I was so excited by today’s proposition that I forgot completely that I always procrastinate for at least 3 hours before leaving the front door with my running shoes. By 8am I had crammed two mini cheese and cucumber pittas, 1 half bag of American jelly beans (I’d raided the other half the day before), a mini tracker bar, an emergency tenner, an emergency switch card and an oyster travel card into my tiny bum bag/water carrier.
I was gone by 9am, jostling my weeks groceries along the Thames path.
There’s a definite nutritional “issue” going on here. Take me away from my fridge and the cortisol levels start red-lining. Imagine if I was ever unfortunate enough to get a place in the London marathon, with my predicted time of circa 7 hours, I would miss both lunch and afternoon tea, the temptation of a mid run burger and pint would be too strong to resist.
As it was, I reached 4.22 miles before I felt the need to bolster glycogen levels. As a note to self, I think jelly beans are best avoided at public events. They cram about 30 different flavours in each pack and one of them is vile, of course you never know which one. I started patiently popping them in my mouth, savouring each individual nuance and then got bored and shoved 6 in at once. Of course the nasty one snuck through and I started spitting.
I started again, reading the labels this time, pink and beige spots – bubble gum flavour, a bit odd but I can keep it in my mouth. Dark green – liquorice, again not too bad, but possibly an offender in combination. I sensed the need for a scientific experiment, paired flavour combinations, perhaps I should have bought more packs.
I was busily testing watermelon and chocolate pudding flavour when I tripped over a bike wheel. I don’t know whose idea it was to combine bikes and runners on towpaths but you’d think he might have shouted or tinkled on his bell, it was clear I was pre-occupied with jelly beans and my iPod was playing full blast. I wouldn’t have minded if I’d been running at the time but no, I was in the middle of a walk interval. I wanted to shout after him that I wasn’t a greedy ox – I was on runabout!
Anyhow, did I mention the plan? I was to leave the front door, heading in a north-westerly direction towards the capital ring, running 1 mile then walking for 1/2 a mile until I could go no further.
By 6 miles, still feeling in fine fettle, I had left the canal and my workplace behind and was heading into unknown territory. I’d picked up the little capital ring arrows but almost immediately faced my first hurdle as it tried to direct me through a flooded tunnel. What with the excess pitta baggage I hadn’t made room for my wetsuit and decided to divert over the Uxbridge Road.
Back on track again I meandered for ages along the Brent river, ducking under the viaduct and avoiding flying golfballs somewhere in the region of Greenford. It was 10 miles before I reached roads, and houses and general city stuff, Celeste’s fear of getting lost in bush could almost become a reality.
A couple of turns later I was back in the wilderness and starting to get a bit lost. I am a little mentally deficient when I run but it wasn’t all my fault, someone had twisted the arrow around and sent me a mile of course. I almost bailed at this point but fortunately I had taken the precaution of downloading the audio guides of the separate sections and was soon back on the trail, cursing only slightly.
I climbed Horsendon Hill (site of WWII anti-craft guns) past quality Capital Ring walking cows and reached the summit to find the historic site was now home to a group of semi naked coca cola drinking Armenians.
I didn’t take a photo, although I would have loved a sip of coke, I thought naked men cavorting on ancient woodland were best avoided.
Down hill and vale and past other stuff that I can’t remember because I’d turned into one of the shuffling undead.
Suddenly Harrow Hill appeared, a veritable oasis where I could buy bona fide revitalising lucozade and admire this fine flint constructed church, not exactly on the route but almost worth the diversion, after all what’s another mile when you’ve already done 15?
Lost yet again, I found myself in the unusual position of being able to ask a topless, chainsaw weilding log carver if he knew where my style was. He pointed back the way I had come and said it was just after the bridge and river I’d crossed. What bridge? What river? Obviously my mental faculties were on a go slow again, the jelly bean effect was wearing off. Never one to go back when I can plough on regardless, I tipped myself over a barbed wire fence and stumbled back on to the right path, giving myself a nice sore graze on my back.
The walking intervals shortened from here on in, as it became easier to propel myself forward in a quasimodo style lurch than the alternative upright semi-graceful walk.
The audio guide informed me that a tube station lay beckoning like an exotic belly dancer and I staggered happily from the track like a weary desert traveler. I was not quite so happy when I arrived at South Kenton station to find the Bakerloo line was closed for the weekend. Public transport mayhem ensued and as a sweaty, irritable, broken and cantankerous woman, I probably didn’t make the best of seat buddies. It took me 3 hours to get home.
All in all, that Capital ring is a damn fine route for running along, I managed almost a quarter of its length and would be tempted to try for a bit more. It’s a bit of an omission that there wasn’t a single pub enroute, although that probably worked out well as I was convincing myself that I deserved at least a shandy by the 13 mile point.
5:35:00 (which includes an inordinately long time sat on a toilet seat resting)