Week 21 Run 2 – Why?

Just WHY?????

Sunday Morning – Mr JCR and cycling buddy from Islington A are already out on the road doing the mountain stages of the Giro Di Muscoli.

JCR not doing any mountain stages of anything, but running down the Bitch of a Pitch to get a coffee, and then a planned Jeffing back up the hill.

It’s quite warm but not excessively so, and I start my way out, first of all for the obligatory warm up walk. Turning back on myself a couple of walkers are passing my way – for social distancing I give them a wide berth and start my little trot for my cappuccino.

TBOAP, is about 3km in length and quite steep in places, with nasty cambers in places, so it does take a toll on your knee joints even though it’s a downhill run. That coupled with some nasty bends means you have to be reasonably alert to avoid being taken out by a car. I pass Lord Kitchener’s house, which is as neat and dapper as he is, but no sign of Lord K today.

Taking the famous Costa bend, I see a new sign for the restaurant – exciting life I lead here in Le Marche…, obviously the other signs aren’t considered sexy enough for them. Then I run into quite a bit of traffic, which meant I had to keep stopping and waiting for the cars to pass. Sunday mornings see quite a few folk going to visit their rellies in the cemetery, and/or attend weddings.

Today Sonia and Christian are getting married, as all the posters on the local lamp-posts and walls tell us. What they don’t say is that maybe, just maybe it’s a themed wedding. I say this with absolutely no proof whatsoever, my run was going fine, I’d passed a number of Sonia and Christian’s posters and I was rounding off my descent, through a rat run towards the local supermarket on All Roads Lead to Rome road.

I passed either Sonia or Christian’s family house bedecked with gauze rosettes and lots of folk embracing in the garden. One guy was very nattily dressed in his suit, rose buttonhole and his Nike trainers, all very lovely and then ugh, around the corner I saw the house above. Someone please tell me why you would put a large spider on your house? I’m not sure I even like the butterflies, but who wants an effing spider crawling above their door.

Shuddering and grimacing I entered the supermarket car park, to be met with the sight of a beautiful young girl, about six or seven I guess in a pretty bright yellow dress, she looked as though she might be going to Sonia and Christian’s wedding. Then two seconds later around came (I assume) her dad, tanned and gorgeous wearing a canary yellow linen long sleeved shirt, with canary yellow trousers and blue loafers. He looked stunning but more in a banana man sort of way. I do wonder if Sonia and Christian’s wedding was banana themed. There could be worse themes I suppose.

That was pretty much the end of my run 3.5 kms in total, no local personalities except the cute if rather yellow banana man. One cappuccino and croissant later, I started Jeffing up the hill, but to be honest it was way more effing than Jeffing, I didn’t really have the feeling and so my run intervals were few and far between the walking episodes. But still it’s 3.5km back uphill, with a nasty bend of a thirteen percent gradient, which is calf straining.

Job Done. It’s getting better as it gets cooler.

Stats

Distance – 7.2km combined run/walk

Jump Rope – 43, 15, 8 3 – definitely out of practice

Physio – Nope, couldn’t be bothered

Mosquito Bites 3 – the pesky little buggers are still out in force and during the day

Week 21 Run 1 – Too soon for a Terry’s Chocolate Orange?

Last week has been a frantic time in preparing Mr JCR for his fantastic 2,000+km ride in the Giro Di Muscoli. This has been at least three years in the making, a ride to mark Mr JCR’s 60th birthday and in support of our very dear friend Gerben who has ALS or MND as it’s known in the UK.

Do you remember the ice bucket challenge – and the answer is probably yes. Do you remember what it was for, other than going viral on YouTube – chances are the answer is no. The IBC was to get funds and global awareness up for the horrid, horrid disease that strikes down people in their prime. The Giro Di Muscoli is a ride encompassing UK, Holland and Italy, to provide funds for all three of the ALS/MND charities in those countries.

Gerben was the inspiration behind the challenge and we were going to see him and Jeanne in Arnhem prior to the big launch of GDM.

Mr JCR was riding, JCR was merely the back up car/humping luggage/hotel room setting up person. Friday was the big drive to Holland, followed by a rather tasty Thai meal, socially distanced of course with Jeanne and Gerben. Saturday Mr JCR rode to Hook of Holland and I followed lazily behind in the car to our hotel in The Hague. Saturday night a lovely meal with our friends Gerard and Bernadette, eating at their house, another socially distanced engagement, with glorious food and company.

Sunday, Mr JCR riding back to Arnhem from Hook of Holland, with a whole host of riders all wanting to support their dear friends Gerben and Jeanne. Again social distance rules maintained with plenty of hand sanitiser and masks around and Covid tracking forms filled in. Oh and a small matter of having raised over 91,000 euros at the end of the ride. Sunday evening a beer in the garden with Gerben and Jeanne, just basking in the glory of the moment and the achievement. Now let’s be clear, the glory and achievement are not mine, they belong to everybody else, but it was fantastic to sit and mull over how a rather vague idea of a 60th birthday challenge had morphed into a European Grand Tour of amateur cyclists, some of whom last sat on bikes when they were kids.

Monday, Mr JCR riding to Maastricht, where we hope Boris might sign a ‘we are not leaving the EU’ treaty. Fat chance of that occurring, but a dead certainty that the Giro Di Muscoli riders would get there, continuing their efforts to complete the Giro. Another evening, another meal – Mr JCR can afford the calories, JCR however cannot… Time to start running once more.

Tuesday, Mr and Mrs JCR driving home from Maastricht. Arrive home, pizza, unpack, realise washbag left at hotel in Maastricht, swear a lot, sleep.

Wednesday, Mr JCR riding to San Marino, Mrs JCR washing, more unpacking, shopping, admin

Thursday, Mr JCR riding to Ancona. JCR doing a fish run, about time too!

I left a little later than I ought to, but it was low 20s temperature wise and not too bad. The plan was to ease my legs back into running by running to collect fish and walking back up those pesky hills once more. That’s about 3.5km running downhill/on the flat and about 4k return journey (because I always start my run with a warm up walk, which is never measured on the MMR app.

I winded my way towards Mill Lane, taking it nice and easy, heading towards the road leading to Royston Vasey. No-one around, but that is quite normal in September, when the children are back at work and the long lazy holiday days of August are over, Le Marche goes back to being Sleepyville. I was wondering who I’d see en-route when a car pulled up alongside, it was our friend J who wanted to know how the Giro Di Muscoli weekend had gone, and how were Gerben and Jeanne, and did we have a nice time in Den Haag. A very pleasant chat all in all, punctuated by what now seemed to be a stream of traffic diverted from the Milano tangenziale road. I’ve never seen so many cars, some were okay passing J, others a little tetchier. Our friend F passed by in his wonky number plate Land Rover, now we’d got traffic coming the other way. Time to give up the chat and to carry on running. I had forgotten MMR was running and Mechanical Voice Lady told me I’d managed 0.6 of a km in about 28 minutes, maybe this is not the run to monitor my pace!

J was shopping for guests and buying bread from the bakery in Royston Vasey. The bakery was definitely just for ‘local people’ in its old building as you could never, ever tell when it was open. They didn’t seem to like having an opening hours board and the door was a big wooden ‘portone’ with no windows. Many was the time I had the embarrassment of pushing at a locked door, or worse the door opening, going in and being told that the bakery was closed for cleaning.

The new premises are much better, a glass door so you can see whether they are open or closed. What you can’t do however is necessarily buy the bread you want. They have a multi grain bread called Pan De Sole, Bread of the Sun, literally. This bread is popular, so popular that they always sell out by about 10am, and even though the oven is still on at that time, they don’t bake any more. We like this bread, but with my ever present failure to get up early enough, generally the closest we get to it, is to be told the last loaf went half an hour ago. J was probably buying that loaf as I was running. I’m trying to work out what’s worse – (1) knowing they’ve always sold out of that nice bread, or (2)knowing that dear friends are eating that loaf with friends who aren’t you!

I continued through Royston Vasey, to be overtaken once more by my friend J – looking very happy, I was certain she’d bagged that last loaf. The sun had risen quite a bit by now and there wasn’t so much shade to be had, but I continued shade-hopping on my run to get to the fish shop. My plan was to buy fish (in ice) and the by the time I’d walked it back home, the ice would have melted, but the fish would remain cool. I was working out what else I had to do, and ran past the Covid testing clinic with oodles of people queuing to beat the 10am deadline for the blood tests. I gave the queue a wide berth as I wasn’t running in a mask (tried it once, never again). Crossing the road for more shade, I sidestepped a man wielding a hedge trimmer that was at least the size of him, and it was definitely getting the better of him. Being somewhat attached to my legs both emotionally and physically, I skipped into the road to avoid his arcing sweep at the hedge. At last I espied the Fish Shop, owned by our friends G&P.

P asked me what I wanted , all the usual stuff really and had we decided when we would be returning to the UK? Of course, with all this lockdown and Covid quarantine shambles, we don’t really know. I mentioned that we’d probably be in Italy for Christmas at this rate, but that we’d be flexible about going back as we do have some stuff to do there.

Fish in hand, (no ice) and P telling me I’d better run home otherwise the fish would cook in the bag en route, I started my return journey home, walking with purpose and hunting for shade, to keep the fish as fresh as I might. On the way back through Royston Vasey, I saw a topless runner coming towards me. We don’t get that many runners around here, let alone topless ones. He had a dad bod, and it was very nicely tanned. Not as much as his face – I reckon his face was 50, but his bod 40. Dad bod man – or DBM for short, was running at quite a lick, and yes it was downhill but even so he was very fast, and no sign of a drop of sweat. Curses – why can’t I look like that? Although I am not running topless if that is the secret, it’d frighten the horses! 😂

With a sense of impending doom, I thought I’d ask at the bakers for any Pan De Sole, and Hallebloodylujah, they actually had the last loaf available. It was the teeniest, tiniest loaf, but still I’d scored, it was like Christmas arriving. With that thought I was planning what we’d do for Christmas – Terry’s Chocolate Oranges are obligatory in our house for Christmas. It’s a tradition and they don’t have them in Italy. I may have to resort to bribery and corruption to get hold of some. So here goes, anyone who knows me – fancy a mini break in Italy sometime? – price of stay equals some Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, prior to Christmas. Post Christmas TCOs bought cheaply in Sainsbury’s in January don’t cut the mustard.

The thought of Christmas stayed with me when I got home, and Mr JCR benefitted from my new version of flapjacks made in homage to Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, with dark chocolate and marmalade. I thought they were fab, if a bit sweet, as I was tasting during the chopping up but I reckon bitter Oxford marmalade would make them better.

Mr JCR needs the calories, I definitely do not, then if I ran a bit more, I could justify the occasional Terry’s Choc Orange flapjack.

p.s. a day later I asked MR JCR what he thought of the new flapjack, to be honest he’s not impressed, so that is one cooking experiment not be repeated, which is just as well, as if he won’t eat them I’ll have to and as the saying goes you can’t out-run your mouth.

Stats

Distance 3.78km

Pace 11.15 minutes a km – I was chatting for quite a long time!

Walk back home – 4.08km

I Pan De Sole

Jump Rope – I forgot

Physio – Nope.

Playlist – no idea, too preoccupied with chatting and Christmas

Week 20 Run 3 – Puffa Jackets, Porn, Plonkers and Puffing

Friday lunchtime in Fano at our favourite fish restaurant Yankee. It’s about 27 degrees, which is distinctly cooler than it has been, but it’s still warm. Not a cloud in the sky nor a puff of breeze, but the month has changed and so too has Italian clothing.

On a warm, some would say hot, Friday lunchtime jeans are de rigueur and I espied my first puffa waistcoat. I was wearing a thin cotton dress, Mr JCR was wearing shorts, but we’d forgotten the golden rule that when September arrives so does the Autumn wardrobe for the Italian family. We are underdressed by his standard, but it’s so warm we actually feel overdressed.

Saturday is my usual rest day and another hot day was in course. Saturday night was quite noisy with lots of motorbikes around at night and youthful screams of joy.

Sunday morning; I found out why we had the youthful screams.

Mr JCR was up and out, I’d had a lousy night’s sleep and so I did one of the following and I wonder if you can guess what it was?

  1. Said goodbye to Mr JCR – turned over in bed  and didn’t go for a run
  2. Said goodbye to Mr JCR – decided to have  40 winks and run after
  3. Fell asleep almost immediately and woke up with a guilty start just before 10am

Yup it was number three. Heading out of the door, it seemed a little warmer than it had been for a while oh and yes it was about twenty four degrees and not much shade to be seen. Mmm JCR another epic fail on the getting up front.

I’d decided I’d do a circuit or two of The Hill That Kills and made my way towards Mill Lane, it was hardly encouraging when I realised there was little shade there, on I plodded to Lovers’ Lane. Here we have the evidence of a debauched night out with discarded light green sex aids at the roadside. That was obviously the source of screaming last night.

Not that I have any particular views on the colour of sex aids, but green seems a somewhat bilious choice. Ah yes JCR, lockdown eyesight has struck once more, now that I am closer I see they are discarded or dropped vegetables. But I’m sure somewhere in pornland there’s a fetish site for sex with long green bendy vegetables. Perhaps the bikers were just whooping because they’d found fresh ingredients for a vegetarian feast?

Taking my usual trip around Villa Bali, I make my way back up Lovers’ Lane and I see a topless man running towards me, with his baseball cap on backwards. He’s a bit gangly and if he was setting out to impress the local talent, he looked more to me like an Italian Peter Crouch, which is not that sexy imho. And to be honest the average age of the people who walk run and cycle here is at least double his age. Maybe he likes old’uns?

Back towards the Hill That Kills, I am sauntering downhill and Yoda is coming the other way, we wish each other a good morning and continue on our way. I’m coming up to the pigiama mama house and a car is coming towards me indicating right. I think they are visiting pigiama mama, so I stop by the side of a tree just ahead of the driveway, so they can get clear passage without worrying about me.

But they didn’t turn into the drive, they kept indicating and drove straight towards me, stopping so close, I thought they were going to ask for directions or something. I started to move and then holy moly so did they. As I ran across pigiama mama’s driveway, they reversed into it. What absolutely effing stupid  plonkers. I’d stopped, waited, given them room, they’d overshot, then boxed me in and when I started moving they shadowed me.

Harrumph! I reached the bottom of THTK, and I could hear them behind me. Runner’s revenge ensued I took an age to cross the road ahead of them, turned right up into the Slope of No Hope and then re-crossed it to run back down again, all the while they had to wait for me to finish.  Revenge was sweet, although they had air conditioning – I didn’t and now the temperature was touching twenty six, so I was looking a little puce. I decided to do one more run up THTK to hit just under 4kms. I was a bit puffed and so messed up Map My Run again, and ended up doing a few mini runs to make sure I’d really run the 4km.

My weekend started on Friday with a man in a puffa jacket to keep warm, a pink face realising I hadn’t spotted sex aids after all and a mini episode of red hot rage because of some plonkers. But of course being British I kept it all under a veneer of civilised disdain.

Stats

Distance 4km

Physio – some of it, still need to buy a yoga mat

Jump Rope – 39, 23, 7, 19, 46

Music

First Single Ever Bought

Best track – it’s quite cringeworthy but Mississippi by Pussycat, because my beloved IyeIye (grandmother) thought it was wonderful, and she was a wonderful person too

Week 20 Run 2 – Being an Iguana

Hardly a Galapagos Racing Snake, not even a harmless grass snake…

Saturday – Rest day, scorchio, who the hell runs in 90+ degrees of heat?An iguana maybe?

Sunday – Peeing down buckets, so devote day to ‘admin’ and F1 Grand Prix – well done Lewis

Monday – Peeing down buckets, so devote more of day to admin

Tuesday – Mr Blue Sky returns – and so does JCR

Three days on and off of rain and the temperature has dropped from Saturday’s high of 37 degrees that’s 98 in old money to a balmier 23 degrees.

The alarm has gone, but because the temperature is cooler it’s a much more tolerable 7am alarm call, with a gentle waking up, cup of coffee and altogether more civilised exit from the house.

Mr JCR going his own way to the Panoramica in Pesaro, me to reacquaint myself with the Hill That Kills loop.

My warm up walk takes me towards the Slope of Hope, and I espy a snake in the road. Ugh, we get lots of bischi here – grass snakes who when small are a pale grey colour, but turn much darker when old with a yellow/cream collar. Quite scary when you see them, especially if you’re a toad or a lizard I guess.

Clearly I’ve ended up with lockdown myopia, because it’s not a snake, it’s a bit of bungee cord. Oh well so much for my version of David Attenborough’s Galapagos Racer Snakes commentary;)

Moving on towards Mill Lane, it’s nice and cool and in the distance one of my neighbours is getting his tractor ready for more harvesting, I wave hello. I think he has lockdown myopia, as he didn’t respond.

Crossing towards Lovers’ Lane I see our friend F in his Land Rover and I wave at him too. Okay that’s the third case of lockdown myopia – I didn’t get an acknowledgment at all.

Mmm, I have showered so it’s not a bad case of body odour keeping him away, I’m wearing dayglo running gear, hard to ignore really, unlike iguanas who have in-built camouflage, I’m obviously there. Maybe he just didn’t recognise me? I get on up Lovers’ Lane and pass a fellow runner, she looks a lot better than I do, as though she was really in the groove. But I’ve yet to find my running mojo this year. Maybe retrying in the heat of summer was a bad idea, as I can’t truly recall having a ‘lovely’ run so far this year.

Today is much better though, as it’s cooler and already I’ve dropped one minute from my previous kilometre’s time, managing 1 km in six minutes something as opposed to 8/9/10/11  minutes at the worst of the heat in Summer. This is encouraging and I feel emboldened to try and run up the Slope of No Hope. I prep myself by a nice easy downward run on the Hill That Kills and turn to my right up the slope. I do another loop of Lovers’ Lane and THTK and turn right for the final Slope of No Hope attempt.

Hurtling towards me are two racing cyclists, which is both a good and bad thing. Good because this means I won’t give up running up the hill, as it would be wimping out. Bad because I’m not sure that I can actually run up that hill.

As it was I managed to run for most of it and then fate intervened, a large pick up lorry, and two cars were coming down the hill followed by our friend P and our dog share Argo. Not enough room for all of us so I stood aside gallantly (more truthfully because I needed to regain the puff).

Thank goodness someone actually recognised me, P said it was nice to see me and she hoped I got a good welcome when I got back home – a nice sentiment even if actually I got bitten five times on the legs by some unknown bitey creature upon entering the garden. Not the kind of welcome you want really.

But then watching those iguanas entering the world to a welcome of Galapagos Racing Snakes, I reckon I got a better deal, I got bitten but at least I’m alive to tell the tale!

Stats

Distance 5.25 kms

Time – better but still nowhere near my best

Physio

Yes – all the leggy stuff, although I didn’t do squats

Jump Rope

23, 43, 19, 1, 22

Still a way off my target of 100 consecutive jumps, but for someone possessed of no co-ordination I didn’t think it was too bad.

Music

It was a Spotify ‘compiled for you’ list for a change in which Duran Duran featured a lot, but funnily enough no sign of ‘The Union Of The Snake’, which as it was a bungee cord, is appropriate I guess.