Race No 19 – Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon
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
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
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
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
& 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..
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
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)
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
Last but not least the second half of my time
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
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