I am lurking, like a fairytale troll in wet running gear, beneath a bridge. The rain pours down on either side of the arch, so hard it bounces back up off the surface of the canal. As I watch, the towpath starts to flood in spectacular fashion. I pause the app tracking my morning run on my iPhone and silence the pounding dance music that had been spurring me on for the past couple of miles. Instead I listen to the sound of water on water, of water on gravel, of water on leaves. I'm going to be stuck here beneath this bridge for some time it seems.
Two other runners shelter in the damp gloom with me, as does a tramp eating his breakfast. We exchange friendly grimaces in recognition of our shared sogginess, and edge towards the centre of the underpass where the slicing rain cannot touch us. On the canal next to us, a flotilla of tiny, beeping coots on a Sunday swim with mummy squeak to one another, huge raindrops plopping onto their neat little heads. The odd hardened runner (looking like they're on the final leg of a triathlon, so wet are their clothes) powers through the bridge, making slow, splashy progress along the towpath. White lycra plastered to one guy reveals a perfect Ken-doll six-pack beneath his shirt. (Sadly he doesn't stop beneath my bridge to exchange training tips.)
The tramp, breakfast finished, is now making himself comfy, unfurling his sleeping mat and hunkering down beneath the dripping bricks. Run-off swirls through the gutter running underneath the bridge, and the rain shows no sign of ceasing. Beneath the next bridge along the canal - under which shelter more rain-soaked runners and Sunday morning walkers - a wide barge appears. At the helm is an elegantly clad amazon in a hooded oilskin and a brightly-striped maxi dress, beneath which pokes a pair of white DMs. Between bridges her fellow bargee holds a large yellow umbrella up over her head, valiantly trying to keep the rain off her glasses as she mans the tiller. As the pair pass beneath our bridge their greetings and pseudo-jolly comments about the weather echo around us off the curved walls.
Windows up above the canal look blankly down, behind them more sensible, dry Londoners read Sunday papers and eat croissants. As the pounding rain begins to slow a fraction I realise I am totally sodden, a few miles from home and suddenly slightly envious of the cosy croissant-eaters. I should really start heading back. So I strike out from my bridge, turning back the way I've come. Moving very slowly and gingerly over the streaming cobbles, feeling the rainwater sloshing into my trainers. Eyes on the ground judging the deepest parts of the puddles, occasionally ending up ankle-deep with a misplaced stride. A enormous grin spreads across my face for some reason, I'm enjoying the novelty of this torrential run; it's me against the British weather, and whilst I can still run I'm winning.
I make it back to Camden Lock in time for another particularly heavy deluge, and, surrendering my victory, duck in to a branch of Starbucks for shelter and something hot and liquid to warm my soaked self. I loathe this particular caffeine-peddling chain; it is a reflection of just how bad the weather is that I am happy to seek refuge in here. Both the service and coffee are decidedly substandard but the cappuccino holds off the sodden shivers until I begin to splosh my way home. With the contents of a cloud held in my clothing.