18 Feb – You Can Take The Girl Out of Liverpool

 

But you most definitely can’t take Liverpool out of the girl. Last night’s gourmet feast was in a little restaurant we had seen on Thursday evening and thought it looked good. Had we looked at the menu? – no. Had we looked at the price point? – no. On what did we base our judgement – we liked the decor. Luckily the decor judgement seemed to work for the food and we had a very nice meal. Oh and a fantabulous bottle of Rioja too.

Starters for Mr JCR – some kind of sausage – it sounded chorizo like, so I assumed it would be like a charcuterie plate. No it was a sausage, with fries and a dipping sauce. Mine was dead easy – the menu had me at ‘morcilla’ – which is the Spanish version of black pudding, a rare treat, that I eat about twice a year.When I do this in France or Spain the locals  often wonder if the Englishwoman has gone mad and knows what she has ordered. I have been questioned about it before – in Paris, a colleague asked ‘you do know that is black sausage don’t you?’ Yes I was fully conversant and I expected my morcilla, maybe with some spinach, or apple or a mustard sauce. No, it came with chips. This is all fine, except Mr JCR had ordered his main course of steak and chips and me, well I’d wimped out on the chips and had the ‘healthy’ baked potato option.

Last night’s healthy preparatory meal for today’s run and Mr JCR’s bike ride was basically meat and spuds, twice. I thought the Northern gods would be smiling at my conversion of a namely pamby Southerner.

With what felt like 10 tons of meat and spuds weighing me down, I was wavering whether or not to run. I wavered for at least two hours, whilst reading the newspaper. And then it came to the crunch time – read the rest of the paper and blag to Mr JCR that my hips were too sore to run or be honest and go out for a run. To my surprise, honesty won, and I ran. It wasn’t record beating, certainly it was slow, but it was a run and I did City sights today, having pounded the seafront one too many times for interest.

Malaga is undergoing quite a renaissance, and so it seems in the area I found (well I think the Malaguenans built it a little while ago) I’m not claiming Christopher Columbus rights here. And I was running in a chichi paved and shaded area near the port, with a modern art Rubik’s cube thing. This break is all about the running and riding, so we aren’t spending much time doing cultural stuff, but definitely worth a return visit, when my legs aren’t aching so much that I’d happily go for a walk.

Running lessons learnt today:-

Meat and spuds twice is not the best prep for a morning run

I need to travel with my own pillow; Ikea’s finest just aren’t hacking it

Following Team Rhomboid’s 40 day Lenten Exercise Plan, is bloody hard work – and I am only on Day 2. Wall press-ups anyone?

Playlist

I Don’t Want To Go To Chelsea – Elvis Costello

I Spy – Pulp

Start – The Jam

Minnie The Moocher – The Blues Brothers

In My Bed – Amy Winehouse

When You’re Young – The Jam

Don’t Look Back – Madness

In My Life – The Beatles

Darlin’ – The Beach Boys

Boom Boom – John Lee Hooker

Smokestack Lightnin’ -Howlin’ Wolf

Heroes – David Bowie

I Love To Boogie – T Rex

London Traffic – The Jam

Round & Round – New Order

Stats

Distance 6.22km

Time 48:15

Average Pace 7:45 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 28 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run To Date 247.1km

Kms To Run 1770.9km

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Feb – Wimp or Wally?

You decide, after a very long night’s sleep and an understanding Mr JCR who knew exactly why I needed to crash, I thought I may just go for a walk today, rather than run.

But then why walk when you can run? (even if it is now ‘glacial pace’*) and furthermore the run counts towards your Alzheimer’s Challenge, whereas walking wouldn’t.

I toddled off, in fact it was like treading on hot coals, but I really slowed down and took the coastal path along the seafront, wearing running shorts for the first time this year. Running shorts without a pocket, so some frantic re-arranging of my shoelaces and I managed to put the Airbnb keys in my trainers.

Today saw a significant number of folk on the beach and the beach barbecues were all in force, giving a very nice aroma en route. These are formed in steel boats and the fish/shellfish are skewered vertically to cook. It was very appetising seeing fresh sea bream and prawns cooking, if a little tempting to just pack in the run and have lunch instead.

I had got used to the jingle of keys accompanying me and then all of a sudden, no jingle. The Airbnb keys had worked out, so a slight retracing of steps and I continued on.

At one stage I was so slow I was overtaken by a pedestrian, but then I’m guessing they haven’t run 20+km in the past two days.

It was warm, my pace was dreadful but I snuck in another 6km. This is day 3 of running a 4 day streak. I am not sure my body can deal with it. Still, we are eating out tonight and I have plenty of time to rest before going out tomorrow.

Must up the water intake, as today I saw a thermometer saying 22 degrees; Southern Spain is hotting up. Upside, I didn’t wimp out – downside, I may have overcooked days 1 and 2, so that probably makes me a Wally.

At the final countdown in December, we will find out.

* gratefully plagiarised from The Devil Wears Prada

Playlist

Please Don’t Go – Madness

Please Please Me – The Beatles

Please Stay – Duffy

Politik – Coldplay

Pop Muzik – ‘M’

Porcelain Gods – Paul Weller

Precious – The Jam

Press Lightly – Paloma Faith

Prettiest Star – David Bowie

Pretty Vacant – Sex Pistols

The Price Of Admission – Stiff Little Fingers

The Price of Love – Bryan Ferry

Pride (In The Name Of Love) – U2

(obviously I didn’t shuffle my playlist…)

Stats

Distance 6.86kms

Time 1:04:59

Average Pace 9:28 (see, it’s getting much worse this is 3mins a km worse than my usual)

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Done 240.9

Kms To Do 1777.1

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13 Feb – From Martyr to Tomato

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pexels-photo-257794.jpeg

It is a cold, wet day and not in the least bit inspiring. But off I trot through the damp streets of Islington. This, I am hoping, is one of the worst weather days for a while, as we go off to sunnier climes tomorrow for Winter Training Camp. I have a feeling that regardless of my future running intents, a February break to avoid the cold and dark may well be on the cards.

I have noticed the more days of running consecutively, the worse my km pace is. I am not expecting a fast run today. And it didn’t disappoint. I aimed for Clerkenwell and St John Street and then shooted off towards Rosebery Avenue and Islington’s Upper Street. Taking some back streets I ended up at Tolpuddle Road pictured and wondered what particular relevance Islington has to the Tolpuddle martyrs.

It would seem that a public demonstration was organised near Copenhagen Street to show support for the martyrs and this attracted over 100,000 people to a march onto Parliament. Tolpuddle Street today, was just wet, puddley, and gusty. At which point, one of the gusts blew my hat off, and having overtaken two guys, I had the embarrassment of having to stop and run back to get the hat. Not so much a martyr JCR as a tomato.

I continued onto Islington’s Upper Street, and sure enough gusts of wind blew the hat off again. So I stowed it in my jacket, giving me a very weird monoboob look. I continued on pitter pattering through the puddles to the upper end near Highbury and turned back again. This time I had Sweaty Betty in my sights, to buy yet another sports bra and pair of shorts for Winter Training Camp. For a  supposedly cheap sport this is getting mightily expensive.

All the running training guides tell you not to run carrying anything unless it is in a rucksack on your back, because you can overbalance and desynchronise your running. With this in mind, the Sweaty Betty swag bag joined the hat in the now straining at the seams running jacket. Pregnant, monoboobed runner on the loose again.

I made my way home and managed just a shade over 9km. Tomorrow is rest day and we fly to arrive in Malaga for early afternoon where I am delighted to note it is neither wet nor cold, nor gusty.

And thanks so much to the family Mackintosh (sounds like a tv series!) for their great sponsorship in my Alzheimer’s Challenge. I can’t tell you how much of a boost that was.

Playlist

Second Hand News – Fleetwood Mac

7 Seconds – Youssou N’Dour and Neneh Cherry

New York Minute – Don Henley

Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day

All Day And All Of The Night – The Kinks

December 1963 – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

Night Fever – Bee Gees

Spring Affair – Donna Summer

Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams

Year Of The Cat – Al Stewart

7 Years – Lukas Graham

Holding Back The Years – Simply Red

Sunday Girl – Blondie

Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones

I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) – The Proclaimers

8 Mile – Eminem

Steppin’ Out – Joe Jackson

Stats

Distance 9.34 kms

Time 1:11:32

Average Pace 7:39 mins/km

Elevation Gain 28 metres

Hat Flying Off – 2

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Done 212.01

Kms to Do 1805.99

 

 

 

Feb 7 – Is It A Week or A Weak Streak?

This is the first time ever, I have run every day for a week. This was me testing which method works best for doing the challenge. It had been recommended by some folk on the C25K forum, that maybe dropping the kms run, but running daily might be a way to go.

That for me means February is an ‘experimental’ month, when I will try different run types, timing etc, just to see what works best both physically and mentally. The first experiment is completed and that is running a fewer number of kms but doing it daily.

Two things I have observed:-

I can easily exceed the minimum km required and often run further, even allowing for the January backlog which does need to be caught up.

It’s a hard ‘ask’ as football commentators say, to go out and run every single day. Some people love the idea of running streaks and there is a fantastic lady on C25K, who is up to something like 380+ days of running every single day. I am however, not that lady!

Summary; in principle (subject to no injuries) the challenge would be manageable if I ran every single day. But there are days when we travel by car from London to Italy and back again. They are long days and realistically I am not going to pull on my trainers, when we travel. Also the bigger consideration, I don’t actually enjoy running every day. I feel as though it has become a burden, rather than something I enjoy. For sure, some runs have been fun, but honestly, this week has been tough. Also, I am a little concerned about never having a rest day, which I think could work against me in the long run, because I am not varying either my pace/distance overly much.

Now looking to the next experiment, I am going to try 4 days of running, with one day off. Also varying the distances, so I can change pace. It will be helped by us disappearing to Malaga for what we are euphemistically calling Winter Training. I think it may end up being Tapas Training. But with daytime temperatures in and around the 20s, it will be warm enough not to fear the cold when running.

Today’s run was actually quite pleasant cold but with a beautiful blue sky, I ran past my latest television crush David Olusoga (the historian on Falkner Street documentary). Can I digress and say he is rather gorgeous in the flesh? – often TV men I’ve seen have been a lot less photogenic and substantially shorter than I expected. The box does distort things somewhat. But he is very cute. That gave me a nice surprise and of course I smiled. There is a benefit of smiling, it actually helps you run better (longer and better pace) so if I can just arrange for Mr Olusoga to pass by next time out, I will be fine.

I was running down towards Borough Market, which was quite busy for a Wednesday afternoon,  and oops, I nearly took out an old geezer – in fairness to me he did that thing when he was looking one way and moving another. A quick shouted apology and I decided getting out of the market may be safer for all concerned. I was pootling on the South Bank and a fellow liquorice and satsuma runner came towards me. A silver fox runner, with liquorice coloured leggings and a satsuma top collar peeking out of his black sweatshirt. Apart from my black Eminem type hoodie, we looked the same. He gave me a big smile and I returned the favour. Running karma – if smiling helps you run, then why not?

By this time the South Bank was getting busier, I’m guessing ITV must be having some celeb on TV this evening, as there were younger people hanging around the South Bank ‘pen’. They didn’t look like David Olusoga groupies, but who knows?

On my return leg, I avoided the South Bank and ran just one street behind, where it was substantially quieter and easier to get around. Scooting back towards Tate Modern, and over the wobbly bridge, I headed to St Paul’s where I saw a wedding photoshoot taking place.

Although the ‘bride’ was wearing a fur-trimmed cape thing, I have to say she was smiling way more than I thought was possible in the cold. Maybe she had a mobile heater under the skirt…

Anyway the run was done, and my 7 day running streak completed. I’ve done the week and it wasn’t a weak, week, because I have run just short of 50km in 7 days.

And I am up to the top 7% in the global challenge 🙂

Playlist

Ben – Michael Jackson

Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz

Frankie – Sister Sledge

The Diary of Horace Wimp – ELO

Jackie Wilson Said – Dexys Midnight Runners

Song For Keith – Mike Strickland

Louie Louie – The Kingsmen

Mickey – Toni Basil

Nathan Jones – The Supremes

Oliver’s Army – Elvis Costello & The Attractions

Rudy – Supertramp

Telegram Sam – T Rex

Sharp Dressed Man – ZZ Top

Is Vic There? – Department S

Warwick Avenue – Duffy

Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

Tracy Jacks – Blur

It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls

Stats

Distance 7.87 km

Time 55:22

Average Pace 7:02

Elevation Gain 65 metres

Running Streak – 7 Days One Whole Week

Alzheimers Challenge

Kms Run to Date 174.82

Kms to Do 1843.18

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5 Feb – I was in the top 8%

That’s me, the non-running runner. The over 50 non-running runner. Out of 110,000 people in this challenge, I am in the top 8%. Well I was yesterday, as the pic proves. This probably is the best achievement I’ve ever had, whether sporting or academic.

Except maybe for eating chocolate, I think I can confidently say I was in the top 8% (probably in the world), for eating chocolate. But this running achievement is transitory, it’s early days and there’s a whole uncertain, scary year still to run.

No resting on laurels then…. let’s see what today will bring. I don’t want to end up as a punch-drunk fighter saying ‘I could’ve been a contender’.

It was cold, but clear and I was dressed in black like a ninja. I actually ran like a walrus, not a ninja, but still I went out.

190946
This walrus can actually run faster than me!

Despite being a slow runner of some repute, I am delighted to say I am still in the top 8% of the global challenge. That’s twice now I have appeared here. I am gloating, yes I am! The running, slow, walrus is gloating; pride will undoubtedly come before a fall…

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Playlist

Born In The USA – The Boss

Everything Must Go – The Manics

Back To Black – Amy Winehouse

By The Way – Red Hot Chilis

Boombastic – Shaggy

Crazy In Love – Beyonce

Let’s Stick Together – Bryan Ferry

Save A Prayer – Duran Duran (twice in succession)

Is Vic There? – Department S

Doginabag – The Fratellis

Wonderwall – Oasis

Strong – London Grammar

Enola Gay – OMD

I Try – Macy Gray

Sex-O-Matic-Venus Freak – Macy Gray

Stats

Distance 6.78km

Time 47:39

Average Pace 7:01 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 21m

Alzheimer’s Challenge Update

Kms Run To Date 160.31

Kms to Run 1857.69 (slowlee, slowlee, catchee monkee)

Running Streak – Day 5

 

 

 

 

3 Feb – Slip, Sliding Away

To quote Paul Simon. I had decided yesterday to rest a while and not go out until this afternoon. It was cold and clear this morning, whilst I was warm and toasty inside.

Then at 3.30pm I set off, it was no longer cold and clear, but cold, rainy and breezy. After two minutes of warm-up walking, I decided I’d had enough and that I wasn’t going to get warm enough to run and headed back to the apartment. Not to give in you understand, but to change into warmer gear as my legs were freezing and ears complaining of potential frostbite. (I exaggerate, but they were tingling uncomfortably)

Change of leggings to the fleece lined Dutch ones (the Dutch is important as they have longer legs than me) so I look like a fluorescent Nora Batty, despite taking the hems up.

The pavements were horrid and very slippy, culminating in me doing some rather inappropriate stretches whilst running. Tarmac is better, but even around the City on a rainy, cold Saturday afternoon, road-running isn’t a possibility. So I slipped and slided my way to just over 6km. That’s it, no more to say, it was horrid. I look like a drowned rat  and there’s absolutely no chance of looking like a molto chic podista today.

Face Colour – Monarch Red

Playlist

From my Weather playlist on Spotify, as that seemed most appropriate

Fog On The Tyne – Lindisfarne

Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen

Thunder – His Purple Highness

Mr Blue Sky – ELO

Ain’t No Sunshine – Lighthouse Family

Downpour – Backstreet Boys

Sunshine On Leith – The Proclaimers

Sunshine After The Rain – Berri

On The Road Again – Canned Heat

Cold As Ice – Foreigner

The Real Slim Shady – Eminem

Summer Breeze – The Isley Brothers

Cold Cold Man – Saint Motel

Warmth – Bastille

Sunshine On A Rainy Day – Galimar

Stats

Distance 6.64km

Time 44:32

Average Pace 6:42 (mins/km)

Running Streak 3 days

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Done 146.04

Kms To Do 1877.96

 

 

 

22 December – Being Bitten On The Bum

Back of house-activity
Liquorice Alert

by the Hill That Kills.  this was the running reality, on my first run back in Italy.

It has been a hectic week – last Sunday  was the London apartment close down and the unwelcome news that our water heater element had gone. Cue short sharp showers using the emergency top up facility – it was a game of chicken between you and the shower as to how long you could actually wash with hot water. Not great when you’ve been running and desperately need a shower!

Whilst I was enjoying myself running Mr JCR was packing the car with the essentials for our Christmas and New Year. Christmas Presents – check. Wine – check. Waitrose trolley dash – check. Bike – check. Solar Lights – check. More Wine – check. Whisky, Port, Sherry – Check. Holland & Barrett trolley dash – check. Clothing – check. Room in boot for the necessary cases of champagne – check. Room in boot for stop at Calais Vin to buy more wine – check. Room in boot for the cool bag of essential dairy stuff that can’t be bought in Italy – check.

Sunday night can’t sleep. Monday wake up early, everything goes to plan, except for one tiny detail – leaving space in the car for the fridge essentials is fine, one small detail JCR, you needed to have actually taken the essentials out of the fridge! This minor detail was discovered on the way to Kent – too far out of London to turn back, this meant a series of frantic WhatsApp messages to friends Maan and Dragan to go into the fridge take what they wanted and freeze the rest.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t have been that bothered by missing the groceries but we have our dear friends G & J staying with us over Christmas, G is particularly partial to all things Cornish, as a child he used to holiday in Cornwall a lot. There pretty much isn’t anything Cornish that he doesn’t like. As he and J live in The Netherlands, it’s quite hard to get Rodda’s Cornish Clotted Cream out there; my dairy surprise included this precious jewel so we could all enjoy Cornish Clotted Cream Teas over the holiday. Luckily a stop for petrol outside of Folkestone took us to a Tesco, where a last minute clotted cream dash meant we could continue with the precious cargo on board. No cool bag to put it in, but with temperatures of two and three degrees, that didn’t seem to be a big problem.

Next stop Calais, aha an hour delay on the tunnel crossing, ho hum. Next stop Calais Vins – a trolley dash, breakfast and then en route to Champagne. Next stop the champagne supplier, eight cases bought and stowed. Next stop Beaune. Overnight stay, get up, breakfast, trolley dash around the supermarket to replace the ‘lost’ Comte, Stichelton and Vacherin cheeses. To the Mont Blanc tunnel refuel, change drivers and next stop Italy, to a shopping outlet near Milan. We thought this was a good idea, because from a distance it looked like Bicester Village and we thought the food there would be better than eating in a Motorway Service Station. Hmm, we won’t ever return there. Next stop – home. Blimey, it’s brass monkey weather here, the house is literally stone cold. We unpack, shake and shiver and put the heating on, which is not really up to the job.

Wednesday morning, – more blinking shopping to do – this time it’s fresh stuff. Get home start organising the house for our friends’ arrival. Mr JCR has a committee meeting, so I set up the Christmas tree (well it is an olive tree actually, which gets decorated and then put in the garden).

As I am doing this pleasant task, I start looking for the window lights and my Santa candle (sad I know!) – it seems that when we were burgled in March, the burglars liked my taste so much that they stole my Scandi window lights and Santa candle, along with the other weird stuff. Curses. Trying to channel my inner Christmas karma, I hope they enjoy them –  as my inner Christmas karma doesn’t actually extend to thieves, I hope that my Santa candle is stuffed to the gunwales with hitherto undiscovered gelignite and blows them to Kingdom come.

Thursday – my usual running day, we have chores to do in the morning and a delivery arriving in the afternoon, the delivery doesn’t actually materialise, so my run is deferred and deferred until it is dark and I don’t have torches/lights here for running, so that blows that idea out of the water.

At last, Friday arrives – now we are doing the ‘big shop’ for all the goodies for Christmas – that means my run waits a little longer. Then the Thursday delivery arrives on Friday, just as I am about to go out – so delayed just a bit longer – Faffolino has done a great job this week. I finally get out – dressed in my finest black fleece lined leggings, with fluoro orange on top, and a natty bright orange hat – I looked like a bizarre liquorice stick, with a satsuma topping.

I start my warm up walk down the Slope of Hope, the walnut trees are bare, and the wind whistles in places you wished it didn’t. Turn the blind bend and yes naturally I have to dodge a car – welcome home JCR. Past the barking balcony house – no dogs today and start my run into the Hill That Kills.

I have been running in London, I have done some park runs, some interval training and some longer runs. Quite evidently what has been missing is regular hill training. I have become a soft southern namby pamby, actually as London is north of here, I have become a soft northern namely pamby. Either way, I now can’t run all the way up the Hill That Kills, I manage to run just past Pigiama Mamma’s house and then my  puffing and tired legs tell me to stop.  It’s only been eight weeks since I was running hills regularly and I’ve lost my hill legs.

I start to walk and then at the hill peak commence running again, down Lovers’ Lane, now totally empty, the piadineria is shut down and it looks like Villa Bali is closed for Winter. I circuit the gardens and turn back down Lovers’ Lane – a car approaches, passes and then turns round and follows me slowly. I now have paranoid thoughts about a weirdo kidnapping me and worse. Then he pulls over and stops to take his dog out for a walk. Not a weirdo then, just a dog walker…

I run up to the mini peak on Lovers’ Lane and give myself another walking break – back to the Hill That Kills and now she is laughing at me. ‘JCR, you tested yourself and on your first visit back to me, I have taken a great big chunk out of your bum, – but there’s plenty more bum to chew, so you better get training girlie’. I decide then that I will do a mini sprint part way up The Slope of No Hope – which 8 weeks ago, I could run from top to bottom, without stopping. Well that idea was clearly misguided – I manage to wheeze my way past the barking balcony house and I have to walk again, up into Mill Lane I do one further loop and try The Slope Of No Hope, once more. I did a little better this time, past the barking balcony house to the boundary of the walnut grove.

So my summary is that just like Christmas, my running needs to be planned a little more militarily.

When packing the car and leaving room for one more thing, write a post-it note somewhere visible to tell you to take that thing with you. When running up hills, it’s not a bad idea to actually have run up some hills beforehand! I think that means when I return to London the Hampstead Heath running may be necessary to keep my running legs going.

Playlist

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

Green Eyes – Coldplay

Green Garden- Laura Mvula

Yellow River – Christie

White Riot – The Clash

Little Red Corvette – His Purple Highness

Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis

Lavender – Marillion

Pretty Fly For A White Guy – The Offspring

Fade to Grey – Visage

Purple Rain – His Purple Highness

Stats

Distance 6.03km ( I think it was about 5km really)

Time 46.54

Average Pace 7.46 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 55m

Bitten Bum 1