The Kingston 16 (or Lidl Breakfast Run as per its sponsor's wishes) has long been a great warm up to The London Marathon; being that bit further than a half marathon... And that bit further it felt.
For starters, the race begins at 08:30 (or 08:00 if you're racing the 20 mile course) and coupled with National Rail improvement works it made for a super early wake up call. So of course we got an Uber which took about 25 mins from West London and was very much worth it for the extra 45 minutes in bed.
We ran the 16 mile course, however there are also 8.2 and 20 mile courses, though the latter was fully booked by the time we got around to signing up. The 16 mile course is made up of two full laps of the 8.2 mile course which didn't bother me too much apart from the fact that each part seemed longer the second time around.
The course was pretty flat apart from two inclines over bridges which were over with pretty sharpish, and had some scenic parts - namely, passing the very impressive Hampton Court Palace which has quickly joined my must visit list.
Overall I felt I raced pretty well, with my pacing scarily accurate per mile for the first half. However, it all went to pot after a while and here begins my life lesson: don't try new things on race days! One of the racing sponsors were handing out gels at mile 5, so I grabbed one to keep hold of until around 10 miles where I thought I'd need a boost.
I started taking the gel between mile 9 & 10, taking it pretty slowly and successfully not managing to spill any down me as I was running (unlike the water)! I didn't really feel much until around 12 and a half miles where my tight shoulder suddenly became unbearable and I stopped to stretch. Immediately I felt a shortness of breath and super shaky, I did my stretches and thought I was just a little panicked at the pain so I soon started again.
The stretches worked like a dream and the pain started to alleviate but the shortness of breath continued. I've never had a panic attack, but I imagined that's what it starts to feel like where your chest suddenly locks up. I forced myself to take long deep breaths and somehow carried on running until the finish line (though as my running partner says, making some quite worrying noises). When I finally crossed the line three miles later, I was no better and it was only after lots of water and long deep breaths did the feeling of tightness on my chest go away.
I'm not sure what that reaction was... Whether I was just dehydrated, or whether my body isn't used to that much of a sugar load anymore. Either way, I'm just glad it happened now and not in the marathon - safe to say, I've learnt my lesson about trying new things on race day.
Given all the drama at the end of the race, I was pleased to finish 122nd in the Women's category with an average pace of 9:11 which puts me in good stead for The London Marathon in 6 weeks. Looks like those sprint and hill sessions I hate so much are starting to pay off and hopefully I'll see this again as I chase down my half marathon PB at Richmond Half this coming weekend!