Cambridge half marathon next Sunday

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Not the most flattering picture of me running towards the finish line at Cambridge parkrun recently. But, on the positive side it does show me ahead of my arch rival Eric (in red). We are both running below par at the moment. I haven’t got a good excuse but Eric has. I hope he regains his previous level of running fitness and I hope I can keep up with him.

Part of my problem is I’m running less and going to the gym more. My all round fitness has probably increased but at the cost of running speed. Not that this matters, of course. Speed is a false god ect,etc. Nevermind, I should be okay for the half marathon although my long runs peaked several weeks ago. I’m also booked for the Swavesey 5 miler later this month, the Cambourne 10k in April and Wings for Life in May (starts off in central Cambridge and the idea is to outrun a celebrity in a car). This was very enjoyable last year. Did around 7000 take part? Very nicely organised.

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Oh dear! I seem to have taken up clay modelling. These are a couple of basic prototypes which are part finished. I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot like this and hopefully with more finesse. Interestingly, it has prompted a newfound fascination with wire (the armature within) and wood textures (for the base).

I blame Kevin Spacey and the House of Cards series for Trump and his self serving, manpulative and fascist policies. We’re quietly working our way through th 50+ episodes on Netflix and there’s a fifth series starting in May. Kevin Spacey is excellent as the dangerous snake who becomes President and given that the series aired years before Trump was elected, there are some very eery parallels.  He’s currently (Kevin) spending billions on creating jobs to ensure popularity and has excluded critical elements of the press from attending White House briefings. I’m certain Trump has devoured this series and has adopted Spacey’s President Frank Underwood as a positive role model. God help America!

As I write, the House of Lords has just defeated the government over the rights of EU citizens. They’ve voted in favour of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit. Wonderful. Unfortunately, it’s likely that the nasty Tories will be able to get a reversal at a later point. Arch nasty Tory Lord Norman Tebbit voted with his nasty party, of course and in his little Lord’s speech rhetorically asked why everyone was getting worked up over “foreigners.” This attitude sums up Tories in a nutshell!

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Drabness with knobs on – beyond dreigh!

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Extremely dull weekend. Grey blanket cloud, drizzle, sleet, occasional cutting winds, temperatures around zero. The poor light affects my mood so even more reason to go running.

I ran around 7.5 miles this morning. From where I live it’s  3 miles to the river Cam and I ran about 4.5 miles along the river path. Loads of runners out, mostly training for the Cambridge half marathon. After the A14 flyover a dozen or so university rowing eights were on the Cam with all their support personnel. They looked cold! I think there’s a lot of hanging around. I suppressed an urge to advise them to retire to their refectories or libraries and have a game of darts in the warm. Instead I wove a path between oars and the coachs et al and sprinted on into the gloom, my bravado unacknowledged. 25 minutes later, I met up with my own support team (Lorna) who picked me up at the Green Dragon pub. This run was an outward journey only. Oh yes, and a first tryout for my new shoes. Loads of standing water and mud on the path. They felt very good.

Yesterday the conditions were very muddy at Cambridge parkrun and trail shoes were essential. Again, very overcast and cold. I wore suitable kit to combat the weather but it was still uphill work. And that’s saying something on a totally flat course.

The pic at the top shows the Shard tower and to the right the giant chimney stack of the Tate Modern gallery. The rectangular building on the right is a recent extension, Switch House and you can see the outside viewing level just below the top. This viewing level attracted much criticism from the residents of multi million pound flats who were overlooked by the gawping proletariat determined to enjoy all aspects of the 360 degree panarama.

I have some limited sympathy. Some of the apartments  have visible blinds. But I also assume that buying such transparently open accommodation fits in with their comfort zone which includes living in a goldfish bowl. I didn’t actually see anyone moving inside or much evidence of clutter. Or books. That’s outrageous.

You can access the sandy foreshore  of the Thames when the tide is out ( not recommended when the tide is coming in). To walk along the beach feels exciting and remote and very different despite being within a few metres of the madding crowd.

Back to the Tate. We saw The Radical Eye exhibition of photograhy including Man Ray and later this month or next, we’ll see the David Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain. In May, the Alberto Giacometti retrospective opens, he of the magical elongated pointy men (and women) figures.

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By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46682587

In my mid teens, I wandered around London on Saturdays and often visited Giacometti’s sculptures at the original Tate (now Tate Britain). I still find them beautiful, mystical and mesmorising (other adjectives are available).

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                                                             Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1268495

Mr Giacometti moving his stuff around while munching a ticket.

The Church of England has received substantial criticism from 14 retired bishops over failure to provide leadership concerning gay relationships. It’s expected that the general assembly synod will approve a recent report from bishops in post which upholds the traditional teaching that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. The church insists that gay clergy must be celibate and clergy are forbidden from conducting same sex marriage services. An open letter rebukes the former bishops’ successors for marginalising the views of LGBT members of the church.

It’s these kinds of beliefs and and thinking that reveal the wilful ignorance and lack of compassion and humanity of organised, traditional religion. It doesn’t recognise healthy sexuality as a fluid spectrum or as a biological imperative. Far better to rely on a dodgy set of scriptures for guidance. God help the LGBT community.

And finally, the Tory goverment can’t help reverting to type. The nasty party abandons it’s commitment to unaccompanied refugee and migrant minors. Such a good idea to let them fend for themselves. I read a comment that the tabloids relinquished their support for the policy after pictures of teenagers benefiting from this programme were published last year appearing to show some of them as looking like young men. So it’s justified, then!

 

My mother living the wildlife!

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My mother at Christmas. I can’t say she wore this giraffe mask for the entire festive period but the motivation wasn’t lacking. I clearly see where my genetically driven urge to be daft originates!

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January sunshine on Jesus Green. And heart warming to see the wild life enjoying the lovely weather on the river Cam.

Last week I ran two 9 milers which is probably enough preparation for the Cambridge half marathon in March and the next one in 2018. I went to the gym once and did Cambridge parkrun yesterday. The conditions were similar to the week before. Dry and cold. The field was 540 and it took 30 volunteers to put it on. Icy puddles were a considerable hazard on some parts of the narrow path and small stretches needed to be coned off. By one churned up muddy/icy patch in the centre of the running line yesterday, a volunteer stood continuously calling out for people to run around him to avoid catastrophe in the slippery gloop.

It’s a big responsibility to minimise the risk to a large number of runners in limited space in such conditions and cancellation of the run is a practical option. As far as I am aware it all went off very successfully on both consecutive parkruns. Very nicely managed.

Trump continues to behave beyond the normal reaches of parody (and by the way, it’s only a couple of days into the new administration). Apart from his stream of consciousness, I’m not-going-to-allow-anything-to inhibit-me-because-I can-easily-contradict-myself-tomorrow utterances, he has a fascinating range of facial mannerisms and hand gestures. He’s trying to convey sincererity, straight no nonsense talking, charm, flattery, personal recognition of the underdog’s predicament and personal one-to-one communication. He’s the genuine article (not). Try and catch the footage of Trump talking about his last, apparently triumphant, meeting with the CIA.

 

 

Autumnal running and America on the brink

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Photo courtesy of John Wilderspin

Cambridge parkrun on November 5th. Chilly so I wore two running tops and tracksters. The following day I ran the  Bonfire Burn 10k at Histon. Four years ago this race took place in the worst weather I had ever run in. It was very cold, raining and windy. The race was delayed and I was underdressed. I couldn’t get comfortably warm until two thirds of the race was completed and I seriously considered abandoning it half way through. So yesterday, with rain forecast and low temperatures, I took no chances. Two running tops and a heavy duty cycling jacket, super efficient gloves, tracksters and a hat in a sidepocket just in case. Toasty warm before I started, I marvelled at the large numbers of men in shorts and singlets shiveringing the wind. Of course the sun came out immediately, the wind died down, the temperature went up and no rain materialised. It proved to be a lovely day for running in the Autumn sun in shorts and short sleeved top! No matter, I don’t mind running hot, either in winter or summer and the Bonfire Burn weather is always hard to predict. Better hot than cold!

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Post run amble to Milton Country Park cafe for coffee. Nicely coordinated with our colours, aren’t we. This is no coincidence, of course. We spend an hour before parkrun frantically Skyping until we get it just right and everyone is in agreement with our kit. It’s not easy being a runner!

OMG! It’s the horror of the American election. Please let sanity prevail. The spectacle of millions of Americans voting for a not so thinly disguised fascist who openly insults, abuses, belittles or intimidates those opposed to his beliefs or approach is truly disturbing. Trump’s politics demonstrate, not so much that you can fool most of the people most of the time but rather by demonising groups or individuals and overtly pandering to the dispossessed and economically left behind, you can easily incite their capacity for cruelty, absolute self interest and collective denial. So, despite camera recorded appalling behaviour and views over a long period of time, Trump’s supporters continue to instance his ability to speak plainly, take on vested interests and make America great again. Tonight, in one of his last speeches, the billionaire Trump asserted he was the champion of the working classes. This reminded me of the Tories and their Labour speak out doing the Labour Party in their concern for the working man. Trump appeals to the credulous and those lacking empathy, who want to rise again at the expense of others. Please American voters, don’t let him become 45th President of the United States of America.

 

Janathon Day 9 We’re gonna be famous for 15 seconds!

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A very enjoyable Cambridge parkrun this morning. We had a record 504 runners and BBC Look East came along and filmed the whole proceedings. This picture shows our mate Kerry (who ran his 100th today) being interviewed by Jonathan Park. Kerry’s standing by a supply of cakes and a photo montage of Kerry centred pictures. Just out of shot is a couple of hundred drooling runners being held back by volunteers and gagging to devour the confectionery.

The run was very muddy, as anticipated, but the weather held. No rain and surprisingly mild. The camera man and interviewer Jonathan (who also ran) were very friendly and to blended in comfortably with everyone. They appeared to take possibly ninety minutes of film which might be edited down to a few minute or less. We’ll know on Monday evening when it’s scheduled to air. Hopefully it won’t feature me running with my mouth open and looking as if I’m about to collapse (my default appearance).

We tend to mark 50th, 100th and 250th runs as well as significant parkrun dates, and birthdays, with cakes at Cambridge. We also tend to take a lot of photos. Are we narcissistic? Obviously! Do the majority of other parkruns do this? Hopefully!

After the run we queued in the cafe and then enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee to further reward ourselves in good company. Next week, we’re off to Wimpole parkrun (cancelled today because of water logging)to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. For more of the same.

Perusing my wood pulp hard copy edition of that middle class, bleeding heart liberal, wooly, comfortable, arm chair lefty Guardian newspaper, I came across  an article :

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/08/church-of-england-fears-talks-on-gay-rights-could-end-global-anglican-communion

It discusses the high degree of likelihood of continuing fundamental disagreement in the world wide Anglican communion over gay rights and same sex marriage. As a humanist, I can only continue to marvel at the intrinsic lack of humanity, wilful ignorance and vicious, self serving prejudice in an organisation whose mission statement has something to say about love, tolerance, inclusion and diversity. And there you have it! It doesn’t say that sexuality is on a spectrum, varies within that spectrum for many of us and is often a biological imperative. So centuries old prejudices and sexual fears and anxieties are maintained and justified supernaturally. The church, with the clear conscience of the self righteous, can condemn and preside over the persecution of anyone outside of their definition of God approved sexuality. I think it would be more useful to return to the old, less cruel practice of estimating the number of angels who could stand on the head of a pin!

Sermon over.

I think these summit delegates would benefit from going for a 5k run before they begin to pontificate.

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.

 

100th parkrun celebration. Runners not dressing down!

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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.

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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.