The Orchard Tea garden, Grantchester, mid October.

 

We arrived at the Orchard early on a chilly, sunny morning. All the deckchairs and tables were out but it was virtually deserted. In the sun, it was warm enough to sit out to eat or drink tea or coffee, and it soon began to fill up. We had walked from Newnham along Granchester Meadows and on the way there, walking by the Cam, we  spied this chap swimming towards Cambridge. On the way back, this group of cows blocked our path and despite negotiation, mediation, persuasion and a few more concepts ending in -ion, they stubbornly refused to move. Guess what? We went around them.

Last Sunday, I ran the Histon Bonfire Burn 10k. This went pretty well, by and large. The weather was cold and bright, all my running chums beat me and I met old running chum, Dominic, whom I hadn’t seen for a year or two. He also beat me!

Three years ago, I ran this race in the worst weather I have ever run in. Scouring wind, low temperature and driving rain.It gets worse every time I describe it. This was the only race I ever considered stopping prematurely apart from when I was injured. Subsequently I have always preferred over dressing for a race rather than wearing too little. I can run when I’m hot.

Today, Cambridge  parkrun was another mud bath as it was last week. As usual we were exhorted to run through the myriad puddles rather than dodge them and run into someone else’s path. This did happen last week when a runner was tripped, fell and broke his ankle. These kind of accidents are relatively rare, surprisingly since sometimes over 500 people are charging around narrow trail paths.

One last half marathon, for the year, next weekend, at St.Neots.

Poor America! Poor world! Donald Trump continues to make jaws drop with his wild disregard for truth, compassion and basic decency. The evidence for corrupt practises is slowly stacking up but how long will it take?

Good news on treatment for schizophrenia research. Trials are starting which explore the possibility that for some people, schizophrenia could be a disease of the immune system. Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular biology at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant pschiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in South London, and his team, have uncovered evidence, with other teams worlwide, that abnormalities in immune activity in the brain may be responsible for the illness.. Good Guardian article on this November 4th.

 

 

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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.

 

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!

 

100th parkrun celebration. Runners not dressing down!

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Lorna’s and Michelle’s joint 100th parkrun (Lorna in red and Michelle in multi colour tutu. Various wings were worn and a lot of talking undertaken during the run. Coffee, tea and cake in the cafe afterwards. All very enjoyable. I was surrounded by running ladeeees and had to watch my P and Qs (an English expression meaning “mind your manners”, “mind your language”, “be on your best behaviour”. It’s not easy, I can tell you! I have to suppress the urge to be ridiculous at the best of times. It’s an ongoing battle since most of the time I think that’s a legitimate response.

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Cambridge parkrun was attended by a rhinoceros seen here menacing two fairies who have become detached from the magical community. No clever comment offered here. See how grown up I am?

Parkrun was a bit of a no score draw for me. I’m still 90 seconds down on my usual times and yesterday I felt tired. Today I went for a nine mile run and felt much better. I borrowed Lorna’s Garmin and clocked exactly 9 minutes a mile as an average. I wasn’t pushing hard and I felt quite relaxed. The problem running with heart disease is the medication (bisoprolol and Ramipril) acts as limiter on the amount of effort the heart can undertake. In practice the difference between running comfortably and running to capacity is rather small ie I don’t run much faster when I put in maximum effort.

The attack by a knife wielding man at Leytonstone Underground station yesterday who apparently shouted “This is for Syria” as he stabbed and assaulted a random person (presumably) and threatened others before he was Tasered and subdued by police, was a disturbing and frightening incident. The police are regarding it as a terrorist act, provisionally, but I note that BBC reporters included the possibility of his behaviour resulting from mental ill health. His physical movements and manner certainly gave that impression.

Since a high percentage of people regard themselves as citizen reporters and can easily video scenarios played out before them and share via social media, we can all enjoy the unfolding drama with detachment and  the safety of distance. Over and over again as with this incident. We can also see how bystanders, or people passing, act. This ranges from running off in terror to standing gawping or even walking over closer as if the danger was occurring on a screen. If news isn’t accompanied by explicit film or images, it loses its impact compared with news that is.Video can be repeated endlessly and shamelessly, as it was with 9/11.

A large proportion of of news presentation, these days, is devoted entirely to exploiting our emotions. It’s cheap, voyeuristic and cynical. The police themselves are complicit in this approach and freely make available video of subsequently convicted suspects being questioned. They also permit the making of sycophantic TV programmes following traffic cops and docile fly on the wall documentaries about themselves. News has been receiving a substantial make over for several years. There’s less news, it’s dumbed down and it’s more likely to be presented as emotive entertainment. We can all feel sorrowful and pretend we care.

Must leave you now. Going to watch that emotionally uplifting Nordic noir TV crime prog, The Bridge.

 

 

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 21 2015 Janathon Day 21

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“Ouch….ouch….ouch” I’m quoting myself  here and I could have continued with with significantly more ouches. This follows last night when I fell to the ground after tripping on a curb at the track. I was walking at the time, selflessly thinking about the needs of others because I’m that kind of guy. My judgement is second to none and I decided to go running with the club as planned since there seemed to be only minor discomfort to my right bottom area. I followed this up with warm down stretches and returned home. I had difficulty getting out of the car. It was painful on movement for the rest of the evening.

This morning, however, it felt much better and has further improved during the day. Certain movements are still painful like stooping or crossing my legs but full recovery is in sight. Just a bit of bruising, that’s all. My decision to run yesterday is thus fully vindicated and I remain infallible.

Nevertheless, I decided not to try to run today and went for a brisk walk with Ms Alive and Running. Around 2 miles. I’ll rest for a further day tomorrow and see how it is on Friday. Because I sometimes have the power of seeing into the future, I know it will be fine and I will do parkrun on Saturday.

Radio 4, File on 4, 20.1.2015, last night at 8 pm on benefit sanctions and claims that the system punishes or penalises vulnerable people, particularly the mentally ill. The claims ring true. Should be available on podcast.

This pic reminds me of last year’s London marathon. Looking forward to spectating again.

 

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.