I was one of the (very few) lucky ones who scored a ballot place for the Royal Parks half marathon. I say very few, as when I picked up my race pack, about 85% of the people on the list had ‘charity runner’ next to their name. And I do feel very lucky to have run this race.
When I found out I had a place in Royal Parks, I toyed with the idea of going for a sub-2, which would mean taking off almost 15 minutes from my current PB. As usual for me, I did not have the competitiveness nor the bother to train to run quicker than my default plod, and so I went into this race off the back of quite a few really bad, quite panic-laden runs.
But this run turned out to be everything I needed it to be. It really was brilliant.
Here’s the lissyruns formula for making a near-perfect half marathon experience…
Pick your kinda race
This was exactly the type of race I know I love – big city, big field, lots of plodders (thanks to the high number of charity entrants) and this time it had the added bonus of being IN MY HOME CITY.
Oh, and this is a super organised race too. Flawless bag drop, loos on the course, loads of water stations – I literally couldn’t fault it.
Run with friends
I ran the first 9 miles with my ace friend Cara, until her ankle injury flared up and she very kindly let me go on. I loved running with her and we will definitely be running a whole half marathon together in the future.
Soak up the cheers
There was a lot of support at this race, and I found that it really helped. I loved that I saw Emma from Hilly Fields parkrun on the Embankment, I loved the wall of noise from all the charity teams when we first entered Hyde Park at about mile 6 and then I was SO happy to see Leah and Billie deep into one of the quieter sections of the park route later on. Leah takes a cracking race photo…
And then soak them up some more…
There was also a very strong presence from my Run Dem Crew family at the race which was nothing short of incredible. Knowing they were coming up at mile 10 got me through a couple of tough miles and going through the wall of noise was one of my favourite ever running experiences. I stopped for a hug and a bit of jumping around with Charlie, had some high fives and was on my way. The final 5k was brutal, but was made so much easier by that boost of love.
Although this wasn’t a PB race for me, I was really happy with my time of 2:22 given how negatively I had felt about running beforehand. But the part I am most proud of is how consistently I ran. Each 5k split was between 33 and 34 minutes and in the six other half marathons I’ve run I’ve never had the stamina not to crash after 10k. It was slow but it was consistent.
Celebrate in style
Charlie met me at the finish line (well she tried but I managed to wander off and get myself lost in the race village) with a bottle of mini Champagne (best cheer person ever!) That, along with her fantastic photography skills, managed to grab me an amazing prize courtesy of Fitness First as I entered and WON their #FinishLineFace competition! Putting embarrassing photos of myself on the internet finally paid off!
Then I went for a massive burger and ALL THE BEER. Beer is always, always my favourite way to celebrate a long run.