My travel plan was to stay at the Crowne Plaza in Ealing for two reasons, firstly I know the hotel and it gave me easy access to an office on Monday morning. Secondly it is part of the Holiday Inn chain that are official partners of the race so it had a coach transport to the start included in the price. The coach worked out well, although a little early for some I’m sure (7:30 arrival at the start). Personally I was happy enough I always prefer to be early, although had it been a rainy day I might have had a different view.
So getting nearer to the race it's amazing that in a field of twenty thousand people queuing for a portaloo that someone shouts your name and you find yourself having a selfie with your fellow club members, Hedge End Running Club are always a friendly bunch! Just before the start another spots the red white and blue Hedgie vest and appears, it was great to have Donna to chat too as we waited for the start and ran the first mile or so together before inevitably being split up by the sheer numbers of people jostling for position on the road.
So onto the nitty gritty, my hope, despite lack of training was to get sub 4 hours (3:59:59) but deep down I knew that was an impossible ask and simply finishing would be an achievement so off I trotted after a wave to the Royals (I got far too starstruck and excited) I managed to hit the first 10 miles or so at the pace I wanted for a 4 hour time.
Unfortunately during that time the dreaded thought of do I need a ‘personal stop’ or not was in my head, so at about 12 miles (* distances may not be accurate at time of typing) I had to stop, que, and get started again which inevitably put me behind my 4 hour target. My first instinct was to put my foot down and make that time up ASAP, but my sensible head (yes I do occasionally have one) said I had half a marathon in which to chip away at the deficit and get back on track at a steady pace. Fast forward to 18 - 19 miles and boom, flick the switch and my legs suddenly had nothing!
Hit the wall...
Hit the last corner when you turn on to the finish straight, probably 200 meters to the end and suddenly I got a tap on the shoulder from someone saying.. ‘Come on Robbie’ and there is a fellow runner from Whiteley and a local club ‘Fareham Crusaders’. It is amazing how in an event of forty thousand you can suddenly meet up with a neighbour in the last stretch. It was great timing as I think I was about to finish feeling gutted, grumpy, and generally fed up, but in the company of another runner I couldn’t help but smile over the finish line and forget all the pain I’d felt in the last half of the race, thank you Niki!!!!
Not convinced by the finishers t-shirt
Finally In other news… my favourite supporter signs spotted on the day were (and they may not be word for word)….
'Run faster, all those bad Tinder dates are behind you!'
'Ela, if you think this is hard you should try dating you.'
'Run like your Ex is chasing you'