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About one year ago, I thought I had visited Richmond Park. Today I realised my mistake. I was along the Thames River bank in Richmond but it was definitely not THE park.

Signing up first time for the Richmond Park run, I went equipped with my barcode and was all ready to break records. When I reached Richmond tube station, I nearly lost my way before I managed to tag behind a couple and even did a little ‘warm-up’ run as I thought I was going to be late!

Nice and bright sunny Saturday morning for a 5km park run – it is completely free and you get a timing which will all go into a database! Apparently this park run has turned global since the inception in Bushey Park many years back. The run relies on volunteers and the process to get your timing is simplistic. Everyone trudges towards the starting line and a few announcements are made. If you have done this for 50 times, you will get a free t-shirt! People there are very friendly and I even had some advice on the expected route prior the start instruction. Before I even know the race had started, the folks pushed themselves forward and set off.

I was squeezing past the runners and kept in mind on the undulating route. Having not done any running for the last two weeks, I was absolutely crushed as I struggled even 5minutes into the run. My legs felt heavy and I panted with each breath I took. Without a watch, it made things worse as I tried to keep my pace even without knowing what was the covered distance. I kept going and pushing forward with the crowds, all the time wondering about the uphill portion even as I thought I was running on relatively flat ground. Later I found out, even the start of the race was slightly elevated and it made me feel much better about my stamina. I would have been absolutely embarrased to tell anyone of my half marathon achievements seeing how thoughts of stopping to walk kept popping into my head throughout the race – for only a quarter of what I had completed fourteen days ago.

I saw a father and daughter team as both of them were keeping time of their pace. As we hit the grass patch, he went: split one. *Beep*. Excellent work, I thought – they are really extremely serious about it. There were others with music as well and everyone around me did well without any pause. Hence I sought to perservere. It worked for a while till I saw the uphill portion coming up. Oh no! Can I make it?

I tried to distract myself and actually saw real life deers in the park! They looked tame and was not disturbed by the 280 of us stomping past them. Trying to clear my breath and get in more fresh oxygen, I managed to keep up my speed and appeared to be doing a game of tag with this other fellow runner with whom we kept overtaking each other. How long more to go?

The elevation looked never-ending. Only when I spotted the field patch from afar, I went, yesh! Time to dash towards the finishing line! Very soon, I got to the guy holding the timer and received my chip – not before stopping a girl from taking my chip. As the chip person was five steps away and I stopped immediately when I reached the timer, I had to rush towards her to “pressure” her to hand it over.

I had a fantastic time chatting to some of the folks after the run over coffee and now I know some familiar faces! I will be back next week to volunteer which I thought would be a great idea to get some fresh air. A check on their webpage showed me coming up 38th among the ladies, belonging to the 55.95 percentile in my age group with an absolutely amazing timing of 26.27min. This in fact divides out into slightly less than 13.5min for 2.5km and considering that I used to do around 13 to 14 minute for a 3km (flat ground) running, I have to admit my results were much better than I expected. Well done to me on a Saturday morning!