Aliveandrunning2013 August 31

Wonderful weather and a glorious setting for parkrun at Wimpole Estate. It must be one of the loveliest courses in the country. Sweeping, undulating parkland and lakeside running, twice passing Wimpole Hall, the largest house in Cambridgeshire and built around 1640. Two hundred and eight runners took part in the 5K race and I think most of the participants enjoyed it with the exception of a sensible minority who were appropriately alarmed, if not terror-struck by the cows. Of which there were many! Lorna was marshalling at the first gate and adjacent cattle grid and I accompanied her to unlock the gate and set up the guiding bollards. Unfortunately there was a large herd of cows on the other side, including some large specimens with extremely twisty and pointy horns, staring at us with dumb, imploring eyes. Or it could have been smouldering anger and hatred. There were roughly forty of them and they were all massed behind the gate two hundred plus runners expected to pass through without being gored or crushed to death. Lorna blanched and gave me a beseeching, pleading glance. No words were spoken but I knew that a selfless, altruistic action was required. I quietly conversed with the chief cow and simply explained the reasons why he/she/it and they should move away and inhabit another part of the 3000 acre estate they were so lucky to graze. Despite employing some Tony Blair  platitudes and stumbling sincerity, they continued to stare insolently at me. I was due to run, not marshall, so I did the next best thing. I ran back to race control HQ and arranged for two large men, well versed in cow control, to take over at the gate and it was agreed that Lorna would scan the bar codes of the finished runners. When I ran through the gate, well protected by runners on each side, the cows were lined up on the side of the path looking rather defeated. I nodded to the chief cow, conveying my respect but he/she/it merely turned its head in disgust. No-one came to grief but it does pay to be cautious.The rest of the run was devoid of fear, risk danger or anxiety. Lorna enjoyed a non threatening experience scanning bar codes and still managed to complain she had to stand in the shade so the scanner could read the codes. Better than getting splatted by a longhorn though! I didn’t get a personal best. I think I’m still recovering from the 13 miles I ran 3 days ago but  I wasn’t far off. I’ll probably go for another long run tomorrow.

A brief update on the Krispy Kreme outrage at my local Tesco. The KK cabinet is adjacent to the magazine shelves which I am genetically programmed to visit immediately on entry to the store. I couldn’t help but notice a queue had formed in front of the cabinet. Shocked, I nevertheless wanted to observe the interaction of people and Krispy Kremes. But how to blend in unobtrusively? I quickly stepped over to the magazine shelves and made a selection. I returned to my prime observation spot and pretended to browse through WHICH CEMETERY? For People Who Want To Get It Dead Right. When I say a queue had formed, I mean there was one man behind another person who was choosing doughnuts. I was flummoxed because neither man was overweight. They both bought several lurid and shiny sugar fat rings and furtively headed towards the checkout. No further suckers took there place. I quickly identified an excellent graveyard in Swindon, made a mental note and returned the mag to the shelf. There were no further incidents of note whilst I remained in store.

Aliveandrunning2013 August 28

I decided to do a long run relatively early this morning and left the house at 8.40am. I ran to the outskirts of  Cambridge and back, 13.02 miles in all. I found the early start a little difficult because my muscles felt stiff and I chose to run gently rather than do warm up exercises. Additionally, the cardiac medication initially makes my heart less immediately responsive to exertion and I feel slightly out of breath for several minutes. But I quickly adjust to the demands of running thereafter. I experience the same delay in meeting a suddenly increased physical demand when I go up a flight of stairs or walk  up a steep hill.  It doesn’t last long but it is disconcerting. Perhaps I’ll stop all my medication to see if my heart responds immediately to exertion. It may be only providing a placebo benefit anyway, alongside various unwanted side-effects.  (Note to family : I have no intention of doing this).  I did the run in just over 2 hours and it felt OK. It included a 2 minute and a 1 minute walk break to have my electrolyte drink.

I think it is very dangerous to intervene forcefully in Syria. There is a huge risk of unintended consequences and escalation of aggressive acts by neighbouring countries. I don’t feel this country or America can speak of taking humanitarian action with their track record of political hubris, self serving interests, selective outrage at atrocities and propensity to commit crimes against humanity. Blair was frothing at the mouth to go to war in Iraq with Bush, the Americans indemnified their private security companies against any charges brought in relation to their murderous behaviour in Baghdad, drones are killing hundreds if not thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan currently, we were complicit with, and supported, extraordinary rendition, the coup in Egypt and hundreds of protester’s deaths remains uncondemned to any meaningful degree and these are only a few examples.

See Guardian article link…..

Aliveandrunning2013 August 25

The Grunty Fen Half Marathon is in two weeks and I’m running out of time to prepare for it. I ran around 10 miles today despite the warm weather and it felt OK. With a couple more longer training runs, another 3 miles won’t present a problem. The last time I ran an hour and a half a week ago, it was hotter and I took an electrolyte drink which I drank at the halfway point. This time, I didn’t take a drink and delayed taking on fluids when I returned. Result ? After showering and eating a meal, I developed an excruciating cramp that I had great difficulty managing. The pain ran along my entire left leg, interfered with my breathing and caused sweating, It was only just bearable. Lorna felt helpless and fruitlessly asked what she could do! I was tempted to reply that if the LIstener magazine, , the “official organ of the BBC”, closed in 1991, could be resurrected, that would certainly help. If she could bring that about my pain would have been worth it. But I didn’t say that, of course, because it would be silly and I’m not a silly billy ! Lorna did try to massage my leg (too painful) and then gave me tonic water (the quinine contained in it alleviates cramp). She also made up an electrolyte drink. It soon resolved but could have been avoided.

Yesterday, Lorna uttered a terrible word which described a frightening concept. The word was “decluttering” and it was designed to give me the heebie geebies. I agree I have past form when it comes to “clutter” and I do need to get a grip. And I will. But I don’t mind admitting I was shaken by the brazen use of the verb form.


Aliveandrunning2013 August 24

Parkrun went well today unlike my Garmin which failed to locate the satellite. Lorna has picked up an injury which will require weeks, if not several months, of rest. She volunteered and gave out finishing tokens as runners completed their 5K. This was less anxiety provoking than last week when she recorded times as they ran past the finish line into the funnel. Those naughty runners do insist on coming in as a tightly grouped bunch. Afterwards we had coffee with our friends where I fought a losing battle to get a word in edgeways. Very enjoyable way to spend Saturday morning.

It’s four years exactly since I had my heart attack. I’m feeling fitter and running better than I have ever done! I don’t seem to have any physical deficits except those I attribute to the medication. For example the beta blocker regulates my heartbeat and acts like a limiter preventing me from running faster. Anyway that’s how it feels. Do I need to take four lots of medication daily? NICE says yes, my GP says yes, the cardiologist says yes, everyone says yes! So I take it and will continue to do so religiously despite not feeling a need to continue with it.

We had a lovely break in Rye on the South coast. Rye is one of the original Cinque ports but the sea has receded and is now over two miles away. We stayed opposite a police station and overlooked their car park. The station is open only 4 hours daily to the public. They seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time washing their police vehicles (hoping to make a clean sweep?). Anyway, the vehicles appeared to remain in the pound for long periods. I suppose this is a better outcome than hurtling around, blue light flashing and siren wailing, on some flimsy pretext which they don’t have to justify, endangering the public needlessly.

The Parish Church of St. Mary in Rye was built around 900 years ago and has the oldest working clock tower in the country. You can ascend the clock tower and view the bells on the way up. There are marvellous views of the surrounding areas and a complete and healthy disregard for modern safety standards as you navigate around the limited space at the top of the tower. Forget paying the worthwhile entrance fee if you are claustrophobic, have a high BMI (very narrow corridor) or don’t like steep wooden stairs or heights.

Aliveandrunning 2013 August 19

Yesterday I ran around 9.7 miles including a long stretch by the River Cam. I didn’t set out until 4 pm after working about 5 hours on building my pond. It was around 23 C  and I took an electrolyte drink which I drank at the half way point, walking for around 2 minutes until I finished it. I drank a lot of fluid when I returned and into the evening. I did some warming down exercises and used a foam roller. I think these all combined to prevent me getting night cramps which have been a problem in the recent past.  In the future I will make a greater effort to run in the morning if I’m doing more than 10 K. I felt disproportionately tired in the evening and this lasted into today.

Aliveandrunning August 17

I’ve been under running for the past week, that is I haven’t done the mileage to train up sufficiently for the Grunty Fen Half Marathon in three week’s time. Oh dear! What is one to do? Increase mileage immediately, I think, so tomorrow I’ll run for around 90 minutes. Hopefully the extra 30 minutes won’t cause any problems. I narrowly missed injury and ignominy today in Tesco (very near to the Krispy Kreme  cabinet where people had formed any orderly queue to indulge their perverted passions). Lorna and I had just popped in to pick up a couple of items and Lorna, attempting to move me on from the magazine shelves, gave me a forceful push. Catching me off balance, I fell against copies of Total Carp, Carpology, Carp Talk and top shelf Nuts and possibly involved  Zoo too, which prevented me from crashing to the floor. Thankfully the shelving section held and didn’t topple over causing a domino effect. I was shaken but managed to make it to the fresh soup aisle and subsequently to the car!

A good 5K run today at Wimpole Estate parkrun. Lorna is injured and needs to take a break from running for at least two months. She did volunteering duty and timed the runners as they passed the finish line. Unfortunately she  wasn’t prepared to allocate me a more favourable time. After coffee we visited the excellent Wimpole second hand bookshop where I bought Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo, Jung and the Story of our Time by Laurens Van Der Post and God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

We have just finished watching A Very British Witchcraft on More4 at 9 pm which detailed the rise of Wicca “one of the world’s fastest growing religions.” It seems to be a combination of mysticism, occult practises, nudity and sexual undertones. Not so different from the mainstream religions, then, and probably less damaging to believers.

Aliveandrunning2013 August 11

Yesterday, my partner Lorna completed her 50th parkrun at Cambridge. Very well done indeed! It’s wonderful that both of us are running and have so many good running friends. Our running styles and mindsets are so different and tend to conform to male/female stereotypes. I run as fast as I can, don’t talk because of the supreme effort I’m making, can only wave acknowledgement to the marshals, knock slow people and children into the nettles if they get in my way and double up when I pass the the finish line, completely out of breath and exhausted. I do recover quickly, however. In contrast, Lorna frequently chats her way round, always verbally thanks the marshals, does take a big interest in her time but friendliness and sociability take precedence and often runs with or supports newer runners. After the run we usually have a coffee with friends in the park cafe which helps to acclimatise me to normal and healthy social interactions. The men seem to be in a more supportive role while the women talk animatedly and continually. It’s all good fun and a powerful antidote to feeling down. That’s the benefit of running with others of mixed ability and particularly women. You take your performance less seriously and enjoy yourself more. Men tend to be more fixated with performance, times, distances and superlatives. Anything to help us achieve a healthier perspective must be a good thing.

WE have been talking about Peter Tatchell, the human rights and gay rights activist. His lifestyle is rather less than luxurious and is completely commensurate with his ethical beliefs and values. He has created the Peter Tatchell Foundation ( PTF ) which is well worth looking at online. We’ll probably make a monthly donation. The man should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Aliveand running2013 August 9

I’ve only got four weeks to the Grunty Fen half marathon so I need to do some training. It’s a flat, open course and last year it was both hot and windy. I did just over an hours run today which included the footpath of the River Cam. It’s always pleasurable running near water. Rivers. lakes, seas and streams all have their own personality. You almost feel you are in close proximity to something which is alive and has its own sense of self. Although we are mid summer now, I haven’t seen many boats, neither narrow boats nor the white fibreglass cabin cruisers. I’m a narrowboat man! The cabin cruiser owners tend to be smartly dressed, look smug and their boats appear immaculately clean. They have the air of traditional Conservatives. Not that I am being judgemental of course. Invariably a male is at the wheel looking superior. Anyway, as my runs get longer I will get nearer, and eventually into, Cambridge. On the weekends I will see the rowing eights practicing and when the colleges return there will be many more eights on the river.

I’m still swinging my one 8 kilo kettlebell around on a daily basis. I do think it’s helping to improve my core strength. Is it really? I don’t know for definite but if I think it is then I can be assured that the placebo effect certainly is leading to improvement. Even as we speak, men and women in white coats are providing hard evidence that the placebo effect is a powerful psychological force and competitor for physical treatments with drugs or surgery. For depression, for example, some studies have found that placebos are as effective as anti depressants and without the side effects. Furthermore even if the person is aware they are taking a placebo, research has shown that improvement in some conditions take place compared with a control group that is given nothing. All you need is to believe or want to believe! And this would apply to most people, of course.

I went shopping to Tesco today and was forced to make a citizen’s arrest on a parent who, unbelievably, took two Krispy Kreme doughnuts out of the cabinet of shame and placed them in his basket because his son declared his love of them! I explained that I was taking this action to protect the health of his child which was being jeopardised by the consumption of high fat, high sugar, over refined, nutrient depleted pseudo food. His mouth dropped open and his eyes bulged. He violently knocked away my hand that I had placed on his shoulder. I hastened to explain that my actions were intended to be a little instructive drama to emphasise the unhealthiness of the product and lead him to question the wisdom of purchasing it. I didn’t want to take it any further. I hoped I had made my point. He reacted by bellowing out to the nearby security person. Despite my best efforts to offer further explanation, I was firmly escorted out of the store. As he left me by my car, the security man said “Best not do that again, sir. People have every right to buy Krispy Kremes. I sometimes have one at lunch time and I know my lad likes them.” He had forced my hand and I wasn’t going to back down. “OK,” I cried, placing my hand on his shoulder,”I’m making a citizen’s arrest for the same reasons I gave that other negligent father.” He laughed, gently took away my hand and said “Go home,sir, make yourself a nice cup of tea, sit down and read your Saga magazine. You’ll feel a lot better.” As he walked away I didn’t feel I had got my message across very effectively but I will return. Oh yes! I have a new strategy. I’m going to get some tee shirts printed and merely stand by the Krispy Kreme cabinet. I’m not fully decided on the large bold text but it will be along the lines of KRISPY KREMES ? A WISE CHOICE FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES or TUCK IN AND DIE EARLY or OBESITY…..IT’S THE NEW THIN.

HM Revenue and Customs have reissued photos of high profile tax dodgers including large scale tobacco smugglers. It’s a case of the biggest drug dealer squeezing out the smaller ones.

Aliveandrunning2013 August 7

Running with the club yesterday evening. We ran down to Lamas Land just outside Cambridge City centre and did 6 X 3 minutes with 3 minutes recovery. It doesn’t sound much but you know you’ve been running when you finish. Temperature around 20 C. This common ground has pasturing rights and we were very close to the young cows on several occasions. These cattle were more habituated to walkers, runners and cyclists and took us in their stride, unlike last week when we caused a minor stampede in Granchester Meadows. Another beautiful Cambridge evening with the added bonus that I didn’t get trampled to death.

I’m trying to be more sociable when I’m running with the club but it’s uphill work (pun unintended).  When I arrive at the track I immediately employ a faulty strategy. I stand alone rather than join a group and wait for someone to approach me. Most runners, but not all, are intrinsically friendly. The problem with club runners is that the majority of them want to talk about running and associated topics such as injuries, times, distances and training schedules which seem to constitute over training. I struggle to take it seriously. It’s difficult to make the right kind of approving gestures and noises necessary to remain in the conversation.  I don’t tend to try that hard. I do speak to an increasing number of people, however. Apart from one or two people, there is no discussion outside of running. For all I know I could be chatting to paid up UKIP members or Mail readers. A known unknown!

I know I’m going to cause an incident in Tesco one of these days. I can’t stop myself from examining the nutritional values of convenience meals and all types of desserts. When I discover how much sugar and fat is used or the amount of salt lurking within, it doesn’t seem right to silently contain (note split infinitive) my shock . I sometimes mutter aloud “They are trying to kill me” and I mean it. The latest outrage perpetrated by Tesco is their installing a Krispy Kreme cabinet near  the entrance. These gooey, shiny,high sugar confections are between  200 and 400 calories each and still incorporate trans fats. I truly believe they and the other dangerous foods described above, should be displayed behind solid sliding doors ( like tobacco products in supermarkets ) to protect the vulnerable, the credulous and unthinking tabloid readers.

It’s so much easier for us sandal wearing, Guardian reader, wet liberal types to identify the enemy when they communicate their thoughts and beliefs clearly, unequivocally and without dissembling. Godffrey Bloom, UKIP MEP caused controversy by referring to £1 billion pounds in aid a month going to Bongo Bongo Land, a reference to Africa and Third World countries where corruption is rife. Ridiculing the aid programme in this grossly racist and patronising manner seeks to persuade us that such a huge sum of tax payers money would be far better spent on deserving causes at home (where charity should begin). If £1 billion does go to aid monthly then it won’t be for altruistic motives. This country, as with all other aid giving countries, expects a big return which will include arms and trade agreements, exploitation of natural resources, political or intelligence support and a host of other highly favourable outcomes possibly including backing for the ruling party.


Aliveandrunning2013 August 5

I’m running a half marathon in a month’s time so I need to do some training pronto. I then have another half the following month in October. The second race is undulating and will be tougher. I may use my new secret weapon (walking at intervals) if the hill sections prove too challenging. I ran for over an hour today and felt fine.

I just listened to an Assistant Police Commissioner make a televised apology to the Tomlinson family for the conduct of the Metroplitan police officer responsible for the death of Ian Tomlinson whom he struck with a baton and then pushed to the ground. This occurred in London in 2009 during the G20 protests. The “apology” was intoned without feeling or conviction. The Assistant Police Commissioner looked bored and slightly spaced.

Her performance was outrageous and a calculated insult. The police didn’t reveal that he had also been bitten by a police dog because they wanted to avoid further distress to the family. They announced he had a heart attack as he made his way home and maintained that their officers were pelted with bottles while they were ministering to him. Lesson to be learned? The police will lie, dissemble, deny and apportion blame  to others to avoid taking responsibility for their own criminal actions.