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 18 Run 2 – Outrunning a six year-old

brown animal on brown rock pathway

Sorry it’s been a while.

We’ve had visitors, J E and their son A, my new BFF or rather BFFTH (Best Friend For This Holiday)

A is 6, I am not, although we share the number when it comes to birthdays.

The family were escaping the UK quarantine situation and enjoying a much quieter Italy, and I had my work cut out, as CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer)

First off A is a little City boy, born and bred in London and he has enjoyed a very varied life in holiday terms – Sweden, Japan, Australia to name but three, but  A is not awfully keen on bugs.

It’s Italy, it’s August and we have, in no particular order of nastiness:-

Mosquitoes

Wasps

Bees

Hornets

Biting ants of all sizes, from one centimetre to barely one millimetre

Pappatacci – miniscule biting machines, which suck your blood and are smaller than the net holes in the mosquito nets we have on all the windows.

Snakes -of the grass variety, but rather large and black/grey in colour.

Add in the non-biting varieties of grass-hoppers, crickets, cicadas, butterflies, moths, APCs (armoured personnel carrier bugs – bright green in colour, and they let out a smell when you capture them) and for a little boy with an allergic reaction problem, the holiday could have been one miserable round of calamine lotion, anti-histamine and hysteria.

Luckily for us, A was a delightful bundle of energy, unluckily for me A was a delightful bundle of energy. Blimey, I may not have run (although I did) but he kept me on my toes.

Each day started with the walk around the house and garden to see where the ants had set up home today – favourite spot the movable light cube next to the jacuzzi.

Then followed the lizard hunt, A was a little scared at first, but then took to them like a fish to water and loved spotting them.

Then a walk through the grapevines, a favourite spot for the barely visible (to my eyes, and his parents too) grasshoppers. he was particularly smart at finding the green ones which match the grass so much so that they even have tufted dry straw coloured bits –  they look exactly like cut blades of grass. Also some surreptitious eating of the wine grapes, which astonished me because they are particularly lip-puckering at this time of year.

Next the favourite bit of the walk to the compost heap to switch on the well pump, so we could water the plants. Being in charge of the pistol water hose, was a little boy’s dream. Very diligently he sprayed all the plants and filled each little moat with water. He did get slightly distracted one morning and wanted to spray some pedestrians walking on the other side of the hedge, but we avoided an international incident. This was followed by one more circuit of the garden just to see whether any new ant hotels had been set up and  if the twig booby traps had worked to stop the ants entering the house.

His booby traps worked a treat, I think it was the constant grinding motion when the unfortunate ant found itself under the ‘booby trap’. Those ants went to ant heaven.

We checked out the figs for freshness and he felt the ‘fig glue’ which was emitted when you pulled them from the trees. he thought that was fascinating, but rather annoying when you couldn’t get it off your fingers.

The morning routine was completed when he was ‘allowed’ to clean the jacuzzi of dead bugs using the jacuzzi net. He and I were the nitty Noras of the pool cleaning world. A diving in, carrying the net which was twice the size of his body, and picking up bugs and clearing up what we decided was ‘calcium’. I’ve no real idea what it was, but A wants to be young man with a portfolio career. Mondays as I recall a scientist, Tuesdays a sewage expert – he liked the idea of cleaning pipes!, and the rest of the week an engineer of the general variety. Discovering calcium was considered to be very interesting to a scientist. I did feel I was using child labour, but honestly he loved it.

We’d have lunch at home sometimes and what a joy he was to feed. Pretty much anything goes – a six year old who ate black olives like other children eat Smarties. More child labour followed with A being the house’s official salad spinner operator. Afterwards we may have discussed the merits of Lego and the death ray machine, and he corrected our Swedish pronunciations and taught us new words and the merits of his ‘kick you out’ strategy for anyone who broke his house rules.

All of this was very lovely, but I didn’t do any running, except for the day we went to a local vineyard with wide open spaces and the opportunity to play chase. I started chasing him casually at first, just so that he was occupied whilst the grown ups did the wine tasting and buying. Then he came up after I’d stopped and said something along the lines of ‘well do something then!’

So the chasing began in earnest, up the mini escarpment to where the vines where – now known as homey. Apparently he couldn’t be caught on homey, so I continued to chase until one panting heap cried ‘enough’. And it wasn’t me – A had given up the ghost, I outran a 6 year old.

On his last day we did our final run around the garden, I think he had successfully overcome his bug fear. We’d found a porcupine spine and that was going back for show and tell at school. We were walking along the vines him picking grapes and then I saw the empty snakeskin (thank goodness). Mmm about a metre in length and too late I couldn’t stop him from seeing it.

Quick thinking was required and I told him that we had eagles in the area, and that maybe the eagle had dropped the snake when flying over. He seemed sure the snake would have died from that height and so we moved on, although he asked me if I could pick it up. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to, but having spent 10 days telling him that the insects wouldn’t bother him if he didn’t bother them, it seemed churlish to refuse to pick up some dead skin. It crumbled in my fingers, but ugh I still shudder when thinking about it.

A slight fib for the purpose of not freaking him out, and then luckily a little later on he found a large feather in the garden – I’m thinking wood pigeon, but to A it was proof positive that an eagle had indeed been flying over the garden. Phew! Another trophy for show and tell.

All of this doesn’t really tell the whole story, but we had a ball of a time, even though clearly I’m not used to entertaining a 6 year old, who was either full on or totally wiped.

Two days off, after their departure and I started my running again. It was hot, 26 degrees and about 7.40am when I finally got out. All was quiet, I pootled along Mill Lane and met an old guy with a walking stick, we exchanged buongiornos and I moved on. Next up Lovers’ Lane where a lot of cleaning up was going on, I am thinking the shooting star shower spectacular had encouraged ‘the love’.

Turning back I got a wave from an unknown person on a moped, and made my way to the Slope of Hope. The cicadas were out in force, the temperature rising and on the day before the big August holiday, very few people to be seen.

Laundry Lane beckoned, past R&P’s house – R you’re fine the garden looked fab! And onto the rest of the run, it was a bit too warm for my liking and I really slowed down. No-one around to witness my shame at taking a breather and a drink. I continued until I hit Argo’s loop – just over 3.5kms run. Not great but okay for a warm up run.

I’m hoping the weather warms down a bit, as I think A could have outrun me on the last section of Laundry Lane and that would never do, as I am enjoying the bliss of tiring out a 6 year old, on just one day. (he was way more successful at tiring me out, on every other day). You have to enjoy the successes when you can.

Stats

Distance 3.59km

Time – not saying

Physio – Nope

Jump Rope – still exhausted from A, so no

Playlist

Time and Distance

Best track – Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day

Because I probably need to sleep that long

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

 

 

 

Week 16 Run 3 – Operator Error

Screenshot 2020-07-19 at 10.32.32
Bet he would know how to use Map My Run

I had a few days off – Wednesday = rest day, Thursday – Hairdresser’s, Friday – peeing down with rain, Saturday – other stuff to do.

So back to the ‘normal’ routine of running on a Sunday. And another go at running the hills, to try and get my hill legs back. There is a method to improve hill stamina called back stitching. You set a small distance run up the hill to it and back down, next time you run up the hill, you go a bit further and so on. My version of this is to try and do the Hill That Kills all in one go and to be frank it isn’t working, to be honest it’s killing me, as even though it’s cooler, it’s not England cooler.

Last time out me and the technology didn’t get on awfully well, I paused the app and forgot to re-start it, so lost some of the distance and have no idea how much of an elevation gain I’d run.

This time, I was determined it wasn’t going to happen again. I was focussed and had my plan. This time out my usual route and then four circuits of the Hill That Kills, with as few stops as I could manage.

As Helmuth Von Moltke (The Elder) said, “No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main strength”. In this particular case – no plan of running extends with certainty beyond JCR’s first pausing of the app. And yes, I managed it again, whilst pausing physically and Map My Run wise to allow a wide load of cut wood go past me, I forgot to restart the app. Running back down the hill, it suddenly occurred to me that Mechanical Voice lady had been suspiciously quiet. And yes I’d had stupid tart syndrome once more… Okay I thought, not a big deal I’ll just carry on and record the rest of the run, and guess what, I promptly forgot to press resume.

I resumed and ran up that hill another three times, Map My Run however didn’t, so I guesstimated the amount of times I’d run and walked them instead this time recording it on MMR. The stats are utterly wrong, and I am utterly stupid, instead of pausing the app when I am stopping I should just let it run on, as I’m not really trying to improve my speed on the hills, just my stamina.

On my final run up that cursed hill, I was stopping to wipe my brow and a much older cyclist wearing a rather natty dayglo top, said ‘menomale finita’ – a kind of ‘Thank God it’s done’ comment. And he was right, I was a bit too tired to think of having another go and aiming for five runs, but maybe that’s next time out.

So what can I say? – taking advice from Moltke and learning from my mistakes, I’ll just leave the app running and then I can find out how far/how high I am running, and how many pauses I need to do that.

I’m going to do one more try of this hill running, this time aiming to do 5 run-ups and then see if a week of hill runs, help me on the Slope of Hope, Laundry Lane incline. Because so far I’ve not been inclined to try doing it, and that probably makes me a coward in Moltke’s eyes. He had many sayings including:-

Strategy is a system of expedients; it is more than a mere scholarly discipline. It is the translation of knowledge to practical life, the improvement of the original leading thought in accordance with continually changing situations.

I think therefore, my new Map My Run strategy, has translated the realities of my stupidity to practical life, by just letting the application run, even when I’m not.

 

Stats

Who really knows?

I think it was just on 5km, based on the JCR guessometer

4 runs up the hill with 8 pauses

Physio

Just on my way

Jump Rope

49 skips, followed by 20, 10, 16, 23, 12 and 22

My target is to get to 100 skips in one go, without whipping my bum

Playlist

Ska and Two Tone

Best track – Skinhead Moonstomp by Symarip, because on my final ascent I was stomping,

Week 16 Run 2 – Depeche Mode or Iron Maiden?

It’s Tuesday, Mr JCR asked me the night before what time would I be getting up. Having looked at the cooler weather forecast, I’d decided I could go running at about 7-8ish. He arched an eyebrow, knowing full well I could be blagging it, but I was being totally truthful. The weather is cooler and that means I don’t have to get up at stupid o’clock to run.

My successful Team Violet run at the weekend persuaded me that maybe now I should be firing up the hill legs. So far I’ve avoided most hills, other than a few small inclines, mainly because I knew I wouldn’t be fit enough to cope with the hills and the heat together.

Today JCR it is going to be different. I’d planned my running route – Slope of Hope – downhill, followed by The Hill That Kills uphill, Lovers’ Lane – which is both up and down, followed by three runs up the Hill That Kills.

I haven’t really got a clue what the distance would be, but a focus on hills will be tougher than doing a longer distance on the flat/downhill, and I was determined to be happy with the training session and not worry about a distance target.

Now I say that, BUT Map My Run Lady was being a tad difficult – from time to time she loses the GPS signal and today was the day she decided to do it again. I knew it wasn’t going well when she reported that I’d only walked 200 metres in five minutes. Okay I am not as fit as I was, but even so.

The first time up the Hill That Kills and Iron Maiden came on my playlist ‘ Run To The Hills’. Can I say this is not the ideal tempo for my first attempt at the Hill That Kills? I made three stops in my efforts to get up the hill. Pathetic really, and Iron Maiden’s stirring guitar playing wasn’t really a help.

At the top of the hill I turned around and pootled back down again, to the dulcet tones of Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus, and I didn’t need him at that point, all was hunky dory.

Back to the bottom for my second run-up. Hmm well clearly I don’t have hill legs, it was two stops to get to the top and at one stage I paused Map My Run to change the music. At this stage Stupid Tart Syndrome hit again and I forgot to re-start Mechanical Voice Lady. I wish I could say I’d realised it, but I hadn’t, I think I was focussing on burning legs and bursting lungs. It was on my final ascending run, that I realised all my efforts hadn’t been recorded. Which is why when Simple Minds coming on with Don’t You Forget About Me, made me laugh even though inside I was angry at forgetting to switch the app back on.

Talking about being forgetful, I walked back home and walking towards me on the same side of the road was Dame Duvet. Now save for exchanging the occasional Ciao, Salve and Buongiorno, I had forgotten that she doesn’t really know me at all, even though I refer to her in my blog and I sort of feel that I know her. As we passed each other a lorry was driving up behind me, so I couldn’t really give her the required two metres distance, without being run over. So I kept my mouth shut and just put up my hand in greeting and smiled. She didn’t say a word, didn’t smile, just dived into her pockets and put on her mask.

Oops I was ‘mask shamed’ by an Iron faced Maiden aka Dame Duvet. I must admit I’ve never thought of carrying a mask with me when out running in the Marche hills, but maybe I should.

So I confess to my own Personal Jesus, I never thought about carrying a mask when running and I wouldn’t want Dame Duvet to think I don’t care, but given social distancing, wearing a mask and the language/cultural differences, maybe I will have to re-name her Iron Maiden as she may no longer smile/exchange greetings.

A small casualty of Covid, on a day when all my running plans went awry.

I told Mr JCR about the technology fail and he commented wryly that if it wasn’t recorded it didn’t happen, so on that basis I didn’t  run up that hill and nor did I offend Dame Duvet…

Stats

Don’t know – but I did run up The Hill That Kills – four times

10 pauses on THTK

One mask forgotten

One oops moment

Physio

None done – but I did help Mr JCR weed 100 lavender plants

Music

Classic Album Tracks playlist

Best track was The Race by Yello – that’s because it was a good warm up truck, before the rest of the run went belly up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 16 Run 1 – Running for Team Violet – Beyond C25K

 

It’s a Saturday and it’s a six number on the clock. Ouch for a teenager in sleeping habit, early morning starts are definitely a tough challenge. Maybe not quite as tough as climbing Everest, or circumnavigating the world by pedalo, but on my ‘ I’d rather not’ list.

Today is Part 2 of the Rainbow Relay Challenge with the Facebook Beyonders running group, of which I am a happy, but amateur member. We are divided into teams and each day one team member does a run for 19 minutes and logs their distance, passing on the baton to the next team member. Last time out I managed 2.66km in 19 minutes in a cool, flat London.

This time round, it’s not about the overall distance, but whether you can exceed your last run and by how much. There’s no ‘minus shaming’ , so if you can’t manage to do more, then that’s fine. My plan was to do my warm up walk, and start my run doing at least 10 minutes so that I was nicely warmed up, for my 19 minute stint.

It’s hilly here, and it’s not cool. The challenge to exceed my time and distance marker last time out was not going to be easy.

Plan going swimmingly, on my warm up walk, I was passed by a nice collie dog accompanied by his owner Iron Man

We made our usual ‘buongiornos’ and continued each on our own way. Up via Lovers’ Lane, past the barking beagle house, where I received my usual cacophonous welcome but I saw they were out and about, so no jumping in mid air for me. No-one around just me and no music today, and I decided to run naked,  to aid focus on stopping Map My Run at 19 minutes – which is not easy to do either:-

  1. The app is on my phone
  2. The phone is in an armband – with a handy window for pressing the buttons
  3. The handy window no longer works, so you have to remove the armband and
  4. Remove the phone and enter the security code
  5. Go to the app and see if you’re close to 19 minutes  (it only does time reminders every 5 minutes, therefore giving squeaky bum time during the last 4 minutes when you’re not quite sure how far in you are)
  6. Put the phone back if you haven’t reached the 19 minute mark – and reverse steps 1 and 2
  7. Complete steps 1-6 and repeat as necessary until 19 minutes is reached
  8. Take a screenshot to prove what you did

I started my Team Violet run in The Hill That Kills, and made sure I was running quite fast (well fast for me) to maintain momentum and so I could make sure I didn’t let Team Violet down. Onto the Bendy scary road, and I dart into Lovers’ Layby (the alternative destination for lovers who can’t be arsed driving another couple of kilometres for ‘the love’ in Lovers’ Lane) to avoid the number 73 bus. In fairness he’s quite a nice bus driver, he usually steers a wide berth, but sometimes with oncoming traffic that’s not possible, still I always feel nervous when the bus is around.

There’s another blind bend coming up and a tradesman’s pick up truck whistles past, I can feel the hairs on my arms stand with the draught. Listening to my breathing I’m conscious that I’m pushing it a little too much and should slow down, there’s no point in me blowing up on the challenge. Luckily the shade remains and I spend a happy few minutes trotting along with nothing to do /see. Then in the distance I spy Inappropriate clothing man only thank goodness, he is riding up the hill as I am running down, and hallelujah he is wearing black cycling shorts. 😉

My alarm goes and I’m chuffed to bits – I’ve exceeded my last run – 2.92km in 19 minutes…

Now lets see how Team Violet does overall – we won the challenge last time, so standards need to be maintained!

Stats

Distance 2.91km plus the 1.7km I did on the earlier part

Time – well what difference does it make? – I did do 2.91kms in 19 minutes

Physio

Yup – except for the stuff requiring a yoga mat

Jump Rope

I managed 43 continuous skips… but I did also manage only 21, 10 and 7 in my previous attempts

Music

None – all naked running

 

 

 

Week 15 Run 3 – It needs to be 6, to do 5

 

The alarm has been set and it’s a six number…

Mr JCR has his kit all ready, JCR has too. He’s in cycling gear I’m in pink running gear.

A coffee in the kitchen and we are out of the door. Mr JCR to do some silly amount of kilometres on the bike, as part of his training run for the Giro di Muscoli and me to do a far more sensible number on my feet.

It’s 18 degrees out, which feels pleasantly cool and so I make my way to the top of the Slope of Hope to start my warm up walk. Breaking into a run in Mill Lane, all is quiet and mercifully quite shady, not a soul to be seen, only the flowers are out and a few commuters, bombing past in their vans and cars.

Lovers’ Lane is a litte less shady and here I see my first sign of life, a lady in camo trousers walking two gorgeous greyhounds. Well I say walking, she was walking with one and then having to wait quite a while for the other one to stop investigating the lane’s undergrowth, and believe me it’s not nicknamed Lovers’ Lane for no reason, you really don’t want to go delving into the hedgerows.

We exchange ‘salves’ and I continue to make my way to the Hill That Kills – only this time I’m running down it, with the slightly cooler weather I’ve decided to take a different route for the first time since returning to Italy.

I pass the eggs for sale house, owned by pigiama mama, even so I think it’s too early even for her, all is quiet and shuttered. I’m in my stride now and making my way towards the bendy, scary road and to my delight it seems to be mostly in shade.

My delight is tempered by the commuting traffic, there are a number of blind bends, and you really do have to take the corners slowly in case you hear the whooshing sound of oncoming traffic. Drivers/riders still don’t expect to see runners on the road and so they are often very, very close to the verge. I never run with both earphones in as it’s way too dangerous. I pass through the danger zone and enjoy the relative cool. Glancing at my phone I see the temperature has already risen by four degrees Celsius in just on thirty minutes of my run. I’m holding a nice pace and just about to enter the next village’s outskirts, a little short of my five kilometre target and see I have 200 metres or so to go.  I decide to continue the run downhill and then do the final 100km running back up. I’ve been avoiding serious gradients, and that’s a pointless exercise really… I live on the top of a hill, sooner or later I have to get my hill legs working, so it may as well be now.

I truth I didn’t quite manage the full 100 metres back up the hill, I reckon I was five metres short, but I did with a breather finish at just over 5kms, at the memorial ‘park’ for the Italian hero who saved Churchill from a German sniper. I’d done a bit of my run towards a significant point in the Gothic line, and the park is so small I think I’d probably have to run around it about twenty times to do 100 metres. But it’s a nice safe place to stop and so I do.

The more direct route home is a 3km walk, and that’s the way I go. The temperature is now 25 degrees, I have suffered 3 mosquito bites – the downside of the shade and so no Dan Runner I won’t be running at 4.45 am, because I reckon the itch count would be significantly more.

Lessons learnt

  • it needs to be six a.m ish for me to do five kilometres or more
  • Italians are equally as mucky as British people – I saw nine discarded facemasks in the verge
  • My hill legs haven’t disappeared, but they do need some work

Stats

Distance 5.1km

Time – still iffy

Mosquito Bites – 3

Physio

Yes – but really must buy the yoga mat, as I’m not doing Bridges or Pelvic Thrusting

Jump Rope

33 skips!!!

Then 23, then 31 – but it is improving for a woman with no rhythm or coordination or spatial awareness…

Playlist

My goddaughter Molly’s Virtual Glasto Concert playlist – best track

Cake by the Ocean by DNCE, as who wouldn’t like cake by the ocean?

 

 

 

Week 15 Run 2 – Running From Brexit

 

 

 

I don’t really care how people voted in the referendum, because we all have different perspectives and reasons for making the decisions we do. There is no such thing as a right or wrong referendum result, it’s just a result. I don’t want to chat to the ‘other side’ about their decision vs. mine, because that way all hell ensues and as I’ve read many times friendships can break over this question.

Unfortunately for us, the referendum now has real, unimagined consequences. Pre -referendum our life plan was to live more or less half and half between Italy and the UK. Being an EU citizen meant we could achieve that with little impact on our lives in either country.

But sadly no more, we have to choose between two countries we love. In the new post B world we can only stay in Italy as part of the Schengen Area for 90 days in any 180, and it’s a rolling period. So we can’t disappear to a non EU country say Switzerland for a couple of days and re-set the clock. This Schengen rule means 90 days here, 90 days there.  Or we could do one month here, one there. Maximum – oh and that uses up all your EU Schengen Area allowance, so no extra trips to France for wine, or Holland to see our friends. Bum. And gardens with cherries, figs, olive trees and vines don’t wait for you to be back in the country before growing. Put it another way, we can choose Spring and Autumn or Summer and Winter, but we can’t bookend the 90 days so that we have a six month ‘block’ here.

I do not ask nor expect any sympathy – we are second home owners who very, very luckily can afford this semi-nomadic lifestyle. But it’s decision time, which country and which lifestyle do we want and can we afford? My initial strategy was of the wait and hope variety. Canvassing friends in similar situations, some like me are waiting and hoping, others are just going to live with the Schengen rules, others are pursuing EU citizenship. Friends in London have researched their heritage and found that due to relatives settling in Portugal many years ago (running away from the Pogroms) they are entitled to a Portugese passport. No such luck on the JCR/Mr JCR front. His exotic lineage as far as we know extends to Wales, mine does have a Russian connection (Pogroms again), but I don’t think a Putin linkage is going to get me a European passport. I’m guessing Russians will be marginally less popular than British folk, when it comes to the EU handing out passports post Brexit conclusion.

Now we are having a meeting with an English commercialista (kind of accountant). We are not so English that he has to be English, but to decide to move here requires us to understand the financial consequences of arriving here, being taxed whilst we live here and the impact of moving back to the UK (which we will do one day).

The commercialista therefore needs to know both Italian and UK taxation, the dual taxation treaty clauses etc etc etc. Once we know the ins and outs, we have to decide to be in or out. And in truth I’d like to be both, to have my proverbial cake and eat it.

This morning’s run started much earlier, thanks to Mr JCR’s rather aggressive alarm setting tactic – it went off at 6am (this was planned and with JCR agreement – it’s just in my mind any alarm setting is aggressive!) Finally after a bit of faff and coffee, I was out just after 7am with the temperature a cool 26 degrees! Being ‘out’ at this time of day is nice and quiet, there’s more shade to be had, but you often get more commuting traffic for a workday start time of 8am. Mill Lane was all in shade and I passed unnoticed into Lovers’ Lane. The barking beagles nowhere to be seen, and my only company was the chirruping of cicadas. That’s also a worrying sign, they usually come to life in the heat of the afternoon, but with temperatures rising, they are out and about early too. On my route back to Mill Lane, Iron Man and his dog came out of the olive fields. We made our customary greetings and I carried on.

The Slope of Hope was very still and then wham, four cars all in a row sped past me – this is LA style freeway traffic levels in our village. I crossed over to make my way to Laundry Lane as usual (yes my run is predictable, but until the temperature eases a little that’s the way it will stay) and leapt out of my skin as a juggernaut passed close by. The road narrows as it approaches the old village and it can only really be considered roomy enough for two way traffic if one is a car and the other a bike, or maybe a three wheeler Ape. The narrowing of the road also channels the sound waves – hence my mini leap into the air.

In Laundry Lane, I passed our friends’ house R and P, who arrive from USA, for a few weeks in their family home. The garden was all pristine and perfect for their return. My thoughts turned back to the in/out question. On days like today it’s clear that here is a lovely place to be, we have space, gorgeous weather, we can get to the sea within minutes, it’s not polluted, we have friends here – all the ingredients for a perfect life.  To be in Italy is like living the Dolce Vita everyday. And so I am running thinking about being in and out.

In my perfect life, the EU and Boris will have a chat (maybe a tad more formal) and agree that they both like the JCR family so much that they are prepared to come to a compromise which means out of all the commercial considerations the JCR clause comes into effect, allowing JCR to have cake and eat it!

In my running mind I am consolidating after C25K and I should be improving my lot. The reality is the heat is killing my progress and I’m actually going backwards on both time and distance measures. This is our Brexit situation to a T. To enjoy all that Italy offers, means a significant detachment to our metropolitan London living lifestyle we’ve enjoyed for 15 + years. If we accept Schengen rules, it will be like when we were working and could only be occasional visitors here, a likeable anomaly, but not locals. If we live here, we will become London visitors – not quite as likeable nor anomalous to those locals.

This dilemma is also encapsulated in my running route – some of it is pleasant shade and some scorching sun, both of which are perfectly lovely in context, and I love being in both places, although sometimes it can be uncomfortable. And in a running sense of having my cake and eat it, I want to run in the heat but not get overheated.

My run ended up with me still wanting to be in and out, in Europe and out of London when we want to be. I think  our plain speaking Yorkshire man commercialista may be telling me the way to go.

I finished my run having done just over 4.5kms – just a tad more than Tuesday and the temperature had risen another couple of degrees, so I decided I’d actually track the walk back home, to see how much I’d have to do if I tried to run it all. It would be another 1.3kms but with an elevation gain of 61 metres on just that bit – see the MMR pic for how horrid it is in full sun! Ouch, maybe that will wait until the Autumn and maybe by then we will know for sure if we are in or out.

On my final trek up the hill, I met a young lady dog walker with a very sociable dog I think she called it Atlanta. Now that’s an inspirational name for a pooch. Atlanta do you have any ideas on whether we stay in the EU and become Italian residents or  stay out and leave Italy with pleasant memories of la dolce vita?

Stats

Distance 4.52km

Time – still too embarrassing to record

Physio

Yes – but still no pelvic thrusting or Bridges as I still haven’t bought a yoga mat

Jump Rope – 2 sets of 17 skips and it just got worse from then on…

Playlist

90’s playlist 

Best track – Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio, because it’s Italy and we do live in a paradise, it’s just that the gangsters are somewhere else…