So ‘bloggers block’, who’d have known it’s a thing ? I couldn’t find the words, everyone else is running more races than me, everyone else is reaching more exciting goals than me…..well have any goals at all actually, everyone else seems to be running more miles than me, I’ve therefore had no words to add any value, who missed me anyway ?
But then, it was holiday time, relaxation time, recharge time and the gorgeous opportunity to comment on both running and the quirks of my European counterparts, it’s a gift I can’t miss. Europeans, I’m still one of you, I’m European, I don’t want to leave you. I’m so sorry my fellow Brits let us all down that fateful day. We’re all different, I know that, but forgive me in advance if I tease you now, I know we are stronger together.
So I’m in Kos, or am I ‘on’ it? First time to the Greek islands, first time braving a two week all inclusive holiday, summer is usually our time for adventure and yet again with impeccable timing, I will arrive home one week before the Great North Run which thank god is only a half a marathon.(listen to me, ‘only a half marathon’ still hard to believe that I can say that !) Every time, my holiday plans seem to bugger up my training schedule, but I’m not brave enough to even suggest to the ‘fam’ that they need to book holidays around my training. If I wasn’t fairly confident I can pull a half out the bag as required, I’d be a mess. I ran 12 miles before I came out here, that will have to do.
Fuck me , it’s hot. Like I knew it wouldn’t be ! We’ve hit 41 degrees on the beach thermometer a couple of times so I knew running might be a problem. I thought I’d need to retreat to the dreadmill, (dire I know) but discovering the hotel gym was a dimly lit room with a few weights in it and a knackered bike, I had to think again , so much for 5 star credentials (bloody Greeks) …… I had a new plan, get up early. I normally like doing that every other day of a holiday when it’s all quiet and the sun is just coming up. Now I’m used to the Canaries at Easter when early morning can be a bit chilly, when I’ve even debated a light windcheater jacket.
Here, 6.30 am…..unpleasantly warm. In fact after a few paces it feels like someone has thrown a bucket of water over you. The air conditioned room is too deceiving, you’re lulled into thinking your about to step out into a cool, pleasant morning. The enthusiastic youngsters from hotel the animation team, pointed me in the direction of where I might run (although they admitted they never had !) seeing as we’re perched on a hillside near Kardamena I was worried where I could go. Down the many steps and slopes to the beach, along the beach wooden walkways to a fence marking the end of all inclusive paradise, an easy creep round the fence and you’re free! Onto a long coast road. It’s funny, face one way and see manicured 5 star lawns, neat beaches and a hillside of white rooms with blue shutters and pink bougainvillea pretending to be a hillside village. Turn 180 degrees the other way and see the coast road literally falling into the sea at some points, more rugged beach and scraggy sheep with bells round their necks grazing on nothing, just dry scrub. Real Greece I feel.
Still there’s the view across the water to neighbouring island, Nyssros. Bizarre intact concrete German bunkers popping up along the coast, think Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, to remember the Greek islands history with the Germans. A pretty little white church with a blue roof, the odd bar and surf shack. And finally civilisation beginning again about 2.5 miles along the road at ‘banana beach’. The odd other runner was braving it out too. Not a very friendly lot apart from a speedy Britsh chap who shouted morning. I realised my Robin Hood Half tee gave me away as a fellow Brit. And there was a ‘Ciao’ from some shirtless Italian runners, now there’s a lovely incentive to pick up your pace.
So far I’ve managed a 4 mile, a 5 mile and a fast as possible ( which wasn’t very fast at all) 20 mins out and 20 mins back which ended up about 4.5 miles. It’s not pleasant running, it’s sticky and it’s strength draining. I can hardly push a 9 min mile. Thankfully on my speed run, I spotted a lady running ahead of me after I turned, at last an incentive to push it. I would hunt her down and I did. I crossed to the opposite side of the road as moved to passing speed so I couldn’t be accused of being smug and so she didn’t hear me huffing and puffing behind her! Still these runs are better than no runs but I doubt it’s compensating much for all inclusive overload.
On the good side, I found delicious porridge for post run brekkie, plus eggs of every kind…….but then try not looking at the cereals, fruit, crepes, pasties, bacon, sausage, cakes (yes loads of cake on offer for breakfast, must be a Greek thing !), every type of bread and of course all the cold meat and cheese for the weird Europeans who eat that stuff for breakfast.
Italians are the most represented guests here which is fab as they are well catered for with tonnes of pasta and wood fired pizza ovens on the beach and in the restaurant. Carb heaven, the lure of a cheeky slice of pizza at the end of the day before changing for dinner is too great. I’m heading for bikini overhang, well actually more overhang……it wasn’t all where it should have been before I got here. The Great North Run will demand a loose vest!
The Italians and most other nationalities would class me a mental case for running over here anyway and actually just mental for being a lady of my advanced years and running. Still how many of them are swapping bikinis with their teenage daughters so we all have more to wear ( ok not the stringy side ones, they are the preserve of the teenager no matter what you look like !) A few Italian ladies have laid down the glam gauntlet as always, one in a tiny bikini, with a perfect figure, a perfect tan , 3 kids and when she moves from her lounger she slips on a tiny sequinned tube skirt and high heeled mules ( to walk round the pool! ) respect, now that’s composure …….I’m so waiting for her to slip.
On the other end of the scale are the Russians, their ladies have two camps, super model or shot putter ! those of us abroad a lot will have noticed the ever increasing number of Russians now holidaying in the sun as we have done for years. For strength and speed training, I recommend you take them on at an all inclusive buffet! I know we Brits perhaps hold on to our manners too much, but trust me, you’ve never come across such a rude crowd as the Russians. Bollocks to manners if I’m actually pushed out a buffet queue, in response I have actually come out the queue walked back in front of them and squeezed in again ahead of them…….I should wave the Union Jack to show other Brits we can stand firm. It requires speed, nerve and strength, excellent cross training for running.
So there have been running lows as well as highs. The humidity makes for wicked ‘chub rub’ Wowsers, I could walk like John Wayne the rest of the day. It certainly brings tears to your eyes when you head for a morning swim in the sea. I’ve spotted some Vaseline lip balm in the girls make up bag, I wonder if I can get a spot of that between my thighs without them knowing ?
Then there was the day three digestive failure. Change in water, diet, off food? Who knows, but my stomach inflated from right under my ribs and felt like something had died and was fermenting in there. That was a no run day. Nor was day four when things felt better but only after the offending food item ‘left the premises’ ………at high speed ! Mickey Flannagan would be disgusted, the shits when you’re not even long haul. You can’t run when you’re an empty shell, you have no energy! Running was back on once I could be sure that wasn’t happening again seeing as I’m only wearing my shorts with the fanny hammock, could you imagine a digestive disaster!
So I’m heading into week 2. Who’d have thought that living life full on as I do, squeezing 25 hours out a day that I could actually be good at spending my days doing ‘proper fuck all’ apart from my sweaty little runs of course.