Sunday, 4 September 2011

P is for… Pop-up Chicken

N.B. Pop UP Chicken should NOT to be confused with the succulent bits of wing and beak which are buried in breadcrumbs then served in countless popular fast food establishments. If you cannot separate the two, you are going to be really confused by this blog!
Okay, I have SO much to tell you that I have had to number the items in a list style format. Please don’t judge my lack of originality, it’s been a very, VERY long day during which I ran/walked 12.7 miles… all in one go, continuously, in a line! Running this senseless, insane distance gave me a good chance to invent some new games (and a new version of an old favourite), I hope you enjoy!
1)     Pop-up chicken.
This is the second sequel (the secquel) to the now internationally acclaimed ‘Pedestrian Chicken,’ (read back through the blogs if you have yet to hear of this new and fantastically entertaining running game. I’ve heard rumours that it is being considered as an additional Olympic sport… I can dream can’t I?!) During mile 1 this afternoon (just after I’d nipped into a local pub for a desperately needed toilet break. Damn you Lucozade and your addictive bubbles), I ran up behind a woman and her teenage daughter.
          The woman was about fifty, stick thin, smoking a fag and trying (unsuccessfully) to walk on the biggest pair of wedges I have EVER seen. The teenage daughter saw me coming and tried to coax her Mother to the side of the pavement however, the woman would not be moved. Her daughter tried desperately, tugging at her Mother’s yellowed cardigan sleeve- wordlessly trying to navigate her out of the way. But the woman was stubborn… and so am I!
          I don’t know what came over me but I ran up really close behind the woman (so close I was practically wearing her wedges) and I shouted ‘Excuse Me!’ The woman jumped so high that she dropped her fag- if looks could kill I’d be writing this posthumously. Her daughter turned to the wall and started laughing and I swaggered on giggling quietly to myself. So you see, she popped up whilst I was playing pedestrian chicken with her… hence the genius name: Pop up chicken. I think it will catch on, really I do!
2) Extreme running/ dodgems.
Because I am more of a ‘suffer in silence’ type of girl, I might not have mentioned that I live in Yorkshire… surrounded by hills which really should qualify as mountains. Run 12 miles in any direction from my house and you encounter steep, almost vertical inclines and long, steady hills which kill your calves and make your toes bleed. It’s a really special place to live!
          I know this. I expect to be forced to walk during almost every run because I encounter a mountain however, I was not expecting to be almost knocked over seven times in one run. Granted, it was a long run, but seven times?! Picture this- I’m running down a steep, winding hill… there is no pavement. I run facing on-coming traffic, so to my left is lots of road and to my right is a steep banking covered in grass, wild flowers, bags of rubbish that have been ‘fly tipped’ and bits of barbed wire. Idyllic I know.
          Suddenly a car comes screaming round the bend. In a panic, I scramble up the banking, stinging my leg on thistles whilst shouting and giving the driver a two finger salute. As soon as my breathing has returned to normal, I go back to the road. Then a second car, driving much more slowly, comes around the bend. This driver however, needs vari-focals to drive, he also needs a pillow to be able to see over the steering wheel… both of which he has left at his Sister Edna’s house. He doesn’t see me. For the second time, I lunge into the grass. This time cutting myself on a piece of stray wire. Imagine this happening seven times on one stretch of road: with all of the lunging, jumping, hopping and screaming, I burned an extra 300 calories and had three life flashbacks- all of which were pretty bloody boring!
          Unbeknownst to me, I was playing Road Runner: an extreme version of the dodgems where only one player is ensconced safely in a vehicle. From my varied experiences, I can state with great authority that the drivers fall into two distinct categories:
a)     The ‘Runners are the spawn of the Devil/ I pay my road tax ergo the WHOLE road belongs to me’ category… or
b)     The ‘Gosh I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t see you there,’ category.
You can always spot the players from group B because they anxiously look into their rear view mirror to check that they haven’t actually killed you. I have a good mind to hide in a tree and throw one of my trainers into the middle of the road and if they weren’t so new-ish and lovely, I would!

Okay, down to business, the run. I belong to a lot of forums and many of the people to whom I speak live in warmer climes: they write things like ‘humidity 100%, really hard to run,’ and ‘102 degrees but I’ll risk a quick 10 miles.’ Today, in Yorkshire, the temperature hit the dizzy height of 17 degrees (which is practically bikini weather), this meant that the humidity was approximately minus 60%. Sunny and warm-ish, hardly the perfect running conditions I’m sure you’ll agree…
                Basically, my husband and kids drove me in a straight-ish line 12 miles away from my house. My husband asked me several times if I was paying attention to the route because I would be running home- alone. Obviously I nodded and smiled, then returned to my Michael Bublee daydream (which is definitely not running related). They dropped me off- waving and cheering, they drove away. At an insultingly fast pace. And I didn’t really know where I was. So I just ran.
                I vaguely recognised some roads and just kept going then I hit the mothership of all hills. This was mile 5 and I’d been struggling a bit after exerting myself during Pop-up chicken (I sprinted a bit just in case the woman threw one of her wedges at me). So when I saw this hill I could have cried. Bravely, I soldiered on but it damn near killed me. Eventually, I had to walk 5, run 5 because my legs were howling in protest. What was worse, every time I rounded a corner, I expected to be at the top but it just kept going. I tried everything- my A-Z, my poem, my mantra’s- I said ‘I love running’ so many times that the words blurred together…
                When I reached the top, I had a power nap on a bench, took goo and drank some lucozade. To Hell with the instructions to ‘drink with water,’ I’d have wrung out my sock and drunk my foot sweat at that point! Thank God, I thought, I’ll NEVER have to run that bloody hill again. Finally recognising a familiar road, I trotted off singing ‘I love running.’ And I meant it!
                When I finally reached home- two and a half hours later, I proudly (and a little smugly if I’m honest) explained how I’d even added mileage to my route. My husband replied, ‘that’s a good job because that very hill is part of your half marathon route. That was a lucky detour eh?’ All together now, ‘I love running…’ Grgrgrgrggrrrrrrr….

Happy times x 

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