Green Minds therapeutic gardening project / back to the gym

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We’ve been getting some hard ground frosts recently although the weather has become very mild again over the last 24 hours. Nevertheless winter is here and the frosts have done their cruel work. Stuff has stopped growing and stuff has been cut down by the cold. The white flies in the polytunnel, having gorged on everything earlier in the season, are probably in hiding and planning their assault next summer. I’ll have to get serious!

I’ve joined a gym again. The last time I was a member, seven years ago, coincided with my heart attack and it helped me to recuperate. It was a relaxing, annonymous, comfortable area where I could read and write. I’ve rejoined for those same reasons plus I want to improve my core and upper body strength to run better. I expected instant results and I got it, knocking 2 seconds off my previous week’s time at parkrun. This was after a couple of sessions. 2 seconds is not to be sneezed at. If I were to maintain that level of improvement consistently, another 35 parkruns would lead to a new personal best. I shall persevere.

The gym has got a Woodway which is a self propelling treadmill. You run on a concave surface so there’s a degree of gradient. It’s quite different to a conventional treadmill and I didn’t find it easy. Today I couldn’t do more than 5 minutes although I probably ran too fast.

I don’t always enjoy running but I do feel a great deal better from doing it. It’s the same with an hour in the gym. I don’t follow a particular routine and I don’t have a plan. But whatever I do, I feel healthier and fitter and I have a better quality tiredness. People don’t know what they are missing.

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A local angling club donated about 20 silver birch saplings which I dug up and replanted just ahead of the frosts.

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A reminder of late summer.

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I Battle Very Wild Animals……..and Win!

my bottom in the polytunnel

Why am I in this undignified position quite unsuited to the running dynamo/Greek god reputation that others have bestowed upon me? I’m looking for a bird which found its way into my polytunnel and couldn’t get out. The quest to free the bird was a grade one challenge because I planted the tomatoes and sprouting broccoli much too close together. As a result its turned into an almost inpenetrable jungle. Conclusion : bird successfully flushed out to freedom and I got greater insight into what its like to be a young tomato growing up in near darkness.

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“Spending too long in the polytunnel….seeds in the wrong place” said my mother. Thanks, mum! I’m only striking a new mindfulness pose as part of my preparation for Brandon country parkrun. We did a bit of parkrun tourism because the venue for Cambridge, Milton countrypark, is undergoing a restoration of its paths.

Brandon is grass and trail with some mild ascents and woodland paths studded with tree roots. A lovely two lap course and a very good cafe for coffee and food. We had drinks and something to eat with both old and new friends and I scored more socialability points. I also had a chat with an 80 year old+ runner who usually runs at Cambridge. I saw him come in and I was concerned that he was obviously struggling in the heat. However his daughter was very attentive and he soon recovered his balance. How marvellous is that, to be able to continue running into your eighties on a regular basis!

I’m running a bit more at the moment, in fact, five times in the last six days. I did an 11k, a 5k and 2 miles x 3. Periodically, I’m attracted to running on a daily basis and this seems to fit in better with commitments. A default 2 mile jog only takes 18 minutes and can reasonably be accommodated even if the rest of the day is full.

Polytunnel wildlife update : three further birds and a couple of butterflies escorted off the premises. Stop press! Wren made a quick exit when I turned up.

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Gratuitous picture of typical Daily Express good news health headline. Not such good news for refugees, unfortunately!

 

Major rethink on the running front

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I innocently bought Trail Runner magazine and found this virtually recommended “run” featuring at No.38! What will these Europeans get up to next? I’m half expecting Gove or Johnson to inform us that we’ll have to submit to an EU edict requiring each household to enter a team if we remain in Europe. I can think of worse outcomes : a rolling back of workers and human rights, an increase in the pace of attack on the NHS and unrelenting xenophobia if we vote out.

Anyway, back to normal running (cue question : what is normal?). I’ve decided to drastically cut back on maximum effort running because I increasingly think this is not doing my health any favours. Research is indicating that running long distances, too hard and over a long period of time seems to stress the heart unduly. I had a heart attack nearly seven years ago and recovered very well with no obvious deficits. In fact I’m probably running better now than before my heart attack. Nevertheless, the effort to run as fast as you can must surely have consequences for a person like me who has heart disease and takes cardiac medication to slow and strengthen the heartbeat. So, I’ll stop doing half marathons (with the possible exception of Cambridge half marathon at a slower pace), I won’t renew my subscription to my running club which expires at the end of this month and I’ll run 10Ks at a more relaxed pace. The good news is that I don’t have to run much slower to feel much more comfortable. Less is more! No future Junathons or Janathons.

The other spur to change my syle of running is that I know about five experienced runners who have either had heart attacks or have heart related problems.

I’m also taking it easier at 5k parkruns. Putting  just a little less effort into the distance only decreases my time by about 45 seconds and I feel better for it. I’m still interested in fell running as long as its down hill. I’m still working on this one.

On last thing. I borrowed a Fitbit today when I ran 7.3k and had an average heart rate of 150. Is this good, bad or indifferent? I don’t know. It took me 47 minutes and I felt good.

 

Janathon Day 9 We’re gonna be famous for 15 seconds!

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A very enjoyable Cambridge parkrun this morning. We had a record 504 runners and BBC Look East came along and filmed the whole proceedings. This picture shows our mate Kerry (who ran his 100th today) being interviewed by Jonathan Park. Kerry’s standing by a supply of cakes and a photo montage of Kerry centred pictures. Just out of shot is a couple of hundred drooling runners being held back by volunteers and gagging to devour the confectionery.

The run was very muddy, as anticipated, but the weather held. No rain and surprisingly mild. The camera man and interviewer Jonathan (who also ran) were very friendly and to blended in comfortably with everyone. They appeared to take possibly ninety minutes of film which might be edited down to a few minute or less. We’ll know on Monday evening when it’s scheduled to air. Hopefully it won’t feature me running with my mouth open and looking as if I’m about to collapse (my default appearance).

We tend to mark 50th, 100th and 250th runs as well as significant parkrun dates, and birthdays, with cakes at Cambridge. We also tend to take a lot of photos. Are we narcissistic? Obviously! Do the majority of other parkruns do this? Hopefully!

After the run we queued in the cafe and then enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee to further reward ourselves in good company. Next week, we’re off to Wimpole parkrun (cancelled today because of water logging)to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. For more of the same.

Perusing my wood pulp hard copy edition of that middle class, bleeding heart liberal, wooly, comfortable, arm chair lefty Guardian newspaper, I came across  an article :

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/08/church-of-england-fears-talks-on-gay-rights-could-end-global-anglican-communion

It discusses the high degree of likelihood of continuing fundamental disagreement in the world wide Anglican communion over gay rights and same sex marriage. As a humanist, I can only continue to marvel at the intrinsic lack of humanity, wilful ignorance and vicious, self serving prejudice in an organisation whose mission statement has something to say about love, tolerance, inclusion and diversity. And there you have it! It doesn’t say that sexuality is on a spectrum, varies within that spectrum for many of us and is often a biological imperative. So centuries old prejudices and sexual fears and anxieties are maintained and justified supernaturally. The church, with the clear conscience of the self righteous, can condemn and preside over the persecution of anyone outside of their definition of God approved sexuality. I think it would be more useful to return to the old, less cruel practice of estimating the number of angels who could stand on the head of a pin!

Sermon over.

I think these summit delegates would benefit from going for a 5k run before they begin to pontificate.

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 July 21 2014

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Following last weeks wildly successful parkrun at Brighton, when, as a Cambridge parkrun tourist, I unnerved the local opposition by storming the finish line at position 96, this week I again donned my tourist hat and ran parkrun at Gorleston, with Lorna, just outside of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. I came in at number 51, so (maybe) twice as successful as the previous weekend! A very nice course along the cliffs and lower coast promenade. The start began on the cliff top level and finished on the promenade. It comprised two loops with one steep but short incline. The weather has been very stormy in recent days and we were lucky it held for us. Or rather, luck played no part. I made various sacrifices to the rain gods and my mortal interventions successfully resulted in a rain free race.

By good luck, at Gorleston I bumped into the two daughters of a man whom  I met in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge five years ago. We both had heart attacks and we were both marathon runners ( the doctors mentioned I was the second marathon runner that day as they put the stents in). Roy also ran Cambridge parkrun but has now moved away to Norwich. He’s still running and is now concentrating on cycling.

Great Yarmouth! What can I say? At the very least it was a cultural shock. Like a lot of British coastal towns, it has suffered substantial decline and neglect. This description could also apply to many of the residents and visitors. Its both shocking and sobering to see such large swathes of people who are grossly overweight, smoking and eating rubbish, often accompanied by children. If they are  able to obtain employment, it will be in low paid, insecure jobs. The town itself had many fine buildings, now  sorely neglected and disrespected. I took a number of pictures on my phone which will feature in a subsequent blog.

We stayed at Winterton on Sea, about 10 miles from Great Yarmouth and lived in one of these Hobbit Houses for a few nights. They overlooked sand dunes and the sea beyond. Lovely, little, basic, quirky accommodation.

 

 

 

Aliveandrunning July 13 2014

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Brighton, Sussex. This pic was taken as the sun went down. The light was fading and people were becoming silhouettes. The beach had a dreamy and languid feel which gave the remnant of the the destroyed West Pier a romantic aspect. We were in Brighton for my daughter’s graduation and to collect belongings  from her accommodation. This went well, despite the poor weather, although very emotional for her.

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The bonus to our little trip to the South coast was being able to take part in Brighton parkrun (Preston Park) on Saturday morning. Unlike Cambridge parkrun which is along narrow woodland paths, the Brighton course is on tarmac paths on open park grass land, with 3 loops. Very enjoyable.

I arrived alone and maintained a cool insouciance throughout. They knew I was an unknown quantity, a stylish outsider that possibly had what it took to blow the local running talent to smithereens. I took my place on the front line and saw the fear in their eyes. Two of the young bucks had the temerity to look me directly. I faced them down with my steely alpha male stare, forcing them to lower their gaze in submission. A quick gesture by swivelling my eyes indicated they should move back to the secondary line behind me. They complied, ashen faced and shaken. I went off like a rocket and remained well ahead of everyone for an easy 20 metres before running out of steam and eventually coming in 96th out of 244. Oh well, you’ve gotta aim for the stars!

 

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Today was the inaugural Cambridge junior parkrun, a 2 kilometre run for children aged 4-14. It was very successful with 97 children ( plus some accompanying parents) taking part. It didn’t rain during the race but there were plenty of puddles to run through and the children clearly loved the whole thing. It took 25+ volunteers to stage it and the plan is to run it (pun intended) weekly which is quite an undertaking for the event and race directors who are, of course, volunteers. An added difficulty today was the Alzheimer’s 10k and 5k sponsored walk through the park which was scheduled to start at the same time as the juniors set off (at 10am). There were 500 of them! It got sorted. We delayed our start time by 15 minutes and this didn’t result in any problems. It’s wonderful to see the joy on the faces of the youngest children as they put everything they’ve got into running. I’m sure  it will continue to be very successful.

If the Daily Mail was to cease publication overnight, the mental health and well being of the nation would increase significantly with immediate effect. It’s raison d’etre is to cause maximum angst and existential stress in it’s readers who can’t get enough of its dystopian outlook. And that’s putting it politely.

The Sunday Express headlines? The Queen is worried about the possibility that the Red Arrows team  (acrobatic aviation jets) will be disbanded. Our Queen must not experience this kind of perturbation. Mr Cameron, please allocate an increase in funding to safeguard these brave flyers and prevent our monarch from suffering continuing mental unease. After all, there’s plenty of money sloshing around in the mental health services budget and they can’t shout very loud. And libraries, too, when I come to think about it.