Sunday, 10 October 2010

Royal Parks Foundation Half

Wow! What an amazing race, maybe it was just the date; 10-10-10 has real significance for me, maybe because it's a few days before my birthday, maybe its just the symmetry of it. Either way I always knew this race was going to be special and that I would get a PB here. 

It was another early start for me; the race start time was 09:30 and I was setting off from home so my alarm sounded at 06:00... I may or may not have actually gotten out of bed at that time... After getting a bowl of porridge I got out the house at 07:30 and then spent 20 mins driving around Milton Keynes to find a petrol station that was open. Not being able to use my debit card at the pump is becoming a problem! Luckily being early the motorway was quite clear and even though I set off late I still made good time and got to Hyde Park before 09:00.

I had been on a course during the week and met a lovely woman who was also running today and planned to meet her before, but being so late I just went straight to the the baggage area, the toilets and then the start. In my pen I notice pacers for 2:00 and decided to try to stick with them, my ultimate goal for 2010 is to get a sub 2:00 half marathon and I was feeling so great today I thought it was worth a shot! My personal best (PB) up to this point was 2:07:21. My last race was 2:17:11, which is even worst! But hey; I'm a chancer! At it was there were two 02:00 pacer and annoyingly they ran on either edge of the runners then one of them kept running to the other to chat even so often, which made it hard to follow! After the first three miles I lost sight of them and actually it made for a more enjoyable run.

The other 'problem' I encountered along the way was with my Garmin. I had checked that it was in running mode, but forgotten to take it from metric to statute. So I was a bit shocked when it buzzed 1km and I had barely started running. Luckily I didn't panic; if this had happened when I first started running half marathons I would have panicked, but I quickly decided to work in kms and aim for 21.09 instead. This also made it easier as I knew I needed to get under 6:00 per km to hit my target. This was the hard part! I already knew I could run under 5:00 per km, but only for short distances, keeping it up over 21km was going to be a challenge! 

At first I thought the route was remarkable quiet, but then it did start at 09:30 on a Sunday morning! Getting into it though it livened up a lot and I heard many people calling out "Well done Sheryl!", "Keep going Sheryl!". I would seem wearing Sheryne on my shirt doesn't work well, I think I'll stick to Ms Sweets in future! lol The Scope cheer spots were great as always; they were around the 6.5 & 8.5 mile points and gave you a real push, just when you needed it. One of the great things about this race is they had a halfway point marker with a timing chip pad too - so no cheating! The great thing about that point is that my Garmin buzzed to mark 1hr complete; great just another hour of hard running to do!

I'd been hitting 9min miles at the mile markers all the way through, but at 9miles I started to fall behind. Only by 10secs to start, but it could have been the beginning of the end. At 10miles I had to pick it up and found a new mantra! "I refuse to lose!" I repeated it over and over in my head, and I think I may have said it out loud once or twice! It kept me going through the last few miles and when I hit the 12mile marker I threw down my Lucozade and the sweets I had in my hand and just made a break for it! That last mile took a hell of a long time to come to an end and it really felt like it was going on forever and ever! It finished where it had started and both me and my Garmin agree that it was much longer than 13.1 miles. In fact it was 13.25!

Hyde Park is one of my favourite places to race and the route didn't disappoint. It encompassed parts of the Bupa 10,000, the British 10k and the start line of the Women's Challenge. It made for a very familiar run that I really enjoyed. The medal was pretty unique too; it was actually made out of wood, apparently from the parks we'd been running in! The festival of food afterwards was really interesting; there were lessons on how to fillet fish, all types of food on sale (I had my my favourite crepes), Army training teams were there stretching the runners out and there were even two obstacle courses for the kids (that looked pretty fun!). All in all it was a great day out and I can't wait to come back next year for a new sub 2:00 PB!

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