I’m a bit behind with this blogging lark……. Our March half marathon is done (and our April one – but that will have to wait). For now…………….. this is our story of a run in the shadow of the Terrible Tudors. The Palace half marathon starts (and finishes) in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. The palace began its life in 1515 when the original buildings were redeveloped for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a favourite of King Henry VIII. However, like many of King Henry’s friends – Wolsey fell from favour – and the King seized the palace for himself. Today, it is one of only two surviving palaces owned by King Henry VIII.
Gill and I were rather taken by the grandeur of the venue – not to mention the splendid bling to be obtained if we made it to the end. Not deterred by the Palace’s horrible history (Anne Boleyn lost her head here) we signed up…… Had there been half marathons in Henry’s time – it is unlikely that Gill or I would have been alive to run it – only 1 in 10 people lived to be 40 years old in the 16th Century. Had we survived infancy, the open sewers, the (dirty) water supply and the medicine of the time (mostly involving leeches and bloodletting), childbirth would almost certainly have got us!
As it was – we were both fit and healthy and over 40 on Sunday 19th March 2017. Another early start. If you’ve been reading this blog you know the routine by now – Gill’s driving – I get to her house about 6am – we look at each other “why are we doing this?” and quickly move on to lack of sleep, toilet arrangements, which bit is tweaking, where to put the Vaseline etc. But at least it’s light(ish) and it is not freezing – the weather is looking quite nice in fact – although there is a stiffish breeze. The journey is relatively problem free (who are all these people on the M25 at 6.45am on a Sunday? – they can’t all be going to Hampton Court) and we arrive in time to park the car in the allocated field.
Gill: “I can’t make it all the way over there …… there has got to be a nearer toilet…..”
Fortunately, there was – at a petrol station over the road and although the facilities said “out of order” it was only the lock on the door – and that wasn’t going to put us off!
The race itself is a big one – several thousand runners – so we start in waves. Gill and I are in different waves so I leave Gill in the queue for the toilets (again….) and set off for wave 5. The run is flat (nice!) and I chance upon Ariane – from my old running group Sarah’s Runners. We are running at a similar pace and so run together for quite a lot of the way. The route takes us along tow paths, the roads of Kingston upon Thames and finally into the Royal Park. The temperature is pleasant but the wind quite a challenge – much better when its behind you than when you’re running into it. I spare a thought for friends running the Hastings half marathon today – if it’s like this on the coast those last couple of miles are going to be seriously hard work. As are the last couple of miles here! I’ve lost Ariane by this stage (she stopped for a drink) and there IS a headwind. The path through the park is uneven and whilst on most days you wouldn’t even notice it – today – on tired legs it makes each step painful.
But then it’s done – awash with endorphins you forget the pain – the medal and t-shirt are great and I’m very happy with 2 hours 10 minutes. I see Ariane and Gill through the finish. Gill’s back is hurting so we lie for a while on the grass in a “happy baby” yoga position and do a few cat/cows– nobody looks at us like we’re odd………………… We even take a bit of time to look at the grounds. The magnolias are magnificent.
I’m slightly more “with it” on this journey home. We are singing Doris Day songs – I can’t remember why but there was a reason…………………. Three out of twelve done!
And that brings me onto the running track of the day. I was tempted by Dolly Parton and DIVORCE in honour of Henry – but even I couldn’t sink that low. So in the end it’s T.Rex and I Love to Boogie – for no other reason than it’s great to run to and summed up the mood of the day!