This week, I had an impromptu away fixture and my blogging brain went into a hyperdrive of excitement.
Up in Twickenham to spectate the Virgin London Marathon, I took the opportunity to show Richmond parkrun what I’m all about.
It also meant the return of the wonderful satsuma. Lynda, our good friend and Twickenham resident, was hosting us for the weekend and, resplendent in her orange Berlin Half Marathon top, we set out to conquer the course.
I have run around Richmond Park once before, for a 10k Fix event at the back end of February, so I knew the course outline; where I could run hard and where I could run harder.
It was a cool morning as we strolled the couple of miles along the river from Twickenham to Richmond, only really warming ourselves up with a struggle up the hill at Turner’s view.
The park itself was buzzing with Saturday morning exercisers, be they cyclists, dog walkers, sole runners or park runners and the sun tried desperately to battle the little showers that were trying to force themselves upon us.
I took the opportunity of an emergency wee. Big mistake. Richmond might be a posh place, but the park must have the stinkiest toilets in the whole of the country. I can’t back this claim up with any additional evidence, other than to say I felt utterly nauseous trying to have a pee through what smelled like the stench of month’s old stale urine. Boy, was I grateful for some fresh air. Is there a prize for best and worst parkrun toilets?
Proper runners do proper stretches. Lynda and I indulge in pretend stretching; the art of looking like you are stretching. On this day, we had the beautiful landscape to assist us. See me below, being a plank, on a log, just behind Lynda performing her stump-stand-side-stretch.
We were called into line at 9:00am prompt. There was a little bit of housekeeping and then some applause. Clapping? What for? I couldn’t hear the chap at the front, but apparently Richmond parkrun claps all the first timers running there that day. How delightfully cosmopolitan! I’d never experienced applause of such gay abandon in the provinces. Thankfully, it fell short of any American-style whooping and hollering! Cosmopolitan or not, we’re still British, you know!
The run itself was really good. The sun was shining but not too warm. I thought the path would be quite crowded, but space opened up pretty quickly as we ran down the hill, with an amazing view of the London skyline in the distance – the London Eye was clearly visible, as was that thing that looks like a bullet – I once thought it was called The Avocado, until I was told I had confused my fruit and vegetable buildings.
At the foot of the hill, a few deer contemplated what on earth 300 human beings were doing pummelling their way through trees, when they clearly thought it was a much better idea to spectate and chew the cud. For a moment I wanted to stop, as it looked like a perfect Instagram moment, before realising I was both running and not in possession of an iPhone.
The incline loomed ahead, so I just decided to put my foot down and hurtle up it. I saw my other half, Rich, poised with camera a few metres ahead, so I thought I’d start sprinting. The resulting shot is an example of how not to run! Bent at the waist and over-striding is not a good look, nor is it an efficient way of getting from A to B. Having said that, I blame the photographer for not ensuring the picture was taken with me looking at my best. No careful positioning of the subject, no ‘say cheese’.
Completed the course in 24:01 (Garmin) 24:05 (barcode time), which is some 30 seconds slower than my Eastbourne parkrun PB and about 10 seconds slower than my Eastbourne average. Finishing position of 116.
Lynda, popped round the corner about 5 minutes later, and whilst she hadn’t run to her best form this time, she still had time for a comedy photo opportunity.
What does one do after a parkrun? Some go for coffee, some go for pain au chocolat, some go and deconstruct how Turner may have interpreted the physiological vagaries of the human body in art form, whilst overlooking the River Thames. We, of course, did all three…
The Eastbourne parkrun Grand National - 14 April 2012
Eastbourne parkrun 07 April 2012: The satsuma that got squeezed!
A parkrun lesson
How parkruns and bumblebees can lead to half marathon success
Eastbourne parkrun 24 March
Eastbourne parkrun 31 March 2012: How Kathy Bates sabotaged my parkrun