I was supposed to run on Monday evening but, after Edward arrived home a little later than usual, informing me that he had had to cycle through a police barricade in Peckham to make it here and, with three helicopters circling overhead, I decided to stay put and watch the horror unfolding on the BBC website, Twitter and The Guardian website. Last night I decided I would like to take a chance and run around the park. I was slightly uncertain, having seen the local shops lowering their shutters just after lunch, but I was prompted by some news that reached me via William on Facebook. He was asking me if I knew Paula, and I established that he meant Paula Butler who had taken part in Janathon and who had come along to the post-Janathon lunch and to whom I had chatted over pizza, noticing just how smiley and friendly she seemed. It turned out that Paula had died suddenly on Monday, whilst out running, no warning, no sign, just all of a sudden this fit and healthy young woman had died. I had only met Paula briefly, but felt so sad to hear that she had gone so suddenly and at such a young age. I had thought initially that it might be good to organise a run for people to get together and think about/remember Paula but, as so many of the Janathon runners live in far and wide destinations, maybe it would be good for us each to dedicate a run. So, this run is for you Paula.
I decided to head to the village and see if any of the shops had reopened, but everywhere was eerily quiet, with three police vans outside the train station, maybe expecting commuter uprising. The park was also deserted, apart from two skateboarders gently gliding back and forth up and down the skate-park ramps. I enjoyed the atmosphere of calm, the feeling that everyone was taking care and staying safe. Then I turned the corner and was confronted with the running track, swarming with multi-coloured vests being pushed easily through the air, their inhabitants breathing heavily, heads down, counting the laps. I ran alongside, taking in the different styles of running, thinking ‘I’d love to join in’. I chickened out, running briskly past the entrance and back out into the park. As I ran along the paths again, I decided I would be silly to miss this opportunity to pop in and at least enquire about the running club – Edward’s weekly five-a-side football session had been cancelled due to being in the middle of Brixton, and I was able to enjoy a rare Tuesday run. So, as I ran along the outer edge of the track one more time, I ducked in through the gate and stopped a young woman who had just come off the track. She pointed vaguely towards a man in black and said I should talk to him, and then I noticed a familiar face, someone from my past. We did that ‘Hmmm, I’m sure I know you, but where from?’ thing and I took my usual route of ‘Manchester?’ ‘Cornerhouse?’ and yes, this was Simon and we had worked together at Cornerhouse all those years ago!
Simon and I caught up and he gave me the low-down on Kent AC, informing me of their sparkling credentials, then he introduced me to the coach who invited me to join them all for a one mile cool down around the park. It was lovely to be invited in so casually, and to be running with a group through the strangely deserted park. We chatted and ran, and it seems that Tuesday night is ‘the one’, with a session also running on a Thursday, but not really being the one for me. Damn it, why is everything worth doing always on a Tuesday at 7pm?! It looks like I will never manage to make it to a Tuesday session, but I will try my hardest to forge a place for myself somewhere within the Kent AC family. The other runners scattered, going their different ways home, some running, some cycling, and I headed over the footbridge to see Edward at the window, beginning to wonder where I had got to.
Time: 32 minutes 13 seconds
Distance: 3.12 miles
Average Pace: 10.19
Best Pace: 6.37