Category Archives: gym

Walk, drive, turbo, gym, gym (and run), run (plus white arms and pay-as-you-go acceleration)

Still in the Lake District, on Monday we took a trip out to Castlerigg stone circle (I believe it wants to be like Avebury or Stonehenge when it grows up – it’s about 4,500 years old but has stunted growth in comparison) and then on to the Bowder Stone. Bowder is an old version of ‘boulder’ so it’s the ‘boulder stone’ – no too imaginative but it is pretty big and impressive.

An easy day but still raining – it makes you wonder where all that water goes … ah yes, it’s called the Lake District. True it has lots of lakes (actually, linguistically, only one as the rest are ‘meres’ and ‘waters’) but in a parallel universe it could easily be called the Hill District – I’d love to try a bit of (gentle) fell running one day.

We left the lakes late on Tuesday morning after a terrific few days with excellent friends. We were lucky enough to have had a decent run back, despite seemingly interminable road works and speed restrictions. I can’t help but think that nearly 2000 miles in 4 days spread over just 9, is a bit much – but both trips were very enjoyable.

I got on the turbo on Wednesday for 30 minutes @ 28.5kph (17.7mph) and went to the gym on Thursday. Back to the gym on Friday – I managed 5km on the treadmill (under 28 minutes but it felt harder) and then 30 minutes of weights. I use the treadmill rarely and the session reminded me why – it’s rather boring and it takes quite a bit of willpower not to stop because stopping is very attractive and would be all too easy.

On Saturday, as if I hadn’t had enough driving to last a long time, I drove the Kingston-upon-Thames to see our older son and his girlfriend who are soon off on a 4 month sabbatical from their jobs. They are heading off to Central and South America, New Zealand and some Pacific islands. My wife joined us later on for supper and we saw both sons for lunch on Sunday, after I had a run in the morning down the Thames Path – a bit over 7km (4.45 miles).

It won’t be quite as worrying as when he went to SE Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji alone, aged 18, during his gap year – but parents are allowed to worry whatever the age of their children, aren’t we?

Spurred on by the ‘run another’ blog, I’ve signed up (emotionally) to the 100 press-up (or push-up) challenge. Six weeks to get to being able to do 100 press-ups in one go. This might end badly.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Love is a despot who spares no one

2. BBC News website: Tans are out

Waitrose (a UK supermarket chain) has changed a part of its Christmas advert that showed two farmers comparing sun tans, after it was criticised by skin cancer patients. Critics said a section of the advert glorified sun tans and failed to highlight the dangers of sunlight.

Without for a moment minimising the importance of protection from the sun and the misery of skin cancer (indeed, all cancers), where does this end? Some adverts show people jumping into the sea – sadly, there are drownings every year, some adverts include cars and they are very dangerous things that have caused loss and injury to thousands of people.

3. BBC News website: Back to the moon?

The 100m-tall Artemis rocket has blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center as part of Nasa’s mission to take astronauts back to the moon.

Humans could stay on the Moon for lengthy periods during this decade, according to a Nasa official after Wednesday’s launch which was described as an “historic day for human space flight”. The official added that habitats would be needed to support scientific missions.

Habitats will be needed to support missions on the moon – clever people those NASA officials

4. BBC News website: Pay if you want to go faster

For an annual cost of $1,200 (£991) excluding tax, Mercedes-Benz will enable some of its US electric vehicles to accelerate from 0-60mph a second faster. Critics say that Mercedes is asking payment for hardware already installed in the car – and on which it presumably already made a profit margin when the car was bought.

In July, BMW announced that customers could pay £25 per month to unlock heated seats and steering wheels in some of its cars and last year, Toyota announced it would charge some drivers $8 per month to remotely start their cars using a key fob.

5. BBC News website: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s rural retreat up for sale

A former rural retreat of Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been put on the market. Conan Doyle owned the property at Brook near Lyndhurst and regularly visited from 1925 until his death in 1930.

Holmes Under The Hammer?

(Apologies to anyone who doesn’t know the daytime house auction programme)

Drive, clean, gym (run), drive, walk, scramble, ride (France and the Lake District), plus fraud, foie gras and turtleneck sweaters

We set alarms for silly-o’clock on Monday 14th November and were out of the house shortly after 4.30 to drive to the alps.

We were a bit nervous as, the previous week, ‘stop oil’ protesters had caused a few days of rush hour traffic chaos by climbing onto overhead gantries and so blocking the M25 motorway. They said they were calling a temporary truce to the action – we hoped the early start would make sure we were safe but we didn’t really relax until we had passed through the battleground part of the motorway.

We got to the tunnel in time to be put on an earlier train and we rolled out into Calais just after 8.30 (our time, 9.30 theirs). The journey is about 713 miles (1147km) door to door and, after the break for the tunnel, we pushed on without trying to set any speed records – but stopping only once. Thirteen hours after setting off, we arrived in Les Carroz.

I had felt a bit foolish the previous week when I’d taken the car, in a very mild 12℃ (54℉), to swap its normal wheels and tyres for the winter set. For years I battled with snow chains – which are truly the Devil’s own work. One fight too many, in the dark, with dirty, wet and freezing hands and soaking sleeves and trousers convinced me that winter tyres were the way to go so a change of car brought a set of steel hubs with winter tyres a few years ago.

There was no sign of snow on any of the roads and it was fairly mild, even up the mountain, but I was relieved when I remembered that some alpine regions (including the Haute Savoie where we were) now make winter tyres mandatory from 1st November to 31st March.

As always at this time of year, most of the village was shut. The things that can be relied on are the two supermarkets (though not necessarily with fully stocked shelves or full opening hours) and one or two restaurants taking it in turns to open.

Every year, we do the trip to check the apartment prior to the ski season, so we spent time cleaning and replacing – I took running kit but never got close to using it. Normally, we take 5 days for the trip but only had 4 available this time which made it a bit of a rush with so much driving, but it was a great change of scenery and very enjoyable, even with the return 713 miles on Thursday (at 61mph and 62.9mpg for data lovers).

On Friday I went to the gym, rather bleary-eyed but the weights quite well and I also did a sub 5 minute km on the treadmill to stretch my legs.

After that we got ready for trip number two and set off for the Lake District (again very early) on Saturday – a mere 260 miles (nearly 420km). Another delightful ritual, this one a weekend with the two couples that we ‘do’ the Lakes and Bournemouth with each year. We got away early enough to miss the traffic that often builds up around Birmingham and arrived in Ambleside before 10.

We went out onto the fells by midday and took on Stickle Ghyll and then Pavey Ark, a challenging route above the tarn. From the car park it’s more of a random stone staircase on the way up to the tarn which was reasonably hard work but it was somewhere between a scramble and almost climbing above there around Pavey Ark. Coming down was probably even harder and we ended up descending the last bit to the car park using mobile phone torches which was very testing. Only about 5 miles but with the equivalent of climbing around 160 flights of stairs.

On Sunday I borrowed a mountain bike and our host and I rode to Tarn How’s and joined the others (who, sensibly, drove) on a lovely walk up Black Crag. The ride there was only about 6 miles but very hilly and tough in cold wether walking kit. After the walk we had the short ride to Coniston for a late lunch – flatter, but by then it was raining.

After lunch we rode back to Ambleside in the gathering dark – only about another 8 miles but hilly again and raining stair rods so we were soaked almost immediately. Not completely lovely – but what can you expect of the Lake District in November … and the rain didn’t manage to spoil a great day in excellent company.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The quarrel of lovers is the renewal of love

2. BBC News website: Reality edges in to advertising?

As ever, many Christmas TV ads conjure up sentimentality, nostalgia and joy but as the cost of living soars, some retailers have opted for a more muted approach to their campaigns this year. John Lewis said its advert, featuring a foster family, was less about buying things and more about kindness.

Retailers have to strike a balance between recognising that consumers are facing financially challenging times, but also acknowledging that people still want to have a brilliant Christmas, particularly after the past couple of years during the pandemic.

Marks and Spencer’s advert cuts to a table set with a huge spread of festive food and Sainsbury’s advert also ends on a display of a vast festive buffet. Such indulgent and expensive-looking scenes have drawn criticism for being at odds with the more modest offerings many families will be able to stretch to this year.

3. BBC News website: What’s the price of fraud?

10 months ago, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of defrauding investors. Her company was once valued at $9bn (£7.5bn) but now it’s a byword for corporate fraud.

She, claimed the start-up could diagnose hundreds of diseases with just a few drops of blood. That wasn’t true and in January a jury concluded she had deliberately misled investors. She was convicted of four counts of wire fraud – with a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Her legal team was arguing for 18 months of house arrest while the prosecution wanted a 15 years in prison and an order to pay back the best part of a billion dollars to investors. The judge had a big decision to make and Silicon Valley executives will be watching with interest.

She has been sentenced to over 11 years in prison

4. BBC News website: Death of the world’s oldest primary school pupil

99 year old Priscilla Sitienei started developing health complications after attending class on Wednesday. She, and her 12-year-old classmates, had been preparing for final exams set to start next week.

She started learning to read and write – an opportunity she never had as a child. At first the school turned her away but soon understood how committed she was to learning.

5. BBC News website: Truly, a man of the people

There will be no foie gras served in royal residences, a letter from Buckingham Palace to animal rights campaigners has confirmed. King Charles is understood to have been a longstanding opponent of the food, made from the liver of a duck or goose, that campaigners say is cruel because of force feeding.

That’s force feeding of the ducks or geese, not the palace guests

6. BBC News website: Well, that’s the energy issue sorted

The governor of Tokyo has urged city residents to wear turtleneck jumpers this winter to reduce energy consumption. Workers at city hall will be told to set an example by adopting the jumper.

Ms Koike said “They’re warm and overall energy consumption is reduced so we can link it to lowering CO2 emissions,” she said.

7. BBC News website: One man’s pheasant is another’s unicorn

Some 140 years after the black-naped pheasant-pigeon was last sighted by scientists, researchers have “rediscovered” the rare bird. In September, a team captured footage of the species deep in the forest of a tiny island off Papua New Guinea.

It felt like “finding a unicorn”, said expedition co-lead John Mittermeier.

Turbo (x2), gym, run (x2), (plus football, the metaverse and, sadly, it’s terminal)

A quiet start to the week with a painful right foot (again). That ruled out a run and the Monday swim doctor session but I got on the turbo – just 30 minutes for 13.5km (8.4 miles)

Having hurt my foot recently through an ill-advised long walk in ‘work shoes’, I blistered it again on Saturday after nothing more than a day wearing a pair of trainers that have caused no problems whatsoever in about 450km of running. The foot became a bit red and puffy – a low level infection?

On Tuesday we went for our Covid seasonal booster jabs, having waited as required after we had Covid itself. My foot was improving but was now feeling more like I’d dropped something heavy on it (which I hadn’t). I remembered that, to bodge the fence in Bournemouth last week, I had my foot under the gate to lift it so I could latch and bolt it to the broken fence post. I think that probably bruised my foot – and the blister on Saturday was a random and unconnected bit of bad luck.

So, no great dramas on this occasion but it’s always the small toe on my right foot that causes the problems (it was the site of the only blister after the summer’s 100k ultra) so it needs watching.

Nothing for it but another session on the turbo on in the evening – 45 mins @27.2kph (16.9mph). Not that long, not that fast but the third day in a row and plenty tough enough – possibly not helped by the Covid jab?

I didn’t feel any obvious bad reaction to the jab but I didn’t sleep that well and felt shattered on Wednesday, so I did very little (one of the luxuries of retirement). I slept nearly 11 hours Wednesday night (another luxury of retirement) and felt a lot better.

The sport recently has been spectacular with World Cups going on in the women’s and men’s rugby league, the women’s rugby union and the men’s T20 cricket. A phenomenal performance on Thursday saw England’s cricketers into Sunday’s final (fingers crossed for the weather in Melbourne), with the women’s rugby union team in their final on Saturday (in New Zealand, against New Zealand – we are favourites but I’m very nervous as they are improving all the time and we seem to have hit a plateau).

Off to the gym later on Thursday for a good hour – I can still feel where the jab went in on Tuesday, but even the arm machines were fine.

With the foot problems and no run for a week, I expect Friday’s should have been ‘shorter and slower’. I scored one out of two with my ‘longer and slower’ decision but I had an enjoyable run along the farm tracks to Eaton Hastings and back – just over 11km (short of 7 miles) but well outside 6m/km. I hadn’t intended to go fast – but nor had I expected to go that slow.

Disappointment at the women’s rugby as England lost the final to New Zealand by just 3 points having played three quarters of the match a player down after an early sending off. Thus ends a 30 game winning streak – what a time to lose it!

I thought about a turbo session on Saturday but couldn’t find the motivation so had a day off. With low expectations for exercise next week, on Sunday I did the same run as Friday – just over 11km (nearly 7 miles), but this time at under 6m/km.

A funny old week in many ways – a bit of injury, a bit of illness (and/or reaction to the Covid booster), decent gym sessions, OK on the turbo, poor with the first run and not great with the second. All part of life’s rich tapestry …

… and just time to confirm that England won the T20 Cricket World Cup. Of course, we didn’t make victory over an excellent Pakistan side at all easy, but we got there.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: When one is in love, a cliff becomes a meadow

2. BBC News website: Sporting commitment or just the football red mist?

Ten players were sent off as Racing Club won an Argentinian Champions Trophy final that ended early because Boca Juniors had only six players on the pitch.

Each team had a player sent off in the 95th minute after an argument, while another Boca player was dismissed for a second yellow card five minutes later. However, Carlos Alcaraz’s 118th-minute winner was the flash point for the major incident when he celebrated in front of the Boca fans. The Boca players surrounded him, grabbing him by the ear and throwing the ball at him.

The referee sent off Alcaraz along with five Boca players, including one of their unused substitutes, and a player who had been replaced earlier. An unused Racing substitute was also shown a red card.

3. BBC News website: Billions being spent in metaverse land grab

Nearly $2bn (£1.75bn) has been spent on virtual land in the past 12 months, as people and companies race to get a foothold in ‘the metaverse’. It is confusing but there are actually many metaverses and until one platform starts to dominate, or these disparate worlds join together, companies are selling land and experiences in their own versions.

In Sandbox, one of the crypto metaverses, Adidas, Atari, Ubisoft, Binance, Warner Music and Gucci are just some of the multinationals buying land, and building experiences to sell and promote their products and services.

Gucci has also built in Roblox which is seen as one of the most mainstream of the fledgling metaverses. Gucci Town has had more than 36 million visits in the year since it was launched, while Nike Land has recorded more than 25 million in 11 months. In Gucci Town, players can buy clothing for their avatars with real money. In Nike Land they can get T-shirts and shoes for avatars with points earned by playing games.

The thing I agree with most in all this (and perhaps the only thing I really understand) is the statement “It is confusing

4. BBC News website: Football World Cup approaches

This week the disgraced former head of world football said that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a mistake. Really? The bidding was for a (N. hemisphere) summer world cup but after its award they suddenly discovered Qatar is hot in the summer so it was moved to winter.

More importantly, there are concerns about human rights, the treatment of foreign workers building the competition infrastructure and Qatar’s treatment of LGBTQ+ people, as same-sex relationships and their promotion are criminalised, with punishments ranging from fines to the death sentence.

A Qatar World Cup ambassador has just told a German broadcaster “[Homosexuality] is haram. You know what haram [forbidden] means? I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind”.

The world football governing body (FIFA) recently wrote to the World Cup teams urging that football should not be “dragged” into ideological or political “battles”, conveniently ignoring the fact that it was them who created exactly those circumstances.

Qatar’s World Cup organisers have said “everyone is welcome” and no-one will be discriminated against, but the Qatar 2022 chief executive has also said the government would not change its laws on homosexuality, requesting visitors “respect our culture”.

Everyone is welcome … but some are more welcome than others?

5. BBC News website: Sadly, it’s terminal at the terminal

Born in 1945 in Iran, Mehran Karimi Nasseri flew to Europe in search of his mother in the late 1980s. Expelled from countries including the UK, the Netherlands and Germany for not having the correct immigration documents, he ended up making the airport’s 2F Terminal his home in 1988, inspiring the 2004 Tom Hanks film, The Terminal.

He was given the right to live in France in 1999, but stayed at the airport until 2006. He ended up returning to the airport a few weeks ago, where he died of natural causes, an airport official told AFP.

6. BBC News website: KFC (Kindly Forgive Catastrophe?)

In Germany, the fast food chain sent an app alert, saying: “It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken. Now at KFCheese!”

‘Kristallnacht’ was a Nazi-led series of attacks in the country in 1938 which left more than 90 people dead and destroyed Jewish-owned businesses and places of worship. It is widely seen as the beginning of the Holocaust.

The message, heavily criticised for its insensitivity, was later blamed by KFC on “an error in our system”.

It beggars belief

7. BBC News website: Just as we thought it was safe to back in (on) the water …

A cruise ship carrying 4,600 passengers and crew has docked in Sydney, Australia, having sailed from New Zealand. About 800 passengers had tested positive for Covid-19 by halfway through the 12 day cruise.

Gym (x2), run (x2), turbo (x2), Robert Zimmerman (x1 – there is only one)

My foot was still sore on Monday so I went to the gym, instead of running. It was a good hour although children from the nearby school arrived for a pretty chaotic session.

In the afternoon I got a call from the garage to tell me that the car had passed its MOT. It had failed on the emissions test and (surprisingly) the new catalytic converter hadn’t solved the problem – which left me wondering if it was destined for the great car park in the sky. However, a couple of mis-functioning glow plugs had, eventually, been diagnosed and the plugs and a new wiring harness injector (whatever that might be) fixed it in the twinkling of … 11 days and a few hundred pounds.

After a new timing belt earlier in the year (at nearly 130,000 miles) I’m now in the typical quandary of whether I should keep it or get rid of it while the going is good. I know something else will go wrong and I’ll then be wondering whether to throw good money after bad.

My foot had been improving all day so I decided on a gentle run (3.7km) to collect the car. Without enormous enthusiasm I went to book the swim doctor session in the evening but, apparently, no substitute had been found for the usual teacher so I had no choice but to put my feet up for the evening. What a shame!

Tuesday’s weather was dismal, I did paperwork and could raise enthusiasm for nothing more than a session on the turbo in the late afternoon. Just 30 minutes but a little faster than recent efforts at 29.4kph (18.26mph).

In the evening I got a call from a neighbour in Bournemouth to say that a section of our fence was looking rather worse for wear thanks to some very high winds. No great surprise as I have already bodged repairs twice but when I got there on Wednesday it turned out to be a different fence post that had snapped. I managed another bodge but I think this is nature’s way of telling me that the thing needs to be repaired properly.

I took my kit but it was still blowing a gale and by the time I’d cut up a load of the branches I’ve chopped off over the years – I did three trips to the dump (not quite finishing the job) so running was a very unattractive proposition. After a wet drive home I was beyond any exercise so I had the joy of working on all the family tax returns.

I got straight into running kit on Thursday morning but when I looked out it was raining heavily so I demonstrated my total lack of commitment and headed to the gym instead. A good hour, except for being descended upon by another class from the school – I do need to learn the times for their gym attendance. I went to a funeral in the afternoon, supporting my wife who is a friend of the deceased’s daughter.

With the bike shop in abeyance, pending the availability of the new premises, I ran on Friday morning. The Garmin recorded 7km at @5:21/km. I planted some new hedging and prepared for the concert in the evening.

As it was the ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ tour, it was no surprise that the music came from that album (luckily I really like it) … not a single ‘Dylan classic’ on the playlist. Having been a fan for over 50 years, this was my first (and probably only) chance to see him live – on the couple of occasions he stepped away from the piano, he looked very frail but there again, he is 81.

How to describe it? Just the great man and 5 backing musicians; no staging; no light show or video; no support act; not a single backing vocal; no interval, just a few minutes short of 2 hours played straight through; no showmanship; no audience engagement (until a short half-hearted bit at the end).

All very much on Bob Dylan’s terms … and it was magnificent! I was, strangely, quite emotional.

Afterwards we drove to London. I went to our older son’s place on Saturday and painted skirting boards. We’re making good progress. I took running kit but on Sunday it was raining on a Biblical scale. I believe Noah was Googling to find out the length of a cubit in centimetres*. We drove back home and I did the turbo in the early evening – 30 minutes for 13.94km (8.6 miles) – and I’ve hurt my foot again.

*45.72

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: The eye never forgets what the heart has seen

2. BBC News website: Mutiny over the Bounty

Mars’ ‘Celebration’ tubs contain a range of mini versions of their chocolate bars. A survey of people aged between 18 and 65 suggested that 18% would feel irritated to find only Bounty bars were left in a tub, while 58% believed it would lead to a family argument. A limited run of “No Bounty” tubs will go on sale at 40 Tesco stores in the run-up to Christmas.

Polling suggested the sweet is popular with older consumers, with 38% of over-55s choosing it as their preferred bar.

3. BBC News website: Solar farms in space?

Work is going on in various parts of the world to develop a plan to harvest solar energy from space and beam it down to Earth using microwaves. The solar energy collected by the satellites would be converted into high frequency radio waves and beamed to a rectifying antenna on Earth, which would convert the radio waves into electricity.

Each satellite could deliver around 2GW of power into the grid, comparable in power output to a nuclear power station. It could be happening as soon as 2035 and, in theory, the approach could supply all of the world’s energy needs by 2050.

4. BBC News website: Oiling the wheels (and greasing the palms) of the oil industry

A UK subsidiary of mining giant Glencore has been ordered to pay more than £275m, in fines and confiscation, for bribing officials in African countries to get access to oil. The company paid $26m (£23m) to officials of firms in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast between 2011 and 2016. Prosecutors said employees and agents used private jets to transfer cash to pay the bribes.

In May, the firm agreed to a $1.1bn (£900m) settlement in the US over a scheme to bribe officials in seven countries during the course of a decade.

I love the mention of the private jets – as if that makes it worse

5. BBC News website: Nick Kyrgios settles legal case with spectator

Kyrgios, the world number 22, was competing at Wimbledon in his first Grand Slam final when he complained to the umpire about a fan, saying she looked “like she has had about 700 drinks”. The fan instructed solicitors to bring defamation proceedings.

Kyrgios has now apologised for the comment and is donating £20,000 to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, a charity chosen by the fan.

Swim, run, gym, walk (x2), turbo (the world’s dirtiest man, ‘active’ politicians and snakes)

We stayed in Bournemouth on Sunday night and drove back on Monday after a walk along the promenade, in a weak sun and a strong wind.

I decided to get back on the horse (figuratively) and went to the swim doctor session on Monday night – my first swim for three weeks. It wasn’t so much that I’d missed it, more a feeling that if I left it much longer I would have found it even harder to get back to it.

I was a little apprehensive because of the continuing cough but I made the swim a pretty steady front crawl for 900m. Even that left me breathing really hard … but it always does so it probably doesn’t prove anything other than that I still don’t swim efficiently.

Considering how lightly I got away with my recent (first and, I hope, only) dose of Covid, and being at the lower end of the sensitivity scale, It’s odd how much I’m anticipating problems as I get back to exercise. Despite that, I ran one of my usual loops on Tuesday – 7.2km (4.45 miles) and, to my surprise, managed just outside 5:30/km – a bit faster than usual.

I can only assume that I’m lucky enough to have little or no Covid legacy, and that perhaps the two recent parkruns and the 10k race have changed my perception of how fast I can run. Perhaps I just don’t feel that I have to leave the house and immediately slip into my previous ‘default’ plod?

As a matter of absolutely no surprise whatsoever, I maintained my annual ritual of failing to get a ballot place for the London Marathon. Our older son was in the same boat but our younger son got a place so my belief that the ballot is pure myth can’t be true.

An hour in the gym on Wednesday morning went really well and I managed to fit in sit-ups, the plank routine and some stretching alongside the weights. I drove up to London on Thursday for lunch with some old work mates.

Full of beer, good food and good wine, I decided to walk most of the way back to the flat – about 5km (just over 3 miles) in uncomfortable shoes that gave me blisters and a sizeable bruise on my right foot. I stayed overnight and walked (with different shoes) another 3km (nearly 2 miles) to pick up the car on Friday morning. Then I drove to our older son’s to help with more work around the house and garden and to pick up a ladder, some wood and some rubbish for disposal.

My foot was still sore and bruised on Saturday so I opted out of a run and, for a couple of pleasant hours, joined a working party developing part of the churchyard into a ‘garden of contemplation’.

I made the most of the clocks going back an hour on Sunday morning – and had the extra time asleep. If anything, my foot was worse so that put paid to the intended run. Instead I spent a couple of hours helping to clear out the bike shop – we are having to move as the current premises are being redeveloped and our new ones won’t be available for a month so everything is going into storage.

With the foot not allowing a run, I tried it on the turbo in the afternoon. Fortunately, in cycle shoes, it was fine and I managed an hour for 26.8km (16.65 miles) – longer than I’ve done recently but hot work.

An odd week for exercise, only one run but enjoying the benefit of liking a lot of different types of exercise. With no events on the horizon, I’m sure the relative rest won’t do me any harm.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: To get lost is to learn the way

2. BBC News website: More on Amy Pieters

Dutch cyclist Amy Pieters has taken her first steps since suffering severe brain damage in a training crash in Alicante in December. The 31-year-old, three-time Madison world champion, only regained consciousness in April after being put in an induced coma following surgery.

She is recovering in an intensive neuro-rehabilitation centre. Her website said she could “walk for short moments when supported” but could not yet talk.

Fate can be very unfair, but where there’s life …

3. BBC News website: “The world’s dirtiest man” dies aged 94

Iranian, Amou Haji had refused to use soap and water for more than half a century, fearing it would make him sick. He had avoided previous attempts by villagers to get him clean.

According to local media, he finally succumbed to pressure and washed a few months ago but became ill shortly afterwards and died on Sunday.

4. BBC News website: Woman killed and swallowed whole by a python

The lady, said to be in her 50s, had made her way to work at a rubber plantation on Sunday morning but was reported missing after failing to return that night.

A day later villagers found a python – which was at least 5m (16ft) long – with what appeared to be a large stomach. Locals later killed the snake and found her body, largely intact, inside.

That is just so sad

5. BBC News website: Are politicians too passive?

A Brazilian politician is in custody after throwing grenades at police officers who came to his house in Rio de Janeiro state to arrest him on the grounds that he violated the conditions of his house arrest.

The 69-year-old former leader of the PTB political party, also fired a number of shots from a rifle, shattering the windshield of a police car. Two officers were wounded by shrapnel before the politician surrendered.

6. BBC News website: Brian Robinson has died aged 91

Robinson, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, was the first British cyclist to finish the Tour de France (in 1955) and was the first to win a stage of the race in 1958 (and another in 1959). He also won the prestigious Criterium du Dauphine stage race in 1961 and was the first Briton to stand on the podium of one of cycling’s Monuments, Milan-Sanremo, finishing third in 1957.

Robinson, joined his local cycling club as a teenager and later took up racing while working for the family building company. He competed for Britain at the 1952 Olympics before turning professional, riding the Tour de France for the first time in 1955 when he finished 29th overall.

With all the success in more recent years, it’s easy to forget riders like Robinson who was a trailblazer, inspiring the generation that followed, including Tom Simpson and Barry Hoban. 

Turbo (x2), run (x2), gym, plus goldfish, chess, trains and goldfish (did I mention goldfish?)

After battling through Covid, we both tested negative at the start of the week and something like what passes for normal life resumed, but cautiously as we both still have the remains of a cough.

I decided to miss the swim doctor session on Monday but took a trip up to our older son’s place to help with some decorating (there is a lot to do) and pick up the car he’s been borrowing and which needs an MOT.

Going via our flat I left a key to the place in Bournemouth for our younger son to collect ahead of his half term trip there with his girlfriend, next week. As teachers, they have no choice but to be off for the expensive holiday weeks so it’s good to be able to help them.

After the necessary domestic chores (it’s fair to say very little cleaning went on last week), my mind started to turn towards exercise. I had no plan to jump back in to the same amount as I was doing before the virus but I felt it would be interesting to see what effect it had.

I decided on a turbo trainer session on the basis that, if it wasn’t going well and I had to bail out, I wouldn’t be far from home. I tried it on Tuesday early evening – more out of curiosity than expectation – I knocked it down a gear to be cautious, but I managed an easy 30 minutes @ 27.7kph (17.2mph) and everything seemed to be working OK.

Everything felt fine on Wednesday – despite my continuing cold – but I took it gently and got back on the turbo again on Thursday. Another 30 minutes, a little faster, at 28.1kph (17.5mph).

I drove the car to the garage for its MOT on Friday morning, ran to the gym, did a 45 minute session on the weights, and then ran home. Only 4.2km (2.6 miles) but the first running and the first weights since the virus. Again, it all went pretty well.

Perhaps I’ve been listening to too many tales of post-Covid suffering but I’ve been expecting the worst all week … and it’s not happened, although I do feel quite tired and wouldn’t say I was entirely back to full strength. The gym was followed by the usual shift in the bike shop and a trip for my ‘flu jab.

Of course, not everything can go well – the car failed the MOT emissions test so that’s a new catalytic converter needed. Friends we had to postpone from last week came for lunch on Saturday which was great – and helped to put off any inclination I might have had for exercise.

Back down to Bournemouth on Sunday to do a few chores and set up the house for our younger son and his girlfriend who were arriving on Monday. It rained, with thunder and lightening, but at least I managed to put up a replacement gate post. I usually regret leaving Bournemouth without having done a run down the promenade – but the weather made it easier.

Strange week in many ways – Covid gone and some light exercise restarted but still with the feeling that normal service has not yet been resumed.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Nobody is born wise

2. BBC News website: The memory of a Goldfish?

A team from Oxford University trained nine fish to travel 70cm (2.3ft) after which they were prompted by an external cue – such as a researcher waving their hand – to turn around and swim back to the start position. They then received a food reward.

The researchers then tested if the fish would swim the same distance if the starting position was changed and the cue was removed. They found eight of the nine fish accurately remembered when to turn back to get their reward, without being prompted. Researchers said it showed the fish could accurately estimate distance and that the study disproves the long-held belief goldfish have little or no memory.

Do you sometimes think ‘researchers’ have too much time on their hands?

Goldfish Times’ led with the story about how goldfish researchers trained some scientists to give them food for something as simple as a short swim.

3. BBC News website: The growing environmental problem of “e-waste”

This year, 5.3 billion mobile phones will be thrown away although many people are keeping old phones, rather than recycling them, research suggests. It is estimated that in the UK alone, more than 20 million unused but working electrical items, worth as much as possibly £5.63bn ($6.29bn), are currently being hoarded.

Precious minerals not extracted from waste electronics, such as the copper in wire or the cobalt in rechargeable batteries, have to be mined.

4. BBC News website: Motoring In-convenience

A man whose job it is to help preserve Japan’s cultural heritage has accidentally smashed his car into the country’s oldest toilet at a centuries-old Buddhist temple.

The communal loo in Kyoto dates back to the 15th century and is designated an important cultural asset. Its ancient door was ruined after the employee hit the accelerator without realising the car was in reverse, police said.

5. BBC News website: The train not standing at platform

The mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region were late for their press conference about “rail chaos” in the north of England because their train was cancelled.

6. BBC News website: The chess stakes get higher

As mentioned previously, in September Norwegian world champion Magnus Carlsen, accused US chess grandmaster Hans Niemann of cheating in a match against him. Niemann is now suing Carlsen for at least $100m (£89m).

Niemann is also suing website Chess.com, which published a report saying he had probably cheated in more than 100 online games. He says the defendants colluded to destroy his reputation and livelihood.

I wonder if the Sicilian defence works in Court

Run … then it rather fell apart, can you guess why?

Bournemouth – four days there and I didn’t even walk the 200 yards to the beach

The hill rep session on Monday morning was a very hard 8 reps for 9km and 265m ascent (5.6 miles & 870 feet). A little slower than usual because I developed a cold at the weekend.

The cold became a bit more of a concern when a friend we saw on Friday tested positive for Covid – but I guessed the fact that I had just done the run meant a cold was the worst I could have. I tested anyway as I was planning to give friends a lift to the evening’s swim doctor session … and it was positive … damn.

Does 8 hard hill reps with Covid count as a personal best?

I’ve dodged the Covid bullet for so long, I didn’t think it was going to get me. I can’t be sure where I caught it but everything points to last Friday evening’s musical event in the village church – it looks like that was the culprit as there is now a new wave of infections in the village.

My wife recorded a mild positive and then a negative, so we started taking the obvious precaution of me staying at a distance, wearing a mask and sanitising like it was going out of fashion.

I didn’t sleep very well on Monday with a nose that was simultaneously running and blocked but, apart from that, I felt reasonably good. I decided to drive down to Bournemouth on Tuesday as it would keep my wife safer and me properly isolated (rather thwarted by her confirmatory positive after a bad night on Monday).

The painter arrived at the house in Bournemouth late on Tuesday – luckily with the painting of the outside, my isolation wasn’t compromised. On Wednesday we had to cancel friends who were coming for lunch and I stayed in Bournemouth with the promise that the painter would appear – but he didn’t.

I cancelled Thursday’s intended visit to our older son, again on the promise that the painter would appear – but he didn’t. It turns out that his car had ‘exploded’ when the timing belt broke and the engine wrote itself off. He was typically over-optimistic about how quickly it could be back on the road – and typically useless at keeping his customer informed. I’d decided that he was trustworthy but was now doubting my judgement.

Friday’s gym and shop sessions went by the board too – and the painter finally appeared at about 5pm and painted the front door. That was great except that, it being quite chilly, I was there at 9pm using a hairdryer on it to help the paint dry sufficiently so I could shut it safely and drive home to Oxfordshire.

Saturday’s turn at ride leader for the cycling club was cancelled but in the post I received the invitation to book my Covid booster jab!

We had booked a walk and pub lunch with friends on Sunday so that went the way of everything else and was cancelled – we would have been beyond the standard 5 days of isolation by then but my wife had continued to suffer worse than me and it just didn’t seem sensible to try that much activity that soon.

A week of isolation, hanging around pointlessly, frustration and cancellations. I was lucky that I haven’t felt ill beyond the symptoms of having a cold – but I will be happy not to have another week like it. Under UK guidance I’m now able to get out as people are unlikely to be infectious beyond the 5 days, but I’ll still be taking extra care, just in case.

Almost no exercise, so more ‘interesting stuff’.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable

2. BBC News website: Media Literacy

Finland is a high-trust society. According to an OECD report, 71% of the Finnish population trust the government, compared to the OECD average of 41%. Parliament, the civil service, the police and the media all enjoy high levels of trust. Critical thinking and media literacy is part of the school curriculum and children are taught the skills they need to spot fabricated information on social media.

There is a media literacy index indicating nations’ resilience to ‘fake news’. In 2021, of 35 European countries, Finland topped it with a score of 78, followed by Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Sweden and Ireland all scoring at least 70. The UK scored 62. At the bottom were Bosnia and Herzegovina with 19 and North Macedonia with 15.

Ah, but could this be fake news?

A high trust society is good – as long as the institutions you trust are trustworthy?

3. BBC News website: Fat Bear Week

Fat Bear Week 2022, saw people from around the world vote for the fattest bruin at Alaska’s Katmai National Park. Brown bear 747, tipping the scales at an estimated 1,400lbs (635kg), won 68,105 votes, beating Bear 901 with 56,876 votes.

Bear 747 nearly didn’t make it to the final because of an unprecedented case of voter fraud in the semi-finals as someone decided to spam the poll, but this was spotted and corrected by officials.

Chess, poker, match fishing and now Fat Bear Week – does (alleged) cheating know no limits?

4. BBC News website: Dame Angela Lansbury dies aged 96

The three-time Oscar nominee had a career spanning eight decades, across film, theatre and television and won acclaim as the star of the TV crime series Murder, She Wrote. She also won an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement in 2013, a lifetime achievement award from Bafta in 2002, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Very sad. Thankfully, no suspicious circumstances … who would have investigated? 

5. BBC News website: Gaming not a medal event at 2026 Commonwealth Games

Esports was a pilot event at the 2022 Birmingham Games, but the organisers of the 2026 Games, in Australia, say esports will not feature.

They have refused to give any specific reasons but there have been many high-profile cases of competitive gamers taking substances such as the drug Adderall to enhance concentration and performance. It is thought that doping in esports may have been a factor with concerns about the problems of arranging year-round drugs testing across the various gaming titles.

6. BBC News website: Brain cells in a lab learn to play video game

The research team grew human brain cells grown from stem cells and some from mouse embryos to a collection of 800,000 and connected this mini-brain to the video game via electrodes revealing which side the ball was on and how far from the paddle.

The mini-brain learned to play in five minutes. It often missed the ball – but its success rate was well above random chance.

Great potential heath applications, no doubt, but l find this a little unsettling: ‘Call of Duty’ next and then Skynet?

Swim, run (x4), walk (x2), cycle (x2), gym (plus entangled quantum states and who owns the tattoo?)

Running and cycling along the seafront – lovely

An unreasonably early start saw me drive to Bournemouth on Monday morning to meet the painter who is about to do the house down there. Back home for the evening’s swim doctor session.

Another early start and back to Bournemouth again on Tuesday. It looked like the week was going to be both tiring and short of exercise – I was already doing well with the tiredness but I did manage to get out for a run. It was hard work into a strong headwind on the way out to Boscombe Pier which meant I was too tired to get the full benefit of running with it behind me on the return leg. It was a reasonably tough 8.5km @ 5m 27s/km but, strangely, with a string of personal bests on the leg running into the wind.

Back home and in the evening I went to watch the Championship football game between Reading and Norwich – courtesy of my friend who is related to one of the managers. An entertaining match which ended 1-1 and an excellent evening in fine company.

I took a car in for its MOT on Wednesday morning. I had planned to run back via the gym but two 6am starts, a late night after the football and tired legs made it easy to decide to walk the 2 miles straight back home. More gardening and domestic stuff – and the car passed the MOT so I cycled in to pick it up later.

Back to Bournemouth again on Thursday at silly o’clock. I decided to embrace the idea of having an easier week so I just went for a short cycle along the seafront on the old Gary Fisher mountain bike I keep down there. There’s a 10mph speed limit for bikes and it was hard to go that fast on the way out into a very strong headwind – and hard not to go faster on the way back. Just the 16km (10 miles) but it felt further.

I took a second car in for a MOT on Friday (it passed) and then ran to the gym, did a weights session and ran home. After that it was the bike shop and apple picking. In the evening we went to an event held in the church where a lady from the village (I think she teaches at the Royal Academy of Music) and others played a range of pieces (extraordinarily well). Drinks and some canapés to follow made for a terrific evening. As an entirely music-talent-free zone I really appreciate the skill of people who can play.

My wife’s two brothers came for the weekend – it’s always good to see them but I could have done without the three dogs. I managed to fit in a run before they arrived, one of the usual 7.2km routes, taken gently. We all walked the dogs on Sunday morning but a delightfully restful day.

A lot of exercise sessions in the week but many of them were quite short. I think I needed an easier week.

As ever, I’m not expecting my ballot entry to get me a place for the London Marathon next year. However, a friend has pointed out that while the ‘good for age’ entry requirement for age 65-69 is 4 hours, the requirement for the age group 70-74 is 5 hours – which seems quite generous.

I wonder if I could do a marathon in sub 5 hours between July and October 2025 to stand a better chance of getting in for the 2026 event. There are limited gfa places and they go to those who are furthest below their target time. Not easy – but possible?

I expect they’ll change the rules (adversely) by then.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: He who loves, loves you with your dirt

2. BBC News website: After chess, it’s poker and match fishing

After allegations of cheating in chess, top-level US poker and match fishing have been dogged by claims of cheating.

A casino is investigating after a player with an underwhelming hand called an all-in bet, apparently convinced her opponent was bluffing, and scooped a pot of $269,000 (£241,000). Pundits commentating during the live streamed match expressed their incredulity at the move.

Meanwhile, two fishermen have been accused of stuffing their catches with lead weights in order to win a tournament held on Lake Erie, Ohio. Viral video showed an official slicing open fish at a weigh-in, extracting lead balls and even fillets of other fish.

Two things:

  • there is such a thing as live streamed poker, with pundits???
  • thankfully, cycling is beyond reproach when it comes to cheating and nobody has ever questioned that day when I rode 1000 miles on my unicycle

3. BBC News website: Nobel Prize in Physics for research into quantum mechanics

The award has gone to a three scientists whose work could open the way to a new generation of powerful computers and telecommunications systems that are impossible to break into.

This three laureates conducted ground-breaking experiments using entangled quantum states, where two sub-atomic particles behave like a single unit even when they are separated.

A bit like Jedward, I assume (Apologies to those unaware of Jedward – I suggest you keep it that way)

4. BBC News website: When you don’t own how you look?

The artist behind wrestling star Randy Orton’s iconic tattoos (this is what it says, I’ve never actually heard of Randy Orten) has won a case against the publisher of the best-selling WWE 2K video games. She claimed video game publisher, Take-Two Interactive, used her designs without permission. She won $3,750 (£3,300) in damages.

In 2016, Take-Two were unsuccessfully sued by artists for using basketball star LeBron James’ tattoos in the NBA 2K games without permission. At the time, James said “I always thought that I had the right to license what I look like to other people for various merchandise, television appearances, and other types of creative works, like video games.”

I’m not sure but presume that this is (at least in part) about the tattoos being on the Orton character in the video game?

The official court documents consistently refer to a defendant’s ‘principle place of business’ – just out of interest, does the US not use principal as the spelling for ‘main’?

5. BBC News website: Dart hits the bullseye

Last week, Nasa’s Dart probe was crashed into an asteroid to test whether an asteroid that might threaten Earth could be nudged out of the way by altering its trajectory. Scientists are now working to establish whether the test was a success.

Two days after the collision a comet-like plume of debris spreading behind the giant rock stretched for more than 10,000km (6,200 miles). It is expected to get even longer until it disperses completely, and will look like other space dust floating around.

Run (x4), swim, gym (x2) (parkrun No2, naked chess, robots and sailing for madmen)

Autumn seems to have arrived so it was a short sleeved compression top, a warmer long sleeved top and long tights for Monday’s 7.25km (4.5 miles) run with my wife.

Off to the swim doctor session in the evening; there were fewer drills and more front crawl than usual so I swam 1050 metres. It feels like I’m making some (almost imperceptible) progress but I still don’t love it and it will get harder to leave the house to swim as the evenings get darker and colder. Perhaps I’ll stick with the structure of the swim doctor sessions over the winter and reassess next year.

I had a good hour in the gym on Tuesday followed by some woodworking and mowing, in between showers. Having missed them last week while in La Manga, it was back to the hill for the usual 8 hill reps on Wednesday. This time it measured 9km and 267m of ascent (5.6 miles and 876 feet) but the Garmin seems to measure the same run differently every time. Inevitably, more mowing in the afternoon.

A short run (on very tired legs) with my wife on Thursday – 5.6km (3.5 miles). I rather overdid the cold weather gear so it turned out to be a bit of a sauna.

Gym for an hour on Friday morning and that was followed by the bike shop – a happy couple of hours replacing cables, fixing punctures, truing wheels and adjusting gears. The rest of the day was cold and wet but, eventually, it brightened up a bit so (despite sage warnings that it can become a bit of an obsession) my friend and I decided to go to the parkrun on Saturday.

There was every possibly of that being a mistake as it was my 9th session of exercise in 8 days but I enjoyed run, even though the label ‘race’ yet again meant that I pushed hard. People say if it’s not hurting, you’re not trying hard enough – at least I’ve cracked the ‘making it hurt’ bit.

The conditions were good despite a lot of rain in the previous 24 hours. There was a distinct breeze and a turnout of 116 runners. The run felt slower and tougher than my first parkrun last week and I really noticed the 30+ bends (most 90°) in the 5km. I wasn’t expecting much of a result but, to my surprise, I managed to get the ‘sub 25 minute’ monkey off my back by clocking 24m 36s.

Perversely, I’m quite pleased I didn’t go a bit faster as I don’t immediately feel the ‘go sub 24 minute’ monkey climbing aboard.

My friend and training partner was a few seconds behind me but had put in a good run on Friday which, I guess, will have cost him all that time. It tells me that, even though it’s only 5km, it does deserve a bit of preparation (no more that a short run or little leg work in the gym Friday morning and no more than 2 glasses of wine Friday evening?).

I was 29th overall but 5th on the ‘age grading’ list. My rating is 69.44% – nearly at 70% which is Regional Class Level. I was second in my age group. The chap who was ahead of me has run more than 130 parkruns and is a member of Gateshead Harriers, one of the country’s most famous clubs (think Brendon Foster, Jonathan Edwards, Richard Kilty) so I don’t feel at all bad about that.

I acknowledge that it’s a bit strange to take a 24 mile round trip for a run that is shorter than I’d do if I just stepped out of my front door. It’s fun and I like the competition – but it probably means that I won’t be there every week.

We have friends coming over for lunch on Sunday so a welcome absence of any exercise while I enjoy watching others run the London Marathon – very best wishes to them all. Oh yes, yesterday I put in an entry for the ballot for a place next year.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Rain does not fall on one roof alone

2. BBC News website: Naked chess, a move too far?

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has openly accused fellow player Hans Niemann of cheating.

Niemann (19) has admitted cheating online twice, when he was 12 and 16, but has strenuously denied ever cheating over the board. He says he is willing to play nude to prove his good faith.

3. BBC News website: Latest prototype of a humanoid robot on show

Optimus appeared on stage at a Silicon Valley event, where it waved to the audience and raised its knees. The robot, being developed by the Tesla electric car company, could be on sale to the public in a few years’ time at a cost less than $20,000 (£17,900).

People were shown a video of Optimus performing simple tasks, such as watering plants, carrying boxes and lifting metal bars. The Tesla boss spoke of “a future of abundance” ahead., saying “It really is a fundamental transformation of civilisation as we know it,” .

I wonder if ‘Skynet’ ever said much the same (or am I confusing science fact with science fiction?)

4. BBC News website: Golden Globe race – 3rd edition of the race since 1968

The race set off in September and consists of a nine-month, single-handed, non-stop sail around the world, covering 30,000 miles. It is ‘sailing like it’s 1968’ so entrants are limited to similar yachts and equipment to what was available to the winner, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, in the first race. That means sailing without modern technology or the benefit of satellite-based navigation aids.

Nine sailors took part in the original 1968 event – just one finished and the others sank, retired or, in one case, disappeared in what looked like a suicide.

The rules bar entrants from contacting family and friends or putting into port. Some call it “a voyage for mad men”.

If only I sailed …

Run (x2), swim (x3), turbo, La Manga, parkrun, a tasty snack and vicious windows

View from the balcony, La Manga

Last Sunday we drove our younger son back to London after the weekend at home and the local 10km race. We dropped him off at his flat and went on to ours for the night.

We were up at 4.30 the following morning to head off to Gatwick airport to fly out to Spain. Friends had decided to rent an apartment in La Manga for a month and invite some others to join them for a few days. Luckily, flying from Gatwick was not affected by the Queen’s funeral – some flights were cancelled from Heathrow to keep the sky quiet for the funeral, as a mark of respect.

La Manga is on a several kilometre spit off the south east coast of Spain and forms the Mar Menor, a very large salt water lagoon. Our friends had driven out there, complete with dog, and very kindly provided us with a personal transfer service to and from Mercia airport.

The apartment was beautifully located overlooking a marina and we had a great time relaxing in the sun – upper 20s℃ (upper 70s℉) – and eating and drinking. I managed to run once (with Graham, our host, who was a good runner but hasn’t run for ages, so I think my presence had some beneficial effect) and swam three times. Against all odds, I did manage to lose some weight before the run last weekend – but those pounds have returned and brought some friends with them.

We also had a few long dog walks along parts of undeveloped coastline. Like so much of Spain, the area has a lot of high rise developments and then some large desolate tracts of land where they lost interest (or started to reap the consequences of over-development and saturation of the housing market). There are even a few building ‘skeletons’ (just the concrete framework, long since abandoned) in La Manga, a legacy of the collapse in the market in about 2008.

Back home late on Thursday so I gave the gym a miss on Friday morning. I did the usual stint in the bike shop, which turned out to be 4 hours instead of 2 when a lady brought in a completely disassembled mountain bike that she had crashed in the European seniors duathlon cross championships in the week. A nice carbon framed Orbea which seems to have escaped with little damage (unlike the rider who cracked a couple of ribs).

On Saturday I did my first ever Parkrun (and my first ever ‘timed’ 5k), prompted by my friend and training partner. It was in Grove, about 12 miles away. It’s a shame that we don’t have anything closer but the course was good and pretty flat, mostly grass but with some confusing loops. There were 122 people and the whole event was very friendly and positive.

I’m always ridiculously nervous before these things (as if anyone cares, or even notices, what I’m doing) but at least there were fewer club running vests than there had been at the 10km last Sunday.

Against low expectations, it went pretty well. I probably set off a bit too fast and I gave my friend a target to aim for. He reeled me in at the end and we finished together, which was great, both clocking an official 25 minutes 06 seconds for the 5km. My Garmin measured it 2 seconds faster and 5.12km making an average pace of 4.54/km – goodness knows which is right.

We were 28th and 29th out of the 122 runners but the ‘age grading’ they give (to make times comparable, taking account of age) put me in 6th place. My grading was just over 68% which says I’m almost ‘regional class level’ (whatever that means).

I’m now going to have to do it again to find those pesky 7 (official) seconds to get under 25 minutes.

Just a turbo session on Sunday afternoon, a hard 30 minutes @ 31.5kph (19.57mph). Quite a week in many ways – I’m looking forward to an evening doing nothing.

Interesting stuff this week

1. African wise words: Do not treat your loved one like a swinging door: you are fond of it but you push it back and forth

2. BBC News website: Bodies in suitcases story (mentioned a couple of weeks ago)

South Korean police have arrested a woman accused of murdering her two children who were found in abandoned suitcases bought in a sale in New Zealand last month.

The bodies were believed to have been stored for a few years. Korean police said the victims were aged 7 and 10. The woman is a 42-year-old New Zealand national of Korean descent and had fled to South Korea in 2018 after the children’s deaths.

3. BBC News website: Working from home or shirking from home?

A major new survey of more than 20,000 staff across 11 countries shows that bosses and workers fundamentally disagree about productivity when working from home.

While 87% of workers felt they worked as, or more, efficiently from home, 80% of managers disagreed.

It is untrue that 70% of workers could not be contacted because they were out

4. BBC News website: Latest Tesla recall

Tesla is recalling nearly 1.1 million cars in the US because the windows might not react correctly after detecting an obstruction and so close too fast and pinch people’s fingers.

The world’s largest electric-vehicle manufacturer has had repeated run-ins with federal safety regulators, who chief executive Elon Musk calls “the fun police”. He criticised the ‘recall’ terminology as the matter will be fixed by an over-the-air software update. Previous recalls have been due to: rear-view cameras; bonnet latches; seat-belt reminders; and sound-system software.

5. BBC News website: Who nose about veganism?

The chief operating officer of a vegan food giant has been arrested for reportedly biting a man’s nose during a row in the US.

It is alleged that the incident occurred on Saturday night as he left a parking garage in Arkansas after a football game and became involved in a dispute with another driver. He faces charges of “terroristic threatening” and third-degree battery.

No laughing matter, but he just had to be COO of a vegan food company, didn’t he?