Seven months ago, I said:
and I must admit that this bold statement was at the forefront of my mind as I struggled around Richmond Desert, sorry, I mean Richmond Park this morning. With the temperature hitting 33 degrees, my body informed me that running was unavailable and walking was the only available substitute. Therefore it was another crap result that left me wondering if I would ever get within five minutes of a PB ever again as long as I lived.
The good thing about running in the heat, of course, is that you can make a day out out of your parkrun and enjoy the journey there and the post run refreshments in the sun without having to shiver on a train or stand around in the cold wearing next to nothing. I’m trying to get in as many faraway parkruns in as I can at the moment as I am sure as soon as October comes I will fall back in love with Finsbury Park and not want to go anywhere else. Today I headed to Richmond parkrun with Rob and Ken. Richmond was the fifth parkrun to be formed and is very popular, especially with tourists (I mean actual tourists, people on holiday in London, not just parkrun tourists). Richmond Park isn’t an ordinary park, it’s a piece of common land twenty times the size of Finsbury Park – in fact is is nearly as big as the entire borough of Islington. It is famous for its wild deer, who were there to greet us as soon as we stepped into the park.
But enough about weather and wildlife and on to the run itself. I saw another blog review say “this is a run of two halves” and this statement sums it up perfectly. It’s a single lap route, with a slight overlap so you do a 300 metre section twice (but unless it takes you 16 minutes to run 300 metres you can’t get lapped, and even I am not that slow). This section is gravelly and more “wobbly” than “undulating”. As soon as you pass the finish funnel for the first time, though, you’re on to Sawyers Hill which has a pretty decent tarmac path and alternates between downhill and flat. There’s a great view of the city and across the park from here, and although it was quite exposed, at this point I felt pretty good and was producing a decent pace, only slightly hindered by an annoying man with a pushchair, two yapping beagles and a running partner who was taking up the entire path despite this being a flagrant breach of parkrun rules. I managed to get around them by running on the grass.
At the bottom of the hill, however, everything changes. You run uphill across some horrible long grass and it’s really tough and suddenly I felt the sun bearing down on me, and of course the next thing I knew I was walking and being overtaken by Buggy Two Dogs and about fifty-nine other people. I set my eyes on the Tamsin Trail in the distance, which forms the rest of the route. I’ve run the Tamsin Trail before – it’s a 11km track around the edge of the park – and remembered it as leafy and not too arduous. However, it seems that I might have previously taken a slight detour from the trail in this part of the park, as actually it cruelly skirted the wooded areas and provided very little shade. This part was mostly a very gentle uphill, with one medium-steepness valley to navigate. The ground was worse than I remembered it – very loose and sandy. It might be better after a bit of rain. I was finding the heat and the terrain quite tough and was very relieved when I saw the finish appear in the distance and was met by a very smug looking Rob who had somehow managed to get a PB of 19:44 in that heat!! My time was a much less impressive 42:00, although I will point out that due to the narrow start funnel it was thirty seconds before I even started shuffing forwards, let alone running, so please call that 41-something.
As I went to have my barcode scanned Buggy Two Dogs was having a heated argument with the run director.
After the run we had a nice walk through some ornamental gardens and by the Thames and ended up in a pub at 11am drinking beer with a bicycle on the pump label (“that’s practically a triathlon”). I remember the days when I’d be in a pub at 11am because I’d been out dancing at a club all night and not gone to bed. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
On a separate note, operation “lose some bloody weight” has had unspectacular results in its first two weeks – despite sticking to my MyFitnessPal goal every day I’ve only lost 0.6kg. It’s set to add calories to my allowance according to how much I exercise (as measured by my Fitbit) and I think it might be adding too many on – on non-work days it’s letting me eat 2000+ calories and I think that’s too much for someone trying to lose weight). So next week I am going to try unlinking it from the Fitbit and only adding exercise calories when I go running.
Being a vegan, on the other hand, is still going well! And I have signed up for the Southend Triathlon and the London Landmarks Half Marathon, but they are not for ages so I will not start worrying about them yet.