Running through London


I had a totally fabulous day, yesterday.  It was cold, and it was hard work and boy oh boy I know all about it, today.  But it was totally fabulous, all the same!

I got up at 6am, as you do on a Saturday.  Wriggled and shiggled myself into my running clothes, as you do when it’s -2 degrees outside; and set off for the station.  At 8:30 I pulled into Marylebone, adjusted my big girl pants and set off to run through London.

I don’t know London terribly well, so this was a fairly high risk strategy, but if I could get to the river OK, I’d be safe from there!  I designed my route on Strava and spent Friday evening memorising how I’d get to the river.  Turn left onto Euston Road, pass Madame Tussauds and Warren St. tube.  Keep going till Euston Station and then turn right and keep going till you get to the river.  If in doubt, bear right.

So that’s what I did, until finally I hit the north bank of the river.  There were very few people about at that time; the odd commuter and several other runners.  Apparently, the rules of London still apply to runners: no eye contact, no greeting, just pretend there’s no-one else there except you.

It was cold and the air was sharp, and there were patches of ice to be dodged on the pavements.  The parks were large and wide and green, and the roads were quiet… and eventually I found myself on the north bank of the Thames, passing the sphinxes guarding Cleopatra’s Needle and arriving at the foot of the steps up to Waterloo Bridge.  Up I bounded (stumbled…) and turned left onto the South Bank.  I love the South Bank and it was a real joy to be there in the morning when it was so quiet.  Nobody on the skate park; booksellers just setting up their pitches under the flyover; bars and street shacks all closed and shuttered.  The other runners here were more friendly and there were smiles of pleasure and acknowledgement.

The Festival Hall kept a sleepy concrete guard over the sand artists beginning their sculptures on the tide exposed river bank, and a cluster of tourists gathered early by HMS Belfast.  The Globe was all posters and invitations belied by its closed doors and empty windows  and a woman played with a small dog on the grass outside Tate Modern.  For some reason, I had totally forgotten about the Golden Hind, which took me by surprise as I rounded a bend in the footpath.  I tried to take a photo of it, to accompany this post, but I seem to have become the sort of middle aged woman who’s unable to operate a camera phone… worrying.  Anyway, it rose imposingly in its tiny little space, and gleamed in the watery morning sun.

Eventually, I arrived at Tower Bridge – more steps! – and was at St Katharine’s Dock where I faced a navigational challenge to get to Devon House and the Alzheimer’s Society training day.

The day itself was run by Tom Craggs of Running With Us and Emma Patel of North Norfolk Nutrition and I’ve come away with some really good tips and a much clearer understanding of the science behind a lot of the things I’ve been reading.

We also did a threshold session, for which I stupidly didn’t turn on the watch… so on top of my long run I did another high intensity hour… which is why I’m feeling it today! I was *so* ready for my yoga this morning!

So many thanks to the Alzheimer’s Society events team for organising the day.  It was brilliant!