Runner Jenn on the streets of London during the Royal Parks Half Marathon - Oct 2017

Race Recap: the Royal Parks Half Marathon (London, U.K.)  

Alright, first things first. The run was glorious. The weather was warm (a little too warm at times because it was so sunny). And the energy was great.

As I mentioned before, I have been nursing an injury and I really wanted to complete this run. I set a “goal” of under 3:15 – but my real goal was to come in under 3:00. But let me back up…

We arrived in London on Friday morning. Run was Sunday. The hotel we stayed in had an amazing bathtub which meant the epsom salts I brought were going to be used up! We did quite a bit of walking around and my hip was throbbing. Really painful.

My foot was just my foot. It hurt and it would hurt ‘more’ at times, but always just the same weird bruised feeling. I have a natural version of Rub A535 that I used, and I just kept trying to move around and do the stretches from Dr. Chiro.

The day before the run I was feeling really tired. Just totally spent. But we had plans and I wasn’t about to waste the day. So we did a food tour in the morning and had a fun walk around during the day, finishing up at Wahaca in Oxford Circus for dinner. More walking around and I finally had to drag my nerves home to bed.

But first, we had to get ready for the run! Flat Jenn was laid out (and photographed – though oddly I ended up wearing a different shirt), but I was ready to go. The hotel started breakfast at 7 am, so I planned on being downstairs and ready to eat at 7, then to make my way to the race start shortly thereafter.

The hotel was incredibly close to Hyde Park. Barely a 10 minute walk. It was great. I got up, did my stretches, felt pretty awesome, and got dressed. Went downstairs and tried to figure out in a world of foods that I only eat sporadically (wheat, dairy, meat, eggs) which foods would be the least likely to cause upset. (In case you care, I had a small piece of sourdough with a slice of cheese. And a cup of hot tea.)

And then I was off. Walking over to the main area was great.

I’ve never done a run in the U.K. before and I don’t know if they are all like this, but this one was a major party. Tents full of charities, food vendors, cool stuff vendors, a whole fitness and fun area … it was a party already.

I ran with a charity to secure a spot in this year’s 10th anniversary run. I found my charities booth and was delighted to see more tea, biscuits, massage tables for after the run, and places to sit and relax before the proper run began. Running with Team Squirrel (the Royal Parks Foundation) as support was great. They are the best and I highly highly recommend that everyone sign up and run with them in the future. They really made the race easy for me.

Closer to race time and the nerves were starting. Off I went to get in line for the porta-loo and then to my funnel. (I like that they call them funnels, not corrals.)

The funnel business was long. But they had loudspeakers all the way through out so you could hear the main stage (listen up Canada and the U.S., this is the way to do this) and there was lots of energy. I kept trying to quash my nerves and just remember that I am a veteran of six half-marathons. That I could (and would) do this.

We start moving. The start line gets closer. Then we’re off.

I loved the run through the city. Going by Buckingham Palace and the giant Queen Victoria statue (twice!!) as super motivating. (I am a QV fan, but this isn’t about that!) The crowds along the route were great and it all went super fast.

What did I listen to, you are wondering? LCD Soundsystem’s This is Happening.

Then all of a sudden we were back in the park! And then it seemed to go into slow motion. It just got really hard from here for me and I can’t exactly say why.

I was super hot. The routes felt really windy and I was constantly disoriented. And I just lost a lot of time once I was back in the park. By about mile 10, I was running pretty much on empty. I had just lost all will to run but not the will to keep going.

I have never felt the bonk quite like this before. I don’t know what happened but I just started walking more and more. And the demons start telling you to quit and that you’re hopeless. But I didn’t quit and I had a lot of hope.

And then all of a sudden I was nearing the finish. I managed to run it in (though how I could never say) but the pictures of the pain of that moment tell the story.

I finished (sub 2:55!) and was given bad instructions and sent out of the grounds without my banana! But I made my way back in and to the Team Squirrel tent where cupcakes and sandwiches awaited my arrival! I had signed up for the massage and was grateful for that. We chatted with the Team Squirrel folks and then headed back to our hotel. A bit later on, we headed out for a trad British Sunday Roast and that concluded my Royal Parks Half experience.

Before this race, I had pretty much decided that it might be time to hang up my 13.1 sneakers. I have really grown to love running, but it’s the shorter distances that I am enjoying the most. The 10K is a good distance because it challenges me, but doesn’t require longer solitary runs that I just really don’t want to do anymore.

This summer, I enjoyed the twice weekly 5k or so runs followed by a longer run on the weekend and I am going to keep that going, hoping to shave some time off my 10K in 2018.

But first, I already have that appointment booked with Dr. Chiro for when I get home to get the mechanics of me adjusted a bit more. And then, we sit down and plan the winter running schedule. Can’t wait!

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