Yes I know there’s still a few days to go before July is over but I’m going on holiday tomorrow (we have house/cat-sitters so don’t think about burgling me) and I wanted to reflect on July before we left.
Despite the fact that the rain is currently lashing down and there are strong winds lashing our trees, this has been the best UK summer I can EVER remember. Since the end of April, the weather has been almost entirely dry, sunny and hot. Seriously, I’m as brown now as I have been after any California summer! Wiltshire now resembles California in many ways – the lush green has turned baked and gold. Fields look like tinder boxes. People are reporting seeing adders, our one venomous snake – I’d never heard ANY reports of sightings before but now those sightings are weekly. Our lawn has wilted, my herbs are clinging on by their fingernails, Everything is parched and brittle. – so we are really grateful for the sudden storms this weekend.
Clearly climate change is bad etc but frankly, I’m loving it! What a summer!
July started with a flare of Achilles tendonitis (or something like it). I chose to step back dramatically on the mileage and this was entirely the right decision and I’m so glad I made it. Lower mileage, more rest and some acupuncture and chiropractor sessions have fixed it entirely. But the side-effect of stepping back was the total loss of any lingering desire to train hard and try to get a PR in either the HM or the 10k. I just don’t want to run long miles, to do hill-repeats and speed sessions and race at the moment. So I let the 1.49 dream die (for now). I don’t regret it.
I can’t deny that part of me is frustrated. I worked so hard. I was running significantly more miles than before, some months up to 50% more than usual. I did all the right things. I got a coach. I trained my socks off. But those things didn’t result in a single PR and that’s frustrating and annoying. Usually running repays you for what you invest. You put in the work, you see the results. You skimp on the work, you fail in races. I put the work in and didn’t see the results and that’s annoying.
The only reason I can think of is not a popular one to discuss but it’s real. I ate too much. I’m not fat, I know that. But I ate more than I needed and I’m consistently 3lbs above my happy weight. That doesn’t sound much but when you’re 5’1, you feel those pounds and I definitely felt them. I had two great races during the first six months of 2018 – the Salisbury 10 and the Longest Day 10k and for both of those races I was a pound below my racing weight. I think there’s a link. I’m annoyed at myself for not having the self-discipline to manage my eating better whilst working so hard. But there we are.
I raced once in July – the Savernake 10k (and 3k). I didn’t ‘race’ it, I ran it for fun and it was so much fun. I really enjoyed running with my running club for the 10k and with my boys for the 3k. What a lovely event.
Other exciting runs
July was filled with lovely runs. I ran some beautiful trails up to the Cherhill Monument – as I ran through the long grasses, butterflies kept flying off ahead of me. I smiled for most of the run.
I took our lovely American visitors on the running club evening run over the downs to the pub in Avebury. It was a perfect evening for Wiltshire to show off, and even though we ran through a field of cows and calves (with a giant bull), no-one died.
Nic and I managed two Dawn Patrols and they were both bliss. We spotted hares and herons and rabbits. Getting out of bed at 5.20 is never easy but the raging endorphins for the rest of the day make it entirely worthwhile.
I had a lovely evening run up to Knapp Hill, the highest point in Wiltshire. I got to gaze over Pewsey Vale at dusk and then enjoy the golden hour as I ran home.
By Tuesday, the end of the month, I’ll have run 100 miles. That’s not too shabby.
This month, I helped organise the Marlborough Running Club family fun day. We had a giant inflatable obstacle course, relay races, wheelbarrow races, three-legged races, egg and spoon races, a bar and an ice-cream van. It was a triumph, if we say so ourselves.
This weekend, I shadowed the Run Director at nearby Chippenham parkrun in preparation for my future RD role at Marlborough Common parkrun when it launches. The Chippenham RD was fantastic and I learned so much.
On a slightly different note, I got to contribute to the celebrations of the 70th birthday of the NHS. I was featured on the website of the hospital where I had my surgery as a 3-year-old (you can read it here) and I was interview live on BBC Radio London where the DJ described me at the end as ‘fiery as hell’ which I shall take as a compliment! How grateful we are for the NHS with all its faults. What a gift!
July was a really lovely month. We had some American guests who were just a delight and then a flying overnight visit from British friends who live in the Bay Area too. Those visitors unsettled me a little – talking about places and people we love in California made me momentarily homesick for our life in the Bay but it’s okay now. We are so lucky to have two places we call home and two places with people we love who love us.
We camped once with the Dude’s school. We camped in a field which belongs to one of the teachers. It was baking hot and as dry as a bone but it was great.
We didn’t win the World Cup. But for the first time ever, there was a team that didn’t make me cringe at their arrogance and ostentatiousness, and there was a manager who was calm, measured, unfailingly kind and dignified. So I think we may have won in another way. Football will come home one day.
I went to my first protest. I had to. I couldn’t have sat in church with a clean conscience if I hadn’t raised my voice in whatever tiny way I could. The Windsor protest was sunny, fun, polite and British and I loved it.
I picked up two new hobbies! I started having a go at watercolour painting. I am under NO illusion that I have any talent but it’s an incredibly peaceful way to spend time and it’s good to do things you’re not good at. I’m really enjoying it.
But my FAVOURITE new hobby is playing the ukelele. My running buddy Nic lent me her tiny purple soprano uke and I’ve taught myself to play via the wondrous internet. I even got a teacher to come to the house once and help me. I ABSOLUTELY FREAKING LOVE IT!!! It makes me SO happy. I love it nearly as much as I love running, seriously! I’m playing everything from John Denver to Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and worship songs from church. I’m playing every single day and I’m just loving it! The Dude is loving it too and he’s going to start uke lessons in September too!
Shadow Squeaky is growing up (see above). He’s not as bonkers as he was. He’s still not as cute as Charlie though.
Goals for August
To run ALL OVER EUROPE for the first three weeks!! Our road trip starts on Monday and I cannot wait! Mountains and lakes and cities, oh my! Bring it on!
I’ll be blogging much more in August after a few ‘dry’ months. I’ll have loads to talk about but I’ll be updating Instagram every day so please do join me there! Click HERE for my IG account.