Tag Archives: victoria park

Thank you Hilly Fields parkrun, Janathon, Jantastic

Oh my, Elizabeth Fry!

Today, I really didn’t fancy running. I put my clothes out last night and my beloved put them away thinking I wasn’t running until Tuesday. I got to work and my running colleague, D, said she’ll run tomorrow instead of today. At least she went out running on Saturday, so she’s building up her schedule. Then I was stuck in my big project, letting my mood slip as I’m alone in my office today. I was finding reasons not to go. Put it off to tomorrow. Or the next day. And then the schedule collapses. 

I took a few breaths. Stepped out of my day. Listened to my thoughts. Noticed them. Noticed that they’re thoughts, not facts. 

Some more breaths. Letting the thoughts go. Finding some facts. I’ve got a schedule. I need a break. I’ll feel better afterwards. I can have a slow plod if that’s how I feel. 

I took my phone, started the Endomondo app from the top of our steps, walked the few yards to the street and set off. I was feeling okay. Had to dodge a few people. At a roundabout I had to wait for a car to pass. The driver acknowledged me. Another runner, noticing I had broken my stride? At the building site a chap standing chatting on the pavement stepped out of my way. Through the park. Out of the park, across the zebra at Grove Road. Back into the park. Noticing other runners, walkers and cyclists. Smiling to a few. It feels almost as good as last Thursday, when my colleague S and I hit 8:34 in our first mile, then slowed it a bit out the back. 

The voice of Endomondo calls out the first mile. 8 minutes, 11 seconds. 

8 minutes 11 seconds! I’ve never knowingly hit this pace before. I’m doing the sums, Two miles in 16:22, three miles in 24:33. Plus a bit more to finish off the 5k. My fastest parkrun is 25:07. This is could be the same pace. 

Of course, now I’m on something akin to record pace my body starts complaining. My shins start to feel tight. My mind knows that when I run with colleagues we’re on the track but today I’m on the path. My knees are complaining. Is my shoe lace coming loose? It’s mind games. I’m stronger than this. 

Being Victoria Park, I can see the pub that roughly marks the 2 mile spot. It’s miles away. I settle again. On the far east side of the park. Up ahead are some chaps with leaf blowing machines. Whatever happened to rakes? And a tractor. A 13-plate, I notice as I get close. It’s blue so I assume it’s Ford but it’s not, it’s New Holland. Past the men with their blowers. Past their Ford Transit truck. 

Around the corner. My shoe lace is undone. Bother it. I stop and tie it up, another double knot. Will I lose my time now? I recall my slow start from the steps. I’m doing okay. Sweat in my eyes. Seem to see a lot of women with babies along this stretch. And a chap with a baby. From now on I wonder with each runner if we’ve passed each other already. 

Endomondo woman announces the second mile. Seven minutes thirty seconds. Two miles in 15:41. Oh my, Elizabeth Fry! I’ve gone faster than the first mile! I’m tiring though. I tell myself it’s okay, even if I ran the next mile at 10 minutes a mile it will be respectable. 

The north side of Victoria Park, parallel with Victoria Park Road goes on forever. You just have to keep going. Eventually you get round. Keep going, I tell myself. When I notice my pace falling I encourage myself on. 

Back to Grove Road. Over the zebra. Into the next stretch. The section that we sometimes think is the last but it isn’t. There’s another divider to go. 

At last, the back bend, the furthest west section of the park. I almost get entangled by a dog walker. One with about seven or eight dogs on leads. Round the final big bend. Another runner just ahead of me. I use him to pace myself, he’s going faster than I’d like to be going but I’m nearly home. 

Endomondo woman again. Seven minutes fifty-three. Three miles in 23:34. I’ve never done this before. I pass the runner I was pacing with, sprinting as hard as I can to the gate. But it isn’t over at the gate. I’m fiddling with my pocket as I run, to get my phone out, to open it up, be back at the pause button. It’s a 90-degree corner and onto the bridge. I begin to slow as I’m onto the gate. Remind myself to push. Last few strides. Over the (imaginary) line. I lose a few more seconds fumbling with my phone. 

Finally: 24:27. I’ve done it. I’ve broken my record. Broken? More like smashed it. I look at the time again. I’ve ripped 40 seconds off my best parkrun time. No hills, but still. 

I walk back to the office, triumphant. 

As I walk I’m thinking of my friend David, who demolished my reasons for not running and guided me through my first eight months of running. And it was David who first told me about parkrun. I’m thinking of the my friends Mike, Stefan, Chris and Mark who have all run parkrun with me. I’m thinking of the Hilly Fields parkrun community. And my colleagues who run at lunchtime. I’m thanking the Jantastic crew and the Janathon bloggers. And my mindfulness group. Because it’s good to have goals and it’s great to find old friends and new inspiration. And my beloved and Junior. I’m thanking you all as I walk. 

Finally, I’m thanking me. Because I did it. And I can do it again.

Stats so far today: 6,441 steps. 5.3km run. 


The most precious of gifts

Working in east London, I see a lot of helicopters. If it’s not the police on a mission, it’s likely to be the air ambulance delivering an urgent case to the Royal London hospital or returning to base there. London’s had an air ambulance service since 1989.

One day, on my way to work near Euston I was passing through Gordon Square Gardens when I heard a helicopter close by. To my surprise, it was an air ambulance and it landed in the square. This is not one of London’s larger squares! A chap jumped out then carefully took a large box out and handed it over to some folks on the ground who took the box to a nearby emergency car and raced off in the direction of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

A few weeks ago, I saw a military helicopter land in Victoria Park while I was out running. They land there as part of an exercise that pilots undertake during their training. They did a couple of circuits around the park and neighbourhood, then landed. After a few minutes they were off again.


Today, as my colleague and I were running through Victoria Park we heard a helicopter. It was taking off from a field in the eastern section, with a police van and an ambulance car in attendance. My presumption was that it was another organ transfer or something similar.

The movement of organs around the country is time critical. Despite there being a national register, which anyone can join, only 1,200 donations are made each year. We have one of the lowest donation rates in Europe and around 1,000 people die each year waiting in vain for a transplant. When you die, you have the opportunity to save the lives of up to 9 other people by donating your organs.

If you haven’t already done so, sign up today. It will only take a few minutes. And let your loved ones know of your intentions. Although its hard to talk about death, you’ll also be talking about giving the most precious of gifts – life.

Sign up here: https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/how_to_become_a_donor/registration/consent.asp.

Janathon stats: 5.2km in 27:30 and 4,000 steps.

Related posts

Lorelei Hill on waiting for a heart transplant

Ian Mansfield on the 25th anniversary of the London Air Ambulance, just a few days ago


Going the extra mile


When Jesus said that we were to go the extra mile he wasn’t encouraging us to be the best we can. He was teaching us that ordinary people can subvert and undermine imperial power. Best of all, he was teaching us the way of active nonviolence.

In Roman times higher ranking soldiers would buy slaves or animals to carry their gear for them. But the ordinary footsoldiers often couldn’t afford that luxury. Instead, they could force a passer by to carry their kit. The law limited the passage of forced labour to a single mile.

But when Jesus called on people to go the extra mile he wasn’t asking them to be selfless or to assist the empire. Instead, he was encouraging people to put the soldier at risk of punishment for breaking the Roman law.

We don’t have to wait on someone else to fix things for us. We can all start now, with dignity and humanity, to build the realm of heaven on earth.

I’m not one for pushing my faith, I’m a Quaker after all, but if you want to read more about this, Walter Wink’s Jesus and Nonviolence is a great place to start.


One of the things I love about running with other people is that you can have conversations about all sorts of things. About faith, motivations, food, running shoes, our past, our present and our future.

Today was my first 2014 run with three of my colleagues. We didn’t do anything subversive though. We ran from our office to Victoria Park and did one lap around the edge. As you can see from the image above it was a beautiful time to be out running and Victoria Park is pretty special too. While we were out we passed a couple more of our colleagues out on a lunchtime walk.

We have a running joke that because one woman is faster than the rest of us then we should keep asking her questions so she uses up more energy as she answers. In practice, we all talk about everything and nothing.

Janathon stats: 3.16 miles in 28:41.

Moves today so far: 3,216 steps and 5.5k run.

Related posts

Symon Hill on celebrating revolution at Christmas

Shaz Runs’ Janathon update and having a husband like a film star

Londonist: Victoria Park is the nation’s favourite

I will be good

“I will be good.” So said an 11-year-old Victoria when told by her governess that one day she would be queen.

With that sentiment in mind I knew that I had to get out and do my first lunchtime run of 2014. To help me deliver on my promise I signed up to Janathon (daily exercise and blogging) and Jantastic (goal-setting in teams).

I will be good. A lunchtime run involves leaving my office in the St Margaret’s House Settlement in Bethnal Green and heading up to Victoria Park. Named after the same Victoria, the park perimeter is around 5km long. Victoria Park contains 218 acres of space. It has a beautiful lake with plenty of birds to watch, though when I run I mostly see the path.

I have a lot of time to think about things when I run. I loved Haruki Murakami’s book What I talk about when I talk about running and I often think of that book while running! Though it is only now looking the book up online that I discover that in my head it is called ‘What I think about when I think about running’.

Mostly today I was thinking about the beauty of the park. I enjoyed seeing a cormorant perched upon a branch above the lake. I was also thinking about how to publicise a vacancy we have at work. We’ve advertised in the Guardian online and Charity Job, but from the last job we advertised eventually appointed someone who saw the role on Twitter. Social networks really are important! So if you know anyone who would like to manage QSA’s Down to Earth funeral advice service, based in east London, send them to www.quakersocialaction.com/vacancies.

I followed a guy for about 3/4 of the way round, he was going only marginally faster than me for the first couple of miles, but I lost a bit of pace in the third mile. I finished with a determined sprint on the final stretch and, partially blinded by the sweat in my eyes, I almost tripped over a wizard’s dog. Well, I way I saw a wizard. It was a man with a fine long silver beard a la Gandalf, with a hat (pointy?) and a long overcoat. It was quite a small dog. I greeted the wizard and his dog as I ran. Who knows when one day I might need his help?

So I got out. I ran. I will be good.

Janathon stats: 3.15 miles in 27:02. Also walking 3.5 miles in my work and nursery commute today.

Related posts

The fat girl’s guide to running downloads the Murakami book

Alastair Campbell’s review in the Guardian of What I talk about when I talk about running.

Mum reports blog on Victoria Park.

Phil Lengthorn sticks with Janathon when the going was getting tougher.