I pulled myself out of bed at 6.30 am this rainy Sunday to race with 1,000 other runners in the Garmin Kingston Run Challenge organised by Human Race Events.
I chose to do the 8 mile course (which was actually 7.85 miles) as a final training run before Amsterdam Half marathon the following weekend, although there was a 16 and 24 mile option, and it was my first run since I injured my toe a week or so ago.
It was drizzling as we left the house and as the race started (and actually until we got home from the race!). The event was well organised, starting in Kingston Old Market, with Garmin hire, portaloos and medics on hand and luckily, for some, a cafe near the race start which had opened at 6 am especially.
5 minutes before race start I got myself in position behind the 11 minute/mile pacer (there being 6 – 12 minute/mile pacers). I had been planning to go with the 12 minute/mile pacer but after speaking to him, I decided to move up one. The race start was staggered between each seven pacer groups and at about 8.05 we were off.
We headed straight over Kingston Bridge, where I got jammed in between other runners and behind the two pacers. As soon as I got the space, I headed around them and was off on my own, faster pace knowing I probably could have run with the 10 minute/mile group. Early on I realised my GPS watch wasn’t set properly so I only used it to check my average pace.
The course was basically three long roads, the first along the north bank of the Thames between Kingston and Hampton Court bridges, the next along Hampton Court Way, and the final along Portsmouth Road. There were timing mats along the course to take splits at every 2 miles.
The first leg of the course, along the riverside, was the most scenic, topped off with a glimpse of Hampton Court Palace just before the bridge approach. Unusually, I didn’t struggle to find my pace at all and settled into running with no problem, especially considering it had been a few weeks since a proper run. My only struggle was to keep my headband on my head!
Along Hampton Court Way there were marshals and a couple of water stations. Along here, at 4 miles, I took my first and only carb gel. Towards the end of this road at the second water stand carb gels were also handed out. I grabbed one but didn’t use it – will take it to Amsterdam with me.
All of the three roads were deceivingly longer than expected and I was glad to turn onto Portsmouth Rd, onto the final stretch. I felt I ran at a fairly steady pace and knew if I just kept at my current pace I would make it to the end without conking out at the last hurdle.
Closer to Kingston town centre I saw Dano across the road and he signalled to me to lift my legs higher – thanks Dano. Thankfully, the verge of the town centre came into sight and once the finish line could be seen ahead I picked up the pace slightly and very happily crossed the finish line in 1:22:01.
I was stoked to finish in the time I did, increasing my pace since the last Human Race run to 6.30 min/km and cutting 2 1/2 minutes off my 10 km PB. 2 mile splits were 19:53, 20:18, 20:53 and 20:57. Bring on Amsterdam!