Aliveandrunning September 28 2014


I went to Wimpole Estate parkrun yesterday expecting to have social intercourse with normal people, and run with same but I was treated to this! The under dressed chap on the left is doing his 100th parkrun and also fundraising for MIND. I caught up with them at the finishing line and by that time the all terrain buggy was predictably busted. Good running weather; I ran up the short but steep hill instead of walking it; felt fine running. My two arch rivals both got PBs! Very well done. In the absence of mandatory drug testing/steward’s inquiry/ lie detector tests I utterly accept their times. I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for them continuing to run on the spot for 30 minutes after the race and laughing hysterically.

1526173_330299650464974_920712740406884910_n (1)

Here’s me snapped by a discerning photographer and demonstrating the much under rated “running with open mouth”  style. We were requested to wear club vests in recognition of a club runner, aged 46, who died suddenly during a Round Norfolk Relay a short while ago. A very sad occurrence and thankfully very rare.



Wimpole Hall, a stately house which is the backdrop to the parkrun, has a good second hand bookshop in their stately Courtyard. I picked up (or rather rescued) these iconic Penguin paperback editions which were inexplicably languishing on the 50p tables outside. I am now highly skilled in recognising Penguins from their spines, embedded in rows of non Penguin paperbacks. Do I have them already? Only a crazy person would buy the same books several times over with an eventual intention to redistribute said books to people who appreciate them! The top books were bought at Emmaus, a homeless charity which has a large shop of donated items and is only half a mile away. A good running and reading day!

Lastly, Cambridge junior parkrun this morning went very well. We equalled our 125 record attendance achieved last week. Ms Alive and Running was volunteer coordinator and I was timer. Always fascinating and enjoyable and a lovely coffee with chums afterwards.


Aliveandrunning September 25 2014


“Oooohhhh! gasped Ms Alive and Running,”Delicious….salmon with Brussels sprouts…and cauliflower and broccoli as well…. all my Sundays have all come at once…thank you so much.” Well, this is my interpretation of what she said but the actual words were very similar (I think).

I went for an hour’s run today, partly along the river Cam, in preparation for another half marathon in 10 day’s time. My arch rivals Mike and Kerry have also decided to run. I can’t catch them over 5k or 10k but over 13 miles I can get nearer to them. I didn’t feel much like running today although after 15 minutes it felt fine. Afterwards I felt a lot better, both physically and mood wise.On the weekend I’ll do parkrun, club training on Tuesday, about 80 minute run on Wednesday, another  parkrun on Saturday and then the half on Sunday. It’s a training hotchpot but that’s me , innit!

I’ve been running for around 33 years. I started running in response to my father’s ill health, in 1981 and, with the exception of the last 3 years, I’ve not belonged to a club or run with anyone else. My father died in 1983 of smoking related heart disease and other contributory factors, aged 62. I thought a non smoking and running lifestyle would inoculate me from ill health and particularly heart disease so I was surprised (British understatement and stiff upper lip example) when I had a heart attack , aged 58 (Thank you God, I’m sure you know what you are doing!) Because I had an overall good level of fitness, I have been able to recover and run at a better level and more consistently than before. Joining Cambridge and Coleridge AC seemed more attractive than hitherto and I must admit that running with this club is very enjoyable. The coaches are hardworking and very supportive of all abilities. We’ve got track and two road sessions to chose from each week and plenty of variation. But….I still have a strong urge to give it all up and run alone. I like the different running challenges but I have a limited capacity to talk about running and a club, of course, will be a hotbed of running related intercourse, verbally speaking. Perhaps I’ll ask one of the coaches about the possibility of introducing silent sessions.

Thank you prime minister David Cameron for revealing that the Queen “purred” when she was informed that our Scottish mates had declined to become independent of England and Wales, requiring exit from the Union. I always associate “purring” with Eartha Kit’s singing style. Dave has been castigated for audibly making this remark to another top person in conversation that was picked up by long range microphones. That’s castigation not castration.

Nice headline for non readers and people who have no interest in real news in yesterday’s Sun newspaper (oxymoron) : HAIRY CORNFLAKE FACES PORRIDGE. This refers to the British DJ Dave Lee Travis  who was convicted of indecent assault this week. His nickname is Hairy Cornflake and porridge is slang for time spent in prison. No wonder it’s the UK’s biggest selling newspaper with such fantastically inventive front pages. Laughably the Guardian ran with some boring guff about Milliband pledging to save the NHS or somethin!


Aliveandrunning September 22 2014

South Cambridgeshire-20140922-00993

Weather fine today so we had lunch on the lawn. Mine was cold and consisted of left overs from yesterday’s  meal – chicken in Thai Green curry sauce, a few Brussels sprouts, runner beans, lemon rice, Mediterranean vegetable mix (originally frozen) and a radish, cucumber and red onion salad with cashew nuts, mint and honey.

Should have gone for a run today but didn’t get around to it. Just under two weeks to the next half marathon on Wimpole Hall Estate and I need to be running longer distances more frequently. If I don’t do this, I’ll run a mediocre time (by my own personal standards) but not so poor that spectators will boo and throw rotten fruit at me.

Saturday’s Cambridge parkrun went OK. I ran another sub 24 minutes but still more than 30 seconds off my personal best. If I don’t improve I’ll start wearing a hair shirt (at this point I looked up “hair shirt” and found a forum thread concerning a man asking advice about wearing a cilice (or hair shirt ) for spiritual/religious reasons. Very interesting! I think I’ll forget the hair shirt and cut down on my daily consumption of Brussels sprouts as a penance instead.

The proposed gardening therapy project took a step forward last Friday when I met a manager at Cambridge MIND, the mental health charity. She liked the idea and didn’t think making referrals or encouraging volunteers to get involved would be problematic. I’m now in the process of making an on line planning application to the District Council. I’ve also emailed  someone who has a remit to identify and develop green spaces which would have a beneficial impact on the health and well being of local communities. Might my project fit into this criteria? Who knows. I’ll have to look at funding and how to set up a charity shortly but this can only go ahead if planning permission is not an issue.

Aliveandrunning September 14 2014


I have just returned from completing the Grunty Fen half marathon near Ely. Ms Alive and Running insisted that a digital image should capture me, victorious and triumphant, following a heroic 13 mile battle with the fenland road tarmac. I have the beginnings of an enigmatic smile (think Mona Lisa here) and my intelligent, penetrating but benign gaze suggest a complex and superior mind. It doesn’t matter that I have perfected this expression in front of a mirror over dozens of hours. Malcolm Gladwell estimates that to completely master a discipline takes around 10,000 hours of development and practise. Well, Malcolm, I’ve done it in half a day!

How did the race go? Mmmm…  I was 6 minutes slower than last year and came in at 1 hour 53 minutes. The first 10k went OK but I struggled keeping up the pace for the next 10k. I decided to walk at the drink stations and had four walk/drink breaks, more than I planned. I think my training plan was far too casual. Oh well, I’ve got 2 more halves coming up – Wimpole Estate in 3 weeks and St Neots in 9 weeks.

I gave my speedy friend Kerry a lift to Grunty and he repaid the favour by beating me by 5 minutes! To add insult to injury, two club mates chatted throughout the entire 13 miles, running in a very relaxed manner and eventually cruising past me, probably going about 70% of their top speed. Still, I’m waiting for the Grunty Fen photos! I made a big effort to compose my features when I saw the cameras (not that I’m vain or anyfink) so, hopefully, I appear to be running effortlessly. Can the camera lie? I’ll make my mind up when I see the pictures.

I was happier with yesterday’s Cambridge parkrun when I came in well under 24 minutes. I think running less suits my parkrun times but certainly not a a half marathon distance.

Cambridge junior parkrun had 116 runners today (aged 4-14), a record number. Children from 40 schools took part and they all had their pictures taken holding a handwritten sign of the name of their school. In terms of joy and excitement, junior parkrun gives most value for money (figuratively speaking).

Aliveandrunning September 10 2014



Thank God (which one?) I was eating this meal when I heard  David Cameron talking, in Scotland, about the upcoming referendum on whether that country should become independent of the UK. Beware! These Tories mess with your mind and one way of dealing with this direct address to the credulous is to offset the unrealness by eating good, healthy, simple food. Look no further than Brussels sprouts and broccoli aided and abetted by chicken in an achari marinade, lemon rice and roast vegetables.

Dave anticipated feeling “broken hearted” if the Scots broke away. He was passionate about the UK remaining intact and apparently a rich vein of raw emotion was evident in his voice. In fact all three party leaders were in Scotland at the same time to support the No vote and they all vied to out do each other on the sincerity/passion/you gotta believe me, I beg you front. This is the same Tory leader who reassured us that the NHS is safe in Conservative hands and demonises benefit recipients. A very skilled liar and emotional manipulator.

Out with the club last night. We did a one kilometre time trial followed by four further one kilometres. I felt a little tired but overall it was OK. I made a new pal and chatted amiably. Hearing his parkrun 5k time, I thought he would be in the top third of our road running group that evening. After the time trial, we formed three separate groups and he did indeed go into the speediest set. Will this go to his head? Will I be snubbed because I was second last in the slowest group? Does he read the Daily Mail and hate non Mail readers. I think not to all three questions. He seemed normal, friendly and grounded. Damn!

Eco project update – I have been in contact with Cambridge MIND and I am meeting with them next week.

Grunty Fen half marathon this coming weekend. I’ll still do Cambridge parkrun the day before but I’m taking it relatively easy this week.

Aliveandrunning September 6 2014


No Cambridge junior parkrun at Milton Country Park today because one of the series of Spartan obstacle races took place instead. I’ve not seen any of the mud run/obstacle events before and didn’t think they would appeal to me. But I was completely won over. The people taking part had a great time and it’s a very entertaining to watch.


Despite an initial impression of lots of men in macho posturing mode, this quickly changed when I saw the effort required to negotiate the course and the number of women taking part. By the time the runners hauled themselves up this ramp, they were very wet, muddy and slippery. Not everyone could do it but they all tried it. They weren’t worried by looking undignified and they got a lot of cheers and encouragement.



This a small pond I run past when I do Cambridge parkrun. It’s stagnant, smelly and looks like a swamp. It is a swamp! It looks filthy and vile. As I watched dozens wade, swim and stagger across, I confirmed  it was all these things. A big Cambridge triathalon  has just been cancelled because of the degradation  of the water quality in the Cam. Well, the Cam is like crystal clear mineral water compared to this mud bath.




No Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park yesterday because today’s Spartan race. Ms Alive and Running not able to accompany me to Wimpole Estate parkrun because she has joined a cult and is away for the weekend. But I wasn’t alone in the car. I gave my pal Kerry a lift despite his track record of being 2-3 minutes faster than me over 5k. This clearly demonstrates my current altruism, so different to last week when I had a nice collection of little dolls (which had surprisingly similar features to some of my faster friends) and a selection of needles. I’ve recycled all that paraphernalia now and turned to the mild side. I fully accept that I will be  frequently beaten by chums  and my mind is at peace (or piss as a European accent might have it).

They had a record 362 runners at Wimpole yesterday and I came in at 125th. Kerry ran a good race but his personal barcode didn’t scan which meant that he was regarded as an unknown when the results went online. There were quite a few unknowns sprinkled throughout the 356 and Kerry didn’t know his position number or his approximate time . He wasn’t an unknown unknown but a known unknown. Possibly he regarded himself as an unknown known. Who knows?Anyway, there’s a campaign afoot to change his status to to known known which I have contributed to. But wait! The text I received from parkrun central tells me I am second in my age range. If Kerry becomes promoted to known known, I am demoted to third in my age category (behind Kerry). This is a test of my integrity. My integrity remains intact. I spend most of the night tirelessly working on Kerry’s behalf to get him the justice he deserves.




Aliveandrunning September 1st 2014



Cambridge parkrun last Saturday. Ms Alive and Running  snaps me before I can sufficiently compose my features to reflect my Zen like indifference to competition combined with an acute concern on the welfare of others. This is a difficult expression to master and it’s only through a lot of practise in front of the mirror that I have achieved some success. No matter. In my head, I feel and look like Angus who is directly in front of me (in the red top), serenely and effortlessly weaving through the field, sublimely uninterested in time and placing. There was a record number running, 454, and I came in at 175.

I couldn’t attain the time I was aiming at (although, simultaneously, I had no interest in my time at all). I’ll have to employ different tactics. Next Saturday, I’m at another parkrun location, Wimpole Estate, which is hilly. My first new tactic is not over eating the night before and not eating near to sleep time. The second tactic is using the kettle bell more consistently and strengthening my core and thirdly, I’ll work on “getting into the zone” like the 100m sprinters. This might entail ignoring everyone and staring into the distance like a zombie.

Yesterday, Cambridge junior parkrun was held in warm sunshine and 94 children ran. Very enjoyable. Angus is 14 and is at the upper age limit for this event. He came in 9th and didn’t take it too seriously.

In the afternoon, I went for a long run of 13.2 miles in preparation for the Grunty Fen half marathon on September 14. I ran into Cambridge along the river Cam. This went reasonably well. The socially maladjusted anglers successfully ignored me as I ran past them. I think they scared off all the water nymphs because no aquatic half naked damsels tried to entice me. An uneventful run, at a reasonable pace with two walk/drink breaks.



My recent Amazon acquisitions. I’ll dip into them.