Last night was one of the shortest runs I have done so far but it was also one of the most difficult.
I was running 11 miles - from Upminster to Barking. Upminster is located in Zone 6, it was the first time I had been out to run as far as Zone 6. Harrow, High Barnet and Edgware are all Zone 5. It was also the first proper run I have done in 3 weeks since being told I had to rest my knee.
I was feeling pretty decent but stepped out of the office to be faced with falling rain and temperatures that were, shall we say, on the low side! I ran to Fenchurch street (like I wasn't running far enough already) and got on the C2C train to Upminster. I was to meet the support crew (my old man) at Upminster. I had in my hand the route - Upminster, Upminster Bridge, Hornchurch, Elm Park, Dagenham East, Dagenham Heathway, Becontree, Upney and finally Barking. The route we had mapped out was to take us through some real beauty spots :) it was fair to say this run wasn't going to be a particularly attractive one.
After 20 minutes I arrived at Upminster. I had to get changed into my pyjama bottoms (the support crew had bought them up) so at the Entrance to Upminster station I dropped my trousers to show off my incredible legs and my questionable boxer shorts. This was embarrassing enough but for some reason I had put my boxer shorts on the wrong way round yesterday - so my behind had a row of buttons! The support crew finally stopped laughing and handed me the PJ bottoms - much to the delight of the guards at the station. My friend Martin then arrived and we would set off. We'd meet the old man at Elm Park.
We began running and my knee felt sore but ok. We got to Elm Park fairly quickly, had a glucose gel and some water and we would meet my dad at the next station - 3.2 miles away. The run from Elm Park to Dagenham East will haunt me! First of all the buttons on the boxers were causing an issue! Second, we were running through gangland Britain! Literally! Down every road we were turning there were gangs of teenagers. Now this is fine, I am sure they are all pleasant enough! But when you are wearing PJ bottoms the teenagers are prone to shouting out the odd comment! We ran past Dagenham East YMCA - this really did feel like the end of the world. Why anyone would stay here is beyond me. It looked like a bad nightmare. A big concrete slab of a building. It looked like a lego set built in the air. Amazingly though it was busy - the village people tribute act had clearly drawn in the punters. We continued, we ran past the cemetery, the lake, the sewage depot. You could sum up Dagenham by saying it has a cemetery, a lake and a sewage depot - there is very little else to it! The surroundings were getting bleaker and bleaker and my knee was getting more and more painful. I must have been the first person in the history of civilisation to actually utter the words 'I cannot wait to get to Barking'.
We got to Dagenham East. My knee was seizing up and I was really struggling but fortunately my dad and Martin kept me going. I also received some timely text messages to give me a second wind. We got out of Dagenham as quickly as possible, not before passing more gangs. Becontree and Upney safely negotiated, we finally made it to Barking. Due to the pain in my knee it had taken us 2hours 20 minutes to run just under 11 miles - it was a slow pace. It was a truly grim run. But it is 11 miles closer to the target, a target that is now less than 300 miles away.
When we finished I again couldn't walk up stairs - fast becoming a normal feature of our runs! I rang my mum looking for lots of sympathy which was duly given and finally got home about 10 o'clock.
The next run is Wednesday. These runs are tough, my body is failing me but I am seeing London - all sides of it! And we are raising money, so the runs continue. A big thanks to Martin and my dad for helping me through a grim 2 and a half hours!