Aliveandrunning October 8 2014

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Hoohaah half marathon at Wimpole Estate last Sunday with young Jonathan leading for Cambridge and Coleridge (he eventually came second). I had a place in this race but my family felt running 3 half marathons in relatively quick succession was excessive given my heart disease. They threw research at me and I acquiesced! However, I went over to Wimpole with chum Kerry, watched the race and took a couple of hundred of pics.

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Unfortunately, the lure of this bookshop in the courtyard of Wimpole House resulted in me returning to the finish line late and failing to see the first three runners come in. Just out of camera shot, to the right , in the pool of sunlight, sits an old woman in period dress weaving yarn on a spinning wheel. Very evocative of a lost, bygone culture. This nostalgic cameo was only slightly undermined when, last year, faced by a large crowd of parkrunners blocking the entrance to the court yard, the spinning lady reversed her Mercedes estate more than a tad too fast, scattering said parkrunners in fear of their lives. She wasn’t a happy bunny.

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These are my running pals from Fen Edge running club. Mike and Kerry have only been running for a couple of years but they are during parkrun in 21-22 minutes. Over a longer distance like a half marathon, I can get within 2-3 minutes of them but incredibly they are still improving.

Parkrun went OK the day before but I couldn’t drop under 24 minutes. I collected the signage after the run. This volunteering task is enjoyable and relaxing. It’s very pleasant to walk around the deserted course. I sometimes see Peter who is in his mid 80s, walking the 5k  course but in the reverse direction. Not seen him recently, though. I do hope he’s well.

I went to Addenbrookes Hospital yesterday and felt mildly murderous when I smelt cigarette smoke from someone walking behind us as we approached the entrance. Stupid or what? Of course there’s more stupidity inside the hospital and this time it’s sponsored by the management. Burger King and other fast food outlets in the Food Court. So empowering to facilitate obese people to ignore dietary and health advice and conveniently enable them to gorge on high fat, high carbohydrate and high salt food to their hearts’ content.

We sought advice at the Inquiry Desk.

“How may I help you, my dears?” smiled the volunteer receptionist.

“Firstly, by desisting from addressing us as “my dears”, I replied.”Secondly, by appreciating I have a fear of split infinitives unless their utterance is Star Trek related. Thirdly, I want that person disappearing down the corridor to be arrested and charged with causing  environmental damage by smoking on hospital premises. Are you able to accommodate me?”

Of course there was no response because this little encounter happened in my imagination but it was a close run thing.

 

 

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 June 7 2014 Juneathon Day 7

 

 

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These landmine looking doughnuts were actually on sale at my local Tesco. I wouldn’t be surprised if people were actually buying them (using their hard earned money obtained by actually working hard}. It’s hard to imagine anything more over refined, food wise. But, then again, munching these may be just the thing to get you in the mood for the Footy to come. Just be careful not to swallow the football and choke yourself to death. Mmmm…..those food dyes look so scrumptious.

Thanks to certain people in Devon sending Cambridgeshire many buckets of rain, the parkrun course got a drenching but, thanks to my intervention by making sacrifices to the gods, the deluge didn’t happen until the last parkrunner came home. We repaired to the park cafe and drank coffee in the actual open air and then the Devon rain came down with a vengeance. Boy, did I do a lot of socialising today. I’m not a natural but I made a sustained effort and actually enjoyed chatting. The reason for this is that the vast majority of runners are very nice people and having now done 181 parkruns (mostly at Cambridge), I know a great many of them.

Aliveandrunning December 30

Yes, I ran for 46 minutes and 53 seconds yesterday. I ran to the river but not along it. At the point I turn around, I touch a railing as the river footpath rises onto a bridge. Failure to touch the railing would result in me falling into an alternative dimension where running is illegal and everyone has to consume a gallon of corn syrup each week by law to ensure good health. Naturally the BBC is regarded as a terrorist organisation. So you see, I have to touch the railing or I am imperilled. On the return journey, nobody gave me a friendly acknowledgement but a robin hitched a lift on my shoulder for 700 metres and gave me the latest ornithological news. He also recommended adding worms to my diet for “balance.”  “No,” I gasped,”that’s strictly for the birds.” He flew off with in a huff.

Pedestrian observation : I’ve eaten too much over Christmas and unhealthy food to boot. How to make reparations ? Shall I order a hair shirt on line or indulge in a bit of verbal flagellation ? No ! I’ll eat less and return to a healthily discriminating diet. And I will up the running until I reach such a peak of fitness and performance, it causes Usain Bolt and Mo Farah to look anxiously over their shoulders. Tomorrow I am doing the Ely New Years Eve 10K. Unfortunately the weather prospects are grim – no sun but plenty of rain, wind and cold. These conditions are not conducive for a comfortable run. I’ll do my best and explain to hundreds of my fans lining the course, that I am a below par running god now regaining his fitness. This will be received as shocking news given their belief I was infallible.

I read in the Murdoch owned Sunday Times yesterday that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is considering halving the recommended sugar consumption people should have in their diets. This is following increasing numbers of studies which conclude that sugar plays a major part in obesity and heart disease. The article predicts, predictably, “a robust response from the multi-billion pond food and drinks industry.” The manner in which our food and diet has been degraded for financial and commercial reasons  over past decades is truly shocking. Your degree of shock and awe is usually proportionate to how much interest you have shown in how food is sourced, grown and manufactured which for the large majority of people is zero. The mindset and conduct of the food and drinks industry is unlikely to be radically different to the tobacco, alcohol, armaments and pharmaceutical industries in successfully pulling the wool over our eyes. As I write, the TV sound is off but I looked up to see Rock Hudson and Patrick McGoohan each lighting up a cigarette in Ice Station Zebra (1968). It could have been worse. At least they weren’t munching Krispy Kreme doughnuts on screen.

Egregiously, I saw a Krispy Kreme delivery lorry outside my local Tesco store. I shot the driver a withering glance and my upper lip curled up in the manner of Clint Eastwood showing contempt for bad persons in the Dollar films. It had no noticeable effect because the delivery person carried on taking this dangerous foodstuff into the store. In hindsight the reason for this may have been I was 150 metres away when I executed these devastating facial movements. Must try harder.

I’ve had a few ideas about  the development of a new cult/religion. I really like the concept of karma and reincarnation. I think this idea has legs. What about MuchBetterNextTime.com ? For a fixed yearly subscription, my personal self serving  registered charity/cult/church would guarantee a return to this world in greatly enhanced circumstances compared to your previous life. No- quibble money back if not fully satisfied. How do subscribers attain this goal ? They embark on a policy of tolerance, generosity, kindness and acceptance towards others even if they wear strange clothes and live in other countries. I’ll produce the guidance and develop lots of esoteric waffle, they pay their subscriptions and accrue the benefits in this life and the next. It’s a win-win situation. I’ll also make them start running.

 

 

Aliveandrunning2013 October 22

Surely I must be fully fit now ! My calf feels back to normal and it’s sending signals to my brain indicating it wants to start running again. No, not just indicating but demanding. No, not just demanding but vehemently urging. OK, I give in. I’ll (probably) wait until the weekend and do parkrun. If I don’t wait, I’ll go for a two mile run in a couple of days. But, Mr Calf, if I have any further problems, I will never speak to you again.

Half watching The Great British Bake Off : The Final. Like other well produced mainstream food programmes ,the focus is on appearance and taste not health. There is seldom any mention of calories or sugar, fat and salt content. Are these over produced confections healthy ? Will they provide the roughage that my bowel requires? Will my customary good quality poo be compromised if I eat a Bake Off diet ? Importantly, what effect will it have on my calf ?

Interested in sugar ? Read Robert Lustig in today’s Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/profile/robert-lustig

 

 

Aliveandrunning2013 October 12

I have not been running since I did parkrun exactly a week ago. My right calf  strain hasn’t fully recovered but I decided to do Cambridge parkrun today and see how it goes. The race was OK. My arch rival Mike beat me by 47 seconds but a secondary arch rival Darien came in a second behind me. Disappointingly, my calf felt sore and slightly painful when pressed. Perhaps I will have to promote this injury from mild to moderate. It didn’t stop us from having coffee with friends which included new pal Maurice and some of us eating homemade cake offered by two chums who were celebrating running 50 and 100 parkruns each.

I’m having difficulty finding T shirts to fit me in national stores like M&S and John Lewis. Supermarket T’s are similarly problematic. They are predominately large fit, unshaped and long. It’s clear these are aimed at men who are overweight and probably have a sizeable paunch or at least an ample waistline. Which means they will have a large mass of visceral fat around their organs. That’s not at all good. It’s very bad. Do they know? Do they care? Someone’s got to buy the cronuts !

Aliveandrunning2013 October 2

No available car to drive to Cambridge and Coleridge AC, so no road running for me with the club yesterday evening. Instead I went for a routine 47 minute run which took me to the banks of the River Cam at which point I turn around and run back. Calf feels normal but will it hold up for 2 hours when I do the Hoo Haar half marathon on Sunday, October 6 ? Should I do an hour’s run  tomorrow ? And what about parkrun on Saturday ? Good sense suggests I should cut out at least one of them. I’ll definitely do parkrun, however.

The media is reporting a meta analysis finding in the British Medical Journal which looked at 304 research papers concerning the role of exercise and medication in heart disease and stroke. The conclusion identified exercise as on a par  with medication in terms of continuing good health outcomes. It identifies diuretic drugs as most important for heart failure and exercise as important , or most important, in stroke recovery. It looked at trials involving nearly 340,000 patients to assess the merits of exercise and drugs in preventing death. Such was the extent of exercise in reducing death rates, the findings suggested that exercise should be added to prescriptions. This is good news and will encourage people to take some responsibility for their own continuing health. Unfortunately so many of us seem determined to sleepwalk into substantial health problems by willfully ignoring sensible eating patterns, not sleeping sufficiently, drinking too much alcohol and not taking any regard for the nature and quality of the food we consume, particularly the refined stuff.

At Birmingham Crown Court, a 23 year old man pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of a 16 year old girl on a bus by stabbing her, He has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a severe and enduring mental illness which when appropriately treated and care supported, can be well managed. He was previously assessed by a psychiatric service in prison where he was serving a short sentence for threatening his mother with a knife. On discharge there was no treatment or care plan presumably because they didn’t identify a treatable mental illness (although prison staff had identified a number of problem behaviours). That’s the most charitable explanation. Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust have Assertive Outreach teams, a medium secure forensic service and a contract to provide a psychiatric service to the prison system. I find it difficult to accept that the assessing personnel didn’t identify an illness that their services could successfully treat. Paranoid schizophrenia was apparently diagnosed after the fatal stabbing which occurred about 3 months after his discharge from prison. Are their specialist Assertive Outreach teams working at full capacity? Have there been cuts in the provision of such services ? How could he not meet the criteria ?