Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Royal Parks Half Marathon: 13.1 Thoughts For 13.1 Miles

9.30am: At the start in Hyde Park. 12,500 runners. Excited, slightly nervous. In the blue funnel. Optimistic target: 1:55:00.

1 mile: Buckingham Palace on the right. Wonder if the Queen's watching thousands of her subjects streaming past her windows?

2 miles: Bouncing along past Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge. Eerily devoid of traffic. Quickly in the groove and feeling good.

3 miles: Long run along the empty Embankment. London Eye blinking in the faint autumn sunlight on the right. Earlier starters streaming past in the opposite direction. Where's the turn?

4 miles: Turn was just after Temple tube. Now running the other way along the Embankment. Dodging hundreds of discarded three-quarter-full drinks bottles. Surely plastic cups would be better.

5 miles: Through Admiralty Arch and down the Mall. Cheery smile for the photographer. Do I look knackered yet? Generous strangers calling out my name on my already-sweat-soaked WWF running vest and urging me on.

6 miles: Back into Hyde Park via Green Park and Wellington Arch. Nearly half-way next to The Serpentine. Where are the loyally supporting family?

7 miles: There they are. Next to the WWF panda and his rallying pals. A cheery wave from me. Seem to be overtaking more than I'm being overtaken.

8 miles: Winding through Hyde Park towards Kensington Gardens now. Can I keep up this pace for five more miles? Watch says I'm doing 8'20" per mile. Not bad.

9 miles: Long run up a slight but testing slope parallel with Park Lane. Hope that's not a twinge of cramp in the left calf.

Picture: D O'Driscoll

10 miles: Route loops back to the seven-mile bend. Another cheer from the family. Into double figures. Still feeling good.

11 miles: Psychological barrier for me. Toughest part of my longest training run. But feeling ok today. Glad I resisted a cheeky pint last night.

12 miles: One mile to go. Royal Albert Hall dead ahead. Land of hope and glory. Come on. Supine man receiving medical attention on the left.

13 miles: Finishing straight lined with hundreds of cheering supporters including little Grace. Even manage a mini-sprint to the line. Wonder what's in the WWF goody bag?

13.1 miles: Made it. Rewarded with a name check by the MC and a complimentary bottle of orange Lucozade. Risk a first look at my stopwatch: 1:48:03 (official time reduced to 1:47:59 on Monday). Quietly satisfied.

And that's it. A nice wooden leaf badge around the neck. Great route, perfect autumnal jogging weather, £800 raised for Rainforest Rescue, which Sky will double, and a real feeling that five weeks of five-day-week training has paid off.

I might even do it again next year.

And there were two samples of eco washing powder in the goody bag.

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