Royal Parks Half Marathon Race Report

I can’t believe that nearly a month has gone by since the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon. Despite my less than perfect preparation, come race day, I was up early and raring to go. The journey started with the usual transport woes as the following photo shows our “arrived” train.

Invisible train
Invisible train

We finally arrived in London where Jimmy stuffed himself with a Macdonalds breakfast, reasoning he was going to burn it off and he hadn’t done any training anyway so a rubbishy breakfast wasn’t going to hurt his time. We made our way to Hyde Park, dropped our bags and then queued for ages for the toilets. It was in the queue that I realised that my top was inside out and the stitching was going to chafe. I started moaning that I didn’t want to change it in the toilet in case I dropped my top and it got all yucky, so ended up doing a quick change in the queue. No one saw and in running races, no one cares.

By this point, we had missed our start but as my time was going to be a long way off what I had estimated and Jimmy was keeping me company, we had already decided to drop back into a slower group. We finally crossed the line and started to run, keeping an easy pace just inside 12 minute miles. My longest run in training had been 8 miles and so my game plan was to get to an hour and see how I felt. The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon is a lovely course, with the first few miles taking in some of the sites of London. The first few miles went by easily, despite the mile markers seeming increasingly far apart. There were rumours that some of the pacers missed their times! Oops.

Soon an hour was up and I was feeling good and made up my mind to continue to half way before thinking about a walk break, my tactic being just to break the race down bit by bit.

By this point, I had a running commentary going on in my ear. “I need a wee”. “Helen, I need a wee”.

By 8 miles, I was ready to smack him. Finally, we came across some toilets and Jimmy went off to relieve himself and I carried on, expecting him to catch me up in 5 minutes or so.

Less than 2 minutes later, he came huffing and puffing up beside me. He’d sprinted to catch me up and spent the rest of the race moaning that it hurt. I told him to “f- off and stop being annoying”. He said he had no energy to “f- off”. AUGH.

I was pleasantly surprised to get to the 10 mile mark comfortably inside 2 hours. However, it was at this point the race started to go wrong for me as it was 5k too far. I’ll break it down like this:

Mile 11: I’m tired. I hurt. Oh look, there’s Rachel! Much needed boost, thank you!

Mile 12: Louise’s mantra is “just a parkrun to go”. This is less than a parkrun. I hurt. Am I even running anymore? Ok, 5 minute run, 1 minute walk. 3 minute run, 2 minute walk. 1 minute run, 2 minute walk. Walking. Shuffling. Vaguely moving forward.

Mile 13: This will all be over in a few minutes.

Mile 13 and a bit: Crap. I need to get my sprint on if I want to finish closer to two and a half hours than three. Ok, GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO.

End: VICTORY!

We did it!
We did it!

That was without a doubt the hardest half marathon I’ve ever completed. Yes, it’s a lovely course and yes, it is flat and yes, it has huge PB potential. But I’ve put my body through a lot this year and to complete that felt like one of the biggest achievements ever. Hindsight, it was probably 5k too far, but I really enjoyed the first 10 miles. And as a knock on effect, my parkrun times have dropped again. Hooray!

And how did we celebrate our victory? In the pub, of course.

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