On Sunday 11 October 2015, I took part in the London Royal Parks half marathon after being successful in the ballot entry.
I’ve taken part in walking half marathons previously, but have never had the courage to actually run one. I’ve been completing regular 10Ks for the past few years and had fallen into a comfort zone. I registered for the Royal Parks half marathon after seeing friends on Facebook and Twitter complete the challenge, showing off their gorgeous medals… I conducted some research and discovered that it’s a ‘green’ eco-friendly event, which is right up my street! I thought that this could be the perfect opportunity to give me the push I needed to climb out of a rut and start challenging myself more.
When I received the email confirming that I’d been successful in the ballot, I was super excited but also apprehensive and nervous. I immediately started thinking about how I was going to train. That actually ended up being relatively easy; I already run once or twice a week, so I just made sure I continued this religiously and upped the mileage. I guess when you already have a running routine, training is slightly more manageable perhaps.
So this was my first running half marathon run, ever, and I have to say, I’m delighted it was the Royal Parks half. I’m so glad I pushed myself – this event is incredible! Crowds of supporters lined the course so the atmosphere was phenomenal, there were plenty of toilets and signage, the timed waves seemed to work perfectly, the DJ/MC was entertaining, and I have never seen so many water stations at an event before. The Lucozade stations were definitely an added bonus and kept me going! The route was scenic, flat and different to other London runs. The medal is probably the best in my collection, and us runners were also given a technical t-shirt, bananas, Royal Parks branded canvas bag, Royal Parks branded sports bottle, Adidas deodorant, cooking oil, Ritz biscuits, goldenberries, and more. TomTom had a stand with the opportunity to win goodies, and Runners Need had a fun photo-booth with the chance to win some kit. Fitness First provided a useful warm-up and the food stalls were impressively varied, from coffee and donuts to mac n cheese, hot dogs and burgers.
I finished my first half marathon in 2:07 and was so surprised – I had expected a time of around 2:20! I figured that my 10K PB is 52mins – worst case scenario an hour. Times two, plus an additional mile, with allowance for tiredness/pain/any potential toilet break mid-run (which luckily I didn’t need). I’m very proud of my body!
I had turned up on the day with a positive mental attitude, approaching it in the same way as I would a 10K, and I had new songs on my playlist. For the first time ever, I also had sports jellybeans! Someone on Twitter was recommending them, and although I’d never tried any gels or beans previously, I considered that perhaps I should use a booster for the Royal Parks as it would be the furthest I’d ever run. I ate just one sports bean in the starting coral, then one at five miles, one at eight miles, and one at twelve miles. I don’t know whether it was a placebo effect, but I felt like they gave me a boost, and I’ll definitely be using them in future half marathons!
My boyfriend came to watch me, and from a supporter’s point of view, he loved it. He was able to walk to various points of the course with relative ease to watch me run past, as well as being at the start and finish. The event village had more than enough to keep him entertained, too!
I loved this event, I think it’s probably now my all-time favourite, and I can’t wait to enter for next year. I’ll be recommending this event to everyone!