Into 2016 with 3 parkruns in 2 days

 

DSC_0099

Boxing day Cambridge parkrun. It’s all over and we are forced to eat rather rich brownies to celebrate Pauline’s and Linda’s joint 200th runs. I’m on the brink of falling asleep, my daughter Isobelle  has fallen asleep and my son Dan is thinking about it. Young Angus, who has just completed his 100th run, is about to puke!

We look unscathed but it was a very muddy race (sorry, I mean run. It’s important to maintain this fiction apparently). Slow times all round, thanks to the gloop but it feels good crashing through the puddles. I had a quick word with pal James, 65-69 category, who had a heart attack earlier this year. His new consultant is concerned about his low heart beat because it  fell to 36/37 per min during tests. Hitherto he was doing 5k in 20 minutes. We wondered if everyone was put on the same NICE medication guidelines for post myocardial infarction. One size fits all, it seems.

Locally, we’ve got two parkruns, 90 minutes apart, on New Year’s Day (with a bit of travelling, it’s manageable for everyone)) and our own at Cambridge the following day. We’ll be doing all three plus a New Year’s Eve 10k at Ely. This will help me get back to running fitness, hopefully.

IMG_20151228_190950260 (1)

A few books that strong armed their way into my life recently. I’m trying to read Dead Scared, a crime novel set in Cambridge but NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman has taken over. It’s essentially about the history of autism and society’s mainly poor response to the condition. Very readable and very humane. Before that, I part read  Adult Bullying. It’s not a pretty picture! I had to suppress thoughts of buying a Taser Gun (again).

We Go To the Gallery by Miriam Elia is a very clever parody of the Ladybird reading scheme. It’s hilarious although the mildly rude bits could cause offence to people who trip over themselves to be offended. That’s not fair! I accept the oldest generation might find it vulgar and in poor taste but as for the rest? Tough titties! Ladybird Books took great exception to the breach of of copyright but it didn’t stop them publishing a number of spoof copycat titles inspired by We Go To The Gallery.

IMG_20151223_123819970

Here’s one I made earlier. I do like to make a loose wreath at Christmas. It’s so mild in Eastern England this winter, the daffodils are out two months early and some roses are still in bloom. All the hellebores are in flower.

 

Advertisements

100th parkrun celebration. Runners not dressing down!

IMG_20151205_094249695

Lorna’s and Michelle’s joint 100th parkrun (Lorna in red and Michelle in multi colour tutu. Various wings were worn and a lot of talking undertaken during the run. Coffee, tea and cake in the cafe afterwards. All very enjoyable. I was surrounded by running ladeeees and had to watch my P and Qs (an English expression meaning “mind your manners”, “mind your language”, “be on your best behaviour”. It’s not easy, I can tell you! I have to suppress the urge to be ridiculous at the best of times. It’s an ongoing battle since most of the time I think that’s a legitimate response.

IMG_20151205_094726922

Cambridge parkrun was attended by a rhinoceros seen here menacing two fairies who have become detached from the magical community. No clever comment offered here. See how grown up I am?

Parkrun was a bit of a no score draw for me. I’m still 90 seconds down on my usual times and yesterday I felt tired. Today I went for a nine mile run and felt much better. I borrowed Lorna’s Garmin and clocked exactly 9 minutes a mile as an average. I wasn’t pushing hard and I felt quite relaxed. The problem running with heart disease is the medication (bisoprolol and Ramipril) acts as limiter on the amount of effort the heart can undertake. In practice the difference between running comfortably and running to capacity is rather small ie I don’t run much faster when I put in maximum effort.

The attack by a knife wielding man at Leytonstone Underground station yesterday who apparently shouted “This is for Syria” as he stabbed and assaulted a random person (presumably) and threatened others before he was Tasered and subdued by police, was a disturbing and frightening incident. The police are regarding it as a terrorist act, provisionally, but I note that BBC reporters included the possibility of his behaviour resulting from mental ill health. His physical movements and manner certainly gave that impression.

Since a high percentage of people regard themselves as citizen reporters and can easily video scenarios played out before them and share via social media, we can all enjoy the unfolding drama with detachment and  the safety of distance. Over and over again as with this incident. We can also see how bystanders, or people passing, act. This ranges from running off in terror to standing gawping or even walking over closer as if the danger was occurring on a screen. If news isn’t accompanied by explicit film or images, it loses its impact compared with news that is.Video can be repeated endlessly and shamelessly, as it was with 9/11.

A large proportion of of news presentation, these days, is devoted entirely to exploiting our emotions. It’s cheap, voyeuristic and cynical. The police themselves are complicit in this approach and freely make available video of subsequently convicted suspects being questioned. They also permit the making of sycophantic TV programmes following traffic cops and docile fly on the wall documentaries about themselves. News has been receiving a substantial make over for several years. There’s less news, it’s dumbed down and it’s more likely to be presented as emotive entertainment. We can all feel sorrowful and pretend we care.

Must leave you now. Going to watch that emotionally uplifting Nordic noir TV crime prog, The Bridge.

 

 

Aliveandrunning December 13 2014

WP_20141212_001 

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.

WP_20141212_003

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 October 20 2014

WP_20141017_008

 

A Porter cake made with Guinness and a banana cake with dates and nuts. I baked these for my 200th parkrun on Saturday at Cambridge. I’m the first Cambridge person to get to 200 and fellow runners finally had incontrovertible evidence that they had a senior running god among their number When my milestone was announced at the address by the run director, a huge cheer went up, men avoided direct eye contact out of deference and women fainted with excitement. The crowd appeared dazed and unfocussed. Luckily for them I kept my head and led them, stunned, to the start line. As soon as the air horn started the race they snapped out of it. Outrageously, 135 people reached the finish line before me thus creating a huge disrespect issue. Consequently, none of my cake passed their lips! All the more for runners who were able to persuade me they came in after position 137.

The  woodland path course was muddy in places and the going was soft. It was also surprisingly warm for October. All these factors ensured I didn’t dip below 24 minutes as I did last week. I also suspect that my forward progress was impeded by the celestial breath of a mischievous Greek god but it’s notoriously difficult to prove. Still, the cake went down well and people said kind things. Onwards and upwards to parkrun 250 when I will receive a hoodie and tee shirt and further adulation.

In the afternoon I went for a walk, with friends and others, on the National Trust Wimpole Hall Estate. Very enjoyable and it gave me an opportunity to rescue a few books languishing in the Courtyard second hand bookshop. I don’t take this level of responsibility lightly. Someone has to step up to the plate. These books were heavily traumatised and are currently undergoing debriefing. It’ll be sometime before they can sit on my bookshelf, feeling at home and relaxed.

 

WP_20141020_001

Started half marathon training yesterday. I ran for 1 hour 2 minutes in the afternoon when I thought my big bowl of porridge was sufficiently digested but my stomach still felt a bit queasy at times. St. Neots half in 4 weeks and a 10k Bonfire Burn in 2 weeks.

I’ve just sent off a request for pre-application advice for planning permission concerning my proposed therapeutic gardening project. This should result in an allocation of a named person to guide me through the process and determine whether or not I will will require planning permission. I’m arranging to visit a horticultural project in Saffron Walden (not too far from the excellent Oxfam bookshop) and I’m wading through the requirements to set up a charity. This means I will have to up my level of focus and concentration.

Could rant about the latest human rights violations perpetrated by the Catholic Church (recent small payments for abused boys attending a seminary decades ago and the cardinals watering down a more accepting text on recognising and welcoming gay people into the church). But I won’t at the moment. I’ll save it

 

 

Aliveandrunning October 12 2014

 junior parkrun 12.10.14

Record number of children  (138) at Cambridge junior parkrun today! It was chilly but dry with some sun. The weather gods clearly  favoured us! Well, that’s what I would expect after I offered a libation (Chateau Haut-Plaisance Saint-Emilion Grand Cru), extracted from Tesco’s deepest wine vaults and delivered by a uniformed courier who only spoke a dead language. He fainted when I poured it straight onto the parkrun course ground! We dragged him away before the children clocked him (don’t worry, he recovered completely). As usual, the children and everyone else involved with the race greatly enjoyed themselves. This is a quick snap of the warm up session which they followed with considerable attention and gusto.

WP_20141011_005

I haven’t been running very frequently in recent weeks but perhaps less is more. I was pleased with my parkrun time yesterday and generally I have felt less tired. This is my pal Kerry who is almost in his mid 60s and only started running 2 years ago. Amazingly his PB for parkrun (5k) is 21 minutes 40 seconds and he’s still improving. Yesterday was his 50th parkrun and he equalled his PB. It’s ridiculous. I’m going to organise an anonymous on line petition to get him banned for life on  grounds I haven’t quite decided on yet but it will be for his own good, of course.

Apart from Cambridge parkrun, my next race is the Bonfire Burn 10k in Histon on November 2nd and then the St. Neots half marathon on November 16. Following that my next half marathon will be Cambridge in March 2015. This race is always sold out quickly but somehow our seven strong family have all got a place. Yippee!

 

WP_20141009_004

Visited Saffron Walden in the week and made a beeline for my favourite Oxfam second hand bookshop. RD Lang is always thought provoking  even if you were never sympathetic towards the anti psychiatry movement in the 60s and 70s. The book on angels is very readable with lots of good pictures. Such an attractive concept, alongside the existence of God and eternal life.

 

Aliveandrunning August 24 2014

WP_20140824_002

Cambridge junior parkrun. Ms Alive and Running addresses the junior runners, parents and volunteers. The weather was unusually lovely and 70 children took part. Everything went very well. This is not a foregone conclusion. Each run requires a great deal of time, effort and organisation. Like the adult parkrun, it happens each week so it’s a sizeable commitment. Luckily there are a regular number of people who consistently volunteer to make it happen but it’s often a close run thing!

Yesterday adult parkrun happened! I came 146th out of 383. My dream is to come in 139th. I pray this is achievable and not just a crazy, self deluding dream. I dropped below 24 minutes but had to put everything into it.

Three weeks to go to the Grunty Fen half marathon. I intended to go for a 10 mile training run this afternoon but after 5 miles I felt good so I ran 3 miles further and did 13 miles in all. Today is 5 years (to the day) since I had my heart attack so it was good to mark it by running a half marathon. I ran from my medieval village to the edge of Cambridge city, which, as we all know, is packed full of brain power and some common sense. The dons try to prevent the proletariat penetrating  the city boundaries too far and usually set up road blocks staffed by 3rd year students. It’s not difficult to get past them. You just throw them a philosophical question like Why Bother? : Why Not? and it precipitates an existential quandary. They stand around thinking intensely and you walk past them Simples!

One of the problems of running a long way is that it increases your appetite.

WP_20140823_002

After eating this, a yogurt and a very sweet brownie, I ate, a little later, these cream crackers with cheese raw onion  and HP sauce.

WP_20140824_003

Well, I’ve expended over a 1000 calories running so I should listen to what my body is telling me, shouldn’t I?

Aliveandrunning April 30 2014

WP_20140430_012

Someone sent me a draft hard copy of the forthcoming UKIP general election manifesto. It’s not light comedy but you’ve got nothing to worry about if you are British, white, bigoted, racist, unkind, stupid, 100% heterosexual, xenophobic, thoroughly prejudiced, thrive on condemning others, attack minorities who are non British, like “cheeky chappies” who drink and smoke, and have a tendency to predict the end of society as we know it when the assumption is British culture is under attack from foreign forces.

I went running with the club yesterday evening and very pleasant it was too. We road run from the University Sports Track which is on the edge of Cambridge city but only a 15 minute walk to the city centre. It’s adjacent to countryside and fields and also a big new University development. We ran a couple of kilometres to a village and did 4 x 6 minutes at faster than 5k pace with 3 minute recovery times. It’s timed by blowing a whistle so the fastest among us can go further and then we run back in the direction we just came from. The slower ones get overtaken and this doesn’t matter because we are all timed by the whistle and everyone is tested no matter what your ability. There were around 25 of us and about another 35 chose to do training on the track. I always chose road running because it’s so varied and this includes running in darkness in the winter. We are a sociable crowd but it’s also OK to just run or stand alone if chatting amiably is difficult as it is for some people. I am able to chat comfortably when I want to but the conversation tends to be running dominated (race times, Garmin stats, training plans, races coming up, injuries, club news). In the past I’ve tried introduce topics of interest to me, for example UK lamp post design between 1910 and 1933 and convey my passion for lichen but it never seems to capture their attention sufficiently. Still, I’ll persevere.

I like walking around Cambridge, even when it’s packed full of tourists clogging up the small streets. They are particularly good at clogging the pavements when they move around in groups and there is a lull in their itinerary. My inner  sheepdog comes to the fore and I feel I want to run rings around them so they trot into the nearest place of interest in double quick time.

I went into John Lewis to claim my monthly free coffee and cake in their cafe. The counter was double ended and two identical queues of about 15-20 people  clutched their coupons. We all appeared to be in our 60’s. Of course some people didn’t have their coupons and had to pay with real money. Boy, did we laugh at them. What losers! Anyway, I got served just before I lost the will to live and sat down with my Americano, scone and butter in little plastic containers. Unfortunately the task of getting butter onto scone proved a challenge too far. I completely failed to break the thin plastic seal and lift it off. The corner of the container partially broke but stubbornly wouldn’t pull off. My fingernails were useless as was brute strength.Minutes of hard effort yielded no results. Sweat broke out  on my forehead as I attempted to cut the seal with the serrated knife that waited patiently to spread the butter within. I couldn’t do it. The little butter pot had defeated me and I ate the scone dry. I’m sure I heard one of the cash payers laugh cruelly at my plight. I’ve learned my lesson. Next month, when I return with May’s coupon, I’ll be carrying my Swiss Army penknife. No contest!