On Sunday 10th February 2019 I took part in the inaugural East London “Olympic Park” Half Marathon. This event was put on by Runthrough events, and I joined the #RIOTSQUAD pace team by Runarchy. This was my 2nd run of the year after running the Winterrun 10k last weekend (check out blog HERE). My debut #funbus of 2019, which means I have now paced 64 events as an official pacer.
As always I got my kit ready the day before to make sure I had everything I needed. I checked the route and train times for arriving, and was really looking forward to this event. There were a big group of Pacers, and so many runners that I know from various social forums, I knew the 1:40 #funbus was going to be great.
When I arrived I met up with the other Pacers, as we tried to stay warm before the event. It was wet, cold and miserable, so the event village was pretty none existent. Everyone just tried to stay out of the cold. We were then asked to go on stage, and take the warm up..
Let’s just say I’m there for my pacing, not my dance moves Haha.
There was some confusion at the start as the Pacers were not given bibs and timing chips, which is very strange. We also had no idea where we were supposed to start, which made it difficult as people came to ask us questions. Last minute we were told where to start in pens, and made our way there so others could find us. Pretty quickly the 1:40 #funbus, which I was pacing with Mike, filled up.
We chatted to the runners at the start about our pacing strategy, and I always try to calm nerves at the beginning. As we were running 1:40 I explained we should run 7:38 min/miles but would run closer to 7:35 to allow for any variations. This would be adjusted to the mile markers to make sure we are the lessor of the two (ensuring that we are ahead of schedule on both watches and mile markers).
I have to admit, after seeing the course route I really wasnt looking forward to it. There were so many twists and bends and it looked like a spaghetti junction. I was unsure how it was going to work, and thought it would end up very congested. However, I was pleasantly surprised, and even though it felt like a lot of runners, I didn’t feel like the course was too busy. In fact it was really nice seeing runners going in many different directions at the same time, and seeing people running past you. The crowd support was limited, but the other runners acted in the same way, and we kept each other going.
The course was mostly flat with a few inclines, but the wind and cold made it a little more difficult. Mike and I had one of the biggest pace groups and we seemed to have our original group stick with use until the very end.
We tried to keep our pacing nice and even, and we managed really well. The mile markers were just all over the place, and couldn’t be relied upon at all. The first mile matched my watch perfectly, so we hit a perfect 7:37 mile. At mile 2 the marker came when my watch said 1.88. I thought nothing of it, but it was consistently out each mile. We adjusted slightly, slowing by a few seconds per mile just in case the markers were accurate. I kept telling people the difference at each mile, so they knew that if watches were correct they would be in time, and if markers correct they would just get an even better time.
By mile 10 it got a bit silly. I had a 10 second cushion according to my watch, but I reached the mile marker at 9.69 and was almost two minutes fast according to the markers. Mike and I decided to ease off a little and told everyone to keep going, this is where we lost the bulk of our group, and we picked up the stragglers on the #funbus. We only lost 15 seconds and this got us to 10.80 again. At mile 12 the markers seemed to correct themselves, as I expected them to. We were then perfectly aligned with the marker and had a 10 second cushion. Everything had gone perfectly, we had such a fantastic time with a fantastic group of runners that I knew would be waiting for us. We paced it perfectly with our watch and mile markers now both on target. I got to 1:39:10 and there was no mile 13. I couldn’t see the finish so started to worry. All our runners had pushed on as we coasted to the finish. I think my official time was something like 1:40:20, but I didnt have a timing chip, not a happy bunny.
Although disappointed with the markers which ruined my pacing, I’m happy that there were dozens of people at the end waiting for me to give me a hug. Lots of happy runners with PB’s all of whom had pushed on for a sub 1:40. And deaf Mike was there to give me my medal.
Mike had an average pace of 7:36 on his watch, and I had 7:37 on mine. I’m happy that we didn’t leave anyone behind, and that’s the main thing. Just annoyed as both the markers and watch had us ahead of target. If either were behind we would have adjusted, but as we were ahead on both there was nothing we could have done.
How did you all get on today? Where is next for you? Next week I’m at Hampton Court Half.