I had an amazing long run this morning. I’m in London this week for work and my marathon training plan called for a 16 mile run. I have to admit I wasn’t looking forward to this run at all: it is the longest run I’ve had yet this training cycle, I’ve never run that long by myself before, and the idea of trying to run 16 miles through a city I don’t know all that well felt pretty daunting. I’ve been contemplating a few different routes for a few weeks (loop around Hyde Park, Green Park, and St. James parks or loop around Regent’s and Hampstead Heath) but then I had an idea this week of running to a bunch of different landmarks. Here’s the route I *think* I took [I forgot to bring the thing that syncs my Garmin online]:
I got up around 6 am and managed to leave the hotel a bit after 7:30 am. I had my hydration pack with me so I was able to take my phone, cash/cards, and my camera pretty easily. It was a gloomy gray Sunday morning. I started at Piccadilly Circus:
It was crazy to see it so devoid of people. No really, NO ONE was around.
From there, it was a short run to Trafalgar Square.
And then Big Ben.
From Parliament Square I then ran through St. James Park to Buckingham Palace.
And then through Green Park to the Bomber Memorial and the Wellington Arch.
From there, I ran on Brompton Road through Knightsbridge to the Kensington Museums. Brompton Road was also empty of tourists at that time in the morning.
I ran into Hyde Park because I wanted to see Kensington Palace (which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before today) and see the Diana Memorial Fountain again. I didn’t get a chance to see the fountain because there was some sort of cycling race (it might have been a triathlon since I also saw runners in tri gear) and I couldn’t figure out a way to cross the course to get to the fountain.
I’m always struck by how beautiful Hyde Park is. From the park, I ran to Paddington Station to see the Paddington Bear statue. Even though I’ve been to Paddington a few times, I never had a chance to find the Paddington Bear statue.
I tried to use the bathroom when I was at the station but you had to pay 30 pence to get in and I didn’t have any change so I decided to skip it. When I had run into the station, it started lightly raining. By the time, I left the station, it was pouring. It was annoying at first but then I just got used to it.
From there, I decided to head to Regent’s Park. At this point, I really needed to use the bathroom so I found a park map and ran to the nearest bathroom. Thankfully I picked the bathroom next to a cafe because when I got there, this bathroom also required paying 20 pence (hey I saved 10 pence by waiting!). I really didn’t want to break my flow by stopping to buy something from the cafe just to break my 20 pounds so that I can get 20 pence. I was tempted to just crawl under the little saloon like door thing but thankfully I came to my senses and just went to the cafe. I ended up taking a break and getting a blueberry muffin and a bottle of water. At this point I had run over 8 miles so that blueberry muffin tasted like it was the best blueberry muffin I have ever eaten in my life.
Honestly at this point Regent’s Park didn’t seem that eventful or scenic (I don’t know maybe because I just came from Hyde Park or maybe because I had been running for so long) so I just decided to run across it and then head to Hampstead Heath. As I existed the park, I noticed a sign for Primrose Hill, which sounded vaguely familiar, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m glad I did because even on a cloudy day, it was a beautiful view of the city.
The run to Hampstead Heath was pretty quiet and through a beautiful [and posh] part of the city. My goal was to run to Parliament Hill since I heard it had such great views of London. By the time I got there, the view was OK [I think it was better on Primrose Hill].
There were plenty of dogs in all 3 parks [the English seem to have an amazing ability to have their dogs go off leash yet still manage to get them to come back to them]. At the top of Parliament Hill, I saw a rottie [possibly a mix and with a full tail!] that reminded me of Layla but he/she ran off too quickly for me to snap a photo. At this point, I think I had run about 12 miles and thankfully the hotel was about 4 miles away. The last 4 miles were the least scenic and least amazing of the run. I ran through Kentish Town and Camden Town, not because I wanted to visit either but because they were along the route that Google Maps sent me. They were pretty grimy. This was the nicest thing I found to take a photo of:
At one point, I managed to make it back to the Regent’s Park area. I got a bit turned around at this point because my phone ran out of battery. I only had about 1.5 miles left at this point and I sort of knew where I needed to go. I knew I needed to get to Regent Street and then back to Piccadilly Circus. I somehow managed to stumble upon Regent Street, which at this point was crazy crazy busy (I think it was after noon or 1 pm at this point). To make matters worse, there was also a special Magnum event where they had the street blocked off and were giving away ice cream. I barely did any running during the last half mile, mostly just trying to make my way through the crowds. I was hoping to pass by Oxford Circus and take some photos but I totally missed it. I may have technically ran by it but missed it due to all the craziness.
Overall, it was a really awesome run and I felt pretty good most of the way. It took me over 5 hours to run the 16 miles, which is really slow even for me. But I was stopping pretty frequently to either take photos or figure out where I was going. This was the most fun I’ve had running in a long long time.
After the run, I headed back to my hotel room to stretch, foam roll, and get cleaned up. A few days ago, I booked myself an afternoon tea service at Claridge’s. It was a really nice treat after such an awesome run. It was totally relaxing and fun. I drank 3 different teas: Rare Earl Grey, Emperor’s Breakfast, and Second Flush Muscatel Darjeeling. The Earl Grey was my favorite of the three.
It was a great Sunday fun day (run day?). :)