Saturday, 28 January 2012

The last training run

The plan today was to run my final and longest run (40km) using part of the Capital Ring as the Capital Ring is the walking path that the London Ultra will follow. I didn't want to use any of the route so I chose the path nearest to my place: Greenford across to Highgate.

The Capital Ring for you Northerners is described as a "strategic walk". Now that to me sounds like it would be useful for connecting people to amenities. However it's a circular walk that connects you with random places that at times are quite pretty so I'd be tempted to call it a scenic walk. Except it being London, it's as scenic as scenic as can be with an upturned trolley and a dead cat somewhere in your vision.

While the Capital Ring is circular a bit like the M25, it's anything but linear so the route constantly dog legs and goes up hills and past some nice Georgian building or some house where Peter Sellers lived so if you were a Rambler, you could marvel at such stuff. As a runner it means (certainly on the route I did) that you end up changing terrain every 2kms and switchbacking like a rabid dog. Or do they do straight lines? Anyway you get my drift.

So after about 15km on the canal path I turned off for Greenford and immediately found the green signs that mark the Capital Ring. If you're lucky you get a big sign that actually fits some words in. If not, you get a small circle the size of an apple, somewhere at hip level with an arrow at a jaunty angle which you must follow precisely especially when it appears to lead to nowhere. I'm going to sleep tonight with those fluro green discs dancing in front of my closed eyes. My first Capital Ring sign presented two options: Capital Ring and Alternative Route - what a decision already?! I stuck with the main route and find myself heading instantly up Horsenden Hill.

Ah Horsenden Hill - the clue is in the name, and it wasn't that there are horses. It's 279ft higher than I'd like it to be and cut with those crazy steps that don't match anyone's leg gait. I had to walk em.

In writing this blog, I've just learned that this is the hilliest section of the Capital Ring. Bravo me. The little Capital Ring guide also tells me I may have to climb a style. Oh yes I know that now. And what kept me going was that this bit isn't in this year's Ultra and was in last year's and those poor souls would have had to climb these hills about 35km in.

Next hill, Subury. And then another hill! This time Harrow Hill (408ft). I've never been to Harrow before and it was a bit exciting. Fortunately none of the posh privileged brats were about so I could admire the buildings and the number of signs saying "Matron" and feel a bit like I was in Oxford. I might return there one day for a looksee as we don't really have things like that in Australia (old posh schools; I'm sure we've got privileged rich brats now)

Then I got lost. I think this was Lostness No 1 or 2 - and kept running past some old ladies at a bus stop so many times - and I am sure they were commenting that I wasn't dressed for the weather, only it being London, they didn't speak English. The reason I got lost was because I looked at this footpath called Ducker Footpath and laughed as it was clearly a trolley dumping ground. I didn't realise it was actually a footpath till I had run kms away from it and returned, picking through the trolleys and rubbish in the prestigious alley named after Churchill's Swimming Pool. I kid you not.

Next adventure was Fryent Country Park which was determined to suck my shoes into the mud The squelching sounds were great and I skidded along the down hills but the slipping down the uphills was less successful. I had a great laugh and many dogs thought I was weird. I climbed up Barn Hill (282ft) - whoever designed the Capital Ring likes a good view - there was probably a stonking view of Wembley in the mist and some Ramblers told me to stop and admire it but they don't have to work with my quads after a stop so I ran backwards for a bit and said "very pretty" before squelching into mud through my sneakers and into my socks. Mmmm.

Then a bit of running through some suburbs, Brent Reservoir, which I'd walked along before so just wanted to get through it and past some silly girls insisting on playing badminton in the middle of the path. I ask you.

Then you run alongside the Brent River which you can't really admire, not least for the dead cats but the roar of the North Circular around you. Then you get spat into Hampstead Garden Suburb where it's all lots of money and gardeners poking out of manicured hedges when you are peptalking yourself to the next X many kms. Am I the only runner who talks to themselves?

Very quickly I was onto Highgate Wood and I don't think I've ever been so excited to be somewhere I don't actually want to be. I had only 1 km to run and I noticed that what I thought was my station was just outside the park on a hill - so I looped round the park - came out to the station, realised the station wasn't at all where I thought and kept running-waddling to the station where I realised I'd run 41.1km. Well there was only one thing to do. I ran the length of Highgate Underground station carpark a few times and completed a marathon!

1 comment:

  1. Running the Capital Ring sounds like an adventure! Not sure I could deal with the hills or the mud, but seems like it was great for ultra preparation. As you described each point I got a real sense of how far you ran. You were in Harrow?!

    Great running....and I believe it's a sign of a true runner when you need to run around the carpark just to hit the magic mileage number! :)

    You will be ready!