May 11, 2015
Being able to roll out of bed at 8am and cycle to the 9am start of a local half marathon feels remarkably smug, and I guess added to the relaxed feel of yesterdays Run Hackney half marathon. I had taken part in the inaugural event last year enjoying it immensely in what seemed like sub saharan conditions, so I was happy to give this event another go especially as the date had changed to deal with the heat issue…but guess what…the sun was back again!!
This race is part of the Vitality Run Series which brings together eight of the UK’s most exciting running events aiming to provide all runners, irrespective of ability, with the opportunity to take on their next challenge. The Series aims to inspire anyone to reach their own personal goal and is focused on supporting participants on every step of their journey, and I must admit the communication throughout has been great with training programmes and tips for race day.
Speaking of which, I met some of my Clubhouse ladies at about 8.30 am and we mingled in the race village discussing how we were feeling. For 3 of us this was just 2 weeks out from the epicness that was London Marathon 2015, and I for one had only been out for a very stop start slow 5K on Wednesday, so I didn’t really know how I would cope.
There is something quite fresh about Run Hackney, online people were joking on social media about the number of bearded competitors but I don’t think it was that, I think it just attracts a younger more up for it crowd, of first timers and those wanting something a little different from their half marathon event.
We positioned ourselves in the 2.15-2.30 pen…as did everyone else, or so it felt. There was a lot of pushing and edging forwards…I still think a 3 hour pen is needed to eliminate the fear of being in the back pen…us 3 hour ladies know our place and are not at all put off by starting there…it kinda doesn’t matter once you are off anyway. The race was started by Perri Shakes Drayton who I love…although I didn’t spot her.
The first few miles were tough for me. My calfs felt tight and I knew I was running a little faster than I wanted to (11.30minute miles) which of course doesn’t sound fast in the bigger scheme of things (Katy Webster won the women’s race in a time of 01:17:38 what is that like 3 minute miles?) but I was toying with the idea of doing a negative split…which happened to be this weeks clubhouse session but by mile 3 and the first water stop which I reached in just shy of 36 minutes I realised this was a crazy idea and I should just focus on getting round.
I spotted two clubhouse members ahead of me at about mile 5 in their “I follow the Fat Girls Guide to Running” technical tees, so I focussed on catching them and picked them off one by one. The route felt different this year and I always managed to be further ahead than I realised and ran strong enjoying the crowds and simply trying to get to the half way point in good shape…it worked. I was running at average half marathon times for me and the voices in my head were behaving themselves, I was just astonished to be feeling so good and so soon after London. It was hot though!!
By about 8 miles it started to feel a little more difficult as there were lots of walkers now…I had until now managed to run consistently, but I did need to walk for a bit and stretch out by hip flexors which were starting to get a bit painful. So I invented a game to keep my mind occupied and still in the race.
I started running again trying to catch and overtake people, I would count them 1, 2, 3, 4 and then if someone caught me I would have to go down again 3, 2…ooopps 3, 4 you get the idea. As I approached Vicky Park I was in the mid 50s using this game but then got a bit obsessed looking for the lucazade drinks station which was supposed to be just before mile 8….and thats when I noticed all the half drunk bottles on the floor, being swept up by bin men.
SERIOUSLY??? There were no drinks left 🙁
And that’s when I did something I have never done before. I spotted a bottle which looked like it had only had one swig taken from it, and I picked it up discarded the sports cap and enjoyed the sweetness of that much needed energy drink. I figured I was more likely to catch something from the portaloos (which I needed about 10 minutes later) than the backwash of another random runner…plus the thought of passing out through not fuelling properly was more of a relevant risk at the time.
As we approached the Olympic Park I spotted…no I heard the awesomeness that is the Run Dem Crews cheer squad. Perched on top of a hill, many sat on the cast iron railway bridge with horns and pots and pans (well thats what it sounded like) I started to run up the hill, perhaps I peaked a little early because once they saw me I couldn’t stop…their cheering wouldn’t let me…and as I reached the peak and high fived my final supporter I wondered for a minute if I would faint through pure exhaustion. I walked for a little after that.
And then into the Olympic Park, with scenes reminiscent of last year…the heat, the folks being attended by first aiders and then there was Maya from my running club…I heard her before I saw her but at mile 11 and a half it was just the boost I needed. Shortly after that I spotted Rose and her dad…Rose has seriously perfected her “Mummy, Mummy” chant and it was great to stop and give her a cuddle…not so great to hear her crying as I ran off.
I’m not sure where all that time went, but looking at my watch I knew it was going to be pretty tight finishing in under 3 hours, so I had to get a shifty on and I made myself run as much as I possibly could. Now I had the frustrating sight of runners who had already finished the race strolling home through the park with smiles and their epic medal, but a great team of young volunteers in the Olympic Park handing out water and telling me it was only 1 mile to go which was a bit of an underestimation, but spurred me on nether the less.
Looking at my watch I knew I didn’t have long to go, and the crowds were really cheering me on near Mably Green…I just needed to get to the top of this road and I would be able the see the finish line. It’s funny, for once there was nothing that actually hurt…no chaffing, no sore legs…my hip pain from earlier had subsided…I was just plain old fatigued. But I pushed and I pushed, cheered on by the crowds spotting my Too Fat to Run vest (which had done its job all the way round if truth be told).
Finally I made it into the finishing funnel, but yeeeshhhh did that 500 meter stretch feel long…I gave myself a talking to and decided to sprint…I could see the clock and somehow worked out that I was close to 2 hours 50, could I get under that perhaps?…and I ran like I had never run before…to which the crowds erupted.
As I finished the race I wondered if I might throw up…I didn’t. Instead I was presented with my medal from a fellow East London Runner (they like to volunteer a bit too) and I made my way through the finishing funnel to enjoy the festival atmosphere of the race village.
I finished in 2.49.23 which although not a PB nor a negative split run, it was 36 seconds faster than last years race time and just 14 days after taking almost 7 hours to complete a marathon.
Run Hackney is a great event and I hope I can take part again next year, in fact I hope lots of you guys sign up too…we could organise a Too Fat to Run picnic afterwards, as it seems the weather gods are always on side for this event. Pre-registration for 2016 is now open at www.runhackney.com why not get involved.