A parkrun and a half marathon

I hope that everyone had a great weekend, at least Monday is now out of the way and it’s a short week. Apologies for the recent blog silence, life has been quite quiet recently and I haven’t had much to write about.

I had an amazing weekend and after I had to miss Cambridge earlier this month, I finally completed a half marathon run.

On Saturday morning I was woken up at 06:00 by what sounded like someone trying to break into my bedroom window. I looked outside, and realised that the ‘burglars’ were in fact starlings. After trying and failing to get back to sleep, I dragged myself out of bed and got changed into some running gear. I discovered that I’d left my hairbrush and running gloves in Wallingford. Luckily, I have hair that is so fine it doesn’t really need brushing.

The journey to parkrun was as late and as stressful as always. I’m scared to complain because my friend is doing me a massive favour driving me to the Arboretum, but it would be nice to arrive with enough time to warm up, get nearer the front etc.

I made it to the start area just in time for the pre-race briefing and managed to navigate myself a little nearer the front. It still took me 30 seconds to cross the line and my first mile was the slowest as there were limited overtaking opportunities.

Walsall 1[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I felt great throughout the first couple of laps and managed to increase my pace throughout the third and final lap around the lake. I crossed the line in approx 29:04 and was handed token number 211. I was aware that people around me were really out of breath, I felt fine so perhaps it’s time for me to see what happens when I increase my pace. Let’s face it, I’m never going to get a sub-25 time if I take it easy.

I got home, had a quick shower and then headed to the Chase Farm Shop with mother and my stepdad Colin for a late breakfast/early lunch.  By this stage I was feeling rather hungry so I opted for an unhealthy Club sandwich and an extra bowl of chips.Club sarnieMuch to the horror of my mother, I managed to clear my plate in less than 5 minutes. I seriously regretted not ordering a pudding.

The rest of Saturday was incredibly boring. I had loads of housework and washing and ironing to catch-up on. I think the highlight of the afternoon was my new Garmin arriving. I’m easily pleased. As I was aware I would be attempting to run 13.1 miles the next morning, I made myself eat a huge bowl of pasta, kept myself reasonably hydrated and went to bed at a sensible time.

On Sunday morning, I was woken up by my starling friends again at 07:00. I wasn’t due to meet up with Ellen until 09:00 so I had plenty of time to faff around. I made myself eat a banana and a couple of weetabix and drank a glass of orange nuun.

As I walked the short distance to Ellen’s house I realised that we were incredibly lucky as the weather was pretty much perfect for running. It was quite chilly so I wore a long sleeved top – I’d later regret this decision. I also left my water at home.

At 09:00 we set off on the inaugural Four Oaks half marathon. I’d worked out a reasonably ‘hill free’ route around Four Oaks, nothing could possibly go wrong. We both had money and phones so that we could be rescued if needed.

The first couple of miles were easy but I soon realised I was wearing two too many layers on my top half. After running in cold temperatures for so long, I wasn’t used to running in slightly warmer temperatures. I definitely didn’t need a t-shirt, a long-sleeved top and gilet!

The route of the Four Oaks half wasn’t scenic but it was reasonably runner friendly. There weren’t any toilets or water stations and the only support we got was from other runners and people walking their dogs.

Unfortunately, by 10 miles I was really struggling; my mouth felt like the Sahara Desert and I was starting to feel quite woozy. The hill from Mere Green up to All Saint’s Church nearly finished me off. Thanks to Ellen, I just about managed to keep running.

I can’t really remember much of the final 3 and a bit miles, probably not a good sign. With about a mile and a half to go, I’m ashamed to admit that I slowed to a walk. I told Ellen to run on ahead and told her that I’d run walk to the finish. I crossed the imaginary finish line and walked the short distance to Ellen’s house. I can honestly say that the two pints of South Staffs water I knocked back tasted amazing.

IMG_1028We posed for a quick ‘after’ photo, sat down for a couple of minutes and then said our goodbyes.

The mile or so walk back took ages because I was trying and failing to get a decent selfie – I guess the camera doesn’t lie – but definitely helped my legs recover from the run.

Post run selfie

I got home, drank another glass of orange nuun, had a shower and then headed back to bed for a nap. I slept for a couple of hours and woke up much better.

I’ve now had 24 hours to reflect on what went wrong in the final stages of the half marathon. I clearly wore too many layers and didn’t drink enough water. I also felt incredibly underprepared and don’t think I squeezed in enough longer training runs in weeks before. Although the dodgy weather didn’t help, I could have fitted in a few more runs after work.

Now that I’ve completed a half marathon, I feel that I’ve done something to justify the £500 I raised for charity. Once my legs and right knee have recovered, I’m going to focus on slightly shorter distances.  I’m determined to bring my parkrun time down and I’ve entered several 10k races. I’m not very good at conquering hills, so my longer Sunday morning runs will be replaced with shorter, hilly runs.


8 thoughts on “A parkrun and a half marathon

  1. Maria @ Maria Runs says:

    Well done for planning and running the half marathon- it’s a long way to run on your own without crowds and things to look at.
    That parkrun looks so pretty too. If you want a really fast time you could consider some tourism- see if you can find one with less people, maybe no laps (eg if you are ever in Brighton then the Hove Prom one is easy to get to from the town centre- just walk along the seafront- and it’s flat, not too busy and wide paths)- my local one has a narrow start so you pretty much slow to a walk now at the beginning unless you are up with the 18 min runners because of the number of runners, so it’s no good for pb chasing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emma says:

      Thanks Maria, it didn’t take too much planning, I just mapped out the least hilly route I could. I only realised just how far 13.1 miles is when I reached 10 miles. At least the half marathon reminded me that I’m not good at longer distance running, I think my limit is 10 miles. The only downside to out half marathon was the lack of water stations. The finish area was also a little disappointing.
      Walsall parkrun is pretty, I’ve looked at the route for the nearest parkrun to Wallingford, Didcot, and it’s not very inspiring. A couple of work colleagues have recommended Abingdon parkrun when it’s a little drier. Walsall is incredibly flat and fast and a lot of people get PBs, I just need to start a little nearer the front. Hopefully, we will eventually get the go ahead for a parkrun in Sutton Park. We definitely need more parkruns in the Birmingham area.


  2. Dorothea says:

    Woo hoo! The redemption run! Looks great in not ideal conditions. 🙂 also, I like your plan for the future! Hope this is a great spring and summer of running for you, Emma!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Dorothea. I know it sounds daft but I felt that I needed to run a half marathon to justify my fundraising. The warmer weather definitely took me by surprise. Talk about wearing too many layers, such a rookie error!
      Now that I’ve covered the distance, I know I can improve my time in October. I’m looking forward to taking part in some new (to me) races this spring and summer. I just need to keep injury free…


  3. AnnaTheApple says:

    Ahh this sounds great! Well done for doing the half and finishing! It sounded tough. Especially with the weather suddenly becoming warmer after all the coldness we’ve had.
    And well done on the parkrun! It’s always nice reading about one I’ve done 🙂


    • Emma says:

      Thanks Anna. Congratulations on an awesome performance at Ironbridge. Now Ironbridge really is hilly! The warm weather definitely caught me out. I’ve still got no idea why I thought I needed to wear three layers. I’ve been running in just a t-shirt for most of the winter. Sometimes I forget to engage my brain. Unfortunately, two out of the three barcode scanners failed on Saturday. I was originally listed as an ‘unknown’ runner but everything was sorted by Sunday evening. It’s just a shame one person acted like a keyboard warrior on the Walsall parkrun page.


    • Emma says:

      Thanks for taking the time to read and to comment on my blog. Next time I’ll avoid running a 5k the day before I attempt a half marathon. My legs felt quite tired before I’d even started the half!

      Liked by 1 person

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