Royal Parks Half Marathon Race Review

Published October 11, 2011 by fitflo

Firstly, apologies for the delay in posting this. To say I have been knackered since Sunday is an understatement, I mean, there I was in Prezzo after the race, having a lovely time with all the athoners, and not only did I leave half of my pasta dinner (most unlike me), I then wimped out of BEER drinking to celebrate the fact that it was all over! In fact, I felt that wrong, I thought someone had slipped me a hash cake as it felt like I was pulling a whitey of the like not seen since uni days and 36 hour trips to Amsterdam! I did however manage to finish my cheesecake as what’s the point of running a half marathon if you can’t eat cheesecake afterwards eh? Thank you to Rachel and Louise for supplying me with water for the (much longer than normal) journey home, thanks too to Helen, Cathy, Jimmy and Shaun for putting up with me looking slightly glassy eyed and being a teensy bit fractious throughout the meal ( I remember being particularly sarky to Jimmy at one point – sorry, I have no defense other than I was very tired, in pain and hungry!).  So, how did I get to that point?

Well, my day started with the alarm shrieking at me to get up at 5.30am. regular readers will know I am NOT a morning person, so despite the fact I had gone to bed early to compensate, I didn’t start the day happy. Thanks to delays I was also late meeting Rachel and Louise but happpily we still had time for a chat and a latte befre making our way to Hyde Park…where we were met with HUGE baggage and loo queues. I am quickly learning this is normal at races, and that I should head for the loo queue 1st (although don’t all of you start doing that because then it will throw off the equilibrium – my strategy only works on the basis that you’ll dump your bag first…). We made it through both queues with enoough time to get to our starting pen and hear the race formally started. We crossed the line at 9.38am which I thought was pretty good considering we were the 2nd to last colour to start.

As normal, it took me a litte while to get into my pace. I ran with Rachel and Alma – Louise started with us but she has a faster natural pace so after a while drifted ahead and we wished her good luck. Rachel was doing a better job of keeping us around the 11m30 pace than I did at RTTB – although you can’t help but get caught up in al the excitement and my 1st two miles were done in 11.02 then 11.11. The course itself is pretty flat, and Rachel and Alma being more experienced runners were chatting away whilst I was quite happy to listen and chirp in if I had the breath every now and then. We seemed to get to the Embankment bit really quickly – and Alma and I both broke our nemesis by running for most of it, and I got chatting to a lovely bloke called Derek who took up running in April to celebrate 60 and was doing his 1st half marathon despite only having run 8 miles as his longest run previously – I hope you finished well Derek!

At 5 and a half ish miles we went back into the park and saw the 9 mile marker but it was ON THE OTHER SIDE where there were also lots of other runners…hm OK. I thought, I can handle passing faster people once, but that once went on for a LOOOONG time. Then we passed the 7 mile marker and saw the 10 mile marker on the other side. Knowing that I had 3 miles and at least 30 minutes running to get there played on my mind and from that point I just seemed to lose my mojo. I made it past the distance at which I wobbled in RTTB (10.5m) only to crash at 11m. I just ran out of juice. I was annoyed – I had eaten more before the race this time and had had a couple of jelly babies whilst we were going round. I downed the 170ml bottle of Bio-Synergy Pure Energy that I had made up ready but I think it was too late – I probably needed to have drunk it about 30 minutes earlier. Rachel was feeling good so she sped off and Alma was (I think) at the point where she couldn’t stop so somewhere between 12-13m I told her to go on ahead, and scrabbled to the end with a mixtue of walking fast and little bursts of running whilst couting in my head.

I know – I sound mad as a fish, but when I get to that point I find the counting helps me cope – the way I count to 100 takes about half a mile, so I needed to do it 4 times. When I reached the finishing straight, I knew I was close to getting the same time as before, and in my head I wanted to sprint to the end, but my legs would not co-operate. I limped in at a slow trot which would have slowed to a walk had I not been buoyed up by my bestie Michelle and her fella Russell bellowing at me 50 metres from the end to keep on running! Thanks guys! I finished in 2h 33m 49s, unbelievably, just 17 SECONDS slower than RTTB. I was gutted. But with 2 days to reflect on it (and lots of support from my tweeps) I can look at it and say actually it was only the 2nd half marathon I have ever run, it was 14 days after I did my first one and to finish with ONLY 17 seconds difference in time is pretty bloody awesome and shows that I am consistent and that RTTB was not a fluke. I have decided not to download any of the photos as I think I have enough of me from Regents Park and RTTB looking both fresh (and fat) and defeated (and fat) and I am not going to buy any more race photos until I have lost at least 2 atone so I look like a runner not a lump of lard melting across the line!

So, my impression of RPH. It gets a 6 out of 10 from me – here’s why:


I got in on a 2nd chance ballot which I didn’t remember entering and I thought I hadn’t got a place which was a nice bonus.

It starts/finishes in Hyde Park which is my fave London park and is easy to get to.

It started bang on time and didn’t take overly long to filter us slower runners through.

It was well marshalled and supported


I got in on a 2nd chance ballot which I didn’t remember entering so had already enetered and paid for another half marathon within 2 weeks of the date.

There was no seperate area for participants – at RTTB only runners could get into the baggage area and toilet queues which meant everyone around you was thinking and feeling the same ass you (mainly FUUUUCK if these bastards don’t hurry up I am not going to make it to the start on time!). However, at RPH this wasn’t the case, and I heard spectators MOANING about the Q. er HELLO??? Are you about to run 13.1 miles? No. Are you going to have to try to squeeze every last drop out of your bladder so that you don’t need to use the loo for at least another 3 hours despite the fact that during those 3 hours you are going to drink at least 1.5l of fluid? Er, NO. OK, SO STOP YOUR BLOODY WHINGEING AND WAIT TIL THE RACE STARTS TO USE THE LOO YOU SELFISH BASTARDS! Phew, thanks I feel better for that rant. Sorry if you were a spectator, but just thnk how frustrating it is for us runners seeing you in the queue in front of us at 9.25, when the race starts at 9.30 and after that time you would have them to yourselves.

The crossing of the route so much. I HATED the amount of time I was running along with faster runners coming towards me 3 miles farther on. And it didn’t make me feel any better when I passed slower runners coming the other way as all I could htink about was how bad they must feel. Also, we had only done 5.5 miles when we got into the park which means a massive 7.5 miles of them (yes I can count .1 is finished on the road!) is done in the park itself. For some reason when I got back to the Hyde Park it felt like we should have been well over half way. I don’t know why but there it is.

Did I enjoy it? Mm, maybe I’ve just got the arse because I didn’t get a PB,  however I won’t be doing this race again. I loved meeting up with the athoners, it was great to start the race with 3 people around me that have supported me on my journey from the start, and if I could have that in every race I would. But that could happen at any race. I preferred the RTTB course and before/after area much more than this one – Probably because, due to the proximity of the o2, I had a beer in my hand only 15 mins after finishing the and after all is said and done – we all run for beer don’t we!


21 comments on “Royal Parks Half Marathon Race Review

  • It was lovely to see you and don’t apologise for anything! In fact, you made my day at offering me honory god-mothership to Oliver and now I must insist on photos. As for being sarcy to Jimmy, I doubt he noticed (I’m always sarcastic to him) – he could not stop talking on the way home about how lovely and young you look!

    Well done on two halves in two weeks, it is tough and if it’s any consolation, I feel grim as anything now. We are hardcore! x

    • Ah thanks – I have emailed you some pics. LOL Jimmy was funny I am glad I didn’t offend – I wanted to give him a big kiss for thinking I was under 30!

      We are indeed totes hardcore and should be waited on hand and foot for the next 2 weeks (ahem – hubby I hope you are reading this…)

  • I didn’t notice this year but remember being really stressed last year about non runners hogging the loo queue!
    Yes they need a beer tent.
    RTTB for next year then!
    Well done again and enjoy your rest weeks.

  • What you have achieved in this year is amazing, I only attempted a half marathon after running for well over a year, and here you are 10 months in with 2 halfs, a ten miler, several 10k’s and all the training runs under your belt!!!
    I am also disappointed that we didnt manage a PB, but we will be so well prepared for Brighton in Feb, not only will we be lean mean running machines, we will be well into our marathon training. PB will be inevitable!
    Must admit I also preferred RttB even though it took longer to get started 🙂 Good luck at the physio, give yourself some time to recover and bring on the marathons!

  • Beer tent, private loos, changing tent and fewer doubling-back sections. And a chocolate bar in the goody bag. 😉 I hope you feel less exhausted soon – sofas and cats aplenty work wonders.

  • Righty. So, I just read your post and some things struck me which I’m going to share…

    Firstly – you are disappointed because you didn’t get a PB in your second ever half. This is cool. This is cool for lots of reasons actually: because you are the sort of competitive nutter that I like, because just 9 months ago you had hardly run and you’ve just run 2 halves in 2 weeks and wanted your second to be faster.

    Secondly – you’ve just run two half marathons, which basically means you have run a marathon. Frankly that is awesome. Really awesome. In fact, I’m a little bit in awe of what you have achieved with running because back in January I kind of saw us as similar kinds of folk and since then you have zoooooooooomed on and have done so much. Fab stuff.

    Thirdly – with the weight loss – good luck, but… remember that being fit and healthy and feeling good about yourself is more important than what the scales say. I have found that my weight loss has plateaued out but that I am still changing shape. Find a pair of trousers you want to fit into, or keep an old pair you want to shrink out of – that is more encouraging sometimes than the scales which are so dependent on water retention and if you are exercising a lot this can be very variable.

    Anyway. You seem to have been beating yourself up a bit in that post, so just thought I’d say I think what you have done is pretty damn cool. So, ignore the tossers in the toilet queue and run to enjoy it – get the old PRB back!

    • LOL thanks Emily – you’re right I was peed off because I wanted a PB! And thank you for your lovely words about what I have achieved. I read this comment this morning and went into my favourite shop at lunchtime – to discover I have gone down a size – yippee!!! I bought a dress a size smaller than I am now, I’ve never done that before but I figured it gives me a goal and it was in the sale!

      • Whoooop whoooop!
        Awesome, it’s such an exciting feeling to go down a size isn’t it?! I was so used to just buying what fitted with little regard for whether I liked it, or whether it suited me, that I can’t quite get used to the idea that I can now (mostly) choose things I like. Although, it’s harder here as there aren’t many tall, ‘athletic’ types over here!!!

  • I felt the same way when I did the RP a couple of years ago. Despite Hyde park being lovely I was gutted to see all the miles laid out ahead of me in such a tiny space.

  • Hey Flo – can’t really add to what others have said already – but just wanted to say well done on what a fantastic year you’ve had (and we’ve still got a couple of months to go!).

    I seem to remember this blog started off as ‘Fortnight’ Flo, due to interest in these kind of activities tending to wane after a couple of weeks. So how come we’re 10 months on and talking about 17 seconds? 🙂

    Cracking stuff all round and look forward to meeting you at one of our local races soon – we seem to keep missing each other!

  • The trouble with retiring to bed early is that I am the last to comment and all that needed to be said has been said. You just need to listen! The other thing you need to do is enter RPHM next year and let me have your place! Fab work all round.

  • I count when I run as well, how funny!! There’s something about distracting your head from the aching or the boredom (esp the latter for me), I dunno, have always done it! So nice to see that someone else does it too 🙂

    Just think about how far you’ve come since you started, it’s such an achievement!! Well done you!

  • Well done Carla – great consistency! 17 seconds is nothing – probably just a bit of extra swerving around other runners 😉
    And nothing wrong with counting in your head if it gets you round, in fact I’m sure I read somewhere that Paula Radcliffe does it too or maybe she just nods her head….

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