Aliveandrunning December 28 2014

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Yesterday’s Cambridge parkrun was excessively muddy! Clearly the East Anglia rain gods were having a laugh when they created pond sized puddles across the running path. In fact it was worse than that. There were bogs, quagmires, sloughs and quickmud (a close relative of quicksand). I personally saw three men up to their necks in mud screaming at passing runners to stop and pause their Garmins. It was the proverbial nightmare of a run. Or so it seemed. Somehow we survived it but our washing machines will be punished.

It wasn’t exactly like running in treacle but the mud certainly slowed us down. The numbers were about half the usual crowd although my family did its utmost to boost the total. I ran with Ms Alive and Running and our five children for the first time ever. Fantastic! My eldest son just beat me by seconds (well, 280 seconds actually which is nothing at all compared with the age of the Universe). In fact we all ran well and I’m very proud that we can all take part in a race together on occasions. The next opportunity will be Cambridge half marathon in March.

Next race is the New Year’s Eve 10k at Ely (on December 31st, believe it or not!) and a special New Year’s day parkrun at Huntingdon on, yes,you’ve guessed it, January 1st.

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Cambridge junior parkrun this morning. 58 children between the ages of 4-14 took part, well down on the recent record of 138 but a good number considering the weather conditions. Plenty of icy, muddy puddles and an inspection of the course resulted in some changes to the measured 2k distance. Loads of parents became inpromptu marshals to line the course to maximise safety. One person dancing around, playing the flute and looking remarkably like the Pied Piper of Hamlin was turned away. They will have to wait just a little longer before their invoice for rat catching services are honoured.

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We had a serious outbreak of origami in our house over Christmas and this is the result. Old Rupert annuals are a good source of origami creations and I soon found a spectacular pagoda to make although the above examples are from a recent book left by Mother Christmas. It seems that Rupert’s origami can be quite complicated and the instructions are often not adequate. The internet will provide, however.

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My modest stash of Christmas books. Spitafields Nippers are poor children photographed in London around the start of last century. They reflect the harsh circumstances of their young lives and the dire poverty of their upbringings. Very poignant, very affecting. I’m sure God has a good reason for the breathtakingly high child mortality rate in times past, in this country and everywhere else. I would be oblige if anybody with a religious faith could provide a brief rationale explaining the religious justification for such suffering. I’ve read a few clever philosophical explanations but nothing which makes any sense to me. Please bring  enlightenment. Pretty please.

Gotta sign up for Janathon. Gonna be January soon.

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Aliveandrunning December 20 2014

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My new Hi Viz running jacket! Actually it’s a cycling jacket. I couldn’t find a Hi Viz running top which I liked, at a reasonable price and had sufficient protection from cold and chilling wind. Very competitive people may remark that it’s on the heavy side for running but that runs the risk of upsetting me. In this eventuality, I’ll challenge them to a duel of my choosing – a contest to see who could eat the most Brussels sprouts in twenty minutes, for example. The loser would have to sit very close to a naked flame for an hour. It gives me the jitters just to think about it!

I assume it’s the blood thinning aspirin I take for heart disease that makes me so sensitive to cold. The weather, particularly winter weather, wasn’t an issue before I had my heart attack but it is now. Previously I ran almost naked in Arctic conditions. Currently I’m so upholstered, people call out”There goes the Michelin Man.”

Cambridge parkrun today. The course was muddy and trail shoes were essential. Consequently my time was relatively slow. I looked up my brief personal record of runs for this time last year and my times showed little difference to today when course conditions were similar.

Most of my running chums went to Wimpole Estate parkrun for their 100th anniversary. Ms Alive and Running and I were due to go but family circumstances dictated otherwise.

Must sign up for Janathon (when I undertake to run and blog every day throughout January). This is very manageable if the runs are not too long and I don’t spend too long trying to be clever writing this blog. And the gods are willing to support me with drinks of ambrosia along the way. And the water nymphs along the River Cam don’t try to delay me as I run by. And the sun shines.

Mandy Rice-Davies (who has just died of lung cancer, aged 70), Christine Keeler and Stephen Ward, were central figures in the notorious Profumo Affair in 1963. They were stitched up by the British Establishment and class system. Still a very interesting and informative example of how powerful vested interests protect themselves. http://gu.com/p/44bqc

 

Aliveandrunning December 13 2014

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How lucky am I to come across this magazine in Cambridge precisely at the point my family were getting jittery at the prospect of running out of tattoo options for  Christmas. Now we are spoilt for choice! There are so many illustrations to choose from, there is little chance of duplication.

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What is it with men and ridiculously big fish? Why don’t we see women proudly displaying their over sized catches? Various explanations spring to mind. Nevertheless, WH Smith’s magazine shelves remain a source of high amusement and wonderment. Possibly I should avert my eyes from the sections where I have no interest in the subject. I may be fascinated by the imagery or the idea but I could be susceptible to being drawn into that particular world. It would be so easy to become a heavily tattooed angler (fresh or sea water?) and find myself on a front page, smiling smugly, holding a monster from the deep.

The running world drew me in over 30 years ago. It was like being sucked into a whirlpool and down into the central funnel (for the purposes of this imagery, the central funnel would be the running club I joined 3 years ago). I’m now a sad case, running parkrun every Saturday and many of the proliferating 1ok races and some of the ample number of half marathons. Running chum talk about running, pace, times, injuries and technology. It’s all a bit bewildering but I’ll carry on eating the cake, drinking the coffee and secretly dream of holding a giant fish.

Cambridge parkrun today! Very cold (for me) although I dressed for the weather. Some people are still in shorts and technical short sleeve tops despite the -1c or -2c temperature. It was both icy and muddy but my trusty trail shoes coped well. I’m not running consistently at present so my times are slower. Today I had the 25 minute pacer breathing down my neck and bellowing motivational encouragement to everyone around him. He had the audacity to overtake me and then I had the fear of being beaten by him. All at once, my attitude changed and I felt quite relaxed tucking myself in behind. Towards the end, I overtook him and managed to get in front by 15 seconds. What did I learn? I may have an ambivalence to pacers!

BBC Radio 4 podcasts. Who in their right mind wouldn’t listen to them? Thinking Aloud with Laurie Taylor discussed payday loan companies and an economist interviewee spoke about the availability of very cheap finance to the companies, the absence of of any kind of oversight or appropriate financial regulation and the highly profitable business model which is dependent upon multiple loans at hugely inflated interest. In effect the government subsidises the payday loan  companies and enables them to make huge profits at the expense of the poorest of people. Just as it pays huge subsidies to many of the previously nationalised companies, now in private hands and apparently run so much more efficiently and profitably. As if!

Another two part programme well worth listening to is Becoming Myself : Gender Identity. Last week, Transmen. This week, Transwomen. It’s about gender dysphoria and the work of the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic. Thank God we live in the twenty first century, and in this culture, to have this kind of understanding and empathy. I’m sure we’ll show as much sympathy for poor people eventually.

Aliveandrunning December 6 2014

DSC_0829  Look what I’ve got! Don’t get distracted by the pretentious pile of reading matter or the plate of iconic Brussels sprouts or the original 1949 Rupert annual or the porridge in the cornflakes bowl. No, I’m referring to the SAD {seasonal affective disorder) light box which is therapeutically emitting its 10,000 lux power onto my visage. Will sitting in front of this light box alleviate the mood shredding effect of the dank, grey cloud blanketed  days of the UK winter? Will it send me high as a kite? Time will reveal the truth. This is a candid, unrehearsed snap of the third day. I’m using this basking time to reacquaint myself with Rupert Bear and his chums because I’m considering rejoining the Friends of Rupert Society (currently adults only at the moment: the junior section is suspended). It’s a top notch organisation that even plebs can subscribe to (although, understandably, they are limited to 1.7% of the membership}. So clearly all are welcome!

I’m back to running more consistently but not as speedy as before. Cambridge parkrun today and my slowest for a long time. It was very cold (for me) at around -2c or -3c. I was well wrapped up with long sleeve top, heavier duty jacket, trackster bottoms and gloves but I didn’t warm up to the point of feeling that the cold wasn’t an issue. I think this is caused by the aspirin I take (note to self : request placebo aspirin from GP). Only 20 seconds outside last week’s muddy course so not too bad really. Afterwards Ms Alive and Running and I had a tasty cup of coffee with chums in the cafe and rounded off an enjoyable running focussed morning.

Milton, Cambridge Tesco is only a stone’s throw from the parkrun course and we ventured in, risking existential angst, to transact purchases vital to keeping body and mind in harmony. I always cast a superior eye over the magazine and newspaper shelves and my gaze fell upon this –

WP_20141205_003Of course it’s very easy to poke fun at this sort of thing and at the people who read them and get vicarious pleasure from immersing themselves in the antics of celebrities lives. Compared with this ridiculousness, my interest in Rupert is sublime. Bloggers of the world, you may ask me any Rupert Bear related questions! Go for it!

 

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