Having spent a large proportion of my time in London living in Hackney, I definitely grew an affinity and fondness of the Borough. Running Hackney Half marathon is just a way of cementing my love for the area and all its vibrancy it has to offer. Having run it in 2015 as well, I knew the route and so was feeling pretty confident about the task ahead of me.
One of my goals for 2016 was to reach a sub 2-hr half marathon, which I managed to achieve at Hampton Court half marathon back in February. Even though the challenge had been well and truly bossed with a time of 1:58:25, that didn’t stop me wanting to knock even more time off that at Hackney.
The course begins in Hackney marshes, where music and the tannoy speakers got everyone riled up for the run ahead – I still get butterflies before an organised event – and the atmosphere just added to this.
Despite spending a lot of time in Hackney, I had quite quickly forgotten just how damn “slopey” the whole place is. How come these hills only emerge once your legs have a mission ahead of them? Anyway, myself and the other stream of runners cracked on and I took solace in knowing where I was running, spotting familiar corner shops and the like.
The residents of Hackney were incredible. Thankfully due to the weather they were out in full forces offering water, orange segments and even hose pipe showers for us sweaty sods running the pavements (much needed).
The weather was, however, far too freakishly hot for me to achieve the time that I wanted for another sub 2-hr half. After mile 8 my pace dropped dramatically as I was forced by my body to take it at a slower plod to be able to conserve what little energy I had left. It was a mental wargame. On either side of the route were people propped up against fences and walls passed out and being attended to by St Johns Ambulance (who, by the way, were flipping incredible on Sunday), and the sensible part of me saying “don’t end up like that, take it easy”. The devil side of my brain however, wanted more. Much more. That side of my brain told me to push on, get the sub 2 hour and forget about water stations. Thankfully I took heed to the sensible Jess voice and managed to complete in a time of 2:13:25 – I’m not sure I would have finished at all if I’d kept the pace of the first 8 miles.
The finish line could not arrive quick enough, yet I know I’ll be back for more next year for sure. If only so I can regain these impressive tan lines.
Now, where to book my next challenge…