Thursday, 26 March 2015

This week's absurdities

In no particular order:

1. People being upset because Jeremy Clarkson was sacked, or more accurately, didn't have his contract renewed - it pains me to admit it, as I like Jezza, but the Beeb got this one right: you just can't hit work colleagues and there not be consequences. And let's face it, Top Gear had got a bit tired and repetitive in the last couple of series, so this might be the creative kick up the backside he/they need. (And to anyone who thinks worse of me because I like Clarkson/Top Gear.....well, I like tofu, lentils and bicycles too, but that doesn't make me a Hoxton hipster now does it?)

2. People on Twitter saying that all those who'd signed the 'Keep Clarkson' online petition were, variously, "condoning bullying", "saying it was ok to hit people", "standing up for a racist, sexist idiot". No they weren't; they were just in their own little world, hoping that their favourite presenter on their favourite TV programme wouldn't be sacked. Worthy? No. Bad people? Probably not.

3. "Jazz hands" rather than applause at some women-only branch of an NUS conference. Apparently, applause can unsettle and disrupt speakers, so delegates were urged to do "jazz hands" rather than clap when they agreed with a point. I'm not making this up, honestly. First, I'd loved to have seen it in action, would have been the best laugh I've had in ages. Second, I'm thinking of encouraging my colleagues at work to do the same - every time I make a particularly good point in a meeting, I'd love it if they could "jazz hands" me, as it were; it would brighten things up no end. No sure how well it would work on conference calls however

4. Cameron and Miliband playing "how big's my willy" over which taxes they could rule out raising. It might have been quite entertaining, and the look on Miliband's face when Cameron ruled out increasing VAT was priceless, but really fellas, 1) how the hell do you know what's going to happen economically and fiscally in the next five years, and 2) have you checked the national debt level recently?

5. Strava - for those not of an athletic bent, Strava is an app for recording rides, runs, walks etc. It maps your route, gives average times, total distance, and compares your efforts to others. According to Strava, I ran 5.6 miles at 5.24 a mile yesterday morning. Also, my name is Mandy van Hoogenstrat. How can the app not keep hold of its GPS signal at 6am in central London for goodness sake?

Anyway, the servants have arrived with supper, so I'll love you and leave you.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Cambridge Boundary Marathon

Here's a rarity: a report on an actual event. Yes, yesterday I did the Cambridge Boundary Marathon, so called because, unsurprisingly enough, the 26 and a bit miles are basically a large anti-clockwise of the city.

I entered the event in January, thinking it would be flat, on road and therefore quite quick. However, there were no actual details on the website - the thing is run by Cambridge University Hare & Hounds, i.e. its athletic club, i.e. students, and therefore, shall we say, perhaps not as professional as other events. That said, it's about a third of the usual price of a marathon, so you can't grumble too much. Though when I was a) driving round looking for a completely unmarked car park at 7.15am yesterday, and b) running an extra 400 yards because a flour direction arrow had washed away overnight, I grumbled muchly. There were an extra few hundred yards at the end of the course too, meaning I was just under 27 by the time I stopped running.

305 people did the half-marathon, 230 did the full monty. I came 33rd out of the 230, disappointingly losing 4 places in the last mile, with an official time of 3:39. The winner did it in 3:08, second place 3:17, then a big cluster of us 3:25 to 3:45. So it wasn't fast, and it's easy to understand why; there were three big impediments to speed. First, near enough 6 miles were off road, and some of that was in a right state - we were coming off fields with an inch of mud on our soles. The student organisers, bless them, recommended using road shoes rather than trail shoes. I'd have ignored that advice had I known what it was truly like.

Second, there were many, many roads to cross, quite a few of them main roads. I and everyone else much have lost several minutes cumulatively. And third, a blast from the past. Oh, how I remember peddling round Cambridge in the winters between 1985 and 1988 with Arctic winds blowing straight off the Fens and up my trouser legs. I got a reminder of that yesterday, with a strong north-westerly hindering progress between miles 18 and 24 - just when it's toughest going in any case. At the end, my face was caked in a layer of salt, despite the fact I didn't seem to have broken sweat. I had, but it had been dried instantly, just leaving the salty residue.

I'm a bit disappointed if I'm honest with my performance, especially in the second half of the race, which was nearly 20 minutes slower than the first half, but given the conditions and the fact I've worked in London since 12th Jan, so limiting my mileage, I'm kind of ok with it. 

As an event, it was ok. You don't get to see much of the attractive centre of Cambridge, and some of the organisation was a bit iffy, as I've described, but it's friendly, it's a proper athlete's event (there was nobody carrying a fridge or dressed as the Honey Monster), and it's cheap. Would I do it again? Possibly. However, with that one done and nothing else entered, it's time to go and do some research.
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