Running

Bouncing Back

This may be a blip in the continuum, so I’m treating it very cautiously.

However…

Both on Monday and last night, during my first club run in about 18 months, I felt … stronger.

Could my week of squats, plus a random array of other, non-scientifically generated, strength training exercises, already start to be paying off?

I know! It’s crazy talk.

If such results could be got from less than seven days of 10 minute efforts, it would be front page news. So, probably not.

However…

My Monday run was in the evening when I’m not at my best. With looking after Alf all day, I’m usually ker-nackered and, more often than not, likely to recline on the sofa with a glass of wine. But to get my mileage back up after a few weeks of down time, I reasoned that my small, standard but hilly 3+ mile loop was attainable and would mean less panic by Thursday.

I realised, a mile in, that I hadn’t laboured breathlessly in that first few minutes, but I wasn’t crawling either. I felt quite ‘bouncy’ generally, and although it didn’t translate to a huge time reduction, it was quite spritely for me, and I wasn’t even trying.

Tuesday night, feeling a little anxious having not been club running for an age, I let virtually everyone shoot past me and settled in with the back group of injured or relaxed runners. I actually went on ahead and then circled back one or two times as I again felt ‘bouncy’. I circled back, partly because I like to chat sometimes with people and partly because I didn’t know the route. What I thought was going to be a 5+ miler turned into nearly 7 so I’m not quite sure if they knew the route either.

An old windmill, without sails.
An ex-windmill in Neston, now probably serving as posh lodgings.

Still it meant I could take today off from running and just do a cycle. Gary took me on a local, shorter but hillier than usual route, which was nice of him. But, good for me in the long run I suppose! The hot choc and cake in our break by the boat graveyard at Sheldrakes, certainly tasted good anyway, and the local robins took a few morsels to feed their fledgelings, which probably wasn’t the healthiest, but very cute.

I will be continuing with these strength exercises and monitoring my progress. If nothing else, it will be good to have some more indoor moves up my sleeves if I’m back in Leicester next week. My dad is still in hospital but he has his diagnosis at least and begun treatment. So, fingers crossed, it’s the start of an upward curve for his health and he can get back home soon.

The sun is making a bid for freedom this weekend after getting a pummelling from May’s rough winds and some lashings of rain, so I shall see if I can keep bouncing, or at the very least, feel the warmth and the start of summer.

Running

Squatting at my Dad’s

Well that was more like it. A comfortable, steady 7+ miles at the weekend and another slightly faster 4, done yesterday.

My breathing seems fully back to normal, although, before yesterday’s run, I was walking around like John Wayne. Who knew that doing a few squats and lunges for the first time in an age would be so impactful on my body?!

Silhouette of a woman doing a squat
I like to think my squats look this poised!
Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

To be fair, that probably happened the last time I tried them, and the time before that, but I seem to have filed those memories in a dusty box in the corner of the attic of my mind, as the ache has come as a complete surprise!

My aim this week, at my dad’s, was to do more indoor stuff, like regular yoga, and strength training exercises. As he needs someone close by most of the time at the moment. However, on the drive down last Friday, I heard from my big sis, that the hospital had decided to admit my dad, in order to carry out a few more tests without him getting so exhausted from the to-ing and fro-ing.

He’s still in and it’s Tuesday. They’re supposed to have a big MDT (Multidisciplinary Team) meeting at some point today but I heard, this morning, that they still needed to do another MRI on him. This is, at least, his third. Frustrating, living in this limbo land.

So I’m here, at his house, on my own, with a bit of extra time on my hands and therefore I’m getting out for a few miles each day. Alongside which, I’m trying to do these squats and lunges every day as I obviously need to.

I found this handy little app called ‘Interval Timer’, where you can set your exercise time and your rest time and the number of iterations you want. I’m doing, roughly, 5 minutes of 30 seconds ON and 15 seconds OFF. I will build this up to 10 once the aching subsides.

I have, in the past, during previous attempts of getting my strength on, written down the order of exercises, splicing ideas from various articles and videos and I may do that again, at some point this time.

However, for now I start with squats and then use the 15 seconds rest to figure out my next exercise. The only proviso is that they need to alternate between legs, arms and torso. So, that will either keep it exciting, or I’ll realise that I’m following the same pattern every day.

I know I should be doing this strength stuff more often being a woman of a certain age but, with the gyms being closed for ages I’ve been a bit sporadic. I know they’re now opening up but I think it’ll be a while before I’ll be comfortable entering them.

So in the meantime, for this current drive and impetus, I will just keep squatting at home, or at my dad’s.

Life

100 years of my Grandma

A special thick envelope was delivered to my grandma’s house yesterday from the Queen.

100th birthday Telegram Envelope for my Grandma, from the Queen
The special telegram, to be opened today!!

Today she’ll open it and we’ll have a little Zoom celebration to mark her 100th birthday!

Sita Ma has been the matriarch of our family since forever, showing us, and sometimes, even the Brahmin, how to do the rituals properly for all our rites of passage. She has been our backbone and our centre, and it’s rather wonderful to see her reach this milestone.

A little sad to have to celebrate this and last year’s birthdays remotely, but conversely, that has meant including people from as far afield as Canada, India and Australia, beaming everyone, with the wonderful power of technology, straight into our living rooms.

In fact last year’s Zoom birthday was so well organised, with each member doing a bit of a turn. There were songs and stories recounted with memories of Ma. And all us 21 grandkids were involved in a video splice while lip-syncing to Happy (Pharrell Williams). My bit was cringe but we had a laugh! The whole thing became even more special than a regular get together.

One of the best stories told is of Ma when she was a girl growing up in Bardoli, in India. Mahatma Gandhi had an ashram there and she often went. Apparently when he was walking past one time, Ma told him his legs were too skinny!! I will always dine out on that one.

When I was very young, I used to go and stay with my grandparents during the week while mum went out to work and I even went to infant school there. I can’t remember much of it but I must have enjoyed myself as apparently I wasn’t that keen on going back home. It may have had something to do with me being the fourth daughter in our house and having my grandma all to myself in her house!

Me wheeling my grandma about in the park in her wheelchair
Ma and I in the park

It’s pretty phenomenal that a woman, born in quite a rural setting, who didn’t have much of an education, has lived through such world changes. She’s lived in India, Kenya and the UK. She was around before electricity was widely available and now FaceTimes!

This year’s party will be a bit shorter than last year as Ma’s stamina and memory aren’t as strong as they were. Instead we had a prequel Zoom yesterday when various friends and family members sang songs and hymns for her to listen to and join in with, as the old songs are always remembered. Today, we’ll all have our glasses ready of whatever tipple we fancy (Ma doesn’t mind a drop of whiskey) and we will raise them in honour of a very special woman.

Happy 100th birthday Ma!

Running

A Curve Ball in the Shape of a Cold

Sunday

I was going to do a little technical post about ‘Base Training’ because I’d had several weeks of good mileage and was feeling quite strong. However, that will have to wait for another time as I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself of late.

Not only had we lost the dog last week but I’d caught a cold the week before at some point, and the back end of it has lingered a bit. Yesterday I attempted 8 miles and managed 5 and a bit as my breathing still felt laboured, with very little effort. Although at the time I felt a bit dispirited, it just showed me how much my body usually works on a run, even though I’m a slowcoach!

Getting the cold in the first place got me a bit worried because, in our mask-wearing world, it should now be a lot harder and if that lurgy had sneaked up on me, I’d obviously let my defences down long enough for the Big Bad to potentially catch me too.

I wondered, initially, if I had got it when I was travelling to my dad’s on the ‘train’! It was the first time I’d used public transport in over a year and I was rather nervous about it. I had trains in fact, as Wirral to Leicester is not the most straightforward of routes. But, although tedious, it actually felt pretty safe as the vast majority of other travellers were also masked up and there weren’t that many of them.

So I was pleased, therefore, to learn that little Alf, who we mind on Mondays was also full of the sniffles so it was most likely that he’d passed it on to me. Plus, now with the home kits that they’re dishing out in the UK, I could double-check that it wasn’t the version of the coronavirus that had thrown the world into mayhem but the old-fashioned tried and tested one.

Tuesday

I have resigned myself to the fact that I’ll have a few weeks of low mileage, especially as I’ll be back in Leicester for my dad next week. However I did get out for an excellent bike ride with Gary today which was the first in about three weeks.

Just under 25 miles in glorious sunshine (most of the time). And we had our coffee break at Nets Café in Burton, which had loads of outdoor sitting areas and an army of sparrows to clean up any lingering cake crumbs. I left them barely a morsel of my lovely slice of banana and walnut that Gary’s wife Wendy had baked.

I will get back on track with my running. I know I’ve had these little dips before which have sometimes turned into big sloughs of despond, but I’m determined to keep the short runs up as and when I can, while upping my yoga and working out more strength training exercises to keep me getting stronger. That’s the plan anyway!

Life

Dog Day Afternoon

Rocco the dog and Anne.
A happy dog when he’s with Anne

A sorry day today as Rocco, the grumpy 13 year old Pomeranian, has been sent shuffling off this mortal coil to Doggie Heaven. 

He’s had a great retirement with us but in the last week or so he started having seizures and when the vet’s tests came back, we wondered how he was still standing with all that was wrong with him.

Sadly though, even with the anti-epilepsy tablets, the seizures didn’t go away, so this afternoon we said our goodbye.

And I am sad, despite me not being into animals. He’s kept us company these past two and a half years. Barking manically when anyone came near the front door, so that robbers and postmen had second thoughts. Living in hope, whenever we got any food out that wasn’t his Bakers. He could walk the entire kitchen length on his two hind legs when he wanted to see what you had in your plate. 

He tolerated the grandchildren with a surprisingly benign temperament, partly because he knew they’d fling a spare chicken nugget his way every now and then, and partly because they weren’t wearing red and carrying a sack of letters (I have actually witnessed him jump on the back of the sofa, watching and growling as the Postie walked on the other side of the road).

He was Anne’s shadow, following her wherever she went. And they’ve kept each other fit, getting out for walks in all weathers. At the last, she cradled him when the vet did the deed and he went off peacefully.

All in all, it will be strange, not to put my hand out and have him roll so his furry tummy can be rubbed. He’s been a unique character and will be missed.