This was my first ever half marathon and I can’t tell you how excited I was for it. When Nike offered me a place and a personal pacer I couldn’t resist. I had heard so many amazing things about the course, the crowds, and the atmosphere. I wanted to experience it all AND I really wanted the beautiful leaf medal.
I didn’t have the best race preparation. I didn’t have long to prepare and even though I was slowly building up the distances I managed to twist my ankle two weeks before the race. That meant training had to stop. And walking. And at times, moving. But it didn’t dampen my excitement and as the days went by the ankle started to heal.
Living in London meant that I could make the Nike bag drop without any problems. In fact the biggest issue was waking up in time but once I was on the tube the same excitement I felt before stated bubbling up again. There I met my pacer Laura and Allie, who would also be running with me and Laura.
Laura and I had had a talk before hand and we talked about my time goal and discussed our race day plan and pace. I wanted to finish within a time of 2.15 taking the whole race slow and steady.
The first 5 miles steadily became faster and faster going from just under 10-minute miles to just over 9-minute miles. We ran from Hyde Park, down the Mall with the Palace behind us, and around Horse Guard’s Parade which for some reason I thought was Somerset House.
At mile 7 of the Royal Parks Half I couldn’t hold in the pee any longer and for a few miles until then every single step felt like a small earthquake in my bladder. But instead of portaloos Laura led me to some normal toilets and, feeling like royalty, I was able to skip the queue. From then our pace was fairly steady until mile 11. There were times when the crowds were just immense and the pace slowed more than I would have liked but there is nothing you can do when that happens.
Then at mile 11 when Laura was checking to see if I was still behind her (the crowds were so dense it was hard to run together) she tripped over the uneven road and fell. I could see she was shocked but she was soon on her feet. There was no way we weren’t finishing together and the kindness of the other runners meant that with only a mile and a half to go we were soon back to running for the finish. With the Royal Parks Half, the finish is in a straight line. It was the most glorious site and I even managed a sprint finish!
Throughout the course there was some amazing support from family and friends. At mile 5 there was Nike with some of my favourite people and confetti cannons. At mile 10 there was The City Fittie screaming her lungs out. And in between the two of them my family managed to spot me three times! Seeing them made the race.
I felt amazing. I was chatting, laughing, and had fallen completely in love with the Royal Parks Half. The weather was perfect and running in the sunshine was what made it. My ankle hurt and my knee hurt but it didn’t matter because I was surrounded by people who wanted to see me succeed. I did what I wanted to do: enjoy the race.
I also managed to beat my target time of 2.15! I completed the Royal Parks Half 2016 in 2.12.51. I took it nice and steady and it paid off. It was such a massive confidence boost and I am already dreaming about the next half I do.
A huge thank you to Laura for pacing me and keeping my chatting and motivated. Thank you Nike Run Club for this opportunity, the bloody brilliant atmosphere, for the amazing run up to the race, and for the post-race food!