One of the joys of living in Italy is the impromptu nature of your social life. Whilst one of the downsides is not being fluent in the native language meaning you occasionally end up doing something that you hadn’t quite expected or prepared for.
So it turned out last night at a friend’s birthday. There was to be some sort of informal gathering outside their shop and Mr JCR thought their usual outdoor marquee may be involved. There was a birthday party and it was in their shop (no marquee), and the evening was somewhat surreal as we saw a handmade polenta and fish ragu volcano being set alight.
I have been to all sorts of events in my life, but the lighting of a polenta and ragu volcano is a first. This is where it got awks (my new found social media language dictionary tells me means awkward). There are many many things in Italy we love, food, culture. people, climate etc etc etc., however polenta isn’t on that list. But we are in Le Marche, it is Autumn and polenta comes into its own at this time of year, there are polenta feasts and fairs all over the Region celebrating the gloop. We have over the years tried runny gloop, cheesy gloop, cheesy oven baked gloop, griddled gloop, oniony gloop, garlicky gloop, white gloop, yellow gloop, and ‘even if you don’t like polenta, you’ll love mine’ gloop. In fairness you can’t say we haven’t tried, but love of the gloop evades us.
The polenta and ragu volcano was duly set alight and the shop lights dimmed to many oohs and aahs from the assembled audience. And then came the doling out of the gloop. We tried to keep our plates full of other food, but it was noticed that we had not got our portion. Being British and polite we took a sample, as it would have been rude and frankly impossible to have not had any. We didn’t shirk our responsibility or manners, although we did try sliding the gloop around the plate so it looked as though we’d eaten quite a bit.
This morning the alarm went, my stomach felt a bit gloopy, but that was probably more the Aperol Spritz and prosecco consumed, rather than the polenta. I had decided to see if I could run for about 6 or 7km and not push it, given recent twinges and time spent on the injury couch. My usual warm up walk towards the Hill that Kills and my run started, a very quick shimmy was necessary in the first seconds as an oncoming car decided to take the bend tightly and would have hit me, had I not heard him approaching. Onwards and plodwards up the hill, a car approaches from behind and toots, it is a friend Lucia, who says it’s nice to see me back from London – in truth I’m a bit miffed as at this stage I am still not running aerobically so the run is more of an upward stagger, I hardly look like a fit runner at all. Down Lovers’ Lane towards Villa Bali, a lady is training two collies on fetch and retrieve routines – unfortunately I am in the way on the retrieve run and one of the collies and I do an awkward shimmy around each other and continue.
There aren’t many people out and about at this time of year as it is slap bang in the middle of olive harvest time, so there are many tractors and nets and harvest crews working in the fields, to get the precious cargo in and pressed on time. I had quite fortuitively timed my visit to London to coincide with our own olive harvest. I slid off without a backward glance, leaving Mr JCR to organise the logistics and I came home to 70+ litres of green-gold. Dodging my way around the tractors and trucks, I take Laundry Lane which is a long mainly down hill route to give me a nice run. Being Autumn the oaks are shedding all their acorns and it is a running hazard as you will either be hit on the head or you have to keep looking at the ground to avoid slipping. Given two recent incidents of Stupid Tart Syndrome, I don’t want to slip and fall on acorns so I take my time. I give myself a target milestone to complete which is to do 7km or Prune Way, but 7km is my minimum. Prune Way is in view and the turn off is actually at 6.9km, so I continue a little further and then start running up Prune Way. This is a short sharp ascent and frankly my legs aren’t up to it, so I walk and jog to the most apt tune – Culture Club and ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ – but mainly walk to finish. It’s about 650 metres with 50 metre gradient, so quite tough to do at the end of a run. On my way up I hear more olive harvesting going on and I spy a gorgeous old cinquecento shading under the trees, a pretty car on a pretty day.
Pics show, Prune Way, the cinquecento and Mr JCR’s endeavours whilst I shirked my harvesting duties, shimmied around London, slid back into my running routine and finally shaded my very red face as Salsa Red.
(This is from memory as Map My Run doesnt synch with Spotify library)
Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Every Day Hurts – Sad Cafe
Cars – Gary Numan
Runnin’ Down A Dream – Tom Petty
Talk Talk – Talk Talk
Tainted Love – Soft Cell
Shout – Tears For Fears
Break My Stride – Matthew Wilder
Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins
Doctor, Doctor – ditto
Visage – Visage
Do You Really Want To Hurt Me – Culture Club
I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
Distance 7.65km (I reckon 7.1km of true running)
Average Pace 7.21 (much worse than London – I blame heat and slopes)
Best Km 6.31
Elevation Gain 76 metres
Squats 3 x 15 sets of reps done.