Meeting a Pearly Queen

Settling old scores and getting very tired legs at London Landmarks Half Marathon


There’s nothing quite like taking a face mask out of your back pocket and preparing to put it on to remind you that the pandemic is still on. By preparing I mean wringing it out as you walk towards the Tube station because it is soaked with arse sweat.

It’s soaked with arse sweat because you did the best you could while running 13.1 miles at the London Landmarks Half Marathon.

Meeting a Pearly Queen
I’m not convinced I asked the best photographer in the crowd to take this picture – but it was good to meet a Pearly Queen at the end of London Landmarks Half Marathon
Here’s the Pearly Queen with some other runners
The route went past quite a few London landmarks (Map by London Landmarks Half Marathon)

If you did then wholehearted congratulations to you. How did you find it?

If you haven’t already worked it out I was the “you” in the unpleasant intro. I squeezed my mask out so it was as dry as possible before getting on a Tube train after running past many of central London’s landmarks.

At approximately 2 hours and 28 minutes it was the slowest half marathon I’ve ever done. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was hoping to get under two hours just like I used to before I had my current job.

But after being injured with plantar fascitis the wheels came off my training plan and I contemplated not taking part.

I did it because me and London Landmarks have unfinished business.

Back in 2018 I should have been running for a charity but missed out on the application because to me an end of day deadline is midnight but to them it is when they leave the office for the day at 5pm.

In 2019 I had a place running for a great but little known charity called Get Kids Going.

Waiting in the Cheetah pen
Just getting to this point of being in a race pen and waiting to be called to the start was a great feeling
Ominous looming heads
At one point during the race there were some ominous looming heads of British running greats. I’m not sure why
The rave tunnel was a definite highlight and much needed after more than a year of no nightclubs

I did all the training and was excited and looking forward to the race. I even managed to get lots of people to sponsor me.

But sadly that time I only got as far as Charing Cross Station. I was just feeling really ill and despite the messages from people on a Facebook running group saying the crowds would get me through I decided to pull out because I could hardly stand up.

There is no sadder sight in running terms as a man walking into the Co-Op with a London Landmarks bag and buying a bottle of Lilt hours before he would have finished the race.

Thankfully they let me defer my place to 2020 but then we all know what happened last year. (I remember exactly where I was in the Barkingside Tesco when I had a conversation with a woman from Get Kids Going in February 2020 when I explained that I thought the event would be cancelled.)

So this time I was really pleased to make it to the start line, to get to where I hadn’t managed to get before.

As I said above it was the slowest half marathon I’ve ever done but for me this time the time wasn’t important.

Watching bits and pieces of the Olympics has made me rethink the way I approach running.

Man at The Admiralty
This man’s quiet Sunday morning was interrupted by thousands of runners
Here’s a super happy moment from the end of the race
London Landmarks runners
It was great to see some of the London landmarks runners on the course (Picture from London Landmarks Twitter account)

I used to sit after races and look at the times online to see how it was a tale of hundreds or thousands of people overtaking me.

This time I’m writing this instead of scrolling through the also-rans.

This time I’m thinking like some of the Olympians in the way that some know that they will never be on the podium but are just proud they are representing their country and are doing the best they can.

Obviously with my kind of time I’ll never be picked to represent my country but I know I did the best I could on the day (although maybe I shouldn’t have stopped for the toilet at mile four – or thereabouts).

And that’s what I’m taking from today. As long as you do the best you can and make yourself proud then that’s all anyone can ask of you.

It feels strange though because until today all of my half marathons have been in Eastern Europe.

They’ve all been a part of a holiday and have always involved getting a burger as big as my head afterwards (a tradition which started in Budapest years ago).

Landmarks medal
After more than a year of mostly just doing virtual races it was so good to get one from a real event
As well as going past lots of famous landmarks the course had more than a few nods to the year we’ve just had (Picture from London Landmarks Twitter)
Fans of AJ Pritchard et al would be amazed to know I saw this trio after the race. I didn’t say hi because none of them are Pearly Kings or Queens

So for the first time when people were cheering for me (I think I heard four people shouting “Fisky” throughout the entire course – thank you if you’re reading this) I could understand what they were saying.

For the first time there were charities dotted around which cheered their runners but really couldn’t be arsed to say anything to anyone else.

For the first time I didn’t get given any cans of radler lager after crossing the finishing line (lager companies seem to be fans of sponsoring Eastern European races).

For the first time I’m not sightseeing while trying to work out whether the route went past where I’m aiming to go tomorrow.

Celebratory pint at Wetherspoons
A solitary celebratory pint at the Wetherspoons at Victoria Station, because going on my own for the complimentary finishers glass of Prosecco at a bar near the finish just seemed too sad.
McDonald's fries and double cheeseburger
This is as close as I could get to the traditional post-half marathon burger as big as my head

And for the first time I settled for McDonald’s fries and a double cheeseburger on the train home because I didn’t invite anyone to watch the race so didn’t have anyone to get a burger with.

But for the first time I met a real Pearly Queen and King. You definitely don’t see those in Eastern Europe.

If there is a next time for me and London Landmarks I’ll invite people to watch and I’ll have a proper burger.

Click through to my JustGiving page if you’d like to sponsor me and help me raise even more money for Get Kids Going.

Stay safe for another week!