Last Sunday was a very exciting day for running. It was the day of the infamous Ealing Half Marathon! My dad had, of course, been training for weeks for this race, determined to beat his time from the previous year – which had been his first ever half-marathon! Unfortunately, I was not illegible to do the race due to my age (or lack there of) but there was an Ealing Mini Mile for my brother and I to do. This meant that all three of us were in deep race-mode by Saturday evening (ensuring to fill-up on pasta and have an early night) – but we were also very excited: from our memories of the year before, the area around the race was delightful, as was the race atmosphere. We planned a lovely trip which would allow us to complete our runs, explore Ealing, go out for lunch and make it back in time for Ember, who, for those who do not know, is my dog who dislikes being alone.
Not so lovely, however, was having to wake-up at 6:00am and leave by 7:00am to make it to Lammas Park on time. I spent rather a long while debating my breakfast -I eventually settled with a small bowl of porridge- and hurriedly dress into my running gear (which included my new, luminous yellow nike shorts – just in case I were to get lost). We caught the train by 7:20 and were able to reach our destination in good time.
Lammas park was full of runners of all different shapes and sizes preparing in their various ways. There were many stalls and intriguing tents that I made a mental note to check-out once we were done running. The half-marathon started at 9:00 and the mini mile started at 9:15 so we had quite a lot of time to kill. However, a large portion of this was taking up queuing for the toilets behind many anxious runners. Thankfully, this gave me some time to complete my classic warm-up (and some more time to get anxious about the race). You see, I really wanted to win. I really wanted to win. I knew that it would make the day that bit more perfect and I was desperate to achieve my goals (plus they said that winners would get prizes). Unfortunately, I had no clue in the slightest what sort of kids were going to be my competitors. It would only take one super fast girl to knock me out of 1st place – this was worrying me like mad! By about 8:40, my dad had to leave to get onto the start line. We wished him one last good luck and headed over to the finish line – which would be our own start line.
Rather annoyingly, Sam and I had to wait a really long time before we could even line-up! I must confess that I did do a mental assessment on all of my competitors in view: were they wearing proper kit? Were there wearing a club vest? Did they look…fast? Of course, I would never know until the run actually began but, as always, I couldn’t stop myself worrying. After what seemed like forever, they streamed us onto the start line. I was near the front due to being part of the older category. To my relief, I noticed that there were no obvious 15 or 16 year old girls towering over me but there were still a fair few who, in my eyes, definitely had potential to be fast. To calm my nerves, I attempted to a picture the course. My dad had informed me that it was a figure of eight around the park, some on the grass, some on the path. I constantly checked the clock to see how much longer we had until we began as I was getting rather cold but, inevitably, we started late due to the leading bike not being present. Finally, by around 9:20, the bike appeared and, suddenly, we were off!
For the first 200m, I sprinted as hard as I would allow myself. About four boys took the lead immediately but another girl was running alongside me and another not far behind. So far, there were no girls ahead so I was in chance of winning – if only I could keep these girls behind me! I pushed myself hard up the first slight ascent, striding out long and fast. It was a really wonderful atmosphere all around the course: due to having a personalised number bib, people were cheering on my name which was able to force me to smile. Soon, I was able to catch one of the boys…and then another! Only then did I realise that I was pulling further and further away from the other girls, who had seemingly depleted in pace. I was in third place and not miles behind the boys in second and first! I was, however, nervous as we hadn’t even started the figure of eight and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to continue the pace.
That’s when I realised that I could see the finish. If you have read my blog post Parkrun Tourism x2 you can probably guess what happens next. Yes, I thought I was going to have to do another lap or something. I really need to learn from my mistakes and check the course beforehand -especially in up and coming cross countries- as it really does make me slow down in an attempt to pace myself. I only realised that it actually was the finish when a spectator said, “Wow! Your going to come third! That’s amazing! Sprint finish!”. Only then did I turn on the power, a little too late for my liking but thankfully, I was able to hold on and I did it! As soon as I cross the line I was delighted! I got first girl! I actually won!
I collected my medal and nifty t-shirt which I immediately wore with pride as I waited for Sam’s race to be over! Soon, we were drinking hot apple juice and relaxing on the grass. However, our duties were not yet over! We ran over to the Asics tent where they were handing out free banners and balloon-things that you could use to cheer on the runners. We made a very artsy sign-post for my dad and headed over to the spot on the course in which we were planning on seeing him. It was lovely encouraging all the runners- Sam and I created a competition to see who could cheer the most people’s names as they went by which was very good fun. Yet the biggest cheer went up when we saw our dad, way ahead of his goal pacemaker and going strong! Almost as soon as he past, we walked briskly towards another cheering spot and were just able to catch him as he entered his very last mile! As fast as we could, we went to the finish in order to get there before him. We succeeded and I was able to run the last 100m with him as he crossed the line in a superb time – especially consider he had a cold!
As a whole, I would probably go as far as saying that Ealing was the best race we, as a family, have ever done. To add to the brilliance, I was asked to the VIP tent and given a super cool trophy alongside the winners of the actual half-marathon! They said they expected to see me in that position in a few years time…well, at least that’s something to aim for! Maybe one day, I can even run it with my dad! Either way, I am almost certain that my first half-marathon will be Ealing!
I really hope you enjoyed today’s post and consider signing-up for this wonderful event next year! This week, on Friday, I have the South East London Cross Country Championships which I am very much excited for – first cross country of the season! Not so great, however, is the fact that I have an awful cold (reckon I must have caught it from my dad after Sunday)! This did make training quite hard so I am begging it clears up for Sunday! As much as Autumn and Winter are my favourite seasons (Christmas definitely tips it for me), I do find that they always make me ill! Another quite exciting thing to note is that my first product review will hopefully be up this Sunday so make sure you look out for that!
That’s all from me for now! Have a wonderful week,