Aliveandrunning July 30 2014

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My supper last night watching the Commonwealth Games. I ate late because it was club training night with Cambridge and Coleridge RC. Alarmingly it did not include broccoli. However, accompanying the basmati rice, chicken curry with cauliflower and courgettes, mixed salad, naan bread with mint sauce and poppadum, I made a Shirazi salad, an Iranian dish  (in the bowl). I needed this after the running. We didn’t go for distance. We simply ran 8 x 1 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries. So only 8 minutes of hard running in all. It doesn’t sound much but it’s demanding.

Far less than usual attended, possibly on holiday, possibly fearful of the heat and cowering in front of an open refrigerator. Anyway, the cream of the elite were present (yes, I unashamedly include myself in their ranks) and I acquitted myself with distinction (well, second to last in the speed stakes but it’s not really about speed, is it?) On these warm days I drink 500 mls of water as soon as we finish and, with further water later, this seems to keep the cramps away.

I made another new salad today – radish, cucumber and red onion salad with mint and orange blossom dressing. I went to Tesco to buy the ingredients and also for other new recipes I’m trying. Of course, I had to ask for assistance.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for orange blossom water, za’atar and a bottle of Corinthian red wine vinegar”

“Mercy me, sir, we don’t stock those kind of la-de-da things. You must be cooking foreign. May I direct you to Mill Road (a notorious area of Cambridge well known for the louche lifestyle of its inhabitants). I’m sure they eat loads of that kind of stuff. You can pick up some falafel that your kind can’t get enough of at the same time. Why not treat yourself to a box of our Krispy Kreme  doughnuts and tuck in as you drive over.”

So, not the positive response I hoped for. But what do you expect from a chain of supermarkets which appears to have a national policy of displaying plants for sale that are dead or dying as a result of not being watered. This happens so frequently at my local Tesco I believe that the staff must be prohibited from watering or possibly projecting their anger and frustration with customers onto the defenceless plants. Who hears them screaming. They just wither away, poor things. I’ve taken photos to prove it and I may publish them when the world is ready. Tesco, STOP IT!!

 

 

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Aliveandrunning July 24 2014

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My supper this evening, I hesitate to call it supper because a chum considered this posh. He felt dinner was the correct term for the hardworking, down to earth working person. Anyway the picture of this meal reveals to the world that I’m not starving and that broccoli continues to be an honourable substitute for Brussels sprouts whose season has passed. Please contrast it with yesterday’s supper/meal below.

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Sharp eyed readers will note that this meal/supper/dinner is on a tray and that, reassuringly, it is consistent with other food pictures posted in that it features broccoli. Also present : penne pasta, turkey mince in bolognese sauce, cheese and red onion flatbread, mixed  salad, olives and raw onion.This reasonably balanced nutritional intake ensures I am able to run like Hermes, messenger of the gods and son of Zeus and Maia.

Today, I went for a 10k run and it was undeniably hot. Nevertheless I felt OK while I was actually moving. It’s when you stop that you feel the heat and later feel a weariness that is different compared with running in the autumn or winter. Tomorrow is a rest day and Saturday is Cambridge parkrun. I need to go for a longer 15k but I’ll probably wait until it’s cooler.

I saw some of the women’s triathalon at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow this morning. Very entertaining and an exciting finish. Unfairly, the BBC news I watched gave more prominence to the Brownlee brothers in the men’s triathalon getting gold and silver rather than Jodie Stimpson and Vicky Holland taking gold and bronze. They showed longer clips from interviews and more of the Brownlees’ race.

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This is the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on the East Coast. It opened in 1904, originally to house flora and fauna but over the years has been used as an ice skating rink, concert venue and children’s amusement park. Now in considerable disrepair, it’s awaiting restoration and probable return to its original use of providing a large structure to display plants and showcase bio diversity. Funding has not been agreed so far. It looks very sad and unloved  at the moment but still majestic. I’ll have a word with Zeus. He’ll know how to sort this out. Watch out for more pictures of tormented fine old Yarmouth buildings in blogs to come.

And lastly, I was instrumental in saving a family of spiders tonight. Ms Alive and running pointed them out, simultaneously giving me a you’ve-failed-to-vacuum-them-away mean look. I, having appreciation of the bigger picture, became aware that a drama was about to unfold. A gnat flew into some dangling webbing and immediately mummy or daddy spider rushed over, swiftly immobilised it by rapidly weaving silken thread around its body, and then toddled  back to its little spiderlings. Ms Alive and running was amazed that this was played out in front of us. This was far better than watching East Enders and much more exciting than reading inane comments on Facebook. I announced that the whole family of spiders (and their relatives) were under my protection and were now, officially, my pets. This occasioned another harsh look. I’ll be hiding the vacuum cleaner as a precautionary measure, of course.

Aliveandrunning July 21 2014

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Following last weeks wildly successful parkrun at Brighton, when, as a Cambridge parkrun tourist, I unnerved the local opposition by storming the finish line at position 96, this week I again donned my tourist hat and ran parkrun at Gorleston, with Lorna, just outside of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. I came in at number 51, so (maybe) twice as successful as the previous weekend! A very nice course along the cliffs and lower coast promenade. The start began on the cliff top level and finished on the promenade. It comprised two loops with one steep but short incline. The weather has been very stormy in recent days and we were lucky it held for us. Or rather, luck played no part. I made various sacrifices to the rain gods and my mortal interventions successfully resulted in a rain free race.

By good luck, at Gorleston I bumped into the two daughters of a man whom  I met in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge five years ago. We both had heart attacks and we were both marathon runners ( the doctors mentioned I was the second marathon runner that day as they put the stents in). Roy also ran Cambridge parkrun but has now moved away to Norwich. He’s still running and is now concentrating on cycling.

Great Yarmouth! What can I say? At the very least it was a cultural shock. Like a lot of British coastal towns, it has suffered substantial decline and neglect. This description could also apply to many of the residents and visitors. Its both shocking and sobering to see such large swathes of people who are grossly overweight, smoking and eating rubbish, often accompanied by children. If they are  able to obtain employment, it will be in low paid, insecure jobs. The town itself had many fine buildings, now  sorely neglected and disrespected. I took a number of pictures on my phone which will feature in a subsequent blog.

We stayed at Winterton on Sea, about 10 miles from Great Yarmouth and lived in one of these Hobbit Houses for a few nights. They overlooked sand dunes and the sea beyond. Lovely, little, basic, quirky accommodation.

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning July 13 2014

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Brighton, Sussex. This pic was taken as the sun went down. The light was fading and people were becoming silhouettes. The beach had a dreamy and languid feel which gave the remnant of the the destroyed West Pier a romantic aspect. We were in Brighton for my daughter’s graduation and to collect belongings  from her accommodation. This went well, despite the poor weather, although very emotional for her.

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The bonus to our little trip to the South coast was being able to take part in Brighton parkrun (Preston Park) on Saturday morning. Unlike Cambridge parkrun which is along narrow woodland paths, the Brighton course is on tarmac paths on open park grass land, with 3 loops. Very enjoyable.

I arrived alone and maintained a cool insouciance throughout. They knew I was an unknown quantity, a stylish outsider that possibly had what it took to blow the local running talent to smithereens. I took my place on the front line and saw the fear in their eyes. Two of the young bucks had the temerity to look me directly. I faced them down with my steely alpha male stare, forcing them to lower their gaze in submission. A quick gesture by swivelling my eyes indicated they should move back to the secondary line behind me. They complied, ashen faced and shaken. I went off like a rocket and remained well ahead of everyone for an easy 20 metres before running out of steam and eventually coming in 96th out of 244. Oh well, you’ve gotta aim for the stars!

 

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Today was the inaugural Cambridge junior parkrun, a 2 kilometre run for children aged 4-14. It was very successful with 97 children ( plus some accompanying parents) taking part. It didn’t rain during the race but there were plenty of puddles to run through and the children clearly loved the whole thing. It took 25+ volunteers to stage it and the plan is to run it (pun intended) weekly which is quite an undertaking for the event and race directors who are, of course, volunteers. An added difficulty today was the Alzheimer’s 10k and 5k sponsored walk through the park which was scheduled to start at the same time as the juniors set off (at 10am). There were 500 of them! It got sorted. We delayed our start time by 15 minutes and this didn’t result in any problems. It’s wonderful to see the joy on the faces of the youngest children as they put everything they’ve got into running. I’m sure  it will continue to be very successful.

If the Daily Mail was to cease publication overnight, the mental health and well being of the nation would increase significantly with immediate effect. It’s raison d’etre is to cause maximum angst and existential stress in it’s readers who can’t get enough of its dystopian outlook. And that’s putting it politely.

The Sunday Express headlines? The Queen is worried about the possibility that the Red Arrows team  (acrobatic aviation jets) will be disbanded. Our Queen must not experience this kind of perturbation. Mr Cameron, please allocate an increase in funding to safeguard these brave flyers and prevent our monarch from suffering continuing mental unease. After all, there’s plenty of money sloshing around in the mental health services budget and they can’t shout very loud. And libraries, too, when I come to think about it.

 

 

Aliveandrunning July 9 2014

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Those men in lycra descended upon my home town and caused mayhem on Monday. The lurid colours made me squint, no cars were allowed on any of the roads around Cambridge within a 50 mile radius (including farm tracks), people with French accents informed me I couldn’t walk on my own City pavements, some public safety announcements were made in French and Park and Ride  which they implored us to use to come in to town, threw us off their double deckers about 10 miles away from the town centre, forcing us to walk in. I had to carry a 103 year old woman on my back and deposit her in a convenient spot to watch the lads whizz by!

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However for most people it was a very enjoyable day. There was a great sense of anticipation and everyone was in a good mood. To offset the reality that the entire 200 cyclists would pass by in a few minutes (and because the stage started in Cambridge, they sauntered past us and gave us a few more seconds gawping and cheering time before starting to race outside the city centre), there were many dozens of support vehicles, camera motor bikes, sponsor cars, and cars bearing hundreds of spare bikes continually passing by and preceding the racers to thrill to. I was left with a nice warm fuzzy feeling and cancelled the UKIP membership I had taken out an hour earlier.

Not too much happening  on the running front. Two days off after parkrun on Saturday and went running with the club yesterday evening. Nothing today and possibly not tomorrow either. It doesn’t matter too much. A minor running god like myself can remain at peak fitness indefinitely (or at least until next week when I can start running in earnest again.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss to chair the historical child sex abuse review which will look into allegations of far reaching abuse perpetrated by politicians and  Establishment figures? I don’t think so! She is the sister of Sir Michael Havers, an Attorney General  in the 1980’s (now deceased) who made decisions about whether or not to undertake prosecutions of paedophiles. She herself is an Establishment figure who commands huge respect and confidence (by the Establishment) and also by her nephew, that nice Nigel Havers. Clearly a conflict of evidence . Is it likely that that the 80 year old ex-judge is going to to possibly trash her brother’s reputation?

 

Aliveandrunning July 7 2014

DSC_0959 This is a picture from one of the bands at  the Cambridge Big Weekend held on Parker’s Piece and performing yesterday.Tomorrow, the Tour de France commences from Parker’s Piece and the city centre will be full of excited people wildly cheering them on as they depart for the London finish in the afternoon (minus the moody but brilliant Mark Cavendish who tried too hard and crashed out on the first day of the Tour, silly boy!).

I’ve now had some rest days since the end of Juneathon and I’ve only run two 5k races, one of which was a club race competing with four other clubs over five runs in all. I still feel ambivalent about being a club runner. I do take running seriously (up to a point), I do try to be competitive (up to a point), I do make an effort to talk about running and socialise with other runners (possibly for minutes at a time if the subject is not wholly running based), I do enjoy the company of runners and the variation of club training. And that’s why, if the club asks members to turn up to support particular races for the glory and overall victory of winning the trophy, I will take part if possible. I will drive 45-60 minutes each way for a whole point which is added on to the other points contributed by the rank and file runners. I’d probably be more inspired if they gave out sticky gold stars which could be stuck in a little booklet. I do enjoy the runs but I can’t wait to get home to have something sensible to eat. I have noticed that before the start,  the individual club members, in their club vests, tend to group together. My club tends to stand in multiple small groups or stand alone. Actually I quite like that. It’s a Cambridge thing. It shows what a disparate bunch we are and reflects the different tribes.

Yesterday was Cambridge parkrun. I thought I was running fast but I was still over half a minute outside my personal best. Still, I enjoyed it. I commented to a pal that we are probably within the top 1% of running fitness for our age group overall which renders any feelings of disappointment in performance as missing the point.

DSC_0926 This chap was one of a number of vintage bicycle riders showing off their machines at the Big Weekend. They were very friendly and deeply appreciative of the interest shown in their hobby. DSC_0899   DSC_0010   This ska band was really good. I’m not usually a fan but I was today. I may be dong them a massive disservice but their appearance gave the impression they may be a little to the right of UKIP. Nothing they said supported this, however, and it was a great set. I think someone needs to reconsider calories in and calories out, though. DSC_0004