Today is Sunday and Sunday means the long run. It is only my second one as last week my leg was really playing up. According to my schedule I was aiming to run 8 miles today but I thought 7 miles was a reasonable target. Two weeks ago I managed just under 6 miles and I was conscious not to push myself too hard. The Tamsin trail is the perimeter trail around Richmond Park and it is 7.35 miles so I thought it was the ideal route.
Pond at Sheen GateI took my I-phone along for the ride and took some snaps along the way. This acts as proof that I did the run and also as a mild distraction en route. Taking snaps while running is not the easiest but I gave it my best shot. I started at Sheen gate so I took a picture to show the start point.
It was a beautiful morning and the park was full of people out being active, dog walkers, runners, cyclists, horseriders etc. I headed through the gate and turned left by the pond running toward Roehampton gate. As well as some pics of my views along the way, I also took a few ‘action’ shots of me showing just how rough and sweaty I look when I’m exercising. I was a bit disappointed that my route took me past no deer today as I stuck to the edge of the park on the trail the whole way. Well almost, but I will come on to that a little later.
Me running hard in Roehampton
The sun was shining and I felt good but I knew what lay in wait for me ahead. There is a big hill leading up from Robin Hood gate to Kingston and I knew it was going to hurt. I managed to run nearly all the way and when I got to the top I thought it was only right I took a good picture of the view behind me so I jumped up on the bench and took a snap. The hill is pretty steep and they even have a sign to encourage cyclists to dismount. My legs were seriously burning when I got to the top but running on was the only option so on I went.
Starting the climb
Still climbing. Sorry for the wobbly pic!
The view at the top of leg burning hill
I realised today that the distance between Robin Hood gate and Kingston is definitely further than I thought but I kept on going with no breaks. Little things kept me going and made me smile. The group of horses trotting past, another good song on my I-pod or Dads out with their children on their bikes, pushing them up the steep hills. Before I knew it I was running past Kingston gate. With every gate I passed I felt a little bit prouder, especially as I had taken no walking breaks.
Still going and looking more unattractive by the minute but I am past caring about that!
Running down towards Ham Gate I ran past a man that stood as a really poignant reminder of why I am pushing myself. He was really fit and athletic looking but upon closer inspection it was apparent he only had one leg. He wasn’t letting that stop him though. He was wearing a prosthetic carbon fibre foot like the kind of device that Oscar Pistorius the double-amputee sprinter wears. It reminded me that I am lucky to be fully able-bodied and it took me back to the girl that took part in the London Marathon after a lung transplant that had inspired me to challenge myself. There was nothing stopping me. I pushed on through ignoring the niggle in my calf that is trivial in comparison to the challenges that others are facing.
The pond at Ham Gate
Reaching the pond at Ham gate I got a feel good buzz as I knew I only had to pass one more gate in Richmond before I would be heading back towards Sheen. It had all gone swimmingly so far and I could see Petersham in the distance. The sandy coloured trail was heading toward the exit and I could have exited the park and run up to Richmond gate on the road but I was adamant that I wanted to stick to the trail. There was no mention on the park website that I would have to do leave the park and didn’t want to be seen to be cheating. It clearly states that the Tamsin trail runs around the whole park. Wrong!
After a massively steep hill up a muddy track I was greeted with even more mud. I had to stop running and felt a little like I was on Total Wipeout as I clutched the branches trying to avoid falling in the path that can only be described as a mud bath. I got to a point where I had no option but to leap through the middle and I thought I was going to lose my shoe to the giant mud pie. There was no point going back, I had no choice but to push on through. I apologise now for the foul language that was coming out of my mouth. I was annoyed that the mud had interrupted my flow but it was only a minor glitch and after picking up the pace I was at Richmond Park on the home straight. This is the point where Saturday morning Parkrun starts although I was running in the opposite direction. It felt good knowing I had a downward path ahead of me that I am normally used to struggling up.
My poor trainers
The Parkrun start
I had such an exhiliarating feeling as I headed toward the finish and I couldn’t quite believe that I had made it. This seemed like a distant target that I would never be able to reach when I started running. I need to pick the pace up but I am now confident that with some hard work I will be able to get to the finish of the Paris Half mara without collapsing in a heap. When I reached the end I thought it was only right that I documented this day with an unattractive picture of myself so I accosted a guy at Sheen Gate and asked him to take a picture showing off my post-run glow. It was a celebration after all as it is the furthest I have ever run.
In shock that I actually finished the run & feeling a bit stupid that I've actually asked a stranger to take a photo of me in this state.
I kicked off my muddy trainers and headed to the gym for a few lengths, a well-deserved sauna (I think that’s fair to say!) and a catch-up with my best friend. Bliss! The feeling of achievement was boosted with a few supportive tweets that I received so thank you ladies. If a few tweets after my run make me feel this good, imagine how good I will feel if some you make a donation. You’ve got to plug it where you can! ;) www.justgiving.com/teambangsontherun