I went into this race simply looking to complete, injury free. And I succeeded! It’s such a nice feeling to know I was able to – fairly comfortably – run a half-marathon again. I’ve been worried that my knee just wouldn’t be able for it any more.
Thankfully, my right knee is as new – it’s just the rest of me that’s in bits! I kid. I’m feeling stiff, but no worse than any other long race of recent years, and still elated that I made it through without injury or simply dropping out.
The Royal Parks half is my favourite race of all time. The setting is wonderful and there’s plenty to look at as you loop around Westminster, The Mall, Buckingham Palace and the wonderful parks along the route. It’s a well-organised race and the crowds are always really supportive.
My one critique? No matter how many barriers they had in place, some people seemed to think it was fine to cross the road in front of oncoming runners. When you’re running along with one goal in mind (keep going, keep going), someone pushing their baby buggy right in front of you is one of the last things you want to see. It’s difficult to slow down quickly or swerve to avoid (very easy to injure yourself in the process!). And when you do slow down, you run the risk of causing a pile-up of runners behind you.
I set various interlopers straight with a hearty string of expletives (sailors would blush) and a waving of my arms. Universal sign language for “get the fuck out of my way”.
Some of the runners made me laugh, though. We’ll skip over the bit when I was overtaken by someone in a Telly-tubby costume (head to toe) and couldn’t keep up with the fairly old and “well built” (sorry, guys) from Morocco. No, the runners who made me laugh were the ones attempting to take selfies as they crossed Westminster Bridge or passed Buckingham Palace.
Seriously. What did they think they were going to get out of that?
Also, at least one fellow runner was face-timing with friends as he ran along the Embankment. Mental.
I made it through the entire course with only one break for cramp. Early on, just approaching Trafalgar Square, I needed to lean against a handy monument to stretch out my left leg. Seconds later, I was back on my way. I kept a fairly (loosely speaking) even pace, running between 5:25 and 5:35 minutes per KM. I had told everyone who asked that I just wanted to finish, uninjured.
But really, I needed to get home in under two hours to feel good about it all. Last time I ran the Royal Parks, I got around in 1:42. Yes, I was surprised too!
So 2:00 didn’t feel like much of an ask.
But I crawled across in 2:02:26 feeling I’d let myself down. It’s only two and a half minutes, but it weighed heavy. Honestly though, I’d nothing left in the tank to push myself in the final km, except for the briefest of sprints 100m away from the finishing line.
I was completely and utterly spent.
So really, I did my best. And I have an easy target to beat for my next half – which won’t be until 2015. Maybe Edinburgh again?
And thanks to plenty of generous sponsorship, I raised over £300 for Epilepsy Action. Thanks again to all who supported me on this. It’s much appreciated.