My Cambridge half marathon -sabotaged by a cheese cake!

IMG-20160228-WA0006From the left my son Dan, family friend Jemma (both ran) daughter Isobelle, Ben and daughter Shanti. I am conspicuous because of my absence. Where am I? Lying in a sick bed, in a darkened room, at home, having been laid low the night before by a rogue cheese cake. Only myself and son Nick ate this vicious dessert, bought and defrosted that very morning and both of us were laid low. The other six people eating with us didn’t have any and didn’t have any ill effects. Woe is me! (Note to self : get a grip, it’s only a run, better luck next year).

Dan got a PB, running around 3 minutes faster than last year and Jemma got under the time she was predicting for herself. The father/son rivalry race failed to take place because of my food poisoning but I grudgingly admit I probably couldn’t improve to the extent of making up the 25 minutes I would need to improve by to beat him. Of course next year is a different matter.

Overall the race was a success. The weather was cold but bright. The only substantial sour note was two male runners in their 30’s and 40’s had cardiac arrests just before the finish line. Help was quick in coming and one was immediately assisted by a paramedic who had just finished the race. Both are in Addenbrookes Hospital. See local paper Cambridge News for reports of the half marathon and some idiotic, uncharitable comments and some sensible observations.

Still, parkrun time is gradually improving again although I haven’t regained form from last October.




“Cambridge half marathon almost imminent,” he blubbed tautologically



In two full days and two bits of days, the Cambridge half marathon will happen (or ‘appen, depending on your accent). Am I ready? Ask any quarter serious runner and stereotypically you’ll get a similar response – inadequate preparation centred around lack of training, particularly mileage. The usual culprits are family and work commitments, diminished motivation due to poor weather, cold weather, excessive wind, dark nights, colds, flu, injuries (cue runners taking it in turns to describe their dodgy calves, Achilles, ham strings, quads, black toe nails, sore bits, weird knee aches and pains in the butt). If they haven’t pulled out, the traditional response is to confirm they’ll take it easy and hope they finish the race.

So, am I ready? No! (see reasons above) I’ll just take it at a gentle pace etc etc. In fact I’ve deliberately done fewer miles than intended because I think less is more! I’m taking it very easy this week but I’ll still do parkrun the day before.


Family wise, it’s just myself and son Dan running this year. I suppose I will finally have to accept he will finish before I do. The facts unfortunately support this prediction. His last local parkrun place was 5th out of 247 and mine was 174th out of 478.I know there’s only a slight discrepancy but it’s time to hand my crown over to him. He’ll run off with it!

Cambridge half marathon a fortnight away, walking along the cam and those evil Tories again.


A cold, sunny Sunday in Cambridge yesterday. Plenty of eights on the river powered by the gilded youth, loads of runners and cyclists to knock you flying, hordes of couples mooning  around (St. Valentine’s Day) and shoals of tourists shimmying from one photogenic setting to another (it can be such uphill work getting people to believe you’ve actually visited somewhere unless you are able to show evidence of yourself in a snap with relevant backdrop).

I’m a creature of habit when I go into Cambridge. I always go into WH Smith to look at the magazines and usually buy one or two, I often go into Heffers bookshop or Waterstones, walk around the market square and visit the second hand book stall and take photos on a particular bridge over the Cam. Out of preference, I like to have a nice coffee and a tuna and cucumber baguette in the marvelously anonymous Eat cafe and possibly wander around John Lewis, a rather civilised department store. I like to trip through the extensive cosmetics area in a vain attempt to identify any of the sales operatives who have abstained from caking themselves in their own products. They are always immaculately turned out and attractive but wearing no or minimal makeup doesn’t appear to be an option. Are they contractually obliged to over do it?


These grand and beautiful trees are on Jesus Green. How lucky are we?

Cambridge half marathon is only two weeks away. I haven’t done the training I would like to do because other things have got in the way. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that despite not having put the mileage in, my overall level of fitness enables me to step up quickly to do 13 miles. It’s speed that suffers, of course, but if speed is your objective you are following a false god! The very shallowness of the concept of speed! Does anyone really care about this over valued aspect of running? I rather like these fall back arguments when you’re getting slower and slower.

Anyway, I did 13 miles today and 9 miles a week ago plus a 5 miler and a parkrun since the beginning of the month. I might do two more parkruns and a couple of long runs up to 10 miles and that will be that.

A government task force has published a report, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which is very critical of the state of Engand’s mental health services, click here to read Observer article Today’s Guardian headline is NHS vows to transform mental health services  with extra £1bn a year. The report talks about a sharp increase in the number of suicides, estimates three quarters of people with a psychiatric condition do not receive help and documents that children are being sent all over the country to an available bed that may be hundreds of miles from their families.

The Tories and the coalition government have presided over savage cuts to bed availability, support services, staffing levels and overall funding of mental health facilities. Cameron in his ever so reasonable, we have learnt lessons, we must all pull together and defeat stigma, senior Tory style is presenting the spending announcement as an innovation and Tory triumph. David Cameron and his mates are duplicitous, fraudulent, own class supporting, unfeeling,  and lacking in basic humanity. They appeal to the voters who share their values – the cruel, the selfish, the self centred. May God help decent and vulnerable people.



February 6 2016 Back in the running!


The last time I ran was on January 26th until today, when I went for an evening jog of two miles. I managed to do 26 days of running during Janathon and 5 days of walking. My cold was persistent and brought my energy levels down. I went for a couple of late night two mile walks after Janathon but that was it! The 2 mile run tonight felt fine and my pace has not changed from previously. The challenge now is to train up for Cambridge half marathon in three weeks time. As long as I can run consistently I will only need  to run a variety of 2 milers, 5-6 milers, a couple of 10 milers and perhaps one 13 milers and that should be it. I’ll probably do them randomly or possibly take advice from the Wise Old Owl who flies beside me at night and offers sage counsel.

Final Janathon 2016 total : 95 miles including 10 miles of walking. Last year I did 104 miles and I recorded the 2014 Janathon at 95 miles, the identical mileage to this year. The secret of my successful increase in mileage last year? Brussels sprouts and plenty of them.

An unusual occurrence today. I missed parkrun due to a family occasion. We went to an auction and very interesting it was, too. We stayed about an hour and sat around an enormous modern table (board room size) on pink suede chairs (everyone sits on the various chairs which are parts of lots} Our particular lot was originally £14,000 (with a sideboard) and went for about £3,500 including VAT. No obvious good taste was discerned.