Ely New Year’s Eve 10k – fast, flat, wet

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Actually this race takes place three miles or so outside of Ely, at Little Downham, but only a pedant would split hairs. It’s a lovely race to finish the year and I enjoyed it.

For the last month, I’ve managed to run six days out of seven. The aim was to run a minimum distance of two miles every day but other stuff got in the way and I think a day off a week is sensible. I’m not putting everything into it and I always feel better for having run.

Yesterday, Cambridge parkrun was soft going underfoot but not the mudbath as in the previous couple of weeks. Temperature was 0c or -1c which is very chilly for me but I wore the appropriate kit which proves that I am a sensible chap. I need to up my mileage because it’s exactly eight weeks to go before the Camridge half marathon. It’s come around so quickly. I think they can accommodate 9000 this year. It’s a flat course and fast if you are fast and near the front of the first wave but otherwise it can get very congested in town. Nevertheless it feels special running throught the strreets of Cambridge and it’s well supported by spectators. This is the race where, some years ago, I didn’t drink after finishing and became dehydrated. I needed medical assistance but recovered quite quickly. Unsurprisingly, treatment was very cheap – water! I used some of it to wipe the egg off my face.

This is a Flying Spoon transporting the Egg of Destiny (whatever you are thinking about this will be right).

This is big handed Norbert. Set him on your desk or work space and he will help you to retain your sanity and sense of humour.

This is Man of Rust, a good friend of Norbert.

www.beyondstrange.co.uk

Instagram @beyondstrange

The latest damaging revelations in Michael Wolff’s book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House should hardly come as a great surprise. As of yesterday, the headlines in the UK media (the book has not gone on sale here yet) focussed on Trump’s child like personality, his need for immediate gratification, capacity for distraction and doubts about his mental stability and fitness to be President. Trump has characteristically retorted vehemently via a number of tweets which included the self assessment  that he is”genius… and a very stable genius at that.”

Given Trump’s general manner and demeanor, his extreme pronouncements, his absolute condemnations of individual and groups, his bullying and arrogance, his cultivation of the bigoted, simple minded and credulous electorate, these observations from an insider make a lot of sense. The unsettling aspect (among many) for me is that not only did so many people voted for him but that he still has so much support. This is a feature of past fascist, extreme right wing, plain speaking demagogues who, despite vicious scapegoating and targeted cruelty towards particular groups, continue to enjoy much public approval. God save America. Time to live your religious principles rather than pay lip service to them.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

The difference between 5k and 15k

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Wings for Life, Cambridge. A couple of  thousand people took part. You stop running when David Coulthard, the F1 racing driver catches you up in a car driving at a set speed. I managed 18.3k so at the point this less than flattering photo was taken, I still had another 3k to run.

Actually the camera does lie. I didn’t feel too bad although not as fresh as the woman behind me. The interesting thing is that since I joined a gym before last Chrismas I’ve felt fitter but I’m running slower. Even more interesting I feel I’m running faster despite what my stopwatch says. Mind over matter. That’s good news, really. It suggests that I might be highly suscepible to placebo medication which is gaining increasing respect and credibility. Do I need to take bisoprolol, a beta blocker, for my heart disease? A recent report in the Guardian highlighted a study that purported to show that for the vast majority of people on bisoprolol, there is no benefit (with the exception of those diagnosed with heart failure). I think I’ll have a chat with my GP. Looking forward tomtaking placebos.

God help us on General Election day! Please let fairness and consideration for others win over self interest and rapacity as practised by the evil Tories. American friends, please impeach your out of control President. Please shut down his twitter account immediately.

Cambridge half marathon next Sunday

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Not the most flattering picture of me running towards the finish line at Cambridge parkrun recently. But, on the positive side it does show me ahead of my arch rival Eric (in red). We are both running below par at the moment. I haven’t got a good excuse but Eric has. I hope he regains his previous level of running fitness and I hope I can keep up with him.

Part of my problem is I’m running less and going to the gym more. My all round fitness has probably increased but at the cost of running speed. Not that this matters, of course. Speed is a false god ect,etc. Nevermind, I should be okay for the half marathon although my long runs peaked several weeks ago. I’m also booked for the Swavesey 5 miler later this month, the Cambourne 10k in April and Wings for Life in May (starts off in central Cambridge and the idea is to outrun a celebrity in a car). This was very enjoyable last year. Did around 7000 take part? Very nicely organised.

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Oh dear! I seem to have taken up clay modelling. These are a couple of basic prototypes which are part finished. I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot like this and hopefully with more finesse. Interestingly, it has prompted a newfound fascination with wire (the armature within) and wood textures (for the base).

I blame Kevin Spacey and the House of Cards series for Trump and his self serving, manpulative and fascist policies. We’re quietly working our way through th 50+ episodes on Netflix and there’s a fifth series starting in May. Kevin Spacey is excellent as the dangerous snake who becomes President and given that the series aired years before Trump was elected, there are some very eery parallels.  He’s currently (Kevin) spending billions on creating jobs to ensure popularity and has excluded critical elements of the press from attending White House briefings. I’m certain Trump has devoured this series and has adopted Spacey’s President Frank Underwood as a positive role model. God help America!

As I write, the House of Lords has just defeated the government over the rights of EU citizens. They’ve voted in favour of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit. Wonderful. Unfortunately, it’s likely that the nasty Tories will be able to get a reversal at a later point. Arch nasty Tory Lord Norman Tebbit voted with his nasty party, of course and in his little Lord’s speech rhetorically asked why everyone was getting worked up over “foreigners.” This attitude sums up Tories in a nutshell!

My mother living the wildlife!

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My mother at Christmas. I can’t say she wore this giraffe mask for the entire festive period but the motivation wasn’t lacking. I clearly see where my genetically driven urge to be daft originates!

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January sunshine on Jesus Green. And heart warming to see the wild life enjoying the lovely weather on the river Cam.

Last week I ran two 9 milers which is probably enough preparation for the Cambridge half marathon in March and the next one in 2018. I went to the gym once and did Cambridge parkrun yesterday. The conditions were similar to the week before. Dry and cold. The field was 540 and it took 30 volunteers to put it on. Icy puddles were a considerable hazard on some parts of the narrow path and small stretches needed to be coned off. By one churned up muddy/icy patch in the centre of the running line yesterday, a volunteer stood continuously calling out for people to run around him to avoid catastrophe in the slippery gloop.

It’s a big responsibility to minimise the risk to a large number of runners in limited space in such conditions and cancellation of the run is a practical option. As far as I am aware it all went off very successfully on both consecutive parkruns. Very nicely managed.

Trump continues to behave beyond the normal reaches of parody (and by the way, it’s only a couple of days into the new administration). Apart from his stream of consciousness, I’m not-going-to-allow-anything-to inhibit-me-because-I can-easily-contradict-myself-tomorrow utterances, he has a fascinating range of facial mannerisms and hand gestures. He’s trying to convey sincererity, straight no nonsense talking, charm, flattery, personal recognition of the underdog’s predicament and personal one-to-one communication. He’s the genuine article (not). Try and catch the footage of Trump talking about his last, apparently triumphant, meeting with the CIA.

 

 

Top man sees red in print

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It’s Sigmund Freud, of course, smoking a cigar as usual. Is it symbolic? Well, as the top man said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! That’s just his opinion. Certainly it must have contributed to, if not caused, his cancer of the jaw. Was he a runner? I doubt it. Missed out there then, didn’t he.

I’m trying to get my running back on track. Today’s parkrun was a reasonable time for me at the moment and tomorrow I’m running a five miler in Swavesey. There’s a half marathon going on at the same time but I’m not up to that distance at present. My ex arch rival, Mike, will  be doing the five miler and he’ll be around four minutes faster than me. Another rival, Kerry, will do the half. Having missed the recent Cambridge half due to illness, my next half will be the Flaming June, which unsurprisingly, is run in June. I’ve got various 10k races in the pipeline. Training with the club seems to have taken a backseat and I don’t think I’ve been out with them since I injured myself during the Wimpole half marathon last October.My enthusiasm for training in a group waxes and wanes and currently I still prefer to run alone.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has resigned over Osbourne’s Budgetary  cuts to to benefits received by people with disabilities alongside tax cuts for the richest. He stated that the cuts were “simply not fair, not right” and it was wrong to finance tax cuts for the better off by “taking money away” from those with disabilities. David Cameron professed himself to be “puzzled and disappointed.” George Osbourne is left with egg on his face. They’ve all got blood on their hands as far as I’m concerned. It’s more of a case when thieves fall out. Iain Duncan Smith is hardly a man with a conscience.

Nearly forgot. Did the Freud print at my print making class. It looks okay but the quality is poor. The point is that the more you practice the better you become and this is only a first try.

 

 

Cambridge half marathon a fortnight away, walking along the cam and those evil Tories again.

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A cold, sunny Sunday in Cambridge yesterday. Plenty of eights on the river powered by the gilded youth, loads of runners and cyclists to knock you flying, hordes of couples mooning  around (St. Valentine’s Day) and shoals of tourists shimmying from one photogenic setting to another (it can be such uphill work getting people to believe you’ve actually visited somewhere unless you are able to show evidence of yourself in a snap with relevant backdrop).

I’m a creature of habit when I go into Cambridge. I always go into WH Smith to look at the magazines and usually buy one or two, I often go into Heffers bookshop or Waterstones, walk around the market square and visit the second hand book stall and take photos on a particular bridge over the Cam. Out of preference, I like to have a nice coffee and a tuna and cucumber baguette in the marvelously anonymous Eat cafe and possibly wander around John Lewis, a rather civilised department store. I like to trip through the extensive cosmetics area in a vain attempt to identify any of the sales operatives who have abstained from caking themselves in their own products. They are always immaculately turned out and attractive but wearing no or minimal makeup doesn’t appear to be an option. Are they contractually obliged to over do it?

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These grand and beautiful trees are on Jesus Green. How lucky are we?

Cambridge half marathon is only two weeks away. I haven’t done the training I would like to do because other things have got in the way. Nevertheless, it’s good to know that despite not having put the mileage in, my overall level of fitness enables me to step up quickly to do 13 miles. It’s speed that suffers, of course, but if speed is your objective you are following a false god! The very shallowness of the concept of speed! Does anyone really care about this over valued aspect of running? I rather like these fall back arguments when you’re getting slower and slower.

Anyway, I did 13 miles today and 9 miles a week ago plus a 5 miler and a parkrun since the beginning of the month. I might do two more parkruns and a couple of long runs up to 10 miles and that will be that.

A government task force has published a report, A Five Year Forward View for Mental Health, which is very critical of the state of Engand’s mental health services, click here to read Observer article Today’s Guardian headline is NHS vows to transform mental health services  with extra £1bn a year. The report talks about a sharp increase in the number of suicides, estimates three quarters of people with a psychiatric condition do not receive help and documents that children are being sent all over the country to an available bed that may be hundreds of miles from their families.

The Tories and the coalition government have presided over savage cuts to bed availability, support services, staffing levels and overall funding of mental health facilities. Cameron in his ever so reasonable, we have learnt lessons, we must all pull together and defeat stigma, senior Tory style is presenting the spending announcement as an innovation and Tory triumph. David Cameron and his mates are duplicitous, fraudulent, own class supporting, unfeeling,  and lacking in basic humanity. They appeal to the voters who share their values – the cruel, the selfish, the self centred. May God help decent and vulnerable people.