9 weeks into my London Marathon training plan, and with 9 weeks to go, it was time for another race and a chance to test my fitness levels. The plan called for a half marathon and the Hampton Court Half marathon fitted the bill.
Promising a fast, flat route, the race started and finished at Giggs Hill Green in Thames Ditton, heading up and around Kingston before crossing Kingston Bridge and turning back down the Thames towpath past Hampton Court Palace. Despite the name, none of the actual race takes place within Hampton Court.
An 8.30am race start, meant I was up and out early, not feeling over confident. My heel was still painful, and despite reassurances from the physio last week it was still playing on my mind. I’d also managed to hurt my toe whilst running Parkrun, which was extremely painful. Despite some doubts whilst warming up, once I started running things started to settle down. I decided to run with the 1hr 30 pacer and see how things went.
With roughly 4,000 runners, the start was fairly congested. Only the first mile was run on closed roads, and trying to squeeze onto pavements meant the first few miles were often frustrating searching for running space. With this many runners vying for space, I really think the race should have closed roads particulary for the first few miles or at least until the field has spread out more. Despite this I was managing to stay with the pacer. Miles 8 to 10 are run along the Hampton Court towpath besides the Thames, and it was here that the pace started to tell. Although still keeping up I was having to work harder, willing myself through each mile. As we passed Hampton Court and crossed back across the river I dropped back, frustrated at not being able to hang on.
I’d read an interview with Paula Radcliffe once, where she was asked what she thought about whilst running; her reply was that she simply counted slowly to 100 repeatedly, to distract her mind. Instead of willinging each mile to pass, I decided to try the same trick, and it seemed to work. My pace once again settled, and shortly after mile 11 I’d caught back up to the pacer, feeling so confident in fact that I passed him. I knew if I wanted a sub-90 minute run and a new PB this was my chance. As we passed Mile 12 and turned to head for the finish I was still in front. Pushing on back to Griggs Hill Green, I knew the sub-90 was achieved but could I beat my previous 1:29:42 PB, it was going to be close; and indeed it was the confirmed finishing chip time showing 1:29:30.
I’m extremely pleased with my second sub-90 half marathon and hitting a new PB, means that the marathon training (is so far) paying off. My foot held up whilst running, but was and still is extremely painful now. With some big mileage coming up, I’m hoping its nothing serious. The plan is to take a few extra rest days at the start of this week, to hopefully give it a chance to recover.
Overall impressions of the race. It promised a fast flat run, and delivered. The medal and goody bag were pretty impressive. However, I would have preferred some of the run to actually have been within Hampton Court, I also feel that with an entry field of that size, it really needs to be run on closed roads. As such its probably not a race I’ll look to enter again.