Royal Parks Half Marathon – Race Recap

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Do you ever enter a race and instantly regret it, that’s definitely what happened to me with this one, I took part in 2014 & swore never again (you can read about everything that went wrong in my 2014 race here) & then a friend asked me to take part with her and FOMO took over and before I knew it I was signed up again.

I am not sure what I really have against this race, possibly the length of time we spend running around parks but the clue to that is in the name of the race so I can’t really complain, but I will 7 miles of running around the outskirts and zigzagging across Hyde Park is to much!!

So after talking me into signing up again, 3 days before the race my friend unfortunately had to pull out of the race, add to that I haven’t really been running in recent months I was really not looking forward to this, I considered pulling out but I figured I had nothing else to do on a Sunday morning so even if I were to walk the whole event I will have still done more than I would on a usual Sunday.

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So I got up as planned and had a few couple of slices of seeded toast with some Jim Jams Hazlenut Spread topped with Strawberries and took a banana with me for the train, as often happens in race day  things didn’t go to plan, my train was cancelled with no reason given meaning I only got to the park 15 minutes before the race started.

The loo queues in the race village were crazy long and when the gun went off for the start of the race there were still 10 people ahead of me (they seriously do not put on enough toilets for the thousands of runners & spectators they have descending on the park, at a guess I’d say they have approx 70 toilets for the 20,000 – 25,000 attendees).

After the loo queue you then have another long queue for the baggage drop, but credit where credit is due, this took less than 5 minutes, they were so organised & I whizzed through the long crowd so I could get to the start line.

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Despite arriving in my pen 12 minutes late, I still waited almost 20 minutes to cross the start line.

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The first 5 miles of this race are run on the roads, the first time I ran this race we got to run a few miles along the Embankment, unfortunately they have since changed the route so you do an out and back along the Strand (yawnsville, seriously if you have run any other race in London this year, London Winter Run, London 10,000 you will have run up and down the Strand, don’t get me wrong, there are still some impressive sights to be seen, but once you have seen them twice, you do not need to see them a third time, only the British 10k, still goes along the Thames, & suddenly maybe their £50 entrance fee doesn’t feel so bad.

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So the first few miles see you run through Green Park, past Buckingham Palace through Admiralty Arch, along Whitehall, turning before you hit Westminster, then you do a u-turn back towards Trafalgar Square before hitting the Strand another u-turn sees you head back to Trafalgar Square, back through Admiralty Arch, along the Mall back past Buckingham Palace before heading back into Hyde Park for 7 looonnng miles.

I hear so many people compare this race to the London Marathon in terms of support and I don’t get it, you have whole stretches of the parks where all you see is marshalls or dog walkers (I love dogs, I really do but having them running around off a lead as thousands of people are running along narrow paths is dangerous, don’t get me wrong, the dog walkers probably use the park every day, we are there once a year, but on mile 11 tired legs my legs will not necessarily stop abruptly when your dog runs out of a bush and in front of me & I don’t want to injure myself or your dog).

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All of the above said I did enjoy this race the first 5 miles actually helped me to start enjoying running again, for the first time in a long while my legs felt strong & confident, & while I went into the race untrained and fully expecting a personal worst, at  mile 5 I started to believe I might not be far off my Half Marathon average time of 2hrs 36, unfortunately things then started to go wrong, during the London Marathon I suffered with glute pain &  at mile 5 I was starting to feel a twinge & by mile 7.5 I was in agony every few steps felt like I was being stabbed, so I had to stop, apply some BioFreeze, I had already taken pain killers at mile 5 & continued with a limp/walk, around 11 miles I was finally able to start running again, I have yet to see the official race photos but I channelled my inner Becca & Laura (2 friends that I have run with that always manage strong sprint finishes) I felt like I finished the last 200m strong.(My time was a personal worst, but I am ok with that, it was all I deserved, training to run a Half Marathon & walk a full Marathon 2 weeks apart do not really go hand in hand as my legs were always tired, I am taking away that I still took part when I could have stayed in bed and that I enjoyed running for the first time in a long while so it has given me a much needed confidence boost)

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My final grumble is in relation to the goody bags at the end of the race, this race hands out the BEST goody bags in respect of content (seriously look at that haul) but the WORST in respect of the actual bag and the organisation of collecting the bag, firstly you queue for around 20 minutes then you are handed 3, yes 3 A4 size bags and you walk along a line while people fill the bags for you, I understand it takes time to prefill the bags and then there is the issue of storage but they could at least get bags that are an appropriate size (in 2014 we had cloth bags that were kind of half the size of a usual cloth bag so once your bag was full you were just randomly given items the extra items to hold that wouldn’t fit into the cotton bags?! Seriously how hard is it to order appropriately sized bags)

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This is definitely my last time running the Royal Parks Half but I would be interested in volunteering next year, as the volunteers really were great both on the course, at the finish line, the baggage tent guys were amazing as were the goody bag people (I think they are probably the two worst jobs) but they were happy, friendly and efficient)

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Did you run on Sunday, or have you run Royal Parks before, how did you find it?

Run Through Victoria Park – Race Recap

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Have you ever ran a Run Through race, they offer, 5 & 10ks & have recently started to offer Half Marathons at certain locations, across London with the coolest medal for a very reasonable price (more details of Run Through events can be found HERE)

I have had serious bling envy since I saw lots of friends posting pictures of themselves on Instagram last year with their Battersea Power Station medals, so I made sure I planned 2 into my London Marathon training, this one Victoria Park & of course Battersea Park

I have had heard nothing but good things about Run Through races so I was really looking forward to this weekends race, so I was absolutely gutted that the race just didn’t live up to my expectations

So before I write about what I didn’t like about the event I want to be fair & write about what I did like

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  • I love the variety of races that Run Through offer
  • They DO have the best medals
  • They are cheap to enter
  • When I contacted them I was told I could switch from the Half to the 5 or 10k without any issues as per my Physio’s recommendations (most race organisers do not offer different distances or will not let you drop down or defer but Run Through were very accommodating

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  • Getting an email a few days before an event telling you the only toilets available will be the public toilets already in the park, none of which are particuarly near the start or have more than 3 cubicles, for 500+ runners plus runners, their friends and family and all the other park users really isn’t adequate (saying that I did spot a few portaloos near the start, although they may have been added due to one of the buildings in the park being renovated)
  • You have collect your race numbers on the day – my pet hate, I will happily pay a few £s extra to have them posted to me, no one wants to be standing around on what you know is going to be a cold/wet or possibly snowy March morning just to collect a race number
  • After collecting your race number being told your baggage label was not in your race pack so you have to queue again and when you get to the person handing them out their poor hands were so cold they struggled to separate them – I arrived quite early but I am guessing this caused delays later when more people were arriving
  • Leaving your bag in the same place you collected your race number only to return and they have taken all the directions down so you have no idea what gazebo to go to as they are no longer numbered (because I only done the 5k I was one of the first to finish so it wasn’t like I was late and they were packing away) and because the bags were placed in no order I imagine this was carnage 30 minutes later, again I am guessing the bags were not placed in any order due to the delay in giving out baggage tags
  • The bling that I have been eyeing up for so many months being the teeniest bling ever, it was fine for a 5k but I think I would have been disappointed receiving this for the half
  • & finally the final straw I do not seem to be listed on the race results even as a no show, I know I switched distances but I even check when I picked up my number and was advised because we had chip timing I could run which ever distance I wanted and the chip would record accordingly

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I am totally gutted I was disappointed by this race as everyone else I know loves them, & as I have said before they offer cheap races most weekends in a variety of locations across London which makes them very appealing and convenient, would I recommend a Run Through event, to be honest no, not based on today’s experience but I am hoping the Battersea Park race in a few weeks time will change my mind, I will keep you posted

 

Marathon Watch – 50 days to go (& Roding Valley Half Marathon Race Recap)

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So yesterday marked 50 days to go until the London Marathon & I am still feeling strangely calm

Following my Physios advise I have laid off the running a little bit recently, I had a half marathon booked last Sunday and there was doubt over whether I should run but following my scan I decided I would run but that I would take it slowly (not sure who I am trying to kid with that statement I had nicknamed this particular Half the Half from Hell a few year ago.

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Roding Valley Half Marathon is a small Half Marathon organised by Woodford Green Athletics Club, as I mentioned above I have ran this Half Marathon before and I swore never again so I am not really sure what possessed me to sign up this year other than the fact that I genuinely believed that if I can cope with this I can cope with the marathon

RVHM is a two lap course which contains 13 hills, yep one a mile and some of them are evil!!

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Based on my running recently compared with my running in 2014 I expected to finish this race in around 2hrs 40, so I was chuffed to bits when I finished in 2hrs 33 a 3 minute course PB something I was definitely not expecting, my strategy on the day was to walk up the hills and to run the down hills and the flats and it obviously worked there is a stretch of the course between miles 4-5 & 9-10 that is pretty flat and honestly I felt like I floated along, my legs must have been so shot from the hills because this bit felt like a breeze, and I wouldn’t usually be comfortably running at 10 miles

 

Would I recommend Roding Valley Half Marathon, yes I would, its friendly, well marshalled, well supported by the local community and its cheap (I think it was only £18), the negatives & I hate to name them but having to pick up race numbers on the day is a personal annoyance, I would much rather pay a few £s extra for it to be posted & there were no toilets on the course, it may not be a biggy for many but I think for a half marathon they are a must (if you wanted the loo you had to pop into a local cafe or bar or detour off the courses slightly to go back to the start line and use the loo there)

There hasn’t really been anymore running over the last few days as I was waiting to see my physio again, but I had a sports massage Thursday, have been given some strenthening exercises and have a plan for the next few weeks that involves a couple of 5ks a 10, some treadmill, exercise bike & rowing machine work and some stretching

Oh and the weight loss seems to be back on track

Are you training for an event, how are you getting on?

 

 

Winter Run Series – Race Recap

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I so wanted to be writing a happier race recap of this years London Winter Run & I will, but before I start I wanted to share my experience of the start line

As we headed to the start line I went to do my usual pre race selfie & Facebook check in, when something caught my eye, my news feed was full of the words RIP Terry, the sad news broken that Terry Wogan had passed away, another life taken by cancer, we are only one month into 2016 and we have already lost so many British icons, David Bowie, Alan Rickman & now Terry Wogan to this awful disease

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While everyone was excited to run, the start line definitely had a more sombre feel, there was even more of a poignance as to why over 15,000 runners were standing in the rain waiting to run 6 miles on a dreary Sunday morning & when the going got tough during the race it certainly made you think, yes this run is tough, but fighting cancers tougher & my struggle is nothing compared to what many others are going through

Those of you that have been following my journey for a while will remember me being so excited about polar bear hugs & snowflake bling at last years London Winter Run and instead I got a free ride to the first aid tent, lots of sugary tea, a plaster cast for my leg and my London Marathon dreams shattered (click here to read more)

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I must admit as excited as I have been for the last 18 months about this run it has definitely been hanging over me like a dark cloud, I know its stupid, this race had nothing to do with last years accident, but pschologically it has been a barrier I had to pass through, maybe its because the 1st February marks a year since the accident but I have felt for months that if I can get through this race then I will be ok

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In 2015 the race route ran along the Thames, unfortunately this years race was more inland (possibly due to road works down the embankment) & a little boring, I love running through London but today’s race was a lot of side streets and doubling back on ourselves, the only sights I spotted were Trafalgar Square at the start, St Pauls Cathederal & the Houses of Parliment at the finish line

Poor route aside the support along the route was great, snowmen, polar bears and penguins cheering us on, snow falling (thankfully only the fake stuff) & a fab bling waiting for us at the finish line

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I ran the race with my friend Jemma, we are both running the London Marathon this year and our training runs have been around 12 minute miles, so baring in mind today was a fun run we were hoping for a finish time of around 1hr 15, so you can imagine our faces when we crossed the finish line in 1hr 8mins, its given us both a much needed confidence boost, I have a few niggles in my leg (I actually typed niggles in my head & I am wondering if that is nearer the truth & that the niggles are in my head) but I am hoping some stretching and a few days rest they will pass as the marathon training is starting to get serious over the next few weeks

If the London Winter Run sounds like a race you would like to take part in, why not click on the link below to register your interest in next years event.

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