Sunday, 6 October 2013

Xempo Pacer Race Report: Royal Parks Half Marathon 2013

This race was one I had wanted to run for a few years now and for one reason and another, not to mention how popular it is I have been unable so when I saw the opportunity arise via Xempo to take part as a pacer it was too good to be true so I put my name forward with many others runners and was lucky enough to be selected. I opted for the last of the pacer positions for two reasons (1) I wanted the pace to be comfortable so I would not let down any of the other runners who wanted to run with me as their pacing guide and (2) since my whiplash injury earlier this year I wasn't sure how hard I could push myself. 

We needed to be at the Xempo tent prior to the start but on a Sunday in Central London this was not to be the easiest of tasks, calling on my ever helpful hubby, he dropped me at Clapham tube station around 7am as the trains near our home turf would not start until after 7am. This gave me more time to get to the start point and meet the others pacers before the race began. 

I gathered my t-shirt, race number and pacer backpack, a surprisingly lightweight and comfortable contraption supporting a large pacer flag... I would not be difficult to spot. I was positioned in the rear of the yellow pen and I collected up a few runners keen to run to my pace for the race including Paul, Kate from Unicef, Kim (recovering from injury) and Red, chatty Gina, a mother and daughter pair, a lovely blonde lady who kept thanking me throughout the race, another blonde lady who I am sure did not believe we were going to make the finish but was a delight to see her smile at the end and some more (apologies if I have failed to mention you).  

The yellow pen headed out at 30 minutes later than official race start time due to the huge volume of numbers (16,000) running the race today. However, this spread the field nicely when running and no bottlenecks occurred which was great especially as I had a number of first time half marathon runners with me wanting just to be able to run the whole race. As we started the race through the park and before long emerged to run past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament I was even more delighted I had decided to pace today, as the sun lit up from beyond the river the city looked glorious. A fantastic day to be out and see London in its glory. 

By mile 4 we had all settled comfortably into pace and everyone was doing well, the nerves of some runners had now subsided and they were settled and focussed on the race. My mother and daughter pairing were running well and had big smiles on their faces. This was certainly a race to be enjoyed with some fantastic sites around London to behold. 

At the halfway point I looked at my watch and we were bang on pace as my watched ticked on to 1:15:04 we certainly were halfway there and running well. I was so proud of everyone and it was great to be part of a team running together. 

The two stalwarts of my role as a pacer were Paul and Kate whom seemed to be at my sides throughout. Sadly at around mile 10-11 we lost Paul at a water station, I looked for a while but could not go back with so many relying on me, he had run strong and I had no doubt he would still make it through in a great time.

Kate who was stuck like glue to me throughout was a very strong runner and we had a good old chuckle at many moments throughout the run. She was like a mini celebrity as there were so may Unicef supporters out that knew her which you could see physically boosting her each time. 

Towards the end, just after the 12 mile marker, the trees were hanging a little lower with led to a few pace flag near misses in the trees. This would not deter us though, with less than a mile to go we have almost 15 minutes to make the last mile, there was room for a little tree pruning and banter! The runners were doing great with smiles and a few shouts whenever I asked them how they were doing - or in some cases grunts and laughs. I had promised I would get them round at a steady pace and I would not fail them, we were in this together and I wanted them to achieve their goals. 

At about 400m to the finish I sent two runners ahead as I could see they had more in them and sent them towards the finish line, I had a little backward running to check out my other pacee's and shout encouragement. I nearly got in trouble with a marshal as I almost hit her with my backward running!

As I crossed the line I think I had sent many of my runners ahead as I hung back and shouted encouragement to more runners coming towards the finish. I waited over the line where I was thanked by a lovely lady whose name I do not know and then saw Paul appear and making it in time, we high-fived and I was delighted for him as he had achieved his PB by many minutes. 

Back to the Xempo tent I went, thoroughly happy and thanked the team once again for selecting me. I headed off and stopped in to the Unicef tent to see if Kate was there and how she had got on, no sign so I continued to the tube. Then, who knows if luck or coincidence I bumped into Kate and her family, she gave me a big hug and thanked me, she had crossed in 2:21 and was delighted as was I, it was so good to have helped someone achieve their goals and in fact far exceed their own expectations. It certainly left me with a warm fuzzy feeling as I heading into the tube station (not to mention my race spoils, a lovely tech top, canvas bag and wooden leaf shaped medal).

The final leg of my day was to get home, I arrived at Victoria and saw my train was due in about 20 minutes so I thought I'd pick up some food. I selected a lovely looking crayfish and mango salad in M&S Simply Food then I must have had some sort of blackout, when I came around I was sat on the train with a Big Mac Meal in my hands!! Oh well needs must!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Short and Sweet in Sunny Spain

I was required to go to Spain for work, lucky me you say and in some ways yes but there was plenty of meetings and work to done so sadly not all play as I am sure some imagine it would be. Waking this morning I knew I needed to get some miles in the the day ahead was hot and even as I woke early the air felt a little too much for me. I headed instead - rather disappointedly to the hotel gym where at least I could be assured of aircon. Although this turned out not to be the case either but I was there and on the treadmill so I just had to man-up and get one with it. 
My initial goal had been to try and get about 5 miles in, but the heat combined with an early meeting saw me flake out at 5km... still at least I got some exercise in whilst away. 
Next time I hit the outside, no matter how hot it is, especially as it was raining at home.