Week 19 Run 1 – The Hills are Alive…

with the sound of an asthmatic, chain smoking, drunk and sweary labrador.

It’s 3am, I’m awake and downloading the newspaper

It’s 4am, I’m awake and reading the newspaper

It’s 5am, I’m awake and finished reading the newspaper

It’s 6am, the alarm finally catches up with me and to his total surprise so does Mr JCR.

My teenage sleeping habits are legendary and there’s never been a day in recent memory when I am awake and more to the point conscious, when Mr JCR  wakes up.

Running kit ready, temperature ready – nice and cloudy and only about 19 degrees, which is positively Arctic for us at this time of year.

Where to go?, well I sort of promised I’d do some hill running and try and break the 4km barrier whilst doing it. So off I trot on a different route. Turning left out onto the Bitch of a Pitch, I decide to take Laundry Lane in reverse and take the windy curvy incline. No time limits you understand, just keep running and if I need a breather, then I’ll take one.

Today is a better day because the email problem is half solved – only half way because I’ve found the emails but just can’t seem to answer them. So I no longer feel totally like the international criminal my nearest and dearest know me to be.

The Bitch of a Pitch is aptly named, steep with lots of blind bends and some of the crazier Italian drivers believing they can see around corners, and then they suddenly see me and realise they can’t and undertake manoeuvres more at home on racing track skid pans.

My descent down the Bitch is incident free and I take a hook left onto Prune Way. This is always a test because descending is so steep and the road is semi gravel, so it’s very easy to lose your footing, except on this occasion I don’t and successfully land at the bottom. I don’t wear trail shoes for running, just standard trainers, but probably I could do with a pair more grippy.

Another hook left onto Laundry Lane, which all of a sudden seems a lot more daunting than when I jauntily decided I’d do some hills. And so I start my slow ascent. Well to be honest it was fast/slow. I started running fast and then taking a breather. But rather like an asthmatic labrador  or a 60 a day smoker, I ended up taking heaving, great gulps of air in an attempt to fool myself that I was fine.

I gave myself the usual milestones – ‘if you can just get to that tree that’s fine’, ‘okay now aim for that road sign’, ‘you’re allowed to stop on that cracked bit of tarmac’.

That last ‘milestone’ in fact could relate to the whole road, smooth well laid tarmac is an art. An art which Italy appears to have forgotten. There was a great meme doing the rounds a few years ago  comparing Roman built roads with the now infamous newly opened motorway in Sicily which collapsed within days of opening. But I don’t think I can ask the local council to lay cobbles and then I’m not sure I could run on them anyway.

The first major bend was in view and a car was coming up behind me and slowed down – I’m sure they couldn’t believe someone was stupid enough to run up the hill. It was embarrassing as he kept behind me for a while, just watching and of course that made me want to try harder, which just mean I ran out of puff quicker. So he witnessed an impressive turn of speed over all of about 10 metres, followed by the asthmatic labrador impersonation.

Thank goodness he didn’t stay long enough to witness me climb the rest of the ruthless staircase that is Laundry Lane. I managed to trip over some invisible objects on the road, looking now like an asthmatic, chain smoking and very drunk labrador.

Third bend in and two cyclists overtook me (not hard of course, they had gears, I just had legs…)

Fourth bend and past another yappy dog house. For the avoidance of doubt, I love dogs, but a lot of Italians keep their dogs outside in the summer, so with their extraordinary hearing they can hear the drunk, asthmatic labrador woman at least a mile off. This gives them time to prepare for the barking shock. Whereas me without laser powered eyesight, I don’t know whether the dogs are there until they bark, hence a lot of my runs are punctuated by the f bomb, the ‘shits’ and the Piss off chorus.

It took a while but I managed  to do the bends and I ran them all, yes I took breathers, actually they were more or less coffee breaks, but minus the coffee. As I ran past our old friends’ house I toyed with the idea of continuing the run to the village, but then I heard from Mechanical Voice Lady that I was at the 4.5km mark.

Enough was enough, I’d climbed 132 metres in the run and most of that within a 2km stretch. Feeling pretty good about my achievement, I’d totally forgotten about another ‘dog house’ this one manned by two dogs or rather dogged by two dogs. Previously I’d thought the Alsatian was quite benign, because he never made a sound when I passed it was just his buddy. Thinking about it he did have a protective cone on his head for a few weeks, so maybe that stopped him from barking.

Of course here am I in my ‘achievement glow’ and I got totally barked off the road, I leapt higher than Bob Beamon. To be honest they got the full JCR swearing treatment.  “You effing dogs…. shit that frightened me, why don’t you just piss off?’ Now I don’t know if Italian dogs are familiar with English swear words, but they will be by the time I’ve finished my hill training.

Having regained my composure, I was doing my warm down walk past those pesky chihuahuas.

Sure enough they started too, they just got a fairly loud ‘Just F off’. Now normally when I’m running it’s later in the morning and the owners are out at work. I’d totally forgotten it was just after 7am, mmm, I wonder what those families feel about their rather ripe language alarm clock.

Summary,  the hills are alive with the sound of a chain smoking, asthmatic, swearing  labrador.

I’m sure Julie Andrews could come up with a suitable musical lyric, if not the hills are alive how about an alternative to supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

I’m thinking shittyeffingbarkinghoundsareatrocious…:)

Stats

Distance 4.51km

Elevation Gain 132m (in about 2km of running)

Time – horrid

Physio – Nope, but I am regretting it

Jump Rope – oh how 2 weeks off makes a difference – 32 skips, 23, 12 4 and 5, with five slapped arses for my trouble

Playlist

Time and Distance playlist

Best track – 7 years Lukas Graham, just because it didn’t take me 7 years to climb that hill

Week 17 Run 1 – Hare of the Dog

brown rabbit on green grass field
No this wasn’t him, he was bigger and moving

 

Now this post is a little late, and I’m a little embarrassed. This was supposed to be the final hill run week, to see if spending three runs up and down The Hill That Kills, would help increase my stamina and/or on the level pace. Being buoyed up on the unexpected success of four runs up the hill (albeit my Map My Run doesn’t say that and you’ll just have to believe me 😉 ) – I really thought that I’d be able to do five.

The day didn’t exactly start as planned as Mr JCR was out on his bike doing another umpteen hundred kilometre training run for the Giro di Muscoli and I was supposed to get up early, because this week was forecast to be scorchio.

I slept through my alarm – actually I woke up , switched it off and promptly fell back asleep. I was out and about nearer to 8 o’clock and not prior to 7, as had been planned.

I’d decided to do Mill Lane  and Lovers’ lane as my warm up run, to make sure my legs were ready for the challenge ahead, and just exiting Mill Lane, a rather leggy hare bounded across the road and out of sight. He was huge and in a hurry, I am not so huge but the Covid kilos are persisting, and even though I’m in a hurry to get rid of them, they’re a little more relaxed about enjoying the sunshine. I took the running hare  to be a good omen and continued towards Lovers’ Lane, there for the first time in a while I saw Lord Kitchener   now it has to be said he is not carrying Covid kilos, but his moustache and haircut were not quite as dapper as usual. But his reduced sartorial elegance was not matched by his courtesy – he tilted his head, smiled and said Salve.  So far so good, lots of stuff happening on my run. I realise that so far lots of stuff counts as seeing an animal and a human, mmm JCR don’t over-egg the pudding.

Making my way back to Mill Lane in readiness for my hill killing session ahead, I met Argo with P, our friend who was walking him. We stopped and had a chat – I told her my plan for the run, and she gave me a friendly but definitely ‘are you mad?’ look and said ‘it’s very hot, you should have got up earlier’. I agreed with her – to be fair it was hard to disagree, with the sun beating down mercilessly on my head and the sweat dripping lazily down my cheeks. At that point I think the seeds of doubt had been sown. We said our goodbyes, after having given Argo a thorough stroke and I got ready for The Hill That Kills. Or rather, mentally my readiness changed from ‘let’s do this’ to ‘are you really sure?’. Where the head leads the legs follow, evidently my mind had been made up whilst talking to P.

Blimey, oh Riley, hills and heat don’t mix, it was about twenty five degrees – just touching eighty in old money, and to be frank I couldn’t do it. First time up, I stopped three times, second time up I stopped four times, and third time up, well there wasn’t a third time. There was a two and a half times up, as the combination of over-heating, shin splints and sheer weariness got to me. I couldn’t even muster the energy to shout at myself.

So that was a complete and utter shit show of a run. On the positive side, I did go out, I did run overall just over 4kms, including two hill climbs, but I failed against my other target.

Now what to do? The plan was to have three good hill running sessions, see if that helps with stamina and then try out one of my usual runs to Laundry Lane and see if I can do it faster and/or ascend the final sharp incline. My amble home, (because by now my legs were thumping the tarmac like an elephant’s) was slow and ponderous. But I came to the conclusion, one shit show doesn’t make a summer and so I’d give the five hill attempts another outing later in the week.

In summary, I was running like I had a hangover, yet I hadn’t drunk the night before, I was hydrated and I had a plan, just no mental conviction. Ho hum.

Stats

Distance 4.06km

The Hill That Kills  – two and a bit attempts

Grit and Determination – AWOL

Temperature 23 degrees at the start and 26 degrees at the finish.

Physio

Nope – couldn’t be bothered

Jump Rope

Similarly crap – 23, 13, 6, 10, 14, 22 skips in succession…

49 skips seems an awful long time ago and I’ve set a target of 100 in succession… this could be another Hill That Kills disappointment

Music

Reggae and Ska Playlist

Favourite track – One Step Beyond by Prince Buster, it seemed to fit the mood