Happy new year to you all! Hope you had a good one! Me, I spent it on a beach drinking a flask of tea (long story). I'd love to say I've piled on the pounds during Christmas but it seems my body is unique in that no matter how much rubbish I eat I am unable to bulk up. I was struck down with a horrible case of man flu (a slightly sore throat and runny nose!) over the Christmas period. I decided to have Christmas off from running, so the first run would be the 4th January.
The 4th January arrives and my man flu has taken a turn for the worse (I am now coughing!). I've also been struck down with a severe case of the new year blues. Nothing against my work but I am desperate to be at home, in bed, instead of the packed rush hour tube with my rucksack containing PJ bottoms, my Harry Tshirt and my highly unfashionable running trainers.
Now, I don't know if you've paid much attention to the weather yesterday, but it's fair to say it is not shorts weather! There have been a few spots of rain in the air and a light breeze of late! In fact, when I left work yesterday, in my PJ bottoms, the wind and rain really hit me. It was cold, it was miserable and I was man flued up!
I jumped on the tube from Aldgate East and made my way to Wimbledon. I still love the looks I get as I board the tube in my monster munch pyjama bottoms! I eventually got to Wimbledon 55 minutes later and met my dad and Martin - who was running with me. My dad was there, as ever, to lend his support, water and Mars bars. He was also there with his new best friend. The London A-Z. My dad's ultimate passion is the weather. Nothing seems to excite him quite like the weather. There has to be silence when the forecast comes on, he loves 'Countryfile' only for the weekly weather forecast and he gets great pleasure in getting my mum to text me (my dad doesn't know how to text) on the day of the run to let me know what the weather is doing later. I am sitting there, on the morning of the run, when the world appears to be closing in and freak storms are battering London and the text reads 'Dad reckons there could be rain tonight bring appropriate clothes mum' notice the distinct lack of punctuation, my mum hasn't got to grips with that part of texting yet on her Nokia 32-10. However, a new great love rivals that of the weather for my dad and that is the London A-Z.
My dad is a legend. That word is over used but he really is. He works out all the routes before I begin each run, he then emails me the route. He does all of this via his London A-Z. Google Maps...pffft no need! So I have the route on my phone (which he has emailed me...he can email!) and we then run through the first few stops together. He takes me through his A to Z like a proud man showing off his favourite toy. I feel like I am cheating if I use Google maps so wherever possible I will only follow the big man's direction and I too place a great trust in his A to Z. Yesterday, as ever, it did not let us down...
"Just make sure you turn left out of the station". "Yes dad" I respond. I start jogging out of the station, pretend to go right, look back and wink at the old man, who has 4 bags on his shoulders - he is a modern day pack horse.
Martin and I begin our run and the weather is truly abysmal. It's cold, it is wet and I am desperate to watch United on the box! Instead I am running from Wimbledon to Edgware Rd. A mile later we are at Wimbledon Park, Wimbledon is actually quite nice. Compared to Dagenham East it is beautiful. For the first time on the District Line run I felt I would not be stabbed, which is always a positive thing. Southfields, East Putney and then Putney Bridge. I almost got swept out into the Thames running across the bridge. The weather was truly horrendous and the wind that strong that I though my slight frame wouldn't take it! But made it I did! My knee felt the best it's felt in a long while. Parsons Green, Fulham Broadway and West Brompton all safely negotiated. The rain was getting stronger, I was getting colder. At Earls Court I begin to die, the motivation was waning and I had stepped through about 17 puddles, I was cold, I was pi***d off and I wanted my bed. I then got a text at just the right time. It told me to 'keep going, keep going, keep going' and that text helped me, big time. So to the person who sent it (!) thank you! I kept going :)
The most annoying thing about this tube run challenge is that, as I want to do it properly, I am forever having to re run places I've already gone through. So, even though I have done the Circle Line, I made the decision that I would still run High Street Kensington, Notting Hill Gate, Bayswater, Paddington and Edgware Road. Yes I'd done this exact route 12 weeks ago. But I'd done that route whilst running the Circle Line, this wasn't the circle line, this was the district line. So the route had to be done again. That will also mean I will have to do the exact same run from Barking to Aldgate East in a couple of months. Because even though I have done that run, I did it when I was running the District Line and not the Hammersmith and City line. That means I have to go back to Barking, a thought that keeps me up at night!
We got to Notting Hill Gate and began munching on a Mars bar when a man in a hat comes out of the tube, he approaches Martin, my dad and I and asks us to join us his cult. He explains the benefits of the cult, he tells me he is ex SAS (presumably to keep my attention) and is not happy, in the slightest, when I interrupt him to tell him we have to get running. He calls us selfish, questions our motives and says that why waste our time with a dead kid, a kid who is probably 'no good'. If this man reads this blog post, I wish you all the best for your cult. I do. But if you ever speak of Harry like that again, crazed tube runners in pyjama bottoms will hunt you down! SAS or not!
Two horrendously grim hours later we arrived at Edgware Road. I was SOAKED and seriously COLD. I got pneumonia when I was younger so my dad and mum worry a bit therefore my dad made me get changed into warm clothes. This meant that in the middle of Edgware Tube station, in full view of staff and travellers, I stripped to just my boxer shorts. No t-shirt, no trousers, no towel to cover myself - the ladies loved it! I then put on some warm clothes and got the tube home...a journey that I will be running sometime soon!
Anyway, that is now 138 miles run. We've at least 260 to go. But the District line is being tamed by the men and women in pyjama bottoms. As long as my dad has the A to Z - we can complete our journey...