Memories of Marathons Past

Last Sunday I did one of those things that I had been meaning to do for years and take a boat upstream from Westminster to Hampton Court, in fact I had been meaning to do it for a couple of weeks over 10 years – the last time I went past Hampton Court.

On that occasion I was running the now defunct Kingston Marathon, which was a three and a bit lap race, half of it a pleasant path alongside the Thames although the return was along the rather less attractive Portsmouth Road into a strong wind.

I finished in 3:24, which would be aspirational rather than achievable these days. It was then a PB, despite having done very little specific training for the race – my plan had been to keep my spring marathon training ‘ticking over’ by a run of 15 miles or so once a month and then do three 20 mile runs a few weeks before the race. It worked and I ran with the most metronomic pace that I have ever run in a marathon.

The chimneys, the extensive gardens and the façade were all visible to my right three times and made me want to return – it was just a shame it took so long.

There was an important reminder in the Municipal Dreams blog this week about how stately homes were often allowed to develop, enclosure, which took away traditional rights of grazing and ‘cleared’ villages and homesteads in the process, something described by E. P. Thompson as “class robbery.”

Hampton Court was a prime example of this. Its original owner Cardinal Wolsey enclosed around 2,000 acres with walls and Henry VIII enclosed parts of Hampton Common after taking over Hampton Court following Wolsey’s falling out of favour for his failure to get Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled.

That context aside, it is a fantastic building with some delightful semi-formal gardens.

As for this week’s running, last week’s cross country and the length of time it now takes my ageing legs to recover has meant that this was meant to be an ‘easy’ week – gradually getting the stiffness and lactic acid out of the system before doing some harder sessions next week. However, I am a creature of habit and runs home from work, particularly during the winter, are mentally associated with speed – so it was an auto pilot 5 x half mile interval session, which I rather enjoyed.


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