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.

 

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Cambridge half marathon a fortnight away, walking along the cam and those evil Tories again.

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A cold, sunny Sunday in Cambridge yesterday. Plenty of eights on the river powered by the gilded youth, loads of runners and cyclists to knock you flying, hordes of couples mooning  around (St. Valentine’s Day) and shoals of tourists shimmying from one photogenic setting to another (it can be such uphill work getting people to believe you’ve actually visited somewhere unless you are able to show evidence of yourself in a snap with relevant backdrop).

I’m a creature of habit when I go into Cambridge. I always go into WH Smith to look at the magazines and usually buy one or two, I often go into Heffers bookshop or Waterstones, walk around the market square and visit the second hand book stall and take photos on a particular bridge over the Cam. Out of preference, I like to have a nice coffee and a tuna and cucumber baguette in the marvelously anonymous Eat cafe and possibly wander around John Lewis, a rather civilised department store. I like to trip through the extensive cosmetics area in a vain attempt to identify any of the sales operatives who have abstained from caking themselves in their own products. They are always immaculately turned out and attractive but wearing no or minimal makeup doesn’t appear to be an option. Are they contractually obliged to over do it?

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These grand and beautiful trees are on Jesus Green. How lucky are we?

Cambridge half marathon is only two weeks away. I haven’t done the training I would like to do because other things have got in the way. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that despite not having put the mileage in, my overall level of fitness enables me to step up quickly to do 13 miles. It’s speed that suffers, of course, but if speed is your objective you are following a false god! The very shallowness of the concept of speed! Does anyone really care about this over valued aspect of running? I rather like these fall back arguments when you’re getting slower and slower.

Anyway, I did 13 miles today and 9 miles a week ago plus a 5 miler and a parkrun since the beginning of the month. I might do two more parkruns and a couple of long runs up to 10 miles and that will be that.

A government task force has published a report, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which is very critical of the state of Engand’s mental health services, click here to read Observer article Today’s Guardian headline is NHS vows to transform mental health services  with extra £1bn a year. The report talks about a sharp increase in the number of suicides, estimates three quarters of people with a psychiatric condition do not receive help and documents that children are being sent all over the country to an available bed that may be hundreds of miles from their families.

The Tories and the coalition government have presided over savage cuts to bed availability, support services, staffing levels and overall funding of mental health facilities. Cameron in his ever so reasonable, we have learnt lessons, we must all pull together and defeat stigma, senior Tory style is presenting the spending announcement as an innovation and Tory triumph. David Cameron and his mates are duplicitous, fraudulent, own class supporting, unfeeling,  and lacking in basic humanity. They appeal to the voters who share their values – the cruel, the selfish, the self centred. May God help decent and vulnerable people.

 

 

Janathon Day 26 Bleakness and gales

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I decided yet again not to run with the club tonight but go for a solitary long run during daylight. The sky was overcast and it was very windy. I usually love running by the river but the light was poor and there was a very strong, sustained  headwind. At times it felt like I was making little forward progress and the wind chill made me cold. As a matter of habit I run towards Cambridge (and, of course, the river Cam goes through Cambridge) but I decided to turn around and not complete the intended distance.

With the wind behind me I made better progress and decided on a footpath, which I rarely take, towards Ely, still along side the river but with open views across the fens and cultivated fields. Despite the openness, it was less windy but the dismal, grim light remained. There was nobody about and it was , bleak, bleak, bleak.

I ran up to Bottisham Lock and felt so lonely I was compelled to talk to this motorised sluice gate winding gear as I stood staring at the unyielding landscape. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t respond. I regurgitated the one joke I know. Still no response. I gave up and moved on.

Total distance : 5.76 miles

The Guardian, today, gives headline prominence to statistics obtained by the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb which reveal that deaths among mental health patients has risen by 21% over the last three years, from 1,412 to 1,713. There has also been a large increase in “serious incidents” – involving unexpected or avoidable deaths, serious harm, injury and abuse. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/jan/26/rise-mental-health-patient-deaths-nhs-struggling-to-cope

These outcomes are linked with cuts to mental health service funding and the consequent degradation of services in the community and  hospitals and the substantial reduction in hospital beds. You’ve got to be a Tory not to care!

 

I REMAIN SUBSTANTIALLY CLOBBERED. IT’S NOT MY FAULT. I BLAME THE EVIL TORY GOVERNMENT.

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Six days ago, I came a cropper during the Hoohaah Wimpole half marathon falling heavily on rubble. My left thigh took most of the impact. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again (thanks, Nat King Cole). I fell at just over  a mile in and continued running for the next 12 miles. By the evening I was hardly weight bearing on my left leg leg and couldn’t bent it at the knee.

Now it’s six days on.There’s clearly been some improvement but it’s slow. I think I’ve had an impact injury to my quadriceps (and specifically to the rectus femoris), the type that footballers get when they get kicked in the thigh. I can walk but not jog, I haven’t been able to drive and I’ve got limited movement in my knee joint because any kind of stretching movement hurts.

Today is parkrun day and if I didn’t do it, I know I would have been subjected to a torrent of hate mail, Sinton-Hewitt would have been on my case and people would have openly wept in the streets of Cambridge. I don’t want that kind of attention so I decided to walk it .Usually Cambridge  attracts around 450 runners and more often than not a few people are walking most of it. Unfortunately, no-one walked it today although I wasn’t too far behind the people in front of me. Cambridge junior parkrun provided all the volunteers , including the 13 year old run director Chloe who gave a very confident pre-run  address to the assembled crowd. I was accompanied by tail runner 12 year old Ben who was very supportive to me and gave vocal encourage to the myriad runners who flashed past us. I hope he didn’t hear me grinding my teeth as I watched them recede into the distance. I came in at just over 48 minutes which, interestingly, is exactly twice the time I do it on this course when I go full pace. Young Benji, who has cerebral palsy, started late and came in a minute behind me. He ran with his mum and came in strongly to enormous applause.

Hopefully, I may be able to gently trot around Cambridge parkrun next weekend and then the subsequent one will be my 250th. It won’t be a PB!

Recent reports show the NHS in dire financial straits, suffering financial mismanagement, imply inefficiencies, experiencing poor staffing levels, missing targets and spending mountains of money on agency staff. If you treat the NHS as a market economy, require it to compete and make a “profit”, continuously emphasise poor financial governance, cut staff levels, employ dodgy borrowing devices with the private sector, continually reinforce the private sector has the nous, nerve and expertise to do a great (and cheaper) job and create standards which are designed to fail because of under funding, then it’s an inevitable set of outcomes.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/oct/09/chain-failings-led-death-charlotte-bevan-newborn-baby-coroner-rules

This is a very, very sad coroner’s report of the death of a mother and her newly born baby. She had a long history of mental ill health, sectioning under the Mental Health Act and had stopped medication in order to breastfeed. Tragically, she left a Bristol maternity hospital unchallenged and killed herself and her child shortly afterwards.

Reading the coroner’s comments and conclusions, it’s hard to comprehend the apparent complete lack of joined up, considered care for a patient who is so obviously at risk.. Vulnerable mothers with a history of severe mental illness have been having pregnancies and births for decades in a health system which is a aware of the level of input required to ensure the safety and well being  of mother and baby. I don’t think this event occurred because of a lack of understanding of the health requirements. I think it’s much more likely to be due to staff shortages, cost and unavailability. These days, I can’t accept that general hospital staff are so out of touch with mental health issues that they are capable of willfully ignoring them.

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning January 29 2015 Janathon Day 29

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I bought this book after listening to Joanna Bourke talk to Laurie Taylor on BBC Radio 4’s Talking Aloud (on podcast). It discusses how  military imagery and acceptance of violence is ingrained in society, along with dependence on jobs and expenditure on research in industry and universities. The UK’s annual expenditure on military expenditure is around £69 billion, the fourth highest in the world. I’ve just dipped into it (the book not the £69 billion) It makes for sober reading.

Too many people, I think, are excited by violence, righteous destruction, punishment, use and appearance of weaponry, controlling nation states and manipulating them economically. I could go on but I’ll leave it there.

So often, there is an apparent absence of empathy and unwillingness to respond to the suffering of others at the most basic level. We just cut ourselves off  from it and focus on  our own narrow interests. This Tory government is very adept in this respect, imposing   thousands of cuts on the NHS and putting services in the hands of private providers.

One of the most important features of a civilised and humane society is the degree to which it provides practical, financial and professional support to the physically disabled, to people with mental health problems, those with learning disabilities, to the vulnerable and to children. So much lip service is given to this segment of society’s needs and so many cost saving cuts inflicted upon them.            

Yesterday’s Guardian (Society section) had a report on delays and problems with new disability claims http://gu.com/p/45876/sbl  and a feature on the Haven project, a service for people with personality disorders which is now under threat following the ending of central funding and the local clinical commissioning group deciding it’s not value for money http://gu.com/p/456db/sbl . The tax payer can breathe a sigh of relief and protected, subsidised and tax break corporates can laugh all the way to the bank.

So, back to running! I haven’t done any today. I ran out of time. I could run a couple of miles even now, in the dark, but I won’t. Deep down, in the murky id sediment of my mind, I know that a bit more rest after my glute injury is probably a good thing. I still have to sit down and get up carefully but otherwise it feels OK. I’ll run 2 miles or more tomorrow and parkrun on Saturday. If all goes well, the longer runs will start next week.

Janathon total for today : 2 mile dog walk.

Aliveandrunning January 9 2015 Janathon Day 9

DSC_0319 Wimpole Hall, a National Trust property, in all its glory. They keep the front aspect of the house clear of plebs, poor people, lower middle class, New Age travellers and children not attending fee paying schools. Luckily, the grounds are extensive and us parkrunners don’t have to encroach on the upper class gravel. We are allowed to run freely over the undulating park land, however, and visit the lavatories when necessary.

But tomorrow’s dream parkrun at Wimpole is now a shattered aspiration. It’s been cancelled because of the expected gales. No run, no visit to the second hand bookshop, no National Trust rock cake , jam and coffee in their cafe. At the moment Cambridge parkrun at Milton Country Park hasn’t been cancelled and a decision will probably be made tomorrow morning around 8 am.

Another 2 mile run in the dark tonight but unlike the previous couple of runs, I didn’t set out on a full stomach. It was windy, although not excessively, and very mild. I think those Scottish winds will increase during the night so the fate of Cambridge will be in the hands of the Gods.

The NHS spending on children’s mental health has fallen by more than 6% in real terms since 2010, according to official figures. This equates to nearly £50m and was disclosed by NHS England in a parliamentary question. These cuts have been made against a background of decades of chronic underfunding. Who says we live in a civilised society? Who cares, anyway. It’s not a high profile service, there’s probably not enough money in it to attract private interest and most parents will be grateful for any level of help. Let the children suffer.

Aliveandrunning September 22 2014

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Weather fine today so we had lunch on the lawn. Mine was cold and consisted of left overs from yesterday’s  meal – chicken in Thai Green curry sauce, a few Brussels sprouts, runner beans, lemon rice, Mediterranean vegetable mix (originally frozen) and a radish, cucumber and red onion salad with cashew nuts, mint and honey.

Should have gone for a run today but didn’t get around to it. Just under two weeks to the next half marathon on Wimpole Hall Estate and I need to be running longer distances more frequently. If I don’t do this, I’ll run a mediocre time (by my own personal standards) but not so poor that spectators will boo and throw rotten fruit at me.

Saturday’s Cambridge parkrun went OK. I ran another sub 24 minutes but still more than 30 seconds off my personal best. If I don’t improve I’ll start wearing a hair shirt (at this point I looked up “hair shirt” and found a forum thread concerning a man asking advice about wearing a cilice (or hair shirt ) for spiritual/religious reasons. Very interesting! I think I’ll forget the hair shirt and cut down on my daily consumption of Brussels sprouts as a penance instead.

The proposed gardening therapy project took a step forward last Friday when I met a manager at Cambridge MIND, the mental health charity. She liked the idea and didn’t think making referrals or encouraging volunteers to get involved would be problematic. I’m now in the process of making an on line planning application to the District Council. I’ve also emailed  someone who has a remit to identify and develop green spaces which would have a beneficial impact on the health and well being of local communities. Might my project fit into this criteria? Who knows. I’ll have to look at funding and how to set up a charity shortly but this can only go ahead if planning permission is not an issue.