Royal Parks Half – The Confession

This run was always going to be a bit hit and miss, booking two half marathons only 7 days apart and then going light on the training regime is only going to end in a world of pain.

In my mind I thought it would be interesting to see just how much pain would actually be involved – I was beginning to see it as an experiment in muscle damage.

Three days after the Great North Run I was still hobbling up the stairs and trying to recapture my youth sliding down the the bannisters. By Friday though I was able to move around without squealing and began to think this race might be a possibility afterall.

I arrived in Hyde Park to welcome a glorious autumnal morning and the classiest event set up I’ve ever witnessed. There was a farmers market in the event village complete with a wet fish stall and fresh bread counter. Someone tried to hand me a free sample of curry sauce and I was seriously tempted to quit the race and enjoy the grub.

Still unsure of my strategy for this event I propped myself against a tree and started reading through some outstanding blog posts. Speedracer happened to be deciding her strategy for running a marathon on an injured foot but as ever, her approach was gonna prove just a little too hardcore for me. Crippling yourself for two weeks is a step too far in my book, laying myself off work for a couple of days however, sounds much more like my cuppa tea. I did agree that hitting the finish line in 5 hours was going to be a waste of time though, I wouldn’t mind running over the line in 3:30 but if I had to walk, I wasn’t going to be interested.

I started running to Amy MacDonald and finally hit on the perfect motto for the event “I will run until my feet no longer run no more”.


It was a beautiful route, any event that forces street closures through central London has got to score brownie points. There is simply no better place to run. I was a bit worried to note that the route left the streets and headed into Hyde Park at mile 6 though. 7.1 miles looping around Hyde park was going to be a challenge.

At mile 3 my thighs started screaming in a mile 10 sort of fashion. This was going to be some battle of wills. I ran past 3 tube stations and tapped my pocket each time just to confirm that my emergency “get me out of here” oyster card was handy, but ran on regardless.

My energy was sapped at Hyde park, knowing I had more than 10k to go on familiar ground. Spectators and general park goers were getting fed up of the spectacle and started ignoring the fact that a race was in progress. I had to duck and dive through crowds and hop over extender leads as dog owners gave their stoopid poodles full reign.

There were 12500 runners in this event, almost a quarter that of the Great North, as a result, slow runners were a bit thin on the ground. In fact I seemed to be surrounded by those goddamn walkers. Run/walkers and just plain ole walkers. They were overtaking me on the hills again and was I being driven nuts.

At the 10th mile I actually stopped to walk just to see if perhaps it would be quicker that way, but no, I was even slower. At 11 miles something happened with my legs and the running got so slow I couldn’t even claim to be moving forward anymore, the garmin showed the damage – I’d lost a 6 minute advantage in the last 2 miles and my pace was well over 15 min miles. I walked off the edge and promptly threw up in the hedges.

Garmin stopped and I quit. My first DNF.

Royal Parks Almost Half

All I had left to do was join the dots.

I’m not too bothered by the failure, I wanted to see the affect on my body and I also wanted to know if I could persuade OGB and Tanya to substitute this event for GNR next year. It will be considerably cheaper.

In my opinion this is by far the better route, it was pretty well organised and had deluxe portaloos but the crowds were not a patch on the tyneside guys who truly know how to support crap runners. If you were further up the pack I don’t think you would have been tripped up by so many dog walkers.

I spotted JogBlog a few miles ahead of me but she’s been a bit slack with the race update. That’s the trouble with completing races – you get to nurse a legitimate hangover for hours whereas DNF’ers got to go home for a sober bath! Not the way forward.

13 thoughts on “Royal Parks Half – The Confession

  1. jogblog

    Slack? Cheek. You’ve only just blogged yourself. Shame about the DNF, you were looking fresh as a daisy when I saw you halfway round.

  2. Canute

    Congratulations on a good balance between guts and common sense. Maybe you weren’t so sensible in booking 2 half Ms 7days apart, but once you had got beyond that fit of over-enthusiasm, you decided on a good strategy and executed it well.

  3. Laser Runner

    I completed in 2 hrs 1 minute and saw quite a few idiots trying to cross the stream of runners. Maybe the crossers could be used as targets for used water bottles ?

  4. I like to count

    Wish i’d heard about it and had the chance for a go. Shame about the DNF. Maybe Jogblog’s running strategy (little training, alcohol, late nights) is the way to go after her result. I’ll give it a try in April. Maybe.

  5. Celeste

    You were there, you perservered and then you allowed your brain to make the decision. Which means you’ll be back for another run!!!

  6. Adele

    Well done on getting so far round! That farmer’s market thing sounds good, but not at the start, that’s just cruel.

  7. Runner Leana

    Sorry to hear about your DNF. You gave it a good shot though. If I would have had to keep leaping over poodles’ leads I would have found it really frustrating as well.

  8. Roads

    Full marks for trying, Angela. Lesson learned, and move on.

    As for running through Central London – I’m with you on that one. Still gutted about the FLM. Worse still, it’ll be a Virgin LM before I get my hands on an entry. Even though I’m in no way prepared.

    Capuccino and cake failed as pre-race nutrition for me in one Great South Run – that’s a ten mile race, by the way, and having kept the Caffe Nero fodder down for 9.97 miles, I didn’t quite bring it home.

  9. Suzan - SHS1

    “I will run until my feet don’t run anymore” – good one and got to be more motivational than your previous Archers obsession!

    How about some suggestions from the readers for some new uploads?

    I’d go with brucey babys Born to run or Clash Should I stay or should I go now and what about Kanye West “that which don’t kill me can only make me stronger” steer clear of “we have all the time in the world – Louis Armstrong or James – sit down!

  10. Suzan - SHS1

    Just remembered this mornings BPTT classic Klaxons & Its not over Yet!

  11. Speed Racer

    HARD CORE!!! Throwing up in the bushes is WAY more badass than running till your feet fall off any day. And with a half marathon in your legs from 2 weeks ago, I don’t think you should feel bad about not finishing. This was a completely different realm of endurance, and I think you aced it. Puking means A for effort. You were ALMOST there, and had there been someone standing behind you with a gun and someone standing ahead of you with a Stella I’m sure you could have made it. As there was no gun-toting cheerleader there, I think you made the right decision.

    I love the bit about sliding up banisters too, by the way.

  12. Roads

    Sorry about all that red text up there. Must have been too much crappy Virgin cola.

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