I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Kingston Breakfast Run. No closed roads, multiple loops, and the longest road race I’ve entered besides the marathon. Added to that, I woke up to grey skies, drizzle and a freezing cold wind.
Luckily, I managed to rope my friend into running with me! She entered the 8, and I was running the 16. One good thing about the multiple loops was that I could do her entire run with her before heading off on my own.
The route was well signed, the marshals were fab (though having to stop at side streets for cars was a bit of a pain, and meant that we lost the 11:00 minute pacer about 4 miles in), and it was nice and flat. The race village was easy to find from the car park, though the loos were tucked away down the road and around the corner. Luckily for us a policeman tipped us off that the queues were far shorter at the far end, with most people queueing at the first portaloos they saw – which resulted in a huge long line on one end, and no waiting further down the road. For good karma, we passed the message on as we headed back to the start!
I love that the pacers were for an actual pace, rather than a finish time (6:00 to 12:00/mile). It meant that we didn’t feel pressured to speed up at any point – and I could stick to my planned 11:00/mile! The 20 milers headed off at 8am, whilst the 8 and 16 milers started at 8h30 – this reduced congestion a little, but it was still a bit of a squeeze on the river path out to Hampton Court (especially as it was still open to the public).
A lot of people finished at 8 miles, which meant that the second loop was MUCH quieter. I took my first walking break at about 8.5 miles, to grab some water at the aid station – my calves were tight, and I was worrying big time about the second loop.
Eyeing up the aid station and inwardly grumbling at my friend for being able to go and hole up in a cosy cafe whilst I spent another 1.5 hours in the cold!
Luckily by the time I hit the river path again, my legs were starting to loosen up and I was beginning to settle into a comfy rhythm and enjoy myself. I was taking a gel every 3 miles, which seemed to keep my energy levels pretty stable. Not sure I can stomach it for the marathon (I think I took one every 4-5 miles last year), but we’ll see! I tucked in behind a couple of other women, which meant that when I felt like walking up and over Hampton Court bridge, I instead sucked it up and kept on plodding when they showed no signs of slowing down. It’s all about keeping up with the runners ahead!
I got a little bit cheerier once I settled into it!
I made a deal with myself that I could only have one more walking break – I wanted to run as much as possible, and this would mean less walking time than during the Surrey Half the week before (and with no stopping to stretch things out). I decided to walk through the aid station at about 13 miles for another cup of water, and then forced myself to keep going to the finish line. This meant giving myself quite a stern talking-to (in my head), but it seemed to work! I leapfrogged a couple of runners who kept walking and then sprinting, but left all but one of them behind by the time I hit the finishing straight. It’s always a boost to overtake people (especially after 15+ miles!!)
Whilst a lot of the route was very quiet, once we got back into Kingston we found ourselves running through big crowds, which was brilliant fun. There were also a couple of Breast Cancer charity spots, and the volunteers were AMAZING!!
I was a bit confused when we passed the 8, 20 and then the 16-mile markers a good few hundred metres before the end on the first go round (the 8-mile course was advertised as 8.2, so we expected to pass that marker before the finish, but the others were just 16 and 20 so it came as a bit of a surprise). I’m glad we learned about the extra distance early on, or it would probably have thrown me a bit!
Somehow, I found a bit of extra energy on the final straight, and pushed the pace a little for the finish. Having struggled in the first half, I was extremely happy to be able to finish strong, and I crossed the line just 38 seconds over my 3-hour goal! If I can keep it up, I should be on track for a sub-5 finish in Paris next month, which is EPIC 🙂
I think the smile says it all! That stupid hand, though ..
To top it all off, my lovely friend met me at the finish with a big hot coffee. Topped with cream! I don’t think a hot drink has ever tasted so good 😀
Unfortunately the event didn’t offer a medal, but the goodie bag provided by Lidl was a bit (!) impressive – and I’ve popped the mug on my desk at work to show it off!
All in all, it was a great event – and I’ll definitely be back next year.
I might even step up to the 20-mile option, if my legs are up to it 😉