Yippee – With Apologies to Luke Friend – 3 December

Having met up with super Speedy Razouski yesterday, some of her straight-line speed, must have transferred over to me through the famous energy transferral medium of Portuguese Custard Tarts, because I was raring to go out running this morning.

This morning I checked the weather, yup it was bleurgh, grey, wet and a bit breezy. So I dressed accordingly, very grey top, black fleece lined running tights, mugger’s hat and burglar’s black gloves.

I wasn’t really sure what running mood I was in, so started my warm up walk to Downtown and decided to head towards Smithfield Market. First km, not too bad but ouch there’s something in my shoe. It’s a little stone – I will ignore it and carry on and hopefully it will jiggle to the side and I’ll be okay.

Second km, I am running up Farringdon Lane to Take My Breath Away, I was puffing a bit – it is mildly uphill, but I felt a bit speedier today, ouch that stone is still in my shoe, okay I can’t be bothered faffing about to take it off, I will lose my stride and pace.

Continue on through the 3rd and 4th kms, a slight niggling soreness underfoot, so I think I will curtail the run at 5km, en route towards Silicon Roundabout and I’m boiling hot, so jacket comes off, mugger’s hat removed, gloves taken off and I continue on. Finally I hit the 5km mark and hallelujah for the very first time, I have beaten the 30 minutes for 5k and managed 29 minutes 33 seconds.

For sure Razouski’s virtual presence gave me a boost and a thought to see what I could manage, and yes the route was mainly flat, with only a slight incline to deal with, but still it is my first 5k under the magic 30 minutes!

The only slight rain on my parade today, was the discovery that the stone has done it’s best in my trainer. My 2 week old running socks are irrevocably damaged. With apologies to Luke Friend who wrote the song ‘There’s a Hole in My Heart” – this is my version.

Since you arrived, my feet became a mess

Cos running without you was the thing I did best

Now that today is over what else have I left?

Cos I hate you so much I can’t lose you, I need you to go

You should have gone but I’ll never know

Why on this day you got stuck in my sole

On my heel,  but not on my toe

There’s a hole in my sock, can you fix it?

There’s a hole in my sock, since you’ve been around

Is this P-A-I-N?

Somebody tell me what’s happening to me?

Is this P-A-I-N?

Somebody tell me, just what’s happening to me?

Since you haven’t gone

I hate you so much that it makes me think

The pain you caused just shredded my feet

Cos those socks were new, for every runner’s need

And I hate you so!

There’s a hole in my sock can you fix it?

There’s a hole in my sock can you fix it?

Playlist

Downtown – Petula Clark

Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight and The Pips

Take My Breath Away – Berlin

Solsbury Hill – Peter Gabriel

Big In Japan – Alphaville

Une Nuit a Paris – 10cc

Lost in France – Bonnie Tyler

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

Avalon – Roxy Music

Stats

Distance 5.03km

Time 29 minutes 33 seconds

Average Pace 5 minutes 52 (mins/km)

Hole in Sock – 1

Socks in Bin – 2

Yippees – at least 3!

 

Halloween, harvesting and home – 28 October

We are in the home strait, closing down the house before we return to the UK for a few weeks and we had a list of things to do as long as your arm. From harvesting the olives (thanks Mr JCR – nobly done whilst I was in London a week back), to de-fooding the house and cleaning absolutely everywhere.

Part of the new close down procedure, is setting up the security cameras inside and out after our burglary earlier this year. The cameras (in principle) are designed to make us feel safer whilst here and away. Last night Mr JCR went out to meet his Iron Man buddy for a goodbye meal and I stayed home alone. It is very dark in the countryside here; I was binge watching Catastrophe in front of a roaring fire. Then, all of a sudden my phone told me that both the internal and external cameras had lost their signals. Mmm my heart did pound a bit, as I muted the tv just in case and then sat in silence for about 10 minutes wondering if there was an axe murderer outside who had just cut the power.

I sent a casual text to MR JCR enquiring whether such power loss was normal – his answer an hour later…. ‘No idea, seems strange’

Quite clearly I am somewhat deranged as had said axe-murderer cut the power, neither the lights nor the tv would have been working… such is the power of an over-active imagination all sense of logic is lost. And any hope I may have had at being imminently rescued, was quite clearly dashed by the 1 hour delay in getting Mr JCR’s reassuring reply… Halloween obviously playing on my mind.

This morning, I decided binge-reading The Times was in order, all part of my prevarication strategy to not run this morning. But after having read the paper (can you still call it a paper when it is on-line?), really there was no viable excuse to not getting my butt out there. In daylight there was no sign of any axe-murderers having been near the house, just the hum of lots of olive harvesting going on.

Off I trotted down the Slope of Hope, into the Hill that Kills and coming towards me an unusual sight – a 1950’s or 60’s American Muscle car, driven by a guy who looked like a shorter and short haired version of Lemmy from Motorhead. Now he was truthfully a Halloween sight. Into Lovers’ Lane and I overtook a couple of women on a walk, who then decided to take advantage of the children’s playground nearby and they ran giggling to the swings and were swinging merrily as I looped back. Their giggles reverberated across the fields and back – actually what fun, to be a grown-up and play on the swings and not get tutted or told off!

Back to the Hill That Kills and I dropped down back onto the Slope of Hope and decided I’d run all the way back up. My speedy feet weren’t really on today so it was more of a plod, back up the hill to Mill Lane, where there was a car – now this constitutes pretty much gridlock. A couple of years back Mill Lane changed designation to one-way and the one-way it does go, doesn’t seem to be that popular with the locals. The car was coming away from the olive frantoio and as I passed I could see all the empty crates lined up and the waste from the pressing being churned into a waiting trailer. The air smelt full of fresh olive oil. For the second time I ran up Lovers’ Lane and this time the giggling women had gone to be replaced by the old guy who I think is closing up the piadineria and park for Winter. The swings had been removed and all is quiet, so I plodded slowly onto the 5km mark.

Back towards home having listened to Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Vincent Price’s voiceover – (what an apt day to hear this song) and Mill Lane and the local comune man with his Ape was at work. This weekend will be the All Saints Day celebration in churches and cemeteries – the local cemetery will see hundreds of visitors, the road will be partially closed off and parking wardens in attendance –  All Saints Sunday is a big day here. This also means we have to ride shotgun at our entrance gate, otherwise we can’t get in and out of the house. This is why I am running today and not tomorrow as is usual.

A slow steady 5k, nothing interesting or scary happening. And after last night’s 10 minutes of almost terror, it’s nice for things to be back to quiet, sleepy normal.

Playlist

Mercy – Duffy

By The Way – Red Hot Chilis

Let’s Dance – David Bowie

Blue Monday – New Order

Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

Beat It – ditto

Thriller – ditto

Last Train to Clarksville – The Monkees

I’m a Believer – ditto

Daydream Believer – ditto

Vienna – Ultravox

Everything Must Go – Manics

Billie Jean – Michael Jackson

Alison – Elvis Costello

Stats

Distance 5.58km (only 5.1 ran)

Time 45.10 (slooowww)

Average Pace 8.06 (mins/km)

Elevation Gain 68metres

Squatting – 3 x sets of 15 reps

 

Hazard Warning – 24 October

It’s been a busy October as we are preparing to close down the house for Winter. Last week I was in London and Mr JCR harvesting olives. My return to Italy was marked by an impromptu invite to a birthday party (Friday night) involving a volcano, the end of season party for Mr JCRs cycling group on Saturday night and about 30 of his cyclist group coming for snacks and olive oil tasting on Sunday. This is all hazardous to health with vast quantities of food and wine consumed, between trying to clear out the house for our departure.

Amidst all of this activity, there is a small matter of fitting in some running – I had given myself a target to do 10K before leaving Italy for the UK and that seemed to have been stymied by a couple of weeks on the injury couch after two rather stupid slips. So today was my first attempt at getting back to a more usual distance. The morning didn’t start well, I was cold and grumpy and could hear the wind howling around the house. Eventually I gave in and got up, faffed about, prevaricated some more, went outside – jeepers the wind was bracing, so went back indoors to put on another layer and eventually off I went. I didn’t really have a target in mind, but more than 7km would be good. Warm up walk down the Slope of Hope, loads of acorns by the side of the road, so the surface a little hazardous, I kept looking down, which in Italy is dangerous in itself, as the traffic is let’s say haphazard in roadcraft. Up the Hill that Kills and did one of my fastest first km, this is not a good thing as the Hill TK is the first part of my run, if I overshoot here, it has consequences. Down Lovers’ Lane past the barking beagle house, who as per tradition made me leap in the air. The roads are quiet because most activity is in the fields, with the olive harvest in full swing and the mills all busy. I am a bit warm, so return to the house and dump my extra layer and then continue back down the Slope of Hope. In the distance I see a rangy long haired blond runner, a bit like a lanky Bjorn Borg only minus the headband. He is running faster up this damn hill than I am running down it. Curses!

I turn down to the Bendy Scary Road and decide to take the Laundry Lane loop. It’s now gloriously sunny, everywhere I run is accompanied by the snap, crackle and pop of acorns and leaves falling. We had a temporale (storm) on Sunday evening which seems to have caused a lot of debris, so there is rather a lot of twigs and branches around, requiring nifty footwork. As I plod along, I see a collection of the following ‘fruits’ which have fallen from the trees and thank heavens the temporale seems to have stripped the tree bare. If one of these had fallen on my head, that would have been rather hazardous too.

 

IMG_0923

I carry on and decide that if I can make 8k today I will be very happy indeed. Then I am tooted by some Dutch friends as they drive past, and just for once the running gods were smiling and I was running a nice pace, not in my tired Mrs Overall style, but all proper runner-like, so that gave me quite a boost. I arrived at Prune Way at about 7.5km and thought I could just continue so I did until I hit about 9km and turned back along Laundry Lane towards Prune Way again, as I approached I was just on the 10km mark, but remembered I had walked a few metres earlier on (when putting my extra top in the post box), so to make sure I had done the magic 10 clicks, I turned back away from Prune Way for about 200m and then ran back. Job Done. Challenge Done – a 10km run before leaving Italy. Despite Faffolino visiting, despite acorns, leaves and twigs providing low lying hazards, despite me not really wanting to do this, I did and I am a happy bunny!

Playlist

Uptown Funk – Mars and Ronson

Night Fever – Bee Gees

Sign of the Times – Harry Styles

Love’s Unkind – Donna Summer

I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Oh Woman, Oh Man – London Grammar

Tainted Love – Soft Cell

Alive and Kicking – Simple Minds

Cake By The Ocean – DNCE

She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult

Marvin Gaye – Puth and Trainor

Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty

Talk Talk – Talk Talk

Rasputin – Boney M

Rumour Has It – Adele

It’s Called A Heart – Depeche Mode

Common People – Pulp

Stats

Distance 10.50km (but I reckon 10.2km of running)

Time 1.13.30

Average Pace (mins/km)7.00

Elevation Gain  51 metres

Fastest Split 6.05

Squats 3 X sets of 15 Reps

Warm Down Walk 2km with Elevation gain of 165.9m

Shirking, Shimmying, Sliding and Shade – 21 October

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.

PlayList

(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

Stats

Distance 7.65km (I reckon 7.1km of true running)

Time 56.15

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.

When Shopping Doesn’t Replace Running – 19 October

A week on the injury couch, after having suffered Stupid Tart Syndrome and I am decidedly antsy at not being able to run, which I suppose is a good thing…

Am in London on a flying visit for a body MOT, and I have a mini shopping list for running stuff, it’s not a huge list, but I reckon buying running stuff is almost as good as running, except buying isn’t that straightforward either.

Three things on my list:-

  1. Socks X three pairs
  2. Kettlebell (don’t ask)
  3. Lightweight wicking running top with hood

First stop a combined cycling/running sports chain in the City, first observation is it’s really a cycling shop with a bit put to one side for runners, let’s be honest actually more aimed at male runners – females about 3 racks worth. No customers except me and apparently the trainer display warrants more attention….aaarrrggghhh, why work in Retail if you don’t want to talk to customers.

Second stop, Gap as they often have decent sports kit, but it’s all summer stuff on sale and no hooded tops to be seen, nor socks and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Gap branded kettlebell.

Third stop M&S, as they’ve branched out into sportswear, but it is a bit dreary, quite nice running tights, only they’re not on my list. Only fleecy type jackets, no hooded tops.

Somewhat disheartened go home.

Thursday morning, I had promised myself a little runette/jogette to see if my Stupid Tart Syndrome injury had righted itself after a week of rest. Alarm goes and I am up and out of the door in minutes. I am a woman with a mission as am returning to Italy mid-afternoon, I have to buy piggy treats from The Ginger Pig at Borough Market which is a couple of miles away. Warm up walk is fine, then a few ginger steps into a run and yippee no twinges, twangs or alarming snapping feelings. I am running through the City, through hordes of worker ants, all dressed in varying shades of grey, charcoal, black, silver, grey, navy blue, grey, black, grey, pinstripe, white, grey. Grey seems to predominate regardless of gender, so to play my part I am wearing a grey top, but just to add a little colour to a grey day I am wearing rather fetching harlequin pink and blue leggings.

I run past charity collectors on the street, who are getting rather a lot of donations in their buckets, running towards Borough Market over London Bridge and the 2km warning comes up. I feel fine so continue past Borough and towards Blackfriars, where I note with some sadness that there are anti-terrorist bollards across the pavement, causing all the worker ants to be funnelled through little openings. Londoners truly have the patience of saints to cope with this. There’s little room anyway and now your access routes are constrained even more. Shame. A quick loop round the back of Blackfriars and I re-cross the river on the wobbly bridge, alongside Bankside and just at Clink Street the 5km warning came on. I feel fine, but am not going to tempt fate so keep my run to that. Shaggy and Boombastic comes on my playlist – to be back running feels boombastic.

I arrive at The Ginger Pig spot on opening time, buy my piggy treats and walk home, back along Bankside an oncoming commuter sees me and smiles. I think it was either the combination of incongruous face, grey top and multicoloured leggings that did it, or maybe the fact that I was very red (monarch red in fact) and carrying a serious haul of Ginger Pig sausage rolls that perhaps didn’t look the height of healthy eating and living.

Either way I am happy so I don’t care, run done, no recurrence of Stupid Tart Syndrome, oh and I ran the 5k quite quickly too…. On the way back I spot another runner specialist store – it has publicity blurb saying something like ‘understanding everything runners need’, so in I pop with red face, warm sausage rolls and my credit card. I go through my list of running needs, and as they understand it all!!!, I am not in the least bit surprised when all I manage to buy is some socks, because apparently kettlebells are only available at their other store and lightweight hooded running tops definitely fine for men and children, just not for women. You can’t win them all.

Playlist

(cocked up on the music front… Map My Run doesn’t record the list from Spotify)

I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls

Talk Talk – Talk Talk

Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty

Tainted Love – Soft Cell

I Ran – A Flock of Seagulls

Boombastic – Shaggy

Stats

Distance 5.09km

Time 32.44

Average Pace 6.25 mins/km

Elevation gain 35m

Best km split 5.57min/km – this is a personal best, this year!

And which look better – the leggings or the sausage rolls???

I Don’t Like Sundays … 15 Oct

I do really, but today I still can’t run after having twanged my right leg on Thursday night, when going out.

Worse still I twanged it before having had a drink, so I cannot blame anyone or anything other than myself, for being not fully on the injury couch, but not quite able to run.

I have been amusing myself updating new 80s playlists on Spotify, and have succumbed to a free subscription so I can do some downloads to my phone. Will have to see how the Spotify thing goes… Not usually a fan of these services, but who knows I could become a convert.

In the meantime back to London tomorrow, leaving Mr JCR with the olive harvest to do and organise (cunning timing on my part).

For injuries you are supposed to follow the RICE method to recuperate, but icing and elevating my right leg is not really on the cards, so am adopting purely some rest to get me in better shape. But I am taking my trainers to London, just in case I can get a run or two in. Wish me luck.

Pride comes before a fall… 12 Oct

Although in this particular case, prosecco actually came after the fall.

Rewind to yesterday evening, me and Mr JCR going out for dinner to a nice fish restaurant in Fano, Cile’s as it happens. We are a little early, so decide to have aperitivi in Bar Must (yes there’s lots of weird English word combinations).

With my eyes firmly on the prize of a nice table for two, I stride confidently forward down an unseen step. And trip, not a swallow dive, but very Dick Emery and his Mandy character (my how that dates me). I definitely felt a twinge in the groin area, but recovered sufficiently to enjoy the prosecco. Really no big deal at all.

Today’s semi ambitious plan was to crack 8.5km, and I thought the best way of doing that was to do it at the Fano pista, the running track where men dress in a notable manner. This is almost flat and a 2.2km circuit, I thought if I could do more or less 4 circuits I’d be fine. Cue lights, camera and action. I stepped out in my kit, started to get the music, Map My Run and my keys organised, then when my money fell out of my phone holder all on the track, my how the two roller bladers laughed. I adopted the standard London snooty pose and carried on, first km fine, second km am a bit warm so remove extra top and take it back to the car. Entering the pista again I managed to trip over thin air and pulled the self same areas of my right leg. This is known as Stupid Tart Syndrome and I suffer from it quite a bit.

Anyway I carried on, ignoring the twinge, that was becoming an ache, that was becoming a pain and managed to overtake 4/5 wunners. At about 4km mark, it is clear that ‘Houston we have a problem’, the groin pull is mirrored by a pull on the inside of my right knee and my right hamstring. For distraction purposes, I spot that the lampposts seem to be numbered sequentially and thought they were about 100m apart. My new cunning plan is to run 10 lampposts which in JCR land, equates to a km. Except that mechanical voice lady from Map My Run is suspiciously quiet…

Stupid Tart Syndrome strikes again, the lampposts are just numbered and they are not actually 100m apart. This compromises my plan to do 40 lampposts to finish. At this stage my right leg is quite painful, therefore I wait for mechanical voice lady to tell me it has been 5km and the second she did, I stopped running.

Upshot is, when suffering from Stupid Tart Syndrome, do not set ambitious targets, do not change venues and finally never rely on lampposts.

 

Playlist

Blue Monday – New Order

World in Motion – ditto

Rumour Has It – Adele

Everything Must Go – The Manics

Maid of Orleans – OMD

Beat It – Michael Jackson

Let’s Dance – David Bowie

Ruby – Kaiser Chiefs

Rain on Your Parade – Duffy

Rockferry – Duffy

Stats

Distance 5.02km

Time 33.22

Avergage Pace 6.38 min/km

Elevation Gain 10 Metres

Fastest km 6.26

In fact, this has been one of my fastest runs to 5km. Speed and Stupid Tart Syndrome obviously combined today.

No Squats as Muscles too painful!

Face Colour – Sick as a parrot green….