13 miles later – one half marathon completed

Half marathon
By lucy pickles: October 8th, 2012
What an amazing morning – the sun was shining, I had my porridge and banana breakfast (the breakfast of athletes), and  almost but didn’t miss my train to Victoria. Hyde Park was full of marquees and stalls and runners warming up – British Military Fitness led an official warm up which was useful to get the blood flowing as it was pretty chilly once I’d put all my warm clothes in the baggage area. I was feeling quite positive and well prepared after a whole load of pasta and chocolate pudding for dinner and a really long night’s sleep, but was also quite nervous at this point – probably normal for a novice runner about to run the furthest she’s ever run….

09:30 was the offical start time for the run, but as there’s so many people, the section I was in didn’t get through the start line until around 09:40. Your run number has a chip in it which records your time – I used my watch too so I could see how I was doing compared to my training runs. Everyone always says how it’s easier on the actual day – and you certainly do get carried along by adrenalin and by being part of such a huge event. It is a really great route – you run through 3 of London’s nicest parks (Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James’s Park), and along the river for some of it. Ahead of me was a huge sea of runners, going past Big Ben and over Westminster Bridge – if that doesn’t inspire you to keep running I don’t know what will. Almost everyone was wearing a charity running top, and I found some of the other VSO runners along the way to chat to.

There were official VSO cheering points at mile 6, 8, and 12 – what a welcome boost to my dwindling mental and physical resources this was by mile 12! I had hit a bit of the proverbial wall around mile 9, and was using all my digging deep techniques to get through it. I kept thinking of how what I was doing was not hard at all compared to how hard it is for people living in poverty all over the world, and how grateful I was for all my sponsors who’d donated and raised over £700 between them for VSO. I turned my ipod to full volume and tried running faster in the belief that it would use different muscles than my slow running speed and therefore be easier. Perhaps there’s something in that theory, but perhaps also that wasn’t the time for testing deliriously made hypotheses….

As we rounded the Albert Memorial and came on to the finishing straight, the adrenalin kicked in again and I picked up the pace for the last half kilometre, and managed not to collapse after crossing the finish line. Philippa was at the meeting point complete with goody bags, chocolate, and there was a free massage for us all – amazing! I restocked my protein with a tin of mackarel in tomato sauce, much to everyone’s amusement for some reason: oily fish is THE best source of protein for refuelling post-exercise, so I don’t know why I was so mocked for this??! Very good for your brain too and keeping those endorphins flowing that you’ve just created whilst running.

The results are already on the official Royal Parks website, and I came 8,320th, out of 11,672. I did it in 2 hours 15, without stopping, and did a sprint finish – these were my 3 goals for the day, so I’m really happy and proud to have achieved that. However, I’m not very good at resting on my laurels and now want to do it all again – but quicker. Roll on next year’s Royal Parks, and hope to see some of you readers at it too! Or, if you want an even bigger challenge why not sign up to the London Marathon itself – VSO has Marathon places available – if you’re up for the challenge. Over and out, and thanks for reading – hope it’s inspired you to realise that if I can do it, so can you.

You can read my previous blog here – how to run a half marathon and have fun doing it


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