On Sunday I headed back to Thorpe Park to complete the half marathon – I had done this event last year and signed up for round two. Last year I was running with a friend and this year I had a friend running with me.
The course is advertised as flat and fast though last year I, and many others, were surprised at the elevation – nothing that would kill you but enough to notice it on the legs for sure.
I was going into this event with the mentality that I was there just to get the miles in and complete it. I have said before running is not something that I find easy though have been enjoying it a lot more during my training as I had to follow a sort of couch to 10k plan following a knee injury. That was fine until I completed my 10k and then increased to 10 miles a week before this event. I found that since that 10 mile run I have had an issue with my foot that I was, if I am totally honest, hoping would go away of its own free will. It feels like I have stepped on a piece of lego and its badly bruised and with every step I can feel it pushing the bruise. Only there is no bruise (I have since found out I have plantar fasciitis so that would explain it!). So with my knee and foot taped up with rock tape off I set with my friend Emma.
Knowing this would not be my easiest run I had made sure my prep and nutrition was on point and took full advantage of the recipes and nutrition from Go Faster Food that I am trialling and my friend Emma who is a PT and qualified nutritionist. The day before I used the porridge recipe, made sure I was fully hydrated and used a pasta recipe for dinner. Emma and I also spent almost an hour at the gym on the power plate, stretching and foam rolling (my god foam rolling is not pleasant *or insert any other word more appropriate*). The morning of the event I had porridge again – I always feel like eating pre-event is a struggle as it feels like you get up and have to force down food before travelling to the start. I was armed with my go bites and opted to have the boost just before the start, refuel at 6 miles and the recover post run and it worked a treat!
As I noted last year the name of this event is deceiving as the only part of it that is linked with Thorpe Park is the start and finish which is in the car park for the theme park. Although as you run out and back you do go through a rather pot hole filled area of land which has some old rides – it almost looks like a ride graveyard. It is where the rides go to die, which was quite apt as this is just before the 13 mile mark and at that point most people are tired – I was tempted to go sit on one for a while!
At the start we needed the obligatory nervous run to the toilet before we started though it seemed like every other participant also had the same plan. This is always a hard point for any event as there never seem to be enough toilets. Many people were opting for the nearby bushes, which I am not ashamed to say after almost 30 minutes waiting and barely moving we also opted for – dry robes come in very handy for this! There was no way I could have started to run without that little visit to the bush.
As we had waited for the toilet for so long we had totally missed the start but this was ok as it was chip timed so we just dumped our stuff in the car, including dry robes, which was sad as it was so cold and I don’t think either of us really wanted to take them off (man it was fresh!), and then headed to the start. We were off!
Now I am usually optimistic and a total realist. I knew I was injured and I knew this would not be easy but I was there and I was doing it. I am also always super appreciative of marshalls at events like this – I have marshalled many times myself and it is a long day especially in the temperatures we had yesterday BUT the lovely marshall at about 200 metres in that was shouting words of encouragement well I am not sure that ‘well done, you’re doing really well, not long left’ was quite appropriate though it did give me and Emma a laugh. Not long left? We have about 13 miles left and that, in my book, is quite a long way!
There was music on route with different bands live on the course which was nice. Lots of switch backs where runners were offering each other encouragement and gave me the opportunity to see some club mates from Havering Tri. I also saw a friend, Kate, from bootcamp who was using this as her training run for Paris marathon and she did amazing!
We managed to get to 8 miles where thankfully there was a toilet – maybe more toilets on the route would have been better as these were the first we saw and I was desperate at his point! You have never seen someone so grateful to see a portaloo as me at that moment! So a quick stop – I say quick but according to my watch it was almost 5 minutes as I struggled with compression leggings that had got caught up with my race number belt and my running belt – it was like getting out of a sweaty sports bra after a spin class and in the process I managed to slightly cut both my sides with one of the belts! Anyway I felt way more comfortable after that and off we set again. There were some slight inclines before some down hills, which would have been nicer if one was not right next to a sewage plant.
Emma was totally positive at this point saying nearly 10 miles done and only a 5k to go. My foot was killing me and 5k seemed like an eternity so I was pretty grumpy especially as I knew there was a killer hill around the corner. So imagine my excitement when I saw runners looping round in front of a pub and back, which meant NO KILLER HILL!! I got so excited and grabbed Emma exclaiming ‘they’ve cut the hill!’ – it was like Christmas had come early – almost as joyous as the moment I saw the portaloo! But not that early as there were still 3 miles left. Some more of my Go Bites were eaten at this point – I also gave this nutrition to Emma so we were both trialling it on this run and it was good as she is vegetarian so often lots of gels etc are ruled out for her but not these!
The first 5k was completed in 29 minutes and considering my PB for that distance is just under 28 minutes I knew we had gone off too quickly but the last 5k couldn’t have been more different. It was a total mental battle for me and stop start and my face in the photos compared to the start is quite frankly hilarious. I seem to have a look that is a total mixture of ‘ooh look a camera must smile’ and confusion as to what I am doing there in the first place!
But we completed it and in a time of 2 hours 25 minutes and I am actually super chuffed with that! My PB is 2 hours 20 minutes and I am nowhere near as run fit and have two injuries and so that was a great result for me! Totally grateful to my friend Emma for running with me even though I told her on several occasions to run on – towards the end when I was being really grumpy I said my foot hurts and started walking and annoyed myself so much I said I wanted to give myself either a slap or a punch in the face and then told her to save herself and go on ahead. I mean one thing is true – I may have a love/hate relationship with running but I try and I will continue to joke even if I am a tad dramatic!
We finished our day with my husband and a friend who had also completed a half marathon in Roding Valley with a huge roast dinner, once we had defrosted, that we all absolutely earned!
If you are looking to fuel naturally as opposed to using gels I would absolutely recommend you check out Go Faster Food, both the Go Bites and also the recipe book – I will be taking the Go Bites with me on a trip to La Santa for a training camp week with Havering Tri and sharing with some of the other members whilst we train.