Muddiest ever Cambridge parkrun

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The entire Cambridge parkrun course was replicated in this short section. I took this pic on my warm up route and met a runner who warned me I would need a boat to proceed further. Many of the puddles occupied the entire width of the path so avoidance wasn’t an option. The rain held off but temperatures were low (for me) at around 2-4c. Despite the weather, 359 splashed their way round and it really was good fun.

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Here’s a good picture of Lorna (in the middle) with running (and chatting) chums. Looks completely normal.

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Here’s Lorna at the end of the race and about to receive her number token. Something has happened in the time these two pics were taken and I’ve yet to receive an adequate explanation. How long was she running while munching her glove. This certainly isn’t normal!

Tomorrow I’m doing a 10k race at the Icworth Estate, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. This promises to be another mud bath which raises the possibility that we mud splattered runners won’t be admitted to their very nice cafe/restaurant. or even worse, I’ll be turned away from their second hand bookshop.

Me : Do you realise I’m a National Trust member and therefore entitled to benefit from the full panoply of facilities and privileges which are accorded to my subscription?

National Trust official : On your bike, sunshine, and come back when you’ve had a bath and smell a lot sweeter!

Thanks to Stoke Gifford Parish Council, parkrun is national news following their decision to charge parkrun or parkrunners for using the open spaces of Little Stoke park as a course. They’ve been roundly condemned for this move because it contradicts the founding principles of parkrun and constitutes a degradation the philosophy of a free, inclusive, volunteer organised, run for all. There are nearly 400 UK parkruns and around 850 worldwide. Additionally there are about 90 Junior UK parkruns. Stoke Gifford Parish Council are very naughty, very foolish, very short sighted and probably Tory dominated.

 

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Alive and Running March 29 2015

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Wimpole Estate parkrun yesterday which explains the appearance of these three Penguins I rescued on the 30p table which sits outside the second hand book shop, in the open but under the over hanging court yard roof. Any further description would require a little drawing. Suffice it to say they should be kept in a warm but well ventilated room not partially exposed to the elements. I also rescued this orchid (Phalaenopsis) earlier in the week. The garden centre was selling it for £3 because part of it had rotted and the leaves were sparse and damaged. It may or may not survive but it’s a magnificent thing despite being poorly. It looks like a bookish plant so it’ll be in its element.

I wasn’t displeased with my parkrun time. The grass course was mainly dry and firm and the temperature reached 10-11c which meant I had to take my running jacket off during the race. I did this by executing a series of elegant manoeuvres and rakishly tying it around my waist. I walked up the short but vicious hill and avoided getting pranged on the horns of the long haired cattle the National Trust has imported to intimidate runners. I managed to nod my appreciation or actually articulate the words “thank you” to the encouraging marshals including the one who said “well done, you’re still looking fresh.” Clearly this was the opinion of someone whose judgement in these matters was extremely suspect. I ignored the urge to stop and remonstrate with him. I make looking as if I’m about to collapse into an art form. I can’t have people randomly commenting I look “fresh”.

Carol Morley is the director of a new film called The Falling which is out in the UK at the end of April. She has a fascination with mass psychogenic illness (mass hysteria) and her film tells the story of a fainting epidemic. The article in the Observer http://bit.ly/1IIfFsX is well worth reading.

Cambridge junior parkrun this morning. Unfortunately the loss of an hour with the clocks going forward combined with the rain more than cut numbers in half. Nevertheless, as usual, the children and adults had great time.

There had to be a down side to today. Tesco had entirely run out of Brussels sprouts. I narrowly avoided exhibiting The manager should fall on his sword!

 

Alive and Running February 23 2015

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And so to Londinium last Friday. This picture was taken in Foyles on their new site on Charing Cross Road. As my daughter Shanti commented, it’s like Borders used to be before they imploded.

Is anyone familiar with the old Foyles and their particular way of doing business? You took the book(s) to a counter without a till, a receipt was given to you with details of book(s) and price, you toddled off to someone in a booth, paid your money, your receipt was stamped and you took it back to the counter where your book(s) were crying their eyes out because they felt so lonely and abandoned. The pay booths were often a good way from the counter where you left them so you might have to traipse (relatively) long distances. Fittingly, Foyles was the setting for my only episode of book rage around 35 years ago. I had already undergone their payment rituals when I noticed I’d been overcharged. I went back to the first counter (without a till) and then returned to the payment booth for a refund, despite showing signs of exhaustion. The cashier who had served me had changed and had gone to the top floor along with her money. I would have to find her to obtain my refund. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t find her, the red mist came over me and burly security men suddenly materialised displaying an appropriately burly attitude. Readers, I got my refund but it was a messy business. See Foyles in Wikipedia for a fuller description of this quirky, exasperating, labyrinthine vast shop in it’s prime. I miss it as I do Borders.

What’s happening on the running front? A very muddy Cambridge parkrun on Saturday morning with a slow time to match but I will be improving once the weather is kinder to me. On Sunday, it was Cambridge junior parkrun and it was good to see the first lady come first over the line. I was official photographer and took around 250 pics. 139 children took part in muddy conditions (they run part of the adult parkrun course) and a good time was had by all, thanks to the volunteers and supportive parents.

Today was my last long run before the Cambridge half in just under 2 weeks. I did 11.6 miles and it felt fine. It didn’t rain as previously forecast but there was a strong, bitter wind blowing that frequently slowed my pace. I’ll probably go out with the club tomorrow evening and have a rest day on Wednesday.

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DSC_0571 Thanks be to the Greek gods there are still some wonderful book sellers around. These four are in Cecil Court or Tottenham Court Road. You’ll be able to get any book you desire through these shops but a deep pocket is essential. It’s not Poundland although a good proportion of these fine books will have originally been under that price or not much over.

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Cecil Court still has (possibly) eight or nine bookshops offering fine or first editions, and they are generally much better lit nowadays giving the impression of cosiness rather than the gloom of a single low watt night light. They also appear to be open for business rather than closed to a snooping public. In the past, they seemed motivated to appear unwelcoming.

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Finally, here’s Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Frith Street, Soho.

We had a lovely day simply walking around London, from Euston Road, down Tottenham Court Road, into Soho and China Town. I took a load of pics and could have taken a million more.

 

Alive and Running February 16 2015

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Cambridge junior parkrun yesterday morning. They’re off, just over a hundred of them, running in muddy conditions and loving it. I volunteered as timer but this changed to photographer (or one of them).

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Seems to be rather a lot of adults running with their offspring and some of them are checking their watches. Good job it’s not competitive, isn’t it? You can clearly see how enjoyable it is for the children and they are constantly cheered around the course.

10366205_869057729799568_7495588904252193199_n On Saturday we went down to East Londinium and did Valentines Park parkrun in Valentines Park on Valentines Day for their 4th anniversary. Follow? I’m standing next to Joe who is marginally taller, marginally younger and marginally faster than me. You could say I’m living on the margins! We met up with some old work pals and friends from Cambridge, ran the race, had coffee in the large park cafe and then walked to a Wetherspoons pub in Ilford for a brunch. The food was surprisingly good and inexpensive.

We liked Valentines parkrun. Gill (not in the picture) also runs there. She is the sister of my Cambridge ex running rival, Mike and coincidentally someone I vaguely knew at work when I lived in East London (and had yet to come across Mike). Gill is also known to three of my children who also run sporadically at Valentines.

It’s Cambridge half marathon in 3 weeks. I’m back to full fitness but not running speedily. This is due to –

1. Being slightly overweight.

2. The cold weather.

3. Inconsistent running.

4. Taking my cardiac medication at different times before the run (possibly).

However on the longer runs I’m finding it easier. Yesterday I did 11.25 miles  comfortably and didn’t feel tired afterwards. As I loped along I thought how lucky I am to be able run such a distance, run regularly and take part in races despite having had a heart attack four and a half years ago. Since I was fit before my cardiac “event”, I regained my fitness levels relatively quickly. Of course I was highly motivated, my family were completely supportive and in Cambridge, the cardiac rehabilitation service was excellent and I had received treatment very quickly. But I was surprised that the take up rate for rehabilitation was only around 44-46%. Apparently this is regarded as a high. It consisted of a series of specific talks and physical rehab in the hospital gym conducted by cardiac rehab nurses, a sports scientist, dieticians and others over a period of several months. I found it extremely helpful. Why wouldn’t you take it up unless you had your head in the sand! Ah…there’s the answer.

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                                                                   Cambridge in the summer. Please bring it on…..quickly.

 

Aliveandrunningt January 25 2015 Janathon Day 25

10924155_1633228066905426_6909118553104344513_o Cold and frosty this morning but Cambridge junior parkrun went ahead. Given the I’ll-stay-in bed weather, it was surprising the turnout was a record – 158! I know I’m repeating myself but it really is wonderful to see the enthusiasm and joy on the children’s faces as they run around the 2k course, particularly the youngest ones who visibly respond to encouragement. This pic somewhat contradicts that assessment, of course. These children are  older and look more competitive.It just shows how junior parkrun can cater for all ages and abilities. Photo by Chris Gent.

A non running day owing to my injury which is still limiting movement in my hip. I took Rupert for a 2 mile walk. Walking is not a problem. I was going to run 2 miles tomorrow. Perhaps it would be wiser to give running a rest for a bit longer. After yesterday’s parkrun, I felt OK. Should I go running with the club on Tuesday? (please regard this as a stream of consciousness}.

Bought New Scientist today on the basis that there were at least 3 articles I couldn’t afford not to read (I’m good at this type of rationalisation: it’s called sophistry).

1. Are shoes destroying our feet? I kept nodding off while I read this. I think the answer is no but I’ll have to read it again.

2. What’s the beef? The truth about meat and your health.

3. Risking everything – Why people lay down their lives for strangers.

Aliveandrunning January 4 2015 Janathon Day 4

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Cambridge junior parkrun this morning and the temperature was -4c. 79 children between the ages of 4-14 turned up and amazingly, no one came a cropper, despite the icy puddles. Here they are doing a group warm up.

I went for a five mile run in the afternoon, around 3 pm, when it was slightly warmer at -1c. The light was already failing but in my hi viz jacket and matching beanie I looked like a Sun God (Cambridge district) scorching a trail through the frozen Fen wasteland. I’m fairly confident running on slippery surfaces and I ran a little below my usual pace so the run was enjoyable. Unfortunately I’ve got a wrong shaped head and my beanie rides up. When I returned home, I looked less like a Sun God and more like a giant pixie with a pointy hat. No matter, the glory is mine. Another Janathon day ticked off. Remember, people of the world,  sitting is the new smoking.

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Cambridge junior parkrun photos by Chris Gent.

Aliveandrunning January 3rd 2015 Janathon Day 3

 

 

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Oh my giddy aunt! Cambridge parkrun was a complete mudfest. In fact, it was mud with stilts on! Never in the entire world history of muddy races has it been muddier. These magnificent parkrunners are wading through thick, gloopy mud up to two metres in depth. Can you believe it? No, not really. This pic was taken at one of the Spartan races in August 2014. Nevertheless, it accurately reflects today’s parkrun conditions (almost).

When it was announced there would be a 25 minute pacer for the 5k race, my expression remained unchanged but I treated myself to the equivalent of a mental snigger. As if I would require the services of a 25 minute pacer. Possibly a 21 or 22? Unfortunately, around half way, the lad with a huge 25 on his hi viz top breezed past me with his posse of followers and that was that! I was left eating non existent dust. I was moderately consoled when I looked at the results page. Most people, including the winner (nice chap) finished about 2 minutes off their best times. It was raining as well and the temperature seemed to be dropping. I didn’t really warm up despite being dressed for the weather. I collected the signage around the course after the race so, for the purposes of Janathon, I walked an extra 2k.

Cambridge junior parkrun tomorrow. The conditions will be poor with ice and/or fog predicted. Last week they ran a modified course rather than cancel it and hopefully they will be able to do so again.

A couple of New Year resolutions –

1. Look upon tabloid readers more kindly and appreciate that there is a wide gamut of perspective and opinion.

2.Eat more Brussels sprouts.

I’m struggling with the first one!