20 miles round the horse track in Hyde Park is not everyone’s first choice to spend the first spring like weekend of the year, but if you’re training for the Marathon des Sables then it is fairly ideal. That was my task this last weekend, but to do it two days in a row, so in total 40 miles. I did have to give it some variation, and on Saturday ran to Hyde Park from my flat along the Regent’s Canal and then the Thames Path – not quite desert like terrain and certainly more pedestrians getting in the way round the Tower of London, but it was a beautiful spring morning on the Saturday. The horse track however is pretty good terrain to practice on, and my desert running shoes were fairly well put to the test, as was my trusty 5 year old backpack which still contains grains of sand from the Sahara 5 years ago. It had done well, but the last few training runs are beginning to show, and the mesh pockets on the side are more mesh than pocket, if you know what I mean!
Hyde Park is one of my favourite places to run in London, the scenery is varying and beautiful – but going round it several times does become a bit tedious, if only because the feeling of envy develops as you run past elegant folk gently strolling around on their beautiful horses whose tails gently swish at the occasional flies. They are allegedly out exercising their horses, but if that is exercise walking round at a sedate leisurely pace whilst sitting on a four legged animal then I’m mad (yes I know many people think I am!). My main issue is that the riders could have at least smiled – it was sunny and the birds were singing, spring was quite literally in the air, but no, not one smile. I admit at times my smile may have looked more like a grimace, but at least I tried.
Sunday was definitely harder…I admit I drove to my gym in Soho (The Third Space), and then ran to the park, but I did have to go several more times around the horse track to make it up to 20 miles. Slightly sore knee, slightly sore thigh, dreaming of a hot shower at the end. There were two American ladies who I passed three times over the Serpentine Bridge who on the third passing I heard muttering about a sense of dejavu – I wanted to stop and explain that no, they had seen me three times, but decided to let them work it out! The park was fairly crowded on the Sunday and all sorts of people were out and about using it for leisurely or otherwise purposes…not least a group of people signed up to some sort of British Forces fitness class – I forced myself to pick up the pace as I went past them with my pack looking fairly hefty on my back.
Fairly exhausted I eventually left the park and headed along Green Park, and the Mall to head up towards Soho – passing as I did at Lower Regents Street some rather exciting film or TV crew filming a period drama of some description – there were several people dressed in pre-war era style clothing with great hats, horses & coaches – but oddly all queing for their lunch at canteen trailer (obviously the horses weren’t training). Ordinarily this would have grabbed my attention and I would have stopped and gawped along with all the tourists and passersby – but the thought of a hot shower being just a few 100 yards up the road was far more enticing.
A good weekend’s running – exhausted but ready to get up the next day and do some more (although walking up and down the ward at work is not quite the same thing!)