So the time has come to get revenge on the Hackney Half Marathon.  Find out how Mr Smith gets on and the back story as to why he is running it…

On May 7th 2015 Mr Smith went back to see a consultant following an ankle operation.  At that time he had only been out of the aircast for 3 weeks, which he had been in for 3 weeks before that.

What was the reason for being in it?  Well, the December before Mr Smith had been out for a run in his favourite park in East London and a momentary lack of concentration saw him step on a big stick and turn the ankle over.  As soon as it was done he knew it was not good.  Normally with a little turn the pain goes off fairly qucikly, but this was one where it was difficult to put weight on it.

However, after a few days the pain eased and Mr Smith carried on with gentle training, gradually building pack up again and doing a couple of races.  The problem was every step was painful and the pain would get worse as distance increased.  Eventually Mr Smith had to give in and get it checked out.

After a consultation and MRI the consultant sat me down and revealed the scan results, 4 problems!  Well if you are going to do it, do it properly:

  • Damage to the achilles, which was done before the twist and was recovering
  • A cracked bone in the side of the foot, also recovering
  • A ligament stretched beyond it’s capacity
  • A split tendon

Instant diagnosis, operation!

So after the op, the 6 weeks of recovery and the return visit to the consultant the news was good, I could start running again!   By that he meant to start and build up!  What I failed to mention to the consultant was that I was due to be doing the Hackney Half Marathon in 3 days time.  Not sure he would have approved!

I knew it was not the cleverest thing to do, but I wanted to run it.  Amazingly I managed to run the first 9 miles or so and then speed walked to the end and getting round in, by far, my slowest half in 2:21, but starting was an achievement, let alone finishing!

This year it is time to run it and run it hard!  Sadly the forecast temperatures, in the 20’s, is not PB weather, but the training has been going well and Mr Smith wants another one.  Since the coaching there have been 6 pb’s from 6 races.  7 from 7 sounds good!

All of the pre race prep has been done, now it is jsut time to get in to London, relax and head to the start tomorrow morning.

Mr Smith know’s this is going to be tough and he will have to dig very deep, which he will do.  In moments of despair the mind will be thinking about family and using them for motivation.  Knowing that things can change at any moment in life the aim is to enjoy as much as possible.  He will also be using the motivation of the pain from last year!

Waking up in the hotel and opening the curtains to reveal a clear sunny morning, which meant the forecast was right, it was going to be hot!

A very gentle dip in the pool to loosen up, breakfast consumed and it was time to set off.  Mr Smith was staying on Bethnal Green so it was a couple of mile walk to the start.  As he was crossing Victoria Park he could see more and more people heading the same way, it was going to be busy!

Arriving at Hackney Marshes at 8:15 it was already busy, so first things first, head to the loos.  This demonstrated how inheritenly lazy people can be.  There was a very long row of portaloos but all of the first ones had a massive queue, but walk to the far end and there was no queue at all!

After the final prep and baggage drop, it was time to head for the starting pen.  For the first time Mr Smith was in the 1:30 to 1:45 predicted times.  He was looking to to do between 1:43 and 1:45 for a new PB.  Nicely positioned behind the 1:45 pacers, close but not too close, he was ready for the off.  However, there was some form of technical problem which delayed the start by 15 minutes, which was not ideal at all.

We were eventually off and running.  The target time was to run 4:53 per km, but to take it relatively steady.  With the delay the heat was already rising and would have been 20c or so, with the organisers putting an amber warning rating against the conditions.

The crowds were much bigger than last year and were going to be needed to cheer people along on a hot day for running.

Getting out of the marhses and on to the open road Mr Smith settled in to his running.  Trying to keep a good steady pace going and soaking up the atmosphere it was a really good start.  The running felt the best for a long time, more controlled and floating along to get through the first 5k in 24:13, pretty quick at 4:51 pace, but everything was feeling good.

The crowds were defintiely good and in great spirits, the first ‘Come on Chris’ was yelled as soon as we were out of the marshes.  It always brings a smile to my face and I try and acknowledge everyone that cheers me on.

Getting past the 5k mark people were settled in to their ryhtmns and it was good running.  Apart from the 2nd km was was a bit quick at 4:44 pace, the rest of the km splits for the first 10k were between 4:50 and 4:59 pace, which was spot on.  This took Mr Smith through 10k in 48:43, still on target at 4:52 pace.  Things were looking good.

However, despite the fact that Mr Smith was taking water at each station and had an electrolyte drink with him all the way he was starting to struggle with the heat.  He was defintiely not the only one and people were struggling.  The km splits started to slow and betwen 13 & 14 Mr Smith took a sensible decision to walk breifly just to recover slightly.

It was at this point that he knew a PB was very unlikely, but with lots and lots of digging deep he got up and running again, but the pace had slowed down and he went through 15k in 1:14:51, the pace had dropped to 4:59, which was still a PB pace, but the wheels were well and truly falling off.

The next 5k were slow, with walking on and off.  Even though Mr Smith was digging deep it was not possible to dig deeper.  The crowds were great and kept cheering him on, and he did muster up the energy to get running again.  The issue was not the legs, they were fine and could have run the PB quiet comfortably, it was the heat and the need to bring the heart rate down to allow recovery.  Definite case of over heating.  In total there was about 800m of walking.

When running you have to listen to your body and Mr Smith did.  Unfortunately there were a lot of people that were really struggling and the St Johns ambulance were busy and Mr Smith would like to thank them for being there to help people and hopes that everyone who needed them is OK.  By this point the warnings on course had changed to Red, which meant temperatures over 23c.

It was now down to the last couple of miles through the Olympic Park, that is a tough stretch with no shelter at all.  Until then Mr Smith was hunting the shade, but there had not been that much, but in the park there is none.  A final walk and digging deep again it was time to try and run through to the finish.  The crowds were great and kept Mr Smith going and he rounded the corner back in to the marshes and was back up to pace again and crossed the line in 1:50:16.

That was not a PB, was with just over 1:46, but given the conditions it was a good time.

Goodies and medals collected, bag picked up and water being consumed, Mr Smith was just in time to see the presentation to the elite runners, not something he normally gets to the finish in time for.  It was great to see Mandy Dohren on the podium and then to bump in to coach Tom.  Although we have spoken and been working together for several months, this was the first time we have met face to face.  It was really good to meet him.  He did advise that everyone had struggled and the time was good.  It was great to hear and definitely a positive.

Now it was time for fluids, lots of them!  During the run Mr Smith had taken a bottle at every drinks station and generally consumed most of them.  The approach is to take it and sip over a period of time.  He even headed for every misting station, not something he normally bothers with.  The last couple of bottles were drunk and poured over him.

One thing sums things up about the crowds, with about 600m to go there was a ‘Come on Chris’ yell from a guy on the side of the road, a bit more of a spur on, but when Mr Smith was leaving the event he walked past the same bloke and he said well done in passing, a lovely touch.

So that was Hackney Half 2016.  It can be said with 100% confidence that it was the toughest race he has done.  There is only one thing for it, do it in 2017 to get a really quick time!

After a brief recovery time it was another 4k walk back to the hotel.  The good thing was that the legs still felt good when doing this, which just emphasises that the heat was the trouble.  The good news, the ankle did not give any trouble in the run!

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