royal parks half race report

Parklife – You Can’t, You Won’t And You Don’t Stop – The Nicest Pizza In The World

There was no-one on this train last year… just me, hunched in my seat, hood up, pretending I wasn’t on a train at just after 7am on a Sunday morning and about to run 13.1 miles in a couple of hours. This year there are at least 4 of us ( the tell-tale chip on the laces of the trainers marks us all out as members of this peculiar club) who get on at my stop and our ranks grow with every station visited. By Finsbury Park, we are about 30 strong and we march down to the tube. The first tube to arrive is so packed with runners, I cannot get on, so wait for the next, which is less packed but still predominantly runners with a few bemused civillians.
Leaving the tube at Hyde Park, I am delighted to find it drizzling mildly, and make my way with the rest of the be-trainered towards Hyde Park. Meeting up with Hauling My Carcass, who looks decidedly unhappy about standing in a damp London park a little after 8am on Sunday. Niceties exchanged, portaloo visited and then throw our stuff into our bags, dump them at the bag check and then loiter around until about 9.10 am when we funnel into our starting positions. Last year, we tried to position ourselves so that we were in the shadow of a tall block of flats near the start – it was hot and sunny and we were trying to stay in the shade. Today by comparison, was damp and a bit overcast – good conditions for a Half Marathon but not for standing around beforehand.
We were underway quite quickly and the throng soon spread out allowing us all to settle into our respective paces. I wanted to cover the first few miles between 8.30 – 8.50 pace and came through the first mile maker at around 8.47 mins per mile. the Garmin telling me that the mile marker was 1.15 miles in so reckoned that I was about where I needed to be. Hauling My Carcass was within 10 feet of me at all times and I was feeling relaxed and confident. All was well until I reached the 4 mile marker when a warm tingle started to make itself known beneath my left knee. I knew the feeling immediately as I had had the same thing happen during my training for last years Royal Parks. Oddly, it had not reappeared in over a year but had decided to rear it’s ugly head again. I tried to ignore it but knew what was probably going to happen next. The warm numbness begins to spread from just below the knee, down the front of my shin and into my foot. The whole of the bottom of my leg then goes numb and it becomes difficult to run as I can’t gauge at what point my foot is striking the floor. Suddenly, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to walk to see if the feeling came back but knew that if I stopped, it would be hard to start again. So I delivered myself an ultimatum… I would continue to run. I would not stop… I could slow a little to see if that helped but stopping was out of the question. If I stopped all manner of bad stuff would happen to me – and I would not allow myself to meet up with iliketocount and Jogblog for pizza afterwards. So now, with my new found incentives, I pushed on to mile 6 where the numbness started to subside. I was beginning to feel confident about completing the race but knew that I had lost between 2 and 3 minutes over the preceeding few miles and sub 2hrs was going to be almost impossible to acheive. I was still feeling pretty good around seven and a half miles when I was passed by a man dressed as a dalmation. The mp3 player was brought in to play at this point and the last 6 miles was run to the sound of The Prodigy, Crystal Method and the Run Lola Run soundtrack.
The last 5 miles are hard as they snake through Hyde Park, switching back on themselves and the last three quarters of a mile are psychologically hard – you know you’re close but there is an incline up the first part of the finishing straight and as you reach the brow the finish is off in the distance. And you run… and run… and run and the finish line doesn’t seem to get any closer.
And then it is closer. And you’re nearly there. And you cross the line in 2:02:44 and come to a gradual stop. And then feel dizzy and go over to the railings and hang on. And the nice man from St Johns Ambulance comes over and asks if you’re alright and you lie and say yes.

Hauling My Carcass got a pb and I didn’t walk. Result.

Bags collected and warm dry clothes exchanged for cold, damp sweaty ones, hook up with HMC’s LG and it was off to meet Shaun and Cathy. Shaun, it turns out, ran a blinder and you can read about here. A couple of drinks in a little pub a few hundred yards from Knightsbridge and then we all went for pizza. It was a great way to celebrate and we chatted and ate and drank for a very enjoyable couple of hours.

The Royal Parks Half is a great race. Roughly a 50/50 split between the street and sights of London Town and through the Parks. It’s well organised, plenty of loos, efficient bag stash and a food festival too. I will almost definitely be back next year.

Soundtrack to this post: Dark Entries – Bauhaus

1 Response to “royal parks half race report”

  1. October 24, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    You and Hauling My Carcass gotta stop meeting up like that! Love to hear the running stories from Hyde Park. We only get over there once every five years or so.
    Meantime, in addition to the note I left with Hauling My Carcass, I thought you might be interested in this piece from a finisher at the Chicago Marathon:



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