The Vitality Half is one of the newer half marathon races and its perfect for those training for the London Marathon. Here's why ...
Right first and foremost let's tackle this head on, it's a hilly course. We're not talking trail runs here but there are quite a few hills. One stinker right round the first corner which I'll do admit caught me off guard. However, what goes up must come down and in fairness I'd say that there are some pretty significant downhills where you can give your legs a rest and sail along for a bit.
The hill at the start of the course is a bit of a wake up moment but generally it's a good course. I loved running through the Saracens stadium at the half way point. The course then heads back on itself. Now, whether I'm going for a run or walking my dog I don't like an out and back route and I was thinking about my dislike whilst out on the course as I began to spot people I knew out on the course going in the other direction. In fact, as runners around me spotted their friends going in different directions it gave all of us a great boost, perhaps an out and back isn't so bad after all.
The finish line is inside Wembley Stadium which is pretty incredible - come on, we're talking actual Wembley, the first girl to score a goal at Wembley went to my school, she had her name on a big plaque in the Sports Hall - this was the first time I'd ever been to Wembley it was a pretty awesome moment.
Other things you might like to know about the race:
- it has a very early start 8:30am which makes it a bit of a challenge to get to on public transport on a Sunday morning. The race itself was really well organised and it was really easy to get into the race pens which I find important as I don't like to arrive too early as I get lots of nervous energy before a race.
- the course marshalls and bands were great, I do love a brass band.
- the supporters were good for a drizzly Sunday morning but if you've raced the Great North Run the NL Half is nothing in comparison (sorry guys) The GNR is my favourite race ever and the crowds and the atmosphere across the whole 13.1 miles are like nothing I've ever experienced (read more here).
This race is the ideal race for anyone training for the London Marathon. Why? Well it's a tough course but at the same time has plenty of PB potential. It's the kind of course that gives and also takes away and it means you have to work hard for your time. It's also 6 weeks out from the London Marathon and 4 weeks out from Paris and Brighton which is perfect for testing how prepared you are.
If you run regularly this is a great test of what you're made of and if you're newer to racing it's a good route to get your friends to come and see you in as they'll get to see you twice!
My chip time was 1:55:21 a way off my PB of 1:50:34. Some work to do next time, you can already pre-register for next year's race here
For me, I learnt a lot on Sunday. I learnt that a half marathon is not a distance to be taken lightly and that out and backs aren't too bad. I tried new kit and most of it worked, except the backpack, you do not want to see the massive chaffing that has happened to my neck!
I also learnt that it's now time for me to step things up a gear, quit the excuses and put the hard work in. I'm going to be honest, I'm not where I want to be but the only person that can do anything about that is me. Bring on the next six weeks!