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

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Sculptures possibly taking over.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Running more, running backwards.

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St.Neots half marathon a couple of weeks ago. Slowish and steady but comfortable. A flat road race in the main (with a few little hills), and rural. Fourth half this year. What have I learnt? I need to do the run training in preparation for a half rather than leave it until two weeks before the race “because I’m fit already.” I also learnt that a gym work out is not a substitute for running and that if I feel tired and lethargic a good run will make me feel much more energised and alert. I knew all this before, of course, but it’s always good to re-invent the wheel.

Currently, I’m trying to run each day (and managed it on the last six out of seven days). I’m not putting great effort into it, apart from parkrun, and distance is between two miles and eight K. This seems to be very manageable. Interestingly, I feel more tired on the days I’m not running. Sleep pattern has improved as well. I’m not going to run myself into the ground, just staying more consistently active on a daily basis.

Trump and his evil tweets! Good to see Theresa May using the strongest possible language to condemn the racist, divisive hate talk from America’s premier white supremicist. She said “Its wrong!”

I’ve started running backwards on the treadmill in the gym. Its a self propelled machine which means it requires foot fall on a slight incline to move the concave belt. As a result, it feels as if I’m running up hill backwards. Nevertheless, I’m sure I’m developing a significant skill which I can employ with great success when this style catches on. It’s only a matter of time.

Book recommendation: Why We Sleep: the New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. Very readable. A comprehensive, fascinating account underlining how sleep works, it’s importance for health and why we need the best quality.

 

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.

 

 

Hoohaah Wimpole Estate half marathon. I survive it much better than expected!

 

In September I ran a half near Bournemouth and just managed to stagger across the finish line. The last couple of miles were really difficult but a month later I ran the Hoohaah Wimpole half and felt much better. Why was this? Was it due to the encouragement and support of two dragonflies accompanying me for the last three miles and constantly whispering in my ears or the applause from the water nymphs by the glistening lake? Or had I simply run more consistently and put in the training miles in the interim? Mmmm….I think I’ll go with the dragonflies!

My parkrun times are gradually improving again although I still have the impression I’m running faster than my watch shows. This is a bit disconcerting. On top of this, my running pals are all doing well and I can’t keep up with them. This is criminal! I’ll have to come up with a cunning plan.

Just over a week ago I did Cambridge Town and Gown, 10k race around the town centre. This went reasonably well but I ran it wearing a thick hoody. The weather was good for running but Midsummer Common, where we started, was swept with a bitter wind and I couldn’t stand waiting around in the cold. Of course everyone else ran in short sleeves or vests and I must have looked a little odd. No matter. I’m more able to run and feel hot rather than freeze before I start. I let my son Dan come in 13 minutes before me. Well, you have to encourage the young!

I’m having difficulty stopping constructing models at the moment. Perhaps I’ve got modelitis.

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“Keep on running, grandad!”

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My daughter, Sophie, running in Cambridgw parkrun today (loving the camera, obviously). On this occasion she just beat me. Another daughter, Isobelle, ran Dulwich parkrun and son Dan did Valentines Park parkrun, coming in third but unfortuntely forgetting his barcode (so recorded as unknown).Doh!

I’m trying to get into better form for another couple of half marathons and the first one is next weekend at Wimpole Estate. I think I’m having  a little trouble with this distance at the moment because I’m not running the training mileage. I did, however, do a long run into Cambridge along the river Cam yesterday and found several hundred school kids walking towards me on the narrow towpath. I don’t believe they came out en masse to obstruct me but they certainly did not know a top class runner was at work. Several girls gave positive encouragement but just imagine my chagrin when one boy called out “Keep on running, grandad.” What! Surely I look like the young Clint Eastwood circa the Dollar films. Obviously the lad had perceptual difficulties. Anyway, I avoided crashing into the people looking down at their mobiles or falling into the river and ran 13 miles. I needed a rest after this but after a good night’s sleep parkrun was fine, albeit a bit slower.

Apart from the St Neots half in November, I’m doing a couple of 10k races in October including the Cambridge Town and Gown (around central Cambridge).

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Three unfinished models. So many more in the pipeline.

Boris Johnson! With a bit of luck, he’ll be the next Tory leader and bring the evil Tories into complete disrepute. A mildly successful comedian but a dangerous politician. A number of rungs down the ladder from Trump’s malignant narcissist. God save America and us all!

A difficult half marathon. Must do better next time!

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Lots of ladies taking to the the waters of the Cam recently and clearly having fun.

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I often stand on a particular bridge and snap away and a surprising number of people wave to me. It would be nice if I could send them a serendipitous pic but how? I’m thinking of printing some email cards which I could then drop from the bridge as they pass under. Would they flutter down and be caught or would they fall at an angle and plop into the water? Could I slightly weight the card so it fell straight? Should I forget this idea or should I be locked up for my own safety? Please advise!

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Enough of this particular sliver of my reality and back to running. Last weekend I attended the New Forest Festival of Running in Hampshire with Lorna and two of our running pals. Between us we did a 5k, 10k and two half marathons. A full marathon was also on offer which we politely declined. My hip problem had cleared up but I was somewhat undertrained for running 13 miles. The first two miles went very well, at ten miles I felt very tired, at eleven I rallied but twelve miles found me struggling. When I crossed the line I had no energy left and could not have run any further. Usually I’m able to put on a burst of speed at the finish but not this time. I know I hadn’t put in the training miles yet I was still surprised. I had already done a training thirteen miles around fourteen minutes slower so it’s taken a faster paced race to reveal my lack of stamina.

The New Forest is famous for its wild ponies but it was still mildly astonishing to see them roaming around.  At one point four ponies were cantering on a path adjacent to where I was running. They outran me.

We stayed at Boscombe, on the outskirts of Bournemouth and, unbelievably coincidental, Bournemouth parkrun was only a mile and a half away. A lovely trail run with a wide open grass start.