I Battle Very Wild Animals……..and Win!

my bottom in the polytunnel

Why am I in this undignified position quite unsuited to the running dynamo/Greek god reputation that others have bestowed upon me? I’m looking for a bird which found its way into my polytunnel and couldn’t get out. The quest to free the bird was a grade one challenge because I planted the tomatoes and sprouting broccoli much too close together. As a result its turned into an almost inpenetrable jungle. Conclusion : bird successfully flushed out to freedom and I got greater insight into what its like to be a young tomato growing up in near darkness.

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“Spending too long in the polytunnel….seeds in the wrong place” said my mother. Thanks, mum! I’m only striking a new mindfulness pose as part of my preparation for Brandon country parkrun. We did a bit of parkrun tourism because the venue for Cambridge, Milton countrypark, is undergoing a restoration of its paths.

Brandon is grass and trail with some mild ascents and woodland paths studded with tree roots. A lovely two lap course and a very good cafe for coffee and food. We had drinks and something to eat with both old and new friends and I scored more socialability points. I also had a chat with an 80 year old+ runner who usually runs at Cambridge. I saw him come in and I was concerned that he was obviously struggling in the heat. However his daughter was very attentive and he soon recovered his balance. How marvellous is that, to be able to continue running into your eighties on a regular basis!

I’m running a bit more at the moment, in fact, five times in the last six days. I did an 11k, a 5k and 2 miles x 3. Periodically, I’m attracted to running on a daily basis and this seems to fit in better with commitments. A default 2 mile jog only takes 18 minutes and can reasonably be accommodated even if the rest of the day is full.

Polytunnel wildlife update : three further birds and a couple of butterflies escorted off the premises. Stop press! Wren made a quick exit when I turned up.

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Gratuitous picture of typical Daily Express good news health headline. Not such good news for refugees, unfortunately!

 

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Mass protest, a run and a new hero

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No parkrun for us last Saturday. We went down to London and took part in the anti Brexit march from Park Lane to Parliament Square. It’s always impressive when tens of thousands turn out on principle for a cause that doesn’t include hatred or fear of specific groups. British membership of the EUmay be a lost cause but the run up to the referendum revealed many ugly perspectives -xenophobia, bigotry, utter stupidity, credulousness, easy susceptibility to right wing opinion and media, licence to abuse and scapegoat particular groups and hostility to change. I could go on. Consequently, I’m left with an awareness that large sections of the population think and act very differently from me and hold opinions and values diametrically opposed to my own. Oh dear! What can one do? Go for a run, I suppose!

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The view from Westminster bridge, up river, featuring a pile of box buildings and a cylinder like high rise. If you look carefully, you can spot a few trees. Obviously architects won cart loads of awards. The scale of modern design can be very impressive, particularly in a setting on a wide river but its got no soul and no real substance. It is just a jumble of conventional shapes, configued to suggest they occupy a hill and disconnected from its surroundings. What I do enjoy is modern buildings cheek to cheek with old buildings, modern architecture next to little historic alleyways. Like in Blade Runner.

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Me amongst the women. We had just completed a 10k trail run. I’m wearing the tee shirt from the finisher’s goody bag having flung off my canary yellow top. It was warm and sunny and the colour yellow attracted hundreds of little flying pollen beetles to settle on me and fly around my head. I’ve made this mistake before and I’ll probably make it again. I ran to about 90% capacity (my new normal) and felt more comfortable with this level of exertion. A lovely run with some lovely people.

Kenneth Clarke, Conservative “big beast” and my current hero of the day. He was caught on a live Sky microphone making unguarded comments about fellow evil Tories vying for leadership of the party and instant Prime Ministership. He described Gove as “wild” and capable of starting wars with three countries, another contender Andrea Leadsum, who supported Brexit, as a secret remainer and Theresa May, present Home Secretary and favorite to win as “a bloody difficult woman.” Hilarious!

Running in Romford, Rowing and Referendum. We are sent reeling in Brexit Land

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A bit of parkrun tourism last Saturday. We went to Raphael parkrun in  Romford, just beyond the outer reaches of East London. We met up with our friends who live relatively locally and are involved in the organisation of parkrun. And a lovely run it was, too, around a local authority maintained park within easy walking distance of Romford market, where we had breakfast in a Wetherspoon’s pub. We like Wetherspoons. They’ve got nearly a 1000 pubs in the UK and most are reconverted from old cinemas, banks and other old pubs.

I think Romford is typical Brexit territory and sure enough, we saw a Leave the EU car and van cavalcade wending its way through the streets. They want their country back. They want to drastically curb immigration. They want to be in control of sovereinty and decide our own laws. They frighten me. Please let us Remain!

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Cambridge Bumps time a couple of weeks ago. The Bumps comprise of college rowing teams competing on the river Cam. On the last day, a Saturday, they set off together, spaced at intervals of possibly 100 metres and attempt to catch the boat in front by “bumping” into them ie having physical contact. The race for both boats ends at this point. There are a number of races during the day and alternate female and male races. It’s great fun, quite exciting at times, a spectacle to behold, very British and not social class neutral.

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I ran a 10k Hoohaah at Hatfield Forest, Essex on Sunday. I didn’t go all out but I still put some effort into it. Very enjoyable and had coffee with good friends after the race.

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My mate talks to a banana!

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I’ve told Mike before that talking to a banana does his street cred no good at all, even a fast one. I informed him there was a Doyenne Du Comice pear and an Egremont Russet apple in the vicinity and a stem of asparagus was doing some warm up exercises but he insisted on chatting to a common banana. I don’t even know whether  he was fair trade!

This occasion was the second Hoohaah 10k of the season at Wimpole Estate. The weather was lovely, the course was excellent and loads of our friends and acquaintances were taking part. Unfortunately, I picked up a silly injury at Cambridge parkrun yesterday. Milton country park, where it’s held, is in the process of laying a new path leading to the finish straight and I trod on a sharp stone which went between the gap in the thick part of the tread. It felt like it had pierced the sole but after exclaiming “Oh bother” I soldiered on. Cut to today, despite my sole feeling bruised, I thought my metatarsals had escaped injury. Until around 8k  I felt fine with only a little foot discomfort but thereafter it quickly got very painful and I suffered the ignominy of being forced to walk/limp to the finish. To make matters worse, the banana came in 5th out of 750!

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Here I am, face etched with pain, just about to limp over the finish line. Ripping off my sock expecting to find a highly visual injury with which to impress my friends, I found healthy looking, unblemished skin. Is there no justice?

This series of runs, so far, has raised over £6000 for The MindEd Trust, a mental health charity which focusses on the prevention of mental illness in young people and early intervention strategies for  those experiencing trauma. It has been set to address the woefully inadequate mental health support for young people.

Parkrun etiquette. It’s so easy to impress fellow runners. First tip : if you are a fast runner, consistently start at the back and pass slower runners at speed, particularly when the path is congested. Second tip : pal up with another runner and chat loudly in a normal voice while others are struggling around you. To enhance this behaviour, overtake at the same time. Third tip : bemoan your time to others who have done 5-15 minutes slower to you.

Cambridge parkrun has a record attendance of 534 and yesterday the field was just over 500. It’s getting very busy.

 

A hot weekend of running. I felt like an upmarket crisp.

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I didn’t run for nine days because of a minor back injury then ran three races this weekend. Actually I thought it was a back problem but after a further chat with myself I reached the conclusion that it was a hip problem after all. Anyway the rest seemed to have done the trick because I didn’t experience any difficulties after a total of around 23k.

The first pic shows me doing parkrun in my new 250 top. I was just able to beat my mate Eric immediately in front of me but came nowhere near Margaret (leading and eventually beating me by 2 minutes). Is there no justice?

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After parkrun, I whizzed over to another village and did 7k fun run with my chums in the picture. I whizzed so quickly I was able to buy a load of plants from the horticulture society plant stall and pick them up after the race. It was moderately hot, around 24-24c. I don’t mind running in these temperatures and much prefer it to running below 5c.

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The following day I ran in the Wings for Life event, sponsored by Red Bull, in aid of spinal cord research and treatment. It started in Cambridge on Parker’s Piece and the route potentially ran for 100k. The idea was to run as far as you could and outrun the catcher car, driven by David Coulthard, which sets off at a steady pace 30 minutes after the last runner had crossed the start line. When cruel David catches up with you, your electronic chip is deactivated and you stop running. Your race is over and buses take you back to Cambridge. Steve Way was top runner with 63k covered. I managed just under 14k, Lorna did 7.63k. It was a pretty hot day (up to 26-27 in the fairly constant sun) and I stopped three times to drink. A fleet of buses returned us back to Cambridge. About 2500 took part and it’s scheduled to take place in Cambridge again next year.

Contrary to my expectations, the race was very well organised and successful. There was plenty of free Red Bull to drink including at the actual drink stations on route but I was too frightened to try it! You can’t beat plain water for most occasions, can you?

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More fine marathon runners. Respect!

CAUTION : very slippery

 

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Icworth House, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk and the venue for the first Hoohaah 10k of the year. Beautiful setting and a lovely trail course (in the main) BUT VERY MUDDY.

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In fact there were hundreds and hundreds of metres of mud and easily qualified as the most muddy race I have ever taken part in. To enter the restaurant/cafe, shopping emporium and second hand bookshop, one had to don these blue plastic over bootees! One didn’t look very cool.

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Fair enough. I wasn’t impressed by their bookshop, however. Not a patch on Wimpole Hall’s and I didn’t buy anything. Highly unusual, highly irregular but a memorable experience thanks to the blue bootees.

Still, the race was very enjoyable and later we had coffee at an outside cafe with our chums.

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I found myself inadvertently sitting on the orange side and consequently ruined the symmetry.

Tuesday was running club and we did a “country fartlek” from the University of Cambridge Athletics Club to Grantchester Meadows, along the Cam.

Today, we ran Cambridge parkrun. Cold but a great deal dryer than last week. I couldn’t catch any rivals. I’ll have to choose new and slower rivals.

Tomorrow, it’s the London Marathon. Spectating, not running. It’s not easy devising a training regime for marathon spectating. I’ll know tomorrow when it’s all over.

 

 

It’s all about me, again!

Cambourne 10k, a few miles out of Cambridge. Grass, soft paths, some hard surfaces but not much. Several long, gentle inclines and descents. Mainly countryside. I didn’t do it last year. Did do it in the previous two years. Today was 5 seconds slower than 2014 and 38 seconds slower than 2014. So I’m a failure and in bits? Hardly, it was a good run for me. The weather was sunny, temperature around 10c and warm enough for me not to have to wear a jacket and long tracksters. I enjoyed this race.

About 850 ran it and there were an awful lot of faces I knew or recognised from the club, parkrun and other races over the years.

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Here’s me munching on a post race goody bag snack and holding on to Lorna to make sure she doesn’t run away. Good friend Mike looks straight at the camera. He came in approximately 5 minutes faster than me! Surely he must be taking a performance enhancing drug? There were actually officials wearing hi viz bibs bearing the word ADJUDICATOR running in the race and one cruised effortlessly past me. What’s all that about? To pull over people running too fast, that’s what.

Watched a recorded BBC programme, How to Stay Young tonight. The second part is broadcast on BBC1 on Thursday, April 11th. Well worth watching despite being a little scary. There are now a number of tests and research findings which give a more accurate indication of future health and longevity. One was very simple. Crossing your legs and then sitting down on the floor without the use of your hands and then rising to your feet, again without the aid of your hands. You scored 10 if you could successfully do this as described and lost points if you used an elbow, hand or even wobbled excessively. I couldn’t do it. Not only did I go down with a thump and nearly injured my coccyx but I was nowhere near to getting up unaided. Oh dear! I wonder if performance enhancing drugs would help.