Why do all of the good races always fall on the same day? On Sunday that was the Royal Parks Half, Oxford Half and Henley Half – all of which I wanted to run.
But Royal Parks Half is the best half I’ve ever run, so I wasn’t going to let the opportunity to run it again pass. The crowds, the course and the atmosphere of the race are not dissimilar to the London Marathon, aka awesome. And when Nike offered to provide my own personal pacer, I was completely sold.
I didn’t provide myself with the best pre-race preparation, spending Saturday at the Hind’s Head in Bray eating and drinking, before a group of friends came back to our house in Henley for more drinks and cake (I stuck to the soft drinks). I kicked them out just after 9pm and went to bed
Living outside of London meant that race morning was a little longer than usual, with a 6am alarm, before driving the 45mins to Chiswick and hopping on the tube. Thankfully I made to the Nike bag drop with time to meet up with Mags, my pacer for the day.
We’d had a practice run on Thursday to meet, check out pace and race day plan. The goal was to start slow, finish fast, I’d be happy with anything sub 2.
Our first three miles were just under 9 min miles, as we ran from Hyde Park, down the Mall, and around Horse Guard’s Parade. I spotted my amazing Mum around the 2 mile mark before we turned right and ran towards Big Ben.
We picked up the pace from that point, dropping to 8.30ish min miles, and continued it on until mile 11 (with the exception of mile 8, which I think was through a pretty crowded section of Hyde Park). The route took us down the Strand where the course doubled back and we could see the speedy runners
I felt awesome, I was smiling, laughing and loving the race. It was one of those days where I was so happy to be out running in the sunshine, through a city that I love, surrounded by other runners. I felt so lucky to be running, to be injury free and most importantly for me, to be enjoying it. Since Chicago last October, I haven’t had the spark in my brain, legs or lungs, but it has finally, finally returned!
Our pace felt easy, I wasn’t breathing heavily and Mags kept having to reign me in. We ran back past my Mum at the 5 mile mark, by Buckingham Palace, and up through Green Park.
Entering Hyde Park was like a burst of energy as the crowds thickened, screaming and cheering the runners on. The sun was blazing, and it felt pretty hot. I took my Gu gel at mile 7, and water at pretty much every aid station (thank you to the amazing volunteers cheering us on and handing out water/Lucozade, you really make the event special!).
My Mum was at mile 9, cheering in her bright pink coat, so I ran up and gave her a sweaty hug and ran off. Mile 9-11 are a bit of a blur of people, tight corners and rather narrow paths, but still an easy feeling pace. (YES!! 8.30 has felt anything but easy recently!)
Mile 12 was an 8.12 mile, then 13 was 7.54. Once we hit the 800m I took off – perhaps a little too fast – in a sprint down the home stretch, in a 6.57 pace. Absolutely nailed the negative splits!
I knew I hadn’t run a PB, but I wanted to finish strong, and I did, in 1.54.16. A huge confidence boost before the New York City Marathon in a months time.
Thank you so much to Mags and the Nike Run club for such an incredible atmosphere on race day, for the pacing and the post race eats!