The HR Juggler

How Was It?

Posted on: October 7, 2013

Yesterday, I ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon in aid of Mind. I wrote about the different motivations and beginnings of this decision here. Many people have asked me how it was, and in truth, it was mixed. I am hugely proud of one part of my achievement and far more ambivalent about another part of it…and it is perhaps at this point in time, of reflecting upon what I’ve learnt, that helps me to better understand the complexity of my motivation for doing the run and what, after all, matters most.

The running itself is only one part of this story, but it matters to me enough to explain the context. The first time I ran Royal Parks Half last year, I had been running for only four months and I had no expectation of a finishing time, my goal was to simply complete it with a smile on my face and joy at having done what I had set out to do. And I did – I ran it in 2 hours 17 minutes, was elated at having achieved my goal.  I followed this up by running a hilly (and freezing!) half marathon in Tunbridge Wells in February, where running with some speedier friends, I completed the course in an exhausting but wonderful 2 hours 4 minutes. This, of course, is what set my context for this weekend’s half marathon: I wanted to better my personal best, continue improving, even though I knew how hard it had been to run the distance in that time previously.

In the event, I ran this weekend’s half marathon in a respectable 2 hours 10 minutes, which is OK but not amazing. Yes, it was hot, yes it was crowded with thousands of other runners, but in truth the most important element for my learning was that it was consistent with how I had trained. I did entertain an aspirational hope that I might have squeezed in under the 2 hour mark…but to do that, I would have had to have run the fastest 5k and 10k that I have ever knowingly achieved…and then maintain that pace all the way round! So, it would always have been a stretch. On reflecting upon this now, I realise that if I really want to get faster at running, I have to practise running more quickly at the shorter distances and build up from there. There are many parallels to this in life, as well as in business…that would be a whole post in its own right!

The running itself was only ever one part of the story though…my biggest privilege was running with this on my back:


It is this that, for me, puts everything else into perspective and makes me enormously proud of what I did yesterday. Roger was a better runner than I will ever be…he was one of these extraordinarily fit people who ran marathons and frequently went out running with bricks in his rucksack to challenge himself further. Whilst running yesterday, I thought of him often: how amused he would be that I had taken on the gauntlet of running for him, rather than my lovely husband, how chuffed he would be to know that I have so far raised £755 plus gift aid for Mind in his memory and how he would be genuinely amazed and touched that 11 years on, we still love and care and think about him as much as we do. For my part, I wished I had known him better and for longer, wished he was still with us today to chat things over with…but it was special to be able to honour his memory in the way that I was able to yesterday.

So, how was it? Physical and mentally tough at times, long, hot, tiring, exciting, rewarding, inspiring…and a privilege to do it in the memory of those who are no longer able to. All in all, pretty amazing!

I also had some fantastic supporters in the shape of Jon Bartlett and Charlie Elise Duff who came along to watch and cheer me on, which I appreciated hugely!

If you would like to retrospectively sponsor me and donate to Mind, you can find my sponsorship page here. Any amount, large or small will make a difference to the excellent work that Mind do. Thank you!

4 Responses to "How Was It?"

I really like your perspective on this, Alison. It’s so easy to get carried away with times and PBs etc.

Well done, triple 1/2 marathoner!

Ha – now that is a very cool label! I like it 🙂

To be fair, I have ended up reconciling myself to this post (and possibly during the) race rather than beforehand…but I do feel like it is an important lesson and one which will remain with me.

A wonderful cause to run for! I’m sure you and Roger inspired more than a few people to keep going yesterday.

Proud to cheer for you as ever and I hope to run with you one day.

You can’t always get a PB but I think you’ll find it was a PB for you on that course..!

And by the way, I’ve had to do exactly that on the speed… it’s working, although it’s taken me a while. Congrats on all the money you raised!

Thanks so much, lovely Charlie – for coming along to cheer and for your kind words below. I have by now slightly got over the “I’m never doing it again!” moment that I had at the end of the race…so let’s see ;).

I’m sure you’re right on the speed thing – I also have to work out how much I’m bothered by that and how much I want to invest in getting faster. I want to at least try some intervals and shorter park run type regular runs, to see how I get on.

And you’re right that it was a PB for this course and in pretty much identical weather conditions as last year – hooray :). It’s easy to forget the progress that we make sometimes!

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