Monday, 7 September 2015

Not exactly a Textbook Taper....

Tapering is traditionally about making sure your mind and body are well-rested, well-fuelled, and all set for the race again. Trust me to find myself flat out both at work in Dumfries (sickness and unforeseen circumstances have left us exceptionally shortstaffed, necessitating extra hours, extra surgeries and extra on-call duties) and zipping round the country for other commitments.

It started when my nice 6 hour work day suddenly became an 11 hour day, including a specialist clinic, that I suddenly had to learn about! Bang went my nice afternoon run, but at least I managed to nip out quickly after work to enjoy some evening sun along the local riverbanks.....or so I thought. It would be that day that a local IVDU decided to overdose down by the river....I admit that I did feel rather useless in my tshirt and shorts, but luckily the local paramedics and police appeared!

The following day was another almighty rush - trying to get work finished on time so that I could jump straight on the last train to London. At least that meant a proper sit-down where I could do nothing else but "relax", but I have to say that it wasn't exactly my usual Wednesday night's food and drink. Luckily I made it down in time to catch up with a friend for "last orders"!!!
It isn't always "sunny down South"

I really needed to get some running in the next day, so I decided to run-commute to my course......possibly not the best idea I've ever had. I was trying to run and navigate my way through Central London, whilst dodging cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians, workers and tourists alike - talk about running the gauntlet and taking your life into your own on earth do people do that regularly?? I'm so impressed!!! To add insult to injury, even though I was only going a couple of miles, the initial sunshine managed to turn into a heavy downpour before I got there!! At least I was offered the use of a nice hot shower and given a couple of lovely (large) muffins on arrival!

We were (very) well fed during the course of the day, so by the time we finished, I really thought that I should skip the wine reception and go for more of a run. I made my way (like a proper running tourist....having to make the odd map stop to ensure I hadn't gone too far in the wrong direction) over to Battersea track to join in with a session run by the Serpentine Running Club, but I totally misjudged the time, and so rather than wait around for almost an hour, I decided to just go back to my friend's house (honest, it was the time factor, rather than the fact that I'd discovered they were doing progressive 300m reps!!!). The run back took rather longer than I'd thought...... I wasn't exactly going at supersonic speed....but at least I figured I'd sleep well that night (even if the mattress did tend to deflate in the middle of the night, so I'd wake up as my hips crunched off the floor).
Woohoo - coffe on tap !!!

Although there was no food in the house, my friend had a great coffee machine.......and with such an abundance of cafes and eateries it wasn't hard to find breakfast. To avoid the previous day's nightmare of roads and pavements, I went for a short easy run along a canal that I found, but it was not without it's own dramas. There was a nice towpath to run along, but many other runners, walkers and cyclists obviously had the same idea as me. Unfortunately there were also many low bridges, and due to the general lack of space in London, the path was forced to narrow just as you ducked under these bridges......and the cyclists seemed to see that as a green light to speed up and go for it, so I had a few close shaves, nearly going for a swim on a couple of occasions!

Saturday morning had been earmarked for taking my friend Helen to her first parkrun. With so many parkruns scattered round London, I hadn't realised it would be a walk-tube-walk to get there, but luckily Helen's brother Richard had chosen a nice scenic one for her debut (and hence not the closest).

I would definitely recommend Richmond parkrun to anyone visiting the area.....not only do you get amazing views (across open "green space" London) as you walk there from the tube, you are very likely to spot deer wandering around the park (I was lucky enough to come across a huge stag). It's not the fastest course, though people do sprint off as the first couple of kms are slightly downhill, but then you turn onto grass and finish with an undulating rougher trail section. I ran Helen in along the final section, and she did really well to keep going going up the final inclines while others were walking......though she wasn't that impressed with her time later, when she watched how fast Mo Farah ran the 5000m!!

Another rush back across London and I was on the train heading my "goto" comfort food of pizza and ice cream and my own bed.
Having felt really out of shape at the parkrun (though I do admit the wine consumption the day before may have had something to do with that) I wasn't sure about running a local 10k on the Sunday. I'd never done it before, and I wasn't impressed by the look of the course, but I wanted to support a friend as it was her "last hurrah" as a local race organiser, so down to the riverside I went.
An "interesting" course

The 10k was replacing a well-known longstanding local event, as the host club no longer wanted to involve the police procures and costs for using open roads, and the course couldn't really have been more ridiculous if it had been set by following the tracks of a rabbit. It went up and down the riverbanks, involved crossing the river 4 times, running through a bus depot, through a couple of housing estates, and passed a bandstand 3 times. The bridges over the river could have caused further dramas, as one of them (which we crossed twice) had barriers to slow people down which had to be skirted, another was the main road bridge into town, and in order to cross the final bridge, we were marshalled along the wheelchair ramps (think sharp 180degrees turns) instead of using the steps. Unfortunately the race also clashed with a football match between Queen of the South and Rangers so there were added football fans to be avoided, and I had to play dodgems when a bus unloaded its passengers between me and my clubmate running in front of me.

Having said that about the course, it was a lovely sunny day, and hence some of the riverside stretches were beautiful. Looking back now, it was quite fun to race through the town and get some unexpected local support (both from friends and patients) although we did take others unawares as they weren't expecting people to be chasing others through their housing estates.
Finishing by the river in the park

Luckily there were no dramas with either river or road crossings, and everybody enjoyed both the event and the post-race banter in the park.....and although I didn't run a fast time, I felt better in myself afterwards than beforehand so am very glad that I did it. Now to actually try to relax and unwind properly......

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