London Poppy Run

I thought running two 5kms with a 90 minute break between would be easier than running 10km in one go.  I was wrong!

Fresh from Mile End parkrun, Linda, Petra and I assembled in Victoria Park where we were met by various RunThrough miscreants.  It was SO COLD.  Standing round in damp, sweaty parkrun clothes is a recipe for pneumonia.  Removing my coat caused the same gasping breathlessness as plunging into the icy water of the Ladies’ Pond.  When my friends and I assembled for the traditional pre-race photo, we were caught short by the bugler and two minutes’ silence, and without conferring decided to maintain our huddle for the duration to conserve body heat.  Stu commented afterwards that we were behaving like penguins.

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I particularly wanted to take part in this event as it’s organised by the Royal British Legion.  War history is one of my biggest interests when I’m not running and earlier this year I went to visit the grave of my great uncle, who was killed in France in 1916.  My great grandfather fought at Passchendaele, my father was taken prisoner of war in Crete in WW2, and countless other more distant relatives were killed or injured at war and I never really feel I am doing enough to remember their sacrifice and the things they went through.

My plan was to run the parkrun reasonably fast and take the Poppy Run easy, as the Poppy Run wasn’t timed and Victoria Park is a bit of a boring old route.  When I started moving, I realised that there was no longer such a thing as “easy” as my legs were horrified to find they had to run again and wanted to go on strike.  “What’s this?  What are you doing?  You said parkrun was over!  We want to go to the PUB!”  I ignored their protests and plodded onwards.  Because I wasn’t moving very fast, it took a whole two kilometres to get warm and for the feeling to return to my hands.  I regretted donning the apricot vest for at least the third time that day.  My finish time was 40:25 and it felt like longer!

Other than that, the run was a fairly unremarkable family-friendly affair with people of all ages and a very easy course comprising of a 3km lap and a 2km smaller lap.  It seemed like all the fast people had stayed at home because when I passed the finish for the first time after about 23 minutes I didn’t see anyone who had finished already and I wasn’t aware of anyone lapping me.  I am sure there must have been a couple but it wasn’t like the whoosh of the first finisher at parkrun!  At the end we received a really nice good quality poppy themed medal, and a t-shirt had already been sent to us in the post (maybe I should have worn this instead of the cursed vest, but it was cotton and had sleeves, and I am a delicate flower who is very fussy about what she wears to run in.)  It wasn’t chip timed, but the entry fee was only £15.  Also, there is a “virtual” option which means you can just buy a medal and t-shirt and award them to yourself after parkrun or whatever – I did this last year as I couldn’t make the actual run.

Thankfully after that there was no more bloody running for the rest of the day and I retired to the sofa to catch up on X Factor.

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