20 Oct 2016

My Royal Parks Half: 13.1 + a comedown

It's been nearly two weeks since I ran a half marathon. My first. 13.1 miles. One of the best known half marathons with the prettiest and most popular route through four of London’s eight Royal parks: Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Green Park, and St James’ Park, with a handful of London’s best landmarks in-between. I ran the whole way, I never stopped or even walked, and I finished in 2 hours 48 minutes which shaved 12 minutes off my expected time of 3 hours. I did, you could say, a bloody great job.

So why, then, have I been monumentally grumpy and sad and frustrated in the fortnight since I crossed that finish line after a 400m sprint (just saying)?

When I imagined the time post-race I thought it would mimic my post-Vitality British 10k in July; I’d be full of adrenaline and positivity and pride and determination to do more and more and more. That’s how I signed up for the Royal Parks Half in the first place. I was high on success, tried to open a recipe for an extortionately cheesy and carb-filled pasta dish, but slipped and ended up pledging to Alzheimer’s Society that I’d raise £500 for them by running 13.1 miles. Less than 12 hours after running my first ever 10k.

And sweet Lord, don’t get me wrong, I was bloody chuffed when I crossed that finished line in Hyde Park. I hadn’t put any pressure on myself and I’d done what I set out to do: run a half marathon without stopping. I didn’t push for a time, I didn’t have any competition in my sights, and I didn’t give a merry fuck what I looked like around that course. Red, sweaty, slumped over, angry-looking, and slug-like, if you were wondering.

It hurt though. Obviously. It’s a very long way, 13.1 miles, and I ached in places I didn’t know I would ache… 

Ok, my fanny felt bruised. Like someone had punched it. For real. Why didn’t anyone tell me that could happen? Should it happen?! WHO KNOWS. 

But I was fine and very much looking forward to a bath. The aches and cramps and suspicious searing pain in my left foot would dissipate after a LUSH sponsored bubble bath, lots of pasta and a good sleep.

The next day I ended up in A&E.

Of course. 

In hindsight, going to County Hall/The London Eye for a big World Mental Health Day event to talk, one-to-one, with The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry about my London Marathon plans the day after running my first half marathon was… questionable. 

I ended up in tears as I walked/hobbled from Waterloo Station that Monday morning. My foot was in agony. But I was too proud and too embarrassed to show it so I walked as normally as possible with a big smile on my face until the event was over and Ryan met me to carry me to A&E.

It was ridiculous and I was so angry. I felt like I was wasting the NHS’ time and money, but thankfully I was out within two hours with instructions to rest and work from home for the rest of the week. I could have had a stress fracture but apparently they don’t show on x-rays for 7-10 days after the ‘incident’ so mine was clear. 

Thankfully it’s healed and I haven’t needed to go back for a second x-ray. I still have no idea what happened but it’s definitely not broken, so. Good.

But that fortnight of resting and, more importantly, not running has been the most miserable fortnight I’ve had in a while. Not only have I not been able to run, but I’ve taken the injury as a personal attack on myself. I’ve beaten myself up horrendously as I’ve winced around the flat and watched running friends bask in the glory of the half marathons they’ve completed up and down the country over the last few weeks. This has pretty much been my thought process:

  1. They’re fine, why weren’t they injured?
  2. Bastards.
  3. They did it in well under two hours.
  4. Nearly three it took me. 
  5. Pathetic really.
  6. I obviously wasn’t ready.
  7. Why did I think I could run a half marathon? 
  8. Look at me.
  9. My foot hurts.
  10. Ow.
  11. Those half marathon photos are horrendous. 
  12. Look at my body shape, what even is that.
  13. *pokes stomach fat*
  14. *punches foot*
  15. Ow.
  16. They’ve already been for a 5k run?!
  18. My foot hurts.

So, I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve learnt that:

  • I hate being restricted from doing things, especially running. 
  • I’m very good at attacking myself for something that is totally common.
  • I’m still incredibly good at flip turning my mood upside down.
  • Ditto unncessary spiralling and catastrophising.
  • I hate people saying nice, encouraging things to me when I’m feeling so sorry for myself.
  • I always put pressure on myself no matter what I consciously think.
  • I have bad trainers.
  • I’m bad at being sensible and following doctors’ orders (I managed to work from home for one day). 
  • My overachiever days as a kid are most certainly not over.

They sound like mostly bad things I’ve learnt, but they’re not. They’re just things. The only rule with classing them as just #things is: I’m allowed to feel sorry for myself but I can’t continue to feel sorry for myself. I still want to mope and feel bitter and jealous, I still want to hate my body and think I’m not good enough for all this running, but I can’t and I won’t. It’s not fair. 

I ran a half marathon. I ran the whole 13.1 miles, did a sprint finish, and crossed the line in under 3 hours. I injured my foot and had to rest for a fortnight but that’s ok, it’s a runner’s right, I’m learning, and I’ve got a full marathon to train for so I’m carrying damn well on.

I’m doing, you could say, a bloody great job.


  1. You ran a freaking half marathon, WELL DONE! I have signed up for one of them, in April which seemed ages away 3 weeks ago but now feels like it's the day after tomorrow. When I crawl across the line at the end I'm going to tell everyone that it's to avoid a stress fracture. So thank you for that, you've given me a rock solid reason to not over do it.

    1. Thank you! GOOD LUCK WITH YOURS! Which one are you doing? Definitely don't push yourself if you don't need to, and look after yourself afterwards. You'll have such fun on the day, I promise!