Sunday, 9 February 2014

Old haunts

Typhoid Mary, I mean Andy, was feeling too poorly to come out today.

That meant going out for a long run alone. And a devil on my shoulder, saying 'forget it. Fuck it off. You don't have to go. Nobody will know'. But the guilt about not going won out in the end and that devil disappeared in a puff of red smoke. It still took a while for me to get psyched up, however - and I didn't leave the house til about midday (and when I did, I noticed how less bothered I am about wearing tights. Tights! I don't even flinch when people stare any more - and they do stare, some of them).

New shoes.

The route was dull. What cynics north of the river would call 'The Best Of South London' - with lots of boring residential streets and pavements littered with fried chicken boxes and old newspapers. So I was glad to see Nunhead Cemetery was open again, after the storms earlier in the year had damaged some of the gravestones and fetched the branches down from the trees.

By this point, I was listening to a podcast of Anne Enright reading John Cheever's 'The Swimmer' (you know it. They made a film of it with Burt Lancaster) - and as I lost myself in a story about time passing, and age, and things falling into ruin, it seemed fitting to be running past all of the old graves and memorials; some to old Music Hall artists who were once as famous as a person could be but who now (for most people anyway) are just names. Unrecognisable names at that.

I tried to run around the edge of the cemetery first, but the perimeter path was flooded after all of the terrible weather we've been having (and which London has escaped in comparison with the South West of the country). So I headed straight through the centre instead - and then over to the edge of New Cross.

A flooded path in the cemetery.

I'm not sure it's right to photograph a gravestone, but I liked the name on this one.

From there, things got dull again. Grey roads, grey pavements, grey cars. I was grateful to have downloaded so many podcasts the night before, and for something interesting to take my mind off the surroundings. I mean, it was so grey and boring that I began to wonder if the name of this takeaway near Lewisham was some kind of situationist prank.


But the good news was that I felt I was running well. My ankle wasn't whining away, and I seemed to be going quickly - not a sprint, but certainly a good pace. And soon enough I was over towards the Kidbrooke edge of Blackheath, running along the side of Morden College. My parents lived around this part of London back in the late sixties and early seventies, and I spent a couple of minutes running up and down the streets trying to remember what their old flat looked like. It was quite strange, really, imagining them walking up and down the exact same streets forty years ago, flapping around in their flares and with my Dad still smoking.

Mum with my older brother, Blackheath 1972.

Blackheath, 2014.

By now the clouds were turning an inky black and there were blobs of cold rain in the air. I didn't much fancy this turning into a drenching (as had happened a couple of weeks ago) so I ran back to Blackheath station to see if the train home was running. It wasn't, and instead I figured '
to hell with it' and carried on over towards Lewisham, then Catford and then finally onto a bus home. 

Good to see my Catford shop's still going strong.

When I got home I found I'd run 11 miles in an hour and three quarters which, even taking into account the getting lost and checking maps, or taking photos, worked out at just over nine-and-half minute miles. I was chuffed with that.

And the next day, I found I'd been successful in the ballot for the Great North Run, in September. This running lark really is taking over, isn't it.

Distance: 11 miles/ 17.5 km

Time: 1h45
Total distance (Andy): 115.3 miles/ 185.8km
Total distance (Elliot): 131.1 miles/ 210km

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