So after last week’s cold, wet, hilly Half, this week’s long run schedule was a 15 miler. I’ve never run to distance in training.
Right at the beginning of this adventure, my friend Matt said he’d love to come with me for a long run. He’s a proper runner. Like, his standard Sunday run is a Half Marathon and he pisses out 10km in 45 minutes and curses his lack of training. Anyway, it’s always fun to run with him – even though he hates mornings. And roads. And of course, Kirsty was up for a little trot around London. So we collected Matt from College and got the 7:50 to Marylebone. We’d planned to leave a bag of dry kit at Marylebone for when we finished, but were confounded because there’s no Left Luggage there. So we had to traipse over to Paddington to do that, and then down to Westminster to start running. We dodged the tourists, crossed the bridge and set out along the South Bank.
I love the South Bank. There’s always something going on there. Today it was filming. I don’t know what they were filming, but we were trotting along, approaching London Bridge, when a guy suddenly stepped in front of us, arms outstretched and coffee in each hand. He dodged and danced to prevent me getting round him (but said nothing!) until eventually, assuming he was just being a twat, I said “oh, did you bring us coffee??” and he said “No, we’re filming, you can’t go down there.” Well you could’ve just said that!!
So we twiddled round the back of the houses, and under London Bridge (which plays a soundtrack of “London Bridge is Falling Down” to you – did it always do that??
And then we dodged some more tourists crossing Tower Bridge, and circled round the Tower to rejoin the Thames Path on the North Bank. Only No!! YOU SHALL NOT PASS! There are random works all along the North Bank between Tower Bridge and London Bridge and we spent a good deal of time doubling back on ourselves, gaining the road and circling past closures.
Then we were at Westminster (more tourists) and waiting long, long times to cross roads. Past the Palace of Westminster and the Abbey, and then I realised we were heading in the wrong direction for St James Park, so more doubling back… Finally we reached the park! More tourists. Then the Mall. Something was going on at Buckingham Palace – military brass bands and marching and stuff – probably the changing of the guard, so we skirted round the edge of that, admiring the very bristly walls of the Palace garden, before heading up to Hyde Park. Our trip through Hyde Park was uneventful, save for a flock of green parakeets – we ran along the Serpentine, past the Diana Memorial Fountain and into Kensington Palace Gardens. A quick loo stop (we didn’t really need one, but it was free…) and back through Kensington Palace Gardens and up to Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch. More tourists.
Then we headed north up to Regent’s Park. I swear to god we ran round the outside of that park for a decade before we got to an entrance – past the London Business School and the big mosque, past all kinds of signs saying “Here be Regent’s Park”, but no entrance to be found anywhere. Eventually we found a gate, paused at the map to orient ourselves and chose a route around the Outer Circle. Inevitably this took us past the zoo, where neither Kirsty nor Matt had been before. So at about 13 miles, we stopped for a selfie with a giraffe. And left it there. So, technically I outran a giraffe, right?! And some reindeer, come to think of it. Father Christmas has nothing on me, oh no!
Towards the end of the Outer Circle, everything began to hurt quite seriously. We counted off the segments of the last mile with an ever increasing sense of desperation. Luckily, it ended just as we arrived at Euston, because I’m not sure I for one could have resisted the temptation to duck in and jump on the tube. So we managed to track down milkshake, jumped the tube back to Paddington, and got our warm clothes on. Then beer, burger and home.
So it was very touristy with many pauses for maps and road crossings, and lots of opportunity to practice running in crowds. But also brilliant. A lovely day in lovely company. Only I forgot to turn the GPS on my garmin on, so I can’t show you the route first hand. So here’s a screenshot of Kirsty’s…