We headed out fairly early, and got the train out from Waterloo, with a brief detour to acquire lucozade and chocolate. Bizarrely, we bought train tickets failing to twig that Kingston is, indeed, in zone 6 and part of Oysterland. It was early. We’d had instant coffee and porridge and that was it. We’ve done this race before, so I’m not quite sure why we were so dim.
It’s a couple of miles from the station to the start of the race, and the walk was dispiriting. Wet. Windy. Dank. Chilly (despite it being 16 degrees). A gust blew a very soggy leaf into my shin, which was like being slapped with a wet kipper. Throughly unpleasant. The YMCA was the usual chaos, with not quite enough portaloos and slightly too many people. Race registration was very efficient once I’d realised I was registered under my married name: usually I run under my maiden name, mostly because my passport isn’t changed yet.
I quite like a good queue. It gives me something to do before the race. So I stood in the queue for the loo, then the bag drop, then the bag drop a second time not because I’d enjoyed it so much the first time round, but because I’d left my camelbak and chocolate in my big bag, and then the queue for the loo again. By that point, the marathon had started, there were vastly fewer people around, and we could hide inside. We found our vicar, who was running his 14th half marathon and keen for a sub 2 hour time. A small amount of gossip, and we headed out to fail to make any sense of the pre-race briefing (terrible tannoy system) and then go.
N and the vicar both sped off, and I, quite simply, trundled. I had Chariots of Fire stuck as an earworm (or a rare orb, as the phone would have it), and somewhere around mile four plugged in the music. This helped immensely, but, generally speaking, this was a slow race. I managed to stay at a sub-10min/mile for most of it, but I flagged towards the end. It was muddy, uneven, occasionally slippery, with some challenging puddles to skirt round. The scenery’s lovely: along the Thames from Kingston to Kew and back again. This gives a fabulous opportunity to dance about like a Monty Python sketch at Teddington Lock. Twice. In fact, although I was going very slowly by mile 12, I perked up immensely simply from the silliness, gave myself a fit of the giggles, and nearly ran out of breath. Slightly before that point, someone slipped over and went base over apex, and three of us crowded round to check he was OK. It was very good natured in the pack generally, and passers by gave us lots of encouragement as they cycled or walked past. There were lots of muddy dogs too.
I had two gels: but I wasn’t in the mood for sweet (so I think I shall investigate the salted caramel gels that I’ve read about). I could probably have done with spacing them closer and having a third. I suspect that the last 3 miles would not have been quite such a slog. I stopped at two of the aid stations in the way back, again because I was flagging and wanted the excuse to pause. The stamina is coming back, but speed is going to be slower, and this is the longest run I’ve done since Berlin! I’ve spend most of the time since then with a cold or a chest infection, with only one run, I think, that was more than five miles. I’ve not plugged the data in, but my average heart rate for this was 184 bpm, a definite improvement on last weekend, but still a little high.
Point being, I was not a DNS. Nor was I a DNF. There is no shame in running a flat race 15 minutes or so slower than your PB. The important bit is going out and enjoying it. And that I definitely did. Then having tea and chips with the vicar. And then having Five Guys burgers. (A wonderful American Import).