14 August 2012

Five Bridges

Actually, three's enough. After months of hobbling around with various pains in my legs, I felt confident to try a spot of running last week: but, inspired by the idea of racing in London during the Olympics - who could resist that? - I made the classic elementary runner's error, and went from months of zero miles a day to about eight. Including the Bridges Race.

I also made the classic mistake of leaving insufficient time to get changed and to the start. I rushed from my desk to the gents' to don my running kit, then to the Boris Bike station outside the Polish Embassy, then down Regent Street, round Picadilly Circus, through Trafalgar Square, and down Northumberland Avenue (part of the Olympic Marathon route) where I surrendered the bike at another docking station. London might have been deserted during week one of the Games, but by the middle of week 2 it was heaving again. The lights had all been against me, and I'd had to take a big diversion into Mayfair to avoid road closures or traffic jams.

I ran across the Millennium Bridge to the South Bank, which of course was packed with tourists with only the haziest idea of where they were going, and who had left their spatial awareness at home, reaching the start with time to spare - because when I checked in, for the first time in nearly four years, I found I was running off a 4:15 handicap.

The great thing about the race, of course, was that I did it. Taking part, not winning: I was in an Olympic frame of mind. Actually, winning has never featured in my reasons for entering a race. Not only did I fail to undo any of my handicap, I rocked up last and got a maximum 30 seconds adjustment for next time's handicap. But I saw many friends for the first time in a long time, and of course we baffled the visitors to London as we always do.

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