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…

Janathon Day 26. Recovery and Blancmange

Despite not fancying a run today, I remembered how stiff I became after last week’s tough race when I skipped my recovery run. So I wo-manned up this morning, pulled on my (dry) big girl pants and staggered out of the door.

The plan was 3 easy miles revisiting the scene of yesterday’s triumph race. (Not the stream, just the bit closest to my house). This is a muddy track that usually just has tyre marks from the game keeper’s pickup, a few dogs’ paw prints and their walkers’ boot marks. However today it looked like a herd of elephants wearing trainers had stampeded down there.

As I plodded I thought about the lovely t-shirt I got at the end, and I suddenly realised the revolting pink colour was the exact shade of the strawberry* blancmange we were forced to eat at school. Another reason to hate that colour.
* I presume it was strawberry flavour, although I doubt it had ever seen any red fruit let alone a strawberry.

Juneathon Day 6. Builders.

Warning – this post contains builders. If you’ve never had any experience of dealing with builders then please feel free to skip to the middle of this post, the “I went for a run” part.  If you’ve ever had any building work done on your house, or if you’ve watched Grand Designs and are currently contemplating it, then read on. Friday has always been my long run day. However I knew it wouldn’t happen today because the builders were coming. We are just about to start our loft conversion and needed the Building Inspector to come and look into a hole dug outside our kitchen, and at two holes above windows.

Black cat re-enacting classic ‘Titantic’ pose on temporarily displaced decking

The builders arrived just before 9 o’clock to wait for the inspector (apparently we were first on his list) and we took the time to discuss various complicated details of steel beams and purlins. We drank tea. We ended up deep in village gossip and still the inspector hadn’t arrived. After an hour and a half they went off to do other things. Inspector finally arrived around twelve. I rang the builders who came back and the inspector duly* gazed into holes, passed judgement, and left. Builders filled in the hole, chatted some more and went at about 1pm, promising to return around three when the Roofer was coming to discuss scaffolding.

I looked in the fridge to see if there was anything inspiring for lunch, found there wasn’t, and decided to pop out for a short run instead whilst the coast was clear. I got into my running gear, strapped on my Garmin and had just shoved my hair off my face with a hairband when the doorbell went. Guess who? It was the builders of course. They were off to price some steel up and could I just photocopy the specs… They left, again, AND I WENT FOR A RUN! It was just three miles, it was slow, but it was a chance to stretch out my stiff hamstrings and enjoy the sunshine. It was wonderful.

It is now three o’clock. I’ve run, showered, my running kit is in the washing machine and I’ve had my lunch. Guess what I’m doing now – I’m waiting for the builders to come back.

* my predictive text auto corrected this to ‘dully gazed into holes’ which is much funnier

What Next?

Training Completed

Training completed.

My Medal

The race is run (and the medal worn).

What next? Well – listening to my body I’ve decided to have at least a week off from running. It feels very strange not to be running, not to be checking my schedule, not to be dreading my Friday Long Run. On the plus side, this break has coincided with Spring finally appearing, so I knew instantly what I should be doing to still get my fresh air fix.

The allotment
The allotment

The allotment. It has been swathed in black weed suppressing fabric all winter, and now like a teenager, its alarm call is well overdue. Already this week it has had its covering rudely removed, its been partially dug over, had compost added and some potatoes have been planted. Not bad for someone recovering from a marathon!

What else is on the ‘To Do’ list for this week then?  Oh – quite a lot. Apparently I haven’t crossed anything off since January…

Recovery vs Taper

I’ve discovered a problem with running two races so close together – the problem of tapering / recovering simultaneously.

In theory it should work well. Both involve resting, running less and good hydration & nutrition. In practice I don’t know if the aches and pains I’m feeling are just taper madness (which should be ignored), or post race niggles (which should be mollycoddled whilst polishing well earned race medal).

I know all about pre-race nerves – I wrote about them last week so they’re still fresh in my mind. I know its just nerves, and I know how well last Sunday’s race went . However, this week’s nerves are just as bad and just as unsettling. It probably doesn’t help that the Bristol Half is a much bigger event than Malmesbury. Think long established, big city event vs. first time, small market town event. Think 15,000 runners vs. 500 runners. Think needing to plan transport there and worrying about parking, think about the impossibility of trying to meet people there even though its always great to meet online ‘virtual’ friends in real life (if only to prove to my husband that these people do exist!)

Ah well, I’ll pop another ice pack on and take more vitamin C and will no doubt see you in Bristol on Sunday morning!

Pink Start – yuck!

10 miles done, now for the RICE!

Attractive calf compression thingies.
So in my continuing ‘crash course’ plan to get ready for the Malmesbury Half in 9 days time,  I decided it would be a good idea to run 10 miles today, just to make sure my legs remembered they could run somewhere near half marathon distance. Showing a distinct lack of grit and courage, I chose the very flat disused railway line-come-cycle trail so as not to stress my legs too much. This also means I can run under the bridges ‘woo-hoo’ing* like a train and making echoes, and I can steam through the little station, Black Dog Halt. I was puffing enough to do a very realistic impression of a steam engine today, I can tell you.
I decided to try and run it at 11 minute mile pace, as hopefully that’s what I’d like to run the race at. That would give me a new PB, which would be stupendous given my lack of running last month. Amazingly, I managed it, although the last 3 miles did feel hard. My legs were mostly okay, but my hips – good grief – put me on the list for 2 hip replacements, thank you very much!
A very lovely running friend reminded me to RICE* my legs afterwards, after the shin splints I suffered earlier in the year (I may just have mentioned them, once or twice, when I was marathon training). So I have dutifully sprayed them with cold stuff, put on my attractive calf compression things, took a photo and am just about to put my feet up.
Now then – how do I RICE my hips?  
Resting is fine – the sofa is calling.  
Ice packs could be strapped to both hips in an attractive and yet chilly manner.
Compression – does anyone have a very tight mini skirt I can borrow?  
Elevation? Elevation???? The mind boggles and I may draw the line at this one.
If anyone wants to send me a Heath Robinson inspired drawing of how to go about this, I’d be very impressed, but nothing from the Karma Sutra, thank you very much. I’m in training I’ll have you know.
* RICE is   Rest Ice Compression Elevation, and is the first thing a runner should do with any soreness or injury after running.
*woo-hoo-ing is a very technical term. Ask any steam railway enthusiast

The Training’s Restarted!

You’ll be pleased to hear I’m still in a positive mood! After my two short runs last week I also managed  to cycle to the swimming pool, aqua-plod for TWO HOURS and then cycle home again. I felt brain dead after those two hours, but the cycle home helped wake me up, and then as I came back into the village I passed the postman who flagged me down and shouted that he had already tried 3 times to deliver a parcel that had to be signed for, so he’d loop round and try again. I cycled home so fast I beat him there, and he handed over my NEW SHOES!

Busy weekend (daughter being dropped at school in the early hours for her trip to Germany, son’s birthday sleepover and Mother’s Day for starters!) so couldn’t get out to try them. Then Monday morning dawned. Everyone was out, the sun was shining, the shoes were calling….

I set off for 4 miles. Everything was stiff, aching and complaining, but I carried on. After 2 and a half miles the stiffness was easing off. Shin was still sore but I was ignoring it. At four miles I was nearly back home, and I suddenly realised my shin wasn’t painful. I couldn’t feel anything sore there. It didn’t feel like someone was pressing hard on the bony part of my leg any more. Overjoyed I decided to press on and ran an extra mile. Shin started hurting again on a gentle downhill, and then again on the gentle uphill, but it gave me hope that this WILL clear up. One day!

So what shall I do today???