The 10th May was a date I had had in my calendar for a good while. As soon as someone at parkrun had mentioned the Hackney Half I knew it was a race I wanted to do. I signed up as soon as the site opened, before they had even finalised the date.
In a slight break to tradition we didn’t walk the course the night before, though we did work out how to get there and do a trial journey to see how long it would take. I’m quite glad we did in the end as we got a little lost and had to double back to find the start.
The morning journey went a lot smoother. So smoothly in fact we ended up getting to the race village a good 2 hours before the start. Still it gave me a chance to catch up with a friend from parkrun, use a portaloo (twice) and get my bag checked in without feeling rushed.
Start pens were a new experience for me, and once again I was glad we had got there early. I managed to secure a space at the back of the 2 hour pen without much trouble, though within about 5 minutes a small queue had formed of people trying to get in.
When I set off Laura headed off across the village to try and catch me when I hit the road and I started shuffling towards the start line. Despite my Dad’s comments that it would take me 20 minutes to get over the start it only took just over 9 minutes and I was off.
The first few miles went brilliantly. Negative splits are not something that comes naturally to me so I tried to set out at a steady pace in the hopes that I could keep it up. Having lots of other people to follow also helped.
Someone had told me before I started that one of the great things about Hackney was the atmosphere and I do have to agree, I had never run a race like this before. There were people cheering us on all the way round the course. A few even cheered me on by name, which was nice.
At mile 9 I was starting to flag a little, I had been on track for a sub-2 hour up until that point but it was not to be. Even spotting Laura, my parents and sister was not enough for me to keep it up.
As we can round into the Olympic Village, and uncharted territory for me in terms of distance and I really started to feel tired. I really wanted to stop but just kept pushing. Mile 11 was possibly my slowest round the whole course but I kept going. I couldn’t be one of the people who were walking so close to the end.
As I came back to the main road for the final push I did indeed find my second wind. I powered round to the end, past my cheering family, and crossed the line with a smile on my face and feeling incredibly proud of what I had achieved.
I may have fallen short of my 2 hour goal but my final time of 2:04:17 is still pretty phenomenal for a first half, and it was faster than the half my dad ran when I was a baby so I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of.