27/1/2013 – 17.3 miles in 3h04 (10:41 min/mile)
GPS/HRM Record of Route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/266541382
It was the bright idea of Mrs W on Saturday at Wimbledon parkrun when we were talking to two new running buddies that I could incorporate my long run of Sunday with a spot of Overground tube running. My RW 3:30 marathon schedule said “do 12 miles fast” and I know from past experience that tube running generally is tantamount to interval training, coupled with a bit of getting lost and therefore having to do longer than planned. The OG network and Tramlink are a lot smaller in aggregate than the 435 of the conventional underground as done back in 2010-11, so in order to carve out a decent course, I selected a route that would take in over ten miles. I chose the route on Saturday night, but unlike runs of previous didn’t set my alarm at a totally unsociable hour, opting instead to have a bit of a lie in. I rose and had broken fast by around 8am, wherein I plotted my route, printed it, and as an afterthought, posted it up on Facebook for the world to see. I then left and headed up into town from Orpington to London Bridge and then via some tube shimmying, made it to Kensal Green Underground. (Historic note: I’d first visited this on RTTL 2). I realised on the way up that Kensal Green doesn’t represent the start point of the first segment that I’d plotted as terminating at Brondesbury Park, so I thought I’d do a bit of blind navigating to try and locate Kensal Rise, which road signs indicated were within 1/2 a mile of there. If you check the GPS records (above) you’ll see I added nearly 2 miles trying to find this, but to no luck, so I decided instead to make Brondesbury Park my first start-point of the day. In contrast to the overcast and rain threatening Orpington, by now the skies were blue, although the temperature was just 3-4 degrees and so two layers on top and long running trousers were in order:
One of the layers was the obligatory Tommy’s charity running vest, over my lovely lush Helly Hansen thermal base layer. By the way, I am still fundraising between now and April 2013, as I made a personal commitment to do with Tommy’s back in early 2012. Work troubles prevented me from coming true on this promise for the 2012 marathon, so I’m making up for it just 12 months late! But after the London Marathon, I won’t be doing any further fund raising for any charities for the forseeable future.
Next stop was Brondesbury. The mist on the camera is partly because of ‘steam’ off me but also the melting snow creating a micro-climate underneath the bridge here.
Still following residential streets in relatively wealthy areas (wide streets, large semi-detached properties, with the street names written in tiles rather than mass-produced signs), there was a mild incline to West Hamstead station.
Then up some further mild inclines to Finchley Road and Frognal. Not quite sure what / where Frognal is but it was deemed sufficiently important to be recognised in this station name.
Now, the next half-a-mile, up Arkwright Road, took in the biggest incline perhaps on any tube run that I can remember, rising from 218 ft to 352 feet above sea level, to the highest point in today’s run. After crossing Fitzjohns Avenue I’m pleased to say that it was sufficiently downhill to arrive at Hamstead Heath station at just 222 ft again.
Anyone that lives near Hampstead Heath is blessed not only with a large spacious green area with fantastic views towards the City of London, but there is also a series of lidos and some splendid shops and restaurants in the town. There were quite a few ‘runners’ that were assembled around the station or the edge of the park. Many were in nice shiny new running gear which was good although I rather suspect that they were there with all their posh mates looking for somewhere to have a morning coffee or pint (overhead two groups discussing this!)
Now on flatter ground I passed along Constantine Road then shimmied over a foot bridge into the edge of the Heath that contained a good few runners; a kids playground adjoined to an ‘adult’ playground; and at the end, I think that I saw the location of Parliament Fields Lido. It was then that I needed to double back momentarily to find Gospel Oak station.
A lot of people think that I’m taking pictures of them when I use my iPhone 5 on reverse camera mode. Tsk! Now its a case of heading South as the train route veers that way, and I followed Grafton Road through an estate, and through a small park at Wilkin Street to Kentish Town West.
Another friend (Amanda) lives around here and although it was closeby, with my 2 mile detour at the start, I needed to crack on, so passed along the quite nice main street (Prince of Wales Road) before turning south onto a much busier main road heading towards Camden. Doing a bit of a shimmy near the Grand Union Canal, I found myself at Camden Road station. The station was a little tricky to find…
… unless you couldn’t read the big clue on the nearby rail bridge.
A straight 1.2 miles Eastwards through an industrial area and I was approaching the next stop, when I stumbled across HMP Pentonville. I was impressed by a hoarding on the outside declaring the government’s ‘war on drugs’ … “will power is real power”. A slogan that you could apply to any kind of sin – be it cigarettes, alcohol, internet addiction, work addiction, apathy, self-doubt, etc.
Anyway, next stop was Caledonian Road and Barnsbury (being renovated).
Now at this point I found that I was to be joined by a surprise RTTL companion – my first of 2013 and perhaps the first to join me ‘mid-route’. This was a consequence of me posting up my route earlier in the day. Lisa, from work, is running the London Marathon also in April although she hasn’t fully sorted out her training plan, and because of snow/ice has been stuck inside on the ‘dread mill’. The nice weather, or perhaps my charm, persuaded her to get outside and unpack her Timex sports watch out of its box. This was her first run outside for the year, and so it was a case of away we go for what she said would be just a few stops along the way. Because I was running a little late, and I’d covered over ten miles, I was no longer sure that we’d cover all stations today and that Stratford might wait until another run. We therefore started our first segment proper at Highbury and Islington (note: covered on RTTL 1 as part of the Victoria Line!)
Within a very short distance we’d arrived at the next stop, Canonbury. Lisa was now reassured that this run wouldn’t be at some crazy break neck speed and that it was all about conversational pace and just having a bit of an adventure out on the streets of London.
Following streets broadly straight Eastwards, we were soon at Dalston Kingsland. Unusual name (pronounced Dawlston, rather than Dallston) – no idea what the Kingsland is all about!
Continuing Eastwards we arrived (after my reaching 13 miles) Hackney Central.
These stations weren’t the greatest in terms of ‘quality of environs’ so we did a bit of a shimmy through side-streets to get to Homerton.
From Homerton it’s just a short distance through industrial streets to Hackney Wick, wherein you are within visual distance of the Orbit Mittal Tower; the Olympic Stadium, and the Power transformers on the Hockey Stadium side of the Olympic Park.
With the prospect of a scenic canter for the remaining distance, and endorphins streaming around the blood, it was time to push on through for the final stop on the line, which involved running along the towpath of the River Lee navigation, around the bottom edge of the Olympic Park, and then up the fairly-busy A12 towards and terminating at Stratford.
Two happy bunnies – Lisa having done her first 10k of the year at a good pace, and me having knocked off 17.3 miles in just over 3 hours. We said our goodbyes, I went off to get a whole load of rather unhealthy snacks for the journey home, and just as my tube was about to depart Stratford, Lisa jumped on board and reminded me that I had her house keys in my bag – which would have been highly annoying for all concerned had I travelled the 20 miles back to Orpington with them!!
Another great uplifting adventure across London, seeing lots of new things and having made significant inroads into the Overground segments of the Phase 2 of RTTL.