Royal Parks Half Marathon – 11.10.2015
The loveliest and most enjoyable HM I’ve had the pleasure of running. I mean, really!! If I was to recommend a HM to anyone it would be this one. So THANK YOU to the Royal Parks Foundation for super organisation.
Was I well prepared for it? Erm … nope! Most definitely not. Actually, I think I was the least prepared I’ve ever been for ANY race. My plan, therefore, was not to race. In fact, I was ready to implement a walk/run strategy and figured there’d probably be plenty of walking as I’ve done very little running in the last few months.
The day was already made better by running into Kay and Steve McMenamin at the train station, so LOVELY company all the way. Have to admit that I’d probably still be trying to find my way to the start line!!
Not sure what I expected but I DIDN’T expect such a massive field of runners – c. 15,000? Somehow I thought it’d be smaller but for me this is always good news as it increases my chances of not being last (again). It also meant, however, that the trek from Gun Time to start line was almost 20 minutes and you know what that means for us oldies?? 150m past the start line and I had to join the queue for the loos!!! And yes, there was a QUEUE! I thought that was quite funny – although slightly demotivating so early on in the race to see everyone running past and disappearing into the distance. It did give me a mini goal, though. Once I started running (about 6 minutes later – what do people DO in these toilets???) my aim was to try and catch up with the field again!
Cut a long story short, I settled early into a pace that felt good and just enjoyed everything! The route was simply lovely and after the soul-sapping ugliness of Brighton which sucks the life out of me on a daily basis, it was wonderful to breathe in energy and replenish depleted souls surrounded by old, solid, majestic buildings that ooze history and character. I think I enjoyed the run up towards the Houses of Parliament and up and down the Strand as much as I did the parks and all the arches – St James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park … Admiralty Arch, Wellington Arch, past Marble Arch, and with other sites such as the palace, the Royal Albert Hall and Kensington Palace. There was always something to look at and it was glorious. Sunday morning and I didn’t have to watch out for blood on the pavement or kick cans out of the way once! Quite a treat!
I had two battles along the way. I won one and lost one. One little voice very frequently whispered ‘What happened to the run/walk strategy? Now’s a good time to walk!’ – to which I consistently answered ‘My lungs are fine, my pace is good, the only thing that’s unpleasant is my legs hurting A LOT but that’s really not a good enough reason to walk, so keep running.’ I was VERY pleased to win that war of whisperings and finished without walking. The other battle was the one with my trainers and that’s the one I lost and the reason my legs hurt so much. I’ve loved running in my Ons and I’ve run up to 10 miles in them but I’d heard rumours that people had had a lot of calf trouble running longer distances in them. This was definitely what happened here. My calves and hams SCREAMED quite early on – they have NEVER been so tight. Not only that, but my feet really hurt towards the end – and my calves were so tight they were causing knee pain and blah blah blah. I definitely lost this battle. The Ons have been relegated to 5k and 10k only.
Those were the personal niggles. Race organisation niggles? Yes, I had one. For crying out loud, people, TOPLESS WATER BOTTLES ARE OF NO USE WHATSOEVER TO RUNNERS!! Jeez, what a waste – and what a nuisance. It was hugely irritating (a) not to be able to take a proper drink at any point because you couldn’t carry the bottles since none of them had tops so you had to take a quick slug and throw them: and (b) what a massive massive waste, seeing 15,000 250-ml water bottles being thrown to the side as runners took a few sips and then abandoned them (again, because the tops were off so they couldn’t be carried)! I just don’t get it! Whose idea was that?
One other niggle: what’s with the closed-off finish line – with no spectators being able to cheer runners across or take photos? It didn’t bother me personally but had I being running my first-ever race or was doing it for an emotional cause, then I think I would have found it hugely disheartening to cross the finish line without my supporters? (just a thought)!
But apart from that … absolutely not a single other complaint. The support was amazing – massive thanks to everyone for lining the route and making LOTS of noise! It was very much a spectator-friendly route, too.
Huge thank you to Kay and Steve for the best race-day company! Xx
Official time: 2:18.30 (including loo stop)
Without loo stop: 2:13 – which I’m perfectly happy with.