Big Half – Half Marathon Race Review

The 2018 Big Half (half marathon) was the first of its’s kind and has been developed at the same time as New Balance announcing their sponsorship of the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 on a 10 year deal. It offers an opportunity for those training for VMLM to test their pace, but also people not running VMLM to sample some of the sights.

It’s based in London and I love that the race organisers had also agreed to reserve plenty of spaces to make sure each London Borough had lots of representatives, to allow locals to get involved and feel a part of it, which showed in the awesome crowd support too. I’m not from London myself but luckily my wife noticed the event immediately after London Marathon last year and she signed me right up!

Due to a string of recent weeks of injury I didn’t hold high hopes for my performance in this race. I have been on a rollercoaster of ups and downs throughout Jan and Feb so my plan was simple… turn up on race day, see how I feel, if it hurts then take it steady. If I feel good, then I’ll push on!

Bag Drop

The race was well organised and really well sign posted so getting to the start was easy, I left it pretty late to bag drop but luckily got my bag in there just as they shut all the lorries up.

Time to Race

So after a small warm up I found my pen (Orange B) and hung back at the start to make sure my watch had GPS and I was all set… Time to go! The first mile went so quickly in the thrill of the gun going off and kicking into the race with fresh legs.

MILE 1 – 6:30

The next mile had some downhill, and I always get carried away on downhills!

MILE 2 – 6:08

By mile 3 my heart rate had found a regular rhythm and started to settle into the race,

MILE 3 – 6:38
MILE 4 – 6:19
MILE 5 – 6:28

At this point in the race I realised that my injury worries had been over nothing and for the first time in a month I was feeling excited and comfortable to run fast. The next mile was my slowest of the race, I started to get a little comfortable and possibly just zoned out for a little while, but picked up the pace again on mile 7 to make sure I got the average back down.

MILE 6 – 7:01
MILE 7 – 6:18
MILE 8 – 6:29

On the 9th mile my average pace was well under my 6:40 target and a sign that I possibly went out a little too fast on a couple of those miles considering the recent lack of big training weeks, I was getting pretty tired and finished the final 5 miles at just under 7 minute miles a piece.

MILE 9 -6:49
MILE 10 – 6:57
MILE 11 – 6:57
MILE 12 – 6:59
MILE 13 – 6:56

In those last few miles I started to notice that my watch GPS must have gone gradually out of line at some point so not only did it not align with the mile markers, it had been giving me an average pace that wasn’t accurate. I believed in the last mile that I was easily within the sub 90 minute half marathon territory but as I got nearer to the end it got really tough to maintain my pace!

The Final Stretch

As I turned the final bend I took a glance at the finish line and one glance down at my watch. I knew it would be tight but I had to give it everything to try.
I found the balls of my feet again and soaked up the amazing crowd cheers as I sprinted my way to the finish line. (well it felt fast… probably looked far more ragged than I imagined)

Almost there! Finishing Straight at The Big Half, London.

My Finish Time

I crossed the line to see a finish time on my watch of 90 minutes and 3 seconds. So close to the 1:30 goal and I was 4 seconds off a PB.

The Verdict

All in all I can not complain. I completed another fast half marathon and for the first time in a while felt like I was out of injury and heading towards a potentially great period of marathon training. That alone is a big win and a confidence boost.

I really enjoyed the running route and crowd support. It felt like a mini London Marathon without all the pain and suffering that goes along with a 26.2 mile slog.

Below are the official split times from the race stats for the geeks out there.

5k – 0:20:48
10k – 0:42:17
15k – 1:03:46
20k – 1:25:35

Finish Time – 1:30:03
Position – 874 / 10,631

Strava route here

Lessons learned…

Always pay attention to mile markers and use them to measure your pace… not always relying on your watch.
Aim for consistency next time and finish stronger.

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