Last race of the year -Ely New Year’s Eve 10k

Here’s a recent treat fit for a running god like myself. Fish finger sandwich featuring fish fingers on fresh sourdough bread garnished with raw red onion. Yummy! Probably best to eat after a run rather than ten minutes before. Last run of the year!

Since November I’ve mainly managed to do a weekly 12 mile jog and some gym work plus parkrun. I think a long run is good for me but it’s certainly not improving parkrun times. Then again it’s winter – cold, wind, dreary light, rain and mud. I’m always slower even when I feel I’m running fast.

The numbers running at Cambridge parkrun are around 200 fewer since Coldhams Common parkrun got under way. This is good news because Milton Country Park, which hosts parkrun, was getting very congested. It’s essentially along woodland trail paths which sometimes had up to 600 galloping over them. Today we had 381 and it felt much more comfortable. Coldhams has already surpassed 300 on several occasions and has room to expand. Haven’t done it yet but will do sometime soon, I hope.

A recent UK news item highlighted the cost of hospital car parking charges in England (they are free or being phased out in Scotland and Wales) and have been described as “a tax on the sick”. It seems that a substantal number of hospitals justify the high charges by spending the windfall money on hiring extra essential staff. Another wheeze, of course, to circumvent underfunding and related to the shenanigans the hospitals are forced to get involved in when desperately try to attain government targets.

Discussing the charges at home, Lorna reminded me about the hard time she had parking at Papworth Hospital after I had a heart attack nine years ago. She rushed over, didn’t have change (pre-online app) and the reception staff said they didn’t give change. She was worried that she would get clamped and couldn’t get back to our 12 year old son. Luckily someone in the carpark supplied the right coins. As a close relative (wife) very little consideration was given to her as she waited for an hour without any information about me

Bearing in mind Papworth is a “leading heart and lung hospital” and must be receiving distressed relatives on a daily basis, this clearly demonstrated their corporate lack of concern and empathy. I don’t think things have changed much. The technology has got better but often requires you to have a smart phone and the wherewithall to use it. Additionally, the charges have mushroomed. Concerning regard for relatives and friends attending hospital urgently, I don’t know whether anything has changed. I sincerely hope so. I was very happy with the medical and nursing care at Papworth but  recognition of the needs of relatives was poor.

Hello Julie! How are you? Hope you are well. Missing your blog.

Alive and Running February 18 2015

WP_20150215_002Disaster on the porridge front! I usually cook it on the hob in a saucepan except when I am pushed for time. Then the microwave comes in handy. The instructions are very clear concerning amount of milk to porridge and microwave time. So what happened? I’ve ruled out human error so that leaves the microwave machine itself independently deciding to exceed its remit. The situation could have been worse as in The Magic Porridge Pot (Ladybird) when an unauthorised user starts the pot producing porridge  but doesn’t know the magical word to stop it. Consequently, the cottage and then the whole village is  engulfed, lava like, in porridge. It’s rather extreme but who’s to say it couldn’t happen.

This wasn’t the only shock I had today. A marauding gang of limpets, the ones with the vicious, extra strength teeth gave chase to me as I ran along the river Cam footpath. Ah ha, you might say, these gastropods live in saline water and wouldn’t be in a fresh water river. Well, these were obviously an advance guard and thinking outside of the box. If they’re quick to adapt, we’ll all be at risk. Anyway, I managed to outrun them but an angler wasn’t so lucky.

Nevertheless, I managed a run of 5.5 miles. I think I was still a bit tired from last night’s run with the club. We did 4.5 mins running at between 5 and 10k race pace with 1.5 mins jog recovery. I think I like standing still recovery best! I enjoyed it despite being hard work. I’ll rest for the next two days and then do parkrun on Saturday. On Sunday or Monday I’ll do my last long run of 11 or 12 miles before the Cambridge half. Hopefully the limpet threat will have proved to be a damp squib and we’ll all be sleeping easier.

Aliveandrunning January 2nd 2015 Janathon Day 2

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So easy to give in to narcissistic impulses with everyone taking selfies. Of course, my mobile is smart but not superlatively bright! I haven’t got a reversible lens so I had to take it via a mirror. This is the type of relaxed expression I would like to have when I’m running hard instead of looking as if I should be led gently back to a carer from whom I wandered away. Self love aside, this picture also shows off my new Endura running jacket. It’s actually a cycling jacket and heavier than its running equivalent but the wind and cold protection trump the increased weight particularly when running with the club at night. Unlike most runners I don’t get uncomfortably hot during a race and therefore I keep it on.

Today I ran just 2 miles and this distance will be my default run if not racing or training, during Janathon. The temperature in Cambridge was 8c-9c  but lower in the chill wind. There was a lot of sunshine and it felt Spring like at times. Tomorrow we’ll do Cambridge parkrun and the rain is expected to fall in buckets. It’s tough work but someone’s got to do it. Sunday brings Cambridge junior parkrun and possibly icy and foggy conditions. The 2k course may be modified again or the run may be cancelled. That would be a big disappointment to the children so fingers crossed it’ll go ahead.

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 Aaaaahhhhh………my fish pie, accompanied by Brussels sprouts to give me extra oomph for parkrun. Delicious under any circumstances.

I’m hoping to apologise soon and when I do I will apologise “unreservedly.” Spokespeople use this phrase to make amends for egregious practices in their companies, banks or services. They say it with dignity and sincerity and it’s almost convincing. It seems to head off prosecution for fraud, neglect or theft. It’s a class thing, really. It wipes the slate clean. Magically.

Aliveandrunning November 27 2014

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It was Dr Johnson, who, in the 18th century, said “He who is tired of Brussels sprouts is tired of life.” Humphrey Bogart made a reference to sprouts in the film Casablanca and Pope Francis recently gave them a mention in a private audience with the mercenary Tony Blair (along the lines of being able to accommodate celibacy but not contemplate a world without Brussels sprouts). The message is clear. Take these delightful green orbs seriously and they will repay you endlessly. Somewhere, under the salad, flat bread, olives, raw onion, broccoli and a mound of Brussels, lay pasta and turkey bolognese. I am now being repaid endlessly.

Not a lot happening on the running front. I last went out on the weekend when I did Cambridge parkrun (5k). I missed club night on Tuesday due to family commitments but I didn’t go out yesterday despite the opportunity to do so. It’s taken me a month to get over my cold and I’ve lost motivation. Oh dear! I’ll do Cambridge or Wimpole Estate parkrun next weekend and then try to get back into the running groove. The bloody miserable weather doesn’t help. I may get a SAD light and sit in front of it looking at my watch and waiting for it to cheer me up.

Not running is not a problem. My motivation will return and I’ll return to form. My level of fitness is good and won’t disappear overnight. Unless I am completely seduced by MYCOLOGY!!! Following the fungi foray I went on a few weeks ago, I am now seeing the little blighters everywhere.

WP_20141119_002 For example , I noticed these little chaps as I was about to get into the car. I had to prostrate myself on the grass to take this shot. It wasn’t a pretty sight, it wasn’t dignified but it had to be done. Not sure what they are. Might be a Shaggy Inkcap (or Lawyer’s Wig).

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I noticed this little group because they were giggling as I passed by walking Rupert the dalmatian. Probably from the Mycena family. I don’t know which one. See what I mean? With all this focus on fungi, it’s a distraction from running. Perhaps I’ll never get back in the running groove. They’ll whisper as I pass by “He used to be a running god. Now he’s Mushroom Man”. At the very least I’ll be regarded as a fun guy (geddit?).

Before privatisation, when large swathes of industry and utilities were publicly owned, the trades unions were demonised and the nationalised industries were felt to be soft, unproductive and a bottomless pit into which huge amounts of tax payers’s was thrown. Now the unions are neutered, the companies are privatised and the nasty poor are a terrible drain on our welfare system (funded by hard working taxpayers). But there is very little focus on the extensive tax breaks, incentives, subsidies and tax avoidance methods currently in situ for privatised, (previously nationalised)industries and their shareholders(funded directly out of the public purse).

The Tories and their media may bleat about Labour provoking a class war when they questioned the charitable status of privately run schools but clearly their tax concessions amount to a subsidy (or state handout) to a particular class of people. You know where you are with the Tories – well educated, cruelly self centred and very adept at scapegoating  the most vulnerable in society. Tories too soft? Vote UKIP, the BNP Lite party.

Gardening project update : no planning permission needed apparently although a polytunnel and a new shed are essential and these will need permission so I’m a bit confused. Awaiting clarification. Good news is that I will get a donated polytunnel and will be able to choose the size.

 

Alive and Running November 9 2014

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Ooohhh…..look at this! A lovely chocolate cake with a cherry filling brought to my door by Elaine, friend and benefactor of my proposed  therapeutic gardening  project. And very tasty it was, too. Yesterday, a running pal confirmed she is willing to be a trustee (contingent on what that role entails) and has gardening experience. Ms Alive and Running is putting together a website, Green Minds, and I’ll create a full photographic record of the development of the project. I should hear whether or not I require planning permission this coming week.

Cambridge parkrun was very slippery yesterday. There were at least 3 fallers who couldn’t continue (including a woman who broke her ankle). We are lucky at Cambridge because, more often than not, we have one or two medics taking part and will assist or advise if they can. I want to reassure blog readers immediately that I emerged unscathed. I was able to leap over the fallen and my running stride wasn’t seriously impaired.

My times are not back to normal but I ran better than last week and remained upright. Didn’t wear trail shoes, will next week if there’s further rain. I also did some serious, heavyweight socialising with running chums and spent 50% of my chat quotient for this month.

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Cambridge junior parkrun today. 130 children, aged 14  and under took part in the 2k run. No injuries reported and it all went very well. Weather was good. The overcast sky cleared and it warmed up. Afterwards we enjoyed a tasty cup of coffee.

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I have a new fascination – mycology, the study of fungi and their properties. Ms Alive and Running and I spent nearly two hours with a group of like minded, friendly people (including amateur mycologists) scouring Worts Meadow and adjacent  woodland for innocent, I’m-just-minding-my-own-business fungi which were promptly prised  out of the ground and into a trug for later investigation. It’s not edgy, it’s not rock and roll, it’s not as cool as Steve McQueen in The Great Escape but it was relaxing, mindful, interesting and adds a new dimension to walking in the wood with Rupert the dalmatian. Couldn’t identify the yellow fungi but other example are shaggy parasols which are edible (apparently).  I might cook some up for my arch running rivals as a treat.

Alive and Running November 3 2014

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My supper this evening featuring Brussels sprouts. I haven’t mentioned Brussels for some time but, rest assured, I eat them most days when available fresh in the shops. I’m not sure what “fresh” really means in terms of vegetables bought from Tesco. I suspect a lot of their veg is bought cheap and kept in cold storage for extended periods of time. So much of their produce looks tired. Anyway, these tasted just fine.

I ran for the first time in a week on Saturday (Cambridge parkrun) and did the Bonfire Burn 10k yesterday. I’m not fully over my cold and I wasn’t able to run as fast as I usually do. The 10k was a bit of a struggle towards the end and I was nearly 3 minutes slower than last year. It didn’t help that it was pouring with rain for the first half and I was wearing too much kit to prevent feeling cold. When the rain stopped I was very warm and felt hindered by my clothing. I spoke to the race director after I came in and tried to get the race declared null and void. My suggestion that he rearrange it for the following weekend when I expected to be fully recovered from my sneaky cold and an improvement in the weather, fell on deaf ears. Despite being nearly 50 years my junior, he said “Go home and sleep it off, son. Try again next year!”  Clearly I’ll have to seek legal redress.

My therapeutic  gardening project is  progressing slowly. I met on site with a Planning Officer last week. He will decide whether or not my proposal  requires planning permission. I don’t think it will but if it does they will assist with my application. Two good friends have declined to become  trustees of the charity I will be creating (for understandable reasons) but have pledged a donation of £500 plus some room in their greenhouse, plants and some gardening tools. They are a generous couple who give more than 10% of their income to charity, as a matter of course, without a fanfare. How many of us would do that?

Aliveandrunning October 20 2014

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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.

 

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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