Alive and Running May 1 2015 London Marathon 2015

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The London Marathon 2015 on Sunday April 26. I was there as a participant (a participating spectator), enduring the cold and ogling the thousands of runners lucky enough to obtain an entry.

We journeyed down early from Cambridge and were drinking coffee in a Canary Wharf coffee shop by 9 am. This enabled us to see the whole race beginning with the racing wheelchairs, then the runners with a disability, the elite women. the elite men, the fast club runners, the huge number of regular and occasional runners, the walk and jog runners and finally those men and women bravely attempting the distance, who would probably make it eventually but were really struggling.

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Brendan Foster on BBC TV commented that the London Marathon is unusual for having fancy dress runners. Marathons outside the UK don’t seem to attract them. Thank God I live here then. Fancy dress is a good corrective to the intense seriousness of the faster folk  who would probably trample you to death and run on if you stumbled in their path. The elite runners are fascinating for the few seconds they remain in view and the runners with a disability are clearly triumphing over considerable adversity. We like to see them but as they run past they appear completely detached and out of sympathy with anyone else apart from themselves. I found myself  not particularly interested in them or their speed on this occasion, with the exception of Paula Radcliffe. She wasn’t running with the elite pack (which I knew) and she was on top of me (metaphorically speaking) before I clocked her. I got a couple of shots in from the side, grinning, so I was happy.

We were opposite the elite runners drink station. The tables only hold a few well spaced bottles which the runners easily recognise as their own as they approach. It was comical to see a succession of marshals and volunteers pick up Paula’s bottle to be photographed holding it. It was disappointing not to snap them taking a swig for the camera!

We managed to see a number of people we knew but the bulk of the runners I knew from the club seemed to be running around three and a half hours, give or take 20 minutes. Unfortunately, at Canary Wharf, between miles 18 and 19, at the time they would have been passing us, we went for coffee and a bite to eat. We really needed a break from the cold and inactivity. Who are really the heroes? The marathon runners or the the brave spectators? The latter, obviously.

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 We stayed late into the afternoon and saw the official end of the marathon display car drive past which announced that roads would now be open and the course closed. Immediately behind followed a succession of lorries and tractors picking up signs and barriers, spraying painted markers on the road with a solvent and collecting rubbish. And weaving in and out of this maelstrom of vehicles, dozens of runners were still attempting to finish the course. The crowds were gone, the marshals had left their posts, the roads up ahead would be open to traffic and I presume direction sign posts would be removed. They still had between 7 and 8 miles to go! A few people gave them encouragement to which they enthusiastically responded but others appeared exhausted. It was very poignant.

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These are the strongest and bravest people. They have peak endurance and emotional strength far greater than the runners who trained up and worried about their times. My monies on them!

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Alive and Running April 19 2015

WP_20150419_015 New tactics for parkrun. It’s a good example of thinking outside of the box. I was musing (metaphorically) about scything down the competition and then I thought  why not in actuality! So when I saw this scythe at a local garage sale, I knew the universe was giving me something I needed. I bought it for a song ( Let It Be, and I threw in a shortened version of American Pie as an encore). I still have to figure out where to place myself on the start line but that’s not likely to be a problem since I think there’ll be plenty of space around me wherever I choose to stand (particularly if I’m wearing something black and hooded.

Anyway, back to a pre-scythe parkrun at Wimpole Estate yesterday. It went OK. Not too cold, a reasonable time and some unexpected sun. There was a frost at 7.45 am when I walked Rupert the dalmatian but by 9 am it had warmed up sufficiently to run without a jacket. A good cup of coffee and a fruit scone with strawberry jam in the National Trust restaurant/cafe with Ms Alive and Running and our running chums completed a very enjoyable morning.

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In the afternoon we went into Cambridge for a birthday meal. The sun remained out and the scene on the Cam was barely distinguishable from the Venetian Grand Canal.

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And so, today, to Ickworth House, which is a rotunda, to run a Hoohaar 10k on the estate. I think all races should be held on National Trust properties. Great facilities (lavatories instead of toilets, lovely large, airy cafes, wonderful grounds) and entry to the right class of person. The plebs are turned away at the Gate House and advised to go and run in a public park. Only joking! The hoi polloi are guaranteed entry everywhere.

The race went well and I knocked off 90 seconds from last year. There is an evil hill at 9k which slowed me down considerably but I’m not complaining (much). It’s a beautiful course, mainly trail, and undulating. Unfortunately one of our running friends, who moved to Yorkshire and came down for this race, fell and injured her knee. Unable to continue, she had to hobble back because of a lack of mobile signal and inadequate contingency arrangements.

And speaking of class based entertainment, one can do no better than listen to BBC Radio 4’s Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair, a 2013 production of Francis Durbridge’s detective drama at 11.30 am on Fridays. Paul Temple, his wife , Steve (female) and the top policemen have cut glass English accents and weld power effortlessly with confidence and panache. Gentle drama, gentle comedy and so redolent of a 30’s and 40’s class divided Britain.

Alive and Running April 11 2015

DSC_0632And so to Londinium last Thursday, when we left the safety, and intellectual inferno, of Cambridge, breaching the capital’s defences, and finding ourselves at Kings Cross station, bewildered and disorientated. Sodom and Gomorrah or what? We witnessed people smoking on the street, crossing the road at undesignated points and publicly eating the fastest of foods.  I felt like Christian negotiating immorality in the Pilgrim’s Progress. We sought sanctuary in the British Library (pictured above and inspired by Brutalist power station architecture) and later ran for cover to the nearby Wellcome Institute to see the Forensics : The Anatomy of Crime and the Institute of Sexology exhibitions. Neither were lurid or explicit, just interesting. It took us quite a long time to get along the Euston Road but eventually we made it to Covent Garden (via Tavistock and Queen Squares) where most of the world was congregating. I think Dr Johnson said *He who is tired of McDonalds is tired of hamburgers”. I would simply adapt this famous phrase and suggest that he/she who is tired of London is tired of life but I’m no Dr Johnson.

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Parkrun at Cambridge today, my 225th. Just 25 more and I receive the golden running top. Thereafter, rose petals will be strewn in my path as I run and the gods will favour me with fair winds a fleet foot.

The going was much firmer today and I didn’t need trail shoes. The temperature was around 8-9c, not cold but I still wore tracksters with a top and no jacket. I ran my fastest time this year so I was quite content with that. Next weekend I’ll do parkrun on Saturday and then a 10k race on Sunday which is part of the Hoohaar series.

Last club night on Tuesday, my road running group is still fast and we again ran a pattern of varying paces. I was able to keep in sinc with everyone else because there were three whistles blown at each change of pace and I was able to hear it despite being one of the slowest.

The Tories have gone up a notch in my estimation. They have clearly demonstrated their appreciation of irony by continuing to state that the NHS is safe with them. They’ve just enhanced the comic potential by pledging to spend an extra £8 billion on the NHS in a bid to prove how much they care. Does anyone, bar the most credulous, believe this crap?

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I may be way behind with getting this small charity off the ground but, thanks to Len, the sign’s completed and suspended gracefully between the two silver birches. It’s a start!

 

Alive and Running April 3 2015

 

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I’m really pleased with this sign! My father-in-law Len created it for me and I think he’s done a wonderful job. It needs to be varnished to protect it from the weather and then I’ll be able to hang it between two silver birch trees which are situated at the entrance to the field where the project is sited. I think it looks very professional and welcoming. It augurs well for the gardening environment and atmosphere I want to develop. Thanks, Len.

Decided against going for a club run on Tuesday. The large variety of pace changes and duration seemed complicated and I thought it unlikely I would hear the whistle at my running speed. Instead I went for a regular run of 5.25 miles and incorporated a couple of sprints. This felt fine. We are doing long 2.7 mile loops with the club next week and this will suit me better but I still feel the pendulum is swinging towards the faster legs. In a couple of years, superannuated runners like myself will be escorted from the club by burly security men. A few years after that, elderly runners will be hunted down and eliminated to prevent embarrassing episodes occurring at a future date. I’m not known for exaggerating.

Alternatively, rather than do road running I could opt for track training since the club is based at the University of Cambridge Athletics. This attracts the fastest and slower runners and seems to work for both groups.

Cambridge parkrun today. For some reason my brain convinced me that it was dry enough not to wear trail shoes whereas the reality was rather different. Nevertheless, I had a good run despite the mud.

Can’t blog any more tonight. I’m watching The Imitation Game having finished watching the end of Harvey Milk an hour before. A very, very sad end to Harvey and Alan Turing.