It’s not very often I can actually say it was a pleasure to run a race – this weekend was different, maybe because I haven’t raced since mid-July, a long hiatus for me.
I’d heard about this race a while ago through a friend from work who was planning on running the half marathon, however at the time I was preparing for the Great North Run, so I dismissed it not know what state I would be in after GNR and it only being the week after. seeing as I withdrew from GNR I thought about what else I could do pre Royal Parks.
My aim was just to get round in one piece, not pain in my foot and get somewhere around 1:30, didn’t think a PB was possible on a mixed surface course and without a great deal of speed training lately.
I was in touch with Karla who had custody of my number for the day and planned to meet about 8am. This meant an early start for me as it would take me almost an hour on the tube, despite the start only being 5miles from my flat, but with Richmond Park blocking the way *shakes fist*.
Alarm set for 6.10, bus at 7.01 and then District line to Earls Court and onto Kew – simple. Wakes up, looks at clock, 6.36, oh poo. Rather sportingly I do my usual routine of teeth, wash, shave and I prepared my porridge with strawberry and banana which I was still eating as I saw my bus fly past while in my jim jams – ah. By that time I’d resided myself to getting an Uber which to be fair would be easier just more expensive.
I got to Kew quite in plenty of time still & stress free, stress uses up so much unnecessary energy. I hung around by the info point for Karla who texted me to say she’d arrived. We had a quick chat, wished each other luck and went our separate ways.
Trying to get my number on what such a challenge, the event clips wouldn’t go through the number and my top so it was fortunate I’d brought some pins with me. The number and top were slippery and it took me almost twenty minutes of frustration to get it on there. Only when I did get it on, I managed to position one of the pins directly over my left nipple – it was quickly whipped off my bib before I got too far and ended up with a flappy corner for the rest of the run – no one likes a flappy corner whilst running.
Dropped my bag in the very efficient bag drop trucks that would then drive to the Old Deer Park for the finish. I didn’t use the portaloos but the permanent ones in the gardens – very swift (for the blokes), I did feel sorry for the ladies in the long queue as always – there has to be a better solution right?
I made my way following everyone else to the start area where I bumped into Melissa & co- amazing to findsomeone I knew given the number of people there. I really liked the idea of the 10k and Half starting together. I did the Salomon Richmond 10k earlier in the year, where the 10k goes off 10-15mins before the half, being a bit of a slow shuffler it makes the two-person wide toe path really difficult as you’re trying to get out of the way of the quicker runners, good planning RunFest!
The wave start system was a bit of a shambles, only given rough times to start and I couldn’t really hear the announcer calling which wave was going next. I hung around a bit and went for one of the later waves – I did get caught at the front of the wave so I stood to the side before the start line to let most of the runners past and crossed the start line once the bulk of the people had gone through.
The first 2.5 miles through Kew was amazing – loved it, pretty flat and tons to look at, tree houses, plantations, green houses, ponds and a cheeky squirrel running across the path in front of me – quick he was too! Personally, I found the first 2.5mile really tough though, my legs were like jelly and had to start run/walk after just 1 mile. What I did like was the “I’m going to run to that big tree, to that sign, to that squirrel and I’ll have a little walk”.
You exit Kew via some very grandeur gates and make the journey round and through a car park where the water station was – very well manned and more than enough drinks for everyone. After the water station you start on the toe path along the Thames – one of my “I’ll start running when I get to there” points. The ground didn’t exactly make for good running, I was wearing my super-cushioned Hoka Cliftons and even they couldn’t stop me from feeling every single stone and root in the ground. I found myself running really well through here, probably because it was really tough to run too fast with the uneven trail. I managed to keep the run up almost all the way along the river and felt like I could go forever. A lady had taken a fall on the rough terrain and didn’t look in a good way, I did stop but two other ladies were already on hand to offer a helping hand and were trying to get the medics.
The rest of the toe path mixed up muddy trail, concrete and nice soft trail thanks to the overnight rain. Once you get close to Richmond the path turns into tarmac and it’s a nice relief to be bouncing along again – I do vaguely remember getting a hug from a lady who’d stopped on her bike to cheer people along, bit random but nice. Soon a you make a left turn (half-marathoners carry on along the river – slightly jealous, lovely route).
This was the bit I wasn’t looking forward to though, as you pass through a tunnel you see a sign saying “1 mile to go” alas I didn’t realise at the time this wasn’t for the 10k runners. You go onto the large grass field and it’s tough to keep the legs moving when you’re heading towards the finish but can still see runners on the opposite side of the field going round and round and you know you’re going to have to head away from the finish – I’d have much preferred to have stayed on the river and done a shorter run on the field.
As I am trotting along I hear a lady with a microphone calling what i thought at the time was support. To my absolute joy, the lady with the microphone says “Marathon and Half Marathon to the left” and I think, does that mean I turn right and don’t have to do the extra lap of the field? Then as I approach she says it again “Marathon and Half Marathon to the left, 10k to the right” obviously spotting me – oh what joy, I could’ve hugged her.
One Half-marathoner who gave me a shout before was again coming up behind me and gave me some words of encouragement, I tried to keep up with him, but he had a great finish. I just about managed to run to the finish and picked my feet up for a half-arsed sprint to the line.
I was so relieved to finish, I’d pushed pretty hard after 3miles and actually don’t remember looking at my watch post 3mile either – obviously in the zone. I felt pretty good and I was chuffed to see I was back under 1:30 for 10k which is now my base standard – anything over that and I tend to be a bit disappointed.
Crossing the line I got my awesome blingy medal, aka bottle opener and an empty plastic bag – err thanks! But actually it was another piece of organisation, you then walk collecting a bottle of water, t-shirt (mens and ladies sizes – thumbs up!), bottle of beer, Lucozade jelly beans, high5 gel and coconut water – a very pleasing goody bag.
Baggage collection was swift and easy, would’ve preferred it if they’d left the bags in the trailer instead of putting them on the damp grass.
I went across to the stage, mainly to give the other runners coming in a shout and a cheer – I think most spectators had been there a while because there wasn’t much cheering going on. I was in prime spot for the presentations of the King & Queen of Richmond – i.e. the winners of each respective race. I was astonished by their times but it was fab to see Jo Pavey and Chris Thompson up close. Even managed a quick word with them on my way back to Richmond Station, offered my congratulations to them both and they congratulated me too – best moment of the day, albeit I was too shy to ask for a selfie.
All round an extremely good day, thoroughly enjoyed the race and the course, pleased with my time and happy that my foot held together and got me around. Depending on when Great North and this race fall next year, I’d expect to be back!
Charity: So my JustGiving page has reached it’s new goal of £300 – truly honoured! I am tempted to push the target up again, it’s a great charity and deserve as much as they can get – please do consider donating anything you can.
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