Bloomin' 'eck! That wind today is UNBELIEVABLE. Tallula the cat has been doing high speed circuits of the patio chasing leaves, then getting all confused as other leaves fly around her! So after watching this entertainment whilst drinking my morning pre run juice fuel, I told Mrs Dan I would be at least an hour today, as I was going to run 10K. "Don't get blown into the river!" she shouted as I shut the front door.
Apart from the wind it was glorious outside. Fresh and cool, sunny and dry. My first mild panic came when I got to about 1/2K from home realising I'd forgotten to bring any water with me. Hmmm.....well it was too late to go back, so I told myself I wouldn't need it as I'd drunk a big glass of water after my juice and the weather was not so hot as I'd get dehydrated. I pressed on and walked up the steps of Richmond Lock, jogged over the river and down the steps the other side. I immediately got into a nice slow jogging speed, trying to tell myself to conserve energy for this 1/4 Marathon distance. My run would take me to the "Hill of Death" where I'd done a lot of hill training and I was hoping that I could cope with it as part of a regular run. Usually when hill training up this mutha of a hill I rest when I get to the top, but today I would reach the summit and continue onwards into Richmond Park. I was going to run the local Richmond Parkrun route as part of my 10K today, so I was looking forward to doing that without all the "pressure" of running with people.
Reached "The Hill" in good shape and slowly ascended the damned thing. Boy, it was tough but I got to the top with the trees bending and wind blowing me up the last few feet. On into Richmond Park next. Counted out loud "One...two...three" a few times to maintain my pace and to make sure I could say these words without spluttering out of breath. I find it's a good way to regulate my pace by doing this and if I can't get the words out easily, I slow down.
The sun was shining and I was fortunate the strong wind was on my back for the first 5K as it blew me along in a few places quite speedily. However, the return 5K would be a different matter entirely. Reached Roehampton Gate and turned left up the Tamsin trail. My feet went crunch crunch crunch on the gravely surface and I started to slow down slightly. This section of the parkrun route is the "Leg Shredder" section. A very slight incline for aaaages which looks like a flat path. It's NOT! I maintained my "being able to speak" pace and got a bit of a shock when a golden labrador came bounding up to me, a huge excited smile on it's face and jumped up at me! I like dogs but this unnerved me a bit, especially when he came back for another "play jump" at me. His owner shouted for him to behave and apologised to me as I jogged on past him. "That's ok" I said, "No problem".
The gorgeous downhill section was next and the wind was not abating. It was blowing directly in my face and forcing me backwards on a few occasions, but my momentum kept me going forwards, albeit slowly. Eventually reached Richmond Gate where I'd entered the park half an hour ago, so I made it back towards the "Hill of Death", but this time I'd be going DOWN. Now THIS was HARD folks! The wind was side on at a furious speed, the steepness of the hill forced me to put the brakes on and I sort of crabbed down the thing sideways, trying not to fall over!
Reached the flat of the Thames Path and at last a tiny bit of shelter for about 100m. But that was all the shelter, for when I came out from the tree covered path onto open path a HUGE blast of wind almost knocked me backwards onto my arris!! The next 2K was murder. Full on wind blowing leaves, twigs and those little helicopter hard leaf things into my face and legs. At one stage my legs were stinging with all the detritus hitting them. Mums battled with their buggies, cyclists struggled to keep upright and runners like me looked ridiculous!!
Eventually though I was on the home straight and I picked up some speed to come home in a glorious 59'54 Just under the hour and in some quite testing conditions too. I was ecstatic.
So there endeth the tale of my racing leaves. One of the best runs ever for me that was. I was full of the joys of autumn when I got home and celebrated with a fried egg sandwich and a strong cup of tea. Bliss!
See y'all again soon.