Race Report: Windsor Half Marathon | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Windsor Half Marathon

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Race Report: Windsor Half Marathon

WHAT:  Half Marathon
WHERE:  Windsor Great Park
WHEN:  28th September 2014

Ten minutes later, after the sweat evaporated and her face had returned to it's normal colour, she beamed. "What's next?!" Those two words could've made me cry right there in front of her very large support crew. Windsor Half Marathon was brilliantly organised and beautiful but Katie struggled up its hills and in the heat of the unusually warm day. Despite this, she was still keen to continue her running journey. As far as I was concerned, my work was done. As it is in this post. Because a story is better from the horses mouth, this is what Katie thought...

Katie and her friend Hayley

"Let's just say I've never been a fan of running... and that's putting it nicely. Haunted by memories of school cross country PE lessons. I always remember these being in the winter... legs numb and stinging with the freezing cold and every time without fail, all the cool kids would pass me one by one and before I knew it I'd be at the back… finishing an embarrassing last. It’s not that I didn’t like sport – PE lessons such as Tennis, hockey, high jump, shot put I enjoyed but as soon as the teacher mentioned running, I was filled with fear.

So I don't really know what was going through my mind when my friend said "do you fancy running a half" and I didn't even hesitate with answering "yes". I think I liked the idea of the challenge and for a non-runner, a challenge it definitely was. 13.1 miles. I didn't even know if I could manage one mile! I'd taken a big leap into the deep end. Like ripping off a plaster – if I signed up quick enough without thinking too much about it, it would be like it never happened.

The first person I told was Jen, she'd tried a few times to get me to do running events and she was faced with an unimpressed look from me and probably something along the lines of "you're crazy", or "hell no!". Jen's face lit up and she immediately squashed any fears I had about not being able to complete it and offered to help train me on our lunch breaks. And there 'RUNch' was born!

Lining up to start

Jen would set me homework every week, like invest in a sports bra, download a running app, try out some sports gels. All really great advice to help me along my path. The hardest thing I found at first was finding a comfortable pace, my legs want to go fast but I can't keep it up for long so learning to dial it back to keep going without stopping was tricky but once I got the hang of it felt great. My favourite part of running is when you get so into it your legs just take you and you forget you're running. I call it the 'super hero' moment. Though few and far between, these were the moments I felt like I was truly making progress.

Although I'd been training a lot, I'd not been taking to too seriously and by that I mean I'd not really been worrying about the day or pushing myself too hard, I'd taken Jen's advise and kept everything fun. Training was going well I'd just run 19km and was feeling surprisingly confident. And then it hit me, what had been a 4 month run up was now only 2 weeks to go the reality of race day was very real. The doubts started to creep in, the what ifs, can I do it and have I bitten off more than I could chew. As the worry immersed me, I noticed this was affecting my runs. RUNch (what normally is a 5km light-ish run depending if Jen throws in hill sprints) should have been like a walk in the park but I struggled big time and felt like I'd been hit by a bus. That was my last run before race day – not the best reassurance for what lay ahead.

The course was a mini lap then a larger second lap

Race day... I could hardly believe it was here. All the training and hard work for this one day. Breakfast – a big bowl of porridge, I struggled with as a sickie feeling lurked around me.

The race was a bit of a blur, 2miles in and I was finding it tough. At first I put it down to the fact we had a freak day of weather – the sun was beaming and it was so hot – but then I started battling with feelings of dizziness. Every step felt so uncomfortable I just couldn't get into it. At one point I didn't think I could finish but with Jen's encouragement and story telling, I kept going.

The finish line is just in front of Windsor Castle

As we approached the finish all I could think of was – if I just get over that line, I'll never have to run again! But the amazing feeling of finishing, I can't quite explain and in a slightly delusional post run excitement I said to Jen "what's next?" 

So my first experience of a half marathon wasn't the best – I worked myself up to the point of making myself ill. Given a cooler day and a better state of mind I know I could do better. In that sense I'd like to try another. I'd just need to work on not letting myself get worked up or stressed about it. 

Running doesn't come easy to me, I've found it hard and I still do but I think that makes it even more special ... I've proved to myself I can do something I didn't think was possible. Ok so I'm not the best or the fastest but I can do it. And I owe a lot of it to my personal running coach (aka Jen) – I really don't know how I'd have done it without her, she's given me great advice, picked me up when I've had doubts and made my journey into the running world fun, and for that I can't thank her enough.

The best post-race photo ever!

If I do or don't run another race, one thing I know for sure is I'm not giving up on running. Like anything, the more you do it, the better you get. I'm not going to let these new found running legs slip away.

All throughout our running together Jen's tried to get me to admit I love running. So here it is... I love the challenge, I love the feeling I get post run, I love that I've done something I didn't think was possible and most of all I love running with you Jen. So Jen Slater, this concludes it – I love running!"


  1. Aww what a brilliant race recap! And huge congratulations to you Katie :) It was a super hot day when I ran Ealing Half too and it does make you feel a bit dizzy and delusional so well done for finishing strong.

    Nice job Jen- sounds like you've got a career there! ;-) x

    1. Isn't it just! I'm so pleased for her.
      Thanks, Beki, I rather enjoyed being a mentor!