Race Recap // North London Half 2016


For full disclosure purposes, I received an entry to the North London Half for free in return for a race recap/review blog post. I was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.
Original photo before edit from Vitality
This past Sunday, I ran my 4th half marathon, North London Half. I was nervous at the thought of covering 13.1 miles after some dire training, but also excited to take part in another Vitality Race as they always organise fantastic races!

So, as I always do with all my races, here's a recap of my day and how everything went from start to finish! :)

The Morning Of..
Phillip and I woke at around 4:30 AM, I know what you're thinking.. what the F! We had to eat breakfast before we left, had an hour car journey to our nearest tube station and an hour on the Tube to reach Wembley Stadium, so we needed to be up that early!

Breakfast, as usual was a simple bowl of porridge with some honey to sweeten and a cup of coffee. I did take a Clif energy bar with me just in case I got hungry, but I didn't end up having it.

We arrived at the Race Village at around 8:20 AM, it was already chocka! Phillip had managed to go to the toilet before I left.. but I hadn't and I knew I needed to get in the queue for the loo's so I didn't have a repeat of what happened at Run Hackney last year! I ended up taking off all the layers keeping me warm and handing them over to Phillip so he could go and drop the bag off. Bag drop according to Phillip was pretty straight forward, just a little busy.

The queues for the toilet were massive, but thankfully, there were quite a lot of toilets and they queue went down pretty fast! We then decided to head to the start pens, it was around 8:40 AM, I said my goodbyes and good lucks to Phillip and we parted ways!

I got myself into the pen for 2:15-2:20 as I figured that would probably be around the time I should aim for. Race warm up was with Virgin Active, but I didn't take part - purely because it was quite far back and I couldn't actually see the instructor for the warm up. Instead, the majority of us were freezing cold! :S
Photo Credit: Vitality
I wasn't paying too much attention to the time, but I'm pretty sure it started on time. Waves moved up and I crossed the start line at around 9:20 AM.

The Race
The North London Half course route is Out and Back. We started off just down the road from Wembley Stadium and Ended in Wembley Stadium.

I thought the course was flat. Don't ask me where I got that from, it definitely is not flat. Far from it actually. The below Altitude graph doesn't look as accurate as the official altitude map I found at the bottom of the route map on the website.
Mile 1 was pretty slow, I didn't want to start off too fast and burn myself out like I usually do and because I didn't warm up - it took a little while for my legs to loosen up.. in fact it took a couple of miles.

At Mile 2, I took my first gel - I don't usually take gels that early in the race but it was a gel with added caffeine and since it had been a while since I ate, I thought it was a good time.

At Mile 3, it was quite downhill for a while and was where I saw the car with the time on(around 47 minutes), followed by Josphat Kemei. All I remember going through my head at that point.. was 'F*ck he's fast', followed by more profanities about how he was at 10 miles and I was at 3.. xD

At around Mile 4 there was a water station - just to add, there were SEVEN and 3 Lucozade stations, which was amazing. There were loads of girls and guys volunteering, but I must say, the ones at around mile 4 were amazing! They were so enthusiastic and we're going nuts! Totally put a smile on my face and spurred me on.

Miles 4-6 were pretty much a blur, the course isn't the most scenic, there's not too much to look at. I took my second gel at 5.5 miles.

At the half way point, you then enter Allianz Park Stadium for a full lap of the track and then beginning the whole journey back. Since it was out and back, it was pretty much the same the whole way back, the same hills, the same scenery.

At mile 9, I was back at the enthusiastic water station again, there enthusiasm and support had not died down and they were still as amazing!

Coming up to the 10 mile point, I could feel myself flagging. 10 miles is where I go to in training so I gathered this was where I would have to push myself. However! At the 10 mile mark is also the biggest hill in the route and it seriously killed me. I could see a lot of people walking the hill and I considered doing the same and at one point, even stopped to walk, but it felt horrible to walk up the hill so I immediately started  running again!

After the hill, I was spent! I was really struggling to pick my feet up and it was really hurting. My music cut off at around 11 miles and the only thing I could hear was my own heavy breathing. This was where I ended up taking my first walking break - it was also on a bit of a hill too.

I was a little worried about being able to start running again after I had walked, but aimed to start running again after a minute or two. I managed to get running again but it wasn't without difficulty.

Phillip called me at around mile 12(I have Aftershokz with bluetooth to take calls), we'd agreed that if he felt like it and wanted to know how I was doing, I was totally OK for him to call me for some encouragement. I'd reached another hill, I was struggling, he gave me some words of encouragement and told me to start running as soon as I got to the top of the hill and not to stop until I got to the finish of the race.

It was actually just what I needed and it worked, I didn't stop until the end! I could not muster a sprint finish, I actually felt like I could have walked faster.. and my race photos look like I'm walking too, haha!
I crossed the finish line in 2:23:47. Far better than I expected to do considering the amount of hills! No PB either but I managed to enjoy myself none the less.

Overall Thoughts
So, what did I think of the race? I thought it was good, well organised as always for Vitality Races, I really can't fault them on that. The race warm up could have done with a big screen of some sort to allow the people at the back pens to be able to join in with the warm up too.

There wasn't a lot of crowd support out on the course apart from the people at the water stations and a couple of people here and there, who I think were trying to figure out what was going on rather than actually spectating. It was pretty lonely in some parts of the race, especially as people started to spread out.

Couldn't fault the amount of water stations, seven is impressive and they weren't really crowded either, I managed to grab a bottle at almost every one, take a couple of sips and throw it away.

As for the 'Greatest Finish Line In The World', I think it leaves a bit to be desired, for me. The end of the run was mostly running around the outside of the stadium, in the tunnels and about 200m inside the stadium. Though it was great to run in to the stadium(I've never been before), at the time of finishing, it wasn't majorly busy(mostly finishers meeting up with family) and there weren't many cheers to be heard for other finishers - I'm sure the atmosphere was great for the earlier finishers though.

Last but certainly not least, the finishers medal, as always for Vitality is a great one! Along with the goody bag of snacks, water, Lucozade and tech t-shirt.

You can already pre-register your interest for next years half HERE. You can also check up their next half marathon Run Hackney on the 8th May which is still taking entries HERE.

Question: What was the last race you did? Which of the races you've done had the best finish line and why?

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  1. Congrats! Sorry the course wasn't as flat as you hoped! Also, I know I struggle aa bit more when my music is dead too!
    Last race I did was the Disney Marathon. Disney always has the best finish lines ( in my opinion).

  2. Nice write up Laura and loving the Ukrunchat teamred Tshirt! Well done on digging deep in the final miles to finish. Your right about your observations of the finish it really wasn't that great!

  3. Corey @ Learning Patience26 March 2016 at 17:25

    Hi girl...great review - best water station race Ive ran yet in London... I thought it was very hilly and yes I walked the last 10%of mile 10 kicking myself fro it now too because I would have PR'd if not...but I also believe in knowing your body and not getting hurt...and when I push I get hurt...I was VERY Unimpressed with the whole Wembley thing...I was almost getting sick and the line guy told me I "needed to keep walking" grrr... I LOVED the other stadium...reminded me of my old track days in high school...so fun..

    xo Corey

  4. Great write up - sorry we didn't get to meet.

    I loved the finishing line, but it was a shame we got moved on so quickly and I hated running through the service area to get to it!

    Well done on the run, it was such a toughie. Hopefully see you at a race soon! xx

  5. @Fairytales & Fitness Thanks, I'm still not sure why it stopped in the first place but thankfully it was towards the end and not the beginning. The Disney races look amazing! I would LOVE to do one of them one day! :)

  6. @Gareth Davies Thanks! :) Well done too! I think when you say it will the Greatest Finish Line in the world.. you set high expectations and it just really didn't do it for me. It was OK, but not the greatest - Maybe it was for some though!

  7. @Corey @ Learning Patience Thanks! I managed to keep going for the 10 mile hill, but was totally burnt out for the last bit of the race, so maybe I should have walked that one and saved my energy - Yes, after I'd crossed the finish line it was so rushed, I totally wanted to take a picture of the stadium in the background and my medal and was told to move before I even got my phone out!

  8. @HelsBels Thanks :) Deffo a toughie, but glad I got to experience it none the less. - It would have been awesome to get some better pictures in the stadium afterwards, but I was getting rushed out. I understand that they have to keep people moving so it doesn't get to packed and congested, but a little time would have been better than nothing!

  9. Thanks for the recap! I think the reason that your altitude graph doesn't look accurate is because it's actually showing your pace. I know that altitude is ticked, but the "min/mi" scale on the Y axis suggests that it's pace rather than altitude that's being displayed.


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