The Official Big Half Marathon is the London Marathon Events warm up event for London Marathon. In its 5th edition, I am pleased to have taken part in every Big Half Marathon since the inaugural event. After today I can truly say I have experienced all aspects of the event, having paced towards the front at 1:45 in both 2018 and 2019; then pacing the back of the pack in 2020 in 3:30 (originally I hadn’t signed up as I was supposed to be running Tokyo Marathon. I had my own place but volunteered to pace any time for them instead, and the group they had spare was 3:30). I then ran my own race in 2021, and this year I took part as a fancy dress charity runner, running as a giant shoe. So I have seen the front, the back, been a pacer, ran my own race and ran in a costume. It’s great to be part of this fantastic community run.
My flatlay looked slightly different this year, as I have 3 shoes rather than the usual pair. I am trying to raise money for Cancer Research UK and looking for different ways to raise more money. As I’ve been running for so long people don’t tend to donate money for me running events. Last year I overcame this by running 11 marathons in 11 days and raised over £5,000. This year I have ran my first ever 100 mile race, but donations have stalled at £1,000. I want to raise more for such a worthy cause, and so I got hold of the Marathon Shoe and aim to be running London Marathon in this.
Today was my warm up event for London Marathon dressed as a shoe. I was practicing with hydration and carried a camelbak which worked well. I also wore my new adidas Solarglide 5 which were kindly gifted to me. You can check them out HERE. #AD
I got a few funny looks getting on the tube dressed as a giant shoe, but I got to Tower Hill with about 20 minutes before race start. I did want to go to the toilet, but the queues were long and frankly it is not easy getting this costume on, so I gave it a miss. It was great to see so many friendly faces at the start, lots of runners I have paced, ran with, connected with over the years. The Running Community is such a good, positive place most of the time, and I’m so glad to have made many friends during my running journey.
I made my way to race start and by the time I got to where I needed to be it was pretty much time to start. Rather than different start funnels this year we all went through the same way, with people dropping bags according to their bib (North or South of the river). It was straight forward and a quick start. I set off well at a good 7:30 pace. I slowly got this to 8 minute miles, which I wanted to maintain. The costume isn’t that heavy, but it’s uncomfortable with the bottom banging on my knees restricting movement. Once my arms are through the arm holes I have restricted access to my body which is also not great for fueling, something I will have to consider for London Marathon. However, the main difficulty is the heat in the costume. It was going well until mile 2 where we go through a tunnel for a mile. It is hot at the best of times, but in this costume it was like a sauna in the tunnel.
When I came out I was so hot, and the gradual incline was tough. I lost my pace and I was never getting it back at this point. I wonder whether I could maintain it better if I didn’t overheat, or whether I should just reevaluate and run slower from the start. This is something I will need to consider for London Marathon. For this event it didn’t matter, I just wanted to get through.
The support from the local community and spectators was fantastic, and I got extra cheers as a shoe. It was great running alongside lots of runners I knew and many friendly faces. When you cross over Tower Bridge at around mile 7 it is great as there were still runners waiting to start, so I got to see lots more friendly faces with lots of cheers. This is why I run so much, it’s the friendly spirit, enthusiasm and energy from fellow runners.
I may have been regretting choices at mile 3 and beyond because I was so hot, but I am so glad that I’ve tried something different. I have ran hundreds of races, and of course its good to get a PB. However I love to have fun and try new things. I love pacing people, helping them achieve their goals and seeing that smile on their face as you become part of their journey and help them over the line. I also love raising money for charity and creating that extra challenge to get donations. Many would have thought I was crazy today running in a giant shoe, it was hard, but that’s why it’s worth a donation.
My plan of running around a 1:50 went out the window very early on. From there I didn’t really watch my pace, instead I just ran. It was a learning experience for me and one just to enjoy.
My official time was 2:07:01, and something I’m happy with. Apparently I was the first costume over the line, but to be fair I don’t think I saw any others so that’s not saying much. Today was a race against myself.
Now it’s on to London Marathon. I have a lot to work on to improve my time or at least keep it more steady. I would like a sub 4 Marathon in the shoe, but let’s see how it goes.