Aliveandrunning September 22 2014

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Weather fine today so we had lunch on the lawn. Mine was cold and consisted of left overs from yesterday’s  meal – chicken in Thai Green curry sauce, a few Brussels sprouts, runner beans, lemon rice, Mediterranean vegetable mix (originally frozen) and a radish, cucumber and red onion salad with cashew nuts, mint and honey.

Should have gone for a run today but didn’t get around to it. Just under two weeks to the next half marathon on Wimpole Hall Estate and I need to be running longer distances more frequently. If I don’t do this, I’ll run a mediocre time (by my own personal standards) but not so poor that spectators will boo and throw rotten fruit at me.

Saturday’s Cambridge parkrun went OK. I ran another sub 24 minutes but still more than 30 seconds off my personal best. If I don’t improve I’ll start wearing a hair shirt (at this point I looked up “hair shirt” and found a forum thread concerning a man asking advice about wearing a cilice (or hair shirt ) for spiritual/religious reasons. Very interesting! I think I’ll forget the hair shirt and cut down on my daily consumption of Brussels sprouts as a penance instead.

The proposed gardening therapy project took a step forward last Friday when I met a manager at Cambridge MIND, the mental health charity. She liked the idea and didn’t think making referrals or encouraging volunteers to get involved would be problematic. I’m now in the process of making an on line planning application to the District Council. I’ve also emailed  someone who has a remit to identify and develop green spaces which would have a beneficial impact on the health and well being of local communities. Might my project fit into this criteria? Who knows. I’ll have to look at funding and how to set up a charity shortly but this can only go ahead if planning permission is not an issue.

Aliveandrunning September 10 2014

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Thank God (which one?) I was eating this meal when I heard  David Cameron talking, in Scotland, about the upcoming referendum on whether that country should become independent of the UK. Beware! These Tories mess with your mind and one way of dealing with this direct address to the credulous is to offset the unrealness by eating good, healthy, simple food. Look no further than Brussels sprouts and broccoli aided and abetted by chicken in an achari marinade, lemon rice and roast vegetables.

Dave anticipated feeling “broken hearted” if the Scots broke away. He was passionate about the UK remaining intact and apparently a rich vein of raw emotion was evident in his voice. In fact all three party leaders were in Scotland at the same time to support the No vote and they all vied to out do each other on the sincerity/passion/you gotta believe me, I beg you front. This is the same Tory leader who reassured us that the NHS is safe in Conservative hands and demonises benefit recipients. A very skilled liar and emotional manipulator.

Out with the club last night. We did a one kilometre time trial followed by four further one kilometres. I felt a little tired but overall it was OK. I made a new pal and chatted amiably. Hearing his parkrun 5k time, I thought he would be in the top third of our road running group that evening. After the time trial, we formed three separate groups and he did indeed go into the speediest set. Will this go to his head? Will I be snubbed because I was second last in the slowest group? Does he read the Daily Mail and hate non Mail readers. I think not to all three questions. He seemed normal, friendly and grounded. Damn!

Eco project update – I have been in contact with Cambridge MIND and I am meeting with them next week.

Grunty Fen half marathon this coming weekend. I’ll still do Cambridge parkrun the day before but I’m taking it relatively easy this week.

Aliveandrunning August 28 2014

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This shocking, non life threatening injury was sustained at my local Tesco supermarket. I can’t lay claim to seeing off a gang of thugs who were menacing a hard working but meek and elderly tax payer. I didn’t fight a duel in the carpark to prevent my honour  being besmirched. But I can confirm that one of their trolleys has got a mean attitude. I usually take one of the smaller, shallow trolleys which stack together and should pull out easily. Sometimes the metal panel which swivels to allow them to stack gets stuck. Through experience and the application of hard won technical wisdom, I have learnt that a short, sharp knock will free the swivelling panel and allow me to wheel the trolley away. Not sure why but this expected outcome didn’t take place. Instead I thumped it too hard and the panel flipped over and hit me on the bridge of the nose. Blood was dribbling down my face and I had to seek first aid at the customer services desk. Following a Code One call over the PA system a first aider appeared, quickly, accompanied by an assistant and, I think, the duty manager. They suggested I move away from the public gaze while they cleaned me up and wanted me to sit down. It was my minimal expectation that a running god like myself would be ushered into a side room with discreet classical music playing and offered strawberries while I reclined on a chaise longue. This didn’t happen. Instead I walked 3 metres and sat on an electric store buggy while the three Tesco people worked on my nose and the queue of people waiting for customer services gawped at me. Still, I got prompt attention despite their lack of recognition that I am a running deity. I wouldn’t be surprised that, had I gashed my nose deeply, they would have publicly stitched me up.

Out running with the club two days ago. We ran the course for the 5K interclub run next week. There weren’t many of us and the course wasn’t familiar to me. I think I was still feeling tired  from running a training 13 miles two days previously. As a result, despite a feeling I was flying like the wind, I did a slow time. It was even slower because I went the wrong way three times. Interestingly, the warm up and warm down exercises were as demanding as the 5k itself (almost). After the session, I drink 500 mls  of water in the car and tonic water with my evening meal on my return.This regime is keeping the cramp at bay.

I cooked a dal this evening. Unfortunately I put in a large spoonful of extra hot chilli powder instead of turmeric and didn’t have yogurt to cool it down. This job was left to the radish, red onion and cucumber salad accompanying it. Still too hot but edible!

Still waiting for Cambridge MIND to contact me regarding my proposal for a gardening ecotherapy project in the field behind my cottage. They said they were interested and I’ll hopefully meet up with them soon.

Inside Health, BBC Radio 4, is well worth catching as a podcast on iTunes. The programme takes a critical, weekly look at health issues and has just completed 3 editions devoted to conflict of interests by drug companies, researchers, the medical world and the public. Very interesting. Forget transparency!

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning August 4 2014

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Cambridge Junior parkrun  last Sunday, a 2k run for children between the ages of4-14. This is the start and the girl on the left won it in a time of 7 minutes 36 seconds. A  fantastic run. 87 took part including some young ones running with their parents (who are not included in the numbers.

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These three walked the 2k, explaining they were a caterpillar and couldn’t be hurried.

I was a timer again (one of two). This is fairly straight forward when the numbers running aren’t high and the children aren’t hurling themselves en masse at the finish line. Cambridge adult parkrun (5k) regularly attracts nearly 400 so timing requires much concentration when they come in densely bunched up and overtaking in the finish tunnel before they receive their position tokens. I did it a couple of years ago, in winter, when only 186 ran. The temperature was low and I didn’t have gloves. My hands were numb with cold. Two fingers snapped off. I didn’t stoop to pick them up; I merely carried on recording the times, selfless as ever.

Saturday’s parkrun was OK. I ran 24 minutes dead (if only I had run a second faster, I would have dropped into the 23’s and my self esteem would have survived intact. Note to self: work on losing that highly significant second).

Yesterday, I dropped off my daughter Sophie at Cambridge Station, parked and went running in the City. Or rather I ran up and down Mill Road, the “bohemian” part of Cambridge before heading for the dark interior, sucking in tourists like a black hole. Mill Road is nearly a mile long and has many interesting independent shops. At the end furthest from town, a big, new mosque complex is going to be built on a derelict site. No work started yet.

As described before, it’s curiously satisfying weaving in and out of the crowds in Cambridge. Although I’m not running fast in any sense of the word,  you feel oddly powerful and nimble negotiating the throng.They move so slowly and you have the impression of  occupying a different time frame.  I seemed  to cover a lot of distance because Cambridge is a small city. I ran around 5 miles before returning to the car, leaving many dozens of people in my wake gasping with the excitement at having witnessed a local running god (albeit in low gear).

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Oh happy days! I found fresh Brussels sprouts in Tesco today. Where were they grown? Don’t know. Probably Tasmania and clocking up about 200,000 air miles. But never mind, they were delicious and on a par with raspberries. Yummy.

The Guardian reports today on loss of provision and funding crises experienced by Women’s Refuge Centres. http://bit.ly/UOw4Z3 The ability to blithely cut, or cut out, these type of essential services, in the name of austerity savings demonstrates what a bunch of shits local and national politicians are. If the public gaze is currently far away from domestic violence, then politically it’s worth taking the risk to cut funding along with other important, humanitarian services which have a low public profile. These politicians have a passion. A passion for putting the boot into small groups  of vulnerable people who have negligible voting power.

 

 

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning July 24 2014

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My supper this evening, I hesitate to call it supper because a chum considered this posh. He felt dinner was the correct term for the hardworking, down to earth working person. Anyway the picture of this meal reveals to the world that I’m not starving and that broccoli continues to be an honourable substitute for Brussels sprouts whose season has passed. Please contrast it with yesterday’s supper/meal below.

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Sharp eyed readers will note that this meal/supper/dinner is on a tray and that, reassuringly, it is consistent with other food pictures posted in that it features broccoli. Also present : penne pasta, turkey mince in bolognese sauce, cheese and red onion flatbread, mixed  salad, olives and raw onion.This reasonably balanced nutritional intake ensures I am able to run like Hermes, messenger of the gods and son of Zeus and Maia.

Today, I went for a 10k run and it was undeniably hot. Nevertheless I felt OK while I was actually moving. It’s when you stop that you feel the heat and later feel a weariness that is different compared with running in the autumn or winter. Tomorrow is a rest day and Saturday is Cambridge parkrun. I need to go for a longer 15k but I’ll probably wait until it’s cooler.

I saw some of the women’s triathalon at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow this morning. Very entertaining and an exciting finish. Unfairly, the BBC news I watched gave more prominence to the Brownlee brothers in the men’s triathalon getting gold and silver rather than Jodie Stimpson and Vicky Holland taking gold and bronze. They showed longer clips from interviews and more of the Brownlees’ race.

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This is the Winter Gardens in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on the East Coast. It opened in 1904, originally to house flora and fauna but over the years has been used as an ice skating rink, concert venue and children’s amusement park. Now in considerable disrepair, it’s awaiting restoration and probable return to its original use of providing a large structure to display plants and showcase bio diversity. Funding has not been agreed so far. It looks very sad and unloved  at the moment but still majestic. I’ll have a word with Zeus. He’ll know how to sort this out. Watch out for more pictures of tormented fine old Yarmouth buildings in blogs to come.

And lastly, I was instrumental in saving a family of spiders tonight. Ms Alive and running pointed them out, simultaneously giving me a you’ve-failed-to-vacuum-them-away mean look. I, having appreciation of the bigger picture, became aware that a drama was about to unfold. A gnat flew into some dangling webbing and immediately mummy or daddy spider rushed over, swiftly immobilised it by rapidly weaving silken thread around its body, and then toddled  back to its little spiderlings. Ms Alive and running was amazed that this was played out in front of us. This was far better than watching East Enders and much more exciting than reading inane comments on Facebook. I announced that the whole family of spiders (and their relatives) were under my protection and were now, officially, my pets. This occasioned another harsh look. I’ll be hiding the vacuum cleaner as a precautionary measure, of course.

Aliveandrunning July 7 2014

DSC_0959 This is a picture from one of the bands at  the Cambridge Big Weekend held on Parker’s Piece and performing yesterday.Tomorrow, the Tour de France commences from Parker’s Piece and the city centre will be full of excited people wildly cheering them on as they depart for the London finish in the afternoon (minus the moody but brilliant Mark Cavendish who tried too hard and crashed out on the first day of the Tour, silly boy!).

I’ve now had some rest days since the end of Juneathon and I’ve only run two 5k races, one of which was a club race competing with four other clubs over five runs in all. I still feel ambivalent about being a club runner. I do take running seriously (up to a point), I do try to be competitive (up to a point), I do make an effort to talk about running and socialise with other runners (possibly for minutes at a time if the subject is not wholly running based), I do enjoy the company of runners and the variation of club training. And that’s why, if the club asks members to turn up to support particular races for the glory and overall victory of winning the trophy, I will take part if possible. I will drive 45-60 minutes each way for a whole point which is added on to the other points contributed by the rank and file runners. I’d probably be more inspired if they gave out sticky gold stars which could be stuck in a little booklet. I do enjoy the runs but I can’t wait to get home to have something sensible to eat. I have noticed that before the start,  the individual club members, in their club vests, tend to group together. My club tends to stand in multiple small groups or stand alone. Actually I quite like that. It’s a Cambridge thing. It shows what a disparate bunch we are and reflects the different tribes.

Yesterday was Cambridge parkrun. I thought I was running fast but I was still over half a minute outside my personal best. Still, I enjoyed it. I commented to a pal that we are probably within the top 1% of running fitness for our age group overall which renders any feelings of disappointment in performance as missing the point.

DSC_0926 This chap was one of a number of vintage bicycle riders showing off their machines at the Big Weekend. They were very friendly and deeply appreciative of the interest shown in their hobby. DSC_0899   DSC_0010   This ska band was really good. I’m not usually a fan but I was today. I may be dong them a massive disservice but their appearance gave the impression they may be a little to the right of UKIP. Nothing they said supported this, however, and it was a great set. I think someone needs to reconsider calories in and calories out, though. DSC_0004

Aliveandrunning June 25 2014 Juneathon Day 25

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I cooked a few noodles with plenty of vegetables this evening. There’s various stuff in it but it’s noodle light. This was put together after I went for a late afternoon run along Akeman Street, a section of the old Roman road which stretches from Ermine Street (near Wimpole Hall where a parkrun is held) to Cambridge, Ely and beyond.

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These short sections are recognisable as roads (or remnants of roads). Large parts of it are under cultivated fields and the existence of Akeman Street is often only traceable by consulting a map.

I went for a leisurely 5.5k run which took 32 minutes. I saw 3 people briefly on the old road. It’s a lonely run with only the ghosts of Roman soldiers for company. Being composed of mist and vapour, they didn’t have any trouble jogging beside me in full armour. They chatted  amiably in Latin and seemed very sociable. I mentioned (in broken Latin) that I was travelling to Londinium in the morning to see my mater. I think they asked me how many horses were pulling my chariot.

Lots of butterflies in the field where I exercise Rupert. All little Meadow Browns. Unlike the Roman soldiers, they had no conversation.

Aliveandrunning June 20 2014 Juneathon Day 20

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I didn’t go into central Cambridge for a run today, as planned. However, I did go to Milton Country Park and ran along the river. It was warm but not too warm. Not many people around but I wasn’t lonely. I stumbled but didn’t fall. I perspired freely but didn’t jump in the water to cool down. I used Lorna’s Garmin but have no plans to possess one myself.

I ran 8.1k and took some snaps with my phone at intervals. Tomorrow, it’s Cambridge parkrun. I’m running and volunteering (collecting the direction and information signs placed around the course after all the runners have passed by).

On Sunday, it’s Hatfield Forest 10k, a flat course, I think. Haven’t done it before. Don’t know much about it. Lorna’s doing it as well. I’ll just turn up like a cool, unknown outsider, run it, win it and leave them wide eyed and wiping the grit thrown up by the wide tyres on my Porche 911 as I drive off into darkest Essex. That’s just one scenario. It’s more probable I’ll come half way down the field. That’s good enough.

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The picture on the left shows a branch from the extremely dangerous gooseberry bush, the source of the gooseberries in the glass bowl. My hands were cut to pieces after picking these. I’m surprised the thorns aren’t dripping with blood. I eat them raw. Sour but delicious. In a month or less the dessert varieties will be ready if the birds don’t get them first.

 

 

Aliveandrunning May 5 2014

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I thought this Fen Drayton 10k was an ideal opportunity to practice my range of facial expressions.The first pic demonstrates aghast puzzlement with the physicality of prolonged exercise. Of course this still picture is unable to capture me muttering to the Greek gods, vainly pleading with them to send a favourable wind to waft me quickly to the finish line. The second image is a study in the desolate melancholy and gnawing loneliness of the long distance runner pounding the drear, mist shrouded moors, in the depths of winter, a score of miles from shelter and a warm fire. Or perhaps this is my best grumpy face. I can’t quite remember at the moment.

This was the weekend I did four races. On Saturday I ran parkrun at Cambridge (5k) and came in only 14 seconds outside of my personal best. Forsaking social intercourse, I jumped into my car and sped off immediately (I had left the engine running to save precious seconds) to an adjacent village to do another race of 4.5 miles. Yesterday I did the above 10k and today the Histon and Impington 5k. Unusually, I was pleased with all my times. I’m working on running faster but this also accompanied by a running style which seems to worry people. As soon as I passed the line yesterday, a funnel marshal asked if I needed to sit down and another one said they would get me some water. My reply? If I need to recline, it will be on the top of Mount Olympus to the first question and I’ll accept ambrosia but nothing else to the second question.

At the 5k today, I did feel more tired than usual but did OK. Unfortunately, Lorna confirmed my running gait was less than attractive and a  faster club runner pal asked if I had injured my foot during the race. He thought I was partially collapsed on the finish line. Errrr….no! I was simply making a supreme effort to outrun several chums behind me. But I do admit I’m not a pretty sight at the end of a race. I don’t seem to be able to run with my mouth shut or compose my face into an expression of serenity, even for a few seconds, when I see someone I know with a camera.

Anyway, I’m out with the club road running tomorrow evening and there’s a club run 5k on Thursday. I’ve just registered for a local new half marathon (Flaming June) on June 1st. I’ve got out of the way of longer training runs and will need to start soon. This will take me to the banks of the river Cam where I suspect those water nymphs and minor water deities will attempt to delay me, or worse, use their magical powers to ensnare me into their worlds. It’s a risky business, running!

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This is my roast chicken supper last night, the fuel of super heroes. The stuff in the centre is stuffing not sausage meat. I don’t eat pork now. I kept four pigs for eighteen months. They were beautiful creatures and good communicators. They gave wise advice in the main but their running tips were rubbish.

                              

Aliveandrunning February 22 2014

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A tolerably good Cambridge parkrun today. The sun shone in a bright blue sky and it was chilly rather than cold. Nevertheless, I wore a long sleeved top and a light jacket with tracksters (plus gloves initially). I’ve no doubt the extra clothing has a mildly torpid effect on my running ability. I feel much freer and fitter in the warmer weather above 14-15C plus. I don’t mind running in the heat although with parkrun, which starts at 9am, the temperature is never a big issue.

Lorna volunteered as back up time keeper AND took all the hi viz bibs and jackets home to wash, at least 40 of them. Each of the Cambridge runs needs upward of 40 volunteers and at the moment they are having difficulty filling the positions. Today we had a rare, stern address at the start, informing the assembled runners that the future of Cambridge parkrun was in jeopardy unless more people volunteered and didn’t leave it until the organisers were tearing their hair out which was happening each week.

309 took part in the run today and I came in at 129 in a time of 24 mins 41 seconds. My ex-arch rival Mike finished 80th in 22 mins 57 seconds. He is now a Zeus like figure living on Mount Olympus while I am a minor deity inhabiting one of the forgotten little Greek islands dependent on sailors blown off course for company. Still, the days are getting warmer, and like a wronged and injured gun fighter (Clint Eastwood, for example) I feel myself getting stronger and preparing to take revenge. Oh yes, it’s only a matter of time before my adversaries will be scorched by my slip stream as I pass them like a dragster. Won’t everyone be surprised when I deploy my parachute on the finish line to bring me to a halt. They will beg to know the secret of my success and I won’t be slow to tell them : an increase in Brussels sprouts consumption and a new wonder breakfast: broccoli porridge.

A well known parkrunner, Terry, in the 65-69 age bracket, walked the 5K course just two weeks after having a heart attack, taking around 55 minutes. An act of defiance in the face of a life threatening illness probably but not very sensible,  I suspect.

My son and daughter, Dan and Isobelle, both got personal bests at Valentine’s parkrun. Dan is now sub 20 mins and Isobelle was less than 30 seconds slower than me. Great running, children, but remember, it’s participation and setting a good example by running alongside and supporting the slower runners, that’s ultimately important. Not getting a fast time. Remember that and slow down for the next five races, kids.