I can’t remember the last time I was so cold. It was a mild 4 degrees when I left home at 4:15 this morning but it was raining, and after a couple hours in the rain I was wet through, and frozen.
To add to my problems I had lost one of my gloves after about an hour (more on that later) and at one stage I was so cold I contemplated stopping and catching the tube home. But today was Saturday, and then means parkrun day, and if I had caught the tube home I may not have made it to a parkrun, so I kept going.
My morning started at 2:48am. The alarm was actually set for 4:30am but at 2:48 my wife, Ruth, woke me to ask if I had turned down the central heating before going to bed (just 3 ½ hours earlier) as she was hot. Our central heating is on a manual system and with the bedrooms being upstairs, the bedrooms are always warmer than downstairs. And no, I hadn’t turned the heating down.
So I got up and went downstairs to turn the heating down and then found myself unable to get back to sleep. Thirty minutes later I decided to get up, have some breakfast, and then get an early start on my walk. This meant that rather than heading west to the Upton Court parkrun as I had planned, I would head north east up through London to Pymmes parkrun – about a 4 hour walk.
Just as I was leaving home it started to rain but I had dressed suitably (three long sleeve layers plus a lightweight running jacket and hat and gloves) so that wasn’t a problem.
I headed in to Richmond Park, one of my favourite places to train in all of London and something I will cover in future blog posts, with the aim of doing a half lap, possibly seeing Rob Young (Marathon Man UK) who runs a marathon a day, usually in Richmond Park in the early hours of the morning, and then exiting the park on to the A3 at Robin Hood Gate.
I have run and walked through the park in the early hours on many occasions before, but I probably haven’t attempted to leave the park at Robin Hood Gate at 5:30am, at least not in winter, and was surprised to find the pedestrian gates locked when I arrived. The gates themselves are probably about 15 feet tall so there was no way I could climb them. I knew that there was another gate not far away that went along a path that I had never followed before. So I decided to find out where that path went – which was to another locked gate. But this gate was beside a low fence that was easily climbable so I climbed the fence and followed the path into what turned out to be the Richmond Park Golf Course.
The problem was that when I arrived at the main entrance to the golf course, the tall wooden gate was also locked so I continued walking and eventually found myself on the 4th tee in the dark and in the rain.
By this stage I was totally drenched and starting to shiver because I wasn’t walking fast enough to keep warm. I decided to backtrack and managed to climb the stone wall at the entrance to the golf club but as I jumped down off the fence I caught my left hand and tore my glove. I was out of the golf course however, and I headed up the A3 towards London. I had to dispose of the glove at the next rubbish bin which in hindsight wasn’t such a great idea as my left hand became extremely cold and it wasn’t long before I couldn’t feel my figures.
Years ago, whilst watching the Tour de France on TV, I saw that the riders often put newspapers up the front of their cycling jerseys to keep warm and then disposed of them when they warmed up. As a runner and walker I have done similar in the past but used plastic shopping bags as they are much lighter, so when I got to Wandsworth I found a plastic bag on the ground and I turned that in to a makeshift glove. This helped but by this stage I was very cold and nothing was going to make me warm again.
I like to take photos when I’m out walking and one of the reasons for starting this blog is to give me a place to display those photos. But walking in the rain and in the dark, photos don’t turn out very well but the following are a couple photos I took as I walked through London City:
London Bridge taken from Southwark Bridge:
The Great Fire of London 1666 Monument:
This is on the site where the Great Fire of London started in 1666.
And also a part of an ancient Roman wall which is opposite the Tower Of London:
Unfortunately these are not great photos and I’ll get better photos another time – when I am walking in the area in daylight perhaps.
By the time I had made it into London I realised that I wasn’t going to make it to Pymmes parkrun so decided to head through Tower Hamlets and up to Mile End parkrun. I have been trying to do a different parkrun each weekend and Mile End was the closest parkrun that I hadn’t done.
Reading the ‘History of Mile End Park’ sign in the park was interesting and I have added a photo of the sign here:
Running parkrun was enough to warm me up for a while and I caught the tube back to Richmond after the run. An hour sitting on the tube in wet clothes though, and I was shivering again by the time we arrived at Richmond Station, so rather than catching the bus home I walked the last 3 miles along the Thames and past Ham House.
In total I ended up walking 25 miles and running 3 today.
The other great news from today’s workout was that I have been experimenting with a new nutritional supplement called UCan. Normally after any long workout I have a craving for Coke, but not today. Today was the fifth time I have used UCan and I have had the same results each time. Interesting, and something I will discuss further in the future.
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