Upside : I’m running more frequently. Downside : I’m being stalked by a chicken.

Yes, this is the chicken! A hen, actually. She may not have big brain but she quickly worked out I’m a soft touch. All I did was provide a small handful of wild bird seed on two occasions and now she visits daily, occasionally with a cockerel in tow. Is this a problem? It wasn’t initially but she now contravenes normal social proprieties. If we leave a door open, she struts in brazenly. We’ve found her on a sofa in our front room, in our living room and she’s familiar with our bathroom. And she’s not even our hen! She and her pals are free ranging and belong to a farmer fifty metres away.

 

I rest my case!

I’m pleased to report that my chicken based woes are not adversely affecting my running. I’m back to running consistently and again trying to increase distance. I did the Greater Cambridge 10k a couple of weeks ago and I’ve got an undulating half marathon in two weeks. I’m a regular at Cambridge parkrun. I’ve also done a couple of training sessions at Cambridge and Coleridge running club with a view to rejoining. I miss the Tuesday road training. Of the present Tuesday group I’m the slowest which is not necessarily a problem but the effort involved does mean I have to put in maximum effort. Older running gods, like myself, have to be careful! Alternatively, I could do the track sessions which are probavly more manageable/flexible.

I did a 12 mile run today and this went okay. I have to resist the temptation to do another long run without sufficient recovery time. I feel good after a long distance and I want to repeat it but wiser heads object. Memo to self: enrol on that adult education class titled “How to Behave Sensibly for Advanced Years Citizens”

 

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Lips completed! I’ve made quite a few models now and it’s dawned upon me rather late that the bases are not adequate. So, at the moment I’m using,, or replacing previous bases with, reclaimed hard woods.

I made this sculpture over a year ago. I won’t be replacing this base but I need to upgrade it. This won’t be very easy because I won’t be detaching the statue because that would be a bit of a palaver.

So, how’s Brexit going? Not too well for the evil Tory goverment! Labour is hoping for no agreement and a general election. There’s increased talk of another referendum or at least another complete rethink on how to proceed. For my part, Brexit. as voted or by 52% of the population, reflects a very strong strand of xenophobia and right wing manipulation of racist prejudice. I certainly don’t feel the Tories are capable of making humane and compassionate laws and policies. I’ve got more faith in EU law.

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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.

 

Our first born courgette!

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I feel the wheel barrow adds a certain dramatic licence to the harvesting of our first courgette. And do they grow quickly! I could hardly believe it. In complete contrast with purple sprouting broccoli which took almost eleven months before picking (in fact I had to issue a series of warnings about their behaviour and was about to grub them up when they condescended to perform. If vegetables could be said to be lazy and moody, look no further than sprouting broccoli).

G reen Minds therapeutic garden is looking good at the moment. I’m extending the area to make new crop beds and I’ve got some money to buy a 3m x 3m shed which will free up the polytunnel of clutter and provide more growing space. I’ve also bought a small green house.

And so to running. A week ago, when it was hot, I went for a run of just under 10 miles. I’m still not running very frequently but I’m still going to the gym and maintaining a reasonable level of fitness. I needed to go for a longer distance than 5k or my standard 5 miler. What did I learn from running nearly 10 miles in the heat?

1. You get hotter, sweat more profusely and become thirstier compared to cooler weather.

2. The heat doesn’t seem to put many people off running.

3. It felt very manageable while I was running but I sweated buckets when I got home.

4.I felt lethargic for a coupe of hours afterwards.

5. I took my blood pressure and pulse as soon as I got home and again 4-5 minutes and 15 minutes later. This ranged from 113 over 69 with pulse 110 to 95 over 66 with pulse 94 at 4-5 minutes. At 10pm the best of three readings were 113 over 62 with pulse 54. I was happy with this. I know my blood pressure is much more under control compared to the past and prior to my heart attack eight years ago but it’s still nice to know running is helpful.

6. You need to drink over several hours to get properly hydrated.

7. I felt sheer delight when a couple of butterflies accompanied me along the riverbank for around 70 metres. They kept pace with me and danced around each other. Wonderful.

I may have learnt other things, currently lost to recall. If they present themselves, I’ll big them up in my next blog.

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.

 

 

Cambridge Town and Gown 10k

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Fourth Cambridge Town and Gown 10k. They are off and immediately have to contend with a kamikaze photographer. Great running weather, sunshine throughout and lots of friends taking part. Unfortunately, I only had a bit part as a snapper due to the injury I picked up after I fell heavily during a half marathon three weeks ago. Still, they also serve who only stand and wait (Milton, On His Blindness, innit!)

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Lorna and some  of my running pals displaying their strange fascination with the the colour orange.

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Suddenly the atmosphere dramatically changes and Lorna gives me the evil eye. What have I said or done? It’s not credible that I may have been indiscreet or committed a faux pas. Nevertheless, I am turned to stone!

They all had a good race. I got repetitive strain injury in my camera button finger and limped around, ceaselessly attending to the needs of others. Roll on my recovery.

 

Aliveandrunning June 21 2014 Juneathon Day 21

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A lovely, leafy, sun dappled long straight path in Milton Country Park, the venue for Cambridge parkrun. On the immediate left (out of shot) is a large lake, so useful for nudging arch rivals into. We have around 400 doing Cambridge parkrun now but by the time this point is reached, we’re reasonably spaced out. I had a good run today and finished only 23 seconds outside my personal best. I think getting below 23 minutes is possible after Juneathon, after I’ve had a few days rest, if  it’s not too hot, if I start nearer to the front, if I do some distance training, if I can fortify myself with lashings of Brussels sprouts, if any of the Greek goddesses are smiling at me from above, and if I’m feeling invincible. So, if all this criteria is satisfied, I’m suited and booted. If only!

We have two timers at Cambridge and Lorna was one of them today. It’s always a slightly anxiety producing job because of the sheer number of runners coming through in bunches, overtaking on the line (and funnel), being joined by children who may or may not have run, pressing buttons hard enough to register as a result and being distracted by the crowds around you. I collected the signage around the course after the run which allows me to take part in the race and volunteer. I came back to the cafe just in time to have a delicious coffee with friends in the sunshine. No matter what time you do, parkrun is such a feel-good experience. Tomorrow is the Hatfield Forest 10k. There should be plenty of shade, at least at intervals. It starts at 10. I’ll have to make a decision about when and how much porridge to eat in the morning. Probably a large bowl around 7 am.

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Here is a fine bed of nettles I’ve cultivated over several years. The key to such an impressive display is to leave them to set seed annually and also to cut them down but leave the roots. They thrive on the challenge to recover their strength.

I can usually pull the young ones up successfully. The older, much more experienced nettles that have been around the block and attended the school of hard knocks are a different matter. They find novel and ingenious ways to sting me, I try to grasp them with gloves and they duck out of the way so I clutch thin air, they hiss and murmur insults. This time , it’s personal. I’m going to apply a lot of time , effort and cunning to make you history, a small footnote in my illustrious gardening career. Anyone for nettle soup?

 

 

Aliveandrunning April 11 2014

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     I decided to post this  snap of Rupert despite his objection that it didn’t flatter him. I countered this by asserting it was in the public interest to publish. It wasn’t everyday that you saw a dog with 5 “o” clock shadow! He growled something about entitlement to privacy and me acting like paparazzi but I overruled him.

Tomorrow is Cambridge parkrun. Last week I restricted my food intake Friday evening, hoping this would result in a better than usual time but this wasn’t successful. Tonight I’ll be eating up to midnight  and so I’ll be able to contrast and compare.

It’s Lorna’s birthday next week. Her Achilles tendonopathy continues to improve and she’s back running. Her joy at running again was reflected in prematurely ripping open her wrapped present, extracting the Garmin 10 from the shredded paper, immediately charging it up and then running in small circles, grinning inanely when the readout informed her that she was below the set pace.

On Sunday we’ll be spectating at the London marathon. The weather is expected to be reasonable ie not cold and not raining, and we’ll go to Canary Wharf in Docklands which was a good spot last year. Amazingly we saw a number of runners known to us.

“Pope Francis asks forgiveness for child abuse by clergy” is one of the items on BBC News.   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26989991. The report shows a great pic of the Pope looking as if he is overcome by overwhelming sorrow, contrition and empathy for the suffering. Nice piece of acting  by the caring Pope who is frequently puffed up as the man of the people destined to bring about real reforms. The Catholic church, like other long established religions, is as self serving as wealthy conglomerates such as the pharmaceuticals and armaments industries. The only real difference consists of the involvement of millions of good, reasonably well intentioned people who still, inexplicably, are motivated to have the wool pulled over their eyes.