Itchycoo Park

I was going to call this post – I love my Running Club (Part 2) as a follow on to a post I wrote nearly 2 years ago when I first joined the mighty East London Runners, but I decided against the title for 2 reasons

1. ELR might think I’m after something with all this praise

2. I just googled Itchycoo Park (the name of this evenings run) and this makes for a much more interesting post.

To be quite honest I had no idea what Itchycoo was, but I now know it is the name of a 60s track by mod band “Small Faces“, although the location of the park is disputed. Read the full Wikipedia article here for the full description – it’s an interesting read.

I haven’t been to Wednesdays club night for well over a year, in fact since the Wednesday after my London Marathon success, but I didn’t run then, I just went along for the glory and to hear my name read out in the results part of the meeting. I had been dreading going back because I know I am still sooooooo slow. But I was pushed into it somewhat as I haven’t paid this years subs. So my plan was to go along pay my money and do the first part of the run, double back and come home.

But I’ve had a bit of a funny day. I weighed in at weight watchers this morning and kinda knew it wouldn’t be good. I couldn’t sleep this morning just thinking about it, and got up to do my plank-a-day and some kettlebells…not wise thinking about it in retrospect. In the end I put on half a pound…not the end of the world, but I was only half a pound away from my 10% so I was a bit peeved and in protest spent most of the day on the sofa watching crap TV and Roses frustrating attempts at crawling.

Reluctantly I put my kit on at 6pm when my partner got home and showed up at Wanstead Leisure Centre and it wasn’t long before I realised why I love my club so much. The friendly atmosphere, the banter, the enthusiasm for running (obviously)…everything apart from the running is what I like. But in all seriousness it was great to see familiar faces that I haven’t seen for ages.

After a very complex description of the route we were off. At this point I still thought I might just do a small loop. The short climb from the centre up to the first turn was a bit of a shock. I tried to keep with the group, but actually by the time I got to the corner I was already in my favorite position (NOT). My usual buddy Don, was up ahead, so was club chairman Frank…they normally have the pleasure of keeping me company but tonight that honor fell to John and he did a stirling job.

The run through Wanstead Park was lovely if a bit pacey for me, although John was clearly struggling to keep at my slow pace. I must add here John is close to twice my age (Sorry for exposing this John). He was a very patient back runner, guiding me through the twists and turns of the park, the park I might add that I have got lost in once before.

At one point we were running through an open section of the park with really high grass and I said to John, “Wow this feels like we’re running through Africa”, the sun was setting and it looked like views from the advertising of the “Big Five” Marathon – I would have made for easy prey if this was the case. But I was enjoying the run and feeling relatively ok but that feeling soon disappeared once we hit the main road in Ilford…as my legs were feeling heavy by now. I’d been running for just under half an hour…and about 4Kms with speeds varying between 5minute and 9minute kilometers.

Just as we were approaching ItchyCoo park the front runners were looping back, with lots of the familiar faces high fiving John and congratulating/supporting me in my efforts. As we got to the gates of the park there was a small group of kids who were highly excited by the sight of all these runners in their endz. One girl who was about 11 or 12 said “Why you running?” and I said for fitness, and her mate said “but why is everyone else running, their all skinny”, to which I laughed and simply said “their doing it for fun”. I stopped just inside the park to catch my breath whilst John did his loop of the park. A group of boys were like “Where did you run from”, “Wanstead” I said…”Rah” was their amazed response.

I started back without doing my loop hoping to shorten my running time a bit, but I didn’t even make it back to the main road before I was caught up by the slower runners and then John. I was knackered.

The majority of the route back was on backstreets and my legs just couldn’t take the pounding of the pavement (this mornings kettlebells were taking their revenge) so I had to walk for a bit. Poor John. He stuck with me despite his pint and steak waiting for him with the others in the pub, but we had a good ole chat on route and even had the rather bazar display of a very overweight young asian lad running up to us lifting his shirt and wobbling his belly for us, he said something in arabic (I think) which was clearly for the benefit of his friends who found it incredibly funny.

We finished up back in Wanstead Park with a few up and down bits along the river trying to find the field with the hole in the fence to bring us back out to the Redbridge Roundabout. Apparently the hole in the fence is normally quite small, and on occasion is fixed by the council. This evening the gap in the fence was huge…they must have known I was coming through.

It was close to 9pm time we got back to the club. It had taken me 1.14 to run 8.63Kilometers. But I felt great.

I would not have run that distance without John keeping me company, and I definitely wouldn’t have been so speedy in the first few kilometers. Plus I would most definitely have got lost in Wanstead Park at the start and at the end. So thank you John!!

Just one more point – why is it called Itchycoo Park?? Something to do with stinging nettles apparently….I wouldn’t know as I didn’t really go into the park…but in saying that I collected enough stings on my ankles in Wanstead…they are still stinging as I sit here typing this, even after my dinner and bath.

I will say it one final time I LOVE MY RUNNING CLUB, although I might leave it a couple more weeks before going back for another clubnight.


5 Responses to “Itchycoo Park”
  1. TartanJogger says:

    Great post. Well done on ‘getting it done” 😉

  2. Harsh says:

    Great to see you again Julie!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] UPDATE: Turns out I wasn’t the only runner moved to blog about out trip to Itchycoo Park on Wednesday night – check out the Fatty Must Run version of events HERE […]

  2. […] year out on a run with my running club a group of kids were initially rude but then ran with us for a while asking […]

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