(Sub)urban towpath running

I’ve been away.  Sorry.  I’ve been running, and working, and not-working.  And most definitely not writing.  But hopefully I’m back now.

I ran ten miles yesterday. Pretty unremarkable, other than it’s my longest run in several months and only the third 10+ this year. Pretty poor effort. But I’m blogging about it because:

(*) First time this year I’ve fitted into a Fetcheveryone.com (Fetch) top. So I wore it. Good to be back in fluorescent yellow stripes.
(*) Listening to an audiobook for the first time on a long run (Transition by Iain Banks). Never listened to an audiobook before. Bit of an odd experience. I struggle to remind myself not to start drifting off into my own thoughts as I run. I can’t hear it while running alongside the A4, but it makes the towpath section much more … exotic.
(*) I was passed in mile 1 by two wannabe-Olympians. Skinny posh boys in school running kit – maybe 12 or 13. No big deal, I’m going long. I can take it. Fepping hell, what’s this? A girl? A girl is running faster than me? Not just a young woman – an actual, proper to goodness girl! Witch. And random other middle class tyros pootle past me in mile 2. I smile as I see the ones at the back ‘casually’ turn an earlier corner than their mates to loop home. The two budding Crams are away off in to the distance. They’ve probably hit Reading by now. (Does the Thames go through Reading? I can’t remember. Windsor then….)
(*) I pass a coffee-skinned girl with blonde frizzy hair and her mum. She might as well be called Miss Mischief.
(*) Various dog emptiers are out on their poop and scoop duties. ‘Travels with my beloved’s waste in a polythene bag’ as the romantics would have it.
(*) Speaking of romantics, I cross Chiswick bridge and note the absence of rowers. No ladies in stripey socks and wellies today. Would that ever enter my consciousness as a fetish if I didn’t run? But there is a man sat on the bench with no shoes or socks on. He has filthy toenails and muddy feet. I feel karma is watching me.
(*) More dog emptiers, yummies, eastern european posh-pram-pushers and the odd thousand-stride-stare runner, eyes glazed, iPod cocked to disguise the sound of their labours.
(*)The smell of sewage.  Only for a quarter of a mile.  But it’s as well that I breathe through my mouth.
(*) A policeman, ambling up the towpath. Operation Trident are out in Chiswick today, as there was a shooting earlier. I pretend that the suspect they are looking for is hiding in the bushes, waiting to ambush passing runners for their GPS enabled watches. But in all probability he’s PC Plod, plodding along, keeping the peace. Perhaps he will fine some dog emptiers. Or he just likes the sounds of leaves under his boots.
(*) I can’t find my tree. My garmin is on a mediterranean day, beeping when it can be bothered. So I look for my tree. My five mile tree, as opposed to my 3.5 mile tree. I mistake others for it. I apologise, when I eventually reach the right tree. It shrugs, in as much as a tree can shrug.
(*) In mile 6 I run past the man who sleeps in a tent by the side of the Thames. He always wears one of those woollen beanies with toggles, and I sometimes see him sat on a box outside Holland and Barrett on Chiswick High Road. I have a highly romanticised view of this individual – perhaps because he looks quite rugged for someone who’s been homeless for at least three years (that I know of). A better person would stop and talk to him one day. But instead he fulfils the dubious honour of being the only beggar I still give money to (having been burned badly in Cambridge by scam artists).
(*) Mile 7. An old lady in the distance, jogging. No. Not jogging. Doing something ludicrously like intervals. When she runs I make no ground on her. It’s only her walk breaks that let me move past her. I’ve had enough pride-assassination for one day.
(*) Mile 8. An insect flies straight into my eye. It gets stuck there, and no amount of rubbing can remove it. But I do not stop. I have visions of bugs drowning in tears. But at least I haven’t swallowed it. Once again I fantasise about owning a pair of Oakleys. I’m already wearing a Fetch top and compression socks – how much more of a tit do I want to look like?
(*) I cross the bridge back. The audiobook has spent the last 20 minutes discussing various ways to torture and kill people. I feel odd. I’m running on trail now, having avoided the conkers in the path, and still to receive one on my head. Ahead is a bench with a bike parked up. Someone is lying on the bench, looking at the clouds. It is a woman. Pretty freckles. She has her eyes closed in a smile. Perhaps she is waiting for someone. I see lots of assignations on this stretch of the run.
(*) Two older kids are throwing things at each other. They look at me but don’t hurl anything, verbal or physical, my way. Must be the fep off fluo stripes.
(*) Plodding now – nearly at the end. I run down Chiswick Mall and smile once again at the completely ineffectual ‘No cycling’ sign that some exasperated resident has taped to a lamp post.
(*) I don’t turn for home – deciding to go to the gym instead to use their physio couch for stretching properly. The Thames is high. It’s flooded the road. People are stopping and vehicles reversing. Wusses, I think, it can’t be more than a couple of inches. I splash on. It is up above my ankles. My feet are soaked. I feel stupid. But it’s ok. I’m wearing a Fetch fluo top and compression socks. No-one was expecting any better from me.
(*) I cross the A4 by the underpass with the big bug-eyed mirrors. I’m nearly there. Just time for the obligatory count of builders’ vans and pallid men with vein-snaked arms smoking and chattering to themselves along this road.
(*) Beep. I’ve made it. I stop my Garmin and my legs, in that order. I take my headphones off – forgetting I’m listening to a continuous drama. I catch my breath. I’m pleased it’s over.

Just another sub/urban/urbane towpath run.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *