Still, I'm pleased to have ran the London Landmarks Half Marathon (even if the fundraising is definitely not coming along well) yesterday morning because, despite the disappointing timing, it was a fantastic race, helped in no small part by the unusually brilliant weather and the stunning route. It was sunny and dry, with a gentle wind that was actually welcome, as opposed to hated, every now and then, especially refreshing when running under the sun. As for the route, the name of the race says it all: it takes you to many famous London landmarks, such as St Paul's, the Tower of London, somewhere south of the river, and along the Thames. I started the race running down Kingsway, past the LSE's New Academic Building, then the part of the campus next to the Royal Courts of Justice. Seeing familiar places that I frequented in one of the best years of my life was such a nice feeling that quite efficiently counter-balanced the unpleasantness of running.
The Cambridge half really suffered because of the bad weather. That said, I might have enjoyed it a little bit more even if the weather had been as pleasant as yesterday. There's just something amazing about running in the city, on roads completely closed to cars, past famous landmarks and in between tall buildings. It's invigorating, and having all these sights all around me took my mind off the physically gruelling thing that I was doing. At many points during the race, I found myself looking around me, trying to figure out where, exactly, I was--a very welcomed distraction, one that I didn't have when running through the rural, flat plains of Cambridge/Grantchester.
What was probably the best part of this race was that I didn't lose steam at the last 2km like I did in Cambridge and Singapore. I took one of E's energy gels, and it's liquid enough that I don't need water to swallow it, and solid enough that it doesn't explode all over my hand when I rip it open. So I opened it at 1 hour 35 minutes and slowly ate it over the last bit of the race. This was probably why I had enough energy to keep going where I faltered previously. Of course, it was extremely challenging, both physically and mentally. But whereas the mind was willing but the flesh was weak in Cambridge, in London yesterday, my willing mind was matched by a more or less able flesh. I kept up the pace as much as I could over the last mile or so, and was ecstatic when I saw the finish line way earlier than expected. I thought the race was 13.2 miles, and so thought I had maybe 800metres to go when I saw the 13-mile mark; clearly, I had (and still have) no idea what 0.2miles is in metres or kilometres or whatever. So I turned the corner, not expecting to see the finish line at all; but there it was, bright and cheerful, the yellow and pink colours of the race screaming loudly at me to sprint towards it.
And so I sprinted with all the energy that I had left, and crossed the finish at 2 hours 7 minutes.
So yes, obviously 3 minutes faster than Cambridge; but honestly quite slow. I'm not super happy with it. It doesn't help that my Nike Run Club app over-records my distance, so it tells me that I'm running at a faster pace than I really am. I think I can do a lot better than 2 hours and 7 minutes in the UK, so I want to train properly and get a proper training device thing to help me run faster.
That's the thing, though. I did two half-marathons this month, and hours after finishing the second, I was already thinking about the next one. Somehow, I never sit still for long enough to enjoy an accomplishment. Of course, I don't really think it was much of one, but I guess objectively, it was, being a personal best and whatnot. I honestly think, though, that I didn't push myself hard enough. As I did one measley long run (15km) in the three weeks after the Cambridge half, I had no expectations going into this and no conscious goal; just told myself to 'just run' and see what happened. I was a bit too content to feel sort of comfortable during the race while I could've pushed harder and made myself feel some discomfort. Oh well.
Anyway. Gonna wrap this up as I'm in the library trying to work on Chapter 4. E was there, of course; he took some videos of me running (terrible form, omg, and terrible facial expression), took photos of me afterwards, and we had a nice walk through St James's Park, then along Embankmen to this shitty pub place just because I could claim a free prosecco with my medal. At least they played cheesy 90's/early 2000's pop music so that was nice. I had a vegan burger; it came with a slice of vegan cheese. If I ever turn vegan, I'd really just give up on cheese completely because vegan cheese, at any rate that slice that was in the burger, is simply awful. There's a weird taste to it that I can't describe, but it definitely does not taste like cheese at all. Worse still, it didn't even melt. And thank goodness for that, for it allowed me to remove it from what was otherwise a rather tasty spicy black bean burger with a few pieces of pulled jackfruit.
I said to E, while walking through Trafalgar Square, 'You're going to get bored of this after some time, aren't you?' 'This' being accompanying me to these races, getting up early in the morning, putting up with my customary too-early-in-the-morning grumpiness, helping me through my shit-I'm-running-late stressing, and sitting around for two hours waiting for me to finish the race.
'No, I won't,' he said. 'I'm not that kind of person.'