A Sunny Hampton Court Half

Around about 8pm on Saturday night, staring at my Chasers race vest on the floor and listening to Taylor Swift (low point, I know) I had a meltdown.  I had a meltdown over a half marathon.  A distance I used to fly around in a decent time with joyful boundless energy finishing with a skip and a smile (this may not entirely be true…but it’s how I remember it…). In the midst of that meltdown I vowed to finally resurrect that girl from the grave.  Might take a while though.

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Anyway, the unopened race pack I had left on the side (despite arriving in a timely manner a couple of weeks before) indicated I had been in denial.  I also hadn’t really read any of the event emails which turned out to be an error because there was a Park & Ride option I should have signed up to…which had since closed.  Luckily street parking was aplenty, just frowned upon (soz).

I went to bed wondering if I could still run 13.1 miles and I woke up thinking I was going to do it anyway.  It was an early rise for an 8.30am race start but I actually didn’t mind, waking up on race day is just waking up on race day and 30/40 mins here or there doesn’t really make much difference, it’s always going to be earlier than one would wish to rise on their day off…or in fact ever.  It was glouriously sunny (OK, it was dark at 05:50 but it turned into glourious sunshine) and it felt like Spring was on the way.

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The event is well organised and I seamlessly positioned myself towards the back of the start pen after downloading my self-lothing doubts to some Chaser pals.  They put me at ease – it’s funny how a sea of blue, green & white bobble hats will do that.  I actually felt a bit excited that I was going to run a half marathon and that a half marathon was actually quite a long way and I could totally do it, not do it well, but do it all the same.

The route is quite lovely, especially in the sunshine.  It starts at Giggs Hill Green in Thames Ditton and follows the river from about mile 3 taking you past Hampton Court at mile 10.  I even remebered to look around and take it all in rather than ploughing on obliviously like I often do.

They say it has PB potential but I’m somewhat doubtful as some of the course is on open roads and the pavements can narrow.  Given I’m no where near PB level I cannot confirm or deny PB potential-bility but I can confirm it’s a great event and there are always a few Royal celebs…

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My plan was to run slow and finish the race.  Not only did I successfully manage to execute the plan without getting swept up by the people around me, I felt better than anticipated and I actually enjoyed it.  Amazing what a bit of sunshine and a palace backdrop will do.  Sure, there was some walking near the end, but it was all methodically planned and under control.

Headphones were banned because of the open roads so I had a lot of time alone with my thoughts (and my inside singing voice which, whilst angelic, is somewhat like a broken record).  Anyway, a few things occured to me:

  • I love running
  • I love running in the sunshine
  • I love race day
  • Running makes me feel strong, even if it is slow
  • I’m still desensitised to distance if I think 9.98 miles to go isn’t very far because ‘it’s less than double figures…’
  • High-fiving Henry VIII flanked by a couple of his birds doesn’t give you super powers
  • I STILL haven’t mastered the art of smiling for the photographer
  • Seriously, there are 103 photos of me, there is only one half decent one

 

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So, the sub zero frost has subsided, the sun is out, spring is on its way and my happy running mojo is back.  The next goal? Knock 15 minutes off my time in May’s Hackney Half…

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