Janathon Day 30 Is this normal? He used to be such a lovely lad!

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Cambridge parkrun’s 6th anniversary. Fancy dress and a Bake Off competition. We definitely love having our picture taken at Cambridge (big time). For example, this week we have three main albums of photos totaling around 900 snaps. See Cambridge parkrun Facebook page here Cambridge parkrun Facebook

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Today we had 475 runners in rain free, relatively mild weather combined with muddy paths and lots of puddles.

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This vision in red is our good friend Kerry wearing his sub 23 minutes top. He’s currently sub 22 minutes (Grrrr!) not that it matters, of course, since parkrun is a run not a race (the results page is just for reference).

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Only about 200 metres to the finish where there are plenty of people to applaud her.

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The quick lads wait while Mike finishes his cup of coffee. Fair enough! If they insist on being disgustingly fast, it’s only fair they pay some kind of penalty. I offered to buy Mike another coffee before he blew the horn but he graciously declined.

All in all a great morning topped off by coffee with friends. I didn’t feel well enough to run but I did take photos. In the evening I went for a two mile brisk walk and listened to BBC Radio 4 podcasts – Woman’s Hour and Last Word. Note to self : remember not stare at the pavement lost in thought when walking in the dark or risk jumping out of your skin when someone suddenly looms up in front of you.

Janathon Day 27 A walking day

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Sun coming up over Wort’s Meadow a few days ago when it was frosty.

Didn’t manage a daytime run today and unusually I didn’t feel like running in the evening. but I did fancy a walk and listened to BBC Radio 4 podcasts. It was pleasant walking in the dark. I became aware of the Cambridge lights around 4-5 miles away. The red lights at the top of the tall new constructions were particularly prominent . Distance walked : two miles .

I’ll be doing Cambridge parkrun on Saturday. It’s their 6th birthday. I intended to volunteer as a marshal but the rota is now full so it’s deferred until the following weekend. That’s good because parkrun will be my penultimate Janathon jog.

 

Janathon Day 3 Dreich day for running

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New Year’s Day parkrun at Peterborough which Lorna and I ran. Impressively they put on the normal parkrun the next day (Saturday) although we ran Cambridge.

Today it’s all  drizzle, mizzle, dreary light and damp cold. It’ll be pishing it doon later. I’ve started this blog but I’m struggling to get out to run. I’ll play for time and commit to New Year’s resolutions.

I should :

  1. Eat more broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leeks and cabbage.
  2. Invest in a pair of Gore Mythos wind stopper running tights.
  3. Cough more loudly as I’m running behind someone on the river Cam footpath to alert them to my imminent presence thus avoiding them jumping into the Cam in fright.
  4. Confront people more assertively with my alternative opinion. A Scottish phrase springs to mind to assist me. Yer bum’s oot the windae! ie you’re talking nonsense.
  5. Buy a good head torch for night running. Resolution achieved! It’s arriving in two days.
  6. Grow up (I may defer this one for another year).

Not too demanding, I think. Anyway, I did eventually go for a two mile run, at 5pm, in the dark and rain. Initially I felt tired and lacking in energy. The second mile was much better and when I returned home I was feeling alert and chipper. Prior to going out, I had prepared the evening meal slowly and without enthusiasm. Now I snapped on electric cooker knobs with panache and finished the food preparation with brio. Another testimonial to the benefits of running.

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme broadcast at 12.30 pm today. It looks at how diet can affect running performance. It can be downloaded as a podcast on iTunes and is repeated tomorrow at 3.30 pm.

 

 

My 250th parkrun completed at Cambridge on Saturday

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Here I am, with my family and family friend Jemma, posing with my 250 balloons after everyone has left the cafe. We all ran, the rain held off and we had plenty of cake to share with friends. It was also Dan’s 50th so it was a double celebration. I’m still returning from injury and continuing to regain my running fitness. My time was only about a minute over what I would be happy with so I was satisfied. 5k is a do-able distance but I’m not up to 10k or more at the moment.

It’s really gratifying that all my family are doing parkrun either on a regular basis or when they can. It’s such an inclusive and positive movement. People who refuse to participate should be subject to the full force of the law. Three parkrun refusals and you get a custodial sentence. Possibly this is going too far.

Dan came up with some interesting stats. There are 1,286,246 parkrunners in the world (824,624 in the UK) and I am the 366th most experienced. It puts me in the top 0.03%. Unsurprisingly, I rather like these stats They have the ring of truth!

I enjoy listening to Radio 4’s The Bottom Line with Evan Davis. He discusses business issues with leading figures involved in specific areas ranging from branding, the arts, and start ups to finance, fashion and banking. It’s a direct and no-nonsense approach and often fascinating. This week I listened to a discussion on sponsorship which was, admittedly, less interesting than I anticipated. I did learn however that Castrol withdrew their sponsorship of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin because they didn’t allow an LGBT contingent to march.

I’m currently compiling my wishlist of books for Christmas. Eight so far, two fiction, six non fiction. Keep felling those trees!

 

Alive and Running March 26 2015

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The Bridge of Sighs, St. John’s College, Cambridge. I had to follow the Tourist Route through the College which doesn’t allow plebs over the bridge but at other times access is granted. Possibly St. John’s has the biggest grounds of all the Cambridge colleges. It’s undeniably impressive and the Bridge of Sighs is a beautiful structure. Must go for a punt soon!

The Naked Rambler, Stephen Gough, who for years has been fighting for the right to walk about naked in public, has been refused permission to appeal against an earlier decision by the European Court of Human Rights that his repeated arrest, prosecution, conviction and imprisonment for public nudity did not breach his human rights. He is currently serving a two and a half year sentence after he walked out of prison only wearing boots and socks following a previous prison term. I presume this extreme punishment is a result of repeated contempt of court. What a sad and ridiculous situation. I don’t think this eccentric man is regarded as a threat in any shape or form other than his willful determination to walk around unclothed. Possibly the authorities feel it could start a trend, or worse, a fashion. Surely, as a caring and compassionate society, we can accommodate a few naked people walking around and not feel so disturbed by it we are compelled to lock them up. Who wants to break a butterfly on a wheel?

I remain only an intermittent runner at present. Last weekend I ran the Swavesey 5 miler although I could have taken part in the Swavesey Half Marathon. I ran it 2 minutes faster than last year which pleased me until I read in my little running log I was getting over an injury at that time. Still, I did enjoy it and the weather was kind.

Club night two nights ago. We ran 6 x 700 metres at varying paces with a recovery jog back to the start. I was the second slowest runner in a group of around 20 but we broke into small similar speed groups and it all seems to work for everyone.

I ventured into the Cambridge University Press bookshop in the Market Square, Central Cambridge this week and cast my eyes over some beautiful books with eye watering prices (available on Amazon but at no reduction in price). No purchase made but it was a close run thing. I might return naked. I suspect they wouldn’t bat an eyelid!

Finally, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, was speaking about her career and the development of the teenage brain on The Life Scientific on Radio 4. Well worth listening to via podcast or Radio 4 Listen Again.

 

 

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 December 13 2014

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How lucky am I to come across this magazine in Cambridge precisely at the point my family were getting jittery at the prospect of running out of tattoo options for  Christmas. Now we are spoilt for choice! There are so many illustrations to choose from, there is little chance of duplication.

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What is it with men and ridiculously big fish? Why don’t we see women proudly displaying their over sized catches? Various explanations spring to mind. Nevertheless, WH Smith’s magazine shelves remain a source of high amusement and wonderment. Possibly I should avert my eyes from the sections where I have no interest in the subject. I may be fascinated by the imagery or the idea but I could be susceptible to being drawn into that particular world. It would be so easy to become a heavily tattooed angler (fresh or sea water?) and find myself on a front page, smiling smugly, holding a monster from the deep.

The running world drew me in over 30 years ago. It was like being sucked into a whirlpool and down into the central funnel (for the purposes of this imagery, the central funnel would be the running club I joined 3 years ago). I’m now a sad case, running parkrun every Saturday and many of the proliferating 1ok races and some of the ample number of half marathons. Running chum talk about running, pace, times, injuries and technology. It’s all a bit bewildering but I’ll carry on eating the cake, drinking the coffee and secretly dream of holding a giant fish.

Cambridge parkrun today! Very cold (for me) although I dressed for the weather. Some people are still in shorts and technical short sleeve tops despite the -1c or -2c temperature. It was both icy and muddy but my trusty trail shoes coped well. I’m not running consistently at present so my times are slower. Today I had the 25 minute pacer breathing down my neck and bellowing motivational encouragement to everyone around him. He had the audacity to overtake me and then I had the fear of being beaten by him. All at once, my attitude changed and I felt quite relaxed tucking myself in behind. Towards the end, I overtook him and managed to get in front by 15 seconds. What did I learn? I may have an ambivalence to pacers!

BBC Radio 4 podcasts. Who in their right mind wouldn’t listen to them? Thinking Aloud with Laurie Taylor discussed payday loan companies and an economist interviewee spoke about the availability of very cheap finance to the companies, the absence of of any kind of oversight or appropriate financial regulation and the highly profitable business model which is dependent upon multiple loans at hugely inflated interest. In effect the government subsidises the payday loan  companies and enables them to make huge profits at the expense of the poorest of people. Just as it pays huge subsidies to many of the previously nationalised companies, now in private hands and apparently run so much more efficiently and profitably. As if!

Another two part programme well worth listening to is Becoming Myself : Gender Identity. Last week, Transmen. This week, Transwomen. It’s about gender dysphoria and the work of the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic. Thank God we live in the twenty first century, and in this culture, to have this kind of understanding and empathy. I’m sure we’ll show as much sympathy for poor people eventually.

Aliveandrunning November 16 2014

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I should have been running the St.Neots half marathon today but my lingering, three week old cold and no training scuppered it. I did do Cambridge parkrun yesterday, and last week, plus I ran a 10k race two weeks ago but these were more than manageable given my level of running fitness. I haven’t been out with the club for three weeks and there have been no training runs. So a bit of running but not much. Before my heart attack five years ago, I definitely would have run the half marathon today despite the cold and insufficient raining. In fact, I wouldn’t have given it much thought. Now, I give it a lot of thought. It’s great to be running at the same level as before the heart attack (despite the baleful effects the bloody cardiac medication has on my running). I describe it as baleful only in the sense that it restricts my speed and effort. I have to accept that overall it probably has a positive effect on my heart health (see how I have to qualify the (possible) benefit I am receiving?. Am I not incorrigible in this respect? Do I not have a shipping container stuffed full of caveats?) Recent research suggests that placebos have a very good health benefit (among many others, see Mind Over Medicine:Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself by Lissa Rankin). I’m rehearsing a conversation with my GP.

Me:Pretty please, Doc, take me off my heart medication and prescribe placebos instead!

GP: I fail to see the rationale behind this idiotic request.

Me: The current prescription is slowing down my running which won’t be the case with placebos.

GP: You want me to take you off meds which strengthen and regulate your heart so you can run faster?

Me: You’ve got it Doc! Current research points to a measurable benefit in a given condition even if the person is fully aware that they are taking an inert placebo. I believe a placebo would be very good for my heart health. You gotta believe as well, Doc. Together we can do it. I’ll keep you fully informed of my parkrun times.

GP: Request denied with knobs on. Next patient, please!

Note to family : only joking!

I’ll go for a leisurely, longer run this afternoon. It’s chilly but not cold, will probably be raining, will definitely be dank, dark and overcast but I’ll just take it on the chin.

I wore trail shoes for yesterday’s parkrun. Unlike last week when a number of people fell and injuries included a broken ankle, I didn’t hear of anyone coming to grief. I wasn’t far off my old times so I mustn’t complain. I was thinking about placebos as I went around. See how beneficial they can be!

I picked up the above books in the Emmaus (homeless charity) store which, conveniently, is less than a mile from me. The Rare Words book is good to dip in to, if you like words. It means you are a logophile (not a lover of wood fires). Not much, if anything, on etymology, though. Of course, If you are a Sun, Star or Mirror reader I don’t think you need a vocabulary greater than 500 words so don’t bother (gratuitous insult of the day).

Grumpiness! Very much under rated, very much maligned. Far better to call it discernment or sagaciousness. It should be recognised as an art form and as an academic subject. Should this be offered, one might be able to do a Phd in Grumpiness. It would certainly appeal to people over a certain age.

WP_20141115_001  This ailing walnut tree continues to fascinate me. Despite its appearance, it soldiers on and had a good canopy of leaves this year.

I listened to the excellent The Life Scientific  (BBC Radio 4 this week , available as a podcast on iTunes) and heard Professor Dave Goulson talk about preserving bumble bees in the UK. He set up the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and has done a lot of work on the reasons for the decline in bee populations. Very interesting and positive. I think one of the focuses of my therapeutic gardening project will be on creating a bee, butterfly and bird friendly environment. Must pull my finger out!

Aliveandrunning August 28 2014

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This shocking, non life threatening injury was sustained at my local Tesco supermarket. I can’t lay claim to seeing off a gang of thugs who were menacing a hard working but meek and elderly tax payer. I didn’t fight a duel in the carpark to prevent my honour  being besmirched. But I can confirm that one of their trolleys has got a mean attitude. I usually take one of the smaller, shallow trolleys which stack together and should pull out easily. Sometimes the metal panel which swivels to allow them to stack gets stuck. Through experience and the application of hard won technical wisdom, I have learnt that a short, sharp knock will free the swivelling panel and allow me to wheel the trolley away. Not sure why but this expected outcome didn’t take place. Instead I thumped it too hard and the panel flipped over and hit me on the bridge of the nose. Blood was dribbling down my face and I had to seek first aid at the customer services desk. Following a Code One call over the PA system a first aider appeared, quickly, accompanied by an assistant and, I think, the duty manager. They suggested I move away from the public gaze while they cleaned me up and wanted me to sit down. It was my minimal expectation that a running god like myself would be ushered into a side room with discreet classical music playing and offered strawberries while I reclined on a chaise longue. This didn’t happen. Instead I walked 3 metres and sat on an electric store buggy while the three Tesco people worked on my nose and the queue of people waiting for customer services gawped at me. Still, I got prompt attention despite their lack of recognition that I am a running deity. I wouldn’t be surprised that, had I gashed my nose deeply, they would have publicly stitched me up.

Out running with the club two days ago. We ran the course for the 5K interclub run next week. There weren’t many of us and the course wasn’t familiar to me. I think I was still feeling tired  from running a training 13 miles two days previously. As a result, despite a feeling I was flying like the wind, I did a slow time. It was even slower because I went the wrong way three times. Interestingly, the warm up and warm down exercises were as demanding as the 5k itself (almost). After the session, I drink 500 mls  of water in the car and tonic water with my evening meal on my return.This regime is keeping the cramp at bay.

I cooked a dal this evening. Unfortunately I put in a large spoonful of extra hot chilli powder instead of turmeric and didn’t have yogurt to cool it down. This job was left to the radish, red onion and cucumber salad accompanying it. Still too hot but edible!

Still waiting for Cambridge MIND to contact me regarding my proposal for a gardening ecotherapy project in the field behind my cottage. They said they were interested and I’ll hopefully meet up with them soon.

Inside Health, BBC Radio 4, is well worth catching as a podcast on iTunes. The programme takes a critical, weekly look at health issues and has just completed 3 editions devoted to conflict of interests by drug companies, researchers, the medical world and the public. Very interesting. Forget transparency!

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning June 11 2014 Juneathon Day 11

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Ye old windy path that is troddeth by me nearly all days of the year accompanied by my faithful canine, Rupert. I particularly like this part of the woods. It has a mystical feel, as if  you could meet a country person from the Victorian age or the Middle ages or a wandering Greek god seeking a diversion from mythical responsibilities. I don’t run in this wood. Sometimes I meet other dog walkers but most often I’m listening to BBC Radio 4 podcasts. We are so lucky to have the BBC and to have such a range of high quality broadcasts. Today I listened to All in the Mind which featured a very affecting interview with an anorexic 22 year old woman and her carer mother followed by a discussion on current research on the role of the hormone oxytocin in mitigating some of the features of anorexic symptoms.I’m spoilt for choice. Woman’s Hour, The Life Scientific, In Our Time, Start the Week, the dramas, Beyond Belief, Open Book, Thinking Aloud and many more. Who needs music? Tip : Radio Times essential reading.

I felt fine after the late evening run with the club yesterday. We ran up and down a a short hill six times and covered over 7 miles. Today, I ran my usual default, just ticking over, 2 mile run. I run to an Indian restaurant formerly known as the Slap Up and now renamed the Bollywood Spice, salivate in response to any wafting Indian cooking aromas and return home along the same route. Might go for a longer run tomorrow. The world awaits my decision.