The Curly Wurly

Photo of Somerdale parkrun sign
Welcome to Somerdale parkrun!

Saturday 12th October 2019 was parkrun day, like any other Saturday, but more particularly it was parkrun away day. Well, for the Chippenham Harriers (my running club) it was, anyway. The coach was booked, seats purchased, plans made. The destination was to be Somerdale Pavilions parkrun, not too far away from Chippenham and home of the famous “Curly Wurly”.

The parkrun is in Keynsham, in the grounds of the now closed and redeveloped Cadbury factory. The trek over soggy fields to another soggy field was not inviting, but the veritable maze of tape marking the route was. I’ll post my Strava trace of the run which hopefully will illustrate what I mean:-

Somerdale Pavilion Strava trace

and the close up of the Curly Wurly:-

Curly Wurly Strava track

Nothing illustrates the Curly Wurly better than this video made by Mike, one of the Club stalwarts (and a former Chairman of our club). I finally appear at 4 minutes in (wearing a red t-shirt under my Harriers vest). Turn the sound on – the tune is called “The Curly Wurly!

And before anyone snitches to my physio, yes I ran but I also walked. I tried my best to “run clever”, but I also just enjoyed myself. Fabulous!

May you live in interesting times (or not)

So that was an “interesting” Summer.

We survived moving my daughter out of her student house and back home for a month, and then re-moving her and all of her stuff back into her next house. We managed to rearrange furniture so that her room could be described as “cosy” rather than tiny (it is very small).

We survived my son receiving his excellent A level grades, confirming his place at Exeter and then panicking to get ready to move out. We’ve seen a LOT of Ikea this summer -2 different Ikeas in 2 days was a new high. I feel partly Swedish.

We survived moving my son and his mountains of stuff down to Exeter. Helpfully, his room is huge, with plenty of space for everything. That’s the difference between what the same amount of money buys you in Oxford and in Exeter!

I then survived a week of coming home to an empty house (well, the cats were there and hungry so they were pleased to see me) and life was settling down as myself and Mr B&T embraced our newfound empty-nest freedom. All was going well. Right up until the moment on Tuesday afternoon when I was called down to the Finance Director’s office and abruptly told that due to cost savings my job was now redundant, and I would have a meeting with my manager in the morning to discuss the situation.

Oh – and I could go home for the rest of the afternoon if I wanted.




Shocked doesn’t cover how I felt. Shocked, shaking, unable to speak, slightly teary is probably closer, but still doesn’t cover quite how stunned I was. Imagine being unexpectedly slapped hard in the face – that was basically how it felt.

When I stopped shaking long enough to drive safely I collected my belongings and drove home. Walking into the house mid-afternoon didn’t stop the ever-hungry cats from greeting me expectantly, but I just felt empty and unable to breathe. Instinctively I changed into running gear, found running shoes in the garage and left the house. Because I hadn’t run for nearly 3 months my Garmin took ages to find any satellites. I wore my oldest, saggiest leggings so I didn’t look too keen, and I set off walking. I chose my most runned-route because it heads out towards the woods on lanes, byways and footpaths but is still fairly even, hard packed trail. I might need a run, but I didn’t need to twist my foot again. I walked for 5 minutes or so as a warmup and then tentatively started running. I continued tentatively running for 10 minutes, then walked again. Each step was a mindful monologue of “is my ankle okay? Yes, it’s okay. Is it okay now? Yes – still okay”. At the furthest point from the village I did indulge myself with a short but heartfelt face-screwed-up-proper-ugly-crying-wail. Thank God I didn’t meet any dog walkers at this point. My husband called at the precise moment I hit the hill so chatting to him gave me the perfect excuse to walk back up the hill.

I did manage another 10 minutes of running and then another 5 of walking, and I had just enough road left for a short trot to finish. I was actually pretty pleased with 40 minutes for 3 miles – and my head felt so much clearer (although my face and eyes were much puffier). My foot felt fine afterwards but a little tender the next day, but to be honest the entirety of both my legs felt pretty stiff by then. I felt a little guilty for running, and did call my run on Strava “Don’t tell the physio!” Hopefully no long term damage done, but immense short term therapy achieved.

I had another meeting on Friday, another trot out, and then a day of tentatively poking my foot and ankle. I’ve just had my final ‘consultation’ meeting and am officially redundant with 4 weeks notice which thankfully I don’t have to work. Just a short handover meeting on Monday to come and I’m done.

What a strange feeling. Might go for a run this afternoon…

2019 – the Year of the Second Comeback

Apparently comebacks are the in-thing at the moment. From the Spice Girls to Spitting Image, everyone who was ever anyone is coming back. Not being one to shy away from jumping on a bandwagon, but always wanting to go one better, I’m about to launch my second comeback of the year.

First comeback was getting back into running again after letting things slide after starting my new job. This was pretty successful peaking in running the Invader Half marathon. After this I ran a couple of recces of a stage of the Cotswold Way Relay with Liz, and I was happily running several times a week. My strength and stamina were increasing and I was envisioning having a great off-road season this winter.

Unfortunately the saying “pride comes before a fall” was demonstrated quite literally at parkrun at the end of June. On the second lap that goes through a field I landed awkwardly, my ankle twisted under me and I went down like the proverbial sack of spuds. Long story short is that I badly sprained my ankle, which swelled up so much it looked like an elephant’s leg, with no running for nearly 3 months.

Now? Well after waiting patiently for my ankle to heal, doing the exercises the nurse gave me every day, I finally gave up waiting and booked a physio appointment. And then another appointment. And another. My ankle is now back to normal size, I can hop on it, and even balance on it (briefly) with my eyes closed – I love my physio exercises! Lovely as my physio is, I’m really hoping that my appointment next Friday will be the last time I see him for a while.

Fingers crossed for me!

Introducing Physio Phil with his Magic Fingers of Pain

Warning – this post contains photos of my foot, and is not for those of a nervous disposition. Or a fear of feet. Or physio tape.

Yes the title gave it away. I’ve been to the physio. I am fed up with my foot still hurting and decided that maybe just rest wasn’t going to magically cure it.

I have more or less followed the doctor’s advice after my visit in January in that I definitely haven’t run, haven’t cycled and have barely walked. However, I confess I have thought about running. Mainly when I’ve seen other people out in lycra and I’ve snarled (to myself, not at the runner) and then sulked. Despite this self sacrifice, my foot wasn’t feeling any better and with a ski holiday coming up I was getting desperate.

I turned to Doctor Google and decided I should try taping my foot to try and support the sore bit. Thanks to a lovely running friend, who incidentally is another Lucy, I got hold of some physio tape and set to. I give you exhibit A


Despite an admirable amount of tape it didn’t help. In fact my foot felt worse

In desperation I rang the physio hoping for an appointment next week, and the Patron Saint of Desperate Injured Runners (St Nike? St Brooks? St Ron of Hill??) must have been looking out for me because they had a free appointment that day. I hastily removed my taping efforts and scuttled down there.

As I squirmed on the table I remembered Physio Phil had Magic Fingers of Pain. He dug into my foot causing me to gasp and bite my lip and even mutter “ooooooOOOOOO!” once or twice. It did hurt – lots – but I’m very British and don’t like to cause a fuss.* Apparently I have collapsed the arch of my foot, and the pain is from all sorts of ligaments that I’ve upset. As well as his efforts to sort things out manually I have to do the balancing on the stairs exercise as often as I can, put ice on my foot for 15 minutes every two hours, roll my spikey ball under my foot whenever I can, and go back in ten days time. Phil said this was far enough away that… he paused at this point, and I continued for him “far enough away that I’ll forget how much it hurt today”. He agreed rather too quickly for my liking. Physios are sadists***, but if he fixes my foot that’s fine by me.

He also did his own version of taping my foot.


In better news, my swimming lessons are going well. I still haven’t drowned (always a positive) and I even got a double thumbs up from the teacher last week. I suspect I still look like a drowning insect but for brief moments I actually feel like I’m swimming. Face in the water, arms and legs flailing, but actually moving through the water. I’ll be back there tomorrow, goggles on face and professional tape on leg.

*I’m also obviously “well ‘ard” as I gave birth to my son 15 years ago with no pain relief.**

** Not as impressive as it sounds, as at one point I did moan that I couldn’t do it, and had to be told by the scary midwife that the pain would only stop once I’d pushed the baby out. Harsh.

***I wonder if Physio Phil was a midwife in a previous life?

“And don’t even think of running for a month”

Words no runner wants to hear, but at last a diagnosis. After my ongoing foot troubles were still, well, ongoing I finally cracked and went to visit my GP. She poked and prodded my foot, finding the exact very sore spot, and squashed my hypochondriatic fears about a stress fracture by telling me I don’t actually have any bones there. Well she’s the doctor I suppose. Tendinitis, possibly caused by my walking strangely with the planter fasciitis I’d had.

Like the last time I visited the Doctor’s a few years ago, she uttered the awful phrase “as we get older…” (this time it was followed by “…we take longer to heal” and I forgave her this because she confessed to being a frustrated, injured runner. Things got worse as she followed this with “and don’t even think about running for a month”.

Well I promised I wouldn’t run for a month, but not think about it? That’s harsh. No promises there…

Shoot me now – but first, Merry Christmas!

I feel like a broken woman. My left foot hurts, my right knee hurts and it’s really hard to limp on both legs. My left eye is horrendously bloodshot and my left elbow is sore. I’m tired from working in retail right up to Christmas Eve, and sad because I’ve not been able to run for weeks. Truth be told, it’s been painful to even walk. If I was a race horse, they’d shoot me.

My last run was a few weeks ago, on a rare trip to my local parkrun. The weather forecast was disgusting, and to be honest if I hadn’t been meeting someone there I’d have stayed in bed on a precious Saturday off. So thank you very much Louise (abradypus) for making me get out there and for a very enjoyable (if muddy) run. We had a lovely chat and my right knee felt great after my recent physio session.

Since then, standing for 8 and a half hours a day has taken its toll on my legs / eye / elbow, and if I hadn’t finally made it to Christmas I’d be very sad at this point. But Christmas it is, and I’ve spent a very lovely day with my family relaxing and eating good food. So I’m sat now with my feet up on the sofa, an ice pack alternating between my foot and knee, and a glass of wine in my hand. There’s always next year to run again. So with that optimistic thought, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a run filled New Year.


How not to Taper

Tapering is a time to rest and recover from your hard training. The last few weeks before a race are the time to cut back your long runs, get your strength back, refuel and rehydrate. They are not the time to pick up a niggling twinge. An injury at this time is also not an excuse to do zero exercise and yet still eat all of the food.

Of course, this is basically what I did. However I didn’t panic. I stopped running, I iced, stretched, rubbed in Ibuprofen gel and wore my compression socks. Two weeks on and I tiptoed out for an experimental run this morning, and … it felt fine. Phew!

Three days to go … now to write some lists for marathon day!

Now to get ready for this marathon.

Juneathon Day 14. Poor Nephew

So after a late night at a big family party, I was planning a little trot later on in the day when our youngest visitors had headed home. All would be nice and peaceful, with just my parents-in-law staying. Just before lunchtime we took sis-in-law and her 3 children over to the next village to the cycling festival they were having. The children are full of energy (as young children are) and we thought they could have a go on their scooters, play in the ace playground and burn off some energy before having to sit in the car for a long trip home.

The plan was going well, they scootered in the school’s playground (have you ever seen a 3 year old bunny-hop on a scooter? Quite impressive. And scary!) Then we headed to the playground were 3 year old made a bee-line for the swings, and 6 & 8 year old headed to the zip line, with my son in attendance. A few minutes later, we saw a child fall from the zip wire and with a sickening jolt we realised that was my oldest nephew.

He was shocked and crying, but concious, so as his mum sat him down to give him a chance to recover, I suggested hissiblings ran races to amuse themselves. When middle child was bored of beating his little sister, I joined in and the three of us raced across the field, then I cheated and carried little sister on the return journey (being very careful not to trip and cause more injuries) and also to let big brother win (most important!). I then told him that although he was faster than me, I could carry on running for a very long time if I had to (just to make me feel better at being beaten!)

The end result was that my nephew has broken his arm and will need to be in a splint for 4 weeks. He’d been very brave, and we were all very relieved that he was going to be okay. Obviously at this point popping on my running stuff and heading off for some “me-time” didn’t seemed the right thing to do in the circumstances, so I’m going to take my “nephew & niece-race” as my Juneathon activity for the day.

And I still need to sort my poorly car out – but that’s for another day, and hopefully it won’t take so long it messes up another running day!

Oh and just to cheer us all up, cuddly kitten pic of the day:-image

“You should only wear your running shoes for…”

All together now … ” RUNNING!”

They should not be taken on holiday and worn for the following activities:-

Sightseeing around Liverpool

Liverpool Pier Head
Liverpool Pier Head

Visiting Antony Gormley’s sculpture “Another Place”

Spot the Statue








Seeing red squirrels at National Trust Formby

We honestly saw real red squirrels but they were too quick to photograph
We honestly saw real red squirrels but they were too quick to photograph

Walking in the Lake District

Rydal Water. Photo Credit Y. Jiwa
Rydal Water. Photo Credit Y. Jiwa

Driving a canal boat

Look no 'L' Plates
Look no ‘L’ Plates

And certainly not pushing open lock gates on the canal. (No photos of that one -sorry).

I think it was the last one that particularly broke the arch support in my running shoes (although along with opening and closing the lock gate paddles it was a great upper body workout). All I know is my plans of running up and down the tow path never materialised, and my first couple of runs back home left me with knee and shin twinges. Getting injured just seems so stupid and such a waste of time, so I immediately ordered myself a new pair of trainers and didn’t run until they arrived.

The good news is that two runs in my new shoes and I’ve had no more twinges or aches. Also the oh-so-pink shoes that I’ve always hated have now been replaced by a very stylish black and purple great-for-winter pair.

The bad news is that I missed getting one last long run in before Chippenham Half Marathon on Sunday 7th September. I struggle with long runs in the Summer holidays but this year I played it safe and I decided not to run. Yes I could have run and made it round I’m sure, but my shins were saying “at what cost to us, eh?!”

Risk averse? Probably. Cowardly? Don’t think so. Sensible? I guess so. Sigh.

I know how to cheer myself up – I’ll enter another race!

Two legs good, two wheels …

…Two wheels just as good, as it turns out. I am a recent road bike convert, after being bought a new bike for my birthday. I love how light my new bike is, how easy it is to pedal and change gear, but I am still a little sad it doesn’t have a basket on the front.

His ‘n’ Hers

I have discovered I can now ride faster than my son (no more “we’ve dropped Mum. Again”). I also discovered that I haven’t yet mastered the art of getting my feet out of my toe straps before coming to a stop. It was on a lovely bike ride with Mr B&T in Lacock, surrounded by tourists, trying to decide if I wanted an ice cream or not, when I managed to perfectly execute the classic ‘zero velocity fall’. I came to a stop, couldn’t get my left foot out of my toe strap in time and crashed to the ground. Very embarrassing. The worst part was a lady walking by whom I overheard saying to a friend “I don’t know. She just fell over!”

This was my knee the next day:-

Pass the arnica

And I thought cycling would be better for my legs than running!

And see how concerned my tabby boy was. Obviously worried I might not be able to make it into the kitchen to feed him.