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.
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
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.
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
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?
Said goodbye to Mr JCR – turned over in bed and didn’t go for a run
Said goodbye to Mr JCR – decided to have 40 winks and run after
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.
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!
Distance 5.25 kms
Time – better but still nowhere near my best
Yes – all the leggy stuff, although I didn’t do squats
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.
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.
The sun is up and so is Mr JCR, using his usual persuasive tones to get me out of bed and into my running gear.
I’d had yet another lousy night of sleep, something to do with incessant dog barking during the night, coupled with boy racers on their whining mini motorbikes at about 3am and it being scorchio during the night. And to cap it all, I’d been bitten to pieces by the dreaded pappatacci. All in all, not great prep for a run.
After having done the Laundry lane curves a couple of times of late, I decided to go to the bendy, scary road instead.
Up Mill Lane, all is quiet but the cicadas are starting up already. I think this means we are going to have a warm day ahead. Towards Lovers’ Lane and there’s a dog walking lady busily picking up poop, carrying a rather capacious carrier bag for the purpose.
The dog is some kind of terrier, and he’s skittering all over the place sniffing trees, and running rings around his owner, who was picking up more poop. Maybe she is a volunteer poop picker upperer, as I can’t believe one small terrier could poop that much. He came bounding up to me, gave me the once over and went back to his owner, clearly a sweaty middle-aged woman with no treats or doggie toys is of no interest whatsoever.
I looped around Villa Bali and with no shade to be found, I was heating up once more. The terrier and his owner were in the distance, and I began the slow overtaking haul. I managed to get past the barking beagle house, with no barking and evidently no beagles. I’m guessing they may be on holiday.
Aiming for the Hill That Kills, I dodge out of the way for a rather large tractor – my guess was he was going to do me a lot of damage if I stood my ground. At this time of year with all the harvest work, it’s sensible to let them go past. Running towards Pigiama Mamma’s house, she is revving up her motor to come out and politely lets me cross. I wave and continue on to the Slope of Hope.
I can see Yoda in the distance, wearing his dayglo and camo outfit. He’s heading up the hill and I’m heading downhill, to the dubious delights of the bendy scary road.
Three trucks in succession are coming towards me and I dip into Lovers’ Layby to avoid them and here things went slightly awry. I could see the barking beagle house and thought it looked rather nice against the blue sky and took a photo. Yup I’d forgotten to restart Map My Run and didn’t realise until a little later on in my run.
All in all it was an uneventful run, I made the Italian soldier memorial in the next village and started on my way back. I was overtaken by a rather ungainly cyclist, who I recognised straightaway.
Yes it’s arse crack man, thankfully since our first unfortunate meeting he has had cyclist etiquette advice and is no longer wearing the see-through cycling shorts. Which today is a good job, because clearly he is suffering as much in the heat as I am and he takes quite a bit of time to pass me on his bike. That would have been a nightmare having to watch his bum do Morse code again as he passes me slowly… Instead he gasps and rocks side to side, in a strange way that’s a comfort knowing I’m not the only one.
I make my way back towards home, I’d had some rather optimistic thoughts of running back up the Slope of No Hope, and so it keeps that name, as my thoughts were ‘Oh no I can’t do that’.
Funnily enough that strapline is one shared by the Italian Postal Service. We have a saying in English from George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman ‘ Those who can, do; those who can’t teach’.
From our time in Italy, I have the Italian version ‘ Those who can, do; those who can’t work in the Post Office’.
I got home and was mooching around the house when the intercom buzzed into life. It was Poste Italia with a parcel to drop off. I also had a parcel for them to pick up, suitably ready with all the necessary bar codes attached, having received firm instructions that it was 100% my responsibility to attach the bar codes to the parcel as the driver did not have the technology to do it.
I went to the gate, – social distancing rules mean Poste Italia have a ready made excuse to be worse than usual, and my parcel was balanced on the gate. Now there was nothing breakable in it, but the gate is electronic and was closing, so he was playing Russian roulette with my parcel. Will it stay on the gate or will it drop? I decided I wouldn’t take that chance and took it off its perch. Hmm, I called him back as he was about to shoot off in his turbo charged minivan.
‘What about this other parcel?’ he looked confused. ‘I received a message yesterday saying you’d be picking up this parcel’
‘Oh no, I can’t do that- someone else will be doing that’. He explained he was the drop off man and couldn’t do picking up. That much was obvious with how he had handled my delivery packet – drop it off on our gate, hope it doesn’t fall and let the owner pick it up off the ground. My reason for saying this is not blind bias, as my parcel pick up was for a candle that had been smashed to smithereens, when I found the parcel ‘left’ on the drive, with the usual social distanced delivery mechanism.
And so that was my run story too, I dropped off the pace and couldn’t really pick it back up again. My ready made excuse is that with the heat over 80 degrees again, it’s as much as I can do to pick up my trainers and put them on.
I keep kidding myself that it’s getting cooler, maybe Sunday’s run will be cooler, otherwise I’ll be repeating ‘oh, I can’t do that’ and that wouldn’t do at all.
I’ve joined Mr JCR in getting up early. The bathroom thermometer shows an internal temperature of 29.3 degrees C.
It’s before 7am. Now I could have got up even earlier, but then it was darker and the dratted mozzies are still out. One of my arms resembles an aubergine in shape, following a co-ordinated attack by either a horde of mozzies, or one very hungry female who had a large family to feed.
After a not so great run last time out, I decided that a re-run of Laundry Lane up the bends was a good idea. Regular readers will now know that this was decidedly flawed thinking as the ‘leaving home’ temperature was 24 degrees, albeit there is a little more shade at that time of the morning.
I turned left onto the Bitch of a Pitch and started my warm-up walk backwards and forwards before starting the descent. Clearly I was up early, as for the first time I discovered where Lord Kitchener lives, he lives on the B of a P, and was coming out of his house, saw me and said Good Morning. I replied and carried on towards Prune Lane.
Turning down the lane, I came across a mini white road I’d not taken before, so I thought I’d go for an amble and check it out. Aha it’s a dead end, and quite agricultural here, as you can see above. Definitely clod-hopping territory. Making my way back to Prune Lane, which as it’s so steep is quite difficult to run down as you have to dig your heels in to prevent you from tipping forwards. Just as I saw Laundry Lane in the distance, I saw a day-glo green flash. Well a flash is over-egging it, as he wasn’t in the least bit fast, it was a cyclist on a mountain bike, making his way up Prune Lane. Well we exchanged smiles and I wished him good luck, because it’s bad enough coming down Prune Lane, but I get out of puff walking up it. His ascent was very slow and laboured.
After my last attempt on the Laundry Lane curves, I’d decided that this time I wouldn’t sprint, but I’d take it regularly and walk if I needed to. This method is called Jeffing as it was created by a guy called Jeff Galloway, an Olympian and running coach. The idea is that the walking breaks allow for recovery and permit you to run further. It’s also entirely allowable in events such as marathons.
So I’d decided I was Jeffing up this bends, well as the mercury was rising so was I , not only did I Jeff but I was Effing too, not least because I’d forgotten to restart Map My Run after my photo stop. Damn and blast.
I think the benefit of Jeffing may well have been compromised by the effing heat, as halfway up those bends, the temperature was now at 26 degrees. It has to be said I wasn’t really Jeffing at all at this stage, the ‘sprint/run’ section were getting shorter and shorter and the need for shade becoming more important. I was almost out of water when two cyclists passed and waved. At this point, I’d decided I’d do most of my running in whatever shade I could find, and walk in the sun. I continued the for the rest of the run, and on one of my walking intervals, green flash man came cycling the other way.
I wasn’t totally run-shamed, because he was cycling downhill and I was walking up a steep curve. Passing G & B’s old house, I managed a final run once more to finish in Argo’s loop, where I was met by a clowder of kittens, all miaowing at me.
Another cyclist was getting on his bike and my face matched his kit. Still I had jeffed and effed up that hill, and he had yet to start.
At that point my run was done and so was I. I passed the barking dog house (Alsatian and Mutt) who were a tad aggressive in their welcome for me, and I made a slow walk back to the house – one of the Argo loop roads is very steep and now covered in rotting figs, one of which I slipped on.
Figging hell, I’d also remembered I had some figs to collect back in the garden, as we were causing a wasp frenzy with the amount of fruit which had tumbled to the ground. Ahead of me I saw the loop’s namesake, Argo, being walked by our friend R. She saw me and asked where I’d been, when I told her she grimaced and said ‘I’m sweating for you’. The mercury had risen to 28 degrees/82 in old money. I needed a cool place and some water.
R and Argo continued their walk. Entering our garden I passed our fig tree, and thought a fresh fig breakfast would be rather nice, and prevent two more of them dropping on the ground.
Tragically 2 figs out of approximately 500 isn’t going to make much of a dent in the supply, but it’s a start, as was my second attempt at the Laundry Lane ascent. Who knows by the time the figs are back in harvest again, I may be able to get up that hill without the Jeffing or effing.
I do hope so.
Somewhat dubious as I forgot to restart Map My Run
Years ago, in another life entirely, I worked in a bank. It was a little old-fashioned and then it got taken over by a company known as The Right Bunch of Shysters, who modernised it beyond belief, aggressively pursued acquisitions and trampled all over the previous history and culture, oh and almost caused a global banking collapse to boot. If you’re going to kick over the coals, you may as well do it with style I suppose.
For many of my friends and ex-colleagues, coming from the old-fashioned bank and not being an original Shyster, meant they felt unwanted and seemed to be last in line when it came to promotions and pay rises. I’m not sure to this day that the two sides of the new megalith ever worked together well. Cultural cohesiveness is not easy to achieve.
Fred the Shred eventually got his comeuppance, and ironically during this 2020 of utter surreality, the Right Bunch of Shysters decided that the brand name of that rather old fashioned bank they’d trashed actually had some values that hadn’t been tainted by Fred and his buddies. Thus the remnants of the Right Bunch of Shysters returned to the name of NatWest. Sometimes, something bright and shiny can be too good to be true.
This was the story of my run. Having pursued somewhat vigorously the idea that a brand new hill running strategy of belting up the bits you can and then resting would pay dividends, it apparently didn’t work that way at all.
First of all, I was suffering from DOMS – which is very aching leg muscles to normal folk and more worryingly deep nagging ache in both hips. And it was this hip issue that stopped me running early last year. I decided against running on Thursday to give the hips a little longer to recover and I planned for a Friday run.
After Tuesday’s cool weather, I was greeted by an alarm call and Mr JCR asking me if I was running. The reply was some thing along the lines of ‘gnnhh, unnhhgghg, mmmm’ – I’m not at my most vocal early in the morning. Even less vocal than normal because it is me getting up early and not Mr JCR, that totally upsets my chemical balance. In the order of the JCR/CCR world – Mr JCR gets up first. Full stop, end of.
Mr JCR’s insistence upon me meeting my pledge to run, meant I eventually got out at about 7.20am. Ah already it was too late, the scorchio weather had returned and it was 24 degrees and hotting up. I decided against a replay of my last run and thought I’d give my usual Mill Lane – Lovers’ Lane, Mill Lane, Slope of Hope and Hill That Kills loop a new try and see if I could do the Hill That Kills in one go.
But I was boiling hot, had drunk my water within about the first five minutes and my hips were a bit niggly. Mill Lane was quiet as we are still in Ferragosto (which is the Italian version of our old Factory Fortnight), and I didn’t see a soul. In to Lovers’ Lane and I was slow but sure and overtook a hiking couple, we exchanged Salves and I carried on around Villa Bali. On my return loop I nodded to the hikers and continued on. I could see a young guy in the distance and decided I’d try and overtake him without any stops/pauses.
This I managed, but not quite all the way, just as I was drawing near to Mill Lane, I ran out of puff. A quick return to the Slope of Hope, which by now had lost all shade and I made my way back again towards the Hill That Kills. Pigiama Mamma’s house beckoned and I thought I could go all the way. But I couldn’t I was just too puffed out and so in defeat, I rested awhile before finishing my run.
Just over 3 kms in all. What a shambles. What’s the significance of BDWO – aha an old-fashioned acronym from an old-fashioned bank, meaning Bad Debt Written Off. I use it today to describe what I should have done with my new fangled hill running strategy. If I hadn’t Been Dumb Whilst Out, I wouldn’t have been speeding along up hills and causing my hips to get gip again.
Another lesson learnt in the comeback trail.
BTW Shyster comes from the German word Scheisser meaning worthless person and whilst I was on the old-fashioned side of the bank, after this run I joined Fred and his merry crew.
with the sound of an asthmatic, chain smoking, drunk and sweary labrador.
It’s 3am, I’m awake and downloading the newspaper
It’s 4am, I’m awake and reading the newspaper
It’s 5am, I’m awake and finished reading the newspaper
It’s 6am, the alarm finally catches up with me and to his total surprise so does Mr JCR.
My teenage sleeping habits are legendary and there’s never been a day in recent memory when I am awake and more to the point conscious, when Mr JCR wakes up.
Running kit ready, temperature ready – nice and cloudy and only about 19 degrees, which is positively Arctic for us at this time of year.
Where to go?, well I sort of promised I’d do some hill running and try and break the 4km barrier whilst doing it. So off I trot on a different route. Turning left out onto the Bitch of a Pitch, I decide to take Laundry Lane in reverse and take the windy curvy incline. No time limits you understand, just keep running and if I need a breather, then I’ll take one.
Today is a better day because the email problem is half solved – only half way because I’ve found the emails but just can’t seem to answer them. So I no longer feel totally like the international criminal my nearest and dearest know me to be.
The Bitch of a Pitch is aptly named, steep with lots of blind bends and some of the crazier Italian drivers believing they can see around corners, and then they suddenly see me and realise they can’t and undertake manoeuvres more at home on racing track skid pans.
My descent down the Bitch is incident free and I take a hook left onto Prune Way. This is always a test because descending is so steep and the road is semi gravel, so it’s very easy to lose your footing, except on this occasion I don’t and successfully land at the bottom. I don’t wear trail shoes for running, just standard trainers, but probably I could do with a pair more grippy.
Another hook left onto Laundry Lane, which all of a sudden seems a lot more daunting than when I jauntily decided I’d do some hills. And so I start my slow ascent. Well to be honest it was fast/slow. I started running fast and then taking a breather. But rather like an asthmatic labrador or a 60 a day smoker, I ended up taking heaving, great gulps of air in an attempt to fool myself that I was fine.
I gave myself the usual milestones – ‘if you can just get to that tree that’s fine’, ‘okay now aim for that road sign’, ‘you’re allowed to stop on that cracked bit of tarmac’.
That last ‘milestone’ in fact could relate to the whole road, smooth well laid tarmac is an art. An art which Italy appears to have forgotten. There was a great meme doing the rounds a few years ago comparing Roman built roads with the now infamous newly opened motorway in Sicily which collapsed within days of opening. But I don’t think I can ask the local council to lay cobbles and then I’m not sure I could run on them anyway.
The first major bend was in view and a car was coming up behind me and slowed down – I’m sure they couldn’t believe someone was stupid enough to run up the hill. It was embarrassing as he kept behind me for a while, just watching and of course that made me want to try harder, which just mean I ran out of puff quicker. So he witnessed an impressive turn of speed over all of about 10 metres, followed by the asthmatic labrador impersonation.
Thank goodness he didn’t stay long enough to witness me climb the rest of the ruthless staircase that is Laundry Lane. I managed to trip over some invisible objects on the road, looking now like an asthmatic, chain smoking and very drunk labrador.
Third bend in and two cyclists overtook me (not hard of course, they had gears, I just had legs…)
Fourth bend and past another yappy dog house. For the avoidance of doubt, I love dogs, but a lot of Italians keep their dogs outside in the summer, so with their extraordinary hearing they can hear the drunk, asthmatic labrador woman at least a mile off. This gives them time to prepare for the barking shock. Whereas me without laser powered eyesight, I don’t know whether the dogs are there until they bark, hence a lot of my runs are punctuated by the f bomb, the ‘shits’ and the Piss off chorus.
It took a while but I managed to do the bends and I ran them all, yes I took breathers, actually they were more or less coffee breaks, but minus the coffee. As I ran past our old friends’ house I toyed with the idea of continuing the run to the village, but then I heard from Mechanical Voice Lady that I was at the 4.5km mark.
Enough was enough, I’d climbed 132 metres in the run and most of that within a 2km stretch. Feeling pretty good about my achievement, I’d totally forgotten about another ‘dog house’ this one manned by two dogs or rather dogged by two dogs. Previously I’d thought the Alsatian was quite benign, because he never made a sound when I passed it was just his buddy. Thinking about it he did have a protective cone on his head for a few weeks, so maybe that stopped him from barking.
Of course here am I in my ‘achievement glow’ and I got totally barked off the road, I leapt higher than Bob Beamon. To be honest they got the full JCR swearing treatment. “You effing dogs…. shit that frightened me, why don’t you just piss off?’ Now I don’t know if Italian dogs are familiar with English swear words, but they will be by the time I’ve finished my hill training.
Having regained my composure, I was doing my warm down walk past those pesky chihuahuas.
Sure enough they started too, they just got a fairly loud ‘Just F off’. Now normally when I’m running it’s later in the morning and the owners are out at work. I’d totally forgotten it was just after 7am, mmm, I wonder what those families feel about their rather ripe language alarm clock.
Summary, the hills are alive with the sound of a chain smoking, asthmatic, swearing labrador.
I’m sure Julie Andrews could come up with a suitable musical lyric, if not the hills are alive how about an alternative to supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?
Another day and another run beckoned after my extended break. Sunday morning, day is dawning, JCR is yawning
It’s about 8am and I’ve left it a little too late for comfort, but decide to go for a shortish loop given the heat.
First of all my route march/warm up 5 minutes, outside the house up to the Bitch of a Pitch and back again, and I start in earnest down Argo’s loop.
Argo has been suspiciously absent from our lives in his role as official dog share, he usually barrels up when Mr JCR is mowing the lawn, but I think he’s gone off us since we fenced our garden and he has to use his very own passenger gate.
He’s a bit hacked off and so am I. For the umpteenth time all my email access has been suspended, supposedly because my id/password has been compromised. We’ve changed it pretty much once a week every week for the past six and it’s beginning to bug me. Originally we were told it was because my email account was sending phishing and spam emails, all without me knowing. What fun, I wonder if I am a Nigerian prince/princess desperately in need of help to release some much needed funds. Or maybe it’s one of those once in a lifetime investment opportunities – suffice it to say, if I had been scamming folk, I was pretty inept at it as I haven’t received a penny from anyone.
I lost two hours of my life on an online help chat which is effectively an oxymoron, because it wasn’t in the least bit helpful and I certainly wasn’t chatty. Apparently I am on a ‘watch list’ or rather my phone’s IP address is, so every time I answered an email on my phone, my mail server said ‘Oops, she’s dodgy let’s stop the account. Mail server folk said get your mobile provider to either remove your IP from the watch list or change your IP. Mobile phone people said, we haven’t done anything, there’s no reason for us to have done anything and we can’t in any event change your IP address. have you tried talking to your mail server people?
Two hours and absolutely nothing has changed. Oh except it has, it totally screwed up my mail accounts, resulting in us (I say us – Mr JCR really) having to delete all my mail accounts and starting afresh. Which if I wasn’t on a management company for our apartment building pursuing a claim for faulty cladding like Grenfell, would be all well and good.
We had to rebuild the mail because about 40 offline folders and their contents spanning two years of effort had disappeared without trace. Yikes. Then luckily the laptop seemed to shake itself back into life and spent the rest of the day rebuilding the 3000+ relevant/vital emails.
At the time of my run, I was still in no email limbo and a little bit preoccupied as to what I should do, as I’m not a criminal and can’t really prove that I haven’t been phishing/spamming anyone. Mulling over the possibilities I made my way to Laundry Lane – turning right and missing Argo’s house, I passed the beagle kennels. A cacophony of barking rang out – that’s all I needed as I was due to run past the horrid yappy dog house, where these two nasty, vicious chihuahuas with their joint inferiority complex, take a running jump at their fence and bark like crazy. Yup they did, and I dropped the f bomb loudly. Unfortunately, my next run past a house has an Alsatian and a Heinz 57 mutt, who similarly decided today was a good day for frightening an English runner. Another round of very aggressive barking and I followed suit with a crisp ‘Piss Off’.
At that point a rather large black grass snake slithered rapidly into its den, this run was turning into the stuff of nightmares. All I needed was someone behind me saying ‘Here’s Johnny’ and the run couldn’t have got much worse. Except it did, It was hot and I wasn’t really feeling the love for running. Oh and did I mention, that Map My Run wasn’t working either? Mechanical Voice Lady decided that today she was in ‘waiting’ mode. Quite what for I never actually found out, as she was out of waiting when I got back home.
So I didn’t really have a clue as to how fast/far, except my feet felt leaden. Some days are like this, but often if I get some company or something happens it jogs me out of the doldrums, but not today. I ran up Laundry Lane to our old friend’s G & B, to see their ex-house, and looped back down Laundry Lane the sun was baking now and there wasn’t much shade to be had. Two speedy cyclists zoomed past and said Brava, which considering my pace was somewhat glacial was quite generous of them really.
With a small smile on my face I continued my run towards the defunct factory on Laundry Lane. I’ve often thought it would be a nice place for a Grand Designs type house, so I curtailed my run, in favour of re-enacting Kevin McCloud.
‘Here in sleepy le Marche, a foolish couple spotted a building with potential’ blah blah blah.
I had a nose around and it’s been trashed by vandals, which considering the average age in our village is about 70, means there are some people around here who are hiding their true natures behind masks of kindly old folks. I was using my Kevin McCloud pause to get some puff back to finish the last bit of my run. And it was done, at the outset I had grand designs on doing a 4km run finishing off by running all the way up the Slope of Hope.
Who exactly was I kidding? I ambled up the Slope of Hope and in front of me saw Yoda. Again in his camo and orange combo, making a good effort up the 10% gradient at the bottom of the Slope. He was doing much better than me today. My laptop had been hacked, I was hacked off and the run was a bit of a hack too. I estimate I did just over 3km. Rubbish effort! And today is the first time using the new blog software – and I don’t like it as I can’t tell how to do some things I used to do, like the tagging. Even more hacked off! ;(
Still it can happen. But the good news is that the Sunday run heralds the start of the weather traditionally cooling down a bit Ferragosto is typically scorchio and then the day and night time temperatures start to abate. It gets cooler and my runs get easier. Amen to that. Week 19 beckons, time to start upping the ante I reckon. My next run target is to do at least 4km and include some hills. Wish me luck please.
By the way, in case you didn’t know I am actually Winnie Mandela and my husband is very ill, and if you could just spare me some cash? 🙂
We’ve had visitors, J E and their son A, my new BFF or rather BFFTH (Best Friend For This Holiday)
A is 6, I am not, although we share the number when it comes to birthdays.
The family were escaping the UK quarantine situation and enjoying a much quieter Italy, and I had my work cut out, as CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer)
First off A is a little City boy, born and bred in London and he has enjoyed a very varied life in holiday terms – Sweden, Japan, Australia to name but three, but A is not awfully keen on bugs.
It’s Italy, it’s August and we have, in no particular order of nastiness:-
Biting ants of all sizes, from one centimetre to barely one millimetre
Pappatacci – miniscule biting machines, which suck your blood and are smaller than the net holes in the mosquito nets we have on all the windows.
Snakes -of the grass variety, but rather large and black/grey in colour.
Add in the non-biting varieties of grass-hoppers, crickets, cicadas, butterflies, moths, APCs (armoured personnel carrier bugs – bright green in colour, and they let out a smell when you capture them) and for a little boy with an allergic reaction problem, the holiday could have been one miserable round of calamine lotion, anti-histamine and hysteria.
Luckily for us, A was a delightful bundle of energy, unluckily for me A was a delightful bundle of energy. Blimey, I may not have run (although I did) but he kept me on my toes.
Each day started with the walk around the house and garden to see where the ants had set up home today – favourite spot the movable light cube next to the jacuzzi.
Then followed the lizard hunt, A was a little scared at first, but then took to them like a fish to water and loved spotting them.
Then a walk through the grapevines, a favourite spot for the barely visible (to my eyes, and his parents too) grasshoppers. he was particularly smart at finding the green ones which match the grass so much so that they even have tufted dry straw coloured bits – they look exactly like cut blades of grass. Also some surreptitious eating of the wine grapes, which astonished me because they are particularly lip-puckering at this time of year.
Next the favourite bit of the walk to the compost heap to switch on the well pump, so we could water the plants. Being in charge of the pistol water hose, was a little boy’s dream. Very diligently he sprayed all the plants and filled each little moat with water. He did get slightly distracted one morning and wanted to spray some pedestrians walking on the other side of the hedge, but we avoided an international incident. This was followed by one more circuit of the garden just to see whether any new ant hotels had been set up and if the twig booby traps had worked to stop the ants entering the house.
His booby traps worked a treat, I think it was the constant grinding motion when the unfortunate ant found itself under the ‘booby trap’. Those ants went to ant heaven.
We checked out the figs for freshness and he felt the ‘fig glue’ which was emitted when you pulled them from the trees. he thought that was fascinating, but rather annoying when you couldn’t get it off your fingers.
The morning routine was completed when he was ‘allowed’ to clean the jacuzzi of dead bugs using the jacuzzi net. He and I were the nitty Noras of the pool cleaning world. A diving in, carrying the net which was twice the size of his body, and picking up bugs and clearing up what we decided was ‘calcium’. I’ve no real idea what it was, but A wants to be young man with a portfolio career. Mondays as I recall a scientist, Tuesdays a sewage expert – he liked the idea of cleaning pipes!, and the rest of the week an engineer of the general variety. Discovering calcium was considered to be very interesting to a scientist. I did feel I was using child labour, but honestly he loved it.
We’d have lunch at home sometimes and what a joy he was to feed. Pretty much anything goes – a six year old who ate black olives like other children eat Smarties. More child labour followed with A being the house’s official salad spinner operator. Afterwards we may have discussed the merits of Lego and the death ray machine, and he corrected our Swedish pronunciations and taught us new words and the merits of his ‘kick you out’ strategy for anyone who broke his house rules.
All of this was very lovely, but I didn’t do any running, except for the day we went to a local vineyard with wide open spaces and the opportunity to play chase. I started chasing him casually at first, just so that he was occupied whilst the grown ups did the wine tasting and buying. Then he came up after I’d stopped and said something along the lines of ‘well do something then!’
So the chasing began in earnest, up the mini escarpment to where the vines where – now known as homey. Apparently he couldn’t be caught on homey, so I continued to chase until one panting heap cried ‘enough’. And it wasn’t me – A had given up the ghost, I outran a 6 year old.
On his last day we did our final run around the garden, I think he had successfully overcome his bug fear. We’d found a porcupine spine and that was going back for show and tell at school. We were walking along the vines him picking grapes and then I saw the empty snakeskin (thank goodness). Mmm about a metre in length and too late I couldn’t stop him from seeing it.
Quick thinking was required and I told him that we had eagles in the area, and that maybe the eagle had dropped the snake when flying over. He seemed sure the snake would have died from that height and so we moved on, although he asked me if I could pick it up. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to, but having spent 10 days telling him that the insects wouldn’t bother him if he didn’t bother them, it seemed churlish to refuse to pick up some dead skin. It crumbled in my fingers, but ugh I still shudder when thinking about it.
A slight fib for the purpose of not freaking him out, and then luckily a little later on he found a large feather in the garden – I’m thinking wood pigeon, but to A it was proof positive that an eagle had indeed been flying over the garden. Phew! Another trophy for show and tell.
All of this doesn’t really tell the whole story, but we had a ball of a time, even though clearly I’m not used to entertaining a 6 year old, who was either full on or totally wiped.
Two days off, after their departure and I started my running again. It was hot, 26 degrees and about 7.40am when I finally got out. All was quiet, I pootled along Mill Lane and met an old guy with a walking stick, we exchanged buongiornos and I moved on. Next up Lovers’ Lane where a lot of cleaning up was going on, I am thinking the shooting star shower spectacular had encouraged ‘the love’.
Turning back I got a wave from an unknown person on a moped, and made my way to the Slope of Hope. The cicadas were out in force, the temperature rising and on the day before the big August holiday, very few people to be seen.
Laundry Lane beckoned, past R&P’s house – R you’re fine the garden looked fab! And onto the rest of the run, it was a bit too warm for my liking and I really slowed down. No-one around to witness my shame at taking a breather and a drink. I continued until I hit Argo’s loop – just over 3.5kms run. Not great but okay for a warm up run.
I’m hoping the weather warms down a bit, as I think A could have outrun me on the last section of Laundry Lane and that would never do, as I am enjoying the bliss of tiring out a 6 year old, on just one day. (he was way more successful at tiring me out, on every other day). You have to enjoy the successes when you can.