I *heart* London

Oh dear, I have a bit of a backlog to report here, yesterday I attempted to sit down and blog, but got distracted and the next thing I knew it was way past my bedtime. I wonder how on earth I managed Juneathon, blogging EVERY DAY! I have been keeping up with the running but not so the blogging.

On Sunday I needed to run eight miles as part of my quest to have an enjoyable Cardiff Half Marathon, but we had family plans that involved playing at the Princess Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens. So I ran there. I had woken from an annoying dream that morning, where I was running the London Marathon but had arrived late and without my Garmin, and kept getting lost along the way; this run blew away the remains of that frustrating nighttime run. I really enjoy this kind of run, a leap away from my regular loopy runs, where I tread the same old ground over and over, here I could go from A to B and see all sorts of things along the way.

First I ran over to Finsbury Park, nothing new there, then carried on out at the far end to meet a stream of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian along Seven Sisters Road, how odd for there to be so many people about on a Sunday morning. As I ran along here I started to feel a little bit rough and needed the loo, I looked around for somewhere to duck in and out of, and ended up doing something I only do in absolute desperation, and went into MacDonalds. I was so obviously not a customer, sneaking in all sweaty and breathless, I certainly wasn’t going to be sampling the menu and downing a bucket of Coke. I soon found that I would have to ask to be let into the loos, as some nice elderly people, who I imagine sit in the same spot every day and see the same thing happening all the time, kindly told me I had to go and ask at the till. Of course, this wasn’t straightforward and involved me going back and forth a few times to let the staff know the door still wasn’t open. I wish I’d left the Garmin running as I must have clocked a few hundred meters.

Next ‘point of interest’ was Holloway prison. It felt odd to be running so close to the perimeter wall of a prison that nestles between flats, shops, schools and playgrounds. I felt slightly melancholy as I considered the people in there and the mum sitting at the bus stop outside with her two small children. And on I went, up the hill towards Camden Town. These kinds of runs are interesting for the contrast between the areas you pass through: one minute I was quietly passing residential streets with neat hedges, then thundering along busy, grimy roads towards high-rise jungles, picking my way through the left-over revellers of the night before and out into the fresh air of Regent’s Park with its grand white houses inhabited by household names. I paused to cross the road into the park, and kept finding myself stopping and starting as yet another speedy cyclist on a skinny framed bike flashed past in a blur of lycra.

It felt good to run through Regent’s Park, weaving through tourists, Sunday walkers, families and a group who appeared to be undertaking a sponsored walk for charity. I ducked and dived to avoid spoiling photographs of fountains and beautifully tended flower beds, and stepped out into Marylebone. It was here that things got a bit muddled. When Edward worked over in Chelsea, he used to cycle this way every day, covering a crazy 20 odd miles there and back, so he had told me a good, direct route to follow but, for some reason, I decided to ignore his advice here and ended up going slightly off course. This wasn’t a bad thing as it meant I got to pass over the canal near Paddington and see some lovely houseboats taking a slow Sunday meander through Little Venice. I was soon hurdling giant wheeled suitcases outside Paddington station and following my original course towards my Hyde Park destination.

I knew I was there when I spotted the fences covered in bright blobby paintings of flowers and fruit, and I happily passed through the gates to join the many, many runners who contribute to the desire lines around the far reaches of the park. From here I could just make out the wooden walls of the playground cafe and the busy activity of lots of small people eagerly heading towards a centre of fun. I resisted the temptation to just cut across the grass, and instead followed a strict and angular path to my final stopping point. After a brief stretch I phoned Edward who came to let me in – you can’t go into the playground without a child and, for once, I fell into that category.

Time: 1 hour 27 minutes 14 seconds

Distance: 8.55 miles

Average Pace: 10.12

Best Pace: 6.39

Calories: 780

Coming soon: The Adidas Women’s 5k Challenge – runners with handbags! Success and delight at the Tottenham Flower Show – see the cakes, lick your lips!


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