Week 19 Run 2 – BDWO

Years ago, in another life entirely, I worked in a bank. It was a little old-fashioned and then it got taken over by a company known as The Right Bunch of Shysters, who modernised it beyond belief, aggressively pursued acquisitions and trampled all over the previous history and culture, oh and almost caused a global banking collapse to boot. If you’re going to kick over the coals, you may as well do it with style I suppose.

For many of my friends and ex-colleagues, coming from the old-fashioned bank and not being an original Shyster, meant they felt unwanted and seemed to be last in line when it came to promotions and pay rises. I’m not sure to this day that the two sides of the new megalith ever worked together well. Cultural cohesiveness is not easy to achieve.

Fred the Shred eventually got his comeuppance, and ironically during this 2020 of utter surreality, the Right Bunch of Shysters decided that the brand name of that rather old fashioned bank they’d trashed actually had some values that hadn’t been tainted by Fred and his buddies. Thus the remnants of the Right Bunch of Shysters returned to the name of NatWest. Sometimes, something bright and shiny can be too good to be true.

This was the story of my run. Having pursued somewhat vigorously the idea that a brand new hill running strategy of belting up the bits you can and then resting would pay dividends, it apparently didn’t work that way at all.

First of all, I was suffering from DOMS – which is very aching leg muscles to normal folk and more worryingly deep nagging ache in both hips. And it was this hip issue that stopped me running early last year. I decided against running on Thursday to give the hips a little longer to recover and I planned for a Friday run.

After Tuesday’s cool weather, I was greeted by an alarm call and Mr JCR asking me if I was running. The reply was some thing along the lines of ‘gnnhh, unnhhgghg, mmmm’ – I’m not at my most vocal early in the morning. Even less vocal than normal because it is me getting up early and not Mr JCR, that totally upsets my chemical balance. In the order of the JCR/CCR world – Mr JCR gets up first. Full stop, end of.

Mr JCR’s insistence upon me meeting my pledge to run, meant I eventually got out at about 7.20am. Ah already it was too late, the scorchio weather had returned and it was 24 degrees and hotting up. I decided against a replay of my last run and thought I’d give my usual Mill Lane – Lovers’ Lane, Mill Lane, Slope of Hope and Hill That Kills loop a new try and see if I could do the Hill That Kills in one go.

But I was boiling hot, had drunk my water within about the first five minutes and my hips were a bit niggly. Mill Lane was quiet as we are still in Ferragosto (which is the Italian version of our old Factory Fortnight), and I didn’t see a soul. In to Lovers’ Lane and I was slow but sure and overtook a hiking couple, we exchanged Salves and I carried on around Villa Bali. On my return loop I nodded to the hikers and continued on. I could see a young guy in the distance and decided I’d try and overtake him without any stops/pauses.

This I managed, but not quite all the way, just as I was drawing near to Mill Lane, I ran out of puff. A quick return to the Slope of Hope, which by now had lost all shade and I made my way back again towards the Hill That Kills. Pigiama Mamma’s house beckoned and I thought I could go all the way. But I couldn’t I was just too puffed out and so in defeat, I rested awhile before finishing my run.

Just over 3 kms in all. What a shambles. What’s the significance of BDWO – aha an old-fashioned acronym from an old-fashioned bank, meaning Bad Debt Written Off. I use it today to describe what I should have done with my new fangled hill running strategy. If I hadn’t Been Dumb Whilst Out, I wouldn’t have been speeding along up hills and causing my hips to get gip again.

Another lesson learnt in the comeback trail.

BTW Shyster comes from the German word Scheisser meaning worthless person and whilst I was on the old-fashioned side of the bank, after this run I joined Fred and his merry crew.

Stats

Distance 3.34kms

Elevation Gain 32 metres

Time – embarrassing

Physio – yes because of the gip my hip was giving

Jump Rope = 39 skips, followed by 13, 6 and 5.

Playlist

First Single Ever Bought

Best song ‘ The Israelites’ by Desmond Dekker – because it’s the perfect tempo for me to run to

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 18 Run 1 – Ferragosto Effing

starwars-yoda

Yoda might say this.

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.

Stats

3km

One run/walk up THTK

Physio/Jump Rope

Nope

Music

Disco Divas

Best track – Forget Me Nots – Patrice Rushen

Because it seems quite Yodaish in its title

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferragosto

Week 17 Run 3 – The early …. catches the ….

 

Screenshot 2020-07-29 at 22.21.01
Everybody is Surfin’, Surfin’ this way…

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.

The early birds got their worm after all.

Stats

Distance 4.66km

Incline Run – yes

Physio/Jump Rope

Nope

Playlist

Classic Album Tracks

Best track – Chocolate Girl by Deacon Blue – getting up early meant this time I didn’t melt.

 

 

 

 

 

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