First of all, can I please say a massive WELL DONE to the people who took part in the monster 6.5 lap half marathon at Victoria Park this morning. This is something that I could not, would not, will never do. I have done six half marathons and they are tough. What gets me through is the differing scenery, the pockets of supporters on the route… knowing that an exciting view or a thrilling hill is coming up. I cannot imagine what it is like to run six and a half laps of the most boring park in London with hardly any spectators and still finish with a smile on your face. But there were plenty of people doing that today. They are made of stronger stuff than me.
As I may have intimated already, Victoria Park is not my favourite running venue. I went there today because I wanted to do a 10k race and I know RunThrough events are always good. Also, I had done the exact same route twice last year – in 1:20:58 in April and 1:18:14 in July, so I wanted to see if my time had improved. I have run races in Victoria Park many times in the past (one of my best friends used to live very nearby) and I can’t think of a single time I have come away thinking “what a great race” or been happy with my time. It is an incredibly boring park, as flat as Battersea but not nearly as pretty. But worse than the boringness is the cambered paths. It is like running along a toilet roll. Every single time I have come away limping. Also, for some reason Victoria Park seems to attract the most inconsiderate cyclists in London. If I were cycling through a park and found there was a race going on, I would go another way, get off and push, or at the very least slow down to a running pace. But that does not seem to happen here.
I will quickly talk you through the race, since you have probably already got the point that it wasn’t the pinnacle of my running career already. Three laps round the park, passing lots of grass and a bunch of trees. I felt not-quite-right from the outset, my chest and back were very tight (from too much coughing, I think) and aforesaid camber issue gave rise to a feeling like a baby hedgehog trapped in my left ankle. My pace went to pot. Near the end of the second lap, I had the bright idea of running on the outside of the path, thus reversing the camber, and this made a bit of difference to my comfort levels but not much to my pace. In the end I crossed the line in an underwhelming 1:15:45.
So once again I was disappointed with my time at Victoria Park, but to look on the bright side, I’m getting disappointed with shorter and shorter times. Also, I was very happy with my medal this time, someone had had the inspired idea of putting Queen Victoria on it.
I’m a bit worried about my ankle and am sitting here with a compression sock on it. Previously aches and pains like this have signalled the onset of a serious problem, but there have been other occasions where they have just gone away too. Going to indulge in a bit of yoga and foam rollering and see how my next long run feels.