Date/Time: Sunday 22nd June / 09:00 (!?!)
Location: Hackney, London
Distance: 13.1 miles
Building up to this race I have to be honest I wasn’t feeling strong. 4 weekends of travelling and my job being MANIC had meant that my long runs hadn’t really happened. I had been doing all sorts of training but I wasn’t feeling my strongest and well my lower back wasn’t the happiest.
After umming and arrhing about whether I race or cheer my lovely lady Harriet offered to run nice and slow with me and well any excuse to spend some time with her, plus Lissy would be ready and waiting at mile 10 to join us if I needed the support soooo…..
My journey was super easy, with a fellow RDC’er we grabbed the bus and arrived at the event village around 8am in the glorious sunshine (it was glorious at this point) there were lots of toilets (so it seemed) and a well organised bag drop! As time went on more and more people filled in. I was running in my RDC tee and with over 100 of the crew running plus loads of international crews it was awesome seeing people everywhere to say hey to and definitely helped me get in the mood!
Bag successfully dropped I headed to the toilets where of course the queues had now started. 20 minutes (?!?) later I was running to the start pens faced with the impossible task of finding Harry! There was no way I was running this by myself, my heart wasn’t in it, so I had to find her and luckily after many phone calls and jumping and waving I did!!
Before we even kicked off and my RDC vest was tucked into my sports bra … it was gonna be a hot one! Crossing the line it was great to see so many supporters out and the amount of people shouting out “Run Dem” was ridiculously encouraging – I absolutely LOVE being part of this family!!!!!!
The first 3 miles rolled on by, offering some sneaky little inclines and not much shade. My back was a little achey but luckily Harry and I hadn’t seen too much of each other that week so there was a lot of life gossip to catch up on offering a great distraction from any aches and pains ;D
It was refreshing to have so much space along the route, compared to other city races and bearing how many runners were apparently on the course, it never felt over crowded or slow moving! That being said by mile 5 it was clear that this was NOT going to be a PB race, the sun was beating down on us, our legs were heavy and neither of us felt strong. I am notorious for not drinking enough during races, my pink bottle rarely gets emptied, however I had already finished all that was in my trusty race companion and had taken one of the squeezy water pouches (more on them later!) But we kept on pushing knowing that a fellow lovely TNR lady Laura was marshaling and would be stationed around mile 6. True to what we thought round a small corner there she was screaming and shouting just as we were at her!
I know I say it all the time but for me supporters make my race! Hearing people cheering and encouraging you on gives you a huge boost even when you are dying inside!!! I know at this point both Harry and I were having a bit of a moment, not even half way and already tired and seeing Laura looking so positive definitely made a huge difference so we pushed on knowing that in a few miles time we would reach the all mighty CHEERDEM!
The sun was relentless and for the first time in my life I was becoming a shade hunter. However, this also meant that my back was no longer a issue as I so focused on getting through the run! Along the route we met more and more of our crew and so the small boosts and smiles just kept coming but sadly I couldn’t tell you much about the scenery, or the route itself as to be honest it was a bit of a blurrrrrrr.
By mile 9 poor Harry was really having to push to keep going but we just kept reminding ourselves that Lissy and CheerDem were round the corner … we just had to make it there and then we were on the home stretch… and then this happened …
With Charlie Dark heading up Cheer Dem the atmosphere was, as always, electric and nothing could wipe the smile off my face seeing Lissy shouting at the top of her voice to Harry and I!
I LOVED running through there with my tee on it was a HUGE boost and then just along from there we spotted Harry’s awesome fiancé who continued to shout out our names and offered, thankfully, another bottle of water!
At this point water was a huge necessity. There is always a lot of chat about how water is given at races. I have seen bottles, plastic cups, paper cups (?!) but luckily Hackney had chosen the squeezy pouches. These pouches are great to grab, carry and drink from … if you know what you are doing! Now I don’t know if it was because it was so hot and it was sending everyone a little crazy but people over all the place were struggling with these things. It appeared that you had to rip the top off and then just squeeze to get water out. On my first attempt I managed to squeeze it and hit the back of my throat causing a coughing fit. Harry managed to open it the wrong way and squeeze it onto her foot and we saw plenty of people either not being able to get the water out or if they did only get a get a drip when trying to pour it over their heads!
Back to the race itself and the final 3 miles were hard! In theory running around the Olympic Park should have been really exciting however more sneaky inclines and no shade whatsoever made it pretty darn tough! Harry and I battled through, did the loop bringing us back to the crew and all the excitement that came it and then pushed on to the bitter end.
Coming up to the finish line we pushed, no “sprint” finish but definitely a slightly faster pace and I cannot tell you the relief we felt to have crossed that line ….
Yes this was a pretty horrendous race and yes Harry and I definitely didn’t get any PBs to shout of but that being said this was also an awesome race! It was great running through Hackney, seeing all the local support. It was amazing to run alongside so many crew members and experience cheerdem in full force. But what was truly awesome was to see how runners were helping fellow runners out! Everyone seem to struggle along this route at some point, whether this was due to the sun, lack of water, sneaky hills or all of the above and you really got the feeling that people were there to support one another. For me this is what running is all about, yep I love running to clear my head, catch up on music and generally keep fit but I also love seeing others run, encouraging others to push on and achieve their goals and once again this race gave me the fantastic opportunity to run with one incredible lady and see her get yet another half marathon under her belt!
HACKEY HALF you were sweaty but it didn’t beat us and YES we will be coming back next year!