This is a guest post courtesy of Ivana.
Remember that feeling of being a six-year-old, waking up on your birthday? That’s how I felt on the day of The Big Half.
More than 50 London City Runners taking part in a race that runs through our neighborhood and features some of the fastest runners on the planet? Of course I was excited!
As if that wasn’t enough, all the snow and ice that made us so nervous in the run-up to the race melted away on the morning of the race.
The sun was shining and our superb cheerleaders were spread around the route – Gemma and Steph on mile 1 and 6, Leo at 3, Tim and crew at 8, Heather in the final stretch.
The biggest star of the day was Kerry, who met a few runners just before the race started to give them kit, headed to mile 8 to drop off one of the club flags, and then rushed to the finish area to meet us there.
The starting area on and around Tower Bridge was extremely well organised, with eight separate pens and loads of space and plenty of friendly marshals. Having totally succumbed to my anticipation-fuelled sugar high at this point, I was even excited about the loos. So many of them! Barely any line at all!
Having ran a new PB in Hampton Court Half just two weeks before The Big Half, I was keen to replicate the experience. I knew I was going to find it hard to contain myself during the first half of the race, especially because I thought I might be able to see the leaders, including Mo Farah, running in the opposite direction somewhere around the 1-mile mark.
Well, I am not going to lie. I did not manage to pace myself and paid for it horribly in the last two miles of the race.
Afef sparing some time to blow kisses to the cheer squad
The course took us from Tower Bridge towards Shadwell and the Limehouse Link Tunnel. Running through the tunnel was a bit strange — dark and wet, the sound of hundreds of pounding feet echoing through the walls covered in musty traffic pollution.
Back above the ground, we ran through the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and back towards Tower Bridge through much of our usual long run Sunday route.
Soumya excited to see our cheer squad at mile 8
After crossing the bridge again, we headed past the cheer station near the Marquis, and off to Rotherhithe, where I spotted a bunch of familiar faces from Southwark parkrun with a much appreciated placard reading “JUST A PARKRUN TO GO.”
I started to struggle a bit after running through Canada Water, around mile 11. The support along the route got me through the last two miles in Deptford, although I can’t quite remember how.
I knew my pace has dropped and really just wanted it to be all over, but running towards Cutty Sark and seeing Heather, Gemma and Steph cheering near the finish gave me a special boost in the last few meters.
Natascha heading in towards the finish
I’m not going to lie; I was a bit upset with how my run went. But even the slightest sign of disappointed completely melted away when I arrived to the meet and greet point Kerry had set up for us.
So many happy faces in LCR hats and hoodies, the club flag flying high and proud, friends completing their first ever half marathons, others smashing their PBs big time. I even got some commiserations from those who, just like me, had less than an ideal race.
Steph, after her well-earned PB!
So, if anyone has ever doubted whether joining a running club was a good idea, here is the thing: Had I ran on my own, I would have picked up my bag and headed home for a bath and a nap, feeling a bit bummed out.
But with London City Runners all around me, there was no room for that. I got some wonderful sweaty hugs, loads of laughs, a few snacks, and a full afternoon of shoulder pats. My race day was just amazing as I pictured it that morning.
Deanna proudly showing off her well-earned medal
Loads of PBs on the day, including:
Lizzie: 1:46 (11 minutes faster than her previous half)
Steph: 1:47 (shaving off five minutes)
Steph N: 1:46
Deanna: 2:20 (seven minutes off her last one)
Stephanie D.: 2:31 (first one!)
Kyoko: 2:03 (first one!)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ivana (Ivi for short) took up running and joined the club after realising beer tastes the best after a long run with friends. She enjoys parkrun and signing up for races immediately after declaring she’d never run again.