July – Richmond Park

So – how do you keep a blog about half marathon number 7 (out of 12) interesting and a good read?  Keep it short – I hear you say – but the distance isn’t getting any shorter, or faster, more elegant or even easier……..  We’ve done all the toilet jokes – and Gill and I are still speaking to each other – so there is not even any drama.  Except that we are still going – and by the end of Sunday 23rd July 2017 we have raced 92.2 miles this year (don’t forget the Weald Challenge was an extra half mile).  Gill is looking fantastic – she’s lost a stone along the way.  And I am much the same – though rather more suntanned than in January!

So we head off to Richmond Park with cries of  Fenton   ringing in our ears………..  Actually there was a bit of drama in the lead up to this half marathon.  As I have mentioned previously – half marathons are a bit thin on the ground through the summer months and when we found this one back in April it seemed ideal.  Relatively nearby, easy to get to, off the roads and in a lovely setting……….. What more could we want?  Gill got her place – and I thought I did – but it turns out that I forgot…………………  By the time I got round to applying – the race was full and entries closed.

Thinks: “Gill is a very reasonable person and will understand…….. (OMG! She’s going to kill me)”

As it was – of course Gill is a very reasonable person (did the word “muppet” come into our conversation? – or was it a little stronger??) – she just explained to me that I WOULD be in Richmond Park on said day – carrying her shoes and water bottle…………………….  Fortunately the lovely people at RunThrough – who were organising the race finally buckled when I sent them a string of emails explaining what we were doing – and links to my blogs.  Bored into submission they offered me a place!  Thank you RunThrough!  Turns out Gill DID need someone to carry her shoes – or at least remind her to bring them with her!  Another early start – she picked me up at 6.15am and we are on the road.  Four miles into the journey and Gill’s favourite swear word erupts……………………. ****          Have we set off on the wrong day? Run out of petrol? Brought the wrong race number? – Whatever it was her tone of voice told me it was not good!  And sure enough she was wearing sandals and her running shoes were back in Heathfield on her kitchen floor!  **** **** **** !!  Nothing for it but to turn around and retrace our steps with a quick phone call to Colin (I’m sure he was delighted at 6.30 on a Sunday morning!) – to get the shoes ready.  In the end a comfort break was required back in Heathfield and we were on the road again – with some concerns about lateness/parking/toilet behaviour – non of which were founded in reality.  We arrived in plenty of time, parked easily – close to the start, with enough time for repeat visits to the portaloos!  Not entirely sure the Vietnamese meal yesterday lunch time was the best idea………………….

So what about the race itself?  Four laps (a little over 5k each) through the park.  I’m not sure how I feel about laps…….  The route itself was pretty  with plenty of deer to watch and no cars – so headphones were allowed.  And it’s great to know about that long downhill stretch when you know you can relax and make up a bit of time.  But you also know about the hills and those bits of uneven ground you need to watch out for.  And they can get into your head and start eating at your brain (“Oh no – not again – I hate this bit – I can’t push through it”).  And then – at the end of lap three – lots of runners are already finishing – and you have one more to go – suddenly it seems a very long way to the end.  But we did it – we got there!  Not the quickest (about 2 hours 13 mins I think from my watch – my chip didn’t work) and not the slowest – but another one done!

My only sad note – not just this race – but every race I have done this year – is the IMG_1727hundreds of single use plastic bottles involved.  Regular readers will know that my niece Beth ( Plastic Free Hobbit ) has been raising my awareness of the environmental disaster (some say more serious than climate change) that we are facing with a million bottles a minute being produced worldwide and not being recycled.  Gill and I brought our own drinks with us – I just love my hydroflask and it keeps the water cold too!  But we saw untold numbers of bottles being discarded and gathered up by the organisers.  There must be another way – anybody got any ideas?

So race number seven is done and the bling is mounting up.  Come and join us next month in Canterbury……………………  Gill has promised to learn some new swear words……

IMG_1726

I feel the need for a running track – not had one for a while – so it’s got to be George Ezra – Blame it on Me (I won’t forget again Gill – honest!)

1 thought on “July – Richmond Park”

  1. I ran the inaugural London 10 mile race there earlier this year, and I agree about the deer. The organisers kept warning us before the start that we MUST not disappear behind a tree to pee for fear of despoiling the environment, yet delayed the start by 35 minutes for reasons beyond my ken. Those of us who won’t see 60 again were wriggling even before crossing the start line, therefore! Actual, available portaloos were rather thin on the ground as we went around the course, and all had a long queue of five or more folks outside them.

    You are right about the enormous number of single use bottles – there were 5,000 runners in my race so goodness knows how many bottles had to be collected. I know there are companies which buy waste plastic of various kinds, and remanufacture it into decking, furniture, profiles of various sizes and so on. I am not familiar with the chemistry nor the economics, but this form of recycling should be encouraged if we accept that new things will continue to be made of plastic for the foreseeable future.

    After all your races this year, let alone any you and Gill did beforehand, I’d have expected that you’d have your pre-race packing off pat! Maybe you are becoming blase… 🙂

    Oh, and I hate having to do laps as well: you are right to point out the single advantage of being able to look forward to the enjoyable gentle down slope, but the disadvantages outweigh this heavily, in my mind! Can’t understand why they made you do small laps: the park is easily big enough to contain a single loop course for a Half.

    Never mind: you did it! Well done. Can you feel the envy..?? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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