Ran 12 miles. No John Barrowman.

After looking at the time between my 20 miles and the marathon I realised that it would be pretty close to silly to attempt 22 and then allow less than 10 days to be in a good place to run the 26.2.

So, I decided on 12.

It was a lovely run.  I ran by the canals.  They are lovely in the Spring.  Here’s a photo:

JB_Oxford_canal_boat_entering_lock_bridge_above.jpg

I managed to accidentally turn off my GPS at mile 4, so I have no idea how long it took me, what my splits were, etc.  However, I know it was 12 miles because I’ve actually memorised that much road/trail in the city.  This coincides with the fact that once you live in Oxford long enough you understand that driving in the city is incredibly foolish and running marathons make perfect sense.  In some cases you can run a marathon and your friend or family member can transverse 1.2 miles of Botley Road in the exact same time.

This is a fact.  Though maybe it’s really 1 mile.  So… plus or minus .2 miles for the sake of ‘wiggle room’ on this fact.

Also, Oxfordians are turned eccentric not because of the university.  Instead it is done through a process called ‘being stuck on Botley Road for 6 hours for no apparent reason.’

Also fact.

So, any way, because I changed my mileage from 22 to 12 miles John Barrowman and I didn’t meet up. I’m sure that’s the reason why.  Not that he’s based in California at the moment or anything.  Or that the whole idea of him coming to Oxford to meet someone he doesn’t know is a bit… weird.  But we didn’t meet up this time.

Maybe next time,  John.  I’m sure he’s crushed.  Likely oblivious, but I’m going with crushed.

14 days until London.

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Post Tom Cruise (aka The Tom Cruise Recovery Period)

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Tom Cruise in Oxford (last one, I promise!)

A post shared by Cristin Merritt (@cmerritt42) on

(Props to Instagram who managed to cut me out of this video in the cropping phase.  They know who the real star is!  Right?!? RIGHT?!?!)

So obviously I need to give up posting about running as I’ve gone from tens to, like, a hundred people a day stopping by to read my blog post.  In fact, here’s a link to my first post as it will likely be viewed more times than any other post I ever post, ever.

I wonder if writing about running with Tom Cruise means I’ll get up to 150 views?  (I stress the word “with” as the whole stalker thing would be way weird and considering the shape that guy is in I wouldn’t be able to catch him.  I’m realistic in my fantasies, okay?)

I must say, though, there has been some fun things that have happened since the encounter.  First, I’ve gotten lots of random tweets from all over the place.  And I’ve been retweeted a lot.  I didn’t know you could retweet so much by so many and that there were so many with Tom Cruise as their icon or their wallpaper or in their name…

Second, I got into our local paper! So I learned it’s likely the Mummy that they are shooting.  And, as a former Classics student I can say if there way one place to film a mummy flick, Oxford is totally it.  Hopefully this mummy knows Latin because that’s all they speak in Oxford.  Nobody knows what they are saying, but they speak it a lot.  This is fact. Quidquid latine dictum, altum videtur.  No joke.

Third, I’ve actually been linked to SOMEONE ELSE’S BLOG.  That’s, like, never happened.  This person writes about monster movies and they complimented me!  Linked AND complimented me!

All I need now is a brief acknowledgement from John Barrowman that I might exist and I would hit the social media trifecta.  (Fact, until John Barrowman acknowledges your existence you are, in fact, a figment of your own imagination.)

And if I monetise this I’m then on my way to FFFF-internet star famous. [1]

Finally, the whole experience was cool and I’m glad of my part in it.  I was impressed that Mr. Cruise took the time to connect with people out to see him when, in all actuality, he could’ve chosen another path.  Like him or not that guy is 100% professional and I could tell he takes his very public job seriously.

So, thank you to Mr. Cruise for that on behalf of a looney runner on mile 18.8 of 20.  Trust me when I say I’m taking this one with me for the rest of my days!

[1] That link goes to the charities that I was out training for when I ran into Tom Cruise. So no personal gain here!  I run the London Marathon on April 24, 2016.

 

 

 

Oxford Initiation.

I’m officially Oxfordian.

For over a year and a half I’d been slogging it as an ex-pat, but now I’m truly one of the Oxford people.  Surely, my habit of recycling and composting everything places me amongst the high echelon of ex-pats, but now… now I am one of them.

School’s back in session, which of course means that the once peaceful streets of Oxford are now cluttered with sleep-deprived parents dragging children by the hair to institutions of higher learning.  As I made my way across Donnington-Weir Bridge I noticed clusters of four-door sedans doing their best to make space which defies the law of physics in the bike lanes. (I’m sorry, madam, but your four door is not a motorcycle.)  I even had to tap on one car to have a man, sans any children, react in surprise to see a person in a BRIGHT YELLOW JACKET trying to cycle next to him in that lane he was trying to usurp as his own.

“Geez,” I thought, “I need to be more careful.  People are really driving weird today.”  So I turned onto Abingdon Road and proceeded to be taken in another direction by a car which decided that myself and my little bicycle needed to go elsewhere.

This is one for “I didn’t see it coming.”  Because, well, I didn’t.

I had gotten up to speed (well, speed for my bike) when a black four-door Focus proceeded to overtake and turn into the street ahead.  What this lovely individual did not realise was that I was also being taken with her, screaming, around the corner.  I had enough sense to realize I had to ditch the bike because if not I very well could’ve become a new undercarriage feature.  I hopped off and fell, gaining a scrape that bled worse than it was, and found myself standing in the middle of the street chanting, “I’m okay, I’m okay…”

But the woman kept driving.  She never even looked at me.

I could see the faces of two children pressed against the glass of the backseat.  I ran after the car, the kids looked at me, puzzled.  A woman had pulled her car around the corner and parked it.  She jumped out of the car, ran up to the lady who appeared to be in a slow chase out of the scene, pointed at her and said, “YOU HIT HER! STOP!”  The driver did.  Then, without another word she marched straight up to me and helped me to the side of the road.  She picked up the bike, she helped reconstruct my wire basket.  And she scowled at the lady who proceeded to sit in the car.  She kept asking over and over if I was alright.  She said it was horrible, she’d witnessed it, she said, “She just hit you.  There was no reason for it, she just hit you like you weren’t there.”  We were both stunned that I had no other injuries and the bike was fine.

The driver got out of the car.  Approaching me all she could say was, “Sorry.”  She then backed away, slowly, got in her car and left.

The woman who had rescued me was more concerned with me than to carry on with the lady who had hit me.  Though, in hindsight, we probably should’ve made a complaint.  I rolled into work late and had some rousing bike accident stories told to me, and a stern warning to do everything in my power NOT to cycle near schools at the start of term.  Now, I’m still shaking a bit but overall I’m plus one bandage and minus one sense of trust over Oxford drivers.

So, to the lady who stopped the woman who hit me: “THANK YOU.”  I really, truly appreciate that you did your best to help me and I’m really grateful that I didn’t end up more hurt.  I’m glad that there are wonderful people in Oxford, and fellow cyclists, who understand and can reach out to help those who have accidents.  Because, had you not been there, I’m pretty darn sure the woman who hit me would’ve kept going and never looked back.

And to the lady who hit me, just saying sorry isn’t enough.  You had two children in your car who you are in charge of setting an example for.  Your decision to drive away, even after a pause, is unacceptable.  Granted, there really wasn’t more you could do but if you can hear me on my little blog: PAY ATTENTION TO CYCLISTS.  Especially in Oxford, I mean, COMMON, we’re freaking everywhere!

And Finally, to Oxford.  I think you should keep me now after my initiation.  I survived, I love this weird town, and I’m not done with you yet.  So stop trying to bump me off.

Oxford is turning me into a hippy.

I compost.  For the love of all that is holy, I compost.  When in any right set of mind would I compost prior to moving here?  Never, because composting is for hippies.

But here I am, composting into my little bucket every day to save planet Oxford… I mean… Earth.

It has been a slow transition, but a transition I have made nonetheless.  First, it was giving up the car.  Granted, cars are a lot of maintenance and time and petrol, so to be honest saying goodbye to what was usually an item of stress for me wasn’t all that bad.  Bicycling is easy around Oxford so long as you learn the roads and stick to your guns.  It took awhile to get the hang of but once I got used to it the run commuting followed.

Then the recycling.  I am a big fan of the commingled recycling.  I’m a big fan of the word commingled.  I walk every couple of days to the company commingled recycle bin and commingle my things with others.  I separate at home, but apparently soon I will be commingling with my neighborhood.

I’ve purchased enough save the Earth bags that when I moved house we primarily moved in bags.  I reuse things.  I go to stores that give little extras if I reuse their things.  Today I got a face mask made out of cucumber and lavender because I am a reuser.

I am a reuser!

Hardly anything I purchase is pre-packaged, though I find myself drawing the line at “organic” produce.  So far as I believe throughout my life I have not had inorganic produce.  My parents were not serving me wax fruit and my chickens weren’t born as nuggets.    I have an herb window.  I moved to a house with enough wild fruit we’ve started to call it the orchard.  On Sundays I have to pick up the dud apples from my front yard because they aren’t in season yet.

I put them in the compost bin.

To go from Houston, an oil and gas large truck cook seven cows for dinner and then shop in a mall larger than Oxford, to this place full of corner grocers support your locals electric bikes and milk deliveries land, is definitely a change of lifestyle.

Mercifully in order for the transition to be complete all I have to become is eccentric.  No dreadlocks or tie dye.  Just eccentric.

I can handle that.

Bicycle Collector

When I lived in Houston I used to run on “The Rivercrests.”  It was collectively called as such because they were aptly named North, South, East, and West Rivercrest. (Though they didn’t follow directions.  It’s okay, it’s Texas so you’re exempt.)  The area was posh – hyper posh.  The homes sat on estate lands, so sometimes you couldn’t see them – even if there wasn’t a fence.  There was a security guard who drove around and live peacocks who regularly wandered the area.

And on those Rivercrests there was a house.  And around that house there were parked lots and lots and lots of cars.

All kinds, some fancy, some regular.  Imports, exports, overports and underports.  But around that house they lived and were moved and were polished.  It was a constant, ever streaming, ever shuffle of cars.

I’m like that now, in Oxford, except it’s with bikes.

When I moved here and got a job I had to get a bike.  Having the luck of working in Oxford meant the lack of needing a car all the time.  So I carefully went down and picked out a pink and purple mountain bike with basket and silver trim.  I also immediately crashed that bike having gone against the old saying of never forgetting how to ride a bike.  But eventually I got better and bike and I lived in harmony.

Then we got a housemate and he got a bike.  When he left, he left the bike for a friend who never showed up.  Despite its frame being an inch taller than my mountain bike I started to alternate riding so the gears wouldn’t lock up.  When the brakes up and disappeared from my mountain bike and I waited for them to be replaced, I rode it constantly.

And then the other bike’s brakes went.

At the time my friend who is an incredible bike mechanic was traveling, so he took those bikes for a bit and lent me a mean green mountain bike with no shocks.  In between that time a bike was dumped in near-perfect condition in the median of our street.  With just a punctured tyre it was totally fixable and when the other two bikes came back, it went in and returned good as new.

Now I have acquired three bikes.  Literally one for every day of the week I bike to work.

It’s become the thought that once the second bike showed up it mated with my first bike and produced a baby bike in the median one sordid night.  There is a worry that if I do leave the bikes too close together a tricycle and a two-seater will one day pop up unannounced near the garbage bins, much like two cats I currently own.

In the end I think this is just part of the Oxford culture.  You show up, move in and think, “Hey, I’ll buy a bike…” and then here you are a year later rolling through the city on one of your twenty-five little two-wheeled family members.

Maybe I’ll eventually have a bike of the day, and then I’d have to hire my bike mechanic permanently. I can be like the Rivercrest house.  Polishing, oiling and rotating the bikes throughout the back garden in a never-ending peacock display of wheels and peeling paint.

On things I would never have thought that I would’ve ever said.

Today I ran my first taper run of 10.73 miles.

First, in the mantra of Bugs Bunny I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and added a half mile to my route.  Mercifully today’s weather was fair, so to get caught up in the joy of sun didn’t faze me as much as it would’ve in the past.

Second, I ran into two people who will be joining me on the Rome Marathon.  These are hardcore O.U.C.C.C. runner’s, so I use the term “join” loosely, it’s more like blitz past me in a blur of blue and white.  As I was going along the backside of Port Meadow (where I finally ran by the Trout for the very first time) they yell greetings to me.  And then it happened:

“How far you going today, Cristin?”

“Oh, just a short 10 miler.”

We waved each other on and I continued to jog forth when the words rang in my head, “Oh, just a short 10 miler.”

I said that.  Out loud.  A. Short. TEN MILES.

Never in my life would I ever think, while crossing a country path leading from a village into Oxford, I would wave greetings to another set of people and spout that it was a nice day to run TEN MILES.  Nor, would I have ever thought it was such a nice day it was PERFECTLY SANE to add another .5 miles on just for the hell of it.  To be honest had my brain not been telling me that I need to take it slow and ensure I don’t injure myself I may have run another few miles for grins and giggles.

I suppose the conversion into long distance runner is now apparent.  There is no turning back.  Six miles next week, I hope I don’t go nuts and turn it into sixteen!