Race Review: Royal Parks Half Marathon

Royal Parks Half Marathon

Overall, the Royal Parks Half Marathon was a great race… but it didn’t really start that way.

We were running with charity places for Starfish Greathearts, a charity that helps vulnerable children in Africa and I was sad because despite our best efforts, we hadn’t raised our fundraising target of £600 by race day.

I was also sad because it was raining. The weather forecast went from 55% chance of rain to 100% chance and it was dreary and horrible. The magical Autumnal run I had imagined evaporated and was replaced with visions of blisters and bad hair.

We also left too late and were late to the starting line, meaning I was still in line for the toilet as the race started. Thankfully, the wonderful Starfish people kept our bags safe so we avoided bag check but I was doubly annoyed that my backup iPod was totally dead despite charging it all night. I know it’s ancient technology but it’s a great backup for rainy days when I don’t want to run with my phone.

By the time I finally got to my starting pen, I was flustered and angry. I was wearing a garbage bag standing in the rain alone huffing with frustration.

At long last the race started, and I was happy to finally start. Standing in the rain before a race starts is the absolute worst. Running in the rain is marginally less horrible.

I felt like I was weaving and dodging people for several miles. I just couldn’t find a clear path to run. I was convinced I must have started with the wrong group because I felt like everyone was so much slower than me. I know that makes me sound like a jerk. I am not that fast. But it just added to my general annoyance.

Anyway, I finally settled into a good pace and constantly passing people had stroked my ego. I was no longer mad. I was on track for my best half marathon ever and I was in the zone and determined.

I was so determined in fact that I barely paid attention to the sights around me. I vaguely remember the route which is a shame, because I know the Royal Parks Half Marathon route is world-class.

At 18.3km, my watch died. Just shut off. From 100% to nothing. Apple, seriously, you have got to do better than this. The Apple Sportwatch with Nike+ is such a colossal disappointment as a sport watch. I was averaging 5:23/km up until that point and I felt oddly fresh so I just kept it up, pushing as hard as I could for the final mile.

I crossed the line without much fanfare. I had no idea if I’d met my goal time of 1:55 or not but I knew it had to be a personal best.

By the time I made my soggy way back to the Starfish stand, I had already received a text with my time. 1:54:59! I obviously paced that perfect time with my sixth sense. Boo Apple watch.

Royal Parks Half Marathon

All my annoyance evaporated, and I was very smug with my result. My previous personal best was 1:57:39 set last year at the North London half marathon, so this is a considerable improvement. I was bound and determined to PB in this race. Having just turned 35, I felt like I needed to prove to myself that fitness improvements are still possible. I am not declining athletically as I age after all! Well, at least not yet!

Later that day, we also received a few final donations to our JustGiving page and I am so happy to report that we have now met our fundraising goal for Starfish! I am endlessly thankful to the 19 different donors who gave us money. A huge thank you to you all. Seriously. You guys are the best.

Royal Parks Half Marathon

Team Starfish

And of course, there’s no reason why you couldn’t still donate. We did run a half marathon in the rain after all!

A big shout-out to Graham who was just a few seconds off his PB, and to our friend Paolo who completed his first ever half marathon AND he was the top fundraiser for Starfish! What an accomplishment for your first event.

Royal Parks Half Marathon

Rainy happy people

That’s my last big event of the year. Next up: I’ll be doing the Red Run, a charity run in Victoria Park on 1 December for World AIDS Day. It’s a great event and I encourage you to register. More to come on this event in a future post.

Till then, I shall bask in my PB and my rest day. I’m not even that sore… maybe I should target sub-1:50 next time….?

6 Comments

    • thoughtsandpavement October 16, 2018 / 10:39 am

      Thank you! It was a good race in the end 🙂

  1. Richard Bazeley October 16, 2018 / 5:15 pm

    Great account of the race & well done on your time Miranda that’s awesome

  2. Roberto Nerici October 16, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    Congratulations on both the time and the fundraising!

    I did the Royal Parks last year and although the weather was better some of my experiences were pretty similar. I was also still in the toilet queue when the race started after having been in the bag drop line for what seemed like forever. Although I was in good company and therefore rationally knew this wasn’t a problem, it was a new experience for me and left me flustered and confused before the race started.

    Then the dodging experience was similar. I’ve done a bigger marathon but perhaps because it’s a slower race, or the pens were better (or existent) it didn’t seem a problem then, while here it was a case of just not being able to find my pace. And yes, I didn’t pay enough attention to the excellent sites. And I tripped on a kerb which I’ve never done before!

    Yet by the end of the race it had thinned out, I did pay (a bit) more attention to what was around me, and I got to enjoy it 🙂

    So, mixed feelings. I actually had a great weekend doing this (I’m not based in London) but the race itself was not the highlight of that I’d expected. But it I was still glad to have done it. And the medal is fantastic 🙂

    • thoughtsandpavement October 16, 2018 / 8:47 pm

      Totally agree. The medal is a highlight for sure. Thanks for sharing your experience. Glad I’m not alone in some of my frustration. Hope you didn’t injure yourself on the kerb!

  3. April C October 17, 2018 / 12:57 pm

    Congrats on the pb! Thanks for being honest about the Apple Watch!

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