Aliveandrunning August 28 2014

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This shocking, non life threatening injury was sustained at my local Tesco supermarket. I can’t lay claim to seeing off a gang of thugs who were menacing a hard working but meek and elderly tax payer. I didn’t fight a duel in the carpark to prevent my honour  being besmirched. But I can confirm that one of their trolleys has got a mean attitude. I usually take one of the smaller, shallow trolleys which stack together and should pull out easily. Sometimes the metal panel which swivels to allow them to stack gets stuck. Through experience and the application of hard won technical wisdom, I have learnt that a short, sharp knock will free the swivelling panel and allow me to wheel the trolley away. Not sure why but this expected outcome didn’t take place. Instead I thumped it too hard and the panel flipped over and hit me on the bridge of the nose. Blood was dribbling down my face and I had to seek first aid at the customer services desk. Following a Code One call over the PA system a first aider appeared, quickly, accompanied by an assistant and, I think, the duty manager. They suggested I move away from the public gaze while they cleaned me up and wanted me to sit down. It was my minimal expectation that a running god like myself would be ushered into a side room with discreet classical music playing and offered strawberries while I reclined on a chaise longue. This didn’t happen. Instead I walked 3 metres and sat on an electric store buggy while the three Tesco people worked on my nose and the queue of people waiting for customer services gawped at me. Still, I got prompt attention despite their lack of recognition that I am a running deity. I wouldn’t be surprised that, had I gashed my nose deeply, they would have publicly stitched me up.

Out running with the club two days ago. We ran the course for the 5K interclub run next week. There weren’t many of us and the course wasn’t familiar to me. I think I was still feeling tired  from running a training 13 miles two days previously. As a result, despite a feeling I was flying like the wind, I did a slow time. It was even slower because I went the wrong way three times. Interestingly, the warm up and warm down exercises were as demanding as the 5k itself (almost). After the session, I drink 500 mls  of water in the car and tonic water with my evening meal on my return.This regime is keeping the cramp at bay.

I cooked a dal this evening. Unfortunately I put in a large spoonful of extra hot chilli powder instead of turmeric and didn’t have yogurt to cool it down. This job was left to the radish, red onion and cucumber salad accompanying it. Still too hot but edible!

Still waiting for Cambridge MIND to contact me regarding my proposal for a gardening ecotherapy project in the field behind my cottage. They said they were interested and I’ll hopefully meet up with them soon.

Inside Health, BBC Radio 4, is well worth catching as a podcast on iTunes. The programme takes a critical, weekly look at health issues and has just completed 3 editions devoted to conflict of interests by drug companies, researchers, the medical world and the public. Very interesting. Forget transparency!

 

 

 

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Aliveandrunning August 24 2014

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Cambridge junior parkrun. Ms Alive and Running addresses the junior runners, parents and volunteers. The weather was unusually lovely and 70 children took part. Everything went very well. This is not a foregone conclusion. Each run requires a great deal of time, effort and organisation. Like the adult parkrun, it happens each week so it’s a sizeable commitment. Luckily there are a regular number of people who consistently volunteer to make it happen but it’s often a close run thing!

Yesterday adult parkrun happened! I came 146th out of 383. My dream is to come in 139th. I pray this is achievable and not just a crazy, self deluding dream. I dropped below 24 minutes but had to put everything into it.

Three weeks to go to the Grunty Fen half marathon. I intended to go for a 10 mile training run this afternoon but after 5 miles I felt good so I ran 3 miles further and did 13 miles in all. Today is 5 years (to the day) since I had my heart attack so it was good to mark it by running a half marathon. I ran from my medieval village to the edge of Cambridge city, which, as we all know, is packed full of brain power and some common sense. The dons try to prevent the proletariat penetrating  the city boundaries too far and usually set up road blocks staffed by 3rd year students. It’s not difficult to get past them. You just throw them a philosophical question like Why Bother? : Why Not? and it precipitates an existential quandary. They stand around thinking intensely and you walk past them Simples!

One of the problems of running a long way is that it increases your appetite.

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After eating this, a yogurt and a very sweet brownie, I ate, a little later, these cream crackers with cheese raw onion  and HP sauce.

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Well, I’ve expended over a 1000 calories running so I should listen to what my body is telling me, shouldn’t I?

Aliveandrunning August 20 2014

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Victoria plums, grown on an actual Victoria plum tree, near the cottage. How fecund nature is! My tomatoes are doing reasonably well despite having their branches splayed all over the place and mainly on the ground. Apart from drinking enough water to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool, they also need industrial scaffolding to hold them up. Too fecund by half.

Out with the running club last night. I opted to do the fartlek  around Granchester Meadows rather than the 8 x 1 minute with 3 minutes recovery time between each minute running. I’ve done this before off track. It doesn’t sound like much running but I found it demanding. However, out of choice , I usually prefer distance to pure speed work and fartleks combine both. This particular fartlek requires courage and faith. At this time of year we frequently meet a herd of cows blocking our path. Yesterday the coach asked if anyone was fearful of cows. No one admitted to a specific fear so we ran through them. These cows, living in the shadow of the University, are very intelligent and thankfully familiar with idiot humans rushing towards as if they were as insubstantial as vapour. They simply stepped out of the way (on this occasion) rather than scatter in all directions you don’t expect them to go in.

We do plenty of warm up exercises and plenty of stretching exercises post run. This contrasts with me typically forgetting to do warm up or downs after a long run. I do them occasionally but there is no correlation between lack of excercises and injury or cramp. At least on runs up to 10 miles. I had some calf problems at mile 12 during the Edinburgh half marathon a couple of years ago but apart from that, I’ve been injury free. Except when I’ve decided to lift something heavy in the full knowledge that I’m taking a risk. I dare myself to do it and I’m the loser. It’s so difficult being super sensible all of the time.

Adult parkrun on Saturday and junior parkrun on Sunday. I only need to do 9 more adult parkruns and I’ll have completed 200 since I had my heart attack 5 years ago.

 

Aliveandrunning August 17 2014

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This chap (I presume it’s male) landed on a bamboo cane near the little pond I’ve created. How envious am I not to have two pairs of wings like him.

Saturday! It’s Cambridge parkrun. I’m feeling fast. I’m confident. I look skyward and see Zeus reclining on a low cloud. He gives me the thumbs up. I can’t fail to get a personal best. It’s a big field of runners today so I position myself  nearer to the front than usual. We’re off and I’m running like a fierce wind or alternatively, like the shape shifting, liquid metal T-1000 Terminator in Terminator 2 : Judgement Day when he chases Arnie’s speeding car. It seems to be going well. But what’s this? A chum greets me as he runs past! “Morning David,” I manage to gasp. A few minutes later, Sylvia passes me followed by Paul, then Mike, Paula and Giles, all cheerily acknowledging me as they cruise past. This is not how it’s supposed to be! Only my pal Dominic, who is recovering his running fitness, remains one second behind at the finish line. When I recover my breath and look up, I have a clear view of  Zeus lolling around on an even lower cloud, shaking with laughter. Obviously I am nowhere near a personal best.

In the afternoon, I went into central Cambridge which was saturated with tourists. This is really unproblematic unless you can’t manage crowds. They generally keep to a few well defined areas and it’s easy to avoid extreme congestion by leaving this well trodden path. I like them. They create an interesting atmosphere. As usual I headed straight for a bookstall on the Market Square and, lo and behold, I found 3 Penguin paperbacks that I couldn’t afford not to have. The bookseller remonstrated with me, advising me not to buy them. “Sir,” he said,”your small cottage overfloweth with books. You have enough. Think of your lady wife, the long suffering Ms Alive and Running. Do not risk her wrath, I beseech thee. Forego the sublime pleasures these low cost volumes, awash with nostalgia for your your youth, can afford you.” I considered his little speech for three whole seconds. “Thank you for your wise words but I regard it as a counsel of despair. Now, my good man, will you or will you not accept my custom? I proffered metal coins which glinted i the sun. His eyes seemed to light up but a scowl played over his face. “Aye, laddie, I will,” he muttered. “On your head be it.” He wrapped up the books in brown paper and handed them to me. Several book browsers applauded as I turned on my heels and strode away. Believe me, it’s not easy buying books in Cambridge

Cambridge junior parkrun today. 15 minutes before it’s due to start, it begins to rain fairly heavily. The adults don’t like the conditions. The children hardly notice. Despite the weather all goes smoothly. Junior parkrun is well supported by volunteers and parents and continues to be hugely enjoyable. Each runner is loudly encouraged all the way round the course and particularly over the finish line. Their faces light up with pleasure.No need to rely on the  good will of the Roman gods.

In the afternoon I went for a 10 mile run along the river Cam as part of my preparation for the Grunty Fen half marathon in three weeks. It felt easier thn last week. I got back in time to see Mo Farah win the 5k race at the Zurich European Championships. He’s got my running style!

Aliveandrunning August 14 2014

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Just another temporary space/time travel portal opening up in the enchanted woods where I take Rupert for exercise. Much too dangerous to walk through and I simply change direction. On this occasion, Rupert was tempted to jump into it. He’s turning his head to one side because I’m presenting him with a reasoned argument why he should avoid doing that at all costs.The chance that he’ll emerge into a world ruled by canines who lord it over human type people is very remote indeed. Much more likely it will be a hostile environment not conducive to his doggy psyche or comparable to the standard of living he takes for granted in this world. I said I would give him a top class dog’s dinner when we got home. He turned around on the spot. So easily convinced. So trusting. So credulous. That’s a dog for you!

I went for a 10 mile run on Sunday in preparation for the Grunty Fen half marathon on September 19. This went OK. I passed a number of runners who decided not to acknowledge me. Bad karma, man! I wasn’t wearing my Cloak of Invisibility. I ran humbly. I was ego-less. Yet they passed without even a cursory nod. This is on a par with the anglers who never offer, or look for, a greeting.

I ran with a water bottle in a holster belt. This is a bit of a pain because it’s awkward and heavy but allows me to have two good drinks if I run 10 or 13 miles. I no longer get the excruciating cramp that I suffered in the past and I think that’s due to drinking more consistently.

Club running night last night. I chose to do 4 x 1 mile. This also went OK. May go for a 2 mile run tomorrow and do Cambridge parkrun on Saturday.

The death of a very well known public figure like Robin Williams or Princess Diana is always a complicated event and results in diverse responses, aided by a  dependably irresponsible media. We lap up real life drama, love extreme speculation and can’t get enough cloying sentimentality. The suicide of a celebrity touches us with a degree of emotion which is absent in a statistic such as the fact that 6000+ people kill themselves annually in the UK. Are we willing to generously support children’s, animal and cancer  charities? Yes, absolutely. Do we have a reasonable understanding of mental illness, psychological problems and their treatments. Would we give generously to MIND or protest that mental health is very poorly funded compared to the physical illnesses. Certainly not. Never mind. We can still enjoy the irony of one of the world’s most funny men taking his own life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning August 10 2014

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Sunday morning, in a village just outside of Cambridge, UK. These clouds looked very dramatic as they rolled over us. The remnants of hurricane Bertha are causing torrential downpours and high, squally winds. When we were looking out of the windows at these storm clouds, a sudden, very strong gust of wind knocked over about eight  tomato and flower containers like skittles, simultaneously. The wind was powerful enough to sweep a heavy, flat bottomed, terracotta pot off a bench and smash it to the ground. It was all over in a few seconds. I agree this is hardly top of the current news stories but there was emotional trauma. A number of tomato branches were horribly buckled and some tomatoes may not survive. I’ve tended these plants twice a day for several weeks now and they’ve almost become family. People say that you can unburden yourself to pigs (if you’ve reared them) because they are responsive, intelligent, curious and they recognise you. But I say you can be pals with tomatoes quite easily (although they are quite prone to blushing). They love to argue about whether they are vegetables or fruit. So, when it’s cooking/salad time and it’s time to go under the knife, I’m really cut up about it.

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This picture reveals only some of the havoc wreaked  by the powerful gust which swept through the garden. I’ve had to censor  images of  my hapless tomatoes lying in a horizontal position.

Cambridge junior parkrun this morning, held in driving rain. 51 children aged 4-14 took part, attended by many parents and volunteers. We all got very wet, the children loved it, all the adults enjoyed it because the children had such a great time. It really is a treat to be part of it.

Cambridge senior parkrun yesterday. It didn’t rain but the course was very muddy with large puddles to avoid or run through. As usual, I ran as fast as possible but the soft going didn’t make for a fast time. As usual, my faster pals, in my age range, beat me. Possibly they are on performance enhancing drugs. Perhaps that accounts for the need for  several people to hold them down to stop them running after they go past the finish line. I don’t know. I’m not the kind of guy to make a judgement like that. I’m sure there’s a very good reason why they froth at the mouth when we  sit down for coffee. I’ll leave it at that.

I should do a long run tomorrow, probably 10 miles. 4 weeks to go until the Grunty Fen half marathon. Should be doable, unless my tomatoes need me. They come first,.

Aliveandrunning August 7 2014

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The big wheel on Brighton sea front. No reason it’s in this blog other than I like it and I don’t have any other suitable pics at the moment.

OMG! What have I done ? I completely forgot to compete in a club race tonight. It would have meant a 40 minute drive to get there and the club would have gained a point. I had committed myself to do it  and had offered someone a lift (not taken up). I’ll chastise myself seriously for this oversight. I’ll buy and read the Daily Mail or make myself say something positive about the Tory government. That’ll teach me not to forget.

My next half marathon is September 14 which is not far away. I’ve got another one in October and a third half in November. Note to self – start running longer distances and get half marathon fit. I have a plan but it’s formulated in seconds. I run for an hour and then about I hour 20 minutes and then run a training 13.1 miles and that’s it. In between half marathons I’ll do one or two 10 mile runs plus parkruns and club training. This regime is good enough to get me round but not good enough to get a good time (for me) or a PB. But I don’t care. I’m beyond all that competitive stuff. PB worries are so last century. I might even run backwards. I might evolve into an anti runner who, confusingly, runs. I might just implode.

Yesterday, I visited the Forest Farm Peace Garden in Hainault, Essex.   http://bit.ly/X51WKT  It’s a community garden specialising in eco therapy, food growing, community volunteering, education, outreach and special events and permaculture gardening. Several acres in size, there are both communal and individual plots, a pond, a polytunnel, portacabin loos and various sheds. On Wednesdays, the main focus is on providing gardening as a therapy and rehabilitation for people with mental health problems. Everyone was friendly and working industriously. It was a lovely, relaxing environment that  many people had contributed to creating. Ben, the stand in head gardener showed us around and answered the many questions I threw at him. They had a very inclusive policy and while we there, we saw a mum and toddler group taking place among the flowers and foliage. My 87 year old  mother accompanied me on this little field trip and really enjoyed the visit.

I’m considering creating some kind of gardening project in the field to the rear of our cottage and the Peace Garden seemed to provide an excellent model. I’ve contacted Cambridge MIND and they’ve shown some interest. I’ve also been in touch with a local councillor to explore what permissions need to be sought. The idea is to set up a charity and attract some funding although I don’t think a huge amount of money is needed. So, watch this space.