Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Day 37 - a scenic whirl

Type - tempo run

Distance - 5 miles

Time - 36 minutes 51 seconds

I thought I had planned a lovely run that would take me down the Mall, skirt Green Park along Birdcage and then loop Hyde Park around the Serpentine before coming back. I know that area from cycling, so it should have been a well planned, relatively flat and quick route. And, for the most part, it was. With one major reservation - Hyde Park Corner. Affecting both ends of my run (at mile 1 and 4) this massive gyratory traffic surge separates Hyde Park from its royal brethren the other side of the Palace. From the tip of Green Park you cross one six lane section, and then have a couple of hundred metres through the Wellington Arch to reach another cross to get into Hyde Park. On a bike it is a brief inconvenience, but on a timed tempo run it was an infuriating impediment to my pace, stride and enjoyment.

It didn't start as the most successful run. I had forgotten to take a puff on my ventolin inhaler, and from the first steps my chest felt tight. It would barely improve for the next half an hour, as deeper breathing rasped against a constrained lung capacity producing unhealthy sounding wheezes. My legs didn't feel in much better shape, and took a while to warm up from first step stiffness. The sun was shining, and, whilst ordinarily a blessing, the intensity of the heat made the whole thing more of a chore. It was a scenic start, with the ruritanian perfection of St. James's Park at the side of the Mall, itself a blaze of red, white and blue from giant Union Flags hung out for the Queen's Trooping of the Colour.

The park roads were packed with people pouring out of offices and shops and spreading themselves lazily on the grass. In the distance the choppy surface of the shimmering Serpentine was interspersed with paddle and row boats, shrieks of laughter echoing over the water. I didn't take much of it in, concentrating on just putting one foot in front of the other and fighting the negative thoughts that this might be the run to cut short, or slacken off.

The last two miles were a joy, with a slight downhill stretch all the way along the east side of Hyde Park, down Constitution Hill and along the flat of the Mall. It would have been perfect but for the repeated interruptions of three sets of traffic lights across the Corner.

That said I did manage to finish in under 37 minutes, a time I largely attribute to the flat nature of the route. Without the frustrating stops at Hyde Park Corner it might have been even quicker.

I think, in future, I will stick to the river!

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