Thrills and Spills - 13.1 Miles Of It!

Thrills and Spills - 13.1 Miles Of It!

UPDATE: Due to some "timing errors" on behalf of the race organisers, it appears my time is 2:10:18 ... I am more than a little disappointed given the elation of a sub 2:10... but, given the messing about with marshalls and dangerous mud (some people got injured) - I'm just going to move on to Richmond HM on March 22nd... it doesn't take away from my run and my Garmin said 13.1 miles (bang on) at 2:09:49... so there!

Evening all, Aussie here with a special race report... my first post "HALF MARATHON" report... that's right campers, the Aussie is now a member of the "half marathoners club" after successfully completing the Hampton Court Half Marathon today. And what a day it was!

After spending the last week pretty much knocked out by cold and flu, I started this week thinking I'd never see the start line. I did 14 miles 2 weeks ago and an 8 miler last Sunday but started Monday with a terrible sore throat and cough... not a great start to the week. I managed a few cross training sessions in the gym (bike and cross trainer) but felt awful. I didn't run on Wednesday like I normally would but by Friday I felt a bit better and pushed out a nice and slow 5K... I was ready for Sunday - not 100%, but no backing down!

Saturday I lay about and rested myself - hydrating during the day and loading up on rice and pasta before the big day. Still wasn't feeling 100% but there was no way I wasn't going to line up at the start and I agonised over whether it was a short sleeve or long sleeve day. After checking the forecast and noting "sunshine" on the menu, I opted for short sleeve and donned my London Winter Run top (my favourite) for the day... Bed early on Saturday - excited for Sunday...

Sunday I'm up at 6:30 and down a banana, get a coffee down and start to get ready. Heart rate monitor on, Garmin ready, RoadID on, FitBit Flex charged, compression shorts, compression socks, race top and finally attach the timing chip to the trainers... lace up and we're ready to go! The start line is about 20 minutes away and I left with heaps of time - but little did we know we should have factored in the traffic jams in the area... nightmare! I ended up having to bail out of the car and left Mrs Aussie and the little Vegemites half a mile from the start, kissed them and said I'd see them at the 5 mile mark... a gentle jog to the start to warm up seemed on the cards...

I had plenty of time when I got there and was pleased with this as I really needed to use the bathrooms... and this was where the day started to get interesting (and why I'm glad I've run races before). The queues were RIDICULOUS... like 30 minutes long, like long enough for the front runners to have started by the time I was near the front of the loo queue... like long enough that by the time I was "ready to go" that most of the runners had left (okay, there were quite a LOT of us running late) and my plan to sit with the 2:10 pacer was all but a dream... Oh well I thought, no point crying about it and at least there's not the mad jostling to deal with - let's just get on with it... over the line, start the Garmin and laugh at myself for not turning up early enough... although without that "pre-race pit stop" it would have been a very different result! :)

On we go, the first mile is on closed roads and I soon catch up with the main group behind the 2:30 pacers... onwards past them (actually liking this overtaking) and feeling good... Then we hit an intersection and it all gets a bit confusing... there's a loop in operation for the HM and it's "straight ahead" for lap 2 of the HM and the 10K being run at the same time... it's a "left turn" for lap 1 of the HM... Marshalls are totally confused, I'm bamboozled as the signs aren't clear and with the front runners already on their second lap of that section, many HMer's are heading straight ahead... Anyway, I sort it out (had to stop for 10 seconds to chat about it) and it's left and a I complete the loop and then straight on to 3 miles... at about 30 minutes I figure this is the right pace to be at and I'm checking the Garmin every now and then as I'm tracking a 6:10min/km pace as a stretch goal (2:10 HM). Mainly I'm checking distance and heart rate and I'm pushing my HR out to the higher "race pace" rates...

Just before 5 miles hit and I'm in Kingston town center - round the corner and I see Mrs Aussie and the little Vegemites waiting for me... Awesome!! High fives all round and they spur me on... Onward we go - only 8 miles to go! Now we're into Canbury Park and I'm now sipping my water every kilometer or so... 10k rolls over before I even know it and it's just over an hour... almost halfway Aussie... and I'm feeling great... pace is up, breathing is okay, my cough is behaving and running with loads of people is awesome - they are keeping my pace up and I'm still overtaking... I've already taken the 2:20 pacer and I'm looking out for the 2:10 pacer... It'll be a while... I down a gel at 11km (almost 7 miles) as I've trained myself to do... it should kick in in the next few miles...

Now we're out over Kingston Bridge, and a quick loop down to the riverside and we're running along the towpath from Kingston Bridge to Hampton Court Bridge... a very familiar stretch for me and it seems to whizz by pretty fast... the sun is shining, the water is still and there are thousands of us still running at the 8 mile mark... this is awesome! I'm loving it... the gel and energy drink is kicking in... here comes the push!

Past Hampton Court Palace and over the bridge and Henry the 8th is out cheering us on in full regalia! Speed up or I'll have your heads! I bet not many people survived a high-five with Henry the 8th, but Aussie did! Hahaha... before I know it, we're at 10 miles! Only a Parkrun to go... but I'm feeling it now... no heroics, keep the pace up and speed up if you can Aussie... but maintain the pace - you're on track for 2:10... don't blow it by going too fast... race your own race...

Coming up to 12 miles, Mrs Aussie and the little Vegemites are screaming me on from the other side of the road... loving it now - power on, down another gel, finish off my drink and settle in for the last mile... this is on track... you got this!

Then - DISASTER! Out of sight of the wife and kids (thankfully), the course took a u-turn onto a trail and for the first time it's gone from towpath and tarmac to mud... and with thousands before me (and the 10K run) having run through it, it's a quagmire and really, really slippy.... Marshalls are on the corner and there's a bin behind the marshall... I had an empty gel sachet in my hand and asked the marshall if he could put it in the bin for me... not sure he quite understood as I rounded the corner but I lost focus on my feet for a minute while coming around and before I knew it, I was over... my head hits the ground, my sunglasses cut into my head, I can taste blood and my knee and arm are throbbing... water bottles everywhere and I think "well, that's that then - there goes my big finish"... The marshalls come over and there's a medic there who says "you should probably take a minute mate"... my response? "Sorry mate, I've stopped here long enough... my leg isn't broken and every second I wonder if I should run again is a second on my finish time... He tells me "runners are a funny lot - good luck mate - go easy, it's slippy for the next half mile" and I'm off... covered in mud, blood dripping down my head and from my lip... and I start laughing at myself.... the wife and kids will go crazy when they see me round the final corner!

It's really muddy for about half a mile (as expected) and I slow RIGHT down now... another few people went over and I stop to help a guy up... we're both covered in mud! Quick check of Garmin (wipe off mud) and we're at 20.3km... holy peanut butter - that's less than a km to the finish... and my pace is STILL about 30 seconds ahead of a 2:10... how is that possible... I blew it right? Well... now I'm on tarmac and I'll be darned if I'm giving that chance at a 2:10 away now... It's time for adrenaline to take over and to run with my heart now... I'm exhausted - the mud and fall has taken it out of me... but the crowd is AMAZING... I must look an absolute sight... like a tough mudder or something.... Loads of cheering, muddy high fives from the little ones on course and then it's a left turn into Esher College... almost home!

Crowd goes up for every runner and I can see the 2:10 pacer just in front of me... how the heck have I caught him with all my messing about at the start and starting almost last... Wow! Wave to the camera man (that should be a funny shot I'm sure) and then I hear the crowd as I round the final corner... I can't see the wife and kids (they got lost it turns out) but the crowd carries me to a sprint finish.... I cross the line and land almost into the arms of a lovely lady handing out medals... I can hardly walk, my head hurts, my lip is bleeding and I'm covered in mud... Garmin says 2:09:45... Once I remember to stop it...

And then something happens... I grab a bottle of water, stretch a bit and then ring the Mrs to sort out a meeting place. Before I head off to meet them, I take a seat on the grass and then it hits me... I just ran a Half Marathon... a real, fair dinkum, official Half Marathon, all 13.1 miles of it... I took a fall, I got back up and I finished it! It's surreal and a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life...

Me - the guy who couldn't run for a bus on March 9th 2014... the guy who'd never played sport, the guy who was 4 stone heavier... I just ran something that not many people can do... 13.1 miles, 21.1 kilometers...

And you know what - without C25K and you lovely people to spur me on, talk me through injury and to share my stories with, I wouldn't be here today - a proud Aussie and a Half Marathoner...

Anything is possible... believe in C25K and, most importantly, believe in yourself...

Whether you're on Week 1, moving towards a 5k, a 10k or even further... or if you just like to run 30 minutes 3 times a week... you're all runners, you're all amazing and you all helped me get here! I did the miles, you did the pushing when I didn't believe...

Oh - my official time? 2:09:31! Can't believe it...

I'm running another one in a month (Richmond HM)... it'll be great, but never as great as the first one! And on the 15th March, I'm running the Lidl Breakfast Run in a Tutu and Fairy Wings.... Because I love a bit of fun on my run! :)

Thank you for reading folks... thank you for your support always!

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37 Replies

  • What a fabulous report aussie. Absolutely amazing experience and thank you for sharing. You did fantastically especially after the tumble. I'm sure that shook you up a bit, but hats off you got up and finished!

    Many, many congratulations and have a very happy evening with your celebrations.

    Love the pictures too!

  • Fabulous race report ! So glad it all had a happy so many ways...What a marvellous example you are. Very well done.

  • Brilliant aussie :D just brilliant and an inspiration to us still "newbies" What with you and Miles Yonder and your HM's !!! 10K 1st then we will see :D gawd bless ya !!

  • What a fabulous race report, the muddy bit sounds like madness. Well done, you are an inspiration.

  • Aussie, what an adventure you've had this last year, and a fantastic write up from you filled with emotion, made me feel like that too and i'm usually a hard nut to crack! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

    With your fall to contend with too, you never gave up and got that sub 2.10! Thats brilliant!!! you're an inspiration! :) ps love the photos too :)

  • Aussie, that was amazing, well done!

    Don't like the sound of that nasty muddy stretch.. and the organisation sounds a little sketchy, but hey ho, what an event, what an achievement, what a man - GO AUSSIE :):)

    This programme and forum are amazing aren't they, us normal, humble folk cracking on with this great running lark - I love it just as most of us do - a real life changer.

    Hope you enjoyed the rest of the day, well done again

    :) xx

  • Amazing! I just loved reading your report. What a brilliant write up and it really makes one feel all the ups and downs as you run your race. Loving the high fives with your kids, the overtaking, and the shock and determination as you get up from your tumble. Absolutely fabulous! Well done indeed sir!

  • Great race report Aussie - many many congratulations on your achievement in getting to this excellent time and place in under a year. See you at Richmond in 4 weeks time

  • Really, really well done! Fantastic report. May have seen you as I and my partner were cheering our daughter on in Kingston too as she did the same half marathon today! Such a wonderful experience to have been part of - even if we weren't running. I've just finished week 6. Who knows what it may lead to given the example of people like you ( and my daughter of course, who's doing the London marathon in April and inspired me to do Couch 2 5k). Have fab time celebrating your amazing achievement with your family.

  • Omg!!! That is amazing! You've brought a tear to my eye! That's so fantastic. Well done you. What an absolute achievement. To get up and keep going, and all that after having felt rotten all week. I am so pleased for you. Huge congratulations. You are such an inspiration. Thanks for sharing xx

  • Bl**dy Fantastic Aussie. Congratulations on your brilliant achievements.

  • Great stuff. Well done.

  • Wow amazing achievement Very emotional day for you . Memory that will stay with you forever

  • That's a great race report, Aussie. Feeling poorly that week and a fall and you still managed to get a great time.

    I'm assuming we are also going to get photos of the tutu and fairy wings!!

    Now, about that blank line on your PR board ... any plans :D

  • Aw Aussie, what an amazing write up ! Felt like I was there with you every step of the way.


    How far you have come, Blimey ! Your post made me well up....

    Absolutely fabulous !!! :-) xxx

  • Congrats Aussie! What a run! You are a fine example of what is possible. Simply awesome!

  • Congratulations Aussie - a tremendous run and an great write up.

  • Wow! I so enjoyed reading that. Congratulations to you. Amazing!

  • Congratulations! What a wonderful achievement! And an excellent report :)

  • Wow Aussie, what an amazing achievement and after all the mud and the fall and the problem with the course too! You have done incredibly well and you should be feeling mighty proud of yourself.

    You are so right about the C25K and the forum, it does motivate and keep you going through good and bad, but its you that has put in the work and its you that has accomplished your goals, great stuff! :-)

    A lovely post that has given me goosebumps! x :-)

  • I'm with Pops on the welling up front. So proud of you!!! Sending you a virtual hug. Well done indeed. I'm toasting your success with a cuppa tea. Cheers me dear.

    No stopping you now. Your races and medal tally are mounting and you continue your amazing running journey. It's a great boost to those just about to start C25k or are just at the point of Graduation. Anything is possible as long as you just believe in the program and go for it.

  • Congratulations. Love the pictures and looking forward to the pictures of the tutu and fairy wings.

  • amazing...well done you...a really good run :)

  • Huge congratulations!! You must be over the moon with that time, particularly as you weren't well so recently.

    Great race report - I really enjoyed reading it. Well done for getting up so quickly from the fall - hope you're not too cut/bruised now?!

    Reading about your achievement less than a year after starting C25K has filled me (as a very recent graduate) with so much hope and inspiration - thank you.

  • Yay go Aussie. What a great read. Me and the other half walked from Kingston to Hampton court and back on Friday it was muddy then so can imagine the mud after all the runners. I can only hope I have as good as time as you in May. Mind you I know my time will be a lot slower. Such a great time. Well done.

  • Fantastic report Aussie, I felt as if I was there with you. Many congratulations - you are an inspiration!

  • Great story Aussie, and bless ya for losing some of your precious time to help another runner, you're a star! xx

  • Huge congratulations. Well done for keeping going after your fall too.

  • Amazing progress. well done!

  • What a fantastic reach report. How awesome!! Many congratulations, even with the loo and falling over you managed a fab time.

    Very inspiring and I can't wait to read about the next one! I love your running board too.

  • Well done Aussie. You were such a source of good advice when I started out here, it's so nice to see how fantastically you did. x

  • Hi Aussie

    Bet your one of the proudest c25k qualified runners ever, and you deserve to be. It brought a tear to my eye reading your experience.

    When I read you were not so well at the beginning of the week I had me fingers & toes crossed for you that you would make a recovery and be OK for your Half Marathon.

    Well done Wear your Medal with pride.

    I am still in training for the half marathon, booked in for the great north run, but I would like to do one before, you've certainly given me some encouragement.

    All the Best, well done and thanks.

    Drakeybar John Drake.

  • Terrific report, fantastic result. Well done Aussie.

    HM distance is a long way off for me, but your report will inspire me to get there one day.

    Thanks for a great report :)

  • What a totally fab, completely amazing post Aussie. So very very pleased for you. That's a seriously impressive run you did there in a brilliant time. You're right, nothing will come close to this extraordinary race for you.: you gave it your all and then some!! Fancy getting a PB after smashing your head into the ground! Just think what you'll be able to achieve next time if you manage to stay upright. : Massive congratulations Sweetie, you've done yourself, Mrs Aussie and the Vegemites proud :) xx

  • What a brilliant report, Aus. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. You had an amazing first HM; shame about the tumble but I really feel it added to the experience and the story too! :D You do look a sight but a good one -we can see the hard work and effort you put into it! You must be so proud, mate; you've done so well and come so very far and what an incredible moment to complete your first HM. A feeling I too know very well, although I didn't quite do it in Terrific Muddy Style (TMS) like you did!

    The course sounds a bit confusing! You did well not going the wrong way! Marshals who aren't very knowledgeable do frustrate me a good bit. Why be a marshal if you haven't a clue what's going on?! When I marshalled at the Round Sheffield Run last year I wanted to know ***everything*** so that I could inform anyone who asked me anything. I've done a few races now and I've encountered some Really Clueless Marshals. (RCM)

    Love the medal too - that's a really great one!

    Well done mate; on to the next one! :D

  • Great post! Great pics! Great time (Garmin that is)! Well done :)

  • Love the race report, it's like being there on the sideline watching. Thank you for taking the time to type it all up, and a huge congratulations with the amazing time. Well done!!

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