Went out running this morning – earlyish. I could say it was with a spring in my step and vim in my vigour but that would be fake news.
The grey mist and drizzly gloom of yesterday had lifted and the air was fresh ( funny how quickly we wish the hot, hot temperatures would return after only a few days of rain). I was listening to a good podcast – an episode of the Food Programme featuring chef Marcus Samuelsson* The story of his life through food is full of twists and turns and distracted me from my niggly knee and cranky outlook.
As I reached the turning point in this 3-mile run – it’s beyond half way and feels like the home straight- I saw a favourite tree against a background of watery sunlight and blue and white sky. On a summer evening, this is a good place to watch the swifts and house martins swoop and glide.
Today as I ran past the tree, I saw a small feather flutter slowly down from the branches above and running, caught it mid-flight and mid-stride in a rare elegant move.
*BBC R4 Food Programme – Episode with Dan Saladino featuring Marcus Samuelsson ‘Keep it Sticky’
Last week in London I slept so well in my hotel room that I almost ran out of time to run, but having trundled running shoes in my trolley bag through underground stations and pavements – it would have annoyed me to not take them out for a spin.
My biggest challenge when running in London, or in any new destination I find myself in for that matter, is my rubbish sense of direction. This can result in a planned 30 minute 3 miler taking almost twice that time to complete, time keeping not helped by my tendency to easy distraction and to scurrying down lanes to take a picture of this or that, of crossing roads to look closely at something or other, and of generally deviating from my planned route.
Sharing these tales of how I always seem to get lost wherever I go with a friend, he told me to just keep turning right (or at least I think that was the instruction). I guess the idea being that you should eventually return to where you started, something I accidentally achieved on a previous London visit when trying and failing to find the River Thames. I know that I passed the same group of Chinese tourist visitors on three different occasions at roughly the same spot.
I just hope I made the cut for their London holiday movies !
So back to this run – destined to be short and sweet as having overslept I did not have much time to spare before the start of day two of the conference I was in town for. Fortunately I was staying in Covent Garden – so even a short run would provide lots of interest and require just enough effort from me to kick start the day, get the heart rate up and make the carrying of running kit worthwhile.
From the hotel, a run down Drury lane and then a right turn into the Strand took me close to a landmark I know – Somerset House. From there I crossed Waterloo bridge to the South bank so I could run both across and alongside the Thames. The light was grey and sky was flat, a palette that suits the London landscape and murky river. I crossed Blackfriars bridge then looped back along the embankment to Somerset House.
I did not have much time to linger, but time enough to check out the exhibition in the courtyard -a collection of figures standing as sentinel, part of the 1:54 Contemporary African art fair . Then after a short view and a few snaps I retraced my route without diversion or digression to be back in time for breakfast.
Today after a misty kind of gloomy Thursday, the sun is shining. I frequently walk along various lengths of this stretch of the canal – and prefer walking over running or cycling. The slower pace of walking is meditative and I see more. Early morning sunshine is always uplifting but maybe even more so when you live in a place where these few sunny days are to be cherished. Late August there is a tiny hint of Autumn and a reminder that these lovely long days of summer daylight are beginning to shorten. Sometimes when I start my working day with this 30 minute nature interlude the temptation to bunk off work and just keep walking is very strong.
But so far I have not yielded to temptation …
I am not long back from a lovely sunny holiday in Ibiza. As is my new holiday habit, I took my running kit with me and despite the 30+ degree heat, I managed to go out on a few short runs.
While I love my regular runs back home, I always like running in a different place. Of course you can explore a new destination as a tourist on foot at walking pace, but there is something about putting on my running clothes and going out for a run- often early in the day – that makes me feel I am temporarily a local and getting a different sense of the destination.
Regardless of where I am running – early in the morning I will encounter much the same collection of folk – dog walkers, boot camp exercisers, shift workers , early morning night time revellers on the way home – if it is a city, the quiet army of people who clear up after the night before or set up for the new day, and of course fellow runners.