Cambridge half looms and Spring’s nearly here (almost)

IMG_20180218_124620093

Here’s proof winter’s nearly over. Now it gets complicated. What is the plural of crocus? Actually it’s crocuses or croci. I’ll opt for the correct Latin plural. Anyway, the aconites, snowdrops and hellebores are out and so are some daffodils. Other stuff is poking through and I’ve already cut the grass. Another week and we’ll be planting potatoes.

IMG_20180215_161207336

It took a lot of effort to fence around the Green Minds gardening project but here’s proof the defences are working. Those wiley little rabbits have been making a concerted effort to break in by tunneling under the wire. Unfortunately for them they meet wire I have laid horizontally under the grass and can’t progress. Having limited brain power they simply move along the line rather than start digging again a little further out (or using ropes and grappling hooks).

IMG-20180218-WA0011

We found these chickens in our garden. I had a little chat with them  and they explained they were admiring the late winter flowers. However they simply admitted defeat when I asked them which came first, the chicken or the egg.

We bought some of their produce (not directly from the chickens but from their middleman/woman, the farmer). Here’s an action picture of  alien royalty choosing an egg for breakfast.

IMG_20180204_121541707

Anyway, time to be sensible (always a struggle). The running is going okay. I gave up running every day five weeks ago because I felt too tired. In terms of mileage it wasn’t huge, often a couple of miles at a gentle pace. However, I think I needed rest days to recover. So, for me, I can do individual long runs of 6-10 miles but a rest is vital. I recently did a couple of hour runs and then followed this up with a two hour training run of 13 miles. This did make me tired although I would regard it as a good tiredness rather than one caused by stress or demands. I certainly felt much better for it.

Cambridge half marathon is a fortnight away. Today, I ran around 12 miles. The actual mileage wasn’t a problem but I struggled to get out. The light level was poor, it was cold and I possessed a minimum of motivation. I ran steadily, not swiftly and took just over two hours. I was glad to get back home.

Today is Wednesday. I’ll do parkrun on Saturday and go to the gym in the afternoon. I may do an hour’s run on Sunday and perhaps 45 minutes on Wednesday. Then parkrun and the following day is the half marathon. Or something like that. If the sun’s shining this programme won’t be problematic, if it’s a Stygian gloom I may jump into the river Cam.

IMG_20180201_151427740

Sculptures possibly taking over.

beyondstrange.co.uk

Advertisements

Janathon Day 26 Bleakness and gales

IMG_20160126_131949504

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!

 

Janathon Day 14 Life imitates art in Cambridge

IMG_20160114_152154259

800px-Nighthawks_by_Edward_Hopper_1942

Compare and contrast my image of urban alienation and ennui with Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942) (courtesy of Wikipedia). I think Edward has the edge.

I battled the elements (bitter wind, biting rain, threatening snow and, worst of all, dull, grey light, to triumphantly enter Cambridge city centre, aided only by my bus pass and a steely sense of purpose. I transacted my business, got freezing cold and then repaired to Eat, the sandwich shop chain where I hunkered down and ate an up market tuna and cucumber baguette. It was rather squidgy (Lorna wasn’t there to throw up her hands in horror) and I made a mess but no-one noticed (obviously because they are wallowing in urban alienation etc and that kind of thing goes over their heads).

I do like Eat. It’s anonymous, unpretentious, not expensive, reasonably comfortable and I can concentrate to read, eat and drink coffee.

IMG_20160114_184625330

I then went to Cambridge Central library and saw this on display. Reader, I borrowed it! I can only fantasise about fell running locally. Cambridge is flatter than the flattest pancake.

I am managing to run each day for Janathon although 4-5 days in the week are just 2 milers. The mild winter in Eastern England has now got appreciably colder and I’m now running in trackster bottoms and a mid cold protection running jacket. It’s about 2-4c at the moment but minus centigrade temperatures will soon be upon us and I’ll wear a heavier duty cycling jacket which I keep on even when I’ve warmed up.

Alan Rickman’s death was announced today. Another very sad event. A great and entertaining actor, gone at 69.

 

 

 

 

 

Janathon Day 11 Thanks David

IMG_20160111_195045590

Archbishop Justin Welby, commenting  on David Bowie’s death which was announced this morning, remembered “sitting listening to his songs endlessly in the 1970’s particularly and always really relishing what he was , what he did, the impact he had.” That won’t be music to the ears of certain delegates to the Anglican Communion in Canterbury today. Bowie regarded himself as bisexual.

I couldn’t lay my hands on Ziggy Stardust but I did find Hunky Dory which I prefer. Looking through my old vinyl it was sad to come across past heroes, now gone – Kevin Ayers, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Sandy Denny, Janice Joplin, Rory Gallagher,Lou Reed, John Lennon, George Harrison, Nico. All part of growing up and the excitement of music.

A cold day in Cambridge, some sun but mainly dull and overcast. I went for a late run around 8.30 pm. Only my head light brightened it up.

 

 

Janathon Day 7 More gloomy light

IMG_20160107_172549627

 

Heavy rain this morning and squally winds this afternoon.The quality of the light was poor all day After dark, the wind and rain eased off and I took the opportunity to use my new Petzl head torch. It’s a leap of faith if you can’t see exactly where you are placing your feet at night but the head torch provides sufficient strong light to illuminate a wide angle of the path. That means you can run more confidently. I don’t worry about running on a poorly lit pavement but a good torch makes for a more relaxing outing. Distance about 3.4 miles. Saw one other runner with a head light.

I subscribe to Heart Matters, the British Heart Foundation magazine which is free. https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-magazine. It’s very informative, easy to read, discusses all aspects of heart disease and treatment and is full of positive and inspiring stories. This month it features explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes who had a heart attack in 2003 and had to be resuscitated from several cardiac arrests. Following bypass surgery, three months later he ran seven marathons in seven days on all seven continents. In 2005, he climbed Everest and got within 300 metres of the summit before chest pains stopped him going to the top. According to his surgeon, Professor Angelini, who raised no objection to these endeavours, “his heart has recovered ; there was no damage.” Professor Angelini did advise him his heart rate should not rise much above 130 beats per minute.

Fiennes went on to successfully climb Everest on his third attempt in 2008. He is now aged 71. Last year he completed the Marathon De Sables, an extremely demanding  251k  race across the Sahara desert.

The article seems to be a puff for super hero Fiennes whose cardiac arrests, bypass surgery and heart disease appear not to have had any impact on his ability to undergo extremes of physical endurance. No mention of medication although NICE guidelines seem to put everyone on Ramipril, bisoprolol, aspirin and statins following a heart attack. Ranulph, why are you different? Is it because you are a knight of the realm and strong blue blood courses through your veins? I’ll be contacting Heart Matters and HRM Queen Elizabeth over this.

 

 

Janathon Day 6

IMG_20151023_072107060

I thought I would include a few cutting edge health tips in this blog although this is an October 2015 edition. Nevertheless, I’m sure it’s as true now as it was then. The Express has an endearing habit of leading with good news health stories (as in trumpeting a cure for arthritis or cutting heart disease by 110% or predicting everyone will be able to live until they are 127 years old within the decade). It currently has a daily paper circulation of around 450,000 compared with the Guardian’s 185,000 and the Independent’s 61,000.

IMG_20151127_152654743_HDR

The Daily Star (sample front page above) has a current circulation of around 425,000, the Sun just under two million and the Daily Mail about 1,680,000.

What’s all this got to do with running? Not a lot. It’s just a continuing source of fascination how our British papers pander to specific demographics and it’s not a pretty sight. The tabloids, particularly, specialise in provoking hostility and anxiety, prejudice and condemnation or providing fantasy and sexual titillation. Several of them don’t meet the criteria for being regarded as newspapers. They are adult comics pretending to have gravitas.

Anyway, I managed to suppress my habit of snapping the more hilarious or outrageous headlines in Tesco today. I’m sure it’s not a healthy behaviour so I’ll try harder to restrict it to the most egregious examples (another positive New Year resolution).

I ran my default 2 miles today having run around 9k last night with the club. I feel I’m running well at the moment but not swiftly. I’m roughly five to six pounds over weight and it’s winter. Presently, the light is poor, and particularly today, when I felt obliged to switch on my SAD lamp. Having spent a lot of money on this lamp, obviously it works for me! So my investment was successful. I also need to stretch much more and do upper body work (that’s an aspirational New Year’s resolution).

Janathon Day 3 Dreich day for running

12339246_967195856650094_282995755345966625_o (1)

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.