Today was the inaugural Big Half half marathon. Put on by the team who organise the London Marathon, it was billed as a nice race for London Marathon training, with some of the course running along the London marathon route.
This week had lots of snow and ice, so it was a last minute decision to move forward with the race (thanks to warmer temps on Saturday which melted away all the deterrents), much to the happiness of most of London. Woke up this morning to find it was warmer (41!) and 93% humidity, so decision was made to wear shorts and arm sleeves to stay warm.
I met up with the LDN Brunch Club crew at 8 am, and met many friends along the way. The race starts just past Tower Bridge, so we queued there until it was time to start the race.
The Big Half started just after Tower Bridge, but we queued on the Bridge. I will never tire of Tower Bridge, and took the chance to snap a pre-race selfie.
I missed Sir Mo Farah running past because he’s just that fast (and I was in the “D” starting pen) so he turned the corner before we could see him (boo.) I always love the first mile of a race because it feels GREAT, and you’ve got so much possibility for achieving great things.
Mile 2 took place in the Limehouse Link Tunnel, which sort of reminded me of the Quai in Paris, but MUCH longer (it’s apparently a full mile in the tunnel). After exiting the tunnel we headed to Canary Wharf for miles 3-4 before turning back around for miles 5-6. There were cobblestones during that point, which I hate (and move like bambi on them post ankle sprain), but fared through it. Overall, it wasn’t very scenic, but those first 6 miles went quickly and I was feeling strong.
It’s worth mentioning that my Garmin went bonkers from the tunnel through Canary Wharf (it always does out that way), so my pacing was non-existent in this race, and my distance was about half a mile longer than the actual race markers. That plays a major role later on.
Mile 7 was the BEST part of the race course as it’s when we crossed over Tower Bridge. I’ve dreamed many dreams of running across Tower Bridge during a race, and the excitement doing it today was a taster of what’s to come in April. I cannot wait for that moment!
Mile 8 was a blur because I was just trying to get to mile 9 as quickly as possible to see the LDN Brunch Club and Wild Bunch cheer squad! Massive thanks to Sona and Alia who both captured excellent photos of me with full-on jazz hands! The 6 ladies holding down cheer squad was the highlight of my day, and they were LOUD! Cowbells and cheers were in full force – THANK YOU ladies!
This is where the race turned grim for me. The course scenery was extremely boring, and my Garmin said I was on track for a solid PB. However, I lost my focus and my pace slowed massively, but because my miles were WAY off, I couldn’t tell what my actual pace was. So when I crossed the finish line my watch said 1:56:38.
I can’t tell you how disappointed I initially was in today’s run, especially when friends were PB-ing all over today’s course (GO THEM!). I literally cried about my time on the tube home (how sad is that?), but then gave myself a virtual slap to the face, and a reality check.
I started this blog as a way to document my journey, but it’s also a way to look back at how far I’ve come. My last post was a look back at setting goals in 2017. This time last year I ran my heart out for a 2:01, and I never would have believed I could hit a 1:56 time; today I’m crying about how shite an effort that was (and it wasn’t a shite effort, let me be clear). Next year I’ll probably cry over something else that disappointed me.
This is where running is hard. We train hard to better ourselves and sometimes we have races that just aren’t great. The elites have them too (yes, even Sir Mo Farah). I was expected to run 1:52 today, which would have been a 90-second PB, and instead I missed my target by 4.30. Shit happens. We cry from the disappointment; we celebrate the victories our friends achieved; we look at what we can do better next time; and then we run again.
Thanks for the memories Big Half. You certainly weren’t my favourite, but I think I’ll be coming back for retribution next year (and to see Sir Mo!)