Aliveandrunning November 27 2014

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It was Dr Johnson, who, in the 18th century, said “He who is tired of Brussels sprouts is tired of life.” Humphrey Bogart made a reference to sprouts in the film Casablanca and Pope Francis recently gave them a mention in a private audience with the mercenary Tony Blair (along the lines of being able to accommodate celibacy but not contemplate a world without Brussels sprouts). The message is clear. Take these delightful green orbs seriously and they will repay you endlessly. Somewhere, under the salad, flat bread, olives, raw onion, broccoli and a mound of Brussels, lay pasta and turkey bolognese. I am now being repaid endlessly.

Not a lot happening on the running front. I last went out on the weekend when I did Cambridge parkrun (5k). I missed club night on Tuesday due to family commitments but I didn’t go out yesterday despite the opportunity to do so. It’s taken me a month to get over my cold and I’ve lost motivation. Oh dear! I’ll do Cambridge or Wimpole Estate parkrun next weekend and then try to get back into the running groove. The bloody miserable weather doesn’t help. I may get a SAD light and sit in front of it looking at my watch and waiting for it to cheer me up.

Not running is not a problem. My motivation will return and I’ll return to form. My level of fitness is good and won’t disappear overnight. Unless I am completely seduced by MYCOLOGY!!! Following the fungi foray I went on a few weeks ago, I am now seeing the little blighters everywhere.

WP_20141119_002 For example , I noticed these little chaps as I was about to get into the car. I had to prostrate myself on the grass to take this shot. It wasn’t a pretty sight, it wasn’t dignified but it had to be done. Not sure what they are. Might be a Shaggy Inkcap (or Lawyer’s Wig).

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I noticed this little group because they were giggling as I passed by walking Rupert the dalmatian. Probably from the Mycena family. I don’t know which one. See what I mean? With all this focus on fungi, it’s a distraction from running. Perhaps I’ll never get back in the running groove. They’ll whisper as I pass by “He used to be a running god. Now he’s Mushroom Man”. At the very least I’ll be regarded as a fun guy (geddit?).

Before privatisation, when large swathes of industry and utilities were publicly owned, the trades unions were demonised and the nationalised industries were felt to be soft, unproductive and a bottomless pit into which huge amounts of tax payers’s was thrown. Now the unions are neutered, the companies are privatised and the nasty poor are a terrible drain on our welfare system (funded by hard working taxpayers). But there is very little focus on the extensive tax breaks, incentives, subsidies and tax avoidance methods currently in situ for privatised, (previously nationalised)industries and their shareholders(funded directly out of the public purse).

The Tories and their media may bleat about Labour provoking a class war when they questioned the charitable status of privately run schools but clearly their tax concessions amount to a subsidy (or state handout) to a particular class of people. You know where you are with the Tories – well educated, cruelly self centred and very adept at scapegoating  the most vulnerable in society. Tories too soft? Vote UKIP, the BNP Lite party.

Gardening project update : no planning permission needed apparently although a polytunnel and a new shed are essential and these will need permission so I’m a bit confused. Awaiting clarification. Good news is that I will get a donated polytunnel and will be able to choose the size.

 

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Aliveandrunning November 16 2014

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I should have been running the St.Neots half marathon today but my lingering, three week old cold and no training scuppered it. I did do Cambridge parkrun yesterday, and last week, plus I ran a 10k race two weeks ago but these were more than manageable given my level of running fitness. I haven’t been out with the club for three weeks and there have been no training runs. So a bit of running but not much. Before my heart attack five years ago, I definitely would have run the half marathon today despite the cold and insufficient raining. In fact, I wouldn’t have given it much thought. Now, I give it a lot of thought. It’s great to be running at the same level as before the heart attack (despite the baleful effects the bloody cardiac medication has on my running). I describe it as baleful only in the sense that it restricts my speed and effort. I have to accept that overall it probably has a positive effect on my heart health (see how I have to qualify the (possible) benefit I am receiving?. Am I not incorrigible in this respect? Do I not have a shipping container stuffed full of caveats?) Recent research suggests that placebos have a very good health benefit (among many others, see Mind Over Medicine:Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin). I’m rehearsing a conversation with my GP.

Me:Pretty please, Doc, take me off my heart medication and prescribe placebos instead!

GP: I fail to see the rationale behind this idiotic request.

Me: The current prescription is slowing down my running which won’t be the case with placebos.

GP: You want me to take you off meds which strengthen and regulate your heart so you can run faster?

Me: You’ve got it Doc! Current research points to a measurable benefit in a given condition even if the person is fully aware that they are taking an inert placebo. I believe a placebo would be very good for my heart health. You gotta believe as well, Doc. Together we can do it. I’ll keep you fully informed of my parkrun times.

GP: Request denied with knobs on. Next patient, please!

Note to family : only joking!

I’ll go for a leisurely, longer run this afternoon. It’s chilly but not cold, will probably be raining, will definitely be dank, dark and overcast but I’ll just take it on the chin.

I wore trail shoes for yesterday’s parkrun. Unlike last week when a number of people fell and injuries included a broken ankle, I didn’t hear of anyone coming to grief. I wasn’t far off my old times so I mustn’t complain. I was thinking about placebos as I went around. See how beneficial they can be!

I picked up the above books in the Emmaus (homeless charity) store which, conveniently, is less than a mile from me. The Rare Words book is good to dip in to, if you like words. It means you are a logophile (not a lover of wood fires). Not much, if anything, on etymology, though. Of course, If you are a Sun, Star or Mirror reader I don’t think you need a vocabulary greater than 500 words so don’t bother (gratuitous insult of the day).

Grumpiness! Very much under rated, very much maligned. Far better to call it discernment or sagaciousness. It should be recognised as an art form and as an academic subject. Should this be offered, one might be able to do a Phd in Grumpiness. It would certainly appeal to people over a certain age.

WP_20141115_001  This ailing walnut tree continues to fascinate me. Despite its appearance, it soldiers on and had a good canopy of leaves this year.

I listened to the excellent The Life Scientific  (BBC Radio 4 this week , available as a podcast on iTunes) and heard Professor Dave Goulson talk about preserving bumble bees in the UK. He set up the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and has done a lot of work on the reasons for the decline in bee populations. Very interesting and positive. I think one of the focuses of my therapeutic gardening project will be on creating a bee, butterfly and bird friendly environment. Must pull my finger out!

Alive and Running November 9 2014

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Ooohhh…..look at this! A lovely chocolate cake with a cherry filling brought to my door by Elaine, friend and benefactor of my proposed  therapeutic gardening  project. And very tasty it was, too. Yesterday, a running pal confirmed she is willing to be a trustee (contingent on what that role entails) and has gardening experience. Ms Alive and Running is putting together a website, Green Minds, and I’ll create a full photographic record of the development of the project. I should hear whether or not I require planning permission this coming week.

Cambridge parkrun was very slippery yesterday. There were at least 3 fallers who couldn’t continue (including a woman who broke her ankle). We are lucky at Cambridge because, more often than not, we have one or two medics taking part and will assist or advise if they can. I want to reassure blog readers immediately that I emerged unscathed. I was able to leap over the fallen and my running stride wasn’t seriously impaired.

My times are not back to normal but I ran better than last week and remained upright. Didn’t wear trail shoes, will next week if there’s further rain. I also did some serious, heavyweight socialising with running chums and spent 50% of my chat quotient for this month.

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Cambridge junior parkrun today. 130 children, aged 14  and under took part in the 2k run. No injuries reported and it all went very well. Weather was good. The overcast sky cleared and it warmed up. Afterwards we enjoyed a tasty cup of coffee.

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I have a new fascination – mycology, the study of fungi and their properties. Ms Alive and Running and I spent nearly two hours with a group of like minded, friendly people (including amateur mycologists) scouring Worts Meadow and adjacent  woodland for innocent, I’m-just-minding-my-own-business fungi which were promptly prised  out of the ground and into a trug for later investigation. It’s not edgy, it’s not rock and roll, it’s not as cool as Steve McQueen in The Great Escape but it was relaxing, mindful, interesting and adds a new dimension to walking in the wood with Rupert the dalmatian. Couldn’t identify the yellow fungi but other example are shaggy parasols which are edible (apparently).  I might cook some up for my arch running rivals as a treat.

Alive and Running November 7 2014

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I sashayed into the City of Cambridge yesterday with premeditated intent. I didn’t start sashaying until I had  alighted from the romantically titled Park and Ride bus at the Grafton Centre (about half a mile from the City centre) with a view to exploring Mill Road cemetery. Consecrated in 1848, it is now full (around 3,500 marked graves and about 20,000 unmarked graves). Overgrown in many places, many people use it as a walk through, a place to walk dogs, a quiet private space and a valued green wild park like area.

I came out onto Mill Road, the “Bohemian”district of Cambridge with lots of independent shops, a sizeable ethnic Chinese population and controversial plans to build a big mosque complex. Bring it on! *

*other religions are available. All of them are self serving and perpetuated mainly by males, whose primary motive is to retain power, authority and wealth.. Other interpretations, possibly more benign, are available.

Looking into window of the large Oxfam shop in Burleigh Street, this 1960’s Penguin edition of John Wyndham’ The Kraken Awakes suddenly spotted me and called “Help ….I deserve to be rescued.. take me home…have pity.” So I did! John Wyndham is quintessentially old fashioned British sci-fi and this is a great cover.

The other two books I found in Cambridge Central library. The middle book on therapeutic horticulture in the UK looks at research and is very pertinent to the gardening project charity I am setting up. It discusses concepts and outcomes which I instinctively feel to be true so I think I am on the right lines. Earlier in the  day, I spoke to the Small Charities Coalition advice line which helped me decide not to go down a particular route. I don’t need to become a registered  charity because I don’t anticipate my annual income will exceed £5000. This will make some things a lot easier. I can still go for registration if I choose to expand.

Running has taken a complete backseat at the moment. I’m still not fully over my cold of 12 days. Well, not a complete backseat. But I haven’t run since last weekend when I did a 10k race. I am doing Cambridge parkrun tomorrow and I am registered for the St. Neots half marathon which is on November 17. I might visit the Oracle and take advice. Whatever, I will rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix, leaner, meaner and hungrier, and go on to further running glory. Possibly. Anyway, volunteering at Cambridge junior parkrun on Sunday; always a pleasure as long as I don’t muck up the timing.

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Alive and Running November 3 2014

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My supper this evening featuring Brussels sprouts. I haven’t mentioned Brussels for some time but, rest assured, I eat them most days when available fresh in the shops. I’m not sure what “fresh” really means in terms of vegetables bought from Tesco. I suspect a lot of their veg is bought cheap and kept in cold storage for extended periods of time. So much of their produce looks tired. Anyway, these tasted just fine.

I ran for the first time in a week on Saturday (Cambridge parkrun) and did the Bonfire Burn 10k yesterday. I’m not fully over my cold and I wasn’t able to run as fast as I usually do. The 10k was a bit of a struggle towards the end and I was nearly 3 minutes slower than last year. It didn’t help that it was pouring with rain for the first half and I was wearing too much kit to prevent feeling cold. When the rain stopped I was very warm and felt hindered by my clothing. I spoke to the race director after I came in and tried to get the race declared null and void. My suggestion that he rearrange it for the following weekend when I expected to be fully recovered from my sneaky cold and an improvement in the weather, fell on deaf ears. Despite being nearly 50 years my junior, he said “Go home and sleep it off, son. Try again next year!”  Clearly I’ll have to seek legal redress.

My therapeutic  gardening project is  progressing slowly. I met on site with a Planning Officer last week. He will decide whether or not my proposal  requires planning permission. I don’t think it will but if it does they will assist with my application. Two good friends have declined to become  trustees of the charity I will be creating (for understandable reasons) but have pledged a donation of £500 plus some room in their greenhouse, plants and some gardening tools. They are a generous couple who give more than 10% of their income to charity, as a matter of course, without a fanfare. How many of us would do that?