Loving the 12 mile weekly run! At the moment!

It’s been eight weeks since my last blog and summer has turned to autumn. The stark truth is that I’m eight weeks older and more to the point, I’m a first time grandfather. Wonderful! This brings new opportunities to be sensible, patriachal, dignified and generally comport myself in accordance with my new status. I’ll probably work on these aspirations in the New Year or when I get time or possibly never.

Six weeks ago, I did an undulating half marathon and this went well. I only ran a couple of ninety minute runs and one sixty minute run before the half and this seemed about right for my existing level of fitness. Since then I’ve decided to do a twelve mile run each week and this has felt okay. It seems that when I up the mileage I feel less tired or rather it’s a superior, more satisfying type of tiredness rather than simply feeling sapped.

The extra mileage has pushed my parkrun times down, I think. I recently turned my ankle on a root at Cambridge parkrun the day before I was due to do a local 10k. I finished the run but it swelled up in the afternoon, not substantially, but overnight, it felt stiffer and a little tender. Not wishing to believe the evidence of my own eyes, I went for a little trot before the 10k race and decided, using my new sensible grandad hat, that it was inadvisable to run.

With a few further days of rest, it sorted itself out and I’m currently not injured. Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park is mostly woodland paths which are strewn with leaves. Thus the numerous raised tree roots are hidden and it’s easy to come a cropper. Are we brave, courageous, risk takers? Are we heroes? Are we daft?

The Guardian newspaper has recently announced that the reader funding model is successful. They claim a million supporters world wide paying subscription apps or monthly voluntary payments to help keep the journalism afloat and the website open to all and not behind a paywall. Anyone can view Guardian journalism on their website and share it freely, even evil, right wing people who seem to be more in the ascendency these days. Of course right wing leaning people have their own news outlets and it’s educational to compare and contrast. The right wing news tends towards condemnation, mockery, anger, alarmism, fear of change and loss and nostalgia for a perceived golden past. They don’t hesitate to vilify ethnic groups who they blame for loss of their cultural norms. They love jingoism like “We want our country back” and “America first!” Anger is often the predominant emotion which their target group consumes ad nauseum. And often there are objectively legitimate reasons for that anger and resentment. Classically, that discontent is easily exploited and often directed at the wrong cause. Best to read Guardian journalism and not risk it.

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Upside : I’m running more frequently. Downside : I’m being stalked by a chicken.

Yes, this is the chicken! A hen, actually. She may not have big brain but she quickly worked out I’m a soft touch. All I did was provide a small handful of wild bird seed on two occasions and now she visits daily, occasionally with a cockerel in tow. Is this a problem? It wasn’t initially but she now contravenes normal social proprieties. If we leave a door open, she struts in brazenly. We’ve found her on a sofa in our front room, in our living room and she’s familiar with our bathroom. And she’s not even our hen! She and her pals are free ranging and belong to a farmer fifty metres away.

 

I rest my case!

I’m pleased to report that my chicken based woes are not adversely affecting my running. I’m back to running consistently and again trying to increase distance. I did the Greater Cambridge 10k a couple of weeks ago and I’ve got an undulating half marathon in two weeks. I’m a regular at Cambridge parkrun. I’ve also done a couple of training sessions at Cambridge and Coleridge running club with a view to rejoining. I miss the Tuesday road training. Of the present Tuesday group I’m the slowest which is not necessarily a problem but the effort involved does mean I have to put in maximum effort. Older running gods, like myself, have to be careful! Alternatively, I could do the track sessions which are probavly more manageable/flexible.

I did a 12 mile run today and this went okay. I have to resist the temptation to do another long run without sufficient recovery time. I feel good after a long distance and I want to repeat it but wiser heads object. Memo to self: enrol on that adult education class titled “How to Behave Sensibly for Advanced Years Citizens”

 

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Lips completed! I’ve made quite a few models now and it’s dawned upon me rather late that the bases are not adequate. So, at the moment I’m using,, or replacing previous bases with, reclaimed hard woods.

I made this sculpture over a year ago. I won’t be replacing this base but I need to upgrade it. This won’t be very easy because I won’t be detaching the statue because that would be a bit of a palaver.

So, how’s Brexit going? Not too well for the evil Tory goverment! Labour is hoping for no agreement and a general election. There’s increased talk of another referendum or at least another complete rethink on how to proceed. For my part, Brexit. as voted or by 52% of the population, reflects a very strong strand of xenophobia and right wing manipulation of racist prejudice. I certainly don’t feel the Tories are capable of making humane and compassionate laws and policies. I’ve got more faith in EU law.

Normal running resumed (almost)

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Nice couple of lips on the go! I’m spending a lot of time thinking about modelling/sculptural ideas and execution. I’m particularly exercised by problems concerning improving the bases and ensuring a high standard of finish. Subsequent to these two examples I’m preparing some old reclaimed wood I bought at an exorbitant price from a reclaimation yard with a view to cleaning, sealing and waxing rather than painting.

Running has been a bit neglected over the last 6-7 weeks. My hamstring is still twinging occasionally and I haven’t been doing any runs over 50 minutes to test it. But I have been running reasonably consistently, albeit shorter distance. Parkrun is okay despite not doing the times I managed a year ago. It’s only about 60-90 seconds slower per 5k parkrun so not truly shocking. I have had a nice cup of coffee with running mates after, though. Plan: to slowly up the weekly mileage. I’ve got a half marathon coming up in October so I need to know I’m properly fit for that.

Too much egregious world news to comment on just before I go to sleep. Suffice to say that Boris Johnson, ex British Foreign Secretary ridiculing traditional Muslim female dress in the right wing press is vicious, divisive and cruel. It’s a typical extreme right wing Fascist technique. In this case hidden behind the mask of a clown.

As for the Catholic Church and the Benedictine Order and the damning report into decades of sexual abuse at two “leading” Catholic schools, Ampleforth and Downside, it’s a searing indictment of the corrosive and self serving nature of religion.

Normal running resumed. Hamstring behaving itself.

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Here’s me, running alongside my chum Bob, in Cambridge parkrun. I look fresh and alert, mainly because we’ve just set off. The boy on the left beat us both. Shouldn’t he be be glued to his PlayStation on a Saturday morning rather than showing up senior citizens? Anyway, I’m steadily upping the running. Since the last blog I’ve done a couple of 10k races and a few hour training runs plus a 90 minute session, all without any problems.

Today’s Cambridge parkrun went well. We charged around the narrow country park trail paths like stampeding wildebeests (without anyone being trampled, to my knowledge). 579 ran, ran/walked or walked and it took 35 volunteers to put it on. I did my best time this year but it’s not about speed, is it? It’s not even officially regarded as a race despite the results statistics which record time, placement in time order and personal bests. Nevermind the built in contradictions, it’s a marvellous modern institution and growing healthily.

Mmmmm……. a pair of lips, the first of two. I haven’t given much time to model making recently because other things have got in the way.The ideas keep pinging into my head and they’ll get executed eventually.

Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Hampshire. The independent report found that 456 patients’ lives were shortened because they were given opioid drugs without clinical justification. A further 200 patients are implicated but records are missing. There was a “disregard for human life and a culture of shortening the lives of a large number of patients.” A single GP who worked as a clinical assistant at the hospital, routinely overprescribed drugs for her patients. Nursing staff raised concerns about her prescribing practice as far back as 1988. A staff meeting held in 1991 for nurses to address these issues “had the effect of silencing the nurses’ concerns”. Consultants were aware of the prescribing practice but did not intervene. Nurses did not exercise their responsibility to challenge the overprescribing and continued to administer the drugs Relatives’ complaints and questioning about the safety and appropriateness of care were not heeded by those in authority. And so on.

This is a huge tragedy and a terrible indictment of the moral judgement, apathy, unwillingness to act responsibly, willingness to uphold reputation at any cost and capacity to look away, of a very large number of people. This hospital, in part, was a killing machine. The investigation and inquiries should not be held out of the public gaze nor degenerate into a “truth commission”.

 

 

 

I am a fallen runnning god

Here I am, an erstwhile running god (minor), reduced to taking a selfie to remind myself that the sun can still back light my long hair. Unfortunately just after this shot, I was restrained, transported to a local barber not known for his sympathy towards “elderly gentlemen with long locks” and shorn forthwith. His parting shot to Lorna was “Unfortunately we get a lot like your husband. They don’t want to grow up, see?”

Fact or fiction? Reader, you decide. What isn’t up for conjecture is the imposition of further injuries. Nine days ago, following rest, physio, a relaxed 48 minute run, further rest and no problems identified, I did parkrun and put effort into it. Result? My hamstring pain returned with a vengeance and has lasted. I didn’t do parkrun this Saturday nor a 10k Hoohaah race the following day. To add insult to injury I have developed a neck ache and caught a cold. To a highly tuned running machine like myself, this is not good news. What will I do? I’ll discuss it with my physio and rest until next weekend when I’ll do parkrun again. I’m due to do another 4 mile run directly after parkrun in anothe village. I might do them both and take it easy. I might do one. If the injury returns, I think I’ll stop running for three or four weeks.

The Windrush scandal! The evil Tories have imposed an immigration policy, since around 2010, when Theresa May was Home Secretary, which has the clearly stated intention of creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. In their haste to ingratiate themselves with the gutter press, the credulous electorate and the substantial numbers of unthinking xenophobics, they targeted numbers of the Windrush generation. These are the thousands of Caribbean people who were encouraged to come to Great Britain in the 1950’s and 60’s to work in transport, hospitals, nursing homes and the Post Office. Now, their children having lived their life in this country and not having the required paperwork to prove their legal residency (because the government has lost or shredded it), are under threat of deportation, cannot access services or treatment on the NHS or benefits, cannnot work, are detained and lose their housing rights, despite working in Great Britain for decades.

The evil Tories are now squirming and Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, has resigned only because this scandal has now blown up, thanks to the Guardian, despite going on for a considerable period of time. I take it as read that the Tories, as a whole, do not have a moral compass and will run roughshod over the most vulnerable groups without compunction. What is different about the Windrush situation are the blatent lies uttered by Rudd as she scrambed to put the blame on over zealous officials and civil servants. They were hers and May’s policies which advocated the “hostile environment” and keenness to wrack up the numbers of enforced deportations.Nevertheless, she professed no knowledge of the egregious consequences until leaked documents showed she was lying. The Tories simply don’t care, along with large swathes of Tory voters and Mail readers. The bar for veracity and compassion is now so low for Tory politicians that most people will see Rudd’s demise as just a bit of political fallout. She should be banned from politics and acknowledged to be a public disgrace.

 

I find new ways to injure myself

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I’m doing parkrun and trying hard to look possessed. I think I’m succeeding! Actually, I’ve seen the photographer and I’m trying to look relaxed and normal. This is always difficult and possibly I’ve overdone it on this occasion.

I’ve severely limited my running over several weeks to allow my calf injury to heal. I did test it out on this parkrun and it felt okay. I planned to go for a longer run midweek but cruel fate intervened. The following day after parkrun I went onto a Woodway,  a self propelling treadmill and decided the sensible thing to do would be to walk. I walked 5k at an average of 8.3kph. Result? By the evening my right hamstring was painful and this has lasted for several days. In hindsight I was taking long fast strides for too long, something I had never done before and my hamstring couldn’t cope.

Anyway, I’m having a bit of physiotherapy on my calf, and now on my hamstring. I’ll see what else I can injure so I can get good value from the physio sessions.

Two further creations. The striding woman is a metre high. I seem to have a limited attention span concerning finishing pieces. It’s so much easier starting something else rather than finessing the end product. Obviously a serious character flaw. I’ll work on it.

 

The Cambridge Literary Festival weekend has just started and we went to see Susie Orbach interviewed in the University Debating Chamber. She’s founder of the London Women’s Therapy Centre, a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst and author of the seminal Fat is a Feminist Issue. She spoke about her new book, In Therapy, a spin off of her radio programmes in which she conducts a therapy session with individual actors (they have their own devised back story and not previously divulged to Susie. I didn’t listen to the prgorammes at the time of broadcast because they sounded too contrived and a bit daft (contrast this with the marvellous Anthony Clare interviews still available as BBC podcasts). When one of the questioners at the end spoke about their entertainment value , Susie was prickly in her refutation. She was somewhat defensive and prickly with other questions too which were hardly challenging or hostile. It was an interesting talk but I won’t be seeking therapy with her anytime soon.

Cambridge parkrun successfully completed today. Both calf and hamstring held up. 481 participated. I always stand in the same spot with my buddies of a certain age and we listen to the welcome, notices, acknowledgements and general information given by the race director before the start (at which point we are transformed into running gods). Generally I only hear about 20 per cent and my buddies catch more or less. As Bob said, we should  invest in a group hearing aid loop system. We may not be able to hear so well but we can certainly run!

Plea to America: your President is a threat to international stability and cannot conduct himself in a manner to inspire confidence, trust and a belief he acts with wise and considered intentions. Please, please speed up the impeachment proceedings.

Cambridge half marathon, a toilet roll and a gastrocnemius injury

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How versatile is a toilet roll? Very versatile. For example, as illustrated, it goes along way in preventing poking one’s eye out if one is building a tall rigid metal armature in one’s living room. How lucky I am to create a mess in this family environment! On the other hand, my family gets to see a living, working artist at close quarters. Quid pro quo, I think.

At the time of writing, I’m fairly certain I’ve got a calf injury (gastrocnemius). Four days before Saturday parkrun, I was 35 minutes into a 50 minute run when I had to pull up and walk. My left calf had started to twinge on impact and slowly got worse. It felt okay by parkrun time (up to a point) so I went ahead and re-injured myself. It was going well until just before 4k and then I slowed right down to a jog but still managed to complete the 5k. I rested it subsequently but Sunday morning it was swollen.

Plan : longer period of rest (only an idiot would wait until pain had subsided and immediately run on it). I won’t run again until next Saturday. That gives my calf seven days to recover which is surely more than enough time.

I don’t usually get calf problems. A fortnight ago, I did Cambridge half marathon and have done various runs since. I’ve got a new pair of running shoes which are an updated version of what I’ve been wearing for several years and I doubt that’s the culprit. I read that calf problems are more common in older runners and take longer to resolve. One way to at least mitigate this issue would be to re-register at parkrun as Steven Youngman in the 40-44 age category. Mind over matter frequently does the trick!

The Cambridge half went reasonably well. With immaculate timing, the Beast from the East (a late snap of very cold weather and snow affecting the entire country) came to a sudden end shortly before the race. The snow and ice melted overnight, the wind dropped and the temperature was just right for running. Unfortunately a lot of runners couldn’t make it because of transport difficulties and uncertainty the race would go ahead. About 7000 took part out of a theoretical 9000. It gets very congested in parts of the city despite re-routing it to Granchester rather than the previous two city laps. I think this is a consequence of the increase in the size of the race whichI presume will continue to grow.

Lorna and two daughters spectated and my eldest son just beat me by a few minutes (a mere 24). I finished in just under two hours. What did I learn? I need to do more timely training before running 13 miles. And take a longer period to recover. Will I heed this insight? I’m more likely to this time.

We visited the Picasso exhibition at the Tate Modern last weekend. Very good if you like non realist, abstract depictions of the human form. Tough if you don’t.

Much consternation among the sculptures when it snowed. They were relieved and  reassured when I confirmed they were for indoor display  only. Possibly I spend too much time talking to them!