Double century


End of the first month of #2016km4aruk, and 200km up.  A lovely run down to the Paseo, along to the mermaid, all the way back to the patos and home up Av Sofia.  A few familiar faces to wave to along the way amongst the hundreds taking advantage of the spring-like Sunday, and the dappled sunshine doing its thing in the calm Med.

The back pain turned a corner yesterday (siestas are good for the health, it’s official, especially when taken with a heated mat) and although it’s still not right, it’s not quite as bloody awful as it has been.

7km, 35:10.

1816km to go.

(Argentina declares independence from Spain; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and John Polidori’s The Vampyre are told as stories for the first time; Indiana becomes the 19th US state; the thrones of Sicily and Naples merge; Rene Laennec invents the stethoscope)


Forgot my skis


So it’s well over a week now since I “did my back in” and I was hoping to be back to normal by now – alas it’s not to be.  Just keeping plodding on and hoping that the muscles will right themselves sooner rather than later!

I dropped my boy off this morning and decided to run from Benapres (where the fencing lessons are), up to Mas Alba.  It’s been ages since I’ve even driven up – never been running there.  I set off and was in a little bit of discomfort but nothing too bad, and sure enough it eased up pretty quickly.  Unlike the terrain!

It’s steep going up the hill past Aldi and into the switchback turns up to the entrance to the suburb.  Fab views though of Sitges nestling down by the sea.

Once over the hill you get another great view of Mas Alba sitting in the valley with El Garraf beyond.


I jogged down into the estate along Av de Sitges and then took a left on Plana Novella, this runs sharply down to meet Santiago Rusiñol which then joins Av de Sitges again lower down.  A long, long rise up and out and back the way I came.  If I was fully fit I’d have relished the hilly route but today it was more like endurance, reminding me of some of the harder runs in the Vall d’Aran last summer.  If it were 200km further north it’d probably make a nice little ski resort!  Anyway, I got round and it was nice to ‘do’ a new part of town.   A fabulous day as you can see.

6km, 36:51.

1823km left to go.

(James Weddell reaches the southernmost position any ship had reached to date in his Antarctic voyage; the congress of Central America declares absolute independence from Spain and Mexico; Death penalty abolished for over 100 offences in the UK; The Lancet medical journal is founded; Rugby football is invented at Rugby School in England)

Only when I sneeze

Getting there I hope.  A much better night and although my back is stiff when I get up from sitting, once I’m up and about it’s fine.  Admittedly this is pretty much the same as it’s been all week but I’m searching for optimism.  As far as my back feeling better and forgetting about staggering round like an 80-year-old goes, those precious 25 minutes when I’m out and running are the best of the day.  I never had to dread sneezing before but now I know it will send a dagger of pain into my lumbaroonies.

Out into an overcast lunchtime Sitges.  I did the Paseo last night so headed for Poble Sec instead.  Up to the spike, along to the broken heart then up Passeig de Vilafranca and right onto Passeig de Ronda past the fire station and Pl Catalunya.  Down the hill from the pavelló and round the sidestreets around c/Hospital, over c/Costes to c/Aragó, Tarragona, under the tracks and left up to the cemetery and right down to San Sebastian.  Along by the lake-like Med and up through the old town, past the broken palm and down Carrer Major to Cap de la Vila, Parellades, Pl Espanya, piss alley and home.  Spot the road without a proper name (actually it has, it’s just the unnavegable bit of C/Santa Barbera, Google Maps assures me).

Most of the run felt great, the uphills were the only bits where I felt a bit stiff but generally all good.  Now sat typing this with me little heated mat on me back like some auld granny.

5km, 25:10.

1829km remaining.

(Greece receives autonomy from the Ottoman Empire; Cyrill Demian patents the accordian; Oxford win the first Boat Race at Henley; Robert Peel establishes the first modern police force, the Metropolitain, in London; Abetting of suttee (widow suicide) outlawed by the British in India)

Back to the drawing board

Despite being able to run yesterday morning, today it was impossible.  I woke with the alarm but quickly realised that my back was, well, back to what it had been like at the start of the week and so it took me about five minutes to get out of bed.  Total agony, and the run would have to wait until later.

During the whole day and even on the plane it was killing me and I didn’t hold out too much hope that the streak might continue – but the thread of luck continues and somehow by the time we’d got home from the airport I was flexible enough to pull on my shorts and socks, so I knew it’d be fine.  As indeed it was.

Lovely to be home and I pelted along the dark Paseo in the crisp evening air, despite the discomfort of the day it felt brilliant to be running at last.

5km, 24:10.

1834km to go.

(The Spanish Inquisition is suppressed by royal decree; Slavery is abolished in the British Empire; Athens becomes the capital city of Greece; Charles Babbage begins the conceptual design of what would be the forerunner of the modern computer – the Analytical Engine would not be built in his lifetime)

It’s fiery, Jack

Yesterday’s decadent lie-in bore its fruits this morning.  I positively leapt out of bed when the alarm sounded at 6.  OK, ‘leapt’ is a big word for gingerly sitting up and assessing the continuing damage to my lumbar regions, but there was no way I was going to be sucked back into blissful oblivion.

I did some comedy running on the spot in my PJs and slippers in the living room and declared the back strong enough for the morning run.  As indeed it was, though I could tell the difference between the just-got-up version and having spent the day stretching and walking.  So I took it quite easy; I’m taking the runs these days as survival of the 5k-or-more streak.  I’ll get back to the adventures and heroics when I’m fit again.

So along Prinsengracht to Leliegracht and left-right onto the Keizersgracht, along to Leidsegracht and did a full tour of my favourite canal, up past the IBH and then right back down to the Herengracht and number 7.  Back along the Keizers then right on Herenstraat and Blauburgwal to the Singel, left to Brouwersgracht, back to Noordermarkt and home.  Quite windy but mild – and it started raining about half way round which I could have done without!

I’ve been putting on some warmth cream in the evenings before bed and I could feel it activating and generating a lovely comforting heat in my back while I was running.  The flipside was when I got in the hot shower at home and felt as if someone had gaffer taped lumps of molten lava to my spine.  Ouchie.

5km, 28:16.

1839km to go.
(Nobody gets the joke as Charles Darwin marries Emma Wedgwood, his cousin; Louis Daguerre takes the first photo of the moon; Belgium is established as a Kingdom; First Opium War starts between Britain and the Qing Dynasty; a cyclone wipes out the Indian city of Coringa, killing 300,000)

Hello, good evening and welcome to the blog

An ARUK press release went out today and there has been a certain amount of Twitter activity, so with possible newcomers to the blog in mind I’m going to start today’s entry with a bit of a reminder on why it’s here in the first place.  I’m Chris Wright, originally from Sheffield, now living in Sitges, Spain and working in Amsterdam (I didn’t say it wasn’t complicated).

Last year I ran 5km or more every single day – whatever the weather, however I felt, wherever I was – in order to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s Research UK.  Through the JustGiving page I raised just over €8,100 thanks to the vast generosity of (mainly) friends and family.

This year the challenge is to run 2016km between 1st Jan and 31st December.  In theory I’m allowed to skip days but (as you’ll see from the previous entries if you want to page through) that isn’t something that I really want to do.  At all.

Though today especially it was REALLY TEMPTING.

(Here endeth the user-friendly intro – you are massively welcome to read as much of the blog as you like; it goes back to Dec 31st 2014 “The Night Before” which was, as I write, the last day that I haven’t run at least 5km.  There’s one entry per day except for… well, that would be telling.  Answers on a postcard anyone?  Fingers on buzzers?)

This morning I was awake at the semi-bestial hour of 3:33.  Probably due to the cocktail of pills I’m consuming for the (slowly diminishing? Is it really though?) back pain, I actually felt pretty good, though the thought of just getting up and doing the run at that evil time didn’t enter my head.  The only effect was that once the alarm went off at 0600, the thought of paying it any heed at all was laughed off and I alternatively snoozed, luxuriated, made up excuses not to get up, and dreaded the effect on my day that my laziness was having.

Eventually the last of these factors outweighed the rest and I crawled out of the pit just after 0730; criminally late for an Amsterdam day.  Already having discarded any intention to run until the evening, it was a rush to get ready and off to work.

At about 1700 or so I sat in the office listening to the wind wail around the building and the rain splatter on the windows and cursed my foolish younger-by-thirteen-hours self while frantically trying out ideas for a time machine.  Nothing for it but to brave the vile weather to make it home, then brave it all over again on a quick-as-possible 5k.

Running in horrible weather is bizarrely nowhere near as unpleasant as walking in it.  Once changed and back out on the streets the run itself was actually fine.  I ran over the Prinsengracht and left to Brouwersgracht, right and over Keizers to the Herengracht and all the way along there, over Raadhuistraat, Leidsegracht et al to the right onto Nieuwe Spiegelstraat which – if you please – is STILL sporting its Christmas decs!  They’re very nice but, well, it’s nearly February.

Up to the Prinsengracht again and all the way back along to Westerstraat and home.

5km, 25:38.  Really hoping that I can make the run tomorrow morning and save myself the painful anticipation of the post-work version!

1844km remaining.

(Year 1 of the Bahá’í calendar;  Samuel Morse sends the first electric telegram from Washington to Baltimore; (it’s fun to stay at the) YMCA is founded in London; Charles Goodyear patents the vulcanization of rubber; Gustav Erik Pasch invents the safety match; Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (seen as the precursor to Darwin’s Origin of Species) is anonymously published; The Second Coming of Jesus doesn’t happen, leading to The Great Disappointment (I didn’t make that up))

Some unenchanted evening

Until January last year I had never been for a run before work in Amsterdam.  Since then, I’ve never not been for a run before work in Amsterdam unless logistics forbade it (taking the family to the airport springs to mind – that might have been the only time).  Until today that is.

As I ran on arrival yesterday evening and my lower back is STILL KILLING ME, I knew there was little point in expecting to be able to even get my socks and shoes this morning, having just half-fallen out of bed and stiffer than Suggs’ record label, let alone being able to outrun the crazy guy with the sick grin and the half-brick from yesterday morning in Sitges.

So, after work it had to be.  Never my time of choice and indeed although I knew it had to be, there was little pleasure at the prospect of going out into the busy streets full of people thinking about getting home rather than avoiding the guy in the yellow shirt.  But it was ok.

I thought I might catch the end of the sunset so went out with my phone to take some pictures; alas this was hopelessly optimistic and night had fallen between my walking from CS and setting out to run.  I went down Anjeliers to Lijnbaansgracht, all the way along there to the Brouwersgracht, across at the first bridge and over to the dark dark Westerpark.  Along the main path and across to the 5-a-side pitches just beyond the little lake, over the knee-high-fences to avoid backtracking (note to self – don’t go that way again), along to the car park, out onto Haarlemmerweg and home via Haarlemmerplein, Brouwers and Lindengracht.

At some point this week I want to get back to morning runs, but I am at the mercy of my back unfortunately.  I don’t think it’s going to be tomorrow!

5km, 25:59.

1849km to go.

(Hungarian revolution crushed once Russia joins forces with the Austrians; French physicist Hippolyte Fizeau measures the speed of light to within 5% of the correct value; the short-lived Repubblica Romana temporarily replaces the government of Papal States.)