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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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.

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“Keep on running, grandad!”

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My daughter, Sophie, running in Cambridgw parkrun today (loving the camera, obviously). On this occasion she just beat me. Another daughter, Isobelle, ran Dulwich parkrun and son Dan did Valentines Park parkrun, coming in third but unfortuntely forgetting his barcode (so recorded as unknown).Doh!

I’m trying to get into better form for another couple of half marathons and the first one is next weekend at Wimpole Estate. I think I’m having  a little trouble with this distance at the moment because I’m not running the training mileage. I did, however, do a long run into Cambridge along the river Cam yesterday and found several hundred school kids walking towards me on the narrow towpath. I don’t believe they came out en masse to obstruct me but they certainly did not know a top class runner was at work. Several girls gave positive encouragement but just imagine my chagrin when one boy called out “Keep on running, grandad.” What! Surely I look like the young Clint Eastwood circa the Dollar films. Obviously the lad had perceptual difficulties. Anyway, I avoided crashing into the people looking down at their mobiles or falling into the river and ran 13 miles. I needed a rest after this but after a good night’s sleep parkrun was fine, albeit a bit slower.

Apart from the St Neots half in November, I’m doing a couple of 10k races in October including the Cambridge Town and Gown (around central Cambridge).

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Three unfinished models. So many more in the pipeline.

Boris Johnson! With a bit of luck, he’ll be the next Tory leader and bring the evil Tories into complete disrepute. A mildly successful comedian but a dangerous politician. A number of rungs down the ladder from Trump’s malignant narcissist. God save America and us all!

A difficult half marathon. Must do better next time!

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Lots of ladies taking to the the waters of the Cam recently and clearly having fun.

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I often stand on a particular bridge and snap away and a surprising number of people wave to me. It would be nice if I could send them a serendipitous pic but how? I’m thinking of printing some email cards which I could then drop from the bridge as they pass under. Would they flutter down and be caught or would they fall at an angle and plop into the water? Could I slightly weight the card so it fell straight? Should I forget this idea or should I be locked up for my own safety? Please advise!

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Enough of this particular sliver of my reality and back to running. Last weekend I attended the New Forest Festival of Running in Hampshire with Lorna and two of our running pals. Between us we did a 5k, 10k and two half marathons. A full marathon was also on offer which we politely declined. My hip problem had cleared up but I was somewhat undertrained for running 13 miles. The first two miles went very well, at ten miles I felt very tired, at eleven I rallied but twelve miles found me struggling. When I crossed the line I had no energy left and could not have run any further. Usually I’m able to put on a burst of speed at the finish but not this time. I know I hadn’t put in the training miles yet I was still surprised. I had already done a training thirteen miles around fourteen minutes slower so it’s taken a faster paced race to reveal my lack of stamina.

The New Forest is famous for its wild ponies but it was still mildly astonishing to see them roaming around.  At one point four ponies were cantering on a path adjacent to where I was running. They outran me.

We stayed at Boscombe, on the outskirts of Bournemouth and, unbelievably coincidental, Bournemouth parkrun was only a mile and a half away. A lovely trail run with a wide open grass start.

 

Returning to fitness and close encounters with bats

 

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Eighteen days ago I had to pull up at Cambridge parkrun with shooting pains in my hip (obviously I completed the 5k walking) and the next few days I was limping and having difficulty climbing stairs. After I saw my GP who is sympathetic to running injuries, my mind was set at rest. She diagnosed bursitis which is inflammation of the bursa, a small sac of fluid between bone and tendon or muscle. I’ve never had any problems with my hips in the past and as usual when I’ve acquired injuries running, the cause has its origin in activities like heavy lifting and sometimes heavy lifting and walking awkwardly at the same time. This time it was barrowing concrete slabs and a ton of sand over 150 metres of grass and gravel.

I didn’t run at all for eleven days then I ran 10 minutes on a treadmill and did Cambridge parkrun two weeks after I pulled up. I trotted around and did it about eight minutes slower than usual without incident. I really enjoyed  running in a more relaxed manner rather than putting in maximum effort. I was also very pleased to be running again, full stop. I don’t like not being able to run even if it’s for only a couple of weeks. My body is acclimatised to running. Not to run is like losing vitality. Note to self: engage your brain when lifting and carrying.

And so to bats. We knew we had a small bat problem when we found four bats in the house, in fact on three separate occasions we had a bat flying around our living room.  I know they’re not the size of pigeons but we’re not the Addams family either. Turning sleuth, I discovered two possible holes in our clunch wall in our living room (it’s an old 17th century cottage with plenty of holes, gaps, cracks and crevices) and duly filled them with lime mortar. Viewing the wall from the outside, I could immediately see a likely gap between the stone and wooden board. The droppings sticking to the wall below the gap confirmed it.

Bat habitats are protected in the UK but I wondered if they could cause damage if they are living cheek by jowl with youin your own home. What to do? Of course, I raced to the phone and rang Bat Help Line and resisted blurting out “I’m a bat, help me”. Instead I had a nice little conversation with a very helpful and informative woman which reassured me. They don’t do damage and they will vacate later in the season. There’s no reason not to live with them much as we did  with a colony of bees a few centimetres behind plaster board in our bedroom. The bees subsequently left of their own volition. The only downside was their habit of making odd hooting noises during the night. I’m slightly deaf and couldn’t hear it. Lorna found it tolerable but odd! It’s the countryside, innit!

Back to running again. I’m due to do a half marathon in just over three weeks. Not sure if I’m up to it. Firstly, my hip is not entirely back to normal and, secondly, I haven’t done much running lately. Plan: go for a couple of longer runs next week and see how it feels.

I come to grief at Cambridge parkrun

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Photo courtesy of John Wilderspin

Here’s me, three weeks ago, bowling along in the heat, clearly upholding my reputation as an ageing running god (Roman era).

It was a different story today. My left hip had gven me aches, and occasional pain, for about four days but I had decided that running on it wouldn’t be problematic. I was wrong! There was a small amount of discomfort up to half way but I was still going full tilt. Then the discomfort increased and I began to get sharp pains which I couldn’t ignore. I still completed parkrun by walking and occasionally trotting but I think I’m properly injured.

A couple of days earlier when comparing my left and right hips, I expected to see some bruising where I bashed into something or collided with a worktop. There was no bruising in evidence and instead I noticed my left hip appeared a little swollen compared with the right. This suggested osteoarthritis although I wasn’t aware of it previously. Looking up the symptoms for osteoarthritis of the hip it didn’t quite fit with me and I wonder if the quads injury I had a couple of years ago might be implicated. Anyway, I hope to arrange an X-ray and take it from there. I did decide to take Ibuprrofen after speaking to the pharmacist but will further discuss this with my GP. Ibuprofen is not commonly taken by people with heart disease because it can adversely interact with cardiac medication.

So, I’m faced with an enforced rest from running for the time being. Boo hoo!

I read that Trump believes he has “complete power” to pardon people and is considering presidential pardons for family members, aides and even himself in the context of investigations into possibble collusion between rhe Trump team and Russian intelligence agencies. This sounds like a marvellous way to bring the Trump administration into total disrepute. I can understand that there are classes of American society who feel neglected, ignored and hard done by, by succesive administrations but the nature of the support that Trump has generated reflects a high level of credulousness, a punishing disregard for human rights, a moronic taste for jingoistic nationalism, a naked self interest at the expense of others and a penchant for cruelty, piggishness and vicious charm. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and Trump hasn’t wasted much time demonstrating it. The self righteousness and arrogance of his supporters and their willingness to condemn and  do down the most vulnerable people in society is frightening. God help America!

Running, freezing at Beachy Head and drinking oolong tea. It’s life, innit!

Lorna at Beachy Head, Eastbourne. A beautiful part of the East Sussex coastline. High white chalk, undulating cliffs stretching for miles. When the weather’s good, the views are breathtaking. When it’s bad, you can’t see anything and it’s difficult to stand upstraight. Today, it was awful. Cold, very windy and everything wrapped in a thick mist. Only 162 metres above sea level and in early summer, it felt like Siberia.

The previous day I ran Eastbourne parkrun and I’m very grateful it didn’t incorporate a cliff top section. We just managed to get to the course in time following the satnav deciding to have a laugh at our expense and our determination to not miss our full English breakfast. Admittedly I didn’t eat as much as I would normally do but perhaps too much to comfortably run 35 minutes later. Miraculously no throwing up and not even nausea. I did a reasonable time, given the early breakfast and we found a much quicker way back to our B&B.

Eastbourne, the quintessential South coast sea side resort. A great many fine houses and mansion blocks, loads of hotels and B&Bs maintained to a high decorative standard (unlike a lot of down-at-heel English sea sides), a fine rebuilt pier and, surprisingly, beautiful light over the sea. I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t solidly Tory but you can’t have everything!

The previous weekend I ran a 10k in 30c. I didn’t go crazy and stopped for a long drink at 6k. Last 1.5k bit of a struggle but manageable.

The good news? I’ve turned into a tea buff (is this archaic language? does anyone use the word archaic anymore? I drank oolong at Tate Britain (we saw Queer British Art 1861-1967) and I drink lapsang souchong most days. Of course no-one I know has got the slightest interest in tea, least of all lapsang which smells and tastes like a bonfire Delicious.

Jeremy seems to be going from strength to strength (relatively) at the moment. Nice Mirror headline today, MAY GIVES £1B BRIBE TO CRACKPOTS referring to the Tory alliance with the DUP to shore up her evil Tory government.