After injury and illness disrupted my training plan, the day of the Hackney Half arrived. Not one for doing things alone I dragged my family cheer squad to London for the weekend - which was great timing as it was my boy's 8th birthday on the Saturday, brother in law number one lives in Hackney and brother in law number two was visiting from New Zealand. Both of whom were also taking part.
Putting the aforementioned illness and injury to one side, I felt as prepared as I could be having completed a comfortable 9 miles last weekend and a quick 5k Thursday evening. My legs felt good and my head was ready. That was until the British weather decided Summer was going to arrive early.
Saturday walking around London was hot.
Sunday was hotter. From my hotel room I saw that the sun was noticeably brighter and it was already hotting up at 7:45 as I made my way past Hackney Central and saw a snippet of the route under the railway bridge.
I didn't know the route beyond the fact it ran past my brother in law's road twice, where the family cheer squad would be waiting, and it went through Broadway Market which I had visited on a previous Hackney trip. I had a rough picture in my mind of the route as to where water stations were and when I would open up my gels - I learnt the hard way about fuelling during the Bath Half.
The first mile took us up a slight incline then around the bend I got my first sight of the family crew and gave them a big shout and I was feeling good. The first three miles were at a steady 9:10 mile pace, which was way off my PB but I started this race with no intention of going that fast due to the heat - I just wanted to finish and hopefully enjoy it. By mile 4 I need to stop for the loo - I never stop whilst running so found it strange but whilst waiting in the queue I had a quick chat with a runner in the same situation and we concluded it was obviously the delayed start and extra water sipping that caused it. Not worrying about beating my PB my only concern stopping was that my TomTom would stop and not restart but luckily a few minutes of a blank time screen and I was off and it carried on from where I left off.
The support was great along the course with clear cheering points to spur the runners on. At each water station I grabbed a bottle and continually sipped water and tipped it down my neck and back. The increase in water consumption was apparent and the course was soon littered with empty bottles - noticeably worse than Bath where the majority were disposed off in huge open bins along the route. The Hackney course was also significantly narrower than Bath and this wasn't helped by parked cars and at one point three inconsiderate drivers who decided they would attempt to drive their cars through the mass of runners. I seriously thought I was about to witness a mass runner's riot. I also noted a lot of non runners crossing the running route, some with bikes and pushchairs, and with the amount of runners this caused a lot of issues with some very near misses.
Back to the race and the miles ticked by - being in that runner's haze at times I missed some mile marker points so had a nice surprise when glancing at my watch and realised I was further on than I thought. I took my gels as planned and continued to top up the water. My pace was pretty steady throughout but I found the last 3 miles tough going when the course took us towards the Olympic Park; here there were no buildings to give any shade and the sun was getting higher in the sky and hotter.
At mile 12 the 2:00 pacer passed me and I tried for a few minutes to join his pack; my heart was shouting for me to give it a go to try and finish sub 2 hours but my head ruled and told me to be sensible and finish the race in one piece. Mile 12 ended up being my slowest mile, apart from the loo stop, and I was chuffed that the last mile wasn't my slowest - it was my second slowest!
As I crossed the finishing line I was happy but I didn't have the ecstatic feeling of when I finished Bath. However, later in the day, the emotions came over me when I realised how well everyone running in that heat actually did.
I was happy that I finished.
I was happy that I stuck to my plans and didn't go crazy looking for a PB in the heat.
I was happy that when my time came through later - having forgotten to stop my TomTom straight away - that I wasn't that far from a sub 2 hour and had I not took a stop en route probably would have got back in that time.
I was happy that I didn't hit a massive wall at 10 miles.
I was happy that there were no voices in my head questioning what on earth was I doing.
I was happy with how I felt, both physically and mentally, at the end.
I was happy when I got out of bed today and there was no hobbling.
I am a happy lady with a rather nice piece of bling now added to my medal rack!
Run Hackney Half Marathon:
TomTom time: 2:05:09
Official chip time: 2:04:30
Half PB (Bath): 1:56:49
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