I missed the end of a stag do last night for this.  A good stag do.

It’s 1.30 in the afternoon, and I am in the southwest corner of Hyde Park in the drizzle. As I get out of the tube, the gate line guard says: “Hell of a day for a run, mate.” The rain means it’s pleasantly quiet though, and has that lovely green damp smell. I am stretching, stretching, stretching against a tree in preparation for what will hopefully be the longest run I have ever done.

Off. Without any music, trying to consciously relax my upper legs. Upright but relaxed. Strong and easy. I repeat these slightly clunky mantras to myself. Up through the eastern boundary, bending round past Speaker’s Corner, along the northern edge, ducking down again, always trying to find the flattest part of the asphalt or track to keep my feet from pronating, to keep one leg from dominating. Falling with style. Relax, relax. Down West Carriage Drive, back up by the Serpentine. Forgot how pretty Hyde Park is, actually. iShuffle on. Have changed my mind about Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Hug the boundary until the Round Pond, then head back east across the bridge and down and out to Hyde Park Corner again. That’s about five miles already, and the fucking rain has finally stopped. Still fairly strong as I get out onto the street; through Belgrave Square and the embassies, down through Pimlico, all the way to Vauxhall Bridge by the MI6 building, where I take a quick break and walk across slugging fluid replacement.

By the time I get to the London Eye on the South Bank, that’s eight miles under the feet. Under Waterloo Bridge, take the little jag round Tate Modern, and walk back over a jammed-to-the-rafters Millenium Bridge, couldn’t have run it if I tried. Turistas. The knees are holding up. The engine seems absolutely fine, but the legs are tiring. Turn left at St. Pauls and right at Ludgate Circus towards home. Starting to look forward to the little stops at traffic lights, but other signs are good. I steam up Roseberry Avenue unaware that it’s a hill, no trouble. Down Angel and the Essex Road, careful on the stretch of Islington Green where I took a tumble a few months ago. Out of fluid and energy, I dive into a newsagent for a Diet Coke and use it to glug down the syrupy, gunky orange Lucozade gel I have been carrying all this way, which does the job. The legs are really starting to suffer; hip flexors, quads, feet, everything. It’s getting more and more difficult to tell the muscles to relax as they protest. Now I don’t want to stop anywhere, because it’s getting harder to start again. Thump through Newington Green and home. I’ve done it. I’ve fucking done it. Get in a bath of six inches of cold water for my legs for as long as I can stand it.  The blister moonbase on my left foot is torn to shreds. I am cooked. Fifteen miles.

What a great day.

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