home in June, to get a physio/X-Ray referral? That could take months and I can’t sit around on my bum for that long.

There are two reasons I can’t sit around for that long – the first being that the challenge can only work if I maintain 160km a month, I have only 2 weeks in the bag, taking more than 2 weeks off, then puts me behind schedule. The second is that since I’ve been running the longer distances, I can eat more  – yay –  and not put on weight. If I’m sitting around, I have a horrid feeling I’ll still do the eating and thus develop a Kardashian Kulo. Which is fine if you are Kardashian shaped but I’m not.

I’m going to just run even more glacially slowly than I have been, and watch my foot for any deterioration and see if it’s possible to get a physio appointment in Italy instead. they have a mixture of public/private medicine here and there’s a lot of ‘sports’ clinics around – that is my default if the pain becomes unmanageable.

Anyway, despite the ‘toetally’ crap Saturday, I did manage to get out today, it was sunny, and my dear friend G saw me in the cafe for my pitstop and very generously bought me my breakfast. And I tried out my new Boy Band playlist (very recently completed) to keep me going, when things got tough.

This time last year, we were in Japan chasing the sakura (cherry blossom). Sometimes you forget that you don’t necessarily need to travel far to see wonderful things, and my pic shows the rather lovely and abundant cherries we have in our garden. Cherries for breakfast – tree to mouth – zero food miles, in fact we are talking food centimetres only.

Playlist

Sugar Baby Love – The Rubettes

Bye Bye Baby – Bay City Rollers

 

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham

Forever and Ever – Slik

A Little Bit More – 911

ABC – The Jackson 5

You Raise Me Up – Westlife

Stand And Deliver – Adam & The Ants

 

When Will I Be Famous – Bros

When You Say Nothing At All – Boyzone

I’ll Make Love To You – Boyz ll Men

 

A Million Love Songs – Take That

Mandy – Westlife

Seasons In The Sun – Westlife

Shang A Lang – Bay City Rollers

Boxerbeat – Jo Boxers

Everybody – Backstreet Boys

Quit Playing Games With My Heart – Backstreet Boys

Bye Bye Bye – NSYNC

Story Of My Life – One Direction

Step By Step – New Kids On The Block

It Only Takes A Minute – Take That

The Chauffeur – Duran Duran

Rockin’ Robin – Michael Jackson

The Call – Backstreet Boys

Mama Do The Hump – Rizzle Kicks

Love and Pride – King

Stats

Distance 11.85km

Time 1:35:09

Average Pace 8:01

Elevation Gain 223 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 867.29

Kms to do 1150.71

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 May – Bitch Perfect

4-2

After the other day’s epic climb, I had an unscheduled day of rest yesterday. Girding my loins, I decided to see if I could do a longer run again. Taking inspiration from The Rubettes’ ‘girded loin pose’ , I set out.

The bitch beckoned, only this time I thought it would be easier if I ran downhill instead. Well what a difference that makes, she’s about 3.5km long, after my warm up walk distance. It took me about 22 minutes to do the downhill, allowing for traffic stops around the blind bends. That’s about half the time taken to run up it. I then took Laundry Lane which has a long winding section with hairpins uphill. In effect I cover more or less the same elevation, only over a 5/6km route.

In theory this is an easier option, same elevation with a longer run-up. Unfortunately today the sun decided to shine on Laundry lane, and nope not much shade to be had. Exacerbated by the fact I had dressed for the cooler morning and had a long sleeved top, I looked and felt like a sweating sausage, in fact I probably smelt like one too! The sun really takes its toll on pace; when its out I lose anywhere between 1 minute and 2.5 minutes a km.

I used the same running method on the steep parts – to run X number of paces and then take a breather. This worked reasonably well, except with little shade, sometimes my ‘breather’ was in full sun, which led to more sweating. Towards the peak of Laundry Lane, there’s a blind left hand with a road leading off it. A cyclist came haring out and of course he wasn’t looking to his right only to his left. When he saw me he got quite a shock, swore (whether at me or himself, who knows), wobbled and continued. I hope that has taught him a lesson to look both ways.

The rest of Laundry Lane went without incident, and then the final push – up the Slope of No Hope this is still not to be sneezed at, taking in a 15% gradient in parts and covering about 45 metres elevation gain in less than a km. I stopped for 3 breathers.  I think I could do it in one go, but not after a 10km run.

All in all, a reasonably good day’s work – same elevation gain as my big run, over a shorter distance, so still not a walk in the park.

And another 11km banked – 900km marker -I have you in my sights.

Playlist (my nascent boy band version – thanks to C25Kers and Fb friends for getting me started)

Sugar Baby Love – The Rubettes

Bye Bye Baby – Bay City Rollers

Shang A Lang – Ditto

Pass the Dutchie – Musical Youth

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham

Forever and Ever – Slik

A Little Bit More – 911

ABC – The Jackson 5

You Raise Me Up – Westlife

Love Me For A Reason – The Osmonds

The Reflex – Duran Duran

When Will I Be Famous – Bros

When You Say Nothing At All – Boyzone

I’ll Make Love To You – Boyz ll Men

What I Go To School For – Busted

Stay Another Day – East 17

A Million Love Songs – Take That

Mandy – Westlife

Seasons In The Sun – Westlife

Boxerbeat – Jo Boxers

Relight My Fire – Take That, Lulu

Everybody – Backstreet Boys

Quit Playing Games With My Heart – Backstreet Boys

Bye Bye Bye – NSYNC

Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble – PJ and Duncan

Stats

Distance 11.18km

Time 1:26:03

Average Pace 7:41 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 221 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 855.44

Kms to Run 1162.56