Posts Tagged ‘Royal Parks Half


never mind the ballots

Ah, what a week! Firstly, I received an e-mail from a friend of mine who is training for his first half marathon and was going to be in the area so would I like to go out for a run on Tuesday evening. And as much as I enjoy running on my own (or with Mr Palin – more of which later), I jumped at the chance to have a run and a catch up chat. We gossipped and ran and still covered over 7 miles at an average of about 9 min miles although I reckon we could improve on that if I could actually stop talking for long enough on the uphills to draw breath.
Also, plans are being finalised for this years Great Eatingtrees / Hauling My Carcass Road Trip: he has sorted routes there and approximate timings as well as supplying us with a race route complete with elevations (total elevation approx 18metres… over 21.1kms -so pretty flat!), Mrs Hauling My Carcass is in charge of finding us sights to see and places to visit in the few hours that we will not be running, sleeping or eating and I am in charge of post race meal and My Birthday Lunch en route on the journey back. It’s all looking fairly splendid and the fact that we are driving there turns this into a bit more of an adventure which I think we are all looking forward to. Prague in 2009 had cobbles, shisha and belly dancing into the early hours. Lisbon had a beautiful but ill-fated race for us both, bad transvestites and fish being sold from car tyres outside our hotel. I can only imagine what The Hague will hold…
The tail end of the week brought 2 e-mails in quick succession: The first informing me that I had been unsuccessful in my application for this years Royal Parks Half – the first time I will not run it since the first one in 2008. The second was a lovely reply from the Kenyan restaurant in The Hague that I’d tried to book for our post race meal, confirming our reservation. A quick text informing HMC of these two facts elicited a pragmatic reply that basically said that the £45 we’d saved by not being able to enter RPH could now be spent at the Kenyan restaurant post City Pier City. Then I posted a comment on Facebook about my RPH no-go and was met with many replies and suggestions for alternatives I could enter (thanks Adele, Shaun, Susan and Paul). So it now looks like the Maidstone Half Marathon could be the new RPH, falling as it does, dangerously close to my friends 40th birthday… and what better way to celebrate his impending Mid Life Crisis?
And so to todays run, run as last week, under the influence of Palin. We’re now in and around Hong Kong and Shanghai and, once again, I got to the end of my run feeling as fresh as if I’d covered half the distance and not the 19.4kms that I had actually covered.
This time next week, City Pier City will be in the bag and I will be “refueling” Kenyan style.

Soundtrack to this post: Paradise Circus – Massive Attack


royal parks half: race report – the older I get, the better I was

Just back from this year’s Royal Parks Half Marathon. Anyone who wants a full race report can look here as this is the third time I have run this race and, as the course and much of the logistics of the day are the same as previous years, I won’t bore you with the details. Having said that, it is still one of my favourite races and this one was no exception.
This was the first year that I have run it without Hauling My Carcass, although I wasn’t entirely alone as my friend Dianne (author of the “Juneathon-Only” running blog Hotshoeshuffle) was also running today so we decided to keep each other company pre & post race. It was overcast and a little misty whilst waiting for the start and I did feel a bit of a tit wearing sunglasses but the Met Office had forecast that it would be sunny by 10.30 so I was just, like a good boy scout, being prepared.
Unusually for me, I’d also prepared a race playlist on the MP3 player, even going so far as to predict how long it would take me to complete and picking a slower, more relaxing track for around 7 miles before cueing up all kinds of insanity for the second half where I knew I’d need something with a bit of aggression to keep me going.
It took me longer than normal to get through the start this year (nearly 6 minutes as opposed to about 2 mins on previous years) but once on the course it seemed to thin out quickly. Running through Admiralty Arch then out over Westminster Bridge before turning and coming back straight towards the Houses of Parliament & Big Ben is still exhilirating and, as it occurs at the beginning of the race, I was able to take it all in and enjoy it. As I did with the run down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. It was only once I re-entered the Parks that I really just zoned out and ran. I was oblivious to everything except the ground about 5 metres in front of me and the music. Which sounds like I was struggling but I really wasn’t… just maintaining. 10k was ticked off in just under 56 minutes and then 10 miles passed at 1:33. And it was only at the 10 mile mark that I began to start to want it to finish. There are a few uphill gradients through the park and they had begun to take their toll. So I just pushed on. It was clear by about 12 miles that the sub 2hr time I wanted was not going to happen but I was just happy to be nearing the end and kept going. The last 1000 meters is a horrible, long, optical illusion as it is a straight road to the finish which is visible long before it is sprintable and therefore feels like you’re never going to get there. Each time you look up and expect it to appear closer and yet it still looks as far away as it did a minute ago.
I crossed the line in 2:05:06 and, although it was 5 minutes and 7 seconds slower than I was aiming for, I wasn’t disappointed. The last 3 miles had beaten me and I know that with a bit more preparation, I could have finished quicker. Although, the first 10k felt easy so I am confident that with a bit of work, a new 10k pb is possible (sub-55mins). And it may even be a barefoot 10k as I think the next 10k I tackle will be in the VFF’s (weather permitting).

Incidentally, Ms. Hotshoeshuffle ran a blinder and finished in 1:55. Ooh, and there is a new “leaf-shaped” medal,too!

As I ran towards Buckingham Palace earlier today, this is what was on the MP3 player…

Soundtrack to this post: Gallows – London Is The Reason


tiny tears

In preparation for this Sunday’s Royal Parks Half Marathon I did, a few weeks ago, run the full Half Marathon distance during training. To some, this is madness and absurd behaviour a few weeks from the race. For me, it is designed to be a confidence booster in that I then know that I can complete the distance. The following week, my long run was 15k and I was due about 12k this Sunday – which I blew out due to a combination of lazyness, disinterest and conjunctivitis. The conjunctivitis had been getting progressively worse for a couple of weeks and when I checked the NHS Direct website, it states that most cases of conjunctivitis clear up within 2 weeks and if symptoms persist past 2 weeks, to go and see the doctor. So, like a good citizen who does not want to waste the doctors valuable time with silly eye infections (when they could be saving lives), I waited 2 weeks which meant by the time I did get myself to the surgery, I felt like someone had been rubbing sand into my eyes using a slice of onion and looked distraught what with my big, red teary eyes. I was prescribed some magic eye drops which seem to have cleared it up after nearly a week of use but the infection still left me feeling lethargic.
But on Sunday, my eyes were still itchy and watering and the last thing I wanted was to go out and run and get sweat in them and make it all hurt even more. So I wimped out and instead gave the mountain bike a clean and an adjust before Winter. And then I agonised about skipping my last long run before the race so I went out last night and ran just shy of 11km.

And now Sunday approaches rapidly and I feel ill prepared but am still looking forward to it. Or maybe I just want to get it over with… Who knows? Still, once it is done I have a very nice pair of Polaroid sunglasses to review and I am also planning on reviewing some Reebok running shoes that are being supplied by those nice people at Fitness Footwear.

Soundtrack to this post: Sinead O’Connor – Curly Locks



If proof were needed of the effect of psychology on performance, scientists need only to have turned up with their white coats and their clipboards to witness my truly pathetic attempt at a 10k early morning run on Wednesday.

The weather had been drizzly and overcast for a couple of days and I always find it harder to get motivated when the weather is dull. But I had decided that Wednesday morning was going to be “10k early morning run morning”. The weather forecasters had said it would be rainy and horrible but, PAH, what do they know… meteorology is not science – it is more akin to reading tea-leaves or casting runes. If it were scientific, surely they’d get it right more often. By an incredible coincidence, Wednesday mornings weather did tally with the Met Office’s prediction (the clue is right there) that it would be rainy and horrific and it actually was rainy and horrific. Weather forecasters often speak of “mizzle” being a mixture of mist and drizzle. The weather on Wednesday morning was actually more like “razzle” which is entirely made up by me and is a mixture of rain (bigger drops) mixed in with drizzle (smaller, more annoying drops). Anyway, whatever it was, it dampened my spirit so much that the first 5k was run at a snails pace and the second 5k was run / walked and interspersed with muttering and swearing. I wish I hadn’t bothered…

Still, in 10 days time I have a Half Marathon to run. I just hope it doesn’t rain…

Soundtrack to this post: The Velvet Underground – All Tomorrow’s Parties


Royal Parks 10.10.10

As race day looms, I received an e-mail from some nice people asking if I could mention the other events that are going on whilst I stagger aimlessly bound purposefully across the finish line at the Royal Parks Half. This will be my 3rd RPH and, as I enjoy it immesnsely, I was happy to oblige…

In addition to the Half Marathon, which is now full with all 16,000 places taken, there is the Pulse 3k Run for 11-16 year olds. This year, there is also the “Hearts and Heritage” walks. The walk, which runs concurrently with this year’s Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon, is made up of two ‘waves’; a ‘Hearts’ Wave for lonely hearts and a ‘History & Heritage’ Wave for history buffs. The ‘Hearts’ Wave will provide single men and women with the opportunity to meet like-minded people looking for love or friendship, whilst enjoying the surroundings of the Royal Parks. The “History” Wave follows the same route taking in Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and the Albert Memorial. The course for both is 13.1 miles although this can be abbreviated to 6 miles if you prefer (or you meet the boy / girl of your dreams within 10kms!!). If none of the above is your thing, there is the Brakes Food & Fitness Festival – or you can just find a good spot along the route and cheer us all on. There really is nothing like a bit of encouragement when the going gets tough.

My preparation this week has been necessarily sparse once again due to the removal of a wisdom tooth on Tuesday. The dentist didn’t say that I specifically shouldn’t run but somewhere in the back of my mind I had an image of me striding down the road whilst arcs of blood spurted from the gaping wound in my mouth. So to avoid that unlikely scenario, I stuck to a 6.5km “barefoot” run on Friday and a grey and damp 15k on Sunday morning.

Soundtrack to this post: Grinderman – Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars)


mine’s a half

The new running shoes arrived this week. I took them out for a 10k test run (hahahahahaha!) midweek and they seemed to perform as expected. I’m always surprised at how tight and stiff new running shoes feel in comparison to my old pair that have been through hell and high water (well rain and a little bit of mud) and have moulded to the shape of my feet.
Today was to be my “long run” of the week and with the Royal Parks Half Marathon only 3 weeks away, I felt I’d better get prepared. And what better way to prepare for running 13.1 miles than by going out and running 13.1 miles. So following what was basically last Sunday’s route with a few extra bits, I duly completed 13.1 miles (21.1kms for the Eurocentric amongst us) in 2:05:26. I thought I’d planned the route in my head pretty well but realised on the way back towards my house, that I was going to come up about 2 and a half kilometres shy of the full distance so had to incorporate all manner of loops and detours.
It was an easy run and only began to feel slightly more difficult around the 16km mark. Then it got less and less pleasurable by the metre which the distance miscalculation only aggravated as I could have run 2 kms in one direction and been home instead of executing a seemingly random set of loops and swirls to extend the run to the required distance. Still, the new shoes did the trick and I have some new and strangely placed blisters to add to my collection.
Finally, the Royal Parks Race pack arrived this week containing this years top. The top from the first year was excellent – nice burgundy colour, made of bamboo (eco-friendly, wicking etc.) and is probably my “top of choice” for a long run. Last years t-shirt didn’t even get to the charity shop but went straight into the bin as it was an horiffic lavender colour with a slogan on the reverse that looked like it had been dreamt up and subsequently designed by a 7 year old girl. So there was a certain amount of expectation for this years design. When I looked at it in the bag, the first thing that struck me was that it was orange. Although quite a nice orange. And it was made of the nice bamboo, wicking material so doing well so far. It also has the RPH logo on the chest and looks quite stylish. Good. Unfortunately, it then succeeds in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by having an awful white and purple design on the reverse that appears to be a footprint containing a silhouette of someone running through some leaves. The script at the side reads, “I believe in leaves”…

Ooh, the front's not bad...

... and the back... oh, bugger!

Soundtrack to this post: Klaxons – Echoes



It’s that time again where I have to invest in some new running shoes. I noticed the other day that part of the sole on one of my shoes was completely worn away and I was running on the foam. Obviously it is nice to have new, sweet smelling and comfortable running shoes every once in a while but shopping for them always disturbs me. I’m not a particularly difficult customer as I generally stick to the same make and model that have served me well (Saucony Pro Grid Guide). A quick search on Google indicates that I need to spend upward of £65 which although a not a massive amount of money still seems like quite a lot for something that I only wear for about 4 hours a week. Fortunately, the website I usually use has the model I want, in the size I need for £49.99 so hastily order them before somebody else requiring a size 9 and a half decides they want them. So they are on the way to me… just as well because todays run was a hellish, disheartening experience, more of which later…

Whilst out on todays run, which incidentally was able to be executed at lunch time due to working from home today, I very nearly ran slap bang into someone. Not entirely my fault but it did serve to annoy me for the remaining 5k of my 10k lunchtime bonanza. I was running along the pavement and notice a large 4 wheel drive pull into a parking space near the shops up ahead of me. Out steps a woman, a very large woman, who is managing to lock her car, talk loudly on her mobile and stuff what looks like an entire sandwich into her mouth all at the same time. She then proceeds to weave left and right across the pavement in front of me in a seemingly random manner making it very difficult for me to be able to pass her. She lurches to the right and I seize the moment and nip past her on the left hand side at which point, she tuts and ducks into the bakers. This managed to annoy me on many levels at the same time – I am out running, exercising and trying to keep myself in shape only to be thwarted in this attempt by a clearly very overweight woman not looking where she was going and yet I probably pay the same for my life insurance as she does even though she obviously has a less active lifestyle which could be taken as an indicator of her being less healthy and more at risk of becoming sick. And the tutting!!! Now I don’t want to be too harsh here as she may have had some medical condition that contributed to her being the size that she was although I suspect that no condition exists that causes the sufferer to become impatient, uncoordinated, rude and greedy and resort to driving an entirely unsuitable and uneconomic vehicle to the cake shop. Athough this was the spark for an interesting thought… some insurance companies will charge a lower premium for people who take regular exercise so surely there is a gap in the market for an insurance company to subsidise me in the purchase of running shoes… Hmmm!

Still, after the cake shop incident, I carried on my merry way but it was a struggle. At 7km, my left shin / knee began to feel numb, just as it was doing at the beginning of the year before Lisbon. It seems to be brought on by me upping the mileage too quickly and I am aware that, with exactly one month to go to the Royal Parks Half and very little distance under my belt, upping the mileage is exactly what I am having to do. I finished the 10k in 57:12… not a bad time for me but for the last 500m, the bottom half of my left leg had gone completely numb and it felt like it was about to give way. It wasn’t painful but just felt very, very wobbly. And both feet were tingling with pins and needles. I sat on the kerb, pissed off… really, really pissed off. It isn’t the end of the world but it is annoying and I hope that the numbness in the left leg and tingling in the feet is really just a sympton of running too far on worn out shoes. I’ll find out soon enough when the new shoes arrive. Until then, I have 1 more long run scheduled for Sunday where I shall attempt 10 miles and then the trainers will be put in a box until I can give them a proper send off at Grim in December.

Soundtrack to this post: The Tiger Lillies – Bully Boys

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