Running is easy. Not easy as in “This is a piece of cake,” but easy, as in lace up your shoes, go out the door. The rest of running isn’t as easy for me as it used to be. I used to be decently fast. Then came Ironman, which brings the sloggy endurance running that comes after a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride. Oh yeah, I’ve gotten a bit older (!), too, since my first Track Shack 5k.
Still, particularly on vacation, running is easy. I’ve begun every day here in London running through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, which is about a mile away from my hotel. Running in England is not quite as easy as running in…. well, just about any other country in the world that I’ve run in. I still head out with the delicious anxiety that comes with knowing that I WILL get lost, despite having faithfully transcribed turn-by-turn directions from mapmyrun.com onto a piece of paper that I have tucked into my watch band and won’t be able to read when need it, because I’ve either dropped it or turned it into mush with sweat. In any case, I usually have written “right” when I mean “left” at least once, which means I get to ask some nice Londoner how to get from here to there, which leads to the Londoner recoiling in controlled horror at the sweaty woman who’s slightly shouting questions because her iPod is turned up so high.
But I’m used to some version of the being lost thing from running on vacation in many other cities. What slows me down more in London is the fear that I’ll be looking right as I cross a street just as a double decker bus smashes into me from the left. Or vice versa. You can tell the American runners here because they look right, left, right, then left with more confidence every time they cross a street. Then, in the parks, not only am I running on the “wrong” side of the paths, the bike lanes are on the wrong side of the running path. So, I’m running on the wrong side of the runners on the wrong side of the whole trail. Micro and macro rerouting of the brain and the feet.
All this is somewhat of an excuse for how slowly I’m running here. But for that, I am rewarded. Day one was slow because it was raining and the road was slippy. Day three (today) was slow because I’m slow. But day two was because I took along my iphone, to take pictures, for which YOU are now rewarded. Running slowly in a new place means you see lots of things you might not see otherwise. (Which brings me to Pally, who exclaimed yesterday, “Wow, there are so many things to see!” as we rode in a cab instead of taking the tube somewhere. Surface travel is not overrated.)
Flat. Sea level. Overcast. 60 degrees. Half trail/half pavement. And all of my runs have been less than 5 miles. It’s been runner paradise here for me. I’ve really enjoyed just being a runner for a bit, because, as I’ve already established, it’s easy. In just a few days, I’ll be back n Park City. Mountainous. 7,000 feet elevation. Arid. 7,000 feet elevation. And a triathlon four days after I return. I’ll suffer. But that is then, this is now: