Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon 2016 – The Good, the Bad and the Cold

Last Sunday we completed our first Half Marathon.

Time results: Andreea – 2h 17min, Alin – 1h 35min. I honestly think these are great times and we will keep improving, so we might see Alin win one at some point :).

What did we like, what we didn’t like?

Good

The course is beautiful

You run the most part along the Thames in a lovely area of London. We decided to go for a walk sometime soon and explore more (yeah, more than 21k!?).

The theme

The medal is hilarious, and everything around the race theme was great – a dude dressed as Henry VIII to take pictures with, a royal chair for pictures too, the palace itself in front of which we had the start line, a few ladies and gents running around in costumes.

The people

Running is for everyone, and I’ve seen all types of people. On the course, there were four people in particular that caught my attention: a guy with one arm, a very old lady and two girls running in the long, black robes requested by their religion. For every one of them: WELL DONE, you are amazing!

Finish times

Both Alin and I managed to complete the Half Marathon in the times we predicted. Which means we were able to pace ourselves. The first 4-5 miles are a real fight with yourself – you have to refrain from going out too fast and use all your resources just because you want to be faster than the person in front of you. Somehow we did it; mental preparation is key.

Pictures!

Yes, we had to go through thousands of photos to find a few of us, but we’re happy those moments were captured. Too bad there wasn’t even a bit of sunshine to improve the quality of the pictures.

Bad

Hampton Court Palace Half Marathon 2016 Review

The weather

It was so cold that even after running 13 miles I was still not warmed up. Didn’t care to stay for some pictures after because all I wanted was to go home. Before the race, we kept warm by running a bit, doing squats and lunges or drinking hot coffee. But I heard it was a big improvement from last year when it also rained the entire time.

Location

It was so far from home that public transport wasn’t really an option. We had to choose between spending a lot of money on a taxi or spending at least a couple of hours on public transport. Considering also the cold and the fact that we were supposed to pick up the dogs in the afternoon, we chose to spend the money. It’s against our beliefs, but exceptions happen.

Some areas of the course

There was a small section of the course (about 2 miles) that I hated and where I almost saw that wall people talk about. It was on the street, we had cars on the left and woods on the right. No people cheering, no support, just us, the wind and the cars noise. Pretty unsettling, I was just looking forward to passing that section.

Not running free

Not a bad thing, but more like a puzzle: I saw people carrying three bottles of water with them or eating gels at mile 4. WHY??? All races have water stations exactly at those points where you might need hydration (every 3 miles or so). Why carry so much extra weight with you? Run free! I didn’t have a sip of water until the end; I just didn’t need it. And if your nutrition and hydration are spot on (because you’ve been training for so many weeks), you won’t need gels, especially not at mile 4. Our bodies are designed to have readily available energy for about 90 minutes; it’s just then when you may start thinking about munching.

The start time

It wasn’t too clear by looking at the map and at the signs where the start line was, and the waves left 2-3 minutes before they should have. The 9 am wave left at 8:58 so Alin missed it. No big deal though.

No warm up

There was no organized warm up. Considering the weather, what were they thinking?

No vegetarian options

I know it’s a tradition to have hog roast after a race, but what should vegetarians eat? There was no option for us other than bananas and oat bars :).

Things to consider if you want to take part in this race next year

  • The location – it’s London, but not really
  • The weather – statistics show that it will be cold
  • The time it takes to train properly – do you have ten weeks?

What I learned

Do not drink wine with no food, after so much running. It doesn’t end well.

What do you think of the Palace Half, if you’ve done it, or half marathons in general?

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