Hoohaah Wimpole Estate half marathon. I survive it much better than expected!


In September I ran a half near Bournemouth and just managed to stagger across the finish line. The last couple of miles were really difficult but a month later I ran the Hoohaah Wimpole half and felt much better. Why was this? Was it due to the encouragement and support of two dragonflies accompanying me for the last three miles and constantly whispering in my ears or the applause from the water nymphs by the glistening lake? Or had I simply run more consistently and put in the training miles in the interim? Mmmm….I think I’ll go with the dragonflies!

My parkrun times are gradually improving again although I still have the impression I’m running faster than my watch shows. This is a bit disconcerting. On top of this, my running pals are all doing well and I can’t keep up with them. This is criminal! I’ll have to come up with a cunning plan.

Just over a week ago I did Cambridge Town and Gown, 10k race around the town centre. This went reasonably well but I ran it wearing a thick hoody. The weather was good for running but Midsummer Common, where we started, was swept with a bitter wind and I couldn’t stand waiting around in the cold. Of course everyone else ran in short sleeves or vests and I must have looked a little odd. No matter. I’m more able to run and feel hot rather than freeze before I start. I let my son Dan come in 13 minutes before me. Well, you have to encourage the young!

I’m having difficulty stopping constructing models at the moment. Perhaps I’ve got modelitis.





Aliveandrunning January 14 2015 Janathon Day 14

WP_20150114_003 Unlike the North the weather was sunny in Cambridge today and not excessively cold. I didn’t get out until the afternoon when it had started to cloud over but running conditions were still very good. As a result I was more motivated to run further and did 9.8 miles in all. That took me 1 hour 36 minutes 50 seconds including four stops to take pics.

Unusually I was not accosted by seductive water nymphs, and the lonely river side path bathed in sunlight gave me the perfect opportunity to try out a new running strategy which undoubtedly will catch on like wildfire. I ran backwards for 10 to 30 metres at a time interspersed with what I now call old fashioned, conventional running. I felt quite comfortable with this new style and only experienced a mild sense that possibly I might bash into someone, despite knowing there was no-one in sight. I now urge everyone to give it a go. You’ll find yourself running as a toe striker and have a good view of where you’ve run from.

The success of this revolutionary running technique spurred me on to try another unconventional method. I turned around 360 degrees as I ran. Exhilarating or what? I did this several times and it went well. I almost felt I could fly! Pushing it a bit further, I did two 360 degree turns in succession, made myself dizzy and nearly fell into the river. Back to the drawing board on that one.

I saw 7 runners while I was out, plus a gaggle of 25 walkers, kitted out, unbelievably, for walking. Why would they be walking when they could be running? Funny people.

Aliveandrunning January 12 2015 Janathon Day 12

WP_20150112_002 I managed to go for a run in daylight today. I ran to the edge of the river Cam, snapped this pic and turned for home . This part of the river is notorious for water nymphs and sirens employing their luring skills. I decided not to provoke them and turned my back on this lonely path. This 5 mile run brings my Janathon tally to around 42 miles.

Eight weeks to go for Cambridge half marathon. I’ve neglected to do long runs for the past 2-3 months and need to get back in the groove. Running along the Cam is an integral part of distance training and takes me into Cambridge. How will I deal with the nymphs/sirens threat? Ear plugs and  blindfold should do it. Keeping to the path will be easy peasy. If I feel grass under my feet, I’ll simply glide back onto the hard path.

I’m running slow at the moment, essentially because I’m 4-5 pounds over my usual running weight and still eating too much this side of Christmas. Current treat?  Rum and raisin ice cream with added sultanas and a measure of Drambuie over the top.

Aliveandrunning December 20 2014


My new Hi Viz running jacket! Actually it’s a cycling jacket. I couldn’t find a Hi Viz running top which I liked, at a reasonable price and had sufficient protection from cold and chilling wind. Very competitive people may remark that it’s on the heavy side for running but that runs the risk of upsetting me. In this eventuality, I’ll challenge them to a duel of my choosing – a contest to see who could eat the most Brussels sprouts in twenty minutes, for example. The loser would have to sit very close to a naked flame for an hour. It gives me the jitters just to think about it!

I assume it’s the blood thinning aspirin I take for heart disease that makes me so sensitive to cold. The weather, particularly winter weather, wasn’t an issue before I had my heart attack but it is now. Previously I ran almost naked in Arctic conditions. Currently I’m so upholstered, people call out”There goes the Michelin Man.”

Cambridge parkrun today. The course was muddy and trail shoes were essential. Consequently my time was relatively slow. I looked up my brief personal record of runs for this time last year and my times showed little difference to today when course conditions were similar.

Most of my running chums went to Wimpole Estate parkrun for their 100th anniversary. Ms Alive and Running and I were due to go but family circumstances dictated otherwise.

Must sign up for Janathon (when I undertake to run and blog every day throughout January). This is very manageable if the runs are not too long and I don’t spend too long trying to be clever writing this blog. And the gods are willing to support me with drinks of ambrosia along the way. And the water nymphs along the River Cam don’t try to delay me as I run by. And the sun shines.

Mandy Rice-Davies (who has just died of lung cancer, aged 70), Christine Keeler and Stephen Ward, were central figures in the notorious Profumo Affair in 1963. They were stitched up by the British Establishment and class system. Still a very interesting and informative example of how powerful vested interests protect themselves. http://gu.com/p/44bqc


Aliveandrunning September 1st 2014



Cambridge parkrun last Saturday. Ms Alive and Running  snaps me before I can sufficiently compose my features to reflect my Zen like indifference to competition combined with an acute concern on the welfare of others. This is a difficult expression to master and it’s only through a lot of practise in front of the mirror that I have achieved some success. No matter. In my head, I feel and look like Angus who is directly in front of me (in the red top), serenely and effortlessly weaving through the field, sublimely uninterested in time and placing. There was a record number running, 454, and I came in at 175.

I couldn’t attain the time I was aiming at (although, simultaneously, I had no interest in my time at all). I’ll have to employ different tactics. Next Saturday, I’m at another parkrun location, Wimpole Estate, which is hilly. My first new tactic is not over eating the night before and not eating near to sleep time. The second tactic is using the kettle bell more consistently and strengthening my core and thirdly, I’ll work on “getting into the zone” like the 100m sprinters. This might entail ignoring everyone and staring into the distance like a zombie.

Yesterday, Cambridge junior parkrun was held in warm sunshine and 94 children ran. Very enjoyable. Angus is 14 and is at the upper age limit for this event. He came in 9th and didn’t take it too seriously.

In the afternoon, I went for a long run of 13.2 miles in preparation for the Grunty Fen half marathon on September 14. I ran into Cambridge along the river Cam. This went reasonably well. The socially maladjusted anglers successfully ignored me as I ran past them. I think they scared off all the water nymphs because no aquatic half naked damsels tried to entice me. An uneventful run, at a reasonable pace with two walk/drink breaks.



My recent Amazon acquisitions. I’ll dip into them.


Aliveandrunning May 10 2014

Dobo  fellrunner.net Scarfell Pike 20134        Dobo fellrunner.net

                                                                                                                Photos courtesy of Paul Dobson (Dobo@fellrunning.net)

Fell running looks a lot of fun but where I live in Cambridgeshire, it’s as flat as a chapati (Indian flatbread for UKIP supporters who don’t get out much). We’ve got a few very minor hills which might be a few feet above sea level but nothing approaching a fell. I would have to travel to the Peak National Park, just over 2 hours drive away to encounter some real hills and further North to the Lake District and Cumbria to be spoilt for choice (I’m not even sure the Northern tribes allow soft Southerners to run up and down their hills without permission or a permit. Anyway, let’s suppose I’m free to run and the North-South divide is not held against me, I’d love to do it.

I’m currently reading Richard Askwith’s Feet in the Clouds 2004 book on fell running and also bought his recent book, Running Free. It’s enjoyable and I find it motivational. The problem I have with descriptive writing of this kind is the unremitting focus on superlative performance and shock and awe at the level these runners are performing. And, so far, it’s mainly about men – their courage, stamina, strength, devil may care attitude, seeming indifference to risk, unbelievable descent speed, affinity with the rugged terrain blah, blah. They are all legends which we mortals can never  join but only adore from afar. That’s the problem with most books on sports activities ( I am presuming this because I don’t generally read them). The focus is on the fastest and the the winners, the dramatic stories, the poignancy and the pathos. It’s not on the also rans, the runners in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and older who are still tackling the hills albeit much slower or running less distance or less demanding courses.

Cambridge parkrun (5k) today. I did it in under 24 minutes again but I thought I ran faster than my actual time. Perhaps I had earlier  disrespected the Gods and they took their revenge by manipulating the passage of time to ensure I took longer to complete the distance. Two days ago I ran a club members only 5k (with four other clubs competing) and did less well. Over 200 took part and I was hemmed in at the back resulting in a slow start. Additionally, it was an evening race and I am a morning runner by choice, a flock of black crows crossed my path and to top it all, the goddess Aphrodite whispered in my ear “This isn’t your race, Steve” just prior to the start.

After parkrun today, I rested for a couple of hours and then I went for a 13.2 mile run along the river Cam. I haven’t been for a long run for weeks. Instead I’ve been doing lots of short runs and races. I took a chance and ran 13 miles straight off and it went OK. As usual the water nymphs along the banks of the Cam tried to lure me into the water and I had to call on my reserves of willpower to resist their blandishments. They were very alluring and it was probably the fact that I was wearing Lorna’s Garmin that swayed my decision not to jump in (note to self : are Garmins waterproof or only showerproof ?).

Aliveandrunning May 5 2014

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I thought this Fen Drayton 10k was an ideal opportunity to practice my range of facial expressions.The first pic demonstrates aghast puzzlement with the physicality of prolonged exercise. Of course this still picture is unable to capture me muttering to the Greek gods, vainly pleading with them to send a favourable wind to waft me quickly to the finish line. The second image is a study in the desolate melancholy and gnawing loneliness of the long distance runner pounding the drear, mist shrouded moors, in the depths of winter, a score of miles from shelter and a warm fire. Or perhaps this is my best grumpy face. I can’t quite remember at the moment.

This was the weekend I did four races. On Saturday I ran parkrun at Cambridge (5k) and came in only 14 seconds outside of my personal best. Forsaking social intercourse, I jumped into my car and sped off immediately (I had left the engine running to save precious seconds) to an adjacent village to do another race of 4.5 miles. Yesterday I did the above 10k and today the Histon and Impington 5k. Unusually, I was pleased with all my times. I’m working on running faster but this also accompanied by a running style which seems to worry people. As soon as I passed the line yesterday, a funnel marshal asked if I needed to sit down and another one said they would get me some water. My reply? If I need to recline, it will be on the top of Mount Olympus to the first question and I’ll accept ambrosia but nothing else to the second question.

At the 5k today, I did feel more tired than usual but did OK. Unfortunately, Lorna confirmed my running gait was less than attractive and a  faster club runner pal asked if I had injured my foot during the race. He thought I was partially collapsed on the finish line. Errrr….no! I was simply making a supreme effort to outrun several chums behind me. But I do admit I’m not a pretty sight at the end of a race. I don’t seem to be able to run with my mouth shut or compose my face into an expression of serenity, even for a few seconds, when I see someone I know with a camera.

Anyway, I’m out with the club road running tomorrow evening and there’s a club run 5k on Thursday. I’ve just registered for a local new half marathon (Flaming June) on June 1st. I’ve got out of the way of longer training runs and will need to start soon. This will take me to the banks of the river Cam where I suspect those water nymphs and minor water deities will attempt to delay me, or worse, use their magical powers to ensnare me into their worlds. It’s a risky business, running!


This is my roast chicken supper last night, the fuel of super heroes. The stuff in the centre is stuffing not sausage meat. I don’t eat pork now. I kept four pigs for eighteen months. They were beautiful creatures and good communicators. They gave wise advice in the main but their running tips were rubbish.


Aliveandrunning Janathon January 30


Day 30. A very DREIGH day here in Cambridge. Raining or drizzling  throughout the daylight hours. I meant to do a long run but commitments and miserable weather combined against me. I did run 5.25 miles, a no-score draw, really (glass half empty). Or, I was busy today and the weather  was horrible but I still managed to run over 5 miles…..fantastic! (glass half full).

I ran to the river Cam and back, rather than along it for a more substantial distance. Although the run was routine, it wasn’t without incident. When I reached the river I came across a group of water nymphs laughing and chatting and obviously enjoying the rain. Some were resting on the river bank and others were half in the water (very much like the picture above, actually). I was both shocked at their presence and embarrassed at their immodesty. Flustered, I averted my gaze which highly amused them. Tarry awhile, they sang, we know you are a brave young running god and we salute you. Ye shall go from strength to strength and it is prophesied you will be the first among men in parkrun. They beckoned me to kneel and wanted to give me a chaste kiss but I felt it was too risky getting over involved with these mythical maidens. Like the News of the World reporter of old who wrote that, coming across a den of iniquity and unable to participate in the depravity due to his high moral standards, “made his excuses and left”, I, too, bid them adieu and turned on my heels.

I was in a good mood when I reached home and indulged in a bit of air guitar while listening to Boston’s More Than Just a Feeling followed by(Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Mmmm…..I might do more riverbank running. There was something  about these water nymphs I couldn’t quite put my finger on!