Aliveandrunning October 30 2014

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This is Rupert. He’s a dalmatian. It’s a little known fact that dalmatians’ spots have the ability to change their position overnight. Sometimes they align themselves so he looks more like a zebra than a dog. He has a number of habits, one of which is particularly disconcerting. If I meet other dog walkers and we stop for  a chat in the field, he may well cock his leg up against you and pee. Generally this is hilarious unless you have the misfortune to be the recipient of his largesse. It may take several seconds for you to realise what’s going on and to react promptly ie jump out of the way. I’m considering teaching him to do it on command to people who annoy me.

Not much running going on this week. Following a jaunt to south west London on the weekend, I went down with a heavy cold. In the olden days I would have found the strength to continue running, at least for shorter distances, but now I am Mr Sensible of Cambridge. No runs for a week now. I’ll do a 5k parkrun tomorrow and I’ve got a 10k race on Sunday. If parkrun is a struggle, I won’t do the Sunday race. I’ll still go along and take some pics because us runners love to see ourselves in action.

It’s very dispiriting when the Government and the Great British Public, in the pre-election period, work hand in hand to reach out to the electorate’s  lowest common denominator. There’s clearly an insatiable need to condemn, demonise, vilify and hold in contempt those in society who have the least or whose life chances have been destroyed or sabotaged at a very early stage. At the moment politicians are falling over themselves to articulate in reasonable terms the cruelest of policies. Here’s an excellent example of a scandalous disregard for the value of human life. When the new Foreign Office minister Lady Anelay gave a written answer in the House of Lords at the beginning of the week she announced that our Government would not be supporting future search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean (designed to save drowning, abandoned, sinking illegal migrants escaping to Europe). They die in large numbers already despite rescue services but the British government feels such humanitarian acts serve only to encourage migrants to make the dangerous crossing. http://bit.ly/1tGscI7

Of course, this absence of humanity will be applauded by large numbers of UKIP voters, Tories and right wingers in general who will accept the logic behind the statement and want other swingeing cuts to go further, either aimed at immigrants or benefit claimants. But they won’t take this logic and apply it elsewhere because it would be election suicide. What about stopping treatment of liver disease, obesity, lung cancer,and  heart disease  for drinkers, over eaters, smokers and non exercisers respectively on the grounds that this medical safety net only encourages them and others to continue their damaging habits. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are the parasitical  class (again). So much for empathy and Christian values!

The travails of the Naked Rambler continue! Stephen Gough has long believed it should be a given human right to walk around naked in public. To this end he has walked the length and breadth of the UK naked and has been prosecuted and imprisoned on numerous occasions. In fact he has spent a lot of time in prison because he’s in frequent contempt of court (he simply continues to walk naked as soon as he leaves prison).   http://gu.com/p/42zcp This is just nakedness. It’s not sexual, exhibitionist or threatening. Just unusual. Prison is is cruel option to a non problem. The UKIP/Tory perspective? He’s only got himself to blame. If you let him get away with it, everybody will be at it! If only. 

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Aliveandrunning October 27 2014

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And so to Richmond this past weekend, staying locally and taking part, Ms Alive and Running and I, in Richmond parkrun. Richmond Park is a large open area in south west London, adjacent to the Thames. The course is one gently undulating circuit along established paths and it’s common to run past large deer. Being an intrinsically brave person, I held my nerve as I passed very near to a giant specimen with a frightening array of pointy antlers, which to my untutored eye, seemed to have been deliberately sharpened for maximum damage. It met my gaze and started to run along side of me. I resisted the urge to run screaming with terror in a non parkrun approved direction and held my nerve. Thinking quickly, I shouted out that I knew for certain that most people running behind me loved to eat venison and that he should draw his own conclusions. I saw him pull up and stare malevolently at runners to my rear. Ten seconds later, I heard cries of surprise and alarm but I judged it best to run on. Didn’t they have marshals to sort this kind of thing out? I would be crazy to jepardise my time by assisting the injured and traumatised.

Overall, Richmond parkrun went well. It’s described as challenging although I would be hard put to argue  how it merits that description. You go down long inclines and go up them as well but they aren’t severe. It is, however, a lovely course with views over London and there are runners and cyclists everywhere.There were 354 runners and I came in at 104. Before we ran, the run director drew our attention to someone who had completed 250 parkruns and was wearing the coveted gold emblem tee shirt. How we drooled with envy! It’s akin to Charlie winning the golden ticket to Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.

This giant poppy, commemorating those killed  in war since 1914, is displayed at Kings Cross station.

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This platform on one of the stations we stopped at between Cambridge and Kings Cross, London, is out of use. The sign on the red background says “Do not alight here.” This is clearly good advice unless you have a strong interest in platform based plant life.

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This is St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel which retains the outside Gothic facade and inner Victorian architecture. It’s joined to St. Pancras railway station which is a stone’s throw from Kings Cross. We had a little spare time and went into the reception area for a coffee. They waived the minimum £12.50p spend per person since we were going to simply drink coffee for a short while rather than have an endless business meeting. Very interesting environment, expensive, lots of security to make sure the right people get in. We gained admittance because we were harmless non-spenders who met their diversity and inclusiveness criteria. I spied a security guard ticking a box as we left. Am I being unfair? Probably.

We walked along the Thames by Putney Bridge. Beautiful houses, plenty of money, lots of conspicuous spending, no poor people in sight. How clever of rich people to have their own political party to disparage and shame those who have the least resources. How clever to mention that ordinary, hard working taxpayers feel “swamped” by immigrant alien cultures who either take our jobs or claim benefits money out of the pockets of ordinary, hard working…etc, etc. How reassuring that bigotry is alive and well in the Tory Party. Grrr! I think I’ll go for another run.

 

 

Aliveandrunning October 20 2014

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A Porter cake made with Guinness and a banana cake with dates and nuts. I baked these for my 200th parkrun on Saturday at Cambridge. I’m the first Cambridge person to get to 200 and fellow runners finally had incontrovertible evidence that they had a senior running god among their number When my milestone was announced at the address by the run director, a huge cheer went up, men avoided direct eye contact out of deference and women fainted with excitement. The crowd appeared dazed and unfocussed. Luckily for them I kept my head and led them, stunned, to the start line. As soon as the air horn started the race they snapped out of it. Outrageously, 135 people reached the finish line before me thus creating a huge disrespect issue. Consequently, none of my cake passed their lips! All the more for runners who were able to persuade me they came in after position 137.

The  woodland path course was muddy in places and the going was soft. It was also surprisingly warm for October. All these factors ensured I didn’t dip below 24 minutes as I did last week. I also suspect that my forward progress was impeded by the celestial breath of a mischievous Greek god but it’s notoriously difficult to prove. Still, the cake went down well and people said kind things. Onwards and upwards to parkrun 250 when I will receive a hoodie and tee shirt and further adulation.

In the afternoon I went for a walk, with friends and others, on the National Trust Wimpole Hall Estate. Very enjoyable and it gave me an opportunity to rescue a few books languishing in the Courtyard second hand bookshop. I don’t take this level of responsibility lightly. Someone has to step up to the plate. These books were heavily traumatised and are currently undergoing debriefing. It’ll be sometime before they can sit on my bookshelf, feeling at home and relaxed.

 

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Started half marathon training yesterday. I ran for 1 hour 2 minutes in the afternoon when I thought my big bowl of porridge was sufficiently digested but my stomach still felt a bit queasy at times. St. Neots half in 4 weeks and a 10k Bonfire Burn in 2 weeks.

I’ve just sent off a request for pre-application advice for planning permission concerning my proposed therapeutic gardening project. This should result in an allocation of a named person to guide me through the process and determine whether or not I will will require planning permission. I’m arranging to visit a horticultural project in Saffron Walden (not too far from the excellent Oxfam bookshop) and I’m wading through the requirements to set up a charity. This means I will have to up my level of focus and concentration.

Could rant about the latest human rights violations perpetrated by the Catholic Church (recent small payments for abused boys attending a seminary decades ago and the cardinals watering down a more accepting text on recognising and welcoming gay people into the church). But I won’t at the moment. I’ll save it

 

 

Aliveandrunning October 16 2014

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An innocent bowl of porridge you might think, and you’d be right. I mix in raisins and sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on the top. It’s delicious and I’m sure it does me no end of good. But yesterday was a dark day indeed. I unwittingly put garam masala on my porridge instead. My first mouthful was my last! I took a leaf out of the footballers’book when they want to convince us they’ve been fouled. I threw myself to the floor and rolled over and over convulsively as if I had ingested cyanide. Ms Alive and Running, who didn’t at that point appreciate the trauma I had undergone, asked if I had inflicted a paper cut on myself again. I really suffer for my porridge habit.

Running with Cambridge and Coleridge running club a couple of nights ago. We ran 1k x 5 times with 3 minute breaks with 2k in  warm ups and getting to the circuit. It’s very different running in the dark and riskier in terms of upping the chances of ricking your foot. But I like it. I’ve never fallen in the dark but I do tend to fall in the daylight possibly because I’m not concentrating sufficiently. This happens about 2-3 times a year. I’m due for a fall now. I may indulge in a bit of hubris because, as we all know, pride comes before a fall.

Cambridge parkrun this coming Saturday and it’ll be my 200th! I started at parkrun no.6 at Cambridge in 2010 after I finished the Addenbrookes Hospital cardiac rehabilitation course (which was precipitated by my heart attack in August 2009). I’ve done most of my runs at Cambridge and I’ll be the first of the regular runners to reach 200 (and hopefully 250, when I’ll receive a special tee shirt with magic powers from parkrun central and a congratulatory card from the Queen). Tomorrow I’ll bake a cake or two to eat with pals after the race.

In just over two weeks I’m doing the Bonfire Burn 10k at Histon. A couple of years ago this race was the occasion of the worst weather I have ever run in. It was very cold with a ferocious  wind and driving rain. The race was delayed and I was under dressed for the elements. I nearly abandoned the race after 2k but then I started to feel a little better and finished it. St. Neots half marathon is in 4 weeks and I started training today and ran for 45 minutes. Running motivation is reduced at the moment but after 20 minutes I physically felt much better and began to enjoy it.

When I go to the checkout at Tesco, I try to chose someone who doesn’t slavishly follow the Tesco scripted conversation ( I went to a Morrisons recently and the check out person looked around 80. She didn’t greet me, scanned the items quickly and gave the impression she had a life outside of serving supermarket sheep like me. How refreshing.) Anyway, back to Tesco. I went to someone I could regularly rely upon to be less than politically correct about her employer and difficult customers. She immediately gave thanks for only having another 55 minutes before she toddled off home. She made several derogatory remarks about the odd behaviour of previous customers and then gave me a flamboyant master class in how to open those pesky Tesco flimsy carrier bags. Having demonstrated the knack, and with  other waiting behind me, she handed me an unopened bag and said “Now you do it”. Folding her arms, she proceeded to watch me. Possibly it might be easier to go to go to a script compliant person next time.

The Conservative Party. What a bunch of shits, bigots and unpleasant, unkind people.

 

Aliveandrunning October 12 2014

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Record number of children  (138) at Cambridge junior parkrun today! It was chilly but dry with some sun. The weather gods clearly  favoured us! Well, that’s what I would expect after I offered a libation (Chateau Haut-Plaisance Saint-Emilion Grand Cru), extracted from Tesco’s deepest wine vaults and delivered by a uniformed courier who only spoke a dead language. He fainted when I poured it straight onto the parkrun course ground! We dragged him away before the children clocked him (don’t worry, he recovered completely). As usual, the children and everyone else involved with the race greatly enjoyed themselves. This is a quick snap of the warm up session which they followed with considerable attention and gusto.

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I haven’t been running very frequently in recent weeks but perhaps less is more. I was pleased with my parkrun time yesterday and generally I have felt less tired. This is my pal Kerry who is almost in his mid 60s and only started running 2 years ago. Amazingly his PB for parkrun (5k) is 21 minutes 40 seconds and he’s still improving. Yesterday was his 50th parkrun and he equalled his PB. It’s ridiculous. I’m going to organise an anonymous on line petition to get him banned for life on  grounds I haven’t quite decided on yet but it will be for his own good, of course.

Apart from Cambridge parkrun, my next race is the Bonfire Burn 10k in Histon on November 2nd and then the St. Neots half marathon on November 16. Following that my next half marathon will be Cambridge in March 2015. This race is always sold out quickly but somehow our seven strong family have all got a place. Yippee!

 

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Visited Saffron Walden in the week and made a beeline for my favourite Oxfam second hand bookshop. RD Lang is always thought provoking  even if you were never sympathetic towards the anti psychiatry movement in the 60s and 70s. The book on angels is very readable with lots of good pictures. Such an attractive concept, alongside the existence of God and eternal life.

 

Aliveandrunning October 8 2014

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Hoohaah half marathon at Wimpole Estate last Sunday with young Jonathan leading for Cambridge and Coleridge (he eventually came second). I had a place in this race but my family felt running 3 half marathons in relatively quick succession was excessive given my heart disease. They threw research at me and I acquiesced! However, I went over to Wimpole with chum Kerry, watched the race and took a couple of hundred of pics.

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Unfortunately, the lure of this bookshop in the courtyard of Wimpole House resulted in me returning to the finish line late and failing to see the first three runners come in. Just out of camera shot, to the right , in the pool of sunlight, sits an old woman in period dress weaving yarn on a spinning wheel. Very evocative of a lost, bygone culture. This nostalgic cameo was only slightly undermined when, last year, faced by a large crowd of parkrunners blocking the entrance to the court yard, the spinning lady reversed her Mercedes estate more than a tad too fast, scattering said parkrunners in fear of their lives. She wasn’t a happy bunny.

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These are my running pals from Fen Edge running club. Mike and Kerry have only been running for a couple of years but they are during parkrun in 21-22 minutes. Over a longer distance like a half marathon, I can get within 2-3 minutes of them but incredibly they are still improving.

Parkrun went OK the day before but I couldn’t drop under 24 minutes. I collected the signage after the run. This volunteering task is enjoyable and relaxing. It’s very pleasant to walk around the deserted course. I sometimes see Peter who is in his mid 80s, walking the 5k  course but in the reverse direction. Not seen him recently, though. I do hope he’s well.

I went to Addenbrookes Hospital yesterday and felt mildly murderous when I smelt cigarette smoke from someone walking behind us as we approached the entrance. Stupid or what? Of course there’s more stupidity inside the hospital and this time it’s sponsored by the management. Burger King and other fast food outlets in the Food Court. So empowering to facilitate obese people to ignore dietary and health advice and conveniently enable them to gorge on high fat, high carbohydrate and high salt food to their hearts’ content.

We sought advice at the Inquiry Desk.

“How may I help you, my dears?” smiled the volunteer receptionist.

“Firstly, by desisting from addressing us as “my dears”, I replied.”Secondly, by appreciating I have a fear of split infinitives unless their utterance is Star Trek related. Thirdly, I want that person disappearing down the corridor to be arrested and charged with causing  environmental damage by smoking on hospital premises. Are you able to accommodate me?”

Of course there was no response because this little encounter happened in my imagination but it was a close run thing.

 

 

Aliveandrunning October 3 2014

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I really must stop taking pictures of huge fish on the front cover of angling magazines in Tesco. No sooner had I snapped this when the security guard suddenly appeared at my side.

“At it again are we,sir? It’s not normal y’know. Move along now and don’t dawdle in front of the Krispy Kremes’ cabinet.”

I am doubtful of the  actual existence of these mega fish. The three or four monthly magazines which feature them always depict grinning men casually holding a very heavy weight with no apparent effort. There’s something fishy about this! I suspect Photoshop can turn a goldfish into anything.

At the beginning of the week I went for my last long run before the half marathon at Wimpole Estate this weekend. I ran for about 75 minutes. It started raining as I set out and it didn’t stop until I returned. As a result, I suffered the excruciating pain known as Jogger’s Nipples and had to undergo the humiliation of applying Sudocrem to them  before going to sleep. Very rock’n roll.

I’ll be doing Cambridge parkrun tomorrow  but I won’t be running the half marathon after all. My family feel that it’s a half marathon too far (I had planned to do 3 halves in 9 weeks). I’ve done one and Wimpole was the second). They instanced this research http://heart.bmj.com/content/99/8/516.extract (O’Keefe and Lavie) which addresses the impact of excessive or more prolonged running on the heart. It describes the possible cardiac damage that running over longer distances and over longer periods may incur. I read the paper rather than the extract and I also read an article on this research in Runners’ World some months ago. The training and the half itself would fall into the category of “extreme running” if it occurs more than very occasionally. The paper gives clear guidelines regarding duration. It doesn’t discuss excessive running in the context of people like me who have had a heart attack or heart disease. So I will err on the side of caution. I’ll miss Wimpole but do the St. Neots half in November. My next half will be Cambridge in March.

I will still go to Wimpole, though. I’m giving my arch rival Kerry a lift and another arch rival, Mike, is also taking part. It’ll give me a chance to take a zillion pictures and spend a longer time in Wimpole second hand bookshop.