Ely New Year’s Eve 10k – fast, flat, wet

26166283_10213284400738741_8438227043015184292_n

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.

www.beyondstrange.co.uk

Instagram @beyondstrange

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Our first born courgette!

IMG_20170710_193500105

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.

A hot weekend of running. I felt like an upmarket crisp.

13123389_508421699367904_2417277681386167257_o

I didn’t run for nine days because of a minor back injury then ran three races this weekend. Actually I thought it was a back problem but after a further chat with myself I reached the conclusion that it was a hip problem after all. Anyway the rest seemed to have done the trick because I didn’t experience any difficulties after a total of around 23k.

The first pic shows me doing parkrun in my new 250 top. I was just able to beat my mate Eric immediately in front of me but came nowhere near Margaret (leading and eventually beating me by 2 minutes). Is there no justice?

13131209_1281417078554073_3003048369633812126_o

After parkrun, I whizzed over to another village and did 7k fun run with my chums in the picture. I whizzed so quickly I was able to buy a load of plants from the horticulture society plant stall and pick them up after the race. It was moderately hot, around 24-24c. I don’t mind running in these temperatures and much prefer it to running below 5c.

13173125_10209077659129400_6864378292671412839_o

The following day I ran in the Wings for Life event, sponsored by Red Bull, in aid of spinal cord research and treatment. It started in Cambridge on Parker’s Piece and the route potentially ran for 100k. The idea was to run as far as you could and outrun the catcher car, driven by David Coulthard, which sets off at a steady pace 30 minutes after the last runner had crossed the start line. When cruel David catches up with you, your electronic chip is deactivated and you stop running. Your race is over and buses take you back to Cambridge. Steve Way was top runner with 63k covered. I managed just under 14k, Lorna did 7.63k. It was a pretty hot day (up to 26-27 in the fairly constant sun) and I stopped three times to drink. A fleet of buses returned us back to Cambridge. About 2500 took part and it’s scheduled to take place in Cambridge again next year.

Contrary to my expectations, the race was very well organised and successful. There was plenty of free Red Bull to drink including at the actual drink stations on route but I was too frightened to try it! You can’t beat plain water for most occasions, can you?

DSC_0882DSC_0833

More fine marathon runners. Respect!

Top man sees red in print

IMG_20160318_150504914

It’s Sigmund Freud, of course, smoking a cigar as usual. Is it symbolic? Well, as the top man said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! That’s just his opinion. Certainly it must have contributed to, if not caused, his cancer of the jaw. Was he a runner? I doubt it. Missed out there then, didn’t he.

I’m trying to get my running back on track. Today’s parkrun was a reasonable time for me at the moment and tomorrow I’m running a five miler in Swavesey. There’s a half marathon going on at the same time but I’m not up to that distance at present. My ex arch rival, Mike, will  be doing the five miler and he’ll be around four minutes faster than me. Another rival, Kerry, will do the half. Having missed the recent Cambridge half due to illness, my next half will be the Flaming June, which unsurprisingly, is run in June. I’ve got various 10k races in the pipeline. Training with the club seems to have taken a backseat and I don’t think I’ve been out with them since I injured myself during the Wimpole half marathon last October.My enthusiasm for training in a group waxes and wanes and currently I still prefer to run alone.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has resigned over Osbourne’s Budgetary  cuts to to benefits received by people with disabilities alongside tax cuts for the richest. He stated that the cuts were “simply not fair, not right” and it was wrong to finance tax cuts for the better off by “taking money away” from those with disabilities. David Cameron professed himself to be “puzzled and disappointed.” George Osbourne is left with egg on his face. They’ve all got blood on their hands as far as I’m concerned. It’s more of a case when thieves fall out. Iain Duncan Smith is hardly a man with a conscience.

Nearly forgot. Did the Freud print at my print making class. It looks okay but the quality is poor. The point is that the more you practice the better you become and this is only a first try.

 

 

Alive and Running March 9 2015 Cambridge half marathon

DSC_0285 Cambridge half marathon completed! Five halves and one relay leg of seven miles in perfect long distance running weather. Not too warm, not too cold, occasionally windy but always sunny.

Apparently the organisers increased the field from 4000 to 4,500. Unfortunately this made a difference in terms of congestion. The streets of Cambridge aren’t designed to accommodate that number of runners (oddly Cambridge University and the city planners over several centuries failed to predict mass participation running). This resulted in a lot of boxing in and unwanted change of pace. I was forced to trip up people, push them aside or deliver a karate chop to pass them. It was justified carnage. I know what pace I need to maintain and if they don’t automatically clear a space for me to glide effortlessly by,well, they pay the penalty.

Possibly foolishly, I put too much effort into parkrun the day before and felt a little tired. Nevertheless, I was only 1 min 42  seconds outside last years Cambridge half and I was happy with that. In fact we all ran well despite a general lack of consistent training among some of us (I couldn’t use this excuse).

DSC_0192

Shanti ran a much faster time than last year, improving by around 20 minutes. Boyfriend Ben is drinking a non alcoholic beer that we all received in our goodie bags.

I drank around 400 mls during the race, sufficient after finishing and regularly for the rest of the day. As a result of my responsible behaviour, I avoided dehydration and also excruciating cramp during the night. How clever am I!

Alive and Running February 28 2015

300px-Stanley_Green,_Oxford_Street,_1977 en.wikipedia

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 July 30 2014

WP_20140728_005

My supper last night watching the Commonwealth Games. I ate late because it was club training night with Cambridge and Coleridge RC. Alarmingly it did not include broccoli. However, accompanying the basmati rice, chicken curry with cauliflower and courgettes, mixed salad, naan bread with mint sauce and poppadum, I made a Shirazi salad, an Iranian dish  (in the bowl). I needed this after the running. We didn’t go for distance. We simply ran 8 x 1 minute intervals with 3 minute recoveries. So only 8 minutes of hard running in all. It doesn’t sound much but it’s demanding.

Far less than usual attended, possibly on holiday, possibly fearful of the heat and cowering in front of an open refrigerator. Anyway, the cream of the elite were present (yes, I unashamedly include myself in their ranks) and I acquitted myself with distinction (well, second to last in the speed stakes but it’s not really about speed, is it?) On these warm days I drink 500 mls of water as soon as we finish and, with further water later, this seems to keep the cramps away.

I made another new salad today – radish, cucumber and red onion salad with mint and orange blossom dressing. I went to Tesco to buy the ingredients and also for other new recipes I’m trying. Of course, I had to ask for assistance.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for orange blossom water, za’atar and a bottle of Corinthian red wine vinegar”

“Mercy me, sir, we don’t stock those kind of la-de-da things. You must be cooking foreign. May I direct you to Mill Road (a notorious area of Cambridge well known for the louche lifestyle of its inhabitants). I’m sure they eat loads of that kind of stuff. You can pick up some falafel that your kind can’t get enough of at the same time. Why not treat yourself to a box of our Krispy Kreme  doughnuts and tuck in as you drive over.”

So, not the positive response I hoped for. But what do you expect from a chain of supermarkets which appears to have a national policy of displaying plants for sale that are dead or dying as a result of not being watered. This happens so frequently at my local Tesco I believe that the staff must be prohibited from watering or possibly projecting their anger and frustration with customers onto the defenceless plants. Who hears them screaming. They just wither away, poor things. I’ve taken photos to prove it and I may publish them when the world is ready. Tesco, STOP IT!!