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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Janathon Day 26 Bleakness and gales

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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 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.

 

 

Alive and Running February 28 2015

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This is Stanley Green who regularly patrolled Oxford Street, London between 1968 and up to 1993 when he died. As a teenager wandering around London on Saturdays, I probably came across this man a couple of dozen times (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Green). I was reminded of this quintessential English eccentric by three people I met over the last few days who unexpectedly engaged me in conversation. Unlike Stanley, whom my teenage self found unsettling. I can now sustain whole conversations with people who make me marvel, with whom I have very little in common, who are on a substantially different wavelength but are interesting, have integrity and an openness. It doesn’t take much effort on my behalf because I invariably like them and enjoy their brief company. At the same time I’m aware how difficult and lonely it can be for people who don’t easily conform to conventional social norms. Am I over thinking this? Can’t help it, readers! I take most people seriously most of the time until they demonstrate this is not a sensible thing to do. And most the people I can’t take seriously, do conform to social norms in their interactions. So bring on eccentricity, I say, but not too much of it all in one go.

Wimpole Estate parkrun today. The weather in my village was relatively mild but when we arrived at Wimpole it was much colder and the wind was cutting.The light was poor and if I was more forward thinking, I would have employed someone with a SAD lamp strapped to their back to run directly in front of me. It was also very muddy and several people required to be hoisted out of vicious swamps by the emergency services. Anyway, I was one of a number of survivors who managed to stagger back to the superior National Trust cafe where I indulged myself with a fruit scone, butter and jam and a lovely cup of coffee. I kept good company with friends and met or observed parkrun royalty who were visiting from Headquarters.

Only eight days before Cambridge half marathon which most of my family and running friends are doing. There will be none of the stupidity of last year when I failed to drink during the race, and after finishing, which resulted in dehydration, an inability to walk and a nice trip in a Landrover to the medical tent. How magical water is! It didn’t take too long to recover but I won’t repeat the mistake.

Aliveandrunning April 6 2014

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Cambourne 10k, near Cambridge, today, with a field of 960 and I came in at 51 minutes 28 seconds, 32 seconds slower than last year. Not quite so windy as last year and probably the best temperature for running (for me) around 14c although I don’t mind it up to 23-24c. I am such a sensible person and therefore it was in keeping with my sensible nature that I drank at the half way water station and managed to stave off dehydration that cruelly beset me at the recent Cambridge half marathon. My two arch rivals, Mike and Kerry, beat me by about two and a half minutes, a margin which I found acceptable so we will remain friends (until the margin becomes a yawning chasm and then I will review the situation).

I noticed the Greek God Hermes sitting on a cloud watching my progress and smiling wryly but declining to assist me to run faster. At one point he swung his winged and sandalled feet back and forth to taunt me. So, no help from Mount Olympus today then.

Next weekend, we’ll be watching the London marathon in the docklands area with family and friends. This worked very well last year and we saw a lot of people running that we knew from Cambridge. We also caught the  the elite runners but if you blink at the wrong moment you’ve missed them. They are running machines like the the new improved cyborg T-1000 in Terminator 2 : Judgement Day. I wouldn’t want to accidentally stumble into their path. They’d use my body as a springboard and leave a sympathetic god to scoop me up.

Aliveandrunning February 23 2014

 

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Two random pictures. These trees are silver birch (betula jacquemontii) which have ghostly white, smooth bark. There is a beautiful group of them in the Anglesey Abbey gardens, Cambridgeshire. On the right is the main house in the grounds.

Two weeks to go before Cambridge Half Marathon! Last Sunday I ran 13.2 miles and today I ran the same course  around 3 minutes faster. No sunshine today and I reckon that accounts for about 4 minutes extra plus it was very windy which adds on another 3 minutes. Several runners did not respond to my greeting which dismayed me and resulted in a temporary slower pace while I recovered emotionally; add on 2 minutes. Finally, the river Cam anglers, notorious for their complete disinterest in anything other than catching ridiculously small fish and hoisting them out of the murky waters, kissing them and then depositing them back into the water, were all dressed in dull, drab, dark, dismal jackets and heavy duty trousers. This also resulted in a brief lowering of spirits and accounted for a further 2 minutes. So, if better conditions prevail, I could run it 11 minutes faster on the day!

I certainly felt more tired today compared with last Sunday. This is probably because I am still recovering from last week’s run. According to Lorna, I should now “taper” my runs until race day. My response is tapery wapery or bish,bash,bosh. I may defy running convention and run 20 miles mid week and 25 miles next weekend. But I may not. One of the reasons for not doing further long runs, apart from being deliberately idiotic, is because I tend to lose too much weight. When I returned today, I weighed 9 stone 5 lbs which is on the light side for me. I have a good appetite but I can still lose weight easily and look thin and gaunt; more like a moving match stick  rather than a young Clint Eastwood.

 

Aliveandrunning February 14 2014

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Nice break from the wind and rain on Thursday around the Cambridge area, at least in the morning. I went for an eleven mile run, including a long stretch by the side of the Cam, stopping only to take some pics. I decided not to eat before running and therefore I didn’t have my daily porridge until around 1pm. Then I had my lunch at 1.30pm.

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Before the run I took Rupert for a walk in Worts Meadow.This tree is fascinating. It’s a walnut and despite having a huge hole in the trunk, still produces leaves and nuts. The sap still rises! The pool in front of he walnut is magical. Don’t scoff at the tree’s condition or suggest it should be cut down. The water will suck you down then spit you out like a cannon ball. It will remember you as well. Don’t take any risks. Openly offer the tree compliments. It’s very susceptible to flattery.

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Yesterday evening I made spaghetti bolognese, seen here in all its multi coloured glory, with mixed salad, chopped raw onion, cheese and red onion flatbread and broccoli (a reasonable substitute if you’re fed up with sprouts. Was it Dr Johnson who said “If you are tired of sprouts you are tired of life?)

I went for my annual cardio-vascular review at the surgery yesterday morning. I’m not sure if I saw a practice nurse or health care assistant. She clarified whether or not I had a problem with a high potassium reading (no), asked me a few questions to check for depression and took my weight and blood pressure, didn’t seem to know I had a heart attack 4 years ago and couldn’t tell me if my BMI of 20.4 was outside the “normal range”. She was friendly and pleasant but I couldn’t help wondering if the appointment was a waste of time. It’s more about ticking boxes to achieve a particular standard. It tells me nothing about the current state of my heart disease.

Extremely windy in the Cambridge area today although the trees in Milton Country Park (where Cambridge parkrun is held) gave a lot of protection. Still plenty of mud around to slow me down, though. I gathered up the signs and direction arrows again after the race. It felt odd retracing my steps on deserted trail paths, and curiously enjoyable.

I read today that two cyclists in Berkshire have been killed by a car being pursued by the police after a domestic incident. I suspect that giving chase to cars not willing to stop are regarded as a perk to the police and almost no consideration is given to public safety. If you accept the transactional analysis  model of our behaviour reflecting adult, child and parental elements in our personalities then the police frequently reveal they are stuck in the immature adolescent stage. This results in a motivation to drive fast cars fast with no reasonable justification and a mandate to provoke a lethal pursuit.