Royal Parks Half Marathon – Race Recap


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.


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.


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


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.


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).


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)


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)


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)


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

Fallen out of love with running


Ever since my accident last year I haven’t really enjoyed running, it’s something I do because I have to, I could of and probably should have walked away from the London Marathon but I know I would have regretted that forever and I am glad that I took part and I am proud of how I ran on the day, but since then not so much.


I think what I need to do is go back to basics again, at the moment I am struggling to run a mile let alone 5k & the thought of a Half Marathon petrifies me even though I have one less than a month away.

A few years ago I was able to run a 5k in just under 30mins now I am struggling to do them in under 35mins, I got my 10k time down to just under 1hr 5, my most recent 10k was nearer 1hr 16, my first Half Marathon was my fastest 2.26 (if you ignore the 12 minute delay mid way through, thanks Run to the Beat) I think I will struggle to complete Royal Parks in under 2hrs 45


I come up with every excuse not to run, so after Royal Parks I am not booking anymore races until I have re completed C25k and hopefully refound my love of running.


But in the meantime I do have to face up to the fact that I have Royal Parks Half in 2.5 weeks, in an ideal world I would try and come up with a plan for even just a few runs between now and then but with the Shine walking Marathon this weekend (a sore throat, achy body and a bit of a temperature that I am desperately trying to ignore, in the hope that it will be gone by Saturday) its really not looking likely, so the plan is to get Shine out of the way, hopefully then I will be able to get a run in towards next week & a one or two again the week after and then the plan for Royal Parks race day will very much be to go out and enjoy myself, I will be the queen of selfies & take in the atmosphere and the sights.


Have you ever fallen out of love with an activity you had previously enjoyed, what did you do to reignite that flame?


Product Review – Battle Oats Bars


A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be sent some Battle Oats bars to review

I am not normally one for breakfast bars/cereal bars/flapjacks & biscuity kind of things, I want my treats to be real chocolatey naughtiness with absolutely zero nutritional benefits

So unsurprisingly these bars sat in my cupboard for a few weeks, I had even been carrying the Cranberry & Blackberry Fusion bar around in my bag for a few weeks, incase a peckish moment ever came up but as a Weight Watcher I couldn’t quite ever bring myself to justify the 7pp spend on one bar (I could have a Dairy Milk for that!!)

But last Sunday after the Royal Parks Half Marathon feeling utterly drained & unable to satisfy my hunger, i decided to give the Dark Chocolate Chip bar a try.


Advertised as a gluten & wheat free protein bar I was hoping these would satisfy my hunger and my cravings for something sweet but if I’m honest I was expecting to be disappointed but I just didn’t have the energy for a trip to the shops

I couldn’t have been more wrong in my expectations for this bar, it was absolutely delicious, very moist, extremely filling, it had real dark chocolate chunks which you could actually see & taste, basically it was none of the things I feared it would be and everything it promised to be


After enjoying the Dark Chocolate Chip bar so much, I now couldn’t wait to try the Cranberry & Blackberry Fusion bar, suddenly the next morning those 7pp didn’t seem such a bad spend, this bar could work as a breakfast on the go &  it certainly filled me up, but would this bar be as good as the Dark Chocolate bar, I’m a chocoholic after all


Well the answer was a resounding Yes!!

The Cranberry & Blackberry Fusion bar was equally delicious, my only negative on either bars was I found this one slightly crumbly, but that could have been because I carried it around in my bag for over a week but even so the bar had kept it shape and hadn’t crumbled or broken inside the packaging

(I can not say the same for of the many other bars that often find themselves at the bottom of my bag making them less appealing to eat when hunger does finally strike)


So would I buy Battle Oats, most definitely in fact I made a special trip to a local stockist a few days ago to stock up (actually I have another small gripe, now I have tried them I want to be able to buy them easily, and at the moment they are only available to buy online or via a small number of stockists mainly Crossfit studios, these need to become available via places like Holland & Barrett, in my opinion these bars are tastier than the equivalents they are currently selling) & I can not wait to try the new bar they are teasing us with on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram but haven’t yet revealed

Last but not least, the facts


Battle Oats bars are high protein, gluten free, &  they are made from 100% natural ingredients, but I will leave the sales patter to them, here’s what  Battle Oats have to say about their bars

‘Battle Oats are gluten free protein bars made using fine English oats, butter, coconut oil, protein isolate and other 100% natural ingredients. No palm oil!

Battle Oats protein bars are hand made and oven baked in the UK in small batches ensuring freshness and quality.’

NB Even though I was sent these bars to review the opinions are 100% my own and have not been influenced in anyway

My Royal Parks Half Marathon

Race No 19 – Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon

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It started so well, the night before I happened to notice that Leah from Naturally Leah, had retweeted her race recap from last years Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, learning from Leah & knowing how much I hate early starts & that I had to leave home just before 7am, I decided to gather all my kit together ready for the following days race

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Just as well I did really because as predicted, I snoozed my alarm clock twice & then dithered around the house meaning I left 15 minutes later than planned & had to eat my trusty pre race breakfast of peanut butter on toast on the way to the station

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Despite me running late & their being problems on both the tube lines I needed to use I still arrived with 30 mins to spare

The race village was busy, I hadn’t planned to use the bag drop, I had taken an old hoody that I was going to dump, but at the last minute I changed my mind and stored my hoody before heading off and joining what seemed to be the never ending queue for the loo

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The start pens were easy enough to find, it was a little strange no having anyone with me, this was my first time running a Half Marathon without having friends in the start pen with me or knowing I had anyone to meet with at the finish, but even so I was still quite excited, for months I had secretly been hoping for a PB at this event, and watching last weeks Great Scottish Run on TV had really left me pumped and ready to run, just enough time for a pre race selfie and then we were crossing the start line

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& thats where my race started to go wrong, literally that quickly, only meters away from the start, I think I stopped 3 times in the first kilometer, I wear knee supports as I have a problem with my IT Band, both knee supports kept feeling like they were falling down, I kept trying to pull them up, but they were just twisting and becoming uncomfortable, I wear a small bag around my waist that carries my phone, travelcard and a few gels, this has never bothered me in the past but today it kept bouncing and one of my gels had already started to slip put of the holder, and then my capri’s started to feel like they were falling down, what was going? I think it was all the plling about I had been doing with the knee supports had just made me feel uncomfortably dressed and had been a total waste of time because the next time I looked down the right support had slipped so far it was becoming visible from beneath my capri’s, in the end I gave up and stopped at the first set of toilets to try and sort out my knee supports, almost as soon as my race had started my chances of a PB had slipped away

I started running again, but still couldn’t get comfortable, I had forgotten to take my paracetamol before I left home and already I could feel my shin niggling (a not so happy reminder of the Spitfire Scramble), my earphones kept falling out, I never run with music, but being on my own today I hoped it would give me a lift, but that didn’t last much past the 2 mile marker either & because I wasn’t listening to any music, I hadn’t noticed that my ipod had become unclipped from my waistband and was dangling down, trying to wrap itself around my leg until someone tapped me on the shoulder

I thought about just running for fun, taking out my phone and taking some photos as I was crossing Westminster Bridge but I felt silly to stop so early on so I just kept moving, then at 4 miles I started to feel funny, I have lost count of how many races I have taken part in, I know I wasn’t in the best shape of my life but I shouldn’t be hitting a wall at 6.5k, I just felt really lightheaded, dizzy and absolutely exhausted, there was a toilet just ahead so i decided to take myself out of the race for a few minutes, have an energy gel and some water and just stand quietly for a few minutes and regroup.

Because I was going to stop for a few minutes I done something I have never done before, I paused my Garmin, except I didn’t, I switched it off..

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Seriously what else could go wrong?! I love my Garmin, it keeps me on track & lets me know whether or not I am on track, I paniced for a second, expecting a full on meltdown, but instead I had a strange sense of calm, I was very near Embankment Station, I had two choices, go home, or shut up and just get on with it and get to the end of the race no matter how long it took

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I had seen the above quote on Instagram the night before and I decided now more than ever I needed to embrace it, I had completed 5 walking marathons, no matter how long this took, I couldn’t let this race defeat me, so I reset my watch and started to move again.

Around the 5 mile mark just as we were running down The Mall, I spotted a girl called Becca, we had passed each other a few times already along the route and had spoken to offer words of encouragement a few times, just as we reentered Hyde Park I spotted Becca again, she was taking a short walking break so I gave her a wave and said come on, you can’t let me beat you! immediately she started running again, and just like that we both found ourselves a running buddy to get us around the rest of the course, the next few miles literally seemed to fly by as we ran, chatted and walked for the odd few minutes

I knew Leah one of my fellow Spitfire Scramblers was hoping to be around the 9 mile mark and honestly I don’t think I have ever been happier to see anyone, running with Becca had rebuilt my confidence, we were running strong, so when I saw Leah I literally ran towards her waving my arms in the air & a smile on my face, a huge contrast to how I felt earlier in the race and after that first Spitfire Scramble lap & I thank you so much Leah for being such a fab photographer because I don’t think I have ever had such a good photo taken while running


Photo Credit – Naturally Leah

The final few miles passed quickly, with Becca and I still chatting as we went along, finally the finish line was in sight, now I don’t think Becca will mind me saying that I helped her around the last few miles, she was suffering from Shin Splints and I promised I wouldn’t leave her, so we ran intervals that I had timed on my watch, while we were running she had mentioned that she used to be a sprinter and that distance really wasn’t her thing & in those last few 100 meters Becca really come into her own, as we passed the 200m sign she grabbed me and said come on, and out of no where she was off like a rocket, with me chasing along behind her, I have never been one for a sprint finish but I am very proud to say Becca helped me achieve this in this race  & I have the photo’s to prove it (2 photo’s in one race with me smiling!! I’d never have guessed that when I thought about quitting at mile 4)

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This race really was a mental one rather than a physical one, I had been so tempted to quit but I am so glad I carried on, I want to give a big shout out to Becca again on completing her first Half Marathon, to Rebekah on a PB & to Tanja & Leah on being fantastic supporters

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Last but not least the second half of my time

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The Bling

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Oh and the most amazing goody bag I have ever received at a race, which included a £25 Hello Fresh voucher (I have been wanting to try Hello Fresh for ages), Whole Earth Peanut Butter, Yorkshire Tea Bags, Dorset Cereal, a Bounce Ball, plus much much more

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Would I do the Royal Parks Half Marathon again, probably not, the £50 race entry is pretty steep but I would definitely look into volunteering, I think after the marathon 2015 should definitely be about giving something back to all the races I have previously ran

Weekly Recap : Week 2/30 of my London Marathon Training


Week 2, didn’t really go to plan, I only managed 2 out of my 3 runs, partly down to laziness and partly down to fear of injury.

Ever since the Spitfire Scramble I have been suffering from shin pain, I don’t think I have full on shin splints but within 1k things don’t feel normal and even after the shorter 3.5km runs I have been doing recently, I am very aware of shin pain the following day, so as I knew I had the Royal Parks Half Marathon coming up I didn’t want to aggravate things so I stuck with 2 short 3.5km runs again this week

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Even though I didn’t manage the miles I had hoped for my friends did, I had friends running in both the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow and the Cardiff Half Marathon, both races I would like to do in the future, I spent the morning watching the Great Scottish Run on TV, cheering on my friends that were running in the torrential rain, I literally leapt from my seat screaming when I spotted my friend Linda who power walks these events for the charity Walk the Walk, despite the pouring rain I was so jealous of my friends running, both routes looked amazing & made me really excited about next weekends Royal Parks Half Marathon, I think it will be tough, but I am secretly hoping for a PB and to finally crack the elusive 2.26 I dreamed of before my first half

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On the weight loss front, I lost another 1.5lbs, so 6lbs off in 2 weeks and 14lbs off since I rejoined Weight Watchers as a member.. Yay!!

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