Altitude Profile (62 ft to 164 ft)
Restlessness is a stubborn dis-ease of ours , but if there is any season that makes one itch more than usual, it has to be summer. As we crave for a respite from our beloved Nondon , even our loyalty for our dearest Regents Fark is wonky. The comfort of familiarity becomes repulsive. Also, only running at our favourite fark shields us from other textures, tastes and terrains.
Short of physically escaping Nondon (not just yet, brown cow), we have had to undertake trip-within-trips. Last Sunday, 25 July 2010, we did a mini-getway-of-sorts by running 20km along the canal. We left the house with no map, but a clear direction = the exotic West.
Running at Camden was nothing short of dreadful. The smell of fried onions and sausages, the throngs of silly tourists, merrymakers nostalgic of the parties of the previous night, the tacky motorcycle seats (???What on googleearth is that all about???) and general filth put us off so much that we wanted to give up and turn back. Nonetheless, not willing to be called wimps, we badgered on.
And on. The reward came some 10km later, as we made a turn after Westbourne, when we found a gait that was a little bouncy, a little light. In this bounce, there was no pain, no ache, no heaviness, only a lightiness of being, a giddiness and a lucidity at the same time. The breathing was not a struggle, the body did not fight the mind, and vice versa, the body not feel out of place with the location, but almost working together, in perfect synchronicity, as a single machine, a beast that I was able to run, to manage, to work with, to carry, the entire weight of us, with us. We were calm. There was no fighting any more. Perhaps this was the textbook Csikszentmihalyian flow, (a semblance of) happiness, or as close as it gets, in this imitation of life, of sorts. Running takes us places that we may not reach otherwise; the state it brings us is one that is different from other joys/highs/pleasures. Perhaps this was an illustration of 'it must get worse before it gets better' (- but of course, they forget to add 'then it gets worse, again').
We ran along the canal, from Camden to Regent's Fark to Little Venice to Westbourne, past luxury apartments, Banksy's marks, council estates, hearing the screeches of hyenas of the zoo and the fighter dogs of hooded youths, past ladies wearing pretty hats picking on rocket, past caring, past differences, past indifference, past different strata of reality, like they say about the north-south divide, which can apply to the west and east of the canal as well, past realities, past different notions of realities, and past all that, I returned, to my own realities, my own reality, as usual.
Beneath the heavily grafitti-ed highway, an old man, or a man who looked old, said, 'Keep going, you will get there!' He was nursing a can of beer. I gave him a big smile. I wanted to say, 'you too'. On my return journey, I did not see him again. Perhaps he had gotten there.
The reflective waters of the canal, when still, resembled a path of sorts. Running right at the edge of the pavement made us feel like we were moving in between worlds. At the same time, we made sure that we had one foot on the ground (of the banks) at any one time, and not over-indulge in this imagery.
It felt good too, to run underneath the bridges. Not wearing our glasses, visibility was low, even though it was broad daylight. We recall how, when we were in Bacolod, Southern Philippines in a previous life, a friend told us of his mucking about with his mates in an abandoned runway. Where there was absolutely no lights, they ran madly about, not caring a thing, as they trusted that there was no thing to come in their way. We run so as to rid ourselves of baggages and confines that are imposed (by others or by ourselves); still, to be able to let oneselves go to that degree sounded remarkable. Being the wimp that we were, we could only turn green with envy.
We stopped the watch, and ourselves, when we reached 20.1km. Although we were sore about how our speed was rather rubbish for the day, and that we were drastically slowed down by the Camden crowd, twice, and two more times when we had to stop to ask for directions, we were pleased that our body and mind did not tire, and that we went, or came, or both. However, our body was covered in intense layers of muck, and our throat with the stubborn flu itchier than ever.
Back in our flat, we took a long, long, long shower. Scrb, scrub, scrub.
N 51°31.868' W 0°06.981'
N 51°31'52.128" W 0°6'58.913"
N +51.5311468 E -0.11636495
N 51°32.104' W 0°07.026'
N 51°32'06.294" W 0°7'01.590"
N +51.5350817 E -0.11710859
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