Walk directly into the sea


journal covid-19 fitness london

We slept unhappily and woke up wary aliens to one another. I shuffled downstairs for breakfast and coffee but there wasn’t any milk. I’m known to shower first thing every morning, with stubborn regularity, but today I masochistically let the discomfort and sadness of yesterday fester on my skin and in yesterday’s clothes, which I slipped back on to lay on the bed. The cat curled up against me as I started reading, creature next to stone golem.

At midday we resolved to drive over to Richmond Park to run around it. Tying my shoes and looking out the window I saw the front wheel of my bike without its body. The thief had left the proud D-lock alone, bolted through the front wheel. The severed steel cable loop lay uselessly on the ground. I waited until we were out the house to tell Emma; I couldn’t stand the prospect of the tedious conversation with the rest of them about the theft. Emma drove us to Richmond Park, the car grappling its way through quiet but unintelligible streets. We pulled up amongst the plane trees, Range Rovers, and Bentleys. We quietly prepared our running effects: headphones on, sounds playing, route recording for later analysis. We set off into the park.

I tried to measure my pace and let my mind wander off into the trees. Before I knew it I was stood in the middle of a herd of deer, slowly and peacefully passing around me. I watched them for a while, waiting to share the moment with Emma as she came up the path, and then we ran off separately into the trees again. I passed down a causeway between two large pools. The banks were full of water fowl whose names I didn’t know. Like the deer, they sat around unspooked and even companionable as I came through.

I listened to the story of an old Polish man who kayaked the Atlantic three times, braving the elements and ignoring the protests of his family and friends. The thrust was something about his surrender to nature and his simple drive. Some part of me was carried away by this on my run and I found myself absurdly identifying myself with him as I pushed myself around a 10k through a gentrified London park.

A while later I came across the herd of deer again as they roved through the park grazing. I stopped again to watch them at a distance and catch my breath before a last push. A reindeer doe walked up to me curiously, and stopped an arm’s length away. Others in the parks, families, were spotted around the field watching the herd too. A nearby family watched as the doe came up to me and waited. She looked at me with an expectant, dog-like expression. Maybe waiting to be fed something illicitly, but it felt like me to be waiting to be played with, or waiting for me to explain myself. I will probably buy another bike quickly.