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”.

 

 

 

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I am a fallen runnning god

Here I am, an erstwhile running god (minor), reduced to taking a selfie to remind myself that the sun can still back light my long hair. Unfortunately just after this shot, I was restrained, transported to a local barber not known for his sympathy towards “elderly gentlemen with long locks” and shorn forthwith. His parting shot to Lorna was “Unfortunately we get a lot like your husband. They don’t want to grow up, see?”

Fact or fiction? Reader, you decide. What isn’t up for conjecture is the imposition of further injuries. Nine days ago, following rest, physio, a relaxed 48 minute run, further rest and no problems identified, I did parkrun and put effort into it. Result? My hamstring pain returned with a vengeance and has lasted. I didn’t do parkrun this Saturday nor a 10k Hoohaah race the following day. To add insult to injury I have developed a neck ache and caught a cold. To a highly tuned running machine like myself, this is not good news. What will I do? I’ll discuss it with my physio and rest until next weekend when I’ll do parkrun again. I’m due to do another 4 mile run directly after parkrun in anothe village. I might do them both and take it easy. I might do one. If the injury returns, I think I’ll stop running for three or four weeks.

The Windrush scandal! The evil Tories have imposed an immigration policy, since around 2010, when Theresa May was Home Secretary, which has the clearly stated intention of creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. In their haste to ingratiate themselves with the gutter press, the credulous electorate and the substantial numbers of unthinking xenophobics, they targeted numbers of the Windrush generation. These are the thousands of Caribbean people who were encouraged to come to Great Britain in the 1950’s and 60’s to work in transport, hospitals, nursing homes and the Post Office. Now, their children having lived their life in this country and not having the required paperwork to prove their legal residency (because the government has lost or shredded it), are under threat of deportation, cannot access services or treatment on the NHS or benefits, cannnot work, are detained and lose their housing rights, despite working in Great Britain for decades.

The evil Tories are now squirming and Amber Rudd, Home Secretary, has resigned only because this scandal has now blown up, thanks to the Guardian, despite going on for a considerable period of time. I take it as read that the Tories, as a whole, do not have a moral compass and will run roughshod over the most vulnerable groups without compunction. What is different about the Windrush situation are the blatent lies uttered by Rudd as she scrambed to put the blame on over zealous officials and civil servants. They were hers and May’s policies which advocated the “hostile environment” and keenness to wrack up the numbers of enforced deportations.Nevertheless, she professed no knowledge of the egregious consequences until leaked documents showed she was lying. The Tories simply don’t care, along with large swathes of Tory voters and Mail readers. The bar for veracity and compassion is now so low for Tory politicians that most people will see Rudd’s demise as just a bit of political fallout. She should be banned from politics and acknowledged to be a public disgrace.

 

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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

A difficult half marathon. Must do better next time!

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Lots of ladies taking to the the waters of the Cam recently and clearly having fun.

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I often stand on a particular bridge and snap away and a surprising number of people wave to me. It would be nice if I could send them a serendipitous pic but how? I’m thinking of printing some email cards which I could then drop from the bridge as they pass under. Would they flutter down and be caught or would they fall at an angle and plop into the water? Could I slightly weight the card so it fell straight? Should I forget this idea or should I be locked up for my own safety? Please advise!

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Enough of this particular sliver of my reality and back to running. Last weekend I attended the New Forest Festival of Running in Hampshire with Lorna and two of our running pals. Between us we did a 5k, 10k and two half marathons. A full marathon was also on offer which we politely declined. My hip problem had cleared up but I was somewhat undertrained for running 13 miles. The first two miles went very well, at ten miles I felt very tired, at eleven I rallied but twelve miles found me struggling. When I crossed the line I had no energy left and could not have run any further. Usually I’m able to put on a burst of speed at the finish but not this time. I know I hadn’t put in the training miles yet I was still surprised. I had already done a training thirteen miles around fourteen minutes slower so it’s taken a faster paced race to reveal my lack of stamina.

The New Forest is famous for its wild ponies but it was still mildly astonishing to see them roaming around.  At one point four ponies were cantering on a path adjacent to where I was running. They outran me.

We stayed at Boscombe, on the outskirts of Bournemouth and, unbelievably coincidental, Bournemouth parkrun was only a mile and a half away. A lovely trail run with a wide open grass start.