With 7 weeks remaining before the London Marathon, I took part in the final race in my training plan, the Vitality Big Half. I was really looking forward to this one: a huge event with 13,000 runners, taking place over half of the London Marathon route meant an ideal sneak preview of some of the things I could expect from the main marathon itself.
Far more than just a warm-up race though, the Big Half attracted a great field of elite runners, including Mo Farah, back to defend his title from last year. And with slightly less lofty expectations, I was also on a mission to set myself a new half marathon PB, which stood at 2hr23 from the previous month’s race.
An early start down to Tower Hill meant I could wave hello to my parkrun friends who were manning one of the bag drop lorries at the other start area. It was strange to think that this time last year I had been doing the very same thing, taking in bags while admiring all the runners, wondering if I would ever be good enough to run a half marathon one day.
The start was, it has to be said, a little miserable. Grey skies, drizzle and stormy gusts of wind made the long wait in our starting pens drag on and on. But finally at 9:00, we were off! Or rather, Mo and the elite field were off! It took another 25 minutes for my wave to slowly shuffle round to the starting line, and shortly after getting started, I saw Mo running back past me on the other side, having already passed the 5 mile point!
I soon settled into the race and watched the miles slowly tick by. A long underground section in the Limehouse Link tunnel followed by a stretch amongst the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf played havoc with my GPS, making it very difficult to see if I was sticking to the right pace. The 50mph gusts of wind were sometimes a blessing, pushing you down the road, but other times you turned a corner to feel as if you had run into a brick wall. I felt eternally grateful not to be running in any kind of fancy dress!
At 7 miles in I really started to smile for the first time as we crossed Tower Bridge. It already felt like such an iconic moment, but I really can’t wait until the next time I run across this bridge! I could feel my pace starting to ease off a little so I tried to dig deep for the remaining few miles south of the river. Finally as we approached Greenwich the crowds started to pick up and I used the last of my strength to run for home, making it over the line in 2hr19, taking another 4 minutes off my half marathon PB!
All in all, I loved the whole experience of the Big Half. It was a wonderful day with so many friends from the London running community out in force and smashing PBs across the board. It was the perfect test run for all my marathon kit including shoes, outfit, running belt and energy drink, and I’m pleased to report that everything worked perfectly, giving me a lot of confidence for the main event itself!
You can read all about my training for the London marathon here
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