I love history and in particular all things Anne Boleyn and palaces so when I read about the triathlon at Hever Castle I was keen to include it on my ‘things to do in my 50th year’ bucket list. However its September date is likely to clash with daughter’s university starts for the next few years so was quickly scratched.
A few weeks later I found out that another of Anne Boleyn’s homes, Hampton Court hosts a half marathon in March and having forgotten all my ‘never agains’ after my only other attempt at a half in Blackpool in 2015 I decided it would be a good bucket compromise.
I mooted the idea of a running weekend to my group of running friends and amazingly nine agreed to also run and two decided they’d come down and support so a girly weekend away was put on the calendar.
Last Saturday after weeks of long run weekends or Monday nights for some we jumped on trains from Manchester and made our way to our Premier Inn base in Kingston upon Thames. Trains at an unGodly hour meant that we had a full afternoon to play with so a few of us set off for an afternoon of horse racing at Kempton Park with the rest of the gang choosing to make the most of a fine afternoon by walking from the hotel to Hampton Court.
I chose the races and managed to lose money well although did celebrate one winner during the day courtesy of Max Ward (names being my only method of horse choice with this one having a link to our parkrun event director’s son Max). I also celebrated as my partner in crime managed a win on the place pot having selected a placed horse in the six first races.
We all dined as a group in the hotel restaurant and risked indigestion with a relatively early night.
Race day when your event is only 2 miles from your hotel and when you already have your race bib and timing chip is surprisingly calm and I didn’t get the usual pre-race jitters and nerves so an early breakfast was palatable and the Premier inn supported us with porridge on request. In fact the hotel couldn’t do enough for us, providing a couple of late check out rooms for post run showers, reserved table for dinner and ordering our cabs to get us to the race.
Hampton Court Palace is just beautiful and seeing it on our arrival along with almost 3300 other runners and their supporters was amazing. The morning was dry and bright and we spent the 30 mins before the race wandering between the start and the event village admiring the topiary and daffodils and taking plenty of photos and attempting to find a loo without a queue!
We had been allocated various start times and expected to be in pens, however it was far less formal with wave numbers being called out and and expectation that runners went in the correct wave. When you’re a relatively slow runner there is always a concern that being in a late wave will leave you last on the course and a desire to just get going, so as a result people were definitely in waves far too fast for their ability. In the main our group held out until wave 5 (I think officially we were in wave 6 but by that time it felt a bit like a free for all) and we were off.
I won’t go into details about the race, 13 miles is a long way especially when you are complaining about your hamstring, knee, numb toes etc etc from mile 5 with a route that wasn’t quite as pretty as I’d hoped (the river part was good, the run through the town not so).
To sum it up, I had a great weekend with fabulous friends, and whilst I finished with a time of 2:31:49 and didn’t achieve the sub 2:30 that I’d hoped for I wasn’t disappointed, just glad to have completed it. I’ve tried two half marathons and I know I won’t be doing another instead I want to concentrate on getting better times for short runs and having fun whilst I do it!