Normal running resumed (almost)

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Nice couple of lips on the go! I’m spending a lot of time thinking about modelling/sculptural ideas and execution. I’m particularly exercised by problems concerning improving the bases and ensuring a high standard of finish. Subsequent to these two examples I’m preparing some old reclaimed wood I bought at an exorbitant price from a reclaimation yard with a view to cleaning, sealing and waxing rather than painting.

Running has been a bit neglected over the last 6-7 weeks. My hamstring is still twinging occasionally and I haven’t been doing any runs over 50 minutes to test it. But I have been running reasonably consistently, albeit shorter distance. Parkrun is okay despite not doing the times I managed a year ago. It’s only about 60-90 seconds slower per 5k parkrun so not truly shocking. I have had a nice cup of coffee with running mates after, though. Plan: to slowly up the weekly mileage. I’ve got a half marathon coming up in October so I need to know I’m properly fit for that.

Too much egregious world news to comment on just before I go to sleep. Suffice to say that Boris Johnson, ex British Foreign Secretary ridiculing traditional Muslim female dress in the right wing press is vicious, divisive and cruel. It’s a typical extreme right wing Fascist technique. In this case hidden behind the mask of a clown.

As for the Catholic Church and the Benedictine Order and the damning report into decades of sexual abuse at two “leading” Catholic schools, Ampleforth and Downside, it’s a searing indictment of the corrosive and self serving nature of religion.

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Normal running resumed. Hamstring behaving itself.

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Here’s me, running alongside my chum Bob, in Cambridge parkrun. I look fresh and alert, mainly because we’ve just set off. The boy on the left beat us both. Shouldn’t he be be glued to his PlayStation on a Saturday morning rather than showing up senior citizens? Anyway, I’m steadily upping the running. Since the last blog I’ve done a couple of 10k races and a few hour training runs plus a 90 minute session, all without any problems.

Today’s Cambridge parkrun went well. We charged around the narrow country park trail paths like stampeding wildebeests (without anyone being trampled, to my knowledge). 579 ran, ran/walked or walked and it took 35 volunteers to put it on. I did my best time this year but it’s not about speed, is it? It’s not even officially regarded as a race despite the results statistics which record time, placement in time order and personal bests. Nevermind the built in contradictions, it’s a marvellous modern institution and growing healthily.

Mmmmm……. a pair of lips, the first of two. I haven’t given much time to model making recently because other things have got in the way.The ideas keep pinging into my head and they’ll get executed eventually.

Gosport War Memorial Hospital, Hampshire. The independent report found that 456 patients’ lives were shortened because they were given opioid drugs without clinical justification. A further 200 patients are implicated but records are missing. There was a “disregard for human life and a culture of shortening the lives of a large number of patients.” A single GP who worked as a clinical assistant at the hospital, routinely overprescribed drugs for her patients. Nursing staff raised concerns about her prescribing practice as far back as 1988. A staff meeting held in 1991 for nurses to address these issues “had the effect of silencing the nurses’ concerns”. Consultants were aware of the prescribing practice but did not intervene. Nurses did not exercise their responsibility to challenge the overprescribing and continued to administer the drugs Relatives’ complaints and questioning about the safety and appropriateness of care were not heeded by those in authority. And so on.

This is a huge tragedy and a terrible indictment of the moral judgement, apathy, unwillingness to act responsibly, willingness to uphold reputation at any cost and capacity to look away, of a very large number of people. This hospital, in part, was a killing machine. The investigation and inquiries should not be held out of the public gaze nor degenerate into a “truth commission”.

 

 

 

I find new ways to injure myself

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I’m doing parkrun and trying hard to look possessed. I think I’m succeeding! Actually, I’ve seen the photographer and I’m trying to look relaxed and normal. This is always difficult and possibly I’ve overdone it on this occasion.

I’ve severely limited my running over several weeks to allow my calf injury to heal. I did test it out on this parkrun and it felt okay. I planned to go for a longer run midweek but cruel fate intervened. The following day after parkrun I went onto a Woodway,  a self propelling treadmill and decided the sensible thing to do would be to walk. I walked 5k at an average of 8.3kph. Result? By the evening my right hamstring was painful and this has lasted for several days. In hindsight I was taking long fast strides for too long, something I had never done before and my hamstring couldn’t cope.

Anyway, I’m having a bit of physiotherapy on my calf, and now on my hamstring. I’ll see what else I can injure so I can get good value from the physio sessions.

Two further creations. The striding woman is a metre high. I seem to have a limited attention span concerning finishing pieces. It’s so much easier starting something else rather than finessing the end product. Obviously a serious character flaw. I’ll work on it.

 

The Cambridge Literary Festival weekend has just started and we went to see Susie Orbach interviewed in the University Debating Chamber. She’s founder of the London Women’s Therapy Centre, a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst and author of the seminal Fat is a Feminist Issue. She spoke about her new book, In Therapy, a spin off of her radio programmes in which she conducts a therapy session with individual actors (they have their own devised back story and not previously divulged to Susie. I didn’t listen to the prgorammes at the time of broadcast because they sounded too contrived and a bit daft (contrast this with the marvellous Anthony Clare interviews still available as BBC podcasts). When one of the questioners at the end spoke about their entertainment value , Susie was prickly in her refutation. She was somewhat defensive and prickly with other questions too which were hardly challenging or hostile. It was an interesting talk but I won’t be seeking therapy with her anytime soon.

Cambridge parkrun successfully completed today. Both calf and hamstring held up. 481 participated. I always stand in the same spot with my buddies of a certain age and we listen to the welcome, notices, acknowledgements and general information given by the race director before the start (at which point we are transformed into running gods). Generally I only hear about 20 per cent and my buddies catch more or less. As Bob said, we should  invest in a group hearing aid loop system. We may not be able to hear so well but we can certainly run!

Plea to America: your President is a threat to international stability and cannot conduct himself in a manner to inspire confidence, trust and a belief he acts with wise and considered intentions. Please, please speed up the impeachment proceedings.

Cambridge half marathon, a toilet roll and a gastrocnemius injury

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beyondstrange.co.uk

How versatile is a toilet roll? Very versatile. For example, as illustrated, it goes along way in preventing poking one’s eye out if one is building a tall rigid metal armature in one’s living room. How lucky I am to create a mess in this family environment! On the other hand, my family gets to see a living, working artist at close quarters. Quid pro quo, I think.

At the time of writing, I’m fairly certain I’ve got a calf injury (gastrocnemius). Four days before Saturday parkrun, I was 35 minutes into a 50 minute run when I had to pull up and walk. My left calf had started to twinge on impact and slowly got worse. It felt okay by parkrun time (up to a point) so I went ahead and re-injured myself. It was going well until just before 4k and then I slowed right down to a jog but still managed to complete the 5k. I rested it subsequently but Sunday morning it was swollen.

Plan : longer period of rest (only an idiot would wait until pain had subsided and immediately run on it). I won’t run again until next Saturday. That gives my calf seven days to recover which is surely more than enough time.

I don’t usually get calf problems. A fortnight ago, I did Cambridge half marathon and have done various runs since. I’ve got a new pair of running shoes which are an updated version of what I’ve been wearing for several years and I doubt that’s the culprit. I read that calf problems are more common in older runners and take longer to resolve. One way to at least mitigate this issue would be to re-register at parkrun as Steven Youngman in the 40-44 age category. Mind over matter frequently does the trick!

The Cambridge half went reasonably well. With immaculate timing, the Beast from the East (a late snap of very cold weather and snow affecting the entire country) came to a sudden end shortly before the race. The snow and ice melted overnight, the wind dropped and the temperature was just right for running. Unfortunately a lot of runners couldn’t make it because of transport difficulties and uncertainty the race would go ahead. About 7000 took part out of a theoretical 9000. It gets very congested in parts of the city despite re-routing it to Granchester rather than the previous two city laps. I think this is a consequence of the increase in the size of the race whichI presume will continue to grow.

Lorna and two daughters spectated and my eldest son just beat me by a few minutes (a mere 24). I finished in just under two hours. What did I learn? I need to do more timely training before running 13 miles. And take a longer period to recover. Will I heed this insight? I’m more likely to this time.

We visited the Picasso exhibition at the Tate Modern last weekend. Very good if you like non realist, abstract depictions of the human form. Tough if you don’t.

Much consternation among the sculptures when it snowed. They were relieved and  reassured when I confirmed they were for indoor display  only. Possibly I spend too much time talking to them!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Returning to fitness and close encounters with bats

 

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Eighteen days ago I had to pull up at Cambridge parkrun with shooting pains in my hip (obviously I completed the 5k walking) and the next few days I was limping and having difficulty climbing stairs. After I saw my GP who is sympathetic to running injuries, my mind was set at rest. She diagnosed bursitis which is inflammation of the bursa, a small sac of fluid between bone and tendon or muscle. I’ve never had any problems with my hips in the past and as usual when I’ve acquired injuries running, the cause has its origin in activities like heavy lifting and sometimes heavy lifting and walking awkwardly at the same time. This time it was barrowing concrete slabs and a ton of sand over 150 metres of grass and gravel.

I didn’t run at all for eleven days then I ran 10 minutes on a treadmill and did Cambridge parkrun two weeks after I pulled up. I trotted around and did it about eight minutes slower than usual without incident. I really enjoyed  running in a more relaxed manner rather than putting in maximum effort. I was also very pleased to be running again, full stop. I don’t like not being able to run even if it’s for only a couple of weeks. My body is acclimatised to running. Not to run is like losing vitality. Note to self: engage your brain when lifting and carrying.

And so to bats. We knew we had a small bat problem when we found four bats in the house, in fact on three separate occasions we had a bat flying around our living room.  I know they’re not the size of pigeons but we’re not the Addams family either. Turning sleuth, I discovered two possible holes in our clunch wall in our living room (it’s an old 17th century cottage with plenty of holes, gaps, cracks and crevices) and duly filled them with lime mortar. Viewing the wall from the outside, I could immediately see a likely gap between the stone and wooden board. The droppings sticking to the wall below the gap confirmed it.

Bat habitats are protected in the UK but I wondered if they could cause damage if they are living cheek by jowl with youin your own home. What to do? Of course, I raced to the phone and rang Bat Help Line and resisted blurting out “I’m a bat, help me”. Instead I had a nice little conversation with a very helpful and informative woman which reassured me. They don’t do damage and they will vacate later in the season. There’s no reason not to live with them much as we did  with a colony of bees a few centimetres behind plaster board in our bedroom. The bees subsequently left of their own volition. The only downside was their habit of making odd hooting noises during the night. I’m slightly deaf and couldn’t hear it. Lorna found it tolerable but odd! It’s the countryside, innit!

Back to running again. I’m due to do a half marathon in just over three weeks. Not sure if I’m up to it. Firstly, my hip is not entirely back to normal and, secondly, I haven’t done much running lately. Plan: go for a couple of longer runs next week and see how it feels.

I come to grief at Cambridge parkrun

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Photo courtesy of John Wilderspin

Here’s me, three weeks ago, bowling along in the heat, clearly upholding my reputation as an ageing running god (Roman era).

It was a different story today. My left hip had gven me aches, and occasional pain, for about four days but I had decided that running on it wouldn’t be problematic. I was wrong! There was a small amount of discomfort up to half way but I was still going full tilt. Then the discomfort increased and I began to get sharp pains which I couldn’t ignore. I still completed parkrun by walking and occasionally trotting but I think I’m properly injured.

A couple of days earlier when comparing my left and right hips, I expected to see some bruising where I bashed into something or collided with a worktop. There was no bruising in evidence and instead I noticed my left hip appeared a little swollen compared with the right. This suggested osteoarthritis although I wasn’t aware of it previously. Looking up the symptoms for osteoarthritis of the hip it didn’t quite fit with me and I wonder if the quads injury I had a couple of years ago might be implicated. Anyway, I hope to arrange an X-ray and take it from there. I did decide to take Ibuprrofen after speaking to the pharmacist but will further discuss this with my GP. Ibuprofen is not commonly taken by people with heart disease because it can adversely interact with cardiac medication.

So, I’m faced with an enforced rest from running for the time being. Boo hoo!

I read that Trump believes he has “complete power” to pardon people and is considering presidential pardons for family members, aides and even himself in the context of investigations into possibble collusion between rhe Trump team and Russian intelligence agencies. This sounds like a marvellous way to bring the Trump administration into total disrepute. I can understand that there are classes of American society who feel neglected, ignored and hard done by, by succesive administrations but the nature of the support that Trump has generated reflects a high level of credulousness, a punishing disregard for human rights, a moronic taste for jingoistic nationalism, a naked self interest at the expense of others and a penchant for cruelty, piggishness and vicious charm. Absolute power corrupts absolutely and Trump hasn’t wasted much time demonstrating it. The self righteousness and arrogance of his supporters and their willingness to condemn and  do down the most vulnerable people in society is frightening. God help America!