Lessons From My First Half Marathon

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to write up my first half marathon experience, but it’s finally here.

Back on the sunny day of 30 April, I ran the Hackney Half Marathon – the first half marathon I’ve ever done. Armed with hay fever tablets (the marshes are notoriously bad for inducing sexy streams of liquid from your nose), jelly babies and my favourite running trainers, I showed up to run the race. The furthest I’d ever ran before this point was 10 miles. A half marathon is 13.1 so it’s a solid 3 miles further than I’d ever gone before...

When I arrived on the Hackney Marshes, after over an hour’s journey to get there (cheers TFL for cancelling the overground service that day), I was surprised to see the set up was more like a music festival than a running race. With a stage, food stalls, loud dance music and a guy shouting positive mantras over the blaring beats – not to mention rows of portable loos – I felt like I had just arrived at a weekend festival, not a half marathon. Nevertheless, the good music, positive vibes and sunshine were enough to get me pumped up and excited for the race.

Even though I ran the race by myself, the community vibe was incredible.

The atmosphere was insanely energising; along the running route the streets were lined with smiling local residents and spectators cheering everyone on and dancing to music blaring from open windows and doors. Children were handing out sweets and cups of water, as well as high fives. I gave so many kids high gives along the way – their energy definitely gave me the boost I needed and put a big smile on my face.

I didn’t think it would be possible to be at mile 9 – with another 4 miles to go – beaming as I maintained my pace. But I suppose that’s the power of a group of strangers coming together and cheering each other on. It was inspiring and I really enjoyed the race for this energy alone!

Now I’m not going to lie. There were hills. Not gruesomely steep or particularly sustained. But they were frequent and unexpectedly dotted around. Let’s just say I was happy I did some of my preparatory 10ks in hilly Brockwell Park. I was so glad to have experienced hill runs before race day because they could have really thrown my pace otherwise.

Overall the atmosphere, route and sunny weather all contributed to my awesome experience of the Hackney Half Marathon.

However I must admit that since race day, I haven’t been out for a run. I think there are two reasons for this:

1)    After the race, my knees were so SO sore. Rest, ice and hot baths were my best friends for about a week. The whole course is ran on pavement which is bound to give the knees a bit of a battering. I think part of me is scared to run in case this aching pain comes back again!

2)   I ran so much in the lead up to the day that I think I’ve put myself off it for a little while. Running really was (and will be again) my escape. It’s a way for me to destress, clear my mind and push myself to new limits, but I think I need a short hiatus before rekindling my love for it.

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