I was overjoyed to run 1h29 in the London Landmarks half 2018, my fastest time EVER, I put my improvement down to two things. Pacing and nutrition.
I saw an advert for the inaugural London Landmarks Half marathon last year, and I immediately pre-registered. I was disappointed at missing out on a spot on the Royal Parks Half Marathon for another year and this new race looked like a perfect alternative. It sold out in minutes so I was lucky to get a place. (Better luck next time Jess).
I’ve always thought the half marathon is a really great distance to race – you can’t wing it on the day, you have to put some miles in training or you will be punished over the second half of the race. I found this to be true a few weeks ago when I ran 1h33 in the Big Half, having to take a few walking breaks in the last few kilometres. To be fair my half marathon times have been steadily improving from 1h46 last year to 1h36 half marathon split (in Abingdon Marathon in October 2017), but part of me was worried that I would never make it sub 1h30, I came closest in 2011 in Brighton where I ran 1h31. At the time I was part of the university running club and I was about 10kg lighter.
So how much difference can a few weeks make? Apparently five minutes – I’ve put together this table to try and find out exactly how.
|The Big Half||The London Landmarks Half|
|Nutrition||Toast for breakfast, 1 Gel before start, 4x water breaks at 3mile intervals.||Midnight carbs, porridge for breakfast, 1 gel before start. Water x 3, Lucozade x 2. 1 Gel at 14km, 1 Get at 18km.|
|Pacing||First Km: 3.59min/km||Last Km: 5.15min/km||Average Km: 4.24min/km||First Km: 4.23min/km||Last km: 4.18min/km||Average Km: 4.12 min/km|
|Taper||20min run Tuesday before race, nil other running during the week||1h15min run including 5x1km efforts Tuesday before race, quick brick run Thursday before|
|Walking Breaks||3x 10-15 seconds in last 5km||0|
|Recovery||Straight to bed||Evening swim|
The race itself was great- I could almost feel that it would be the case when I opened up the pre-race pack to find good quality bag for the bag drop and a really nice technical t-shirt to boot. It will definitely stand out from the crowd.
At Pall Mall and the bag drop it was well signposted, and the bright colour scheme of yellow and black looked great. My only criticism of the start line itself was that it was too narrow. I placed myself quite close to the front and even so I had to dodge people, even more so than you would usually expect from a race this size.
At this point, disaster struck as someone stamped hard on a dropped energy gel and it splattered all over my face. I think it tasted of watermelon, but I wasn’t best pleased so I laid down a scorching 4min/km for three kilometres in anger. I think at this point I was in danger of going too fast, so it was a good job at this time I caught up with the 1h30 pacer and tucked into the back of the pack. I remembered in the Big Half how happy I’d been running past the pacer quickly, but then how depressed I’d been seeing him overtake me twice as fast in the later stages of the race.
I stuck with the pacer for a good 5km, but picked up the pace in a controlled way and made my way out of the group, by halfway I was twenty seconds ahead of 1h30 pace, and I was feeling great.
The course was incredibly winding with lots of U turns and cut backs. But I actually found these ok, gave my legs a change to move in a different direction. I had no numb feet at all during the race.
With 5km to go I realised I was on for a great time, not only breaking 1h30 but even better. I pushed hard in those final kilometres and I think I was more tired than I realised because my pace remained about the same as it had been all race. The final kilometres passed multiple stands of different charities and the support was amazing, then one final turn to finish near downing street. 1h28m57! (all about those three seconds).
There was no T-shirt at the finish (since we’d had them posted already), but I did collect some sweat bands and my finishers medal. The medal was great – it opens up like a book and is good quality.
I’d recommend this race to anyone, the course is flat, its well organised, well supported and the T-shirt and medal are quality. Good luck!