400 parkruns and a lot of long straw

Cottage getting a rethatch

I ran my first Cambridge parkrun in February 2010, six months after a heart attack and now I’ve passed the 400 mark. Two other running chums who are both in their late 60s and have had heart attacks are still running. Moral of the story? Stay fit and prosper after a cardiac event. Unfortunately I saw many people attending cardiac rehab who were overweight, didn’t do any exercise and regarded their heart disease as a considerable handicap. At that point, only just over 4 in 10 were taking up the offer of cardiac rehab and the takeup was lower in other areas. Oh dear! I don’t know if rehab uptake has improved much.

Cambridge half marathon in under two weeks. I’m trying to do a long run of 12 miles every week and , by and large, I’ve managed it. It takes some effort and focus but I feel so much better afterward, a sort of good, healthy tiredness.

Finished

I just read that the British teenager who absconded to to the Islamic State group in Syria when she was 15 (she is now aged 19 and has just given birth to her third child), has now had her UK citizenship revoked. She is currently in a Syrian refugee camp and wants to return to the UK. This is a complicated issue on a number of fronts but it is very disappointing that the Tory Home Secretary has placated the credulous and knee jerk nitwits of the Tory electorate who are unable to objectively evaluate any complicated issue. Compare and contrast with Tony Blair who was determined to go to war with George Bush on the flimsiest of pretences, shared responsiblity for tens of thousands of deaths and destabilised whole regions.

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The difference between 5k and 15k

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Wings for Life, Cambridge. A couple of  thousand people took part. You stop running when David Coulthard, the F1 racing driver catches you up in a car driving at a set speed. I managed 18.3k so at the point this less than flattering photo was taken, I still had another 3k to run.

Actually the camera does lie. I didn’t feel too bad although not as fresh as the woman behind me. The interesting thing is that since I joined a gym before last Chrismas I’ve felt fitter but I’m running slower. Even more interesting I feel I’m running faster despite what my stopwatch says. Mind over matter. That’s good news, really. It suggests that I might be highly suscepible to placebo medication which is gaining increasing respect and credibility. Do I need to take bisoprolol, a beta blocker, for my heart disease? A recent report in the Guardian highlighted a study that purported to show that for the vast majority of people on bisoprolol, there is no benefit (with the exception of those diagnosed with heart failure). I think I’ll have a chat with my GP. Looking forward tomtaking placebos.

God help us on General Election day! Please let fairness and consideration for others win over self interest and rapacity as practised by the evil Tories. American friends, please impeach your out of control President. Please shut down his twitter account immediately.

Cambridge Holi and Cambourne 10k

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Cambridge Holi Festival earlier in the month.

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The Holi is the  Hindu Festival of Colour and a celebration of the arrival of Spring. Cambridge students assemble on Queen’s backs and throw paint at each other. Great fun and enjoyable to watch. I was a bit worried about them breathing in the clouds of powder paint but this didn’t appear to be an issue. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t up to much but the rain just managed to hold off for most of the time.

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Last weekend, I did Cambridge parkrun on Saturday and Cambourne 10k on Sunday. Cambourne is a new town, 9 miles to the west of Cambridge and the race is part organised by Cambridge and Coleridge Athletics Club. And very nicely organised it was, too. The weather was perfect and the course was gently undulating (although some of the inclines did go on a bit). I was roughly 100 seconds slower than last year and I was happy with that.

It occurred to me (again) that I seem to know quite a lot of male runners with serious health problems, mainly in their 60s.Tumours, heart disease (heart attacks, heart block and arrythmias}and a spinal bleed. I’m also in this group and we’ve all got one thing in common. We are all still running! A couple of weeks ago I had a chat with a club runner from Newmarket. He’s currently waiting for a hip replacement and expecting to run again in a year’s time when he’ll be in the 85-89 age category for parkrun. Hip hip hooray!

Spring on the way! I’ve got the evidence.

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My garden gnome is napping not hibernating. They’re all coming up. Snowdrops, daffodils, aconites and crocus. Please don’t split hairs by mentioning they are winter flowering. The wise gardener can see and hear the gears of Spring aligning (I’ve no idea what this means but it’s a nice image).img_20170102_111339900

These daffodils are on the way despite zero centigrade. Last years bizarre weather saw them flowering before Christmas.img_20170102_111829571

A crocus bowl. These are dear little flowers.

So, I think I’ve proved beyond doubt that winter is on the way out. Actually, around the Cambridge area I’ve found the cold more manageable this year. Since my heart attack seven years ago, I’m much more sensitive to cold weather and when I’m running in temperatures of less than 6C I never see anyone wearing more kit than me. Presumably this is a side effect of taking aspirin.

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Here’s me in blue attempting to take a bite out of the runner’s shoulder in front of me. This pic is courtesy of John Wilderspin who is a regular photographer at Cambridge parkrun. I am trying to affect a relaxed, this-is-no- effort expression. Instead, I look maniacal. Obviously a work in progress.  I should have worn gloves. My hands remained freezing throughout the race.

I haven’t been running very frequently over the last two months but 2017  will see me rev it up (new commitment to use vernacular). On New Year’s Eve, I did parkrun at 9am and then drove to a 10k just outside of Ely which started at 11am. On New Year’s Day, I passed on doing another 5k parkrun in Huntingdon, about 30 minutes drive away but Cambridge put on a second parkrun which I ran at 10.30am. The intention was to do Huntingdon as well but I felt too tired and I always give precedence to Cambridge. I was also surprised that my legs felt achey. It shouldn’t be surprising because I put effort into the runs and I’m under trained.

How am I doing at the gym? Well, I seem to be gaining upper body strength at the expense of running speed. Since going to the gym I’ve consistently got slower at parkrun although I’m feeling better physically. Is this a desired result? No! I’m hoping to go from goat to gazelle pretty quickly.

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A very significant event occurred on December 29th. My eldest daughter  Shanti married Ben in South London and a really wonderful day it was, too. I took this pic in an ante room with Shanti and her two sisters, Sophie and Isobelle who were her brides maids. Proud dad!

Janathon Day 28 The future? Possibly less running

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I had to go into Cambridge this morning and I decided to do a second Janthaon walking day. It may be the cold weather, it may be listening to medics speaking about the risks of running excessively (Trust Me, I’m a Doctor BBC 2 yesterday, with the excellent Michael Mosley) or it may be I’m a little tired. Unfortunately for me, there’s a current body of opinion which asserts that after a certain level of physical exercise, you may be jeopardising your health by stressing your heart and damaging your circulatory system.

I recovered very well from my heart attack six years ago and I still feel I could run as long and as far as I want. But I don’t think medical opinion would support that approach. In future, I’ll continue to focus on parkrun and probably do fewer 10k races and perhaps just one or two half marathons at a slower pace. And more walking

The Tory government stance, and particularly Cameron’s pronouncements, on very conditional requirements for accepting lone children caught up in the migrant/refugee crisis, is sickening. Clearly, Cameron wants to keep them at arms length and despite his ever so rational explanations about the sensible Tory approach, it reeks of an intrinsic absence of empathy and compassion. Goodwill and sensitivity towards vulnerable children, who have no family to care for them and who are at terrible risk, should be a no brainer, even for the Tories. Their current policy reveals the emotional deadness within.

Janathon Day 7 More gloomy light

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Heavy rain this morning and squally winds this afternoon.The quality of the light was poor all day After dark, the wind and rain eased off and I took the opportunity to use my new Petzl head torch. It’s a leap of faith if you can’t see exactly where you are placing your feet at night but the head torch provides sufficient strong light to illuminate a wide angle of the path. That means you can run more confidently. I don’t worry about running on a poorly lit pavement but a good torch makes for a more relaxing outing. Distance about 3.4 miles. Saw one other runner with a head light.

I subscribe to Heart Matters, the British Heart Foundation magazine which is free. https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine. It’s very informative, easy to read, discusses all aspects of heart disease and treatment and is full of positive and inspiring stories. This month it features explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who had a heart attack in 2003 and had to be resuscitated from several cardiac arrests. Following bypass surgery, three months later he ran seven marathons in seven days on all seven continents. In 2005, he climbed Everest and got within 300 metres of the summit before chest pains stopped him going to the top. According to his surgeon, Professor Angelini, who raised no objection to these endeavours, “his heart has recovered ; there was no damage.” Professor Angelini did advise him his heart rate should not rise much above 130 beats per minute.

Fiennes went on to successfully climb Everest on his third attempt in 2008. He is now aged 71. Last year he completed the Marathon De Sables, an extremely demanding  251k  race across the Sahara desert.

The article seems to be a puff for super hero Fiennes whose cardiac arrests, bypass surgery and heart disease appear not to have had any impact on his ability to undergo extremes of physical endurance. No mention of medication although NICE guidelines seem to put everyone on Ramipril, bisoprolol, aspirin and statins following a heart attack. Ranulph, why are you different? Is it because you are a knight of the realm and strong blue blood courses through your veins? I’ll be contacting Heart Matters and HRM Queen Elizabeth over this.

 

 

Into 2016 with 3 parkruns in 2 days

 

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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.

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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.

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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.