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Royal Parks Half Marathon 2013

Oct 6, 2013 | Running | 13 comments

This could also be known as ‘the race where almost everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, but I still managed to get a PB’.

Let’s start at the beginning. With an alarm that either didn’t go off, or wasn’t set.

Luckily my body clock is set to a 6.30ish wake up call, so we weren’t too behind schedule. However, upon putting my Garmin on, I discovered that it was dead. Not just out of battery, dead. Completely dead. Despite fully charging it the day before.

The lack of watch worried me quite a bit, as I knew I needed to be running at a certain pace to get a PB. But I calmed myself with the knowledge that there would be pacers during the race, and I could use my RunKeeper to keep myself on track.

We got the tube to Knightsbridge and made our way to the start area, picking up some Gu gels at the RunnersNeed stand before waiting for bag check, and getting in line of the loos. The queues were long, but with 25 minutes to go before the gun went off, we didn’t panic too much. However, with the start time getting nearer, and the queue not moving, it was clear we were going to miss the official start, and I was going to have a hard time getting infront of the 2 hour pacer before getting to the start line.

I was supposed to start in the second wave, with the 1.45-1.55 group, hoping that I wouldn’t have to do too much dodging around other runners. Sadly, with our delayed start this didn’t happen, and I ended up setting off with the next group, about 18 minutes after the gun!

For the first few miles I listened to Jillian Michael’s and enjoyed the gorgeous views of London. It was such a beautiful day for a run!!

Around mile 2 I was feeling strong, and really enjoying it (despite missing my Mum who was apparently cheering around there) when I noticed that my shoelace was undone! This has never happened to me in a race before, and was so annoying. I didn’t want to stop, but managed to wait to a convenient point, stop and quickly do it up.

I started running again, and managed to spot my Mum just by the 5 mile point. I was still feeling really strong by this point, and swapped over to my playlist. I did notice that I’d stopped getting RunKeeper updates but didn’t want to fiddle around with it, so just kept going.

By Mile 5 we’d run along the Embankment, past the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, through St James’ Park and Green Park, past Buckingham Palace and were heading up to Trafalgar Square.

Once we headed back into Hyde Park, we were at the 6 mile marker. I was still feeling really strong, taking advantage of the water stations but not running with a bottle. I ate a Vanilla Bean Gu (not my favourite flavour) around the 6 mile – I’d also taken an Espresso Gu just before the start too. Running through the park there were so many spectators. I kept what I felt was a steady pace, overtaking quite a few people and enjoying the run.

I knew at mile 9 I’d get to see Zoe and Kiera and kept pushing, hoping to look strong! By this point I had overtaken all three 2.00 pacers, and knew that if I could just hold on, and stay in front of them, then I’d be golden! It was starting to hurt a little, and I was glad this was a half marathon and not any longer than 13 miles.

Then I hit mile 11, two miles to go. And got the worst pain I have ever felt in my side. I genuinely thought it was something serious, like an appendicitis. I tried to run through it, slowing down to a bit of a shuffle, but I was in agony. I seriously considered finding an ambulance. I tried to stretch it off, and managed to continue running a little. Until the pain came back, and worse. I stood to one side, crying with pain and frustration, and once again tried to stretch, then shuffled off. Finally, just after the 12 mile marker I found a bench, stretched properly and managed to get rid of whatever it was (my doctor friend said it was a stitch, but I can’t believe it was only a stitch- if anyone has any tips not to get a stitches I will gladly listen to any or all advice).

I was able to continue running for the final mile, catching up with a few of the people that had passed me when I’d stopped. I also saw my Mum again, and she may have got a pained look from me!

I tried to pick up the pace for the last 400m, looking up at the clock to see whether I’d made my target! The clock read 2.10.32, so I thought I’d made it, but couldn’t be 100% sure. The app wasn’t working either. I had to wait for nearly an hour after finishing to get my official time (my RunKeeper had apparently stoppped at mile 2.5!!)!

1.52.25- huge PB!!!

Cutting 14 minutes from my last Half Marathon PB!

I met up with Leah and her boyf. Leah had earnt herself a massive PB too- 10 minutes! Amanda, my flatmate, had been running her first ever half marathon, and she rocked it in an amazing 2.07!!!

We were so lucky to have a big band of supporters watching us- I think it helped that the sunshine was out. Thanks girls for cheering us on, and my official photographer, my Mum! Although, as she said to Zoe- she’s going to have to be better at spotting us during the New York City Marathon if she’s travelling all that way. She even asked Zoe to take a photo of herself in her marathon outfit, so that my Mum knows exactly what to look out for!!!

I am thrilled with my PB, and loved the course, despite all my failures, at least I know that I can cope with almost anything on a race day! The Royal Parks Foundation half will definitely be on my annual race calendar, and I loved the wooden medal, although the goodie bags, or lack of them was quite disappointing. Oh and sort the portaloos out please!

Huge thanks to Mayhew Animal Home for letting me run for them (I paid my own race entry through one of their charity places.) 


  1. Emily Jensen

    Congrats on the personal best! I loved running through Kensington Gardens when I visited London last year. I’m so jealous.

    • Charlie

      Thank you! Kensington Palace Gardens are so beautiful, particularly in the sunshine!

  2. katmcd

    I was in London last week and saw the signs for the race. Glad you had a great race!

    It sounds like your stitch was something more serious than the uncomfortable side stitch but if you were breathing in while on your left foot, switch to your breathing so you are landing on your right foot (or vis versa) …they say just switching up your breathing and footing can somehow get rid of the stitch. It has helped me before but maybe just because I was concentrating on my breathing so much that it worked itself out.

    • Charlie

      Thanks, that’s a good tip, if only to stop thinking about it!!

  3. KW

    Congrats on your pb!

    What’s a stitch? Is that like a cramp?

    • Charlie

      yep, its a side cramp!

  4. Dashing Divas

    I do wonder sometimes if we get too ‘hung up’ on what the watch says. This just proves it – well done love, you smashed it! I’m aiming for around 2 hours (under if poss) for Oxford half on Sunday. I only hope I do as well as you do!

    • Charlie

      I agree- it was sort of nice just being able to run on feel, however quite frustrating when I had no idea where I was time or distance wise. Think I managed to miss some of the mile markers. Good luck on Sunday, with your new 10K PB I’m sure you’ll ace it!

  5. Katy

    Well done!! 🙂 stitch is horrible, and so painful for something that is minor isn’t it!! I have no tips sorry … I had it on Saturday when I was out on a 5k run, and that was bad enough so well done you for getting through it!! x

  6. Tess @ FitBits

    Amazing Charlie well done! Smashed it, even with a stitch. You’re gonna rock NYC x

  7. mia79gbr

    Congratulations on such a brilliant PB! I sometimes get a stitch if I’ve eaten or had something to drink within 2 hours of the start of a race. Hope it doesn’t come back!

  8. Leah

    You absolutely SMASHED it! Not just a sub 2, a sub sub sub 2 wooohooo! I hope you will be living on the high for a while, and it will carry you right through to NYC!

    Stitch wise, I’ve also been told to stretch my arm up above my head on the side that you have it. You may look like a dork, but it has helped me before. Ditto to the breathing on the opposite step – but I find that’s a lot harder to do while running!!

    Love that photo of you and Amanda – big congrats to her too! xx


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