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.

 

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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 December 28 2014

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Yesterday’s Cambridge parkrun was excessively muddy! Clearly the East Anglia rain gods were having a laugh when they created pond sized puddles across the running path. In fact it was worse than that. There were bogs, quagmires, sloughs and quickmud (a close relative of quicksand). I personally saw three men up to their necks in mud screaming at passing runners to stop and pause their Garmins. It was the proverbial nightmare of a run. Or so it seemed. Somehow we survived it but our washing machines will be punished.

It wasn’t exactly like running in treacle but the mud certainly slowed us down. The numbers were about half the usual crowd although my family did its utmost to boost the total. I ran with Ms Alive and Running and our five children for the first time ever. Fantastic! My eldest son just beat me by seconds (well, 280 seconds actually which is nothing at all compared with the age of the Universe). In fact we all ran well and I’m very proud that we can all take part in a race together on occasions. The next opportunity will be Cambridge half marathon in March.

Next race is the New Year’s Eve 10k at Ely (on December 31st, believe it or not!) and a special New Year’s day parkrun at Huntingdon on, yes,you’ve guessed it, January 1st.

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Cambridge junior parkrun this morning. 58 children between the ages of 4-14 took part, well down on the recent record of 138 but a good number considering the weather conditions. Plenty of icy, muddy puddles and an inspection of the course resulted in some changes to the measured 2k distance. Loads of parents became inpromptu marshals to line the course to maximise safety. One person dancing around, playing the flute and looking remarkably like the Pied Piper of Hamlin was turned away. They will have to wait just a little longer before their invoice for rat catching services are honoured.

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We had a serious outbreak of origami in our house over Christmas and this is the result. Old Rupert annuals are a good source of origami creations and I soon found a spectacular pagoda to make although the above examples are from a recent book left by Mother Christmas. It seems that Rupert’s origami can be quite complicated and the instructions are often not adequate. The internet will provide, however.

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My modest stash of Christmas books. Spitafields Nippers are poor children photographed in London around the start of last century. They reflect the harsh circumstances of their young lives and the dire poverty of their upbringings. Very poignant, very affecting. I’m sure God has a good reason for the breathtakingly high child mortality rate in times past, in this country and everywhere else. I would be oblige if anybody with a religious faith could provide a brief rationale explaining the religious justification for such suffering. I’ve read a few clever philosophical explanations but nothing which makes any sense to me. Please bring  enlightenment. Pretty please.

Gotta sign up for Janathon. Gonna be January soon.

Alive and Running November 9 2014

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Ooohhh…..look at this! A lovely chocolate cake with a cherry filling brought to my door by Elaine, friend and benefactor of my proposed  therapeutic gardening  project. And very tasty it was, too. Yesterday, a running pal confirmed she is willing to be a trustee (contingent on what that role entails) and has gardening experience. Ms Alive and Running is putting together a website, Green Minds, and I’ll create a full photographic record of the development of the project. I should hear whether or not I require planning permission this coming week.

Cambridge parkrun was very slippery yesterday. There were at least 3 fallers who couldn’t continue (including a woman who broke her ankle). We are lucky at Cambridge because, more often than not, we have one or two medics taking part and will assist or advise if they can. I want to reassure blog readers immediately that I emerged unscathed. I was able to leap over the fallen and my running stride wasn’t seriously impaired.

My times are not back to normal but I ran better than last week and remained upright. Didn’t wear trail shoes, will next week if there’s further rain. I also did some serious, heavyweight socialising with running chums and spent 50% of my chat quotient for this month.

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Cambridge junior parkrun today. 130 children, aged 14  and under took part in the 2k run. No injuries reported and it all went very well. Weather was good. The overcast sky cleared and it warmed up. Afterwards we enjoyed a tasty cup of coffee.

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I have a new fascination – mycology, the study of fungi and their properties. Ms Alive and Running and I spent nearly two hours with a group of like minded, friendly people (including amateur mycologists) scouring Worts Meadow and adjacent  woodland for innocent, I’m-just-minding-my-own-business fungi which were promptly prised  out of the ground and into a trug for later investigation. It’s not edgy, it’s not rock and roll, it’s not as cool as Steve McQueen in The Great Escape but it was relaxing, mindful, interesting and adds a new dimension to walking in the wood with Rupert the dalmatian. Couldn’t identify the yellow fungi but other example are shaggy parasols which are edible (apparently).  I might cook some up for my arch running rivals as a treat.

Aliveandrunning October 12 2014

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Record number of children  (138) at Cambridge junior parkrun today! It was chilly but dry with some sun. The weather gods clearly  favoured us! Well, that’s what I would expect after I offered a libation (Chateau Haut-Plaisance Saint-Emilion Grand Cru), extracted from Tesco’s deepest wine vaults and delivered by a uniformed courier who only spoke a dead language. He fainted when I poured it straight onto the parkrun course ground! We dragged him away before the children clocked him (don’t worry, he recovered completely). As usual, the children and everyone else involved with the race greatly enjoyed themselves. This is a quick snap of the warm up session which they followed with considerable attention and gusto.

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I haven’t been running very frequently in recent weeks but perhaps less is more. I was pleased with my parkrun time yesterday and generally I have felt less tired. This is my pal Kerry who is almost in his mid 60s and only started running 2 years ago. Amazingly his PB for parkrun (5k) is 21 minutes 40 seconds and he’s still improving. Yesterday was his 50th parkrun and he equalled his PB. It’s ridiculous. I’m going to organise an anonymous on line petition to get him banned for life on  grounds I haven’t quite decided on yet but it will be for his own good, of course.

Apart from Cambridge parkrun, my next race is the Bonfire Burn 10k in Histon on November 2nd and then the St. Neots half marathon on November 16. Following that my next half marathon will be Cambridge in March 2015. This race is always sold out quickly but somehow our seven strong family have all got a place. Yippee!

 

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Visited Saffron Walden in the week and made a beeline for my favourite Oxfam second hand bookshop. RD Lang is always thought provoking  even if you were never sympathetic towards the anti psychiatry movement in the 60s and 70s. The book on angels is very readable with lots of good pictures. Such an attractive concept, alongside the existence of God and eternal life.

 

Aliveandrunning August 24 2014

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Cambridge junior parkrun. Ms Alive and Running addresses the junior runners, parents and volunteers. The weather was unusually lovely and 70 children took part. Everything went very well. This is not a foregone conclusion. Each run requires a great deal of time, effort and organisation. Like the adult parkrun, it happens each week so it’s a sizeable commitment. Luckily there are a regular number of people who consistently volunteer to make it happen but it’s often a close run thing!

Yesterday adult parkrun happened! I came 146th out of 383. My dream is to come in 139th. I pray this is achievable and not just a crazy, self deluding dream. I dropped below 24 minutes but had to put everything into it.

Three weeks to go to the Grunty Fen half marathon. I intended to go for a 10 mile training run this afternoon but after 5 miles I felt good so I ran 3 miles further and did 13 miles in all. Today is 5 years (to the day) since I had my heart attack so it was good to mark it by running a half marathon. I ran from my medieval village to the edge of Cambridge city, which, as we all know, is packed full of brain power and some common sense. The dons try to prevent the proletariat penetrating  the city boundaries too far and usually set up road blocks staffed by 3rd year students. It’s not difficult to get past them. You just throw them a philosophical question like Why Bother? : Why Not? and it precipitates an existential quandary. They stand around thinking intensely and you walk past them Simples!

One of the problems of running a long way is that it increases your appetite.

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After eating this, a yogurt and a very sweet brownie, I ate, a little later, these cream crackers with cheese raw onion  and HP sauce.

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Well, I’ve expended over a 1000 calories running so I should listen to what my body is telling me, shouldn’t I?