I had two great reasons to be in London this weekend. Heidi and Ian were flying home from Panama and some of my Up&Running pals were hitting town.
I hadn’t seen Heidi for a couple of months as she has been travelling around South America, she then met up with Ian two weeks ago for a fortnight in Panama. Then I found out that my friend Sunita was flying in from New York and meeting up with my forum friends Helen and Shauna so I could hang out with them before heading off to Paddington to meet Ian and Heidi off the Heathrow Express.
Oh….wait a minute… LONDON…. I could do an event or two 🙂
Hampstead Heath parkrun
I’ve not done a London parkrun before, usually my visits to London are during the week to hang out with Ian. Our hotel was at Belsize park only a ten minute walk from Hampstead Heath…it was meant to be. It was also a freezing -1C and despite my recent cold acclimatisation in Finland I was bloody cold when I arrived at the park – as usual way too early. It was sleeting a bit and looked like it might turn to snow any minute Brrrr…
One nice thing, as I was walking through the park to the start I saw a parakeet.
There were around 250 people including a friendly man and his daughter who I chatted to for a while. Turns out he lived next to Bushy Park which is the home to the first ever parkrun and also the venue for my race the following day. I grilled him for info on how to get there, as I hadn’t really checked it out when I booked it. I just thought it was in London and therefore near a tube station.. I was wrong!
Anyhoo, back to Hampstead Heath – it was hilly. Some of the hills were really long, but I managed to run the whole thing – even overtaking a few people. The pace was very slow at the beginning due to the narrow path and volume of people and that plus the hills was reflected in my time of 32.28. A very enjoyable run.
A quick dash to the hotel for a speedy shower then I jumped in cab to meet my friends for brunch which turned into lunch and G&Ts – rehydration at it’s best.
Saturday afternoon I met Ian and Heidi and after a good catch up and some nice food I had an early night ready for my second event of the weekend.
Bushy Park 10k
The logistics of getting to Bushy Park from Belsize park were slightly harder than I thought. A longish tube journey followed by a mainline train stopping everywhere plus Sunday running hours….it could take quite a while. As Ian and Heidi had had a long day of travel the day before including a rushed connection at Madrid, meaning Heidi’s luggage didn’t make it, I thought it best they stayed in bed in the warm. I also still had a slightly sore ankle from my XCskiing marathon last week and wanted to leave the decision on whether to run until the last minute. (As it happened my feet were so numb from the cold I couldn’t tell if they hurt or not).
I didn’t sleep that well but woke up early, very early, my ankle didn’t seem too bad so I set off for the station. In the end the journey was quite straight forward – although long. I had plenty of time to get to Teddington plus find the park. The race was on the other side of the park to entrance I arrived at so I had quite a long walk but at least it kept me warm.
After registering I still had an hour to wait for the race to start. I was hoping for a nice cafe to sit in. There was a cafe, but it was an outside one – I did have a yummy waffle and some coffee though, which warmed me up a little.
The race itself was uneventful – two laps of the park. It was cool to see the park where parkrun had started and I could imagine the 1000 people they get some weeks, running round – there was plenty of room. My race though, had around 250 people and a good mixture of speeds so I had company the whole way round. I didn’t see any deer which was disappointing – there were signs everywhere saying “do not feed the deer” and “do not approach the deer”. What deer???? I see more in my garden at home lol!
Fortunately as it had been so cold the “multi terrain event” advertised – that is, running on grass – wasn’t too bad as the ground was firm and not too muddy. My time was 1.03.42, a slightly faster pace than my hilly 5k the day before.
It took a while to get back to Belisize park but after yet another speedy shower I headed out for a fab Mother’s Lunch with Ian and Heidi and some more rehydration. Cheers!