Run Hackney Half Marathon 2014

To give a bit of background, I did my first half marathon back in October 2012, smashing my target of 1:50:00 with a finish of 1:45:15. I then quickly signed up for the Berlin half in April 2013, hoping for a 1:40 finish, but picked up an achilles injury two weeks before and ended up hobbling around in 1:53 (in hindsight I shouldn’t have run, but having travelled over to Berlin it seemed a shame to DNS). I then signed up for the Bristol HM in September, but after a good summer of training got an ankle injury that forced me to DNS.

After very little running towards the end of last year, I slowly got back in to things at the start of this year and surprised myself with a 1:50:58 finish in the Brighton HM after just six weeks of training (well, slow jogging mostly!), and have since had a good six months of injury-free training and finally got my 10K PB under 45:00.

I therefore arrived at the Run Hackney Half Marathon determined to finally beat my first ever HM time. 1:39:30 was the target, 7:35 the pace, which based on my 10K time last month was definitely doable. I felt reasonably confident that if everything came together I could do it, although I was a little concerned as this was the first ever Hackney HM and being in June weather might be an issue. The weather did indeed turn out to be a factor – blazing sunshine and very warm.

The race village this morning seemed pretty well organised. Queues were quite long for the toilets but the bag drop was well staffed and seemed organised (more on that later). The start was signposted with fairly broad target times (1:15, 1:30, 1:45 etc) and wasn’t marshalled – you just picked where you wanted to start. I was a little concerned about this, but it didn’t get too crowded and in the end most people seemed sensible about where they started. Aside from the few usual idiots doing 10 minute miles the pace at the start was reasonable.

The start was the strangest I’ve ever experienced – two announcers were rambling on and attempting jokes, then all of a sudden, without any countdown, a horn went off and they announced things had started. The course was very crowded for the first few miles but the pace was good and I settled in to slightly faster than my target pace quite quickly and easily. However, the first mile marker was way long with my split showing as 8:00 which way worrying, although I had anticipated that as a new race things like this might be wrong, so didn’t panic too much. Mile 2 confirmed my suspicions with a split of 6:58 – looking back my Garmin measured 1.08 and 0.93 for the first two miles.

Sadly this got worse further in to the course, with mile 6 measuring 11:23 (1.48 miles), mile 7 13:01 (1.66m), mile 8 missing, and mile 9 5:17 (0.67m). What a mess! I was still feeling good up until 9 miles, just slightly off pace but feeling good and coping with the heat ok. I was hoping the final few miles around the Olympic Park would keep me going but unfortunately the course turned out to be rather disappointing. The section consisted of two out and backs with very tight u-turns and a short loop, different to the original course plan and not going very near the Olympic Stadium, with some short hills which all became rather dispiriting. To make things worse, there was also zero shade and it’s here that the heat really started to get to me.

I struggled through mile 10 at 8:20 pace, and then got a bit of cramp in my right calf so was forced to briefly walk. At this point I just wanted to finish, and struggled on with the last few miles in 8:53 and 8:59. I managed to raise my pace a little in the last 0.1 with 8:10 pace although it felt like I was going half that speed. My finish time was 1:44:35, a PB of 40 seconds. I’m pleased to have gotten a PB despite the heat, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. I just couldn’t cope with the sun in those last few miles. Perhaps I should have set out a little slower given the heat… but who knows.

Unfortunately the seemingly well organised bag drop couldn’t find my bag. I ended up coming in to the area to help look and eventually spotted my bag in a totally different section. Rather annoying!

Will I run the Hackney HM again? Unlikely. It was billed as a “pancake flat PB course” but had quite a few undulations and short hills which all added up. The crowd support was reasonable, if not quite at the levels of Brighton or the Royal Parks Half, but the scenery wasn’t too inspiring for most of the course, and the final section in the Olympic Park was very disappointing. The mile marker issue was also rather annoying, although aside from that it seemed pretty well organised for the first running of the event.

Oh well. Looking forward to a few weeks of taking things easy before I start to think about the Royal Parks Half. Hopefully the weather will be on my side there and I can finally get under 100 minutes.

17:24 min/mi18230 ft
27:28 min/mi19326 ft
37:36 min/mi191-10 ft
47:35 min/mi192-19 ft
57:37 min/mi1919 ft
67:44 min/mi19410 ft
77:49 min/mi194-11 ft
87:47 min/mi1934 ft
97:58 min/mi184-11 ft
108:07 min/mi194-30 ft
118:19 min/mi19217 ft
128:52 min/mi184-14 ft
138:58 min/mi1583 ft
0.18:13 min/mi167-5 ft
Lap Time Distance PaceHR
Total 1:44:35 13.1 mi 7:58 min/mi188
1 8:00 1.08 mi 7:26 min/mi182
2 6:52 0.93 mi 7:20 min/mi194
3 7:29 1.00 mi 7:29 min/mi192
4 7:39 1.02 mi 7:31 min/mi193
5 7:32 0.99 mi 7:37 min/mi191
6 11:20 1.48 mi 7:40 min/mi194
7 12:57 1.66 mi 7:49 min/mi193
8 5:15 0.67 mi 7:48 min/mi179
9 8:02 1.00 mi 8:04 min/mi194
10 8:34 1.04 mi 8:12 min/mi194
11 9:04 1.03 mi 8:49 min/mi183
12 8:43 0.97 mi 8:58 min/mi160
13 2:18 0.29 mi 7:49 min/mi169

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