In May I was invited to do the Royal Parks Half Marathon and I took up the offer. However, until about a month ago in my head I had it down as one week after Berlin, fortunately it was two! I obviously had the distance (or double it) in my legs so wasnt overly concerned about that side my major worry would be how much of the marathon would still be in my body…
At 6:10am my alarm went off, I woke up feeling ROUGH, I went for a shower and felt lousy so got back into bed. I had decided I was too ill to race. At this point Laura gave me a kick up the backside and at about 645 I had a change of heart and got up and ready. We had to be out at 7, speed eating time
Jumping out at Marble Arch I wheeled Laura with me to the start (see here to see how Laura broke her foot) and found the VIP tent. Today I was a VIP apparently! I found the bag drop and spotted a couple of celebs Nell McAndrew, Duncan Bannatyne and Sophie Raworth to name drop before prepping myself for the race. Fortunately, Jackie had kindly come along to be chauffeur for Laura so they headed off to about the 6 mile marker.
I headed to the starting pens, completely unsure what pace I would manage. I suspected, unless I deliberately took the first half slow I wouldn’t hang on to a permanent pace but was probably best just to go for it with the expectation of a second half blow up! In the pen by pure coincidence I bumped into Keith Luxon a fellow Havens Hospice runner, and also an ultra runner of the most extreme – I know of only one other who has run longer than Keith but I dont think its anywhere near as frequent.
My pace from the start was pretty hard, pushed along by being in the same pen as the faster runners aiming for sub 1hr30. I clocked 7-7:30min/mi, it wasnt until about mile 5 I thought I may have gone off a bit fast! At 6 miles I spotted Laura and Jackie a gave them a quick message telling them I had overcooked it and would be slowing for the second half. About half a mile on my gel must haven kicked in and all of a sudden I felt ok. I barely slowed at all, every mile was sub 8min/mi and most were nearer the 7:30s. After 10 miles I knew I could hang on regardless now, 24 minutes I told myself whilst taking another gel. 16 minutes…8minutes, 7:59,7:58,7:57 the countdown had begun in my head.
Spotting the gantry in the distance whilst my watch showed 1:39 (no seconds displayed) I decided to try for a sub 1hr40 with no idea how far or long to go I put my head down and went for it, no longer looking at my watch. As I crossed the line I stopped the garmin, my watch read 1:40 (no seconds displayed), nevermind. It wasnt until I got a text with my chip time that I established I actually did 1:39:59 sub 1:40 and my watch read 1:40:00! Jackpot. I can’t really grumble about that as it was faster than Maidenhead which I had done a few weeks previously.
All in all a good run and I’m glad I pulled myself out of bed (even if it just delayed my cold for 24 hours)! I do like the Royal Parks Half Marathon, both times I have run it I have thought it a well organised race. The medal is different and the freebies you can get at the end is the best I have seen at ANY race. The first half of the race gives you all of the best bits of the London Marathon whilst the second half is in Hyde Park weaving through its paths.