…beyond the Thames Barrier. This weekend I decided my long run should be on Saturday, get it out of the way, look forward to relaxing for the rest of the weekend, spend Sunday enjoying family time and drinking coffee. A few weeks ago I ran over to Greenwich then eastwards along the Thames, reaching the Thames Barrier then turning for home. This weekend’s run required a bit more, so I was all set to run ten miles and then turn for home. It was a gorgeous day, really bright and spring-like so deciding what to wear was a bit of a challenge, I ended up going out in capri leggings (my favourites, which now seem to be developing a hole in the nether regions, boo), a long-sleeve top, a t-shirt over this, gloves, sun cream and my fantastic Poloroid Polarized Sunglasses. Now, I was sent these months and months ago and have been waiting for the right kind of weather to give them a good test, so what better than a sunny spring morning over a twenty mile run?
I do wear sunglasses to run, but my usual pair were bought for less than twenty pounds from Boots, so I was interested to see how they compare with a much more expensive and more whizzy sort of spec. As a glasses wearer, I am quite particular about what goes on my face, and I find many glasses really uncomfortable, mainly because I have such wonky ears. With the Poloroid glasses this is not a problem, as they have a neat little adjustable rubber stopper on the arm, so you can wiggle this about until you get everything just right. At first I hadn’t wiggled one side enough and the glasses kept touching my eyelashes, which was driving me nuts, so I made some more adjustments and was well on my way.
I was very daunted by the idea of running twenty miles after my poor show the other week, so was determined to shoo away any negative thoughts and simply break the run up into little bite-size chunks. I got to Greenwich, which was ridiculously busy, then enjoyed the grimy industrial bit that comes next. When I did this run last time it was a Sunday, so felt like a desolate waste land, but this run was alive with the sound of diggers, rock-crushers, telescopic handlers and all manner of other machinery even I don’t know the name of. So much to see (yes, I know most people would run the other way, but I happen to enjoy looking at muddy JCBs). By now, the sun was proving pretty hot, and I had to remember to stop at a shop I had spotted last time to buy some energy drink (I have run out of Orbana), quick stop, gulp, gulp, and on my way. Next stop, the barrier, which looked lovely in the sunshine, and now into unknown territory. It looked like I could go through the visitors centre and pick up the Thames Path again, but I soon found myself looking at a brick wall with two unfortunate men who thought I knew where I was going: ‘Don’t follow me!’ I said ‘I haven’t a clue!’. I asked a security man, who was also clueless, so found myself on a busy road in Woolwich, hoping to find my way back to some delightful scenery. I recognised a roundabout from the London Marathon, wended my way through an estate and joined the river again.
I was getting a bit hot and sticky now, so gloves off to wipe my brow. The sunglasses were staying firmly in place, in fact I had forgotten I was wearing them. My next entertainment spot was at the Woolwich Ferry, a little car ferry and subway, which was ever so busy. Of course, I got myself lost again and was directed by a nice man who seemed to know what he was talking about, and there I was, standing amongst lots of little Anthony Gormleys at the Woolwich Arsenal. So much contrast in one small stretch of water! Things were beginning to feel a bit achey and tired now, not least my mind. I really think I have lost my running nerve in the past few months, I don’t know why, but I just don’t have the same confidence as I used to have. Anyway, I kept going, up and down little paths that were blocked and diverted here and there, hit ten miles with relief, took a gulp of fuel and turned towards home.
This was where the major self-doubt set in and I had to really grit my teeth and get on with it. I did carry my iPod with me, but didn’t listen to it once, I am always a bit concerned it might spoil my thought processes on a really long run, feeling that I will only gain true mental grit by going it alone, no music. Maybe I should really have just put on some music and chilled out a bit! On my return leg through Greenwich I noticed how high the water was – people were leaping away from the edge of the Thames so as not to get splashed. I wanted to be splashed because the heat was beginning to get to me a bit by this point. I paused again to buy more water then took on the two or so miles towards home. This was hard. I even allowed myself to walk some of it, walk, run, walk, run, just get there. I was having my long-run/hot-day craving that I normally only have during the last few miles of a marathon: coke and then another. I was determined to make my run finish outside the shop so I could buy a bottle of coke (I NEVER normally drink coke) and, as I did so, I bumped into Edward and Hector, who had been for a lovely visit to the Horniman Museum and happily cheered me across my imaginary finish-line. Phew.
I popped my sunglasses on my head (I’d say leave them in place because they just got a bit tangled in my hair!), got my coke and strolled home happily to enjoy a lunch of bacon and egg sandwiches on the lawn.
Time: 3 hours 37 minutes 19 seconds
Distance: 20 miles
Average Pace: 10.52
Best Pace: 7.45
As for the Poloroid sunglasses, they really did the job, no constant readjustment needed, very light, and they even come with interchangeable lenses, so you can use them in different lights. I think I might let Edward use them for his London-Paris bike ride in April, as I think they would be great for cycling. I might try and persuade him to write a guest blog to let you know all about his upcoming adventure 🙂
And this is what we had for dinner on Saturday night: