Tonight's run could not have been more 'London' had I done it dressed as a Beefeater while singing 'roll out the barrel, we'll have a barrel of fun.'
It was club night. And rather than opt for the shortest distance, I decided to step up. I would do the 'three parks'. This consists of my usual circuit of Hyde Park and Kensington Palace Gardens, with the addition of St James' Park (and Green Park too). Hang on, surely that's four parks? Guess that's why we're a running club and not a maths club.
I've done this distance before. About three times. Last time (at the beginning of April) I really pushed myself and nearly had a coronary. Since then, I have opted for enjoyment over speed. And so it was this evening.
I set off with the 9-minute milers. I kept up with the ones at the back. In fact, I even overtook two girls (to be fair, they were deep in chat and expending considerably more puff than me). But soon, I found myself in a pace group no man's land. Which proved the perfect place to be.
Hungry squirrels. Bored foreign students. Happy drunks. It's surprising what you see when you're running alone and very slowly. I saw a tent completely covered by a tree. A cuddling bear fountain. A stick shaped like a gun. And, the piece de la resistance, Prince Harry.
I was running down The Mall when I came to the entrance of Clarence House and a very nice policeman told me to stop. Tired, but keen to keep up the momentum, I jogged energetically on the spot, but rested my hands on my hips. That's when a state car emerged and a Harry-shaped head peered out through the tinted glass. I barely had time to register 'that's pri....' before he was gone.
Once I'd regained my composure, I completed the rest of the run at a comfortable pace. And I even carried on running past the most important lamppost in London (i.e. the one on Speaker's Corner at the 'finish line') all the way back to the club house. With just over a week till the 'big day', I thought those extra half miles could come in handy.
So, a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all. Well, by me anyway. I'm sure Prince Harry was just confused by the Riverdancing busker.
(Stats: 8 miles; 80 minutes; 10 minute/mile. PLUS: I ran from work to the club house (1.55 miles) so that's 9.55 miles in total. Which, I think, makes me brilliant.)
(p.s. Milkmaids Passage is a little alleyway just off Green Park. I ran past it earlier. In fact, it proved a welcome distraction from the pain in my left calf. Milkmaids Passage. Tee hee...)