I was looking forward to the London Landmarks Half Marathon even though I hadn’t trained adequately for it.
My goal for the race
I’d originally expected to run Reading Half the week and the Southampton Half a few weeks later. My goal was to get a PB in Reading and then to be a pacer in Southampton. Unfortunately, Reading Half was cancelled because of the snow. I also knew that I was definitely not on PB form. As a consequence, I revised my goal for London Landmarks Half. I wanted to get a sub-2 hour time.
The London Landmarks Half t-shirts had been sent out with our race packs a few weeks ago. I decided not to wear mine on race day. Instead, I chose to wear my personalised Southampton Tri Club vest.
Planning my journey
I planned my journey carefully in advance. Driving was an option, but I don’t like driving in London. I checked and found that there were planned engineering works on Saturday. I was worried that this might impact on my journey, so I considered driving half way and then catching a train so that I would avoid the rail replacement buses. National Rail Enquiries confirmed that they expected the engineering works to be completed on time and that my journey should not be impacted.
The earliest possible train would give me an hour to get to the race start. It made a little concerned, but I knew that I would just need to go to bag drop and I wasn’t too worried about warming up before starting. I was also relieved to realise that although I was in a late wave, there were a couple of waves after mine, which would give me some leeway.
I arrived at Southampton Airport Parkway early and bought myself a hot drink whilst waiting for the train. After it arrived, I got comfortable with some reading materials.
The next stop was Eastleigh. We seemed to stop there for quite a long time and then I heard the conductor’s voice. He explained that there was a delay to the engineering works and that we would be there for another 45 minutes. (From overheard staff discussions, it seems as if they had forgotten that the clocks had changed.)
I had to change trains and saw another couple of runners clutching London Landmarks Half kit bags. I went over and spoke to them and we planned how we would get to the start as quickly as possible.
On the next train, a couple of women took pity on me. They were travelling up to cheer on one of their daughters who was taking part in the race. They were concerned that I looked cold, tired and hungry, so they gave me a delicious Carb Killa protein bar. (I’ve never tried one before, but would definitely buy them in future if they weren’t so expensive).
The train got later and later and I felt more and more stressed. We got to Waterloo and rushed to the underground, getting on the first available tube. I was so grateful that I wasn’t the only one in this predicament.
Chaos at the start
We had gathered together a few more people whose trains had been delayed and ran to the start. We were directed up some steps to the bag drop. Then we were told that we would need to wait for a security fence to be moved so that we could get to the starting line.
By this point, we were very late. A senior official came over to us and said that we would still be allowed to run, but that we would have to surrender our race numbers. One member of the group would not agree to this and ran off in the other direction (I saw her later on the course). I’d come this far and didn’t want to miss out on the race, so agreed to it. However, there were a number of repercussions from not having a race number with timing chip:
- no official time
- not appearing on the tracker
- no (free) official photos
- no number to go in my bike room
Stu was going to track me at home, so I was a bit concerned that he would be worried about me. I was also disappointed that I would not receive any race photos. We were told that we would receive medals at the end of the race and that if there were any problems the official would have our names.
The first mile
The adrenaline was flowing, so as soon as we were able to cross the line, I went for it. I was running with another of the late-comers and there was some nervous chatter going on. We saw a couple of other late starters get stopped ahead of us. They were being told that they couldn’t continue on the race route as the road was reopening. I decided not to stop and just carried on running as I figured that if I didn’t have a number on then I was an independent runner.
I have to admit that I felt a bit stupid as there were still quite a few spectators around. They probably thought that I had forgotten about the clocks changing and that it was my fault that I started late. Whatever they thought, there was a lot of supportive clapping and cheering.
I definitely started too quickly as I ran the first mile in just over about 7 minutes, which is close to my PB!
After about 10 minutes, I caught up with the tail walkers, which made me feel a bit better. It was on an out and back section, so I could see small groups of runners up ahead and I focussed on picking them off.
After passing the tail walkers, I started catching up with various pacers. I passed 3:45, then 3:30… 3:15… 3:00… 2:45.
A selling point of this race was that there would be lots of different groups of supporters out on the course and that they would be in London-related uniforms/fancy dress.
There were also quite a lot of runners wearing fancy dress. I remember running past a group of people wearing costumes that looked like famous buildings in London. I didn’t take any photos, but here’s an official picture of them at the start of the race.
There were people dressed as Suffragists on the course and lots of different bands and choirs.
It’s not possible for me to search through all of the official photos, but I did turn up in some of them. There were several taken at around Mile 10.
I even managed to find an image of me. It’s pretty awful!
After a lot of hard work, I managed to pass the 2:30 pacers. Eventually, I was within sight of the 2:15 group, but I couldn’t quite catch up with them.
How did I do
My final time was 2:02:26 according to my Garmin (as there is no official time).
The medals were beautifully made and were given out by Pearly Kings and Queens and Chelsea Pensioners, which was a nice touch.