If you’re looking for a large, well organised half marathon in central London with an excellent goodie bag and fantastic crowd support then Hackney half is the one for you! This was my furthest run since the London Marathon and I wasn’t quite feeling ready to go it solo and try challenge my pre-London half marathon PB time. Instead I opted to run it with Livvy @thenutritiousrunner on a mission to smash her half marathon PB and attempt to break the two hour barrier.
I knew it was going to be a hot day, but still the heat took me by surprise. Waking up and travelling the Stratford that morning I felt a sense of relief that the London skyline seemed to be engulfed with a dull misty haze. No sunshine meant cooler temperatures right? The morning felt cool and dewy, which was a welcome break from the soaring temperatures I had ran in recently. As I arrived at the start area things were a little chaotic. I had arrived later than planned, and broken my golden rule of giving myself enough contingency time. There were large queues for the toilets and due to the volume of people I had no phone signal. Which made finding Livvy feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Luckily we both decided to go and stand to wait in the same place- great minds think alike.
The delay in finding each other and queuing for the toilets meant we started right at the back. Thirty two minutes or so had already passed when we crossed the startline. However the volunteers were still there giving it their absolute all cheering everyone out. I had never seen this side to a race, usually I’m keen to get out of the start and get going, however I loved the inclusive feel. It didn’t matter if you wanted to start at the back, you were cheered out with as much gusto as the runners who exploded out in the first seconds after the claxon.
By now the course was quite congested and we weaved our way through runners trying to find our goal pace to smash Livvy’s sub 2. It took a while but eventually the runners thinned and we were tanking along nicely. The first 10km flew by, Livvy got a new PB for her 10k. I knew we had friends cheering around mile 7 so we just kept focussing on getting there. The support out on the course was incredible, but its even better when you know someone in the crowd and you can stop for a quick hug.
Corey waited for us at mile 7
At around 15km things started getting messy. The mist had gone and we were now approaching the hottest point of the day. Livvy began to tire and I was doing all I could to keep her going. At each water station I was running round grabbing water and we began hunting for oranges. Luckily there were two Nuun hydration points on the course. I love Nuun and it was perfect for rehydrating on such a hot day. I really wish there had been Nuun stations during the London marathon!
As we approached the final 4km, Livvy began giving up on herself. I think that is the hardest thing about pacing someone is seeing them give up their belief in themselves. I knew she could do it. We had a quick minute of a strategy plan and a really brief pep talk and battled on.
As the final few kms ticked down, I knew she had done it. We had done so much weaving and taken the corners wide to avoid the traffic that we hit 21.2km at 1:59 but still had another 400m or so to the finish. Livvy had broken a sub 2 hour half in her own right. We pushed on to the finish crossing the line in 2 hours and 43 seconds. What a day!
The moment Livvy realised she had broken the 2 hour mark for her half marathon
We both really enjoyed Hackney Half. The Virgin Sport races never disappoint. The finishers t-shirts are always high quality with an amazing fit. What I love even more is that you get a women’s finishers T-shirt. I am so fed up of constantly being given big baggy male fitting t-shirts that I never want to train in because they are so awkwardly shaped. Us ladies pay just as much as the men to run these races, we put just as much effort in and we always seem to get forgotten when it comes to the t-shirts. I am so proud to be able to flaunt my race finishers tee as its amazing and represents such a great day! The medals never disappoint either! A nice solid bit of bling to add to the collection! I am so unbelievably proud of Livvy for achieving what she thought was impossible, sub 2 hours for the distance and a huge chunk off her previous time. I am truly honoured to have been able to share the experience.
Next in the British Sport series is the British 10k in July, another firm favourite of mine!