Tuesday, April 24, 2012

London and the Finsbury Park 15k

A London Tube Station in downtown. We would call them subways in the US. This is why I stick to parks although the Oxford Circus Station is an extreme example, most of the tube stations I've seen are not this crowded.
I'm back! Back in London that is. Actually I've been here for about three weeks now, visiting Masha again, and I will be here for another two weeks before heading home. Running is different here but it's going very well. I'm enjoying my park runs and I don't mind the absence of hills or the weather as much - would love more sunshine though. I've found a running home in Regent's Park where I run loops around the perimeter. A loop is about 2.75 miles and I'll go round and round for whatever time I have available. It's flat but not as boring as I thought it would be and inside the park there are dirt trails, interesting sights and open fields where a good number of people play team sports. I stay on the outside perimeter though to maximize my miles and one of my favorite parts is running past the gate of the Winfield House, home of the US Ambassador to the UK. They always have British Police guarding the gate with their German made machine guns, HK's, slung across their chests looking ready for action. Unlike their famous cousins, you know the ones with the funny hats, these guards actually move and are always on the lookout. They try very hard not to stare at people as they walk or run by but I've caught the eye of a few who notice me doing my rounds. Just this evening two guards outside the gate stared at me curiously as I ran by for what was probably the fifth or sixth time. Guys you have a gorgeous park, well maintained, well attended, bereft of wind or heavy traffic and I love it. A bonus is to run into the Nike Run group with their fluorescent traffic vests (can't believe they actually have to run in these) or being passed by groups of cyclists training on the road of the outer ring. I've run in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens but Regent still remains as my favorite.
Speaking of running and favorites. My favorite girl has taken up running. I know by saying "favorite" it seems to imply she is one of many but no, she is the only one. After the holidays when both of us were busting out of our fat pants, I started training for races and she joined her college gym. She started taking gym classes and got on the treadmill and started running. She's no stranger to running having run track in high school but she is new to distance having specialized in the 100 meter dash. When I first met her here in London last Fall I didn't know this little fact and was always surprised when she would out sprint me to the bus. Not that I'm fast or anything but she would out sprint me on her flats:) As far as I can tell she's enjoying herself. She ran her first 10k last month and two Sundays ago I ran with her on her first 15k race. It was quite a treat for me as it was our first race together and my first running event in the UK, win - win right? It was a great time especially since Finsbury park had rollers in it; truly, I was surprised too. If it was closer I'd put in some laps on that park too. It was three loops of a 5k course and the event also offered the 5k and 10k distances.
Masha had fun but lack of training because of school, lack of sleep because of school and her first crack at the distance left her a bit disappointed with her time. She can be so hard on herself but I told her to look at the bright side, she can only do better once she gets back into her running after her papers are done. I try to give her running advice but I don't think she really listens to me. She looks up to Larissa though so maybe I just have Larissa call her and give her advice:) Ah well, it's her own journey of self-discovery. She will learn her own lessons, make her own mistakes despite all the caution and advice I give her but she will also reap her own rewards as she has done so already. She survived her first 10 and 15k and now she doesn't think it's that big of a jump to the 21k / Half-Marathon distance. I did tell her to spend more time at the shorter distances first though. No rush needed for the longer distances but as I mentioned, she doesn't really listen to me. It's her not so secret desire to beat me at a race, she's told me so.
Enjoy the pictures. I have more stories from the UK coming up!
With Robert, a classmate in her master's program.
I designed these trail running shirts for my triathlon club last year and she had to have one. It looks good on her.
In action. This is actually a downhill section. Can you tell? You had to be there.
Happy to be done. Yes I wore my Tamalpa ultrarunning team shirt to a 15k. Love the club, love the shirt, love the girl, not in that order.