In today’s exciting post read about the Royal Parks Half Marathon from our gorgeous guest writer and runner Martha McKenzie-Minifie and how the New Zealand Business Women’s Network(NZBWN) inspires each other to new levels. Founded by the fantastic and extremely talented Bronwen Horton.
Our special guest blog today is from Martha, we met at a NZBWN event. There is something very special about getting a group of supportive fun loving woman in one place. The New Zealand Business Woman’s network does this and so so much more. I have lived in England for the last 8 years but am still very much a kiwi and when is comes to sport well there is only one team I support. The NZBWN Works together to encourage and help each other in many and varied business roles, we utilise our strengths and draw on our unity as strong New Zealand women to develop businesses with the power of the kiwi spirit. New Zealand Business Woman’s Network is also excited to announce their running club, find out more here.
Us three ladies Martha, Bronwen and I are all runners and we all agree on one thing your running shoes need to be Asics we all wear different models so pop in to your local Asics store and get your feet measured and tested to get the prefect pair for you.
The Royal Parks Half Marathon:
By Martha McKenzie-Minifie
The highlight of the Royal Parks Half was running back into Hyde Park just before the mile six marker, with hundreds – perhaps thousands – of supporters lining the sides of the course cheering and clapping. A full rainbow of charity flags waving, sun filtering through autumn trees and a samba band playing. It was so uplifting that I got tingles – and, I am sure, picked up the pace spurred on by the crowd.
Royal Parks Half is a 13.1 mile (21km) race that starts and finishes in London’s famous Hyde Park. In 2015, the number of runners topped 16,000, so it is a big field. The atmosphere is magic as the event itself raises money for the Royal Parks Foundation and many of the runners also raise money for other charities. I was fortunate enough to get my place through the ballot – my first successful entry, having put my name in for about the last four years.
What I am wearing
Given this is a functional fitness blog, let’s look at the important stuff: kit. I am a creature of habit for sportswear and tend to stay loyal when I find something I like. But I am always on the look-out for new favourites.
Starting from the ground and going up from there: I do my road running in Asics (always have)and since 2009 have used the Nimbus model – a neutral shoe that suits my running style. This model was recommended when I had my feet scanned and gait analysed at a flagship Asics store. I am also a devotee of Thorlo running socks, which I have used for at least a decade. Even though they are a bit more expensive than many other socks,they last for years and I have never developed a blister while wearing them.
My shorts are the Lululemon Run: Speed Short. A running club friend recommended these to me about a year ago and I love running in them because of the stretch in the fabric and the comfortable waistband. The length is undeniably short but because they fit well and the fabric moves as you want it to, I feel suitably covered. I only have a plain black pair at the moment but they come in some fabulous prints and colours.
I run in the Shock Absorber Ultimate Run bra but have mixed feelings about it. The support is great (which is most important to me) but it can be very difficult to do up. I have ruined a couple (one after just one use!) by not properly connecting the hook and eyes at the back.
Finally, my red and yellow Ronhill vest is the team kit for Serpentine Running Club. The added bonus with this is the extra cheers from the crowd from people who don’t know me but know the club.
Perhaps unusually, I don’t run with a watch, though I am tempted to get one to help even out my pacing (more on that to come).
Getting the best out of the Royal Parks Half
Because the Royal Parks Half is such a big event, it is important to:
The Royal Parks was my first distance event since I picked up an injury February last year, so making it to the start line was a bit of a triumph in itself. I had strained my right calf 18 months earlier, a relatively minor injury that subsequently yo-yoed from leg-to-leg and calf-to-Achilles (and back) as I recovered then overcompensated then reinjured.
It meant that I had to be very disciplined in my training – keeping to gradual increases in distance for my long run rather than trying to increase too quickly, too soon. I settled into three runs a week: the long run (stepping up the distance each week), one of speed intervals (again, slowly increasing the number each week) and one chilled-out run of about 5km (3.1 mi), with a day off in between each. My last long run was five days before the race – a bit closer than I would like, but travel intervened – 19km (11.8 mi), close to full race distance. I got a handshake from my physio Tom Dekkers on the Thursday, three days before, so I was good to go.
On the crisp, clear morning, I felt the buzz of racing and took off a bit too quickly. The first half went past famous sights including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and Wellington Arch. Conditions were still and dry, as I clocked 10km (6.2mi) in 46:20. Just before the six mile mark there was that spectacular return to Hyde Park, with the remainder, more than half the race, inside Hyde and Kensington Parks. The experience of looping back and around can be a little dizzying, so the mile markers really help keeping track of progress.
I by mile nine, I was feeling the pain of the too-quick start and limited training. My pace dropped (taking 5:27 for the last km) but again the crowd support was a big boost. I crossed the finish line with a big smile in 1:40:26 and have added my glorious, wooden, eco-friendly finisher medal to the collection.
Congratulations to all the Royal Parks 2015 half marathon runners!
Thank you for joining the Once by Alys Team Martha.
We are big fans and look forward to hearing more from you soon.