Roding Valley Half Marathon race report

HILLS!!! There were hills. No one told me about the hills. Loads of them. And mostly uphill ones too. Did I mention the hills? Fuck. My shins are never going to talk to me again. (And yes they did used to talk to me, before you say “what? You have talking shins?”. And no, I can’t tell you what they used to say. A conversation between a girl and her shins is confidential.)


Actually, I need chocolate. To be specific I need a Peanut Butter KitKat Chunky. I have had pizza, garlic bread, twister fries (or whatever they’re called), wine, beer, Deep Heat, more wine, a hot bath, voltarol, more wine, procastination in the form of Scrabulous on Facebook and now I’m going to procrastinate some more before writing this blog in the form of going to the shop in the quest for a PBKKC.


I think I need some crisps too.

Angela is harassing me on Facebook to write my blog.

I’ll be back.

In a minute.

After the Peanut Butter KitKat Chunky and crisps emergency.

I am back but Peanut Butter KitKat Chunky-less. Bah.

Right then, proper race report time.

I get up mega mega mega early at 5:30am (that’s 5:30 IN THE MORNING ON A SUNDAY, you know, the time people are getting out of clubs, pah) and look in my Ladybird book of How To Be A Finely Tuned Athlete and it says on race day to eat 800 calories for breakfast. WHAT THE FUCK? 800 calories for breakfast? I don’t even eat 800 calories a day on a non pizza day. Blimey. I decide to go against the grain of the not doing anything new on race day rule and have some toast and peanut butter and also an energy bar and then I think fuck, if there’s a don’t do anything new on race day rule then I might as well have gone out and got pissed last night as I can’t remember the last time I did a long run without a hangover, bollocks.

And then I waste some time on Facebook and check my emails but of course no one is emailing me at 5:30 IN THE MORNING ON A SUNDAY so I mooch around for a bit and check the bus times and I decide to go for the 7:13 bus to Leyton and I leave the house at 7ish and the bus is early and there’s no traffic and it zooms me down to Leyton and I get to the tube and it says the next Epping train will be in 17 minutes. 17 MINUTES? What the fuck? Blimey. I do have lots of time but I don’t really want to be standing around in the tube station for 17 minutes so I play on Facebook and check my emails on my phone but still no one is up because it’s only 7:30 IN THE MORNING ON A SUNDAY and the tube eventually comes and I get on it and get to Woodford and the girl opposite me is wearing running gear and looks like a proper runner to me and I reckon she’s doing the half so I wait for her to get off so I can follow her and she gets off so I follow her but she stops outside the station and I can’t see any other runners about which thwarts my plan of following everyone out of the station so I ask the lost looking girl if she’s doing the half and she says yes and she says do I know the way and I say no, I was hoping to follow you and she says I think it’s this way and so we walk off the way we think it is and there’s two guys behind us following us as they think we know where we’re going and we do find the playing fields and the clubhouse without getting lost and she goes to get changed and I go and sit in the corner and hide and hope no one outs me for being a fake runner and then I think hang on a minute, I’ve got this far and I’ve trained for this, I’m not a fake runner, I’m just a bit slow, and I venture out of my corner but only make it to the next chair and I sit down and hide again and I don’t know if I can leave my stuff here and I’m looking around and can’t see anyone with an iPod and I wonder if it’s a no iPod race and then I remember that I did read the race pack carefully and there was no mention of no iPods and I go to the loo and there’s a woman queueing with an iPod and I say ah, I’m not the only one with an iPod then, I thought I was and she says no, you’re not the only one and I say I thought maybe they weren’t allowed and she says why wouldn’t they be? and another woman behind her says because they’re dangerous and you can’t hear the marshals and the traffic and stuff and I think ooooooooh nooooooooooooooo, it’s one of those anti-iPod people but then I realise she’s also wearing an iPod and I’m pleased to be around kindred iPod spirits and I go outside and wait for my Garmin to get a signal which, being in the countrysideish, only takes a few seconds as opposed to being in the West Endish where it takes a few hours and I see the iPod wearing woman so I go over and say hello and she says I can run with her for the first few miles and I say cool, when actually I’ve just come out in a cold sweat at the thought of running a few miles in a race with someone else but I don’t want to look unfriendly so I stick with her and I say my name’s Cathy and she says she’s Gill and then I go to ask if it’s with a G or a J and then I think if I do that she’ll ask me if my name’s spelt with a C or a K and it’s just going to get complicated and it doesn’t really matter anyway and we make our way down to the start line and Gill says we have to do a lap of the track first, then there’s a smaller lap of about a mile and then there’s two big laps of about six miles with lots of hills and I think LAPS? HILLS? can I go home now? Fuck.

The gun goes off and Gill says to me that if I want to go faster than her then to feel free to just leave her and I say it’s fine, you’re faster than me anyway (having already had the what time are you looking at conversation in the toilet) and we do a lap of the track and then go to go outside the gate where already there has been a collision of runners, leaving three of them on the ground but they don’t look badly hurt and we continue for the first small lap and then there’s a hill which is the first of many and Gill says there’s a lot of hills and I think DON’T TELL ME THAT, I DON’T DO HILLS and about three miles and twenty six hills later Gill says what do you think of the hills and I say they’re not that bad really, not as bad as I was expecting and she says you must be better at hills than you thought (as we’d already had the I don’t do hills conversation) and I’m just thinking that I’ve just done a really slow 5k and I decide I want to speed up a little and just listen to my iPod and I leave Gill and feel a bit bad but think I need to run this race for myself and not be at another person’s pace and especially not for 13.1 miles and so I go off on my own and there’s no water for miles and miles and I’m glad I’ve got my sports drink although it is almost gone seeing as I drank most of it on the way there and I’m quite impressed for getting the hang of using the squirty top thing and that’s another don’t do new on race day thing that I’m doing and the sun is shining and it’s bloody roasting and a few miles later I’m going up ANOTHER HILL and a there’s a woman with a little girl and the little girl has a banner saying GO DADDY and I think aaaaaaaah, sweet and she’s going towards a man and a bit later I go past the 11 mile marker that I will see on the second lap and it reminds me I’ve got about 7 miles to go and I think fuck and I go to go past the man who’s daughter had a banner and he says hello how’s it going and I say I could have done without seeing that 11 mile marker, two miles I could cope with, I’m not sure about another 7 and he starts chatting and I say was that your daughter with the banner? and he says no, she was for someone else, I have all sons and I say ah, I thought she was yours, it was sweet and then I think oh shit, he might think I’m checking him out for kids and eek and I don’t want to run and chat to him for another seven miles and I’m wondering if I can lose him and I get my chance when he says hi to another runner and I speed off and the laps gets to the finish and I think shit I’ve got to do that again and there’s eventually a water station and I grab a bottle of water as my sports drink’s about to run out and there’s ANOTHER HILL and I think that’s unfair and there’s a girl walking and I wonder if it would be patronising if I try to give her some encouragement but she catches my eye and I give her a big smile and say come on and she starts running and we’re chatting and she tells me she left her proper running shoes at work and had to borrow some trainers from a friend and I think ouch and I ask her what other races she’s done and she says this is her first and I think ouch and I ask her if she’s done lots of training and she says a bit here and there and I think ouch and she says she’ll let me go as she’s had enough and wants to walk again so I leave her and go UP THE HILL and these bastard hills are killing me but then I get to the nice scenic downhill bit and my Garmin ticks over the 10 mile mark at 1:45 and I think fuck that’s quick for me and only three miles to go but at 11 miles my shins are burning like someone’s set fire to them and I don’t think I can carry on but I am determined to NOT WALK AN INCH OF MY FIRST HALF MARATHON and so I carry on and I get to the bit where the lollipop marshals stop the traffic but the lollipop marshal doesn’t seem to be stopping the traffic for me and I’m a bit dazed and confused by now so I go up to the marshal and he says just cross when the cars slow down and I think AREN’T YOU GOING TO STOP THE TRAFFIC FOR ME?  DON’T MAKE ME MAKE MY OWN DECISIONS.  Fuck.  And so I have to cross the road on my own and I manage this without getting run over and I’m looking at my Garmin and it’s going so so slowly and I think my shins are going to leave me and get a taxi home and then at 12:9 miles I’m stuck behind two pensioners on crutches and there’s railings on the side of the pavement and I can’t get around them and I think fuck can I kick their crutches out from underneath them? and I think probably not and I eventually get around them and back to the playing fields and Ben, Sheila and Eleanor are there and they give me a big cheer as I get round the corner and I don’t know where the finish line is so I keep going and then I think I’ve finished and I hear someone call me and I look round and it’s Bernard and I think yay my friends have come to see me and I stop and say hang on a minute and I go and get my medal and my goody bag and then I go back down to see my mates and inspect my goody bag which consists of a bottle of sports drink and a Mars Bar and I have hated Mars Bars ever since I had one when I was five years old and promptly threw up afterwards and say who likes Mars Bars? and Bernard and Eleanor both say I do at the same time so I give it Eleanor what with her being 12 and that and then we try and find something to eat while I try to walk and we fail hopelessly at finding something to eat due to it being Mother’s Day and everywhere being booked and I fail hopelessly at walking due to my shins having left me and getting a taxi somewhere around mile 12, so we end up at Ben and Sheila’s eating delivery pizza, garlic bread, twister fries and lemon drizzle cake.  Yah.

Today’s route

Racing bling

Distance: 13:15 miles
Time: 2:19:44
Pace: 10:37
Calories: 1272
Hills: Twenty six million
Mars Bars: 1
Shins leaving me to get a taxi: 2
The Twang
Faith No More
Bobby Conn
Arctic Monkeys
The Music
The Damned


  • you did it! 🙂
    so impressed with the ‘not walking an inch’ 🙂
    the post race food and drink sounds perfect and very well deserved.. hope the shins are okay tomorrow. well done again and thanks for the report – your writing always makes me laugh.

  • Hey congratulations and nice medal too 😉

  • Brillaint. Brilliant. Brilliant.

    Wonderful post, inspirational and funny story. Well done and big round of applause.


  • congratulations!
    after mentally preparing myself for this race, i managed to get on the ‘wrong’ woodford train which added an extra 7 stations. I thought I gave myself plenty of time to get to woodford, leaving an hour and a half early from ladbroke grove. at hainault the train announcer said that the train will stop for 5 minutes, by this time i was becoming more and more stressed and decided to FULLY undress. luckily no one was in my carriage. finally i got to woodford and paid for a cab to take me to the start line. consequently i had to drop my bag off and by the time i did all this, started 10 minutes late. for the first 3 miles i was feeling a bit stressed and fluttered as i had no time to stretch but i managed to regain my mettle. i was not expecting such a hilly and windy course and did what i could. i finished on 1:45 which was a PB, but if I was take away the 9/10 ‘lost’ would be on 1:36/35 not too bad considering.

  • My shins are killing me in sympathy pain. Ouch!!!

  • Your post race feast reminded me of why I like running so much. Of course the shin and hill issue also reminds me why it’s easier to stay in bed at 5.30 on a sunday morning.

    Also, if you start having to worry about being trapped in conversation with fellow runners you can’t be running fast enough. Imagine how fast your marathon could be if you got yourself beyond the conversational pace.

    Bloody grand time though, this half marathon training seems to have pushed you to whole new running heights.

  • Wicked! well done Me’ Lady!

    Nice Bling and the food sounds cool – hope the legs are back loving to you.

  • Ouch ouch ouch. That’s just to getting up at 5.30! The shins and everything else sounds really painful too. Congratulations on managing it though!

  • Ha!

    I’ve read through a few of your pages now – and this one for the Half Marathon seemed particularly relevant as I’ve just started training for the New Forest Half Marathon (4 weeks time, not sure if I’ve left it a bit late…)

    Lots of things that ring true with me…running with hangovers and monumental appetite being two of them!

    If you’ve got any tips as a seasoned runner for my first Half Marathon, feel free to dispense them at will!

    All the best,

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