22 Dec – Let It Snow…

It may not have snowed in London literally, but it has snowed donations since my last run. First off the mark, one of my fellow C25Kers jayval70 made my day, by donating and wishing me well.

Then our very good friends B&H in Warwickshire, with a lovely message to keep me going, then M from sunny Buckinghamshire, followed in a blink of an eye by our dear friends J&G in Arnhem – who came back with a second donation. Going for the more international theme, came my brother and sister in-law, in sunny but blinking cold Hingham, USA but with the greatest warm message, and their donation got me over the line on the sponsorship target.

Not to be outdone, our friends K&C, who are partially international living as they do between Italy and Nottingham, added a second donation. Followed by a very dear Italian friend M, who works in Brussels. And last but not least my running, netballing friend J.

So after the snowing down of donations, I find I have hit one target (the money), without actually having hit the other (the running). Obviously that situation can’t continue; and this morning’s run was designed to get me ready for the last leg on Christmas Eve.

With the very pleasant weight of all that money and expectation on my shoulders, I headed up West to do a ‘dummy run’ of my route around St James’s park. It’s a cold, bright and clear morning, I have got to do just under 12kms today, leaving me 5km for Christmas Eve. My route is vaguely worked out – wiggle through Hatton Garden, saunter through the Inns of Court and the Strand, nod at Buckingham Palace, and then do a lap or so of the park.

It’s surprisingly quiet in London, considering this is the last Saturday before Christmas, and before long I find myself at the Birdcage Walk entrance to the park. Now I know where all the people went, they are taking a stroll around the park, feeding the ducks, geese and marvelling at the antics of the squirrels. I am following my Strava route roughly and decide to pause just to make sure I am doing the right course and then see Mr JCR who has come to check up on progress, and my geographic tracking capabilities…

A loop of St James’s Park is done, with a small backward facing diversion and we reckon with a little bit of jiggery pokery, I can make these two loops become my 5km run on Christmas Eve. I have to continue on to make sure I reach today’s target and more or less on the roundabout near Admiralty Arch, the job is done.

Who’d have guessed it was even possible?

I had hoped we might have snow for Christmas, but the snowfall of donations, really helped me to slip and slide my way around the park today – thanks everyone!

Job done, now to stay injury free for just one more day.

Playlist

Last Christmas (twice) – Wham

Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid

Step Into Christmas – Elton John

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – The Supremes

Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues

All I Want For Christmas is You – Mariah Carey (twice)

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas – Buble

Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt and The Pussycat Dolls Version

Stay Another Day – East 17

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Have Yourself A Merry Christmas – Sam Smith

Frosty The Snowman – The Ronettes

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Jackson Five

Walking In The Air – Aled Jones

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole

Silent Night – Andrea Bocelli

Rockin’ Robin – Michael Jackson

A Spaceman Came Travelling – Chris De Burgh

Winter Wonderland – Gwen Stefani

A Winter’s Tale – David Essex

Stop The Cavalry – Jona Lewie

Stats

Distance 11.52km

Time 1:16:07

Average Pace 6:20

Elevation Gain 34 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 2013.00

Kms to Run 5.00

21 Dec – I’m Not Lazy – Honest!

Christmas Eve – 10am – My last leg…

I find myself in an extraordinary situation, having spent most of the year frantically making sure I am doing enough runs to give me a cushion in case of injury, I now have to NOT run, in case I do too much.

Mr JCR has been working with me on the plan to finish the challenge and on Christmas Eve at 10am in St James’s Park in London, I will be doing a gentle 5km to finish. I’m inviting any C25Kers or friends or Beyonders to join me if they wish to have the somewhat dubious honour of running with me for the last leg of my challenge.

Alzheimer’s Research have asked me to do one final fund raising push, so if anyone is in London on Christmas Eve, 10am and fancies a gentle pootle around St James’s Park, Mr JCR will be in attendance to take pics and provide some post-run goodies…

The fundraising link is here https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/jancanrun

Or if you prefer, Mr JCR will carry a collecting tin for ARUK on the day. Donations are not obligatory, I’d just be happy to see people who’ve helped me through the year.

In any event I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

JCR XXX

17 Dec – Letting Kat Out Of The Bag

Meanwhile in our village in Italy….

Yesterday I met up with Kat from Alzheimer’s Research at Regent’s Park to run with me for one of my final runs, to close out the challenge and give AR some footage to use for fund-raising and encouragement to other people thinking of their own challenges.

We agreed to meet up at Great Portland Street tube, so we could run together. Cue two people wearing orange on a cold but blueish sky day in London. One of the last times I ran around Regent’s Park was when we had the Beast from the East, this time no beasts in evidence.

We started the run and to be honest I set off a little bit too ‘gung ho’ and just after a kilometre with Kat shadowing me and being videoed, we settled down to a more normal pace. Kat was a star, because she carried my extra warm running top on her back in a rucksack. And this is probably only the second time I’ve run with company (park runs don’t count imho, as there’s loads of folk, but you run on your own).

We talked about Alzheimer’s and one thing Kat told me was that one of their most requested pieces of information, was their leaflet telling you what you can do to minimise the risk of getting the disease. And I must admit I’d never thought of their role in that way, but of course education and prevention is as much a part of the cure, that we all want.

It was a lovely run and we managed around 7km in the park and then convened for a very welcome cup of coffee. The talk turned to my final run on Christmas Eve and I’ve more or less decided that I’ll run in St James’s Park and I’m thinking of asking people to join me and to donate to my fundraising for the privilege. This is me letting the Kat out of the bag. You heard it here first, if you’d like to join me on Christmas Eve (precise details, times etc., to be worked out probably tomorrow) and run with me on my final run and would be happy to make a small donation to Alzheimer’s Research for the somewhat dubious privilege of my company, then I’d love to see you. Mr JCR will be in attendance, although not running, and he’ll take pics for us to share with Alzheimer’s UK.

Playlist

Last Christmas – Wham

Step Into Christmas – Elton John

Let It Snow – Ella Fitzgerald

Driving Home For Christmas – Chris Rea

All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

Sleigh Ride – The Ronettes

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Andy Williams

Stay Another Day – East 17

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Sam Smith

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses

Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – The Jackson 5

Stats

Distance 12.15km

Time 1:24:03

Average Pace 6:55

Elevation Gain 49 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 2001.48 – Kat we hit the 2000 mark!!!

Kms To Run 16.52

15 Dec – What A Huw and Cry

After the Huw and before the cry…

Thursday morning, snuggled up in bed – sorry all, it was 8am and my Messenger in-box perks into unexpected life.

An old work friend of both of ours is asking me for my email address. I oblige and ask why… Expect an email he says. A little while later I see a very generous donation has been made to my cause. I say thank you and then get a Brucie bonus, he has not only donated to the cause, but asked for a matching donation from his employers too. Wow – I can’t tell you how much that means and what a great idea to do. I never ever thought of mentioning that as an idea to friends. It really brought a lump to my throat, and just shows me how utterly generous people are – and unknown to me he actually reads this blog too. Generous with money and his precious free-time too, to read up on my blather. So thank you Huw, it was a lovely surprise and I definitely want a catch up and coffee!

Thursday was an official rest day and as I am running out of kilometres to run, so was Friday. Saturday arrives, and we are up early to Borough Market, to avoid the crowds; my run is delayed a little while. I get changed and make my way up West again. 

It is grey and London is not looking at her best, but then for me to run, she doesn’t need to be. I pass around the City fringes and see some brightly dressed Father Christmases, both running and on bikes – I’m guessing it must have been some kind of Santa Saturday event. There’s not much people traffic around in Holborn and I am having a lovely Christmassy run, listening to my latest Christmas playlist. Hitting The Strand, things start to get a bit busier, the Saturday food kitchens for the homeless are in full swing, with the soup kitchens doling out hot curries and soups, for some very grateful people. I make my way towards Trafalgar Square and then there’s a lot of noise and commotion with ambulances and police cars rushing around and the police helicopter above. This being London and near to Christmas, I ring Mr JCR to see if there’s any kind of incident. he tells me he’ll message me in case I need to divert from a trouble spot. Arrangements made, I make my way to Liz’s gaff. Just as I cross to St James’s Park, my fruit phone decides to die. Aargh, this is not helpful especially if there is an incident. 

Then follows a classic JCR stupid tart syndrome run.  Panicking at the thought that Mr JCR may be concerned if he can’t message me and receives a message to say I haven’t received the message, I think I must find a BT phone box.

Well, what do you know  – there are lots of them in and around London, it’s just that none of them seem to actually work. Aside from the routine posting of porn adverts, they have a variety of ailments:-

First post box near Westminster – phone is working but no receiver.

Second phone box  near Westminster – phone is working, I have my credit card and unsurprisingly it is declined – because who in their right mind would use a credit card to make a phone call? As my phone isn’t working I can’t phone my credit card company to tell them it’s okay and not a dodgy criminal. I do have cash – a £20 note. The phone box doesn’t take notes, only coins.

Okay, JCR continue the run to buy an unwanted cup of coffee, get  suitable change, and make this phone call to Mr JCR.

Third phone box – there’s a queue of tourists outside it, all taking selfies one by one, in the box. I sip the coffee and wait patiently. After 5 selfie takers had finished (it seemed like 50), I put in my money. Stupid tart syndrome hits again – never, ever, lodge your highest value coin to test the slot. Yup that’s a £1 coin gone to the profits of BT, as the machine jammed and no coin return. 

I’ll change my route and head along the Embankment and through Victoria Gardens park – oh no you won’t JCR – the air ambulance is in the gardens – and that explains the earlier commotions.  

Fourth phone box – not a BT one, it is black and operated by some unknown company, which doesn’t give me much confidence. Working coin slot – hurrah, but of course it accepts my 20 pence piece and swallows it into oblivion.

I look at my coins I now have just one £1 coin left and a 5p. The latter isn’t accepted in any phone box and the former is my last chance of contacting Mr JCR, unless I go and buy a second unwanted cup of coffee. The next phone box I see is another one of the ‘dodgy’ black and gold ones, at this point I’ve decided I have been way too charitable towards these telcos and just continue home. 

No music to listen to, no Mechanical Voice Lady to tell me how slow I am running, just the pounding of my feet and heartbeat to keep me company, with the occasional muttering of ‘effing hell’ ‘I hate BT’  and ‘ Mr JCR may be panicking’. 

Needless to say I arrived back home all in a state, one could say a ‘hue and cry’ and Mr JCR looked up and said ‘nice run?’, I then went into this big long explanation about the phone, the boxes, the air ambulance. Had he messaged me at all? Nope – so that was a totally, utterly, completely pointless waste of emotional energy, and I had no real idea of how long I took, only a guesstimate. I’ve done the run before so didn’t lose out on recording the kms. 

I started out on Thursday with Huw, giving me a really big boost to go out on Saturday. I ended up on Saturday almost crying with frustration. Next run out, I’m carrying my battery charger…

Playlist

It was my Christmas playlist, and I can’t remember one track except for Santa Baby.

Stats

Distance 11.04

Time 1:40:51 (this included unwanted coffee and phone box stops)

Average Pace 9:08

Elevation Gain 21 metres???

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 1989.33

Kms To Run 28.67

11 Dec – Fabulous Forty

If you look closely, you can see Islington’s Christmas lights…, I realised in all my glamorous running for Bev’s mojo, that I had not highlighted the amazing Islington Christmas spectacle. 

A basic local run today, and not a lot to say. It was cold, but we had blue skies and I saw just one fellow runner, he was wearing shorts and a tee shirt, with a grimace. I’m not surprised at the look on his face, it was a bit cooler than perhaps he’d imagined when he first set out. I on the other hand was sporting  a matching blue running jacket, non-droopy running tights, sexy new Hokas and a stupid grin, because I’m just about a week away from doing my challenge.

Pride or smugness may well come before a fall, and whilst I don’t want to hex it, I do think this challenge is in the bag. At the fish shop, Robbie asked me how I was doing and he whistled when I told him – he said I was looking well on it  (maybe that’s because he wants me to keep buying my fish from him)

Not entirely sure Bev’s mojo will have been Islington way though, I think she’d look at the three stars and shake her head sadly at the lack of bling. 8kms done, listening to a mix of covers and Christmas songs. Not fast, not slow, but a lovely pootle on a lovely day. 

Playlist

Good Year For The Roses – Elvis Costello and The Attractions

Personal Jesus – Marilyn Manson

Kids in America – Lawnmower Deth

All The Young Dudes – Mott The Hoople

Welcome To The Jungle – Richard Cheese

Faith – Limp Bizkit

Venus – Bananarama

Hanging On The Telephone – Blondie

Take Me To The River – Talking Heads

Cats In The Cradle – Ugly Kid Joe

The Passenger – Siouxsie and The Banshees

Smooth Criminal – Alien Ant Farm

Seasons In The Sun – Westlife

Step Into Christmas – Elton John

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day – Wizzard

Stay Another Day – East 17

Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt

A Spaceman Came Travelling – Chris de Burgh

Stats

Distance 8.58km

Time 58:52

Average Pace 6:51

Elevation Gain 30 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 1978.29

Kms To Run 39.71

10 Dec – Hitching A Lift

Loving the bling…

Monday morning blues – no not me, another blue sky day in London, so what to do. Get dressed and go for a run. With a new £50 sponsorship donation geeing me on, I wanted to get under the 50kms to go mark.

Blue skies, but chilly – okay JCR, load up on the layers – underwear yup, socks yup, leggings yup, base layer yup, running top – the famous fish carrying top yup, bobble hat yup, gloves yup. Oh yes, it’s the droopy yoga leggings again  – this could be an eventful run.

Take a deep breath and enter the cold zone. Actually I think I may have overlayered, but let’s just carry on and see. It’s another trip up West, the City is busy and the crowds thin in and around Holborn and the Inns of Court. Hitch up the leggings! Looking ahead beyond Chancery Lane, town is looking a little more hectic. Okay JCR time to take a diversion, and mooch along to Great Ormond Street Hospital. It’s often busy here with ambulances and lots of patients outside of the hospital, but today it is very quiet – thank goodness as I need a second hitch of the leggings. I’m about half way into my run and I think about running home. Heading towards Kingsway, I see the lovely blingy doorway above. I’ve never thought of a purple and gold colour way – very Roman imperial for Christmas. However we don’t live in a blingy place and I think Mr JCR will have me certified as mad if I suggest a new colour way for Christmas decorations, especially when we have an apartment with hardly any storage space.  

At this stage, I am seriously overheating – that means hat off, gloves off, fish running top off – third leggings hitch. Place all items in fish carrying pocket, tie my top around my waist – re-hitch the leggings. Try to elegantly wipe a river of sweat from my face, whilst admiring the blingy doorway. I’m sure my running friend Bev said her mojo is sparkly and purple – if so Bev, I think I’ve found her, hiding in this doorway. A mojo shouldn’t be away from home at this time of year, what is it I can do to get her back to you?

I turn back towards Fleet Street, the crowds are gathering for lunch, with many queues for fast food spilling onto the pavement. Mmm fast food, what am I going to do for lunch and dinner? Well it wouldn’t be a London run, if I didn’t go shopping. It’s just a couple of kms away from home, and my thoughts turn Italian. After a month away from Italy, we’ll be having pasta for dinner – the thought of food powers my legs, but increasing the speed, unfortunately increases the rate at which my leggings droop. That’s five hitches in one run. 

Fortunately, droopy leggings notwithstanding, this run has gone without a hitch. And the £50 sponsorship did its job, I managed to get to the less than 50kms to go mark. Now I find myself sporting a MonaLisaesque  enigmatic smile – 14 days to go and about 49kms to run. I’ve actually got to slow down, otherwise I’ll finish early, which is sorely tempting, but not possible, as I’ve made some promises about Christmas Eve being the final D -Day (done day).

Playlist

iTunes had many a hitch – with most tracks only playing for 10 seconds only. After a while I gave it up, but these are the tracks I actually heard in full.

Temptation – Heaven 17

Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty

Reap The Wild Wind – Ultravox

Master and Servant – Depeche Mode

Sign Your Name – Terence Trent D’Arby

Every Breath You Take – Police

Night Fever – Bee Gees

Go Wild In the Country – Bow Wow Wow

She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult

Don’t You Want Me – Human League

I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me – Nik Kershaw

Shake The Disease – Depeche Mode

No More I Love Yous – The Lover Speaks

Be My Number Two – Joe Jackson

From Me To You – The Beatles

Hunter – Dido

Stats

Distance 9.11km

Time 1:00:00

Average Pace 6:35

Elevation Gain 42 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 1969.71

Kms To Run 48.29

8 Dec – Can’t See The Wood

Thanks Norway…, the tree is looking good

for the trees. The old idiom of not being able to see a situation clearly because you are too involved in the details, and I must admit I am in grave danger of being that person.

I keep looking at the kms to go and am frantically re-working my excel spreadsheet to see how I can manage my runs. And I’ve suddenly realised it’s a pointless exercise. Other than one of the three Ds  occurring (death, disaster or disease), I am going to get the challenge done, so there’s no point in sweating over the details. Most days when I run I take a peek at my plan, then promptly ignore it when I’m out and about. I take my cue from how I feel when I’m out and about. Therefore no more excel jockeying for me. Saturday morning the weather was uncommonly beautiful, a gorgeous crisp blue sky day in London, in December. Who could resist the invitation to run? For sure not me. 

Bev’s mo jo is being remarkably stubborn – nowhere to be seen in London and apparently not to be found in Yorkshire either. But Bev has been running on her own mojo hunt, and after my rubbish Thursday run, I took the opportunity to re-think my mojo hunting strategy. It’s Christmas almost and Trafalgar Square has its traditional Norwegian Christmas Tree up. Now most years I don’t ever really focus on it – it’s part of the scenery. But it is a lovely enduring tradition. If the Norwegians can keep sending us trees year  after year, then the least I can do is run there and see if the mojo is hiding amongst its branches. It seems a great place to hide. Lots of folk around for company, most people smiling because it’s Christmas, twinkly sparkly lights too, oh and lions to guard you in case you are feeling scared. 

I set off through the City, the Inns of Court and made my way towards the Strand, it was all nice and quiet, save for the quiet sound of my natty new running leggings sliding down my legs… Now this was a classic case of they look good and I want them, so I’ll buy them. I did recognise that they were actually yoga tights, and didn’t have a runner’s drawstring around the waist. A rather unladylike hoist to pull them back up so I don’t look like a young teenage boy with my knickers showing…, and I continue down the Strand and arrive at Trafalgar Square – already getting quite busy, with plenty of tourists taking selfies and me taking a few minutes out to look for Bev’s mojo amongst the branches of the tree. To be honest no sign of it, so I’m guessing the mojo may have passed here a while ago…

I turn towards home and run along the Embankment Gardens and take a left hook past the Savoy – Bev’s mojo is a classy bird I understand, maybe she dropped in for afternoon tea? Back along Fleet Street, the crowds are building up and near St Pauls required all of my ninja running skills. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add some Christmas spice to my running… I’ve done my famous bread running, fish running, crab running and now I can add Christmas gift wrap running to the mix. We need some gift wrap, I am passing a glittery, blinged up display – in a previous life I must have been a magpie, I am always attracted to glitter. Not being able to resist the glitz, I pause my run, buy some bling, and re-start. Even in this palace of glitter and bling no sign of a mojo – I do hope she’s closer to Yorkshire now. My final 1km towards home, another unladylike hoist of the sliding leggings and I arrive home.

Success – 9kms done, giftwrap bought, and modesty maintained.

Downside – where is this pesky mojo?

Major encouragement – a donation from our Italian friends M&L, – they’ve made me determined to get under the 50km to go mark, next time out. £50 donated is a really big spur to get me under the magic 50km – grazie, grazie, grazie.

Playlist

Rumour Has It – Adele

Sign Of The Times – Harry Styles

Cabron – Red Hot Chilis

Girl From Mars – Ash

Einstein A Go-Go – Landscape

Purple Rain, When Doves Cry – His Purple Highness

Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll – Killers

Breaking Us In Two – Joe Jackson

Barbara Ann – The Beach Boys

London Calling – The Clash

Modern Way – The Kaiser Chiefs

Personal Jesus, It’s Called A Heart – Depeche Mode

Every Day I Love You Less and Less – Kaiser Chiefs

Joan of Arc – OMD

Stats

Distance 9.25km

Time 59:24

Average Pace 6:25

Elevation Gain 46 metres

Alzheimers Challenge

Kms Run 1960.6

Kms to Run 57.4