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

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

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

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

6 Dec – Having A Wobble

Yesterday a migraine stopped play and today I had the migraine hangover – muzzy head, light sensitivity, and a mild thump. I took some ibuprofen and a nice mug of tea and got on my way.

Only needed to do 8km to stay on my plan, and I didn’t really have anywhere in mind to go. Bev’s mojo appears to have had enough of London’s bright lights and may be headed back to the calming countryside of Yorkshire and who can blame her? So without a mojo hunt in mind, I was curiously adrift on where to go. I headed towards the City and looped up to Islington. Gosh today I am slow, and lethargic and I don’t really know why. 2kms in and I take a pause. 3kms in near Islington’s Upper Street and I take another pause. I don’t feel bad, just not quite right, it’s as though my legs aren’t my own, they feel curiously disconnected, a bit like running with cotton wool for legs, rather than ‘leg-feeling’ legs.

I continue on and to be honest it’s a plod, neither my heart nor legs are in today’s run. Mr JCR occasionally complaints of energy depletion, when all of a sudden he feels like one of those cartoonishly characters when the blood drains from their faces, and they look ghost-like. I think that is what I’ve got – cartoon blood draining syndrome. You heard it here first! Normally I feel quite bouncy and happily tired after a run. Today is just not one off those days. Still despite my cotton wool legs and ghost like face, it is :-

You can’t always have a perfect run, I’m glad I did it and just writing this one off as a bad day at the office. As the dictionary definition says, I’m moving unsteadily in a particular direction – and that direction is the 2018kms marker.

Playlist

I genuinely can’t remember which playlist it was at all…

Stats

Distance 8.60km

Time 1:01:52

Average Pace 7:11

Elevation Gain 39 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 1951.35

Kms To Run 66.65

2 Dec – Babbo Natale Arrived Early

The loneliness of the long distance runner, was a short story by Alan Sillitoe and also a film –  I’ve just learned courtesy of the inter web. Like many people I had heard the phrase but didn’t really recall what it was about. I am not an ‘angry young man’ in a borstal running and earning privileges. I am a happy middle aged runner, who this year is running long distances – although I have a feeling I may well still be running long distances for years to come.

When I run, although I run on my own, I am never alone, because I have the good wishes and encouragement of my friends and family and in particular a special group of friends. These people I know very well, but in truth I don’t actually know them at all. These are the Health Unlocked and C25K Beyonders Groups. It’s fair to say I could probably walk past most of them in the street and not recognise them. There’s a few I would, but most are running friends hidden from view by user names and avatars. I guess they’d probably say the same about me. Yesterday I updated my HU and Beyonders group on the forums, just to let them know how my Alzheimer’s Challenge was going, and I’ve been blown away, by the support and encouragement given by my running friends. 

When I set out this morning for my run, I wanted to do 10km, because that would get me below the ’90km to go’ mark, but there’s something about receiving a whole load of good luck messages and also three donations to my sponsorship that really spurred me on. I started out in East Central London – Barbican area, and I had promised Mummycav that I’d keep on with my search for her missing mojo.

First off I spotted the Crossrail excavator, surely a mojo wouldn’t be operating heavy machinery on a Sunday morning? Probably not, so I continued my way up West, pausing to get the long awaited refund from a shop, I bounced my way along Holborn, Fleet Street and made a small stop at Somerset House to admire the Fortnum & Mason Christmas tree and the skaters. Surely Mummycav’s mojo would have passed this way. It’s friendly and fun and look at that tree. What’s not to like? I then made a tactical error and made my way on Embankment to Westminster bridge, I would like to say I was running, but it was an occasional spurt when space permitted, as it was chock full of tourists. I was ninja-ing my way through them and had to smile as there was a fellow runner doing exactly the same. Then a decision to make – run along the SouthBank or not?, and I did – mmm – that was a bit stupid JCR, but in fairness I had company with my stupidity – the fellow runner did exactly the same too. 

Now there were two ninjas darting in and out of the tourists, I’m not sure Mummycav’s mojo would have been here, as she would have got squashed. Ordinarily I can get a bit tetchy when there’s too many people around, but this tourist avoidance run, was entirely of my own making and this time it was fun, because sometimes I was smaller/niftier than the other runner and could get ahead, at others he was more aggressive than me and did some parkour type actions to sprint ahead. We managed to stay more or less in synch until we reached Tower Bridge at which point he bombed into the Underground and I carried on into the City, at which point calmness resumed.

I’d done about 12km and the legs felt fine so on I continued, no sign of a mojo in the City, but I certainly didn’t feel any loneliness. 2kms running in and around Fenchurch Street and I made my way home, to sneak in a nifty 15kms. The loneliness of the long distance runner wasn’t an affliction for me at all, in fact I was accompanied by my HU and Beyonders friends.  

Three in particular, who donated yesterday, gave me a real incentive to kick my heels and get out. Babbo Natale arrived early in the shape of these lovely runners – a big, big, big thank you to MimiRossi, Kim Terry and of course her highness Irish Princess – seeing your donations and lovely goodwill messages gave me wings today and I laughed in the face of my 10km target and did 50% more. That is the difference between running on your own, but not alone. Thank you.

Playlist

Trying out the birthday number ones  playlist …

You Got What It Takes – Marv Johnson ( this is mine – it is rubbish)

Cathy’s Clown – Everley Brothers (Mr JCR’s)

Maggie May – Rod Stewart

Keep On Running – Spencer Davis Group

Cum On Feel The Noize – Slade

I’m Into Something Good – Herman’s Hermits

The Loveliest Night Of The Year – Mario Lanza

Hot Love, Metal Guru – T Rex

Cars – Gary Numan

9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

Mambo No 5 – Lou Bega

Mona Lisa – Nat King Cole

Hello Goodbye, Please Please Me – The Beatles

Tigerfeet – Mud

The Wonder Of You and Good Luck Charm – Elvis Presley

Fire – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Spirit In The Sky – Norman Greenbaum

January – Pilot

Living Doll – Cliff Richard and The Drifters

I’m A Believer – The Monkees

Come On Eileen – Dexys (Kim Terry – yours came up!!!)

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Marvin Gaye

Have I The Right – The Honeycombs

I’ll Never Find Another You – The Seeker

Heart Of Glass – Blondie

Stats

Distance 15.07km

Time 1:44:35

Average Pace 6:56

Elevation Gain 92 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 1933.48

Kms to Run 84.52

30 Nov – Stroppy Salmon, Shoes and a Squirrel

Last run for November and I have to do more than 8kms to get under the 100km to go barrier.

First up, I have to do a mini-stop at a shop to get a refund for an order (the truck got hijacked and my order has gone AWOL along with 20 other orders too). I remember very clearly saying to the woman on the phone ‘The local store will know that this order has been cancelled and they will be able to refund me won’t they?’ I knew I shouldn’t have believed her when 1km into my run, a short pause became a long stop, waiting for a shop assistant to have to phone the same number that had phoned me… 15 minutes later, my pause and patience were both up. I left the shop in a strop, without my refund.

As I stomped along Holborn, I decided the best thing do was to go shopping in a shop where I am known, they usually have the stock, and things are simple. So I run-stomped my way back to the fish shop, obviously my fish carrying pouch top was being washed after its last outing with two crabs and a sea bass, so I was reliant on good old fashioned hands to carry my wares home.  

And it was bliss, a nice run, the weather was quite warm, not many folk around, clear pavements and my new trainers – Hokas – were really bouncy. I bought my salmon, Robbie and Sam at the shop asked how my challenge was going and wished me luck. With more of a spring in my step, I pootled off home,  and in Fortune Park – a great name for not such a great space, I chased a squirrel all along the path. I was holding my salmon, he was clutching on to an acorn, both of us scurrying home with our dinners. 

And now a small sigh of satisfaction escapes my lips – I have now fewer than 100kms to run. Albeit a tiny smidgeon less than 100kms, but job done, and my earlier strop has been run totally out of my system.

Playlist

This was supposed to be the Mummycav mix, but the fruit phone had a fit…

Alison – Elvis Costello

Helena – My Chemical Romance

Poison Ivy – The Lambrettas

Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

Queen of Clubs – KC and The Sunshine Gang

Oh Yoko – John Lennon

Don’t You Want Me – Human League

Is Vic There? – Department S

Night Fever – Bee Gees

All Stood Still – Ultravox

Baggy Trousers – Madness

Stats

Distance 8.68km

Time 58:34

Average Pace 6:44

Elevation Gain 45 metres

Alzheimer’s Challenge

Kms Run 1918.41

Kms To Run 99.59