After the better part of a week hemming and hawing then hemming some more, I finally convinced myself that Saturday morning would be a great time to take a run through Hyde Park, which was only a couple of blocks from my hotel in London. I had the gear with me. I had a window of time. The weather was perfect. Plus, I am a badass mother runner who should take a badass mother run.
Still, I was nervous, like I always am when I’m about to go for a run in a new place. I always assume that runners in other towns are different from me somehow. Fancier, maybe. Definitely more legit. I also hadn’t seen many runners in London and wondered if there was a reason for that. Until I saw him.
He wasn’t much to look at -- and I mean that in the kindest way possible. He was just a running schlub like me. He wasn’t kitted out in the latest gear. He wasn’t buff. He was sweaty and gross. And he was running past the pub near my hotel, looking like a regular running Joe just getting it done.
See, sometimes I can convince myself that I’m not a real runner because I don’t look like one. A lot of me jiggles. No one would watch me run and think the word “gazelle.” I usually grab whatever gear is cleanest, rather than the gear that is the most flattering. In my small town in upstate New York, I don’t give it much thought. I don’t run into other runners that frequently when I’m out getting a sweat on. If I do, I almost always know them from non-running life.
But in a big city, where I don’t know the local runners and generally feel like a small town rube who is only pretending to be a runner, well, I can get a wee bit intimidated. I can usually talk myself down and run anyway but London seemed like too much. Then I saw schlubby running dude and I knew it would all be OK.
I ran more or less naked, which would explain the stares I got from passers-by.... I kid. I didn’t have Herr Garmin with me because I figured I could use Strava on my phone, not remembering that I wouldn’t have data access, which meant that apps like Strava wouldn’t work. So I can’t tell you exactly how long the run was. After looking at a map or two, my best guess is about 3.5 miles. Unless it was more. Or less.
I wasn’t totally without technology. I did have my phone so that I could snap some pictures. I didn’t listen to podcasts or music, though, because I wasn’t on familiar ground. Which meant that I got to hear the swans grumble at me when I got too close to them.
The run itself was kind of meh. My legs were tuckered out from so much walking and didn’t want to move as briskly as I might like. Everything else about it -- from the weather to the scenery -- was, to quote the kids, totes awesome.
There were other runners out there, too -- and a lot of them looked pretty serious about the whole running thing. But I passed a few who looked a lot like me, who weren’t whippet thin and spandex clad. That morning’s run is one of those mental souvenirs that I will treasure.
It was also the highlight of the trip home, frankly. While the flights were fine as long flights go, my luggage was given an extended tour of Dulles and didn’t catch up with me for a few days. The stench of my running shorts was not improved by the extra marination time.
This week I flung myself back into 13.FUN training. The time off seems to have done me a world of good. Monday was an easy 3 plus 8 strides that felt pretty good, even though I was on the treadmill because the weather here was iffy. Tuesday’s five miles with three at tempo wasn’t too bad -- and I was able to churn out three 11-minute miles without too much wheezing. We’ll see how the weekend’s long run goes. Right now, I’m not even sure how I’ll fit it in.
It turns out that the work you can’t get done because you’re having a fabulous time in the U.K. doesn’t just vanish. I know! Plus, the academic year started on Monday, which means my life of summer sloth (which wound up being decidedly less slothy this summer) is over. I’ve only just managed to carve out the time to write this. I have zero idea how I’ll do the same to run 14 (!) miles.
How do you carve out time when you look at your schedule and feel like there is no time in there to carve? Does anyone have a time turner or TARDIS they could lend me for a bit?