Going for a run has become more a mental process than a physical one. The day I reached 15k I became pretty confident that I would not die in Hyde Park (though my tombstone would say 10-10-10, which would almost make it worth it.) Today I decided to go for 20k (not the whole distance, there needs to be a challenge on the day right?) So it all started when the alarm goes off…
Alarm goes off – snooze. Obviously. 07:30 is waaaaaaay too early for a Sunday. A few weeks ago I was out of the door at 07:30am because I had a fear of running in public. The need for sleep has conquered that fear.
After breakfast and a bit of stretching I start my run at 8:30. In the cold wind, dressed in just jogging bottoms and t-shirt, my body does not want to run. Protest from my ankles to my knees, my calves that threaten to cramp up. I ignore it because in the first 10-15 min I Hate Running. My midriff starts to join in the protest, sometimes by creating a stitch, my right arm is telling me the bottle of water it is holding is too heavy. My lungs don’t want to take in oxygen properly, I cannot regulate my breathing and therefore my pace is all over the place. If you see a girl at the start and struggling, basically running like a lunatic, don’t worry: that would be me. My first 10-15min are hell on toast. Then as soon as I literally turn a corner, my body resigns itself to it.
At this time in the morning on a Sunday there are not a lot of people out. Usually huddling in groups and blocking the pavement are the tourists who want to see London in one day and they marvel at you as they would the Big Ben. ( Once an American tourist decided it was appropriate to greet me with a wink and a ‘ Hello babe!’ Having just done 10k, starting the 11th being sweaty, red-faced and gross, it was anything but appropriate. ) You also find the workaholics around this hour, suited and on mobile phones already, yes on a Sunday.
Then there are the walk-of-shamers, easily recognisable in their blatant Saturday evening attire, bottle of Lucazade/Red Bull in one hand, post coital fag in the other and a sleepy yet smug expression on face. They radiate not so much shame, more confusion to where on earth they have managed to get themselves the night before.
There are the dogwalkers, recognisable by their dogs of course and slowly the streets fill up. You can see the bed-hair boyfriend who ran out to get two croissants for breakfast in bed or the dads who are taking the child out in its stroller to let mum have her lie-in. People waiting by the bus stop mostly in work uniform. By the time I pass the church on my route for the third time around 12k, the families start gathering around. A father trying to keep three little brothers in similar Sunday best outfits together, an eight year old girl with a Hello Kitty shoulder bag trying to imitate her mum.
I am still running and when I near finish 15k the couples come out. All shapes, all sizes, all ages but mostly loved up. The younger ones usually walk hand in hand, her leaning on him a little; the older ones he has his arm around her, they usually have a bit of banter and she doesn’t know whether to push him away or to smile. The elderly couples seem to walk together, very much in tune with each other’s speed and preference of side of the road. They don’t talk much, they just are.
Thus went the thoughts and observations until I reached 16k and I suddenly realised something happened that hadn’t happened before: I was hungry. This is why you have those silly sports drinks I had forgotten to buy on Friday. I went for a run anyway cause would it really make a difference… Trying to fight it, by 18k I knew I was fighting against the clock as I was envisioning burgers and pancakes; then when I could see my flat, my Ipod playlist ran out, I was most definitely hungry and running on empty. Wow anti-climax…
For twenty minutes, sitting on the sofa, stuffing my face with pasta I am so delirious I think for a moment that I love running. I realise then that I don’t: I love eating and after the 10th of the 10th there will only be one of the aforementioned activities that I will keep up. 15 more days to go!