Saturday, 2 May 2009

Day 6 - A tale of two parks

Type - steady run

Distance - 4.15 miles

Time - 35 minutes 25 seconds

I started the day with a walk into Stoke Newington to buy some training socks. I have developed a small blister on the same place between the heart and solar plexus of my right foot, and thought that a proper pair of training socks would help, quickening sweat away from my feet.

I had a mounting sense of unease whilst warming up and stretching. I've had this a few times - it is almost a fear that I won't be able to go the distance without hyperventilating, collapsing or worse. I suppose this is just a novice runner's fear of the unknown, but it doesn't help with controlled and steady breathing - almost becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once I got past the first few hundred metres things were fine, and I soon started enjoying it. I had devised a route that would take in a loop of Finsbury Park, come back down along Brownwood Road and then loop around Clissold Park (map).

The run around Finsbury Park was very pleasant, despite the incline on the eastern boundary of the park. It is a good loop for runners, a broad road and footpath running around the edge of the park, past the lake and tennis courts. Back out into the busy streets of Seven Sisters Road before darting into the traffic calmed streets that link the two parks together.

Clissold Park is a lovely park. I think it, along with neighbouring Abney Park Cemetery, is my favourite non-central open spaces in London. And now that the dread hand of winter has relinquished its chill grip the park has burst into life in an orgasm of chlorophyll. Vast London chestnuts, oaks and elms dominate, spreading vast green canopies over much of the park. But there is still expansive, rolling green lawns, two lakes (named the Beckmere and Runtzmere after Joseph Beck of The City of London and John Runtz of The Metropolitan Board of Works who saved Clissold House park and Newington Common from being developed in the 1880s) and the remains of Clissold House which now serves as a community centre and cafe.

But by this stage I didn't get to enjoy the views as much as I usually do, concentrating more on putting one foot in front of the other. The park boasts a running track, wood chips piled thickly to create a spongy path which is noticeably easier on the legs. It does make the surface uneven, and I am not sure on balance whether I prefer this comfort for the certainty of tarmac. I whipped round, thankful that I didn't develop the build up of lactic acid that has bedevilled past runs nor get horrendously out of breath. My legs were aching slightly, but his is the inevitable consequence of training. I had enough left in me to do one final sprint back home, to arrive in a great time of 35 minutes 25 seconds. I think I am going to have to work on my pacing, because whilst the speed is nice, I need to be able to sustain running over longer distances.

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