Aliveandrunning Janathon January 31

Day 31.  The last day of Janathon. It was raining, of course, and I didn’t get out until 8.20 pm and I only ran 2 miles. I didn’t feel like running and I felt very grumpy after a DIY failure that took up most of the day. But despite the driving rain and the slashing wind, I did feel much better physically and mood wise when I came in (even though the water nymphs I met yesterday – see Jan 30 blog – absented themselves today).

I ran every day, blogged every day and covered around 95 miles. Most of the runs were between 2 and 3 miles rather than the longer ones I had anticipated doing. I did Junathon last year but didn’t total the mileage. I probably did 20-30 miles more then.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing parkrun at Cambridge and hopefully do a longer 8-9 miles in the afternoon. Sunday will be a rest day.

Goodbye Janathon. Bring on Junathon 2014.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 30


Day 30. A very DREIGH day here in Cambridge. Raining or drizzling  throughout the daylight hours. I meant to do a long run but commitments and miserable weather combined against me. I did run 5.25 miles, a no-score draw, really (glass half empty). Or, I was busy today and the weather  was horrible but I still managed to run over 5 miles…..fantastic! (glass half full).

I ran to the river Cam and back, rather than along it for a more substantial distance. Although the run was routine, it wasn’t without incident. When I reached the river I came across a group of water nymphs laughing and chatting and obviously enjoying the rain. Some were resting on the river bank and others were half in the water (very much like the picture above, actually). I was both shocked at their presence and embarrassed at their immodesty. Flustered, I averted my gaze which highly amused them. Tarry awhile, they sang, we know you are a brave young running god and we salute you. Ye shall go from strength to strength and it is prophesied you will be the first among men in parkrun. They beckoned me to kneel and wanted to give me a chaste kiss but I felt it was too risky getting over involved with these mythical maidens. Like the News of the World reporter of old who wrote that, coming across a den of iniquity and unable to participate in the depravity due to his high moral standards, “made his excuses and left”, I, too, bid them adieu and turned on my heels.

I was in a good mood when I reached home and indulged in a bit of air guitar while listening to Boston’s More Than Just a Feeling followed by(Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Mmmm…..I might do more riverbank running. There was something  about these water nymphs I couldn’t quite put my finger on!

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 29

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Day 29. This is the type of meal that sustains me during Janathon. The sharp eyed among us will notice the life enhancing Brussels sprouts and broccoli which feature prominently on my plate alongside chicken cooked in tikka masala paste, brown rice and peas. Yummy not yuk! Tip : similar meals should be served on a polka dot table cloth to get the best out of them. And why shouldn’t I photograph the meal I’ve created? If I could do this on a daily basis, I would certainly assemble an e-book to give to family, friends, or any grandchildren that might come along. Just imagine the excitement and joy as they click through months or years of mouth watering nosh. I’d have to be prepared for a clamour of requests for hard copies to frame and display. Phew!

I’m still running in the dusk or in the dark. I’ve noticed that when I leave regularly just before 5 pm, it’s getting lighter. I’m seeing the same man walking his dog at that time (in dark clothing) much more easily rather than coming across him in the blackness and making us both jump. Tomorrow I should go for a long run despite the forecast of rain. It’s just over five weeks to the Cambridge Half Marathon and these daily short runs aren’t going to help me do 13 miles in one go. Last year was very cold and I felt very cold at the start and waiting for family and friends  to come in after I had finished. This year I’ll be running with a double duvet wrapped around me and a belt of hot water bottles around my waist.

Well done to Nathan Filer, psychiatric nurse and writer, who has just won the 2013 Costa book award for his debut novel The Shock of the Fall. Narrated by the central character from the age of 5 to his early 20’s, it’s an account of the development of his schizophrenic illness following the loss of his brother.

This is an interesting article concerning the record numbers detained under the Mental Health Act for treatment ie against their will. The Care Quality Commission criticised many aspects of psychiatric care and standards including unavailability of beds and inadequate staffing levels.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 28

Day 28. It’s Tuesday and that means Cambridge and Coleridge running club night. We did a paalauf after an 800 metre jog around the track, warm up exercises and a 1k jog to where we run from. In a paalauf, you pair up with another runner. One of you runs a loop while the other recovers. We did this in two groups of 3 loops each, 5 minutes rest and then another 3 loops each with our paalauf partner. You run faster than 5k pace. It’s enjoyable and reasonably demanding. It’s like a group relay with handover to the same person. When I took over from my incoming partner, it’s really great to be able to spring off and at least sprint for a short way before settling down to a good pace (whatever your good pace is). The total distance covered with running, jogging and exercises was only around 7k but it’s a satisfying 7k.


Aliveandrunning Janathon January 27

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Day 27. It’s 7 pm and I still haven’t run today. I don’t want the Janathon private security force to rough me up because I’m breaking the terms of the Janathon agreement so I’ll be going shortly. The above image of Brussel sprouts  living their life on a stalk and then allowing me to eat them is a real inspiration when I’m running in poor weather. We treat sprouts like royalty in this house and that’s why they take pride of place on the sofa.

It’s gone 8 pm and I’ve returned from a 2 mile run. The weather was OK. No rain, not too cold and little wind. I felt tired before running but much more alert and energised after.

I have to repeat a blood test because my potassium level was “a bit high.” I think it was on the high side last year so I wouldn’t be surprised  if it’s been high for the last year. I think I will have to knock bananas and sultanas on the head and look at other potassium heavy foods (although bananas have less potassium than is commonly supposed). Too much potassium can cause kidney and heart problems. Some of my cardiac meds can interfere with potassium levels. Most horrific scenario? The doc asks me to knock sprouts on the head. No Way Man!!! I can’t actually say that because she’s a ladeeee.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 26

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Day 26. This weather is diabolical! Rain, rain, rain and more bloody rain. It’s cold and miserable and I’m sure I’ve seen a couple of zombies on the pavement from my bedroom window. And now I’m about to go for a run. Let’s hope the zombies are the slow moving, slow witted classical kind rather than the more nimble, forward planning thinking types I’m more frightened of……or an ex-parkrunner.

I did go for a two mile run. I waited until the rain partially stopped and it wasn’t too bad. I was expecting to come across a similar scene to that  in the Dore picture. If we did experience a deluge like that, we’d have to climb a tree because the land is as flat as a pancake where I live. In fact, in the 18 minutes I ran, the skies cleared sufficiently for a lovely sunset. “TOO LATE, MR SUN,”  I shouted skywards, choosing not to blame the clouds at this point. But surely the clouds are just as culpable. They bring the bloody rain. So I had a go at them as well. I felt better after this.

A sorry tale of technology fail yesterday at the Walthamstow parkrun. Or rather human fail. Three adults, three Garmins and one reliable stop watch between them. Both my children forgot to stop their Garmins at the finish line. I failed to activate mine properly and no time appeared. I also managed to take my ordinary watch off stopwatch function and pressed the right button to no effect. The three of us had to wait for the results to go online.

Actually, before I went running, I spent several hours  thinking of murder. I’ve started writing the opening chapters to a crime novel and needed to research the appearance of the body after a violent death. An enjoyable way to spend a wet Sunday afternoon.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 25

Steve aha

Day 25. We got up around 6 am with the intention of leaving at 7 am, whizzing down the M11, picking up two children at my mother’s house and driving to Walthamstow parkrun (East London) in good time for the 9 am start. That was our dream and it came true! We successfully participated in another (distant) mud fest and my trail shoes again proved essential. The conditions were very conducive to the slowest of times and everyone got completely splattered. It was Walthamstow’s first anniversary and we had coffee and cake to celebrate.

We met up with three old friends who have taken up serious running since they retired. The three in the middle of this picture are Lorna, Dan and Isobelle and I’m wearing the red/black jacket. I recorded one of my least fastest runs since I had my heart attack four years ago and came in at 34th place. Dan came in 7th place, just slightly ahead of me. A very young boy, no higher than my knees came in 10 places in front of me. I’m sure it’s not been long since he learned to walk let alone run!  Isobelle ran a good race but is no lover of mud. She and Dan are running a 10K in Brixton tomorrow and somehow have to dry their shoes. The number of runners was relatively small (88) compared with Cambridge (347) but Walthamstow are a friendly crowd and we may return (when the ground is dry).

Lorna took a load of pictures and gave good support. It will be at least 4-5 months before she can start running again and it’s vexing for her to remain in a spectator role while everyone gets covered with mud. Nevertheless it was very enjoyable morning. This swamp running is causing me to spend a great deal of time washing out mud caked socks and tracksters. I’m thinking of buying a new type of running shoe guaranteed to enable the wearer to lightly skip over boggy terrain. They’re available from makeyourfantasiescometrue.con


Didn’t have Brussels sprouts today because I didn’t cook the meal. I’ll make up for it tomorrow morning and have six sprouts with my porridge and my usual dozen with the evening meal.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 24

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Day 24. I was very disappointed with  the lack of appreciation evident in the response to yesterday’s blog concerning Brussels sprouts. It reflects a general disdain all too apparent in society for the wondrous green balls. In an attempt to redress the balance I am considering forming a Cambridge Society for the Protection and Promotion of Brussels Sprouts and any potential sponsors or “business angels” may contact me via this blog. In the meanwhile a series of home produced, sprout featuring meals will be exhibited, in these posts, on an occasional basis during its natural season. Here are two images ( one taken with flash, the other without) that demonstrate how Brussels sprouts can transform the humble meal of fish, chips and beans.The plate also contains ye olde mixed salad and a cheese and red onion flat bread. Just the thing to set me up for tomorrow’s parkrun in Walthamstow, East London where we will meet up with two of our children and hopefully some old friends who took up running for the first time in their sixties.

The weather was dreary in Cambridge today and yet again I went for a run just before creating the potential Michelin starred meal above. It was steady and slow. I resisted the temptation to stop and canvass people on their stance towards sprouts. This was easy because I didn’t meet anyone except a dog walker whom I startled despite making noises to warn him I was coming up behind.

I frequently think about doing stretches and dynamic exercises during the day. I think it would help to relax my body and mind if I did it on a regular basis. But I always manage to fail to do it on a consistent basis. I need to find extra focus and concentration to move another new idea forward – developing and enhancing the public perception of the beautiful  brassica, broccoli.

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 23

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Day 23. I took Rupert the Dalmatian for a walk this morning and got drenched through and through. Then the sun came out and it was a beautiful day. Big bully type clouds muscled their way across the sky followed by angry types which pelted everyone below with hail. The weather never recovered its sunny disposition and when I eventually left the house for my run it was cold and dark. It wasn’t a difficult 2 miles but I seem to be getting slower as the month progresses. It may be that I need to take some rest days. I remember feeling tired towards the end of Juneathon last year. If the weather’s OK tomorrow I may go for a longer run to blow the tubes out again.

On my return I immediately started cooking the family meal – a chicken curry with homemade mixed salad, Brussels sprouts, rice, pappadums, mint sauce with Greek yogurt, naan bread and pieces of raw onion. It was late because I went running at the precise time I should have been cooking. This pic is similar to one I put up last year. Possibly the quality of the image doesn’t do justice to the little, torn segments of pappadum and naan bread with mint yogurt sauce sat on top with sprinkled with raw onion which are around the edge of the plate. Of course, by the time I’ve finished decorating the food, Lorna has finished her meal and is ready to start clearing up. Most pleasingly, my son is now doing something similar with his chicken curry. Is this normal or should we be contacting a helpline?

Aliveandrunning Janathon January 22

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Day 22. What a silly running god am I! I had a terrible cramp in the middle of the night following the reduced recovery sprints with the club. I managed not to take, or consume after running, a banana which was suggested by shazruns and Sam and I didn’t drink adequately when I returned home. As a consequence (apart from the tremendous pain in both legs at 3.30 am) the phlebotomist had great difficulty drawing blood for my annual full blood count today. She commented that I was dehydrated and that “the body wanted to hold onto the blood.” She asked “Did you have a couple of pints to drink this morning? You probably breathed that amount out during the night” “Errr……but I did have a cup of tea.”Searching my memory banks, there may have been a similar problem last year which I completely forgot about.

What have I learned from this sorry state of affairs? 1. Listen to and implement sensible advice. 2. Drink much more water and not just the ambrosia that we gods just love to sup while reclining on Mount Olympus.

I ventured out for a 2 mile run with our dalmatian Rupert. I have never done this in the 9 years he has been with us because I didn’t think he would be able to trot beside me  and run in a straight line. We left at 8 pm ie when it was completely dark and honest folk were off the streets. On the positive side, at times he trotted very nicely and only crossed in front of me once, expecting to cross the road as we usually did, on a normal walk, at that point. On the downside he wanted to stop frequently. I pulled him on but we still stopped on five occasions for him to do a substantial wee (my fault – I should have toileted him before we went out). Plus he pulled for the first mile. My running form was shot to pieces by holding on to the lead and his collar came off. The run took 2 minutes longer than it normally does. Nevertheless, it was 67% successful and I might try it again. However, I won’t be taking him to parkrun anytime soon.

Pictures : Rupert after his run this evening and an elm tree, slowly succumbing to Dutch elm disease in Worts Meadow, Cambridgeshire.