Friday, February 12, 2016

London - Thames River - 11th Feb 2016

Hi again. I only got one canal run in while in Birmingham as work kept me busy but had a chance meeting which was pretty cool. While waiting for a crowded bus in the evening with a cluster of people that didn't seem to quite know what bus they wanted, I look beside me and this woman is looking at me and is smiling, very animated, waving her arms and I'm like, um, what is this all about? I look behind me thinking I'm going to embarrass myself if I say something, but no, nobody there. She says to me, Tibet, Tibet, but looks like she is trying desperately to say something more but is either about to have a seizure or is having a brain fart....

I'm waiting for more and then finally she says bike trip, Tibet, and it finally dawns on me who she is and who the man beside her is. 12 years ago I went on a cycling holiday for 3 weeks, quite intensive, in Tubet, and we biked to Everest base camp and cycled over 3 of the highest mountain peaks in the world, around 6,200 meters or something. It was an amazing holiday. Anyway. We hugged and laughed. Amazing she remembered me. 12 years is a long time after all and just cool to run into someone random like that.

She and here husband got on my bus and we are chatting and I'm asking about what has happened, any more cycling trips, etc, and she says, not really, I'm more into running now, and my face lights up and I say, really, me too. I love ultra running and she is all animated again, saying she too is into fell running and long distance running. We could have chatted all night after that I'm sure but the bus got to the train station and I had to say farewell at that point and with a hug and a kiss and a business card they went their way again.

And here I am now, a few days later, in London. I lived in the UK a very long time, 18 years, and being back is like putting on a pair of well worn shoes. There is something comforting and familiar about it.

The apartment I'm at is incredible. Right on the Thames, 16 floors up in a set of modern buildings that have decks jutting out like the bow of a ship. Right below me is the river boat dock at St. George Wharf and as I look up river I see the London Eye. This is city living at its best but looking at the cost of these units I'd need to win a lottery or two. I've spent many hours while working just looking out at the views and this morning I looked down and saw many many runners and decided I had to join them so donned my gear and headed along the river for 45 minutes until I got to Tower Bridge. Lots of tourists out and about but no real problems, just a little traffic jam by the popular tourist spots.

3.5 miles from apartment looking to Tower Bridge (obviously) across river into The City

Running along Tower Bridge to Tower of London and along Thames River Path on North Side of Thames

View from apartment towards London Eye (in red in middle)

River bus on the left which I used to take from Greenwich to London Bridge and walk up to city (towards the Gherkin building you see in the middle)

Oh look, it's me. Heading home along North side of river

London Eye - was dodge the tourist on this side so took the quieter way home

View from 16th floor of the apartment up the Thames
 I met one guy wearing a banking shirt I recognized who was in training for the Brighton marathon and was out for a 15 mile training run. It was great because there were runners everywhere, single women, blokes, small groups. I really enjoyed it. After that I schlepped my way up to Piccadilly and had a wander through Fortnum and Mason and smelled some delicious perfumes and candles from a company called Roja. There was a lovely scent, strong, but totally delicious. And for 350 quid it bloody well better be!

I went into the Penhaligon's perfume store in the Burlington Arcade and smelled some of their new fragrances which were amazing also, one called Blasted Heath, especially I intend in introducing in my boutique!

Better go for now. Have to figure out some more runs but maybe I'll do that one again, or head up river next time, but most of the popular landmarks are where I went today.

Enjoy the minus 30 degree weather in Canada while I basque, relatively, in +10. Ok, last year in the Med was warmer still but I'm not complaining.

Happy running

Friday, February 5, 2016

Canal Run in Birmingham, UK, Feb 5 2016

Hey there. No running news from me in a long time and I'll do my best to update this blog more frequently. 2015 was a bit of a bust for me and running. I helped a few people on their races or running endeavours which was satisfying but no big ultra races for me.

Last February I was in a European city with canals and had a cold evening run there but enjoyed it and met some student runners that evening. A year later and I'm over in Europe again, this time up in Birmingham, UK, for a week followed by another in London so I hope I'll have a few more opportunities to get some miles in and have some unique running experiences.

I've never been to Birmingham City before. I lived down in Kent for 18 years before returning to Canada. After a long flight it was nice to get out the following day and clear my head and the temperature was fantastic. My apartment was right in the heart of the city and it was funny. When my taxi dropped me off I couldn't get all the way there as streets were closed. There were thousands lined up down the street and asking a security guard what it was all about, it turns out the auditions for Brittains Got Talent was going on. As I tried to get my bearings with my suitcase everybody got animated and everybody had their phones out taking pictures as Simon Cowell came out to give a few words to cameras. The last time I ran into him was at Mauritious airport as I was returning from a scuba diving holiday.

So I checked my tablet for the best access to the canal, donned my outfit at 4pm and headed out. The outskirts of Birmingham I wasn't impressed with but so far the city centre is interesting, very bustling with many stores and pubs and young people with the university right here.

I got to a bridge and walked down a few flights of stairs and there I was just as a guy came charging out of the bridge heading my way so I began my run a few paces behind him. It was really nice with this very busy city all around and yet a peaceful area to run along with the train tracks on one side, sometimes close and other times with modern flats overlooking the canal. The canal itself was very narrow and you could get a few canal boats only, a number of which I saw moored up alongside the bank.rr

At one point the canal passed over a bridge which was cool. More like an aqueduct at that point. The guy had his ear pods on but was aware I was behind him. At first I thought he might be a tad too quick for me but I stayed with him and then he slowed a bit and I was going to pass him but as I came by I said hello and he was happy to say hello and we carried in together outward for about 3 miles carrying on a conversation until he turned around. I headed on another little bit and then turned back myself as it was getting dusk by now. Both outward and back there were many other runners and even more cyclists passing by one another along the narrow pathway but it was quite scenic and enjoyable.

Only 10km but it was enough and I'm glad I got out. It made a really nice new run and perhaps I'll take a jog up some of the busier high streets over the next days to see the shops in the evening. I hope you are all getting in some training runs too. It was really good in my corner of Ontario right up until I left for the UK. Unseasonably warm and very little snow which is great!