Ahh, the start of British Summer Time mixed with a race starting at 8am.
I’d set two alarms the night before, bib on running vest, timing chip on shoe, gels squeezed into running belt. Waking up at 5am (4am the day before) is pretty tough when you’re not a morning person.
But needs must and the Lidl Kingston Breakfast Run has a reputation as a good prep race for the London Marathon with four weeks to go. There are three options for distances, 8.2 miles, 16.2 miles or 20.1 miles – I’d signed up for the last of these. And for a race of this distance in London, it was a bargain at £32. I hadn’t run this distance since 2014 so this was going to be a test.
After two coffees and a toasted muffin, kit on and bag sorted with the all important flask of coffee, I headed out the door. I got a lift with Santos from running club.
We arrived early, a little before 7am. Off we headed to the start. I was feeling a little bloated from all the carb loading the day before.
After the all important bathroom break, I checked in my bag and lined up at the start. I was aiming for 10.45 to 11 min miles. I wanted to test how well I could stick to a planned pace as this will be critical for marathon day.
At 8.10am, we were off. The run started at Kingston town centre, we crossed the bridge and meandered down the Thames to Hampton Court Palace. I went out a little fast so slowed a little to stick to target pace. Then it was time to get into a rhythm and chill. Miles passed and gels consumed and I was feeling good.
By mile 15 I was starting to tire. I could feel all the miles I’d covered over the last few weeks. I figured it was time for a bit of distraction. There were some folks a little further ahead so I caught up with them and we chatted for a couple of miles. They’re also doing the London Marathon and seemed happy to talk. Not everyone always is which I can fully understand. This really helped the next few miles pass. I dropped off a few times going through the water stations – water was in cups and I find it too hard to drink from them and run so I walk and drink – and then caught up with them again.
It was at mile 18 I really started to drop off. I did take a few short walk breaks and a lot of others were doing the same. I kept a very close eye on my garmin as I saw the average time go from 10:59 to 11:03. Now I know this might not seem like much but I know when I tire, and if I start walking too much, small reductions in overall speed can lead to big reductions very quickly. I got my butt into gear and kept running. My lower legs hurt and my hamstrings weren’t happy but I know that’s to be expected.
And into the town centre I came. There was good support on hand from the marshals, other runners and the public and I managed to speed up a little in that last half a mile. A great indication that I did have some energy left. Mind over matter though tricky when the matter is telling you to have a rest and walk!
I came in at 3:42:26 – about 3 seconds off max target pace but a run I was happy with.
Would I do this race again?
- while the numbers of runners isn’t huge, there’s a good mix of paces. I’ve done races before where the field is small and mainly made up of fast club runners. It’s a little demoralising being left behind by everyone! For this one, there were quite a few around my pace;
- the marshals did a great job supporting runners and the water stations were well staffed. At one of the stations it was possible to get SiS gels and isotonic drinks which was great – this is the product I’ve been training with and seems to help keep up my energy levels. They taste OK and most importantly, my stomach doesn’t have hissy fits on long runs! It also it meant I could carry fewer gels;
- a great goodie bag. You don’t get bling for this race but there’s more to life. Unfortunately they did run out of the all important commemoration mugs but there was a marshal on the finish line taking numbers of finishers who wouldn’t have received them. But fab organisation as 24 hours later I received an email with an apology and saying they’ve put in an urgent order with the suppliers – good work!
- I love running past Hampton Court Palace and along the Thames. Scenic and peaceful;
- and last but not least, some decent photos, finally!! Some of the photos I’ve seen from races make me want to weep and hide in a dark corner and go on a starvation diet. But for once I’ve bought a few and an OK price – happy days!
The only real point where I think this race could be improved on is the number of portaloos. Even arriving early, there were queues and these only got longer. And there were some portaloos along the route at mile 5 or so – a few more would have been great to avoid folks having to wait.
Note that many of the roads aren’t closed but marshals were at hand at all the bigger junctions keeping an eye on traffic. For all the roads I crossed, I didn’t need to stop once. A big thanks to both the marshals as well as some very patient drivers!
- Mind over matter – the fact I was able to speed up a little in the last half mile meant I could have pushed the time a little more. I’ve more practise to do on working out where my limits are and getting my head in the right space.
- I’m glad I’ve signed up to races as part of my marathon prep. I’m less nervous the day before and the morning of the race and I’m able to sleep a little better the night before. I also get to practise race conditions including not going out too fast.
- Gels – I’m managing 2 an hour and I should be aiming for 3. I think at this stage my stomach won’t tolerate 3 so I’ll continue to try and add in a few jelly babies.
- Carb loading – blergh but necessary. While I felt bloated for the first few miles, this did soon go away and I finished in a planned time without destroying myself in the process.
- Always use sunscreen – even with 30 plus on, I’ve managed to get some interesting tan lines!
- Recovery is as important as the prep. This included a SiS whey gel within 30 mins of finishing (sorry folks, really not a fan!) and a couple of hot cross buns. This was followed an hour or so later by a cheese roll and some crisps and lots of water. After getting home and having a shower, I also put on my compression socks – I don’t have proper ones so I use flight socks which are pretty much the same, just not quite as pretty.
So here’s to a lazy day!