June 21st 2014, and the inuagural ‘Ackney ‘Alf marathon. I thought this seemed like a nice one to do with some iconic views (apparently) – e.g. the Hackney Empire, and finishing off with a trip around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. And also a great weekend for a visit to the smoke as elder daughter Madeleine was appearing in an amateur production of “The Producers”. So, a chance for mixing a bit of running with a bit of culture, alongside Weymouth friends Jon and Joanne. Friday evening, younger daughter joined us for a “Wicked” theatre experience. Saturday morning, nipped out of the ExCel travelodge for a quick trip around the Beckton parkrun. After that a trip over the Emirates Airline, walk to Woolwich, and boat up to London. And Saturday evening Tower Theatre Company’s quite brilliant production.
So up early on a quite beautiful Sunday morning, DLR up to Stratford International and quite a walk to the start on Hackney Marshes. And there a chance to meet up with the one-and-only inspirational realbuzz blogger, Mr HollywoodDave, and another fellow blogger Yvonne Monks. Touched base with the CLIC Sargent team, and off to the “just under two hours” pen. As we waited there we were treated to an interval with some chap who had appeared on (I think) “The Voice”, and brought ridicule on himself by relaying that he’d much rather “take the bus”.
Ten o’clock came – and went. It was getting very hot out there. What the !&%£ are they waiting for? There was quite a crush, and a lot of late arrivals gatecrashing the pens – well in my book tough &^*@. I’m desperate to get under way. Eventually, about ten minutes late, were off and running. Not particularly clear how this would go. It would be nice to get somewhere around my PB from Bath. But I know I can struggle in the heat. But I was going pretty well and on track for the PB.
But as we got into the second half I was starting to slow, but still going steadily. And then as we got towards the end, into the Olympic Park. As parks go, I guess this is rather immature, with no trees for shade, wide concrete boulevards, and the sun beating down. I felt like I was being barbecued. And looking around, I was struck by the number of fellow runners collapsed by the sides of the roads. “YOU DO NOT WANT TO END UP LIKE THAT” I told myself. And for the first time on a competitive run I started to walk. A chap just behind implored me to carry on, telling me that it was only my pacing that had kept him going for the last few kilometers. But I had to rest, and (pleased to say) he soon found someone else to follow.
I ran / walked through the Olympic Park, but picked up the pace again for the last km or so as we left the park behind. For the record I was, ultimately, pretty happy to justify going to the sub-two-hours pen with a time of 1:58:42. Yvonne was delighted to break three hours, finishing in 2:50:39, with Hollywood around in 2:18:08. Thinking about it a great weekend, and being able to go out and do something like the ‘Ackney ‘Alf – the icing on the cake :-).