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Things to do in London – when you are training for the Paris Marathon

March 11, 2011
Chelsea Bridge and Battersea Power Station, London

Image via Wikipedia

My loving husband “pushed” me out of the apartment door on Saturday morning. Well it sort of went that way. He knew that I wanted to run some 32 km, or better “for a very long time” – which I was thinking of being in the direction of 4 hours (so I would “get the feel for the time”) – for my Paris Marathon training. We were inLondon for our business – delivering a presentation at the Institute of Directors, Friday and we were to see my parents for diner on Saturday evening. So he was right – Saturday morning was really the only time that I would be able to run.

I started my run in Mudchute Park. The first person I came across was a friendly man walking with a stick. He wished me “good morning and have a good day” – I was off to a good start!

The lift to the Greenwich footpath was not operating so I had to take the stairs. Not too bad for me but rather a struggle for a cyclist carrying his bike up the stairs!

I started off nice and slowly – so I thought. I was in familiar territory and started to pick up pace. The temperature was about 7 – 9 Celsius and the wind was fresh and there was not too much of it.

My idea was to run as far as the Houses of Parliament, go across the bridge and come back along the North Bank. I figured that this would take me about 4 hours.

I picked my way along the Thames Path – there was STILL a place were I lost it and had to direct myself in he general direction of the river to pick it up again. It seemed as if i was in no time at Rothehithe. It also seemed in no time that I was by Le Pont de La Tour – two people were browsing the menu – “its all good” I commented and then onto theTower Bridge.

For the first time I passed under it. It seemed like a new adventure. This was the already the furthest that I had run along the south side of the river!

It was rather strange – until then it had been very quiet and all of a sudden there were people! Not just people but tourists! Thick clumps of them. They were all there enjoying London. In among them were several other runners. We dodged around them as if we were moving in two worlds.

Ah – so there is the Tate Modern! I continued trotting along past the OXO Tower and was running along part of my favourite parts of London when I used to live there. I passed the Royal Festival Hall – I had experienced a few wonderful performances there and enjoyed looking out to the river during the interval.

I dodged through the people and eventually running past the London Eye. There used to be huge queues for this millennium venture. It was busy but not too hectic.

I could see my goal now – The Houses of Parliament. But I had only been running 1h 30 min so I needed to run much further – well at least to the next bridge – which I could see.

Again I had never been so far – so was very curious as to what I would find. Rather comforting was the Thames Path continued to be signposted. I remembered that it must be OK as now I was approaching the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race territory.

It was rather a deserted area – especially compared with what I had just left. There were runners around me – that was also of some comfort.

I passed the towers of Battersea Power Station and then – the famous Battersea Dog (and Cat) Home. As if to prove a point a dog was barking. A couple walked into the home carrying an empty cat basket  – so a cat would get a new home today.

On I ran – this bridge was also too close I still had many km in my legs. I saw a sign saying Albert Bridge 2 (miles) that seemed not so far away so I continued. I reached thatChelsea Bridge – it appears just in front of you so you almost have no choice but to cross it. But do you? I saw a park on the left – curious let’s go in.

LOTS of runners – I am in Battersea Park. Wow I never imagined that I would run this far.

It was lovely in the park  – runners of all shapes and sizes, people walking dogs and pushing push chairs (mostly fathers!). Some running oarsman (I have good ears) remarked that the Chelsea Barracks were on the other side of the river.

The Albert Bridge was covered in plastic and had only a very tiny path to follow. Battersea Bridge is very close so that would be my crossing point!

I had to negotiate a small gate and then I was on the bridge. I always find something rather exhilarating about crossing the Thames. And now I was in Chelsea! Very nice houses and apartments and lovely to see the barracks and park.

I saw a few runners that I recognised – they must have been  doing circuits of the bridges – they are within eyesight of each other here. The houses of Parliament seemed to come into view quite quickly. I had never been on this side of them and did not realise that there is a little park so I jogged through – negotiating a few tourists.

I then had to “hit London” – CROWDED with people – dodging people and running in the road – dodging parked taxis and those driving. I managed to negotiate my way to Whitehall but seemed to have lost the river. I carried on and saw a road which led me back to the river bank. Still busy with folk but wide enough to not run into anyone.

I ran through the city and – now it start to feel like – at last, Tower Bridge was in sight. Always busy and crowded by the Tower of London (which used to give me nightmares as a child as I thought of the murdered princes and the Edward II was killed with a hot poker up his bottom (although in another castle – but funny how these little facts stick!) and all those heads on stakes… yuk!

Anyway I was getting quite tired – must be so as I heard someone referring to “joggers”  – and I wanted to shout – umm running for 3 hours what have you done this morning?

Past St. Katherine’s Dock and along the, now familiar back streets.  I seemed to remember that the Canary Wharf Towers came up pretty fast the last time I had done this run – where were they now?!

I seemed to get a bit mixed up on the way and took a few detours so ended up at the underground roundabout – not the most savoury place to run. Eventually I found the right exit. Even on the other side I was a little confused and took a detour along a cycle path – I really did not need this! Still keeping a reasonable pace – so I felt!!

YES! The traffic light roundabout and Marsh Wall – now ai knew exactly where I was. Marsh Wall seemed longer than normal but as I approached the road leading from Canary Wharf to our flat it felt like heaven.

I arrived at the door in 3 h 51 mins! Wow! I wonder how far I had run. I later tried to work it out on a map. I ran almost the length of my telephone electricity loader cable 🙂 It seemed as if I had only run 32 km – then I was VERY slow considering the previous week I had run 30 in 2 hours 49 min… I had hoped to be approaching the marathon distance…I looked up the London Marathon route – it twists and turns a bit but it does not look any shorter than I ran – well I do know how it feels to run 3 hours 50 so that goal is achieved!

Conclusion – I still need to run more slowly to start with – but how fast should I go?

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