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The Big Half London 2022

Ever since running the London 10,000 in May, my focus has been on this race. I have taken part in a couple of smaller local races in that time, which has helped lower my PBs in the 10k distance, but all with a focus on improving my performance at the half marathon distance!

Target

My current half marathon PB according to Garmin is still the 1:50:54 I set as during the first half of the Brighton Marathon, although the Jack Daniels equivalence calculator suggests I'm in shape to run around 1:45:00, and so going into this race, my A goal was around 1:45, my B goal was sub 1:50:00, while my C goal was just to finish.

Tower Bridge on the way to the start line

Training

My training throughout this block has mostly gone according to plan, although I have had some minor niggles that have hampered me slightly, particularly limiting my mileage in July, when I was hoping to be averaging 100km+ most weeks, and the heatwaves in August meant I ended up running less than I originally planned.

Race pack

The Big Half is organised by the same team as the London 10,000, and the London Marathon, and so just as with the London 10,000, my race pack was mailed to me automatically, and arrived with plenty of time before the event itself. Interestingly, Brighton Marathon has changed their policy on race pack collection, as well as event-day kit drops since this year's event - obviously enough people had the seem feelings as I did following this year's event that they acted on the feedback!

Race Pack with bib and drop bag

Packs were scheduled to arrive week commencing 15th August, and it was very reassuring to see my pack arrive very early, as there was strike action scheduled by postal workers the next week!

Arriving

As with the London 10,000, I decided to travel to London on the day, and although there were works on the railway, I knew about these in advance, and so was able to drive to Harpenden and get the train from there - less post-run driving the better!

Arriving at the race start was very straight forward, involving a train ride to St Pancras, a tube to Tower Hill using the Northern line, where the stream of other runners heading to the start meant it would have been difficult to get lost!

On arrival, I changed into my race gear straight away so that I could drop off my bag while others were still arriving; little did I realise in advance that it would be a rolling start, and so it was mostly all system go from that point!

As it was a rolling start, I looked for pacers running around my target time, and tried to start roughly with them, but I assume the 1:45 pacers had already left by the time I was crossing the start line.

The race

As I crossed the start line, I decided that I would run at my target pace, even though it was very humid - a decision I would later regret!

Mist over London before the race

Like with the London 10,000 earlier in the year, one definite highlight of the race was seeing Mo Farah running in the opposite direction within the first mile, shortly followed by Eilish McColgan!

I kept on pace for the first 7km, before finally listening to the humidity and slowing for the second 7km, before deciding I wasn't enjoying myself enough to warrant the effort around 15km.

Having decided that I wasn't going to push through the humidity at even the slower pace, I found time to enjoy other people's efforts towards the finish stages.

Runners shortly before the finish line

Recovery

After the race had ended, I implemented some lessons from Brighton, drinking a bottle of water, as well as a protein shake I had prepared earlier, and I took some time to relax in Grenwich Park before doing anything else!

Finishers in Grenwich Park after the race

Lessons / reflections

Reflecting on the day, the main thing I would have changed would have been to adjust for the weather! Running in humidity is tough, and even though I did set out on pace, I should have realised that I wasn't going to be able to sustain it. It was disappointing to come up short, but it's also the first summer race I have done, so it's not suprising to learn so many lessons, although I should have perhaps reflected on my training and adjusted my target accordingly!

Ian crossing Tower Bridge

What's next

My immediate goal is to take some time to recover from the niggles that I've managed throughout this training block, before starting a new training block for events in the new year. I already have plans to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 2nd April 2023 as my last long run before my main focus race; the Manchester Marathon a couple of weeks later on 16 April 2023, and so recovering properly is going to be very important!

In the shorter term, I am hoping to focus on some shorter distances (5-10km) over the winter before switching to marathon training in the new year.

Links: Results | Strava | Race report

References: The Big Half | Course map | Event guide | Jack Daniels' Equivalent Pace Calculator

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