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.

 

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Cambridge half marathon and Tate Britain

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This is not the Cambridge half, of course. This is Cambridge parkrun the day before. And very muddy it was, too. Photo taken by Rob Moir who is able to twist around, whilst running, and take a good quality picture without falling arse over tit, before accelerating off. Thanks Rob.

I was very lucky to run the Cambridge half. Four days before I did a bit of light lifting without an obvious problem but overnight my knee became painful. The following day it was very sore and stiff and I thought this might be the second Cambridge half in a row that injury or illness would stop me running. The next day, Saturday, I did parkrun but the knee held up and for the rest of the day. Just over three miles is one thing but thirteen miles is something else. Nevertheless, I did the half, and miraculously, with no ill effect to my knee except a little aching and stiffness. Phew!

I’m not running very consistently at the moment and not for very long either. I did run my fastest parkrun this year, yesterday, but I’m still catching up on last year’s times. Today, I ran the Swavesey 5 miler. Swavesey’s a village 10 miles from Cambridge surrounded by very flat fenland fields and when the wind blows, as it often does in the fens, there’s no protection. It was windy today but the temperature was mild. Nevertheless I ran in my jacket to avoid the wind chill. I came in 22nd out of 69 but two and a half minutes slower than last year.There was also a half marathon at the same time in which 134 ran. Another half was a temptation but physically I don’t feel 100%.

After the race, as I was leaving, I came across a gaggle of St. John’s Ambulance standing alone in the wind. They asked me how my race went. I revealed it went okay (this is not fake news!) and I said their presence was very reassuring to me because of my heart disease (they also had a couple of bikes out following the runners). Good people (does Trump use this phrase, it sounds familiar).

And so to the Tate Britain gallery, Millbank, London to see the David Hockney exhibition. Well worth visiting to see all his iconic pictures and pictures of various periods. Very enjoyable wandering  around the galleries again and absorbing the wonderful creativity.

Lorna is contemplating Jules Olitski’s Instant Loveland. There’s more going on in this picture than appears at first sight, particularly in the lower left hand corner. Thankfully there is no danger of Lorna being overwhelmed by a kaleidoscope of lurid colours. Actually, I am sympathetic to this type of art but I still find it highly amusing.

This is Edward Halliday’s Christian and Hopeful Arrive Before the Celestial City, 1926. I’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress and I don’t remember it as a naked journey.

I walked into Cambridge’s premier bookshop, Cambridge University Press, with confidence and purpose. I found the hardback book I had seen in the window display and optimistically scanned it for the price. £60!!!!!!!! I staggered back, weakened in body and spirit. The staff were familiar with such reactions, helping me to sit down and wafting smelling salts under my nose. They gently prised the £60 tome from my immobilised hand, glanced at the price and offered the standard treatment response. “Don’t worry, sir. This title will be issued in paperback in two months at less than a third of the cost. I’m sure you’re  feeling better already, aren’t you? I was!

 

 

 

Trump vows running community will pay for wearing out sidewalks (and by the way, runners are losers).

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Cambridge at night and approaching the Garret Hostel bridge over the river Cam. Strangely no tourists in sight which is a pity because the weather made it super spooky. It’s only around 7.30pm and there were very few people around.

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Trinity Lane also deserted apart from vaporous apparitions passing through the dank walls. You can just make out a couple of them in this shot. We did decide to take this route but with Lorna walking forwards while I walked backwards. Just as a precaution.

Tip : BBC, Taboo, 9pm, Saturday, two episodes gone, six to go. Wonderfully atmospheric thriller set in early nineteenth century London. Top cast, top production (Ridley Scott).

Did a bit of Cambridge half marathon training yesterday. I ran 9 miles in the most dreary of weather – cold, miserable light and raining. Didn’t see anyone running until I got to the river and then came across around 20-25, some in groups, some running alone. Most returned my passing acknowledgement, some got their salutations in before me, some looked straight through me. The latter group tend to be young and fast. No bitterness intended! Anyway, good to get the training out of the way. If I can do 9, I can do 13. It’s at the beginning of  March and there’s plenty of time to do some occasional long runs to remind my legs what they are in for.

My times at parkrun are still on a downward trajectory. I put this down to building up muscle at the gym. If this carries on, I’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger but come in with the tail runner. No matter. In two weeks it will be Cambridge parkrun’s 7th birthday and I’ll be running my 306th parkrun. I first ran it at #5 in 2010 when 88 took part. The current maximum field is 558. Another 10 years and walkers will be an endangered species!

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My haul of Christmas books. The Lonely City is about the spaces between people and things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. It profiles some odd but very creative people.

Emily Witt’s Future Sex is a non titillating investigation into different modern expressions of sexuality. Could be challenging to some, hilarious to others.

Permaculture magazine. A kinder, natural, way of growing and living with land and nature.

Writers’ and Artist’ Year Book to kick start my writing mojo (again).

Zealot – The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, 2013 (controversial) biography of Jesus.

The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by Sybille Bedford. This is a short, contemporary  account of the DH Lawrence book Lady Chatterley’s Lover which was published in its unexpurgated form in 1960 by Penguin and resulted in a famous trial for publishing obscene material . A very entertaining description, and the prosecution’s case is wondrous to the modern ear (as in the prosecution barrister asking the jury “Is this a book you would wish your wife or servant to read?”

Finally, The Big Watch Book, £6. It’s full of images of obscenely expensive watches. The manufacturers and purchasers of said items should be subject to prosecution under conspicuous and extravagant display of wealth laws. Unfortunately I am beguiled by these objects and their descriptions and this type of advertisement book is a guilty pleasure like the occasional buying of the Saturday Telegraph.

The more I see and hear Donald Trump condemn, pontificate, insult, sneer, lie, insinuate and intimidate, the less faith I have for people in general to make a reasoned judgement of what conduct is required to govern a country with wisdom and compassion. He’s a high functioning narcissist with a pronounced cruel streak (and by the way, he’s in charge of America!)

 

 

 

 

2017 – my goals, resolutions and other possible fiction

 

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Cambridge parkrunfirst timers briefing on January 7th. Another large field – 526 turned out to run in muddy conditions. To put on this parkrun takes around 30 volunteers and it was time for me to join their ranks. I chose to marshal. I enjoy marshalling because it’s so interesting watching the different running styles. Many people respond to the clapping and encouragement and for a substantial minority, it really is an impressive achievement. All in all, it’s a very positive experience for everyone concerned.

I’m not sure if Cambridge parkrun can continue to grow. The paths are narrow, there is a repeat circuit and parking appears to have reached capacity. There have been rumours about a new parkrun but nothing has come to fruition as yet. I spoke to someone a couple of years ago who was involved with an abortive attempt to get a new run off the ground. I was surprised how difficult the process proved to be and how much time and effort was required. I know how much a commitment it is for a core team to put on a run each week.

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Rather eery weather in Cambridge on the weekend. This is Trinity Lane arond 7.30pm.

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This is approaching Garret Hostel bridge over the Cam. I sent Lorna over first. She can deal with anything!

My goals, resolutions and aspirations?

  1. Be more consistent.
  2. Focus on creativity.
  3. Allow myself to be more eccentric.
  4. Create towers of books.
  5. Have a go at vlogging – subject reviewing book reviews with a view to describing their particular enjoyment.
  6. Take some things very seriously but take most things not too seriously and some “serious” things as  only worthy of spontaneously laughing out loud.
  7. Continue writing my crime novel at a much faster pace.
  8. Run and run and run.
  9. Pray Trump implodes without causing too much damage.
  10. Find someone with whom I can play chess and Go.
  11. That’s enough for the present.

Cambridge half marathon in 8 weeks. Time to start training.

 

 

 

 

 

Leonard’s gone!

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Photo courtesy of John Wilderspin

New arch rival at Cambridge parkrun! Unusually, I’m running and smiling as we we approach the finish line and we come in within a second of each other. Cambridge has the good fortune to have a consistent photographer in John Wilderspin (for example, this week he’s put up 400+ images). There’s something confirming about a personal running picture even if it’s not flattering. There’s always the next one!

Running’s not very complicated at the moment. I’m tending to go for short 2 mile runs 3-4 times a week and 5k parkrun on Saturdays. Unfortunately, I’m not finding last year’s form at all but on the plus side I have the pleasant delusion that I am faster than ever. There’s a satisfying feeling of speed despite my stupid watch telling a different story. Possibly I’m running so fast, I’ve gone back in time. I know Superman can reverse time by flying around the Earth multiple times faster than the speed of light (I stand to be corrected on this with reference to the specific DC Superman comic). But then again, I know in my heart of hearts, being given a parkrun token with place number 172  emblazoned on the plastic coating is not compatible with magical running powers.

Talking of magic, I read a very enjoyable review of Elf Queens and Holy Friars :Fairy Beliefs and the Medieval Church by Richard Firth Green, £36. (London Review of Books : don’t worry, non London people, you too can have access to this literary mag). Widespread belief in fairies and mythical creatures meant they were given responsibility for all manner of unfortunate occurrences and circumstances and their influence waned slowly as society became more rational. Even today many people still believe in evil fairies and a malevalent Fairyland, chiefly UKIP voters and Daily Mail Readers.

Leonard Cohen’s death is a very sad event. He’s been a cultural and emotional part ofmy life since I was a teenager in the 1960s, listening to his first album in our 6th form common room. Drone, drone, drone. Powerful songs expressing adolescent feelings and a wonderful backdrop to growing up, reading Krisharmerti, Kafka, Hesse, Mervyn Peake, Oz, the International Times, walking the streets of London and seeing the best bands in London.

Running made simple

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At present I’m running between two and three times a week. Typically I’ll do parkrun locally,  a two miler and a 11-12k longer run. This seems to be more than enough to keep me ticking over and retaining a reasonable level of running fitness which allows me to do the occasional 10k race without extra training.

I’m missing club running but not enough to rejoin. I do have to remind myself that 67% of the reason for leaving was because I was pushing myself too hard (possibly) for someone with heart disease. Research is suggesting that running too far, too often and at an elevated pace is not heart friendly. Research also suggests drinking from the right mug boosts confidence and self esteem. I’ll give it a go.

Cambridge parkrun numbers are still growing. The last two runs have seen record numbers at 546 and 558. Since the course is over a couple of laps and a smaller loop most of which are narrow woodland paths, there’s a lot of congestion at multiple points. This must be a central reason why the parkrun core team has now decided that dogs can no longer run alongside their owners/carers. In short, dogs are now banned. Cue controversy!

We’ve taken to going to London for the day and walking 10-12miles. Recently we explored the development at the back of Kings Cross station which includes a temporary Skip Garden and a reasonably secluded open air swimming pool. It will all be gone in two years and the area will be built on. A great pity because this is the kind of project which gives a place soul and a creative, natural feel. There’s no money in it for the developers, of course.

Still, there is the Regent’s Canal nearby (hopefully no plans to fill it it in) and you can stroll (or run) along most of its  length. We walked from Kings Cross through to Camden Locks and on to Regent’s Park. From there you can leave the canal and walk up Primrose Hill and enjoy a panoramic view of London. That’s the wonderful thing about canals that run through cities and towns. Built two hundred years ago, they bring a feel of history and countryside and calm to the densely populated and over built areas they meader through. Thankfully, they are still around.

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Richard Neville, co-founder of Oz magazine, has died aged 74. Neville, Jim Anderson and Felix Dennis were charged with obscenity and conspiring to corrupt public morals in 1971 and the high profile trial was the subject of Tony Palmer’s book,  The Trials of Oz. Well worth reading on a number of levels. Very funny too, with a host of defence witnesses making fast and loose with the po faced prosecutors. John Mortimer QC defended with Geoffrey Robertson and defence witnesses included George Melly, Hans Eysenck, Edward de Bono, John Peel, Marty Feldman Ronald Dworkin and Feliks Topolski.

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You can get this for a song on Ebay. Take a chance and immerse yourself in 60s/70s counterculture colliding with prevailing conventions and conservative society. Hilarious.

London and Greenwich : a bit of running and a lot of walking

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And so to London for a four night break. We stayed in Greenwich, walked heroic distances along the Thames footpath and travelled up and down the Thames on the Thames Clippers, the speedy catamarans used by commuters, tourists and elegant, sophisticated travellers like ourselves. I also did a bit of running between Greenwich and the O2 Arena. There’s still a great deal of new building work and development along the banks of the Thames, in the main high priced speculative flats for investment and people with more money than sense. Nevertheless, many of the wooden quays and landing stages have been preserved or part preserved and the history and character of the river is still intact.

I’ve discovered I like running through industrial landscapes and wending my way through building sites or cement works. We’re not talking about trespass here, just following access paths created to negotiate past all the development. Strangely, I didn’t meet many people during sections of my run. Obviously not every one shares my enjoyment of running past heavy machinery, cranes, temporary fencing and portacabins. Odd, that! To me, it’s reassuring that despite the business and congestion of London, you don’t have to go far off the beaten track to lose the crowds or feel alone.
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I took this pic at Greenwich and caught this large passenger liner travelling up river to dock alongside HMS Belfast, just past Tower Bridge.

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Another interesting aspect of the Thames is the opportunity to walk along the shore line at low tide which you can do at many points.

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The view from Greenwich Park adjacent to the Greenwich Observatory with a fascinating panoramic landscape of London spread out before you.

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CycleSuperHighway. We came across this dedicated 2/3 lane road way for cyclists and runners at the Embankment. It goes on for miles but if it’s like this section, it’s impressive. The Highway is properly separated from traffic by curbs and you feel safe (unlike us poor pedestrians trying to traverse it). A miracle must have occurred to bring it into existence in the teeth of London traffic congestion.

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The docked liner with Tower Bridge closing in the background. Cruises start at around £14,000. Think of how many books that could buy!

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Back to Cambridge. People and punts together are endlessly interesting and I can’t stop snapping them.

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I’m not doing much running at the moment, perhaps just parkrun and one other run between 45 and 60 minutes a week. I am doing an average of 13,000/14,000 steps a day, however, and I’m happy with that. We went to Wimpole Estate parkrun last Saturday and that went well. As usual, I walked up the short but steep hill and this enables me to start off at a reasonable pace at the top without feeling all in. We had a tasty coffee with our good friends before I repaired to the Wimpole pre-loved bookshop and rescued some old maps. Incredible how some people can abandon their books. I’m sure there’s a treatment for it somewhere!