Yesterday I was supposed to run, but spent more or less all day in bed with a migraine. Thankfully, I get them less often now, but they poleaxe me whenever they come to visit.
Today, with a thankfully clear head, I decided to run. As ever, Mr JCR was out at stupid o’clock on one more of his training simulation days for the Giro Di Muscoli. He has done zillions of kilometres and is nearing the end of the simulation, which puts him in good stead for the actual Giro, which fingers crossed will go ahead in September.
I had turned over for a post Mr JCR departure snooze and then woke up to the sound of a tractor cutting the grass in the field next to us. To my horror it was already 7am. After a bit of faffing, I got out of the door.
The plan in my head was to do my usual loop, but then reality bit me on the bum and hard. It was 7am and already 27 degrees, just about 80 F. We have flipping hot Ferragosto for the next two weeks, our daytime temperatures are above 32 degrees, and certain places depending on exposure are even hotter.
Try as I might, I couldn’t get into a rhythm, my start up run down Lovers’ Lane was going okay, but even then, there was precious little shade. Lord Kitchener was coming the other way, and even he, who is always so dapper, was wearing just a vest and shorts, and he looked fit to drop. We exchanged buongiornos and I carried on to overtake an older man wearing camouflage gear, with orange flashes. After my Bali loop, I came back and he smiled and also said buongiorno. I’ve never seen him before, he was quite tiny, with a wizened face and looked a bit like Yoda.
Now he wasn’t green, nor was he floating, and he didn’t have those weird ears, he just looked like Yoda facially – he looked like a man who’d seen a lot of life. Actually he was just about to witness the near death of a runner, as once I’d passed back towards Mill Lane, I was assailed by a total sense of weariness. Mr JCR describes it as though all of the energy is draining our of your body – it reminds me of when in cartoons, the character goes all white and then hits the deck.
I decided that a short walk would be helpful, recovered a bit and went on my way. On my first ascent of The Hill That Kills, I just couldn’t motor the legs. Four stops in all and leaden legs, dragging me up the hill. Sometimes you just have to give up gracefully, I checked the temperature it had risen to 29 degrees in just half an hour. I’d managed a paltry 3 kilometres.
So effing Ferragosto bit me on the bum, to add to the mosquito bites from last night. The mosquito bites might itch, but the pain from failing is much worse.
Still, I think we know what I’ve got to do, no more rolling over for a ‘post Mr JCR getting up’ snooze. I think Yoda might say ‘Do or do not. There is no try’
(Confession, I’ve never seen a full Star Wars film, our friend A took us once to see one, – the first one with Ewan McGregor in it, I fell asleep!) The nearest I’ve got to Yoda, is the dodgy geezer statue in Trafalgar Square.
Please finish this well known phrase or saying. The words bird and worm generally fit.
Only today it was a case of the early mosquito catches the bird.
Today was chores day in the JCR household, driving to the south of Le Marche to collect a jacuzzi cover – yes the heavy ones that thump when you move them around. Our old one has had enough of wind, rain, and forty degrees of sun, and now leaks like a sieve, which means each Spring when we return, I don wellies/flip flops and empty it of water and dead bodies, and then have to clean all the gunk out. Of late, the gunk has got worse and the jacuzzi cover looks like something you’d find in Steptoe’s yard.
Mr JCR had measured, we’d provided the model number, and in one of those six degrees of separation moments, had found the original manufacturer of the cover via a friend. What could possibly go wrong? Well it is Le Marche and sometimes our grasp of Italian gets us in trouble (especially when it’s technical and over the phone), the fact that we have a convertible car, and we were proposing transporting the cover via the back seat of the car, with the lid off. Oh and it’s a journey of more or less 200kms on a round trip. If the cover was not made precisely, then it might not fit in the car. Couriers are ruinously expensive here, Jeff Bezos’s Amazon revolution on home delivery is long awaited, so we really needed the cover to fit.
Our long suffering friends N&A will know that this is a favoured mode of transportation in the JCR household. We’ve moved outdoor tables in Italy using precisely this method, and to their credit actually having the cheek to use their car, (as we only had a little hire car at the time). It’s also very useful for Christmas tree transportation too.
Time for the JCR family to replay their version of the Beverley Hillbillies, with me riding lookout/shotgun like Granny Clampett. Critically, the temperature is officially scorchio and so it was important that we were up and early, so that when transporting the cover, we didn’t actually fry to death during the long topless drive home. Avoiding the midday- afternoon sun was vital – as the mercury has been touching forty degrees – yes that is over one hundred in old money.
Hence the alarm went at horrible o’clock and Mr JCR nudged me into action, well a sleepy, moany, grumbling heap. I was out of the door at 6.30am, I haven’t done this since the last time I was working and gosh my mood isn’t pleasant at that time of morning. Nonetheless today I had a plan, to see if I could run my ‘usual’ route and actually climb the incline on Laundry Lane – all to see if my ‘hill training’ had worked.
My warm up walk took me to the top of the Slope of Hope and I had my first encounter with a mozzie. I’d risked looking at our garden near a bit in shade, and sure enough got ‘gnadged’ . With my naturally sunny disposition coming to the fore, I swore and decided I better get a move on and see if I could out run the mozzies. I turned down Mill Lane, and heard the tractors out, there’s a lot of harvest work going on, so it was busier than I expected. No-one in sight, at this hour I’m ahead of the usual crowd, and off I trotted into Lovers’ Lane, ahead of me two ladies and four dogs. Having an audience when you run is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it makes you stick at running and not get tempted into walking or pausing, but it’s also a curse as you can end up speeding up in a vain attempt to look super fit.
Needless to say I fell into the latter trap, and zoomed past them waving cheerily, did my customary loop of Villa Bali and was running back, at this stage they’d stopped and were looking at me, so the bravado continued and I held in my puffing and panting as I re-overtook.
Around the corner, common sense took hold and I slowed right down back up Mill Lane to give my lungs catch up time. And that was all the dratted mosquitoes needed, another ‘gnadge’ to my left leg and I’d fed a hungry family of mosquitoes for another day. To add insult to injury, I digested a bug of some description too. Maybe that is insect karma, you provide blood for some and you then get to eat one in return?
Trotting down the Slope of Hope, all was quiet and my legs felt alright, but I’d already drank most of the contents of my water bottle. At this time it was 22 degrees, and still just before 7am. This told me today was going to be unbelievably hot, and so I made my way towards Laundry Lane. I passed our friends house (R and P) – I now know they are an owl and lark couple, so it’s fair to say P was probably still asleep, whilst R was route-marching up and down the stairs as part of her daily cardio routine. It gave me some impetus knowing someone else was up at stupid o’clock too, doing exercise. I discount Mr JCR here, as he is a long term offender and I have no idea how he does it.
This part of Laundry lane is mainly on the level, and it winds its way slowly up-hill , with a final kick of an incline. Even at this time there’s not a lot of shade to be had but there are some wooded areas that help. Laundry Lane is all book-ended (in my running mind) by another house we know well (our friends G&B). Only they sold it last year, so not so much of a reason for me to run past really. The heat was playing its part, my bites were itchy and the final incline was in sight. Old Granny Clampett made her way up the incline and finished right on Argo’s loop.
Job Done. It wasn’t fast and I’m not sure I could have run much more, but that frankly is down to heat and little shade.
I walked home, upsetting the beagles in the kennel, and the horrid, horrid, yappy dogs who give me a fright every time I pass. With my customary friendly greeting of ‘Why don’t you p… off?’ I passed them and trudged home.
Plant watering duty called, seven thirsty baby hydrangeas, two things called rock trumpets and my herb garden. It’s amazing how much you can get done when getting up early. The nasty ‘gnadgers’ got me one last time whilst watering my hydrangeas (that does sound slightly euphemistic), and so I had a trophy mozzie bite on my arm for good measure.
I’m sure Granny Clampett would have had a cure for them.
Did we get the cover home safely? Oh yes we did – despite the guys at the factory looking incredulous when they asked where our car was and we showed them. They disappeared quicker than you can say ‘Give us a hand’ and let us lasso the cover into the car.
All was fine, we took the back roads, it took forever, but Mr JCR was a star, nothing dropped, and Granny Clampett kept a look out for policemen. Getting the cover off the car, did provide an interesting moment as the dark colour had absorbed all that sun and heat.
Had the police caught up with us yesterday, they couldn’t have taken fingerprints, as they were all burnt off whilst moving the jacuzzi cover…, a favoured gangster move, so the guilty can’t be found. We’ve obviously become a lot more Italian.
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.
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.