Alive and Running February 28 2015

300px-Stanley_Green,_Oxford_Street,_1977 en.wikipedia

This is Stanley Green who regularly patrolled Oxford Street, London between 1968 and up to 1993 when he died. As a teenager wandering around London on Saturdays, I probably came across this man a couple of dozen times (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Green). I was reminded of this quintessential English eccentric by three people I met over the last few days who unexpectedly engaged me in conversation. Unlike Stanley, whom my teenage self found unsettling. I can now sustain whole conversations with people who make me marvel, with whom I have very little in common, who are on a substantially different wavelength but are interesting, have integrity and an openness. It doesn’t take much effort on my behalf because I invariably like them and enjoy their brief company. At the same time I’m aware how difficult and lonely it can be for people who don’t easily conform to conventional social norms. Am I over thinking this? Can’t help it, readers! I take most people seriously most of the time until they demonstrate this is not a sensible thing to do. And most the people I can’t take seriously, do conform to social norms in their interactions. So bring on eccentricity, I say, but not too much of it all in one go.

Wimpole Estate parkrun today. The weather in my village was relatively mild but when we arrived at Wimpole it was much colder and the wind was cutting.The light was poor and if I was more forward thinking, I would have employed someone with a SAD lamp strapped to their back to run directly in front of me. It was also very muddy and several people required to be hoisted out of vicious swamps by the emergency services. Anyway, I was one of a number of survivors who managed to stagger back to the superior National Trust cafe where I indulged myself with a fruit scone, butter and jam and a lovely cup of coffee. I kept good company with friends and met or observed parkrun royalty who were visiting from Headquarters.

Only eight days before Cambridge half marathon which most of my family and running friends are doing. There will be none of the stupidity of last year when I failed to drink during the race, and after finishing, which resulted in dehydration, an inability to walk and a nice trip in a Landrover to the medical tent. How magical water is! It didn’t take too long to recover but I won’t repeat the mistake.

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Alive and Running February 23 2015

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And so to Londinium last Friday. This picture was taken in Foyles on their new site on Charing Cross Road. As my daughter Shanti commented, it’s like Borders used to be before they imploded.

Is anyone familiar with the old Foyles and their particular way of doing business? You took the book(s) to a counter without a till, a receipt was given to you with details of book(s) and price, you toddled off to someone in a booth, paid your money, your receipt was stamped and you took it back to the counter where your book(s) were crying their eyes out because they felt so lonely and abandoned. The pay booths were often a good way from the counter where you left them so you might have to traipse (relatively) long distances. Fittingly, Foyles was the setting for my only episode of book rage around 35 years ago. I had already undergone their payment rituals when I noticed I’d been overcharged. I went back to the first counter (without a till) and then returned to the payment booth for a refund, despite showing signs of exhaustion. The cashier who had served me had changed and had gone to the top floor along with her money. I would have to find her to obtain my refund. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find her, the red mist came over me and burly security men suddenly materialised displaying an appropriately burly attitude. Readers, I got my refund but it was a messy business. See Foyles in Wikipedia for a fuller description of this quirky, exasperating, labyrinthine vast shop in it’s prime. I miss it as I do Borders.

What’s happening on the running front? A very muddy Cambridge parkrun on Saturday morning with a slow time to match but I will be improving once the weather is kinder to me. On Sunday, it was Cambridge junior parkrun and it was good to see the first lady come first over the line. I was official photographer and took around 250 pics. 139 children took part in muddy conditions (they run part of the adult parkrun course) and a good time was had by all, thanks to the volunteers and supportive parents.

Today was my last long run before the Cambridge half in just under 2 weeks. I did 11.6 miles and it felt fine. It didn’t rain as previously forecast but there was a strong, bitter wind blowing that frequently slowed my pace. I’ll probably go out with the club tomorrow evening and have a rest day on Wednesday.

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DSC_0571 Thanks be to the Greek gods there are still some wonderful book sellers around. These four are in Cecil Court or Tottenham Court Road. You’ll be able to get any book you desire through these shops but a deep pocket is essential. It’s not Poundland although a good proportion of these fine books will have originally been under that price or not much over.

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Cecil Court still has (possibly) eight or nine bookshops offering fine or first editions, and they are generally much better lit nowadays giving the impression of cosiness rather than the gloom of a single low watt night light. They also appear to be open for business rather than closed to a snooping public. In the past, they seemed motivated to appear unwelcoming.

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Finally, here’s Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Frith Street, Soho.

We had a lovely day simply walking around London, from Euston Road, down Tottenham Court Road, into Soho and China Town. I took a load of pics and could have taken a million more.

 

Alive and Running February 18 2015

WP_20150215_002Disaster on the porridge front! I usually cook it on the hob in a saucepan except when I am pushed for time. Then the microwave comes in handy. The instructions are very clear concerning amount of milk to porridge and microwave time. So what happened? I’ve ruled out human error so that leaves the microwave machine itself independently deciding to exceed its remit. The situation could have been worse as in The Magic Porridge Pot (Ladybird) when an unauthorised user starts the pot producing porridge  but doesn’t know the magical word to stop it. Consequently, the cottage and then the whole village is  engulfed, lava like, in porridge. It’s rather extreme but who’s to say it couldn’t happen.

This wasn’t the only shock I had today. A marauding gang of limpets, the ones with the vicious, extra strength teeth gave chase to me as I ran along the river Cam footpath. Ah ha, you might say, these gastropods live in saline water and wouldn’t be in a fresh water river. Well, these were obviously an advance guard and thinking outside of the box. If they’re quick to adapt, we’ll all be at risk. Anyway, I managed to outrun them but an angler wasn’t so lucky.

Nevertheless, I managed a run of 5.5 miles. I think I was still a bit tired from last night’s run with the club. We did 4.5 mins running at between 5 and 10k race pace with 1.5 mins jog recovery. I think I like standing still recovery best! I enjoyed it despite being hard work. I’ll rest for the next two days and then do parkrun on Saturday. On Sunday or Monday I’ll do my last long run of 11 or 12 miles before the Cambridge half. Hopefully the limpet threat will have proved to be a damp squib and we’ll all be sleeping easier.

Alive and Running February 16 2015

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Cambridge junior parkrun yesterday morning. They’re off, just over a hundred of them, running in muddy conditions and loving it. I volunteered as timer but this changed to photographer (or one of them).

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Seems to be rather a lot of adults running with their offspring and some of them are checking their watches. Good job it’s not competitive, isn’t it? You can clearly see how enjoyable it is for the children and they are constantly cheered around the course.

10366205_869057729799568_7495588904252193199_n On Saturday we went down to East Londinium and did Valentines Park parkrun in Valentines Park on Valentines Day for their 4th anniversary. Follow? I’m standing next to Joe who is marginally taller, marginally younger and marginally faster than me. You could say I’m living on the margins! We met up with some old work pals and friends from Cambridge, ran the race, had coffee in the large park cafe and then walked to a Wetherspoons pub in Ilford for a brunch. The food was surprisingly good and inexpensive.

We liked Valentines parkrun. Gill (not in the picture) also runs there. She is the sister of my Cambridge ex running rival, Mike and coincidentally someone I vaguely knew at work when I lived in East London (and had yet to come across Mike). Gill is also known to three of my children who also run sporadically at Valentines.

It’s Cambridge half marathon in 3 weeks. I’m back to full fitness but not running speedily. This is due to –

1. Being slightly overweight.

2. The cold weather.

3. Inconsistent running.

4. Taking my cardiac medication at different times before the run (possibly).

However on the longer runs I’m finding it easier. Yesterday I did 11.25 miles  comfortably and didn’t feel tired afterwards. As I loped along I thought how lucky I am to be able run such a distance, run regularly and take part in races despite having had a heart attack four and a half years ago. Since I was fit before my cardiac “event”, I regained my fitness levels relatively quickly. Of course I was highly motivated, my family were completely supportive and in Cambridge, the cardiac rehabilitation service was excellent and I had received treatment very quickly. But I was surprised that the take up rate for rehabilitation was only around 44-46%. Apparently this is regarded as a high. It consisted of a series of specific talks and physical rehab in the hospital gym conducted by cardiac rehab nurses, a sports scientist, dieticians and others over a period of several months. I found it extremely helpful. Why wouldn’t you take it up unless you had your head in the sand! Ah…there’s the answer.

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                                                                   Cambridge in the summer. Please bring it on…..quickly.

 

Aliveandrunning February 12 2015 The Gloom, the Gloom!

WP_20150211_001 Very poor light levels in Cambridge yesterday. It seemed to be continuous  dusk ! I sat in front of the SAD lamp for a time and decided to brave the gloom. I felt like a hobbit in the dark murkiness of Mordor.But despite worrying about being fixed by the Eye of Sauron, I went out for a 10 mile run.

This Cambridge college eight was stationary and a coach was instructing them from the footpath as I ran past. I also passed a lone female angler, a very unusual sight. On my return journey, a man was holding the fishing rod  and the woman was standing behind him. They were both staring into the water and nothing was happening. Note to self : if I weaken and have angling type thoughts, squash them immediately.

I met five or six runners along the river path, all men, and no-one was particularly friendly. Two were talking and ignored me and another avoided eye contact deliberately. I condemn the former (unreservedly) but eye contact can be very difficult for some people. In the interest of fairness, my own visage, when running, doesn’t always suggest I’m Mr Happy and Receptive.

Anyway, the run went well, my mood was good and according to my borrowed Garmin I expended around 1100 calories. Later on I became ravenously hungry and felt like eating around 15,000 calories, one by one. I had an overwhelming urge to eat Christmas pudding and Ms Alive and Running thought we had one lurking in a cupboard. But no, I was cruelly denied. There was an empty space where a pudding could have easily have resided but didn’t. A delicious homemade one tried to shrink into the background and failed to avoid my attention. However since it needed a horrendous number of hours to simmer in water rather than 5 minutes in the microwave, I was doubly denied. I was forced to eat a piece of cardboard smeared with strawberry jam instead.DSC_0863

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The Orchard Tea Pavilion and gardens at Grantchester along with the Rupert Brooke Museum. It doesn’t look much but it’s lovely. You can punt down from Cambridge if you’ve got the time, stamina and punting skills. Or, as we did, walk along Grantchester Meadows from Lammas Land and Newnham. I’m not making up these names!

 

Aliveandrunning February 8 2015

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Here am I making a supreme effort to shut my mouth when I’m running (or more specifically when I know a picture is being taken). As you can see the energy expended has furrowed my forehead and made my hair sick up. I’m not sure whether or not it’s an attractive look. Perhaps I’m trying too hard and less is more. Clearly it’s a work in progress.

I’m at Wimpole parkrun and I’m dressed for Arctic conditions. The mild frost and occasional cutting winds didn’t make it excessively cold  for me but I’m aware how much easier and relaxed I feel  running in much warmer weather. My ex arch rival came in 3 minutes faster than me which reflects his increase in performance (or use of performance enhancing drugs). Looking at my times on this course 2 years ago, I was surprised to see that I’m running it about the same time currently.

No run today. Instead we walked along the river from Cambridge to Grantchester via Grantchester Meadows and had tea, coffee and a fruit scone  with strawberry jam at the Orchard Tea Pavillon, originally brought into public notice by poet Rupert Brookes and his chums. Surprisingly, it was warm enough to sit outside in the deckchairs in the eponymous orchard. Quintessentially Cambridge, shabby not chic, still looks down at heel but still something wonderful about it.

Aliveandrunning February 5 2015

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Another light snow covering in my village this morning. We weren’t cut off from the rest of the country but someone could have suffered a seriously wet bottom had they sat on this bench.

I considered going for a run this afternoon but decided against it. I did, however, go for a 9.2 mile run yesterday and it went well. Might do a short 2 miles tomorrow and then we’ll do Wimpole Estate parkrun on Saturday. Didn’t see many people out and about for the 9 miler. It was cold and overcast but no more than typical British weather for this time of the year.

My therapeutic gardening project is gathering momentum at last. I’ve completed the online planning application and I’m sending off the paper application forms for a charitable bank account tomorrow. The constitution is in place and I’m now thinking about funding, insurance and physically getting one of the donated polytunnels to the field. I’ve had the offer of another very generous donation from the same household as my first generous donation. So things seem to be moving on nicely.

IMG_20150203_133217230 This heron was a bit fed up when I jogged past him. He was waiting for a lift in the station carpark but no-one had turned up. At least I think he’s a heron.